Form Of Business for a Pressure Washing Business

Choosing a Form of Business for your Pressure/Power Washing Business

One of the first choices you will need to make is what form of business will be used for your pressure washing company. There are four basic forms of business to choose from. They are as follows:

* Sole Proprietorship
* Partnership
* Sub S Corporation
* Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Sole Proprietorships

Many small companies begin as sole proprietorships. The main reason for this is that they are easy to form. All you generally need a business license and a checking account. Sole Proprietorships have one owner who makes all decisions and is personally liable for the company. They own all the assets of the business and receive all the profits generated. In the eyes of the IRS the owner and the company are one in the same.

There are several advantages to a sole proprietorship. First, this is the easiest form of business to organize and you do not need an attorney or accountant.  Taxes for a sole proprietorship are relatively simple. A schedule C is filed along with your personal return. Most tax programs include a schedule C this at no additional charge. If you wish to shut down the company it is fairly easy and straight forward to do.

The disadvantages of a sole proprietorship are also numerous. The owner bears all the liability of the company. If the business incurred a liability from a lawsuit the owner would be personally liable. (a liability insurance policy can help cover this) Also, certain benefits like health insurance may not be fully deductible. Also, you will have to pay social security on all the companies profits. In other words there are some tax disadvantages. Finally, a sole proprietorship may be taken less seriously than an incorporated business or an LLC. This can make borrowing money more difficult at times. Also, audits by the IRS may be a little more frequent for this form of business.

Partnerships

In a Partnership, two or more people share ownership of a single business. Like proprietorships, the law considers the business and the owners as the same. In this form of business an attorney or accountant may be necessary because there will be a partnership agreement which outlines out all the terms of the partnership.  It covers how profits are divided, buyout provisions, etc… Because you now have two or more people involved the paper work and upfront preparation is multiplied.

The advantages of a partnership are similar to a sole proprietorship. Additionally, more money can be raised with a partnership and there should be more expertise present in the business. Like a sole proprietorship, profits flow directly to each partner’s tax returns.

The disadvantages of a partnership are the same as a proprietorship but will also include a lack of control by any one partner which can lead to slow decision making.  Also the liability for one partner because of the actions of another partner is an issue.  Plus, the partnership in many cases is dissolved if one partner passes away.   Finally, profits must be split.  If profits are sparse this can lead to problems.

Subchapter S Corporations

A corporation chartered by the state in which it is located is considered by that state to be a unique entity, separate from the shareholders who own it. A corporation can be taxed separately from its owners and is liable for itself meaning it can be sued and can enter into contractual agreements that do not involve the shareholders. The owners of a corporation are its shareholders and corporations have a perpetual life until dissolved.  Ownership can transfer from one stockholder to another fairly easily.

A Sub S Corporation is actually a tax election only and is done after a corporation is formed through the IRS . The sub s election enables the shareholder to treat the earnings and profits as distributions and have them pass through directly to their personal tax return via a form called a K1. Many people prefer this type of ownership because of limited liability to the shareholder and the tax savings. Except in the case of negligence, the shareholder is generally not personally liable for what the corporation does.   For example, if an employee borrows a company car and injures someone while they are driving then the employee would be personally liable since they were negligent and were driving. Secondly, the corporation would be liable since it owned the car. However, the shareholders of the company would not be personally liable for the event. As far as taxation goes a shareholder can take a fair salary and take the rest of earnings in the form of a draw just as an owner of ATT stock would get a dividend.   It is important that you take a fair salary to avoid future social security liability.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

The LLC or Limited Liability Company is a relatively new type of business structure that is now available in most states. It is designed to provide limited liability similar to that of a corporation and the tax efficiencies and operational flexibility of a partnership. Forming an LLC is more complicated than a general partnership or sole proprietorship but easier than a Sub S corporation.

The owners are members, and the duration of the LLC is normally decided when the organizational documents are filed. LLCs cannot have more than two of the four characteristics that define corporations.  These are as follows:

  • Limited liability to the extent of assets
  • Continuity of life
  • Centralization of management
  • Free transferability of ownership interests.

If the company has more than two it must file as a corporation.

