How to Start a $120K/Month Pressure Washing Business

  • Brandon Boushy by Brandon Boushy
  • 3 weeks ago
  • Blog
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Roger pressure washing driveway

Did you know the average pressure washing business made nearly $96,000 in 2021? That’s pretty impressive because most power washing companies are one-person operations. We’re going to show you how to start a pressure washing business that succeeds faster than the industry.

We interviewed five power washing business owners to learn how successful pressure washing businesses operate. We’ll share insights from the following professional pressure washers:

  • Stephen Rogers: Bringing in more than $1.4 million a year with NW Softwash.
  • Ilia Nazarov: Owner of Washing Racoons makes more than $500k annually.
  • Ryan Woods: Started Emerald City Power Washing in 2019 and makes over $10k monthly.
  • Ole Burns: Inspired by UpFlip videos to start Burns Pro Wash in April 2022 and has already made a $4,500 profit in his first month.
  • Allen Cox: With more than 17 years of pressure washing experience, he’s made up to $100,000 in a month as a pressure cleaning solopreneur.
  • Corey Edmonds: Pacific Northwest Pro Wash owner making more than $300k annually in the pressure cleaning industry.

Starting a pressure washing business has never been so easy! We’ll walk you through the process from choosing a business name to getting licenses, and operating your new business. Get ready to learn how to start a pressure washing company.

Learn About Pressure Washing

To understand how to start a pressure washing business, you need to understand the industry. There are two aspects of the industry that are crucial you learn about:

  1. The structure of the power washing industry
  2. Pressure washing equipment and skills

Let’s look at the industry real quick.

Pressure Washing Industry

Pressure washing is considered part of NCIS code 561790. IBIS World has an external building cleaners report that covers everything you could possibly want to know about the industry. It is available for $925 and you might want to purchase it before you apply for business loans.

The pressure washing industry is part of the nearly 86,000 businesses in the external building cleaners report. These businesses have an average revenue of $95,796, an average profit margin of 8.44%, and the owners normally take home approximately $50,000.

Some of the most successful pressure washing businesses make way more though. NW Softwash makes $120k per month and based on the numbers in the interview, the pressure washing business owner takes home around $30k/ month. Check out our interview with Stephen about his power washing business.

Breakdown of Industry Revenue and Profit.

A pressure washing business owner should expect revenue to be spent on the following expenses:

  1. Wages: 21-31% of revenue
  2. Purchases: 31-50% on equipment, vehicles, and other purchases
  3. Marketing: Three percent to 1.5%, but many successful power washers spend 8-12%
  4. Rent: Power washing rent expenses average 1-2% of revenue, but many people run their services from home offices. A home office can make the rent expense more of an on-paper cost rather than an actual monetary expense.
  5. Utilities: Normally utilities are nominal, between 1/3 of a percent and 2.1% of revenue.
  6. Depreciation: Between one and two percent of revenue
  7. Other Costs: 17.8% to 22.8% of revenue
  8. Profit: The Net Income Ratio is between 5.6% to 8.4%, but you can increase it dramatically through automating services. Stephen told us:

“Our profit margins are typically 20-30%”

Pressure Washing Skills

Pressure washing a driveway sounds easy, but if you want to make money doing it, you’ll need to master using your pressure washing equipment. Home and business owners expect quality results.

However, if you know how to efficiently and effectively pressure wash stone, cement, wood, roofing, and other materials, you’ll make your pressure washing company stand out from the rest. To do this, you will need to study, practice, and hone your skills.

Power Washing Resources

Some of the best power washing business resources are:

  1. Hands-on Practice: Learn and get paid by another pressure washing business to develop skills.
  2. Environmental Protection Agency: Learn about the pressure washing business regulations.
  3. United Association of Mobile Contract Cleaners (UAMCC): Certifications, publications, online learning, hands-on learning
  4. YouTube Videos: Check out pressure washing videos about different materials and what not to do.

