You do not need a pressure washing license in Florida. However, you will need a business license. But, read this article to learn exactly how to start a pressure washing business. Here’s what you need to know to stay legal and protected.
Why Start A Pressure Washing Business
There are many reasons why people want to start a pressure washing business. The main reason is to work independently without being capped on income. There are other reasons people start pressure washing companies.
Here are some other reasons:
- Work autonomously
- Make your own hours
- Want to work outdoors and be in the sun
- Getting paid per job and not by the hour
- Like the idea of working for oneself and having control over one’s own business
Pros And Cons Of Starting A Pressure Washing Business
It is important to know the pros and cons of starting a pressure washing business. One benefit is knowing the correct procedures (business contract agreements, obtaining a sales tax id number, or federal tax id number, fictitious business name registration, pressure washing licenses, what to do after opening a pressure washing business).
Example Scenario: You don’t want to cut into paint or cause mold issues because your single services pressure washing business failed to mention the fact you only know washing driveways. Your pressure wash business includes washing driveways, but pressure washing a driveway is different than pressure washing a deck or fence. Extreme power create damage to the wood when using a red tip on your pressure washer. You have to know what you’re actually doing when pressure cleaning professionally.
You can avoid similar pitfalls by learning about the pros and cons of power washing businesses. Here they are.
Pros of starting a power washing business:
There are advantages to starting a pressure washing business. The ultimate pros of starting your own business and exercising your freedom are to have a dream and achieve massive success.
Here are some great rewards:
- Average jobs pay $220 to $380
- Low startup costs
- Make your own hours
- If your business includes pressure washing driveways it’s easy to expand and offer power washing services and other pressure washer jobs
- High customer retention rates
- Self-employed business opportunity
- A business license does not cost much
- A portable pressure washing unit is all you need to get started
- You don’t need a license for pressure washing or a power washing license
- A private filing agency providing LLC formation services will set you up with a federal tax id number (business tax id/IRS number employer id), help with filing legal forms, fictitious business name registration, and help with business tax registration, and with getting a business permit.
- A small pressure washing business can quickly grow into a large mobile business or ultra pressure washing powerhouse
- Easy to get commercial jobs (e.g., partner up with an excavation dirt services business)
Cons of starting a power washing business:
There are downsides also to owning a pressure washing business. One pressure washing business challenge is the amount of work you put into managing your business. Wonder what other challenges you have to overcome owning and operating your own pressure washer business? Here are some beyond the mere business license process.
Challenges you will face owning a pressure washing business:
- Motivating employees
- Covering a job if an employee gets sick
- Seasonal periods of slow time
- High liability
- Expensive advertising costs
- Obtaining new power equipment
- Obtaining the correct general business license
- Having enough personal assets to obtain business loans
- Business insurance can be expensive
- A sole proprietorship could mean personal losses (being personally responsible in the eyes of the law)
What You Need To Start A Pressure Washing Business
The opportunities are endless when you want to start a pressure washing business; however, most people get stuck in the start-up costs and understanding of proper protection of themselves and the business. Here are some ideas to get launched in your own successful professional pressure washing company.
- Independent Contractor License
- Business Insurance
- Employer State Tax registration where needed
- Annual Business License Tax
- Limited Liability Corporation ( Call any business license service)
- Pressure Cleaning business groups
- Start as a Sole Proprietor Pressure Washer Service (using your own social security number)
- Obtaining a Federal Tax Id
How To Start A Pressure Washing Business
So how would we suggest starting a successful pressure washing business that you can enjoy long term and avoid all the pitfalls most startups run into their first 3-5 years? Here is a clear plan you can count on in moving forward by providing professional pressure washing services.
- Find your target market
- Form a legal entity
- Register for taxes
- Open a business bank account & credit card
- Set up business accounting
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses
- Get business insurance
- Define your brand
- Create your business website
- Setup your business phone system
Important Note: We have put together this simple guide to starting your pressure washing business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly, and legally compliant.
Basic expenses include:
- Advertising and Marketing: At Lakeland Pressure Washing we use: Babble Agency, Best Back Link Service, Good Press Release, Best Social Media Service, Reputation Saviour, and Personal Assistant Fx) – ~$1,000+ per month. These agencies handle everything for us and keep us on the first page of Google so our phone continues to ring off the hook!
- Equipment Lease: Lease for power washing equipment and water tanks $2,000 down payment and $700 per month for the equivalent of $25,000 in equipment.
- Equipment Purchase: Alternately, you could buy pressure washing equipment for a larger upfront payment (which would save you money in the long run). Pressure washers range from a few hundred dollars to over $15,000. Consider which type of pressure washer you need to start your business. (We recommend starting with a Sun Joe Electric Pressure Washer)
- Vehicle Lease: We use a commercial van that is fitted with the power washing equipment – $450 per month. We also own a pressure washing truck and a pull-behind trailer fitted with commercial pressure washing equipment.
- Gasoline and vehicle maintenance $250 per month
Note: Good credit is needed for leases (e.g., equipment, truck/van, etc.).
Recommended: Have a few thousand dollars for the down payment, plus enough to pay lease payments for six months while you find customers.
Start this business with less than $10,000 in cash and finance the rest using credit. Make a goal to generate $2,000 or more per month in paid jobs to sustain your business.
1. Find your target market
Your target market, the customers might be homeowners, vehicle owners, government agencies (which need pressure washing services for roads and other government buildings/structures), and/or commercial property owners like restaurants and food chains.