Before you decide on the business form you will use you should sit down with an attorney or your accountant and discuss all of the facts and how they will affect you personally and on a tax basis. Once a business form is elected it is difficult to undo.

In closing I will say that for a pressure washing business most people choose either an S Corporation or an LLC.  Mainly for the liability limits and the tax advantages. Also, with a corporation you will almost always have a separate name which you can choose. When you sell the business you can transfer your shares to another person and you are done.

Removing Mildew from a House without a Pressure Washer

Mildew is a common problem on houses and other surfaces.  Everyone knows that removing it is just a matter of applying bleach.  However, when the mildew is out of the range of a pump up sprayer, how do you get to it.  There is a simple way to do this that does not require a pressure washer.  Here is how.

First, purchase the following items.  An inline syphon mixer, a garden hose spray wand and a bottle of outdoor bleach. The sprayers and inline syphons are available in the store below and the bleach can be purchased anywhere.  The sprayers are also available at Lowes and Home Depot also but I have only seen the inline syphon on amazon.




Once you have your supplies you will attach the syphon mixer on to your faucet, put the tube into a bottle of outdoor type bleach, attach the garden hose and then the spray wand.  A spray wand that sprays a long distance is best.  I use one that extends to about 8 feet. When you turn on the faucet the bleach will be pulled from the container and mixed with the water that is being sprayed out the wand.  If you have a good spray wand you can hit the eaves of a two story house with no problem. It may take a couple of sprayings but all the mildew will come off.  I normally spray, wait about 15 minutes and repeat.

Tip – if there is a wire coil in the end of the rubber hose that goes into the bleach bottle you should remove it as the bleach will dissolve it fairly quickly.

When you are done applying the bleach mixture just remove the tube from the bleach and either stick in a container or water or cap the end of the tube.  This will keep air from being injected into the water.  Then just rinse off the house and you are done.

Estimating your Pressure Washing Business Start Up Costs

Once you have formed your company and have obtained your business permits, licenses and insurance, you are going to need to calculate the amount of capital or money you will need in the bank to fund your start up costs. Your goal is to have enough money in a checking account to fund start-up costs until profits can take over.  Think of it this way. If you were traveling across the desert and the next gas station was 300 miles away it would be foolish to leave with your tank on empty.

Planning ahead can prevent you from making mistakes in funding that can lead to devastating results for your company.  Nothing is worse that running out of money just when things begin to take off.

IDENTIFYING YOUR CAPITAL NEEDS
You will first need to identify all potential start-up costs or at least all the major ones. Some of these will be one-time or single occurrence costs such as equipment acquisition,  legal fees, deposits, permits, down payments and licenses, etc.. These are generally non recurring costs and only need to be funded once. Other costs will be ongoing such as the price of utilities, inventory, accounting fees, office expenses etc.. These expenses will be recurring and will initially need to be paid from start-up capital until the business is profitable on a cash basis and can support these expenses on its own.  (produces more cash than it consumes)

The good news is that after purchasing equipment, power washing companies have a modest need for working capital.  Water is almost free and the only other commodities that you need are detergent and gasoline.  For the most part, after your equipment is purchased,  you will just need enough money in the bank to cover your basic office expenses until you turn profitable.

In summary, I would suggest you make a list of your equipment and initial supplies similar to the following one.

  • Enclosed Trailer – $2,500
  • Power Washing Machine – $3,000
  • Detergent and Chemicals – $300
  • Blowers, Brooms, Etc. – $300
  • Basic Office Furniture – $500
  • and so on…..  Keep in mind these are just examples.

You would then add a few months of operational bills and some capital to pay workers until you get paid for a job.  Put together the funds necessary to cover all of these expenses and deposit them into your commercial bank account. Remember, this money is for your business and not for you to live on. You should have money for that somewhere else.

POWER-CALC Pressure Washing Invoice & Pricing Spreadsheet Program (Instant Download)

POWER-CALC 2011 – Pricing, Estimating, and Invoicing Spreadsheet Program – INSTANT DOWNLOAD

A download link will be provided to you after you checkout.  If you do not receive this link email me at steve@reflectivestore.com or call me at 850-934-3157 and I can give that to you.