Like any business, you’ll need to continually update your pressure washing skills to utilize new techniques and technology.

Don’t forget to practice with your new power washing equipment before taking the first pressure washing customer.

What Do You Need to Start Your Own Pressure Washing Business?

One basic assumption about pressure washing is that it is easy. It doesn’t take a lot of skill, muscle, or brainpower. While there are certainly businesses that require more talent than others, pressure washing is not as simple as it may appear.

Here are a few of the most important attributes that you will need to successfully start and run a pressure washing business.

How to Budget Your Pressure Washing Business

A man holding a white note book and a black pen

Before we talk about a budget, it’s important to remember that budgets are not always static figures. They can change as your business grows or your goals shift. According to Corey Edmonds, the owner of Pacific Northwest ProWash, starting a pressure-washing business is easier if you have a budget. The budget should include all the business costs. You’ll want to consider both start-up costs and ongoing costs.

Keep reading for more tips on how to start a pressure washing business.

Power Washing Business Start-Up Costs

You can start a successful pressure washing business with low start-up costs. Depending on your current scenario, you’ll need the following:

  • Pressure Washer: $100 – $3000
  • Vehicle: $0 – $35,000
  • Auto Insurance: $1,427 (average annual cost)
  • Water Tank: $100 – $900
  • Smartphone and plan: $0 – $500
  • Business Software: $0 – $500
  • Nozzles and Hoses: $20 – $100
  • Marketing: $0 – $5,000
  • TOTAL: $220 – $47,000

Most of our business owners started for less than $5,000. Ryan Woods told us:

“Well, you would want a pressure washer for one, that’s the main thing and that’s gonna run you at least a $1000. You’re gonna want an extension pole. That is only about 160 bucks. And then a line or two. You’re gonna need at least 150 feet of line to start with.

You don’t wanna be pulling the pressure washer around and that’s gonna run you $300 and then placing ads, you’re gonna wanna find a good company which can be very hard, but it at least placed the ads on Craigslist and you’re talking five or $10 a day. I would recommend Yelp.”

Hear more about Ryan’s strategies for starting a pressure washing business.

Business Plan

Sometimes, people start a business without really knowing where they plan to take it. While this can work out in the end, it is a risky method. Instead, you should go into your business with a clear goal in mind.

Do you want to make $100k/year and create a high-value business? Great! Create a business plan that outlines each step you will need to take to get there. Check out our blog about business plans. You’ll also need the equipment.

LEARN MORE: We’ve partnered with Chris Mondragan, who makes 7-figure with his cleaning business. Check our our masterclass here.

Equipment

A man washing the front gate with a pressure washer

People interested in the outdoor cleaning industry almost always ask the same question, what equipment do I need to start a pressure washing business? This is one of the most important parts of the start-up process. Without the right equipment, you cannot operate a successful pressure washing business. At a MINIMUM, you will need the following:

  • Commercial-Grade Pressure Washer – If you show up to a client’s home with a $100 portable pressure washer, it could tarnish your business reputation. While a cheap pressure washer might be fine while you save up for a better one, it should be a very temporary option. If you want to do a good job and get positive feedback from your clients, you should invest in a commercial-grade pressure washer as soon as possible.
  • Water Tank – Many properties don’t have access to a spigot or functioning water source. To account for this kind of situation, you will need to have a sizeable water tank (100 gallons or more) supplied with clean water.
  • Nozzles and Hoses – Different surfaces and materials require different levels and types of water pressure. These nozzles typically range from 0 to 65 degrees, according to the scope of the stream they produce. You’ll also want to have extra nozzles on hand in case one breaks or gets damaged on the job. Similarly, you’ll want to have back-up hoses (100 feet or longer) to ensure that you’re prepared for every job.
  • Vehicle – Every pressure washing business needs either a truck or van capable of hauling all of the necessary equipment to different job sites. Your vehicle will need to be reliable and, ideally, look professional. If you have a vehicle that you want to use but it is not capable of carrying a pressure washer on its own, you will need to acquire a pressure washer trailer and trailer hitch.
  • Portable Device – Even if you have an excellent memory and top-notch math skills, you will still need a smartphone or portable laptop to manage your business.
  • Software- You’ll also need software to keep track of your income, expenses, client information, employee salaries, and tax information. We suggest Jobber for service businesses like pressure washers. Jobber helps you manage every interaction with your clients and employees straight from your phone. From bidding, to GPS, to accepting payments, Jobber is the #1 CRM for pressure washers.