Most pressure washing businesses do better by offering their services to all types of customers and have workers that are experts in doing certain kinds of pressure washing.
Besides seeking customers from the general public, it is advisable to get long-term contracts from commercial operations.
Commercial jobs include maintaining the exteriors of multiple commercial properties, cleaning a fleet of vehicles on a regular basis, pressure washing parking lots, etc.
2. Form a legal entity
The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation. Simply call business CPAs in your area and interview them by asking if they have any other clients that they do their taxes for, you will now have a CPA spilling the tea on how those business entities are structured and the best way to structure yours.
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your pressure washing business gets sued.
You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.
Recommended: We formed our own LLC using these business forms which cost next to nothing.
3. Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes, you will need to apply for an EIN (federal tax ID number). It’s really easy and free!
Learn how to get an EIN in our What is an EIN guide or find your existing EIN using our EIN lookup guide.
Small Business Taxes
Whatever Structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes with these terms:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
4. Open a business bank account and lines of credit
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and another financing in your business’s name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, also with net-30 vendors you can create a business credit line that will give you leverage and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company’s assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
- You can open in any local bank near you
- You can also choose a federal credit union and find their requirements for business loans
Apply for net-30 accounts
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Apply for a business credit card
Business credit cards may not come easy at first. It is best to build some business credit for your pressure washing business and then apply. The great thing about a business credit card is you can easily track expenses, set limits on how much employees can spend, and keep clean records for your accountant.
Here are some other benefits:
- Cashback on purchases
- Insurance on rental vehicles
- Travel insurance
- Airline miles
- Purchase security
- More business credit
5. Set up accounting for your pressure washing
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts simplifies your annual tax filing.
6. Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State and Local Business Licensing Requirements
In most states, it is necessary to obtain a wastewater discharge permit. More information about these permits can be found on your local state website.
You can learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply.
For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city, or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in the US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
In a business where services are provided on an extended basis, a services contract is often put in place outlining terms and conditions of service.
You may wish to require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project.
The agreement should always clarify client expectations and minimize the risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, and service level expectations.
Certificate of Occupancy
When pressure washing businesses operate from a physical location (like when offering a drive-thru pressure washing service for cars) a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) will be necessary. A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws, and government regulations have been met.
If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Make sure you confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a pressure washing business.
- A new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your pressure washing business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
7. Get business insurance
With the correct licenses and permits, your business also needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers’ Compensation Coverage.
8. Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors. We recommend using a digital marketing agency like Babble Agency to handle your branding, advertising, and marketing needs.
How to promote and market a pressure washing business
The best promotion comes from marketing and word of mouth. How it works:
- You market your business online
- Call leads who contact you
- Present pressure washing estimates (Free Resource: Pressure Washing Quote Template)
- Do the work
- Collect payment (Free Resource: How to Bid Pressure Washing Jobs)
- The happy customer recommends you to their friends and family
- More leads come in through word-of-mouth advertising
- More money is made
Giving discounts for repeat customers helps build a stable business. Offering a commission to related businesses such as an auto repair shop or a landscaping company for bringing you customers is another great way to increase business.
Contracts in this business often come from local government agencies looking to fix up part of the area. Establishing long-lasting relationships with government officials can help ensure your business is responsible for the restoration of your area.
As this is a service that is not crucial for everyone, it is important to consider your market. Residential customers with high disposable income tend to be the most valuable customers. Power washing is often needed at construction sites upon finishing.
Another good source of customers is homeowners who are putting their homes on the market. People usually want a house they are selling to look its best and that includes the cleanliness of its exterior.
9. Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that make the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple.
Recommended: For the best web hosting deals check out Web Hosting Champion.
10. Setup your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit. It also helps you make your business more automated, giving your business legitimacy and making it easier for potential customers to find and you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Final Thoughts: Setting Up A Pressure Washing Business
When setting up a pressure washing business make sure to cover all your bases. It may seem like a lot of work on the front end to get started and to do this, but it will save you problems later on.
Besides needing a pressure washer, pressure washing businesses need a business license to do power washing and pressure washing commercially. As a self-employed business person, you’ll be responsible for your own taxes and will need insurance. A power washing business independent contractor will need to be able to estimate and provide pressure washing services for different types of pressure washing jobs.
Frequently Asked Questions about Pressure Washing Services
Is pressure washing a good business to start?
Starting a Successful pressure washing business can be a great step if you don’t have a lot of money.
How often do most surfaces need pressure washing?
As a pressure washing company, we might want to say you should clean your house as often as you can afford to but the truth is, most houses are fine going a very long time without cleaning.
Do I need soap to pressure wash my driveway?
Most people would agree that hand washing without soap is not a good idea. The same principle holds true for pressure washing your home. Similarly, whether it’s your hands or your home, washing without soap takes longer to scrub away stains, requires water delivered at a higher pressure, and only removes the surface dirt.
What are the best Pressure washing companies to look for?
We recommend doing business with companies that are:
- Licensed, bonded, and insured as necessary
- Offer a range of pressure washing services for around your home or workplace
- Have healthy ratings on third party sites like Thumbtack, Angie’s List, Google, and Yelp
Should I consult an attorney or law firm when starting my pressure washing business?
Rather than a law firm we recommend forming an LLC with a proper business formation service company. Lawyers are expensive and aren’t really necessary for a power washer business. A formation service will help you get a business tax id number, file your articles of organization, and help you easily create an operating agreement. Most formation companies also offer registered agent services as well.