Our Power Calc spreadsheet program was written to provide Pressure Washing Companies with a tool that will allow them to price, quote and invoice jobs using one easy to use, easy to edit program. This is an Excel based spreadsheet based program that is designed to be easy to use.

A larger image of the program can be seen by clicking the image below.  The image will display all three pages of the spreadsheet at one time. In the actual program the three pages are accessed one at a time by clicking on tabs located at the bottom of the page. As you can see it is a very straight forward program.

Also, in this package there are two spreadsheets included.  One is powercalc.xls and the other is powercalc2.xls.  The second is one where we put in different services.  The powercalc.xls spreadsheet is what most people use but the other is included in case you want to use it instead. Images of both are below.

The Power Calc spreadsheet can be opened using the freeware spreadsheet reader provided with the package or Microsoft Excel or Lotus 123. I recommend either the free reader or Microsoft Excel.  Excel will give you more options.  The spreadsheet and freeware program runs on any Windows 95,98,2000,XP,Vista or Windows 7 based computer. It will also run on MAC machines that have excel installed.

To use the spreadsheet you fill in the blanks on the data entry page with information relative to the customer and the job. The program will apply your per hour pricing to the data that you put in and AUTOMATICALLY transfer the results to the proposal page (page 2) and the invoice page (page 3). The proposal or quote page also contains a customer agreement/contract that the customer can sign. The invoice page is what you would send out each month billing the customer for services performed that month.  There are already labor rates based on national averages entered into the spreadsheet.  These can be easily changed.

As you enter customers you can save each spreadsheet using that customers name as the file name. This gives you a permanent record of your contracts and transactions and allows you to go in each month and print a new invoice. If the customer asks for additional services you can simply go to their file, add what they want, print them a proposal, and invoice them at the end of the month for their basic services plus the extra work. I have tried to make the spreadsheet very flexible and easy to understand.

I have provided a good image so that you can see for yourself what the program looks like. I am the creator of the spreadsheet and I support what I sell. If you have any suggestions for improvement to the program please let me know.  My email address is steve@reflectivestore.com

The cost of the program is $24.99. When you order online with a credit card or paypal the software and instructions are immediately sent to you via a download link.  To use the program just extract the files into a folder on your desktop and you are ready.

To order the Power Calc spreadsheet program for $24.99 and receive it instantly just click ADD TO CART at the top of this page. If you have any questions you can email me at steve@reflectivestore.com or call 850-934-3157.



DeWalt DPW4240 4200 PSI Honda Powered Pressure Washer Review

Product Review

DeWalt has a well-earned reputation for quality, sturdy equipment, and the DPW4240 is no exception.

This unit delivers 4200 PSI at 4 gallons a minute and will get big jobs done quickly. The DPW 4240 is powered by a commercial-grade Honda engine and features a General TX commercial-grade pump.

All the machines parts are heavy-duty. Steel braid reinforced hose,  oversized 13 inch double-sealed pneumatic tires and a solid steel axle create a quality commercial unit that will hold up to demanding use.

Here are the main features of this commercial pressure washer.

 

Power – Honda GX390 Series 389CC Engine
•Commercial grade engine. Durable, starts easy, & runs quietly.
•Covered by a 3 year warranty through Honda service network

Pump – General TX Commercial Series Triplex Plunger Pump
•Ceramic pistons run cooler, will last longer, & can be rebuilt.
•Thermal relief valve protects the units pump from overheating.

Adjustable Pressure
•4 GPM flow rate ensures easy, efficient cleaning and allows cleaning of many different surfaces

Professional Grade Spray Gun, & Tips
•Unit features Five quick connect spray nozzles: 0°, 15°, 25°, 40° & soap nozzle.

Made In USA Abrasion Resistant High Pressure Hose
•50 feet of 3/8 inch heavy duty, non-marring hose with quick disconnects
•Polyurethane coated steel braid, rated up to 4500 PSI

Heavy Duty Frame
•12 gauge rugged steel frame with 1 1/4 inch tubular steel handles
•Solid steel 5/8″ welded axle with 13″ double sealed pneumatic tires for dependability.