As you can see, there’s no pre-packaged pressure washing business start-up kit. There are various pieces of equipment that you will need to invest in, some of which will require significant funds upfront. However, if you already have a vehicle capable of moving a commercial pressure washer, you’ve already checked the most expensive item off your list!

Don’t forget to get equipment insurance for your pressure cleaning tools.

Consider Buying a Pressure Washing Business

If all the legwork sounds difficult, you might want to buy an existing pressure washing business. We’ve got you covered there too!  Learn how to establish the value of a business then take a look at our pressure washing business listings.

If you’re looking for a pressure washing business for sale, there are plenty of options on the market starting at $28,000. This saves you the time and effort of building your own business infrastructure from scratch and gives you the opportunity to just buy a pressure washing company. Car detailing also uses similar tools.

 Start-Up Costs

We’ve gone into a little more detail on some of the startup costs. Keep reading to learn more about each.

Pressure Washer

On average, commercial or industrial pressure washers cost between $1,000 and $3,000. You can save some on these costs by purchasing a used pressure washer, though you should always be wary when purchasing second-hand equipment for your business. If you’re short on cash and are willing to start small, you could also buy a portable pressure washer from your local home improvement store.

A personal pressure washer can cost anywhere between $100 to $1,000. Keep in mind that smaller pressure washers are not meant for commercial use, so they are more likely to fall into disrepair after a year or even just a few months of regular use.

Also, homeowners can easily purchase these kinds of pressure washers on their own. If a client sees that you use a non-commercial pressure washer, they will be less inclined to pay for your services.

Vehicle

Next, you will need to consider a vehicle. This is easily the most expensive aspect of your business, both in terms of the initial price and ongoing costs (maintenance, insurance, etc). If you already have a van or truck, consider yourself lucky; a new utility truck will run upwards of $30,000.

Water Tank

A water tank is not a necessity if you plan on starting small. You can confirm with each of your clients that there is an available water source on the property before accepting the job.

However, if you want to expand your potential client base and be prepared for unexpected events (like no running water on a job site), you should invest in a water tank. A 100-gallon water tank will usually cost between $100 and $200. Needless to say, larger tanks will be more expensive and more difficult to transport.

Work Device and Business Software

A man working on his laptop

Next, you’ll need to consider acquiring a work device and business software. Most people already have a smartphone, but if you don’t, you’ll definitely want to get one.

Clients will need to contact you, even when you’re on a job site, so having a wired home or office phone won’t cut it. A basic smartphone will cost at least $100, not including the phone plan (anywhere between $20-$100 per month).

Thankfully, there is plenty of free business and accounting software available to download on mobile devices or computers. That said, free software almost always lacks some of the best features provided in paid software. While using free software can help you cut costs, it may also prevent you from running your business efficiently. On average, paid business or accounting software will cost around $300. In any case, you will need to evaluate the pros and cons of POS systems before you make a decision.

*Pro Tip: Some software programs require a monthly subscription, while others only require a one-time fee.

Marketing

No one will know about your pressure washing company unless you tell them it exists! This means that you will need to invest in advertising or promoting your business in your city or local community. You should take advantage of free advertising (social media, word-of-mouth, etc.) whenever possible, but you may need to pay for radio, television, online, or newspaper ads as well. Once your business is up and running, the US Small Business Administration recommends spending no more than 8% of your budget on marketing.

