Build a side hustle.
It’s something we’re hearing more and more in our culture. But how exactly do you do that?
That’s probably why you’re here right now. You heard a pressure washing business was a great side hustle and you’re ready to throw your hat in the ring and earn extra cash yourself.
You’re absolutely right. A pressure washing business IS a great side hustle.
Whether you’re saving up to build a nest egg, you need to pay off debt, or you’re looking to purchase a new toy, having a little extra income each month couldn’t hurt.
Before you get too excited, make sure you have your ducks in a row. Yes, the start up costs of pressure washing are pretty low, but did you know you can get sued by a homeowner for ripping the siding off their house?
That’s just one of the common pitfalls you should be prepared for with your pressure washing business.
In the following sections you’re going to learn the full step by step guide on starting a pressure washing business.
My goal is for you to have the full game plan. Everything you need to know to get started right now and make $5,000 or more in the next 60 days.
I’ve researched and interviewed numerous experts within the field to make sure you get nothing but the best information.
If you’re ready to fatten your wallet and be your own boss, keep reading!
Step 1: Build A Plan For Your Pressure Washing Business
Building a pressure washing business seems straightforward and simple. You just need equipment and customers, right?
Yes – basically, but you still need to have a plan in place first.
Normally I would insist on taking action and figuring it out from there, which you’re still going to do plenty of when you get started, but it’s important to realize a plan will help you formulate next steps.
It’s not even that you need to follow the plan to the letter. It’s the act of planning which is so critical to your success.
This step is meant to help you build an outline of the goal you’re trying to achieve. You don’t need to do a whole SWOT analysis (although it never hurts!).
To help guide you, here are some questions you should ask yourself first:
- What happens if you hate pressure washing?
- Do you have capital (money or equipment) in place?
- What’s the minimum equipment to start?
- How do you plan to get your first customer?
- How much should you charge per square foot?
- Who would be your ideal customer?
- Who is your competition?
- How big do you want to grow your business?
- Do you want to exit this business ever?
Lucky for you, these questions have been researched and they’ll be answered within this guide.
The point is to get you thinking for yourself. Everyone is different, you’re probably living in a different city with different competition.
Maybe you want to stay in the pressure washing business for a long time.
Perhaps you’re only going to work for commercial businesses instead of residential ones.
Step 2: Learn The Basics of Pressure Washing
If you’re a novice to pressure washing then you need to learn, quickly.
There are a couple reasons why you should learn pressure washing before getting clients:
- Will you actually enjoy it?
- Can you pressure wash without damaging the surrounding areas?
Will You Actually Enjoy Pressure Washing?
Don’t do something you don’t enjoy because you think it will make a lot of money. You’re only wasting your time.
If you don’t like working outside and doing manual work, don’t start a pressure washing business.
In fact, ask your family or friends if you could do a pressure washing job for free for them. Go and rent a pressure washer from Home Depot, and give it a try.
You might scoff at me when I say this, but doing this will help you understand what you like about the business, and most importantly what you don’t like about the business.
The upside to doing this?
- You’ll get testimonials for when you’re ready to launch your business with your first paying client.
- You’ll get immediate feedback without spending thousands of dollars on equipment.
- You spend a couple hundred dollars learning you don’t like something.
Seems like the upside is higher than the downside.
Can You Pressure Wash Without Damaging The Surrounding Areas?
By doing the above you’ll also quickly learn the basics of pressure washing. I recommend taking the time to watch guides on YouTube to learn some of the fundamentals, then keep practicing with friends and families.
Pressure washing has the capacity to cut your toe off if you’re not careful. When you’re cleaning an area, let’s say brick surrounding a garden, you have the potential to destroy that garden.
When you make a mistake once, you’re very unlikely to do it again.
By watching YouTube tutorials, and practicing on your own stuff and friends and families, you’ll have a good idea about whether you want to continue.
Step 3: Get Certifications For Pressure Washing
Normally I wouldn’t add this, but it’s something to pay attention to depending on your residence.