 

 

Power Boss GC190 Honda Gas-Powered 3000 PSI Pressure Washer – Review

Product Features

  • Honda GC190 OHC engine for quick starting and reliable performance
  • Maintenance-free axial cam pump with Easy Start pump technology designed for smooth quick starting
  • Flow rating of 2.5 max gallons per minute
  • Includes 0-, 15-, 40-degree and low-pressure pro-style quick connect spray tips
  • 26.4-by-22.3-by-20 at 70-pounds; backed by 1-year product warranty

Power Boss is a Briggs and Stratton company so it is odd that they would equip their 3000 psi model power washer with a Honda gas engine. However, since Honda makes an unbelievable engine there should be few complaints. The Power Boss GC190 3000 psi pressure washer is capable of handling both residential and commercial jobs. When combined with a trailer and a water supply tank it would make a very capable commercial unit for a pressure washing company. The unit is equipped with an onboard detergent tank and 4 quick connect spray tips.  Accessories can be added to enhance the machines capabilities.  The most appealing feature of the Power Boss GC 190 machine is the price.  The Honda powered machines start at less than $500 making them within the reach of any new pressure washing company.

Creating a Business Plan for a Pressure Washing Company

A Pressure Washing Company business plan is actually a very simple document that you prepare yourself to help you get your company off the ground the right way. It helps you pre-plan important actions.  It can also help you focus on important subjects that have to be addressed if your business is be profitable and grow.  A good business plan should accomplish most of the following goals:

-A good business plan outlines a clear path for you to follow.
-A good business plan is a way to communicate your vision to both your future employees and future customers. It also allows you to measure your success.
-A good business plan can help you grow as a business person  by helping you to focus on your competition and opportunities. It will force you to change your way of thinking from that of a non business owner to that of a business owner.
-A good business plan will provide your financial advisor or investors with insight into your goals and objectives for the company.
-Above all, the business plan is a plan which prepares you to manage your business, instead of allowing your business to manage you.
-A successful business plan is realistic, factual and objective, presenting your goals in clear terms.

A Business plan for your pressure washing company can take many forms and can vary in length. However, all successful plans
communicate the following information :

-The nature of your business (What it will be)
-The goals and objectives of your company. (Where your company will be in the future)
-The steps you will take to achieve these goals and objective
-Major potential problems along with a plan for overcoming these problems
-An effective power washing company business plan also answers a variety of specific questions, such as:
-Who are your potential customers?
-Why will they use your service?
-What is your advertising/marketing plan and how will you implement it?
-Who is your principal competition? What are their strengths and
weaknesses?
-What management skills do you lack and how will you compensate?
-What are the current financial capabilities of your company?
-What is your projected financial condition?

There is no one “correct” format for a business plan, although most effective business plans include the same critical information. It is important that you present your ideas in a clear and concise manner. Creating a business plan is one step that you may not want to take but starting any company without creating a business plan is like leaving on a trip with no map and no directions. You simply cannot know where you will end up.

Estimating Pricing Power Pressure Washing Jobs – What to Charge

Most pricing for pressure washing is done either based on linear footage or square footage multiplied by a price per linear or square foot.  You can also charge based on an hourly rate.  The prices below are just estimates based on national averages.  Prices in your area may differ.  Many companies charge flat rates for certain jobs such as house cleaning.  We also have a spreadsheet program available here that will help you to price jobs.

Houses

  1. $90 – $275 flat price
  2. $.75 – $1.25 per linear foot for a single story house.
  3. $1.75 – $2.25 per linear foot for a two story house.

Gutters

This basically involves blowing out leaves and dirt from a gutter system.  Having the right equipment will make this type of work much easier.

  1. $100 for a single story
  2. $135 for two floors
  3. $200 for three floors.

Specialty gutters such as wooden ones will be priced a little higher.

Boats

Bottom only – $5 per linear foot.
Entire boat – $10 per linear foot.

Roofs

When pricing a roof cleaning job you will need to figure the square footage.  To do this take the sum of the length time’s the width then multiply it by 1.35. This will give you a close estimate of the square footage.

For a typical 2000 square foot roof you would charge about .20 cents per square foot which would be $400.   If the roof has a high pitch you can double or triple the charge or just pass on the job.  Safety is always number one.  The chemicals you will need will cost you around $50 so make sure to keep this in mind when pricing.  With basic equipment it will take approximately 5 hours to treat and rinse off the roof.  If you have the proper equipment you can do the same job in about 3 hours.  You can see how your per hour profit can differ depending on what equipment you have.