Nozzles and Hoses

Finally, extra nozzles and hose kits will be one of your smallest initial investments for your pressure washing business. Most pressure washing can start with a small supply and additionals for one machine. Generally, you can expect to pay between $20 to $100.

Pro Tip: You may already own these pieces of equipment, which means you won’t need to invest new funds into these areas.

All of the prices above are also based on the assumption that you plan to start as a one-person operation. If you plan to start your business with one or more employees, you will also need to factor in salaries, benefits, and payroll taxes.

You’ll also need to factor in the cost and time it will take to register your business as an LLC or a similar commercial entity. A pressure washing business doesn’t require any special licensing, but you will need to register your business with your state and local government. If you don’t, you could be fined for running your business outside of the law.

Pricing

A businessman holding an iPad

Now that we’ve covered your initial startup costs, it’s time to move on to pricing. Power washing business pricing varies by location, types of services, and the current demand, just to name a few factors. However, you can get a general idea of how to price your services based on your expenses, the average cost of pressure washing services, and the type of services you provide.

How Much to Charge for Pressure Washing

There are essentially three ways to determine the price of a pressure washing job: space, time, or service. According to HomeGuide, the average cost of pressure washing services falls between $0.35 – $0.77 per square foot. If you choose to charge by the hour (as opposed to the area), the average price per hour can be anywhere between $50 to $150.

Here is a breakdown of average prices for different pressure washing services:

  • Driveway – $0.50 per square foot
  • Patio or Deck – $0.55 per square foot
  • Fencing – $0.45 per square foot
  • Roofing – $0.70 per square foot
  • Siding – $0.50 per square foot

Many businesses offer set prices for certain kinds of services. This can make budgeting easier for both the business and the client.

For example, your business could charge a set fee of $100 to pressure wash a deck, $150 to pressure wash a driveway, and $250 to pressure wash the exterior of a house. Not only will you need to decide which services to provide, but also how much to charge for each of these services.

To decide on a final price, you will also need to consider the cost of your services. Since the most commonly-requested pressure washing service is the driveway, we will use this as an example.

The Cost to Pressure Wash a Driveway

Assuming you’re a one-person operation, the primary costs associated with the work will be fuel and time. The average driveway will take 1-2 hours to pressure wash (though driveways can vary greatly in size and length).

The cost of fuel (for both your vehicle and pressure washer) will depend on the size of the driveway and the distance you need to drive from your home or business location. That said, you can calculate your costs by assuming that you will use approximately two gallons per hour on the job (including travel time).

The cost of your time is much trickier to calculate. You want to make enough to offset your business expenses and compensate for wear-and-tear on your equipment.

So, this number will largely depend on the cost of your existing business expenses. If you’re just starting out with basic equipment, you can estimate that the cost to you will be around $20-$30 per hour, plus the cost of fuel.

So, if you’re pressure washing a small driveway (1 hour of labor) by yourself with a 1-hour roundtrip commute, it will cost your business about $65 (assuming fuel is $2.50 per gallon) to pressure wash one driveway. If you have employees, you will need to add their approximate hourly cost to this figure.

Pressure Washing Business Income

Man holding a tablet with the word profit

Now that you have an idea of how much each job will cost your business, it’s time to figure out how much money you’re going to make from each job. Looking at the driveway example, you can see that you would need to charge $65 just to break even. However, breaking even won’t do you any good!

How to Bid Pressure Washing Jobs

So, how much should you charge your client? You should try to find a rate that strikes a balance between profit (for you) and affordability (for your customers). That said, you should generally aim to make at least a 100% profit off of each short-term job. That means that the driveway (which costs your business $65 to power wash) would cost your client $130. This would give you a $65 profit.

This also works out well because as a general rule of thumb, you should not be charging less than $100 per job unless the job is extremely simple or the client has a special discount with your business.  Ideally, every time you finish a job, half of the money goes back into the business, while the other half goes directly in your pocket!