For example, California requires you to have specific licenses for pressure washing.
You need to research your state and communicate with the regulatory board to ensure you’re legally allowed to operate a pressure washing business.
Many states restrict certain cleaning chemicals because they can hurt the public. You might not be allowed to have wastewater get into the public waterways.
The requirements vary widely by each state. The last thing you need is a government agent handing you tickets for not following their laws.
Step 4: Get One Paying Client First
A lot of guides will tell you to sink thousands into creating a brand, getting insurance, and purchasing equipment.
Don’t get me wrong, you need to do these things to protect yourself and scale your business. However, get at least one paying client first.
Because that shows you’re actually committed and you’ll be motivated to continue.
By getting one paying client you’re creating more motivation to continue with the business. Trust me when I say, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of earning your first revenue you generated yourself. It motivates you to push through obstacles.
I’m going to assume you’re a one-person operation. By getting one paying client you’ll be able to determine the length of time it takes to complete a project (for now I would recommend just doing a driveway). Typically it should take you between 1-2 hours.
Whatever you earn in payment, divided by the hours, will be your hourly rate. To keep the math simple, let’s say you got a client to pay you $100 to complete a driveway, and it took you 2 hours. Your hourly rate would be $50/hr.
That’s just your top line revenue.
Now you need to factor in expenses. The cost of fuel (including both the pressure washer and your truck) will need to be deducted from the revenue.
Let’s say you anticipate using 2 gallons of fuel per hour. That puts your expenses at $20 total for the 2 hours of time. (I’m not factoring in any cost for equipment because that will be a 1 time fixed cost if you continue.)
By yourself, you now made a net profit of $80 which breaks down to $40/hr (given a 2 hour project).
That’s not bad for an hourly rate!
Once you’ve gotten one paying client you’ll have to make the choice about continuing. There’s always such a thing as opportunity cost.
If you don’t have any options which will net you the same hourly rate as the one paying client, then you should continue with building the business.
If you decide to do so, here are the next steps.
Step 5: Purchase Pressure Washing Equipment
You’re ready to dive in full force. You’ve got the knowledge for pressure washing. You’ve even got one paying client. You’re confident you want to pursue this even further and make it a legit side hustle.
Now it’s time to perform the scariest part of launching a business. The initial investment in equipment.
Every entrepreneur faces this scenario. How much should you invest to grow without breaking your budget for operations?
You’re stuck in a common problem. Without the right equipment, you can’t actually perform the job duties necessary to grow the business.
That’s why I’m going to give you the absolute minimum necessary to get started. You can always grow from here with higher duty machinery.
- Pressure Washer – a lot of these guides will say you need to have a minimum $1,500 commercial pressure washer. Personally, you’re probably not going to get large scale commercial gigs when you’re first starting out. Go out and purchase a pressure washer in the $500 range and stick with easier jobs in the beginning.
- Nozzles – Certain surface types will require different kinds of nozzles. You’ll want to have a variety of nozzle heads in order to have the best chance of getting out the dirt. It also helps to have extra nozzles on hand in case one gets damaged in transit or from use.
- Hoses – It would be really smart to purchase extra backup hoses just in case. The last thing you want is for your hose to break on you and you have to spend gas money driving to Home Depot for extra hoses. That’s a bad look for the client.
- Vehicle – You’ll need a truck or a van. There’s no getting around this. If you already have a truck, all the better for you. Make sure it’s clean and presents well. (Hint: get it washed prior to showing up to your client.)
- Trailer – This is only necessary when you start to scale beyond the driveway gigs. At this point you’ll need to invest in extra space to carry additional items for those larger commercial gigs.
- Water Tank – A lot of commercial properties, and even residential properties, won’t have access to a water source. In this situation, you need to get a water take to supply clean running water. (This is a good problem to have because you have so many new clients!)