Driveways & Sidewalks

  1. $60 – $150 flat price depending on size
  2. $.08 – $.14 per square foot.

Fences, Decks and Siding Jobs

Pricing fence, decks and siding is calculated by the square foot just like a roof.  Take the square footage of the fence, deck or siding and multiply by .20 – .25 cents.  You will use chemicals on this type of job also but you will be able to finish in much less time.
Mobile Homes

  1. Single Wide Mobile Home – $50 – $85 depending on condition.
  2. Double Wide – $80 – $100 also depending on condition.

Commercial Type Cleaning

  1. Basic Surface cleaning – $.08 – .12 cents per square foot.
  2. Dumpsters – $75 for Standard and $150 for Large

Parking Lots, Sidewalks & Drive-Thru’s

  1. Parking Lots, Garage Floors – $.05 – $.25 per square foot depending on condition.
  2. Parking Spaces – $10 – $20 each (bank space would be less than a convenience store space.

As a backup you can price any job using the following basic formula.

Double your materials cost and then charge $45 – $50 for cold water or $55 – $60 for hot water cleaning.  The key is to pre estimate the time it will take to do the job.  Customers normally want to know ahead of time what they will be charged so pre estimating the job will put them at ease.  For large commercial jobs you can just set a rate and keep track of your time and charge the customer either when you are done or as you go.  In this case you would not pre estimate time and a commercial customer would be fine with that.

Choosing a Name for Your Pressure or Power Washing Business

Once you have decided to start a pressure / power washing company and have chosen the form of business you will use, you will want to choose a name for your company. Your company name should create a clear impression in someones mind what you do. Your company name should be easy to remember, and should sound professional. Long, needlessly complicated names are often harmful to your business’s success. It is also important to keep in mind that most listings are alphabetical. Therefore, if you choose a name like “Zebra Pressure Washing”, you will always be last on the list. If you choose “AAA Power Washing”, you will always be first. Search the internet for striping company names.  You cannot use a name if it is already being used in your state, however,  if you are in Florida and someone is California has a name you like you can most likely use it because you are in different states.

If you are forming a corporation, you can visit your State’s division of corporations on the internet and see if the name you would like is available. If an online search is not available you can call them. If you are forming a sole proprietorship or partnership you will need to check with your county clerk about filing for a fictitious name. In most states and counties you can use your own name and then “Power or Pressure Washing” and you do not have to file for a fictitious name since that is your legal name already. Check with your local business license office to be sure. Whatever you pick, make sure it is what you want since it is an inconvenience to have to change it later.

Here are some good names that I have seen over the years:

  • Affordable Pressure Washing
  • Aqua Force Pressure Washing
  • Aqua Man Power Washing
  • H20 Washing
  • Hydro Clean Power Washing
  • Wash Away Cleaning

That is just a few. Good luck with your business.

Marketing and Advertising your Pressure Power Washing Business

Once you have gone through all steps of starting your pressure washing business, you are ready to start working on a power washing marketing or advertising program. Things like advertising, cold calling, building an internet site,  placing yellow page ads, logos, business cards, passing out flyers, signs, and even word of mouth are all components that make up what people refer to as “marketing”. Marketing your business is simply a way of attracting customers to your business instead of them going elsewhere. Think of it as connecting demand to supply.  To do this customers have to be able to find you and choose you over other companies. A good marketing program should be:

– Professional
– It should clearly convey your message
– It should be targeted to your customers
– It should be cost efficient
– It should be labor efficient
– It should be organized
– It should get results
– It should get long lasting results

For pressure washing your potential customer can be anyone who owns a house, boat,  car or anything else that needs cleaning.  Also, anyone who owns a commercial business.  Especially places like restaurants where range hoods need to be cleaned constantly. The good news is that your market is vast and broad.  The bad news is that it is difficult to reach individual customers with any type of target marketing.  Target marketing is where you find a customer that needs the service and make direct contact with them.  This type of marketing is relatively inexpensive. Broad based marketing is where you are reaching out to a large group.  This type of marketing is generally more expensive. 

