A graffiti removal business removes unwanted graffiti from a variety of surfaces and buildings. This is most commonly done via pressure washing and repainting. Even in smaller towns, graffiti is everywhere. Your removal business will be hired by business owners, school boards, city managers, and other authority figures to remove this unwanted graffiti.
Learn how to start your own Graffiti Removal Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.
Start a graffiti removal business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Graffiti Removal Business
- Form your Graffiti Removal Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Graffiti Removal Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Graffiti Removal Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Graffiti Removal Business
- Get Graffiti Removal Business Insurance
- Define your Graffiti Removal Business Brand
- Create your Graffiti Removal Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your graffiti removal business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Graffiti Removal Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening a graffiti removal business?
Arguably, one of the most attractive features of a graffiti removal business is the extremely low cost to get started. You will need a truck large enough to transport your equipment, which should cost no more than $32,000 (although if you already have a suitable vehicle, you can simply us that). You will need a pressure washer, which will be no more than $1000 (and this is for some of the fanciest models—there are washers as low as $100). And you will need to buy paint to help with repainting, which you will likely purchase as you go along (so that you can determine the exact colors you will need to repaint a surface). You may decide to spend a few thousand on traditional advertising, but your business can get a lot of attention via a free or low-cost website and a social media account—these highly-visual mediums can let you showcase the “before and after” photos of your work, which is a great way to advertise.
What are the ongoing expenses for a graffiti removal business?
Along with the relatively low cost to start your business, the low ongoing expenses are very attractive. Month to month, you are basically paying for fuel for your vehicle (and it is appropriate to charge customers for traveling to them, absorbing this cost) and new pain as needed. This means that the vast majority of the money that you take in goes towards your profit margin.
Who is the target market?
The “bread and butter” clients for a graffiti removal business are business owners and school boards. These people represent areas most often afflicted by graffiti. To a lesser extent, private homeowners and city managers will also require your services from time to time.
How does a graffiti removal business make money?
A graffiti removal business makes money by charging clients to remove their unwanted graffiti and, if necessary, to repaint the area. You should decide early on if your business will only charge for services rendered (getting paid one removal at a time) or if you would like to charge a monthly fee to be “on call” for that client or business if they should need you at any time.
How much can you charge customers?
If the client is not paying a monthly fee for your services, then you would typically charge them between one and three dollars per square foot of the area you are expected to clean. You may also consider charging between thirty to seventy dollars to drive out there: this will help pay for fuel and equipment costs. Feel free to negotiate higher prices for more difficult conditions (say, having to remove the graffiti from a tall tower that is difficult to access).
How much profit can a graffiti removal business make?
The exact profit your business can make is determined largely by the area you live in and the regular contracts you get. For instance, government offices like the Ohio DOT spend $17,000 a year removing graffiti, and that is is just for one building. There are countless government buildings, schools, and private businesses affected by graffiti each year, and as indicated above, the vast majority of the money you bring in becomes a pure profit for you. Thus, enough clients and enough hustle can make this a very lucrative job!
How can you make your business more profitable?
Don't be afraid to charge higher fees, especially if there is little competition in your area. Consider giving yourself a built-in gimmick, such as low toxicity paint. You may also consider offering other services, such as spray sealants, which help add value to your services. Above all, never stop showing off your work via social media—your job is rooted in the community, and the more the community can see how you are cleaning things up, the more work you'll have.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your graffiti removal business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 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. It's really easy and free!
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.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
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.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 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 & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a graffiti removal business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
For 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 US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Graffiti removal businesses should consider requiring clients to sign a service agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example service agreement.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your graffiti removal business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business 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.
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.
FInd out what types of insurance your Graffiti Removal Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Graffiti Removal Business.
STEP 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.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a graffiti removal business
Depending on your area, traditional marketing via television, radio, and newspaper can be a good way to announce your presence. However, as mentioned earlier, online marketing is most effective for your business, and it costs virtually nothing: a free or low-cost website can provide all of the info that clients need, while social media accounts allow you to share images and videos that show off what a great job you do. Considering that your job is to essentially restore surfaces to their former glory, visually showing off your skills is the greatest way to advertise!
How to keep customers coming back
As mentioned earlier, the Holy Grail for a graffiti removal business is to sell local businesses, schools, and city offices on a monthly plan where they pay you a fixed fee to have your business “on call” for any graffiti issues that occur. This gives them peace of mind and gives you a regular paycheck. Aside from that, retaining customers is mostly a matter of extensive client communication before, during, and after the graffiti removal process: if they like you and like your work, you will quickly become their go-to person for handling this.
STEP 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 makes 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 - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
STEP 10: Set up 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, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact 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 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
While experience is not a prerequisite, this job is great for someone who has extensive experience painting various surfaces, as repainting is a major part of the removal process. Similarly, experience with a pressure washer can help you be more efficient when you start. Otherwise, the business is ideal for those like to work alone—aside from your brief interactions with clients, much of your actual work day is spent by yourself.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a graffiti removal business?
The day-to-day activities of a graffiti removal expert are actually pretty straightforward. You will take calls from existing clients and make calls to prospective clients. You will then drive a truck or trailer to the afflicted area and use your equipment to remove the graffiti. You may choose to spend downtime working on advertising and client recruitment.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful graffiti removal business?
As mentioned earlier, existing skill with things like painting and pressure-washing can be a big help as you are starting. Additionally, being part of several of your community's networks would be handy: having a good relationship with members of the law enforcement, education, and/or business communities can help you translate your social relationship to a working relationship.
What is the growth potential for a graffiti removal business?
The exact growth potential for this business varies greatly by the area you work in. In more metropolitan areas (such as New York City and even Toronto), such businesses typically do quite well for themselves. As you may imagine, the exact growth of your business is tied with the amount of graffiti that is added each month: more people living in the area means more graffiti, which adds up to more business for you.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a graffiti removal business?
As with many businesses, it's good to scope out the competition. This helps you to determine the exact market and need for your services and gives you an idea of what the community may expect from your services. If you have the space at home, you should start out by practicing removing graffiti that you yourselves have added to a variety of surfaces, helping you to “practice.” Finally, try to conduct quiet inquiries with law enforcement officials to get an idea of just how prevalent graffiti in your community actually is.
How and when to build a team
Most graffiti removal businesses work alone, since that means not having to split profits with anyone. However, if there are more clients than you can handle on a regular basis, it may be time to expand your team. Keep in mind that for most projects, team members will be working solo, so every member that you add will need their own truck and equipment.