However, if you have clients who want to hire your services regularly, you will need to factor this into the equation. Long-term customers expect a discounted rate, as they will provide your business with steady income going forward.

Nonetheless, you should never set your rate lower than it costs your business to get the job done. You should always charge at least 25% more than your costs. So, if the same client wants you to pressure wash their driveway once a month (which costs you $65 every time), you should charge at least $80 per month for this service.

So, how much can you expect to make annually? Naturally, this will largely depend on the success of your marketing, your ability to find new clients, and your ability to retain clients. The truth is that the sky is the limit! However, in addition to your business income, you will need to have the right business strategy to successfully operate and grow a power washing business.

How to Get Pressure Washing Contracts

The first step in a successful business strategy is securing contracts. One-off clients are great for making short-term income and increasing your word-of-mouth marketing, but they won’t keep your business going forever. To maintain a long-term pressure washing business, you need to land contracts.

Contracts are agreements between your business and your clients. In essence, you agree to provide certain services over a set period of time in exchange for a weekly, monthly, or annual fee. In this way, contracts guarantee that you always have business income, even when you’re not getting a lot of one-off jobs.

So, how can you land contracts? According to business and pressure washing guru Corey Edmonds (from the video above), there are a number of ways that you can make your business stand out and secure long-term clients:

A white notepad with coloured pens on the side

  • Find the Pricing “Sweet Spot” for Your Location – When Corey first moved out to the Pacific Northwest, he fell flat on his face because he was charging astronomical rates for the work. Even though he found a few clients willing to pay the rates he was asking for, he ended up losing a lot of leads and business opportunities simply because his prices were too high. He steadily lowered his prices, eventually finding a price point that matched his own income goals with the expectations and budgets of his prospective clients.
  • Upsell Your Customer, But Don’t Be Pushy – Usually, clients will reach out to your pressure washing business with a specific need in mind. They might just need one side of a building cleaned or a small patio power washed. In any case, you should provide them with quotes for every available service that you have for their property. This way, they could end up paying for more of your services! However, you should never try to push services onto a customer who doesn’t want them. This is a quick way to lose clients and gain a bad reputation in the process.
  • Show the Value of Your Services – Clients want to know that they are paying for an improvement. Whenever you discuss service options and prices with a client, use the opportunity to show how your services can improve their property value. If a client can’t see the benefit of your services, they won’t want to pay for them.

As you can see, starting a pressure washing business requires a lot of preparation. You will need to have the right skills, equipment, and business plan in order to start and run a pressure washing business successfully. That said, it can be extremely profitable and well worth the effort. Just remember to heed the advice above before you get started

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8 thoughts on “How to Start a $120K/Month Pressure Washing Business”

  • Deana

    Quick question, how do you stand out as a pressure washing business if your city already has loads of them? Because often times, it’s hard to grow when you’re offering the same services as other pressure washing businesses.

    Reply
  • Aleks

    Corey definitely know what hes doing, making that kind of money in such short period of time is nothing short of amazing! Keep it up!

    Reply
  • Matt Weiland

    What type of complimentary work could be offered as extra services for a pressure wash business? Would something like landscaping, car detailing or tree cutting and removal work?

    Reply
  • Emerald Orata

    Is there a brand of pressure hose you can suggest?

    Reply
  • William

    The more capital I have, the more equipment I can buy. As my business grows I will be able to expand my tools. This can reduce the amount of my business loss.

    Reply
  • Power Washing of Richmond

    Highly informative material, and you did not make it boring like so many other writers tend to do. Captivating entry, solid conclusion. It is nice to see other people knowledgeable about our industry that are willing to provide helpful information. Especially liked the part about how to secure contracts! Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  • Saint Louis Power Washing

    Great article! Worth the read. This is a huge help for those wanting to enter this industry. The way you breakdown the different equipment is very detailed. Thank you for the wonderful article.

    Reply
  • Andrew Phillips

    I’d love to share my success about my pressure washing/paver sealing company.

    Reply

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