Target type marketing for pressure washing can be implemented using market segments. To do this you would establish a type of business you would target. Boat marinas would be an example of this. A google search will help you create a list of marinas and this will allow you to target these customers with some very inexpensive advertising. You will make direct contact with these customers normally via mail or a phone call. The customers in this category have a high potential of becoming customers which is why you will target them specifically.

To reach the other customers such as residential clients you would use a broader based advertising program so that customers that you did not find through your target marketing program could easily find you. I will start with some target marketing ideas and then move on to a broader based approach.

Target Marketing

To reach potential customers using a target marketing approach you simply follow these easy steps.

1. Make a list of businesses that typically have items that need pressure washing on a regular basis. Apartments, hospitals, retirement homes, retail stores, car dealers, marinas, restaurants etc.. would be some potential customers.

2. If you need addresses for these customers, go to the property appraisers site on the internet and enter the property address to get the propery owners name and address. This is occasionally out of town which is fine. The owner or manager is normally the one who is responsible for cleaning and maintenance. If they have a management company that handles the property they will often refer you to them. For shopping centers simply call the number on the “for lease” signs in vacant units and send a letter to the management company that handles the facility.  For hospitals, malls, factories, etc… use the main address for the establishment and mark it attention “Maintenance Supervisor”.

3. Send a professional letter stating that you power wash. Include your business card and any other information such as your years in business, the jobs you have done, hours of operation, insurance and workers compensation information. Keep track of who you have sent letters to. When you get responses make a note. After a few months send out new letters to those who have not responded.

This type of target marketing will normally result in quite a few jobs. Most will be commercial and many will lead to monthly contracts.

Broad Based Marketing

Some customers are going to be hard to reach with a target marketing program. It will be necessary for them to find you on their own. Broad based marketing does this by making your company information available to customers who look for it. An internet site would be an example of this. I have listed below several ways to get your name out starting from the cheapest way to the most expensive way.  Remember to use several methods.  The goal is for people to easily find you.

1. Google Local Business. Do a search on www.google.com for google local business and you will get a variety of links that will allow you to put your business on googles local business site for free. When someone in your area types in power washing or pressure washing your business will come up.  A map of your location will also appear.

2. Yahoo Local Business. Search www.yahoo.com for local business.  Also, do a search for carpet cleaning on yahoo and you will see their section of free business listings. This is similar to the google service and it is also free. Look for the “add business” link at the bottom of the page.

3. Craigslist is a very popular free local classified service. It is available all over the country. It is localized in that there are special craigslist pages for the major cities in the US. Simply advertise on the one for your city or the one nearest you.

4. Business Website. Having your own business website is very helpful and not necessarily expensive. I have used godaddy.com to host some sites with good results. There are also several other good companies that have online web building tools for you to use. Include plenty of content in your website as well as pictures. Make sure the title of your site includes the city you are in so that when people search they find you. You would use something like Superior Pressure Washing and Cleaning Service Los Angeles CA . This lets the search engines know what and where you are. Look at other power washing websites and see how they lay out there sites. You will give you a good idea of how yours needs to look.

5. Local newspaper business directories. Most papers have a business directory that is often inexpensive to advertise in. Put your business in as many as you can afford. It is effective to pay a small amount extra to make your ad stand out.

6. Yellow Page advertising. This was one of the best ways to reach people and also the most expensive. With the internet, yellow pages have become almost obsolete. If you have a business phone you will normally get a free listing. You can pay a little more you can get a bold or larger listing. I personally would recommend an in column type ad

7. Signs on Telephone Poles or the Roadside. Many counties do not allow signs in the right of way but check with yours to see. A sign company can make some small signs for you that say Pressure Washing and then your phone number. If you can do this type of advertising it is fairly effective.

Lastly, bidding jobs is a very important part of your marketing program. Make sure to show up prepared and on time. When doing bids make sure your proposal is neat and professional. Break out the different parts of the job without  making it confusing. Make sure the customer has all the information they need to make a decision. Put your business license , insurance and workers comp information on the letter at the bottom especially on commercial jobs.

If you follow these basic steps you should stay as busy as you want to be.