- CRM – you can start with google sheets and quickbooks to keep track of your revenue, expenses, client info, and beyond. However, after about 40 clients you’ll be too big to use spreadsheets. It would be wise to invest in a customer reputation management system.
This is why there’s risk in becoming an entrepreneur. You have to invest capital up front to purchase the equipment necessary to run the business.
Unfortunately there’s no kti you can purchase which can get you started. You have to do your research and find the best items for your level of skill.
Obviously the most expensive item on here is going to be the vehicle. Personally, if you don’t have a truck already you might want to rethink creating this business. Granted, you can find a good used truck for $9,000 at a lot of used car shops. Just make sure you can make the math work for your monthly payments.
Step 6: Create A Pressure Washing Business Brand
If you’re going to scale your business, you need to set up everything correct legally. There’s no use in trying to run this business without having protection for yourself.
If you damage property or accidentally injure someone on the job (if you get to the point of having employees), you’re going to be in for a world of hurt.
You’ll most likely go bankrupt from getting sued by the client, and if you don’t have legal protection in place (like a business entity) you’ll be held personally liable for the damage. Meaning they can, and will, come after your personal assets.
Let’s avoid this scenario at all costs.
Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer. I can only give you tips on the process from what I’ve researched and done myself. Obviously consult with an attorney and perform your own due-diligence with this process.
Necessary Business Documents
You should get these in place before taking on any additional clients:
- Legal Entity: it can be a LLC, S-corp, or C-corp. Typically an LLC is enough to protect yourself from legal liability. A client could only sue the legal entity and not you personally. You need to register your business at the state level. It typically costs between $150-300 for getting this process done.
- EIN – this is your tax number. If you’re earning revenue from your business, you need to pay taxes. Luckily as a small business owner you can write off a good deal of expenses. Obviously consult a CPA.
- Bond – sometimes manual labor businesses need to have bonds in place before you can register your company. Make sure to double check.
- Permits – perform a Google search to check if you need permits for doing pressure washing work. A good example is in California, you need to have an environmental permit because of water discharge.
- Insurance – YOU NEED TO HAVE INSURANCE. You’re performing work which can damage a person’s house or business. You will get sued if you cause damage. You’ll most likely need just liability insurance, but be sure to connect with an agent to get the full details.
Go To Market Strategy
With all the business documents complete, you’re officially ready for a brand launch. There are a ton of go to market strategies for getting new clients.
The only question will be your budget. How much are you able to afford for getting your brand noticed by your community, and most importantly, getting new customers?
There are 2 main strategies for getting clients:
The world is moving online. That’s just the truth. In fact, more people are spending time online than interacting with other people face to face.
Here are the main lead generation channels:
- Facebook Advertising
- Google Advertising (PPC & Display Network)
- Search Engine Optimization
There’s a lot more than just those three. But those will be the most important for you right now.
What you have to do is give the prospect an offer they can’t refuse. With pressure washing, it could be something like: “Sell your house for $10,000 more, or I’ll give you a full refund.” That sounds like a wild offer, but people trying to sell their house need to get it cleaned, and you’re coming in attacking their very needs. You haven’t even talked about pressure washing either!
Offline still works really well. It just isn’t as trackable as online can be.
Here are the main lead generation strategies:
- Door To Door sales
- Word of mouth
Typically these strategies are what people like to start with. If you’re going to use the flyer method, make sure you apply the same tactic above as your headline. Then give them the details of your offer, and a Call to Action.
Executive Summary: Starting A Pressure Washing Business
Hopefully this guide has given you insight into creating a pressure washing business. This is a great side hustle for those newer entrepreneurs looking to drive a little extra income. Even if you start it, and only run it seasonally, you’ll gain more experience and knowledge from just starting then others who read this guide and take no action.
That’s the point I’m trying to make. If you’re interested in creating more income for yourself or your family, you need to take massive action. A pressure washing business could be the perfect side income vehicle for you right now.
Or, it might not be. Which is perfectly fine. If you’re interested in the topic of side hustles, take a read of my full guide on the best side hustles.