Gutters are excellent at collecting water from roofs and directing it down specific channels, but they also do a great job of collecting other debris. While homeowners can clear out this debris themselves, many prefer not to, aren’t comfortable on a ladder, or don’t have the time. Instead, they have a gutter cleaning business remove the leaves, branches, and other stuff that collects in their gutters over time.
Gutter cleaning is part of the ”building exterior cleaning industry”, a $9 billion industry that’s seen 5 percent annual growth over the past five years. The industry at large, and gutter cleaning, in particular, present many promising opportunities for prospective business owners.
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Learn how to start your own Gutter Cleaning Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a gutter cleaning business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Gutter Cleaning Business
- Form your Gutter Cleaning Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Gutter Cleaning Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Gutter Cleaning Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Gutter Cleaning Business
- Get Gutter Cleaning Business Insurance
- Define your Gutter Cleaning Business Brand
- Create your Gutter Cleaning Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your gutter cleaning 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 are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a gutter cleaning business ?
A gutter cleaning business can be started for less than $2,000, especially if business owners already have some equipment. Business owners need:
- A vehicle that can transport a ladder
- A ladder (24 or 32 feet is sufficient for most jobs)
- A ladder stabilizer (to keep the ladder off the gutters and for safety)
- Buckets and tarps (for collecting debris)
- Heavy-duty rubber gloves
Business owners may also want a pressure washer for quickly cleaning downspouts, and a leaf blower for quickly cleaning dry debris. These aren’t absolutely necessary.
Those who don’t have a vehicle that can carry a ladder can start out renting a truck whenever they have a job. Once the business generates enough income to purchase a larger vehicle, business owners can get something that will hold a ladder.
What are the ongoing expenses for a gutter cleaning business ?
The ongoing expenses for a gutter cleaning business are minimal. They include fuel, vehicle maintenance, and insurance premiums.
Who is the target market?
The primary market for a gutter cleaning business is homeowners who can afford to contract out at least some home maintenance. These tend to be middle, upper-middle, and upper class homeowners.
How does a gutter cleaning business make money?
A gutter cleaning business charges homeowners for cleaning out their home’s gutters. Business owners will frequently base their fees on how many linear feet of gutters a home has, although they may calculate a flat rate for the whole job. It’s also common to charge more for second-story gutters than first-story ones.
As an example, assume a business owner charges $1.00 per linear foot for first-story gutters and $1.50 per foot for second-story gutters. On a two-story house with 80 feet of first-story gutters and 45 feet of second-story gutters, the price would come to $147.50 (80 ft. x $1.00 + 45 ft. $1.50). The business owner may quote $150 to the customer for this job.
How much can you charge customers?
Gutter cleaning costs vary quite a bit. The Roofer’s Helper mentions charging $75 for a typical ranch house and $100 for a standard two-story home. Shoestring Profits gives an example of $45 for a garage and $120 for a two-story home, or $165 for both. Some businesses charge even more than this.
The best way to determine how much to charge is by simply requesting quotes from competitors. Business owners should price themselves similar to or slightly below other companies in their area.
How much profit can a gutter cleaning business make?
Business owners might earn between $200 and $300 in a full day, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to a $75,000 annual income. Work is seasonal, with most customers wanting their gutters cleaned in the fall. It can be difficult to schedule a full day of work the rest of the year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
There are many ways that business owners can increase their revenue. Many business owners offer to make minor gutter repairs while working, and some offer gutter guards. It’s also common for gutter cleaners to offer leaf removal, window washing, and skylight cleaning services.
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 Gutter Cleaning 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.
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 gutter cleaning 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!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business 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 in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C 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.
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.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
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.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report 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.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
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 Divvy 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
Most states require retail businesses to obtain a seller’s permit. A seller’s permit enables states to record and collect taxes from the sale of taxable goods and services. More information can be found here:
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.
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.
Businesses are required to register vehicles which will travel across state lines for commercial purposes. Check here for a list of state requirements.
Class B Driver Licensing Requirements
In most states, licences are issued by classes, operating according to the weight of the vehicle being driven. Drivers of standard cars and trucks require a class A commercial driver’s license (CDL), while operators of heavier vehicles, including most tow trucks, require a Class B CDL to operate. More information can be found here.
Oversize Vehicle Permits
Some states, including Michigan, require a towing businesses to obtain an oversize/overweight vehicle permit for its tow trucks, sometimes also referred to as “wreckers.” More information about state weight load permitting can be found here.
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.
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.
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 gutter cleaning business
Because a gutter cleaning business serves a defined geographic region, marketing methods should be focused on reaching homeowners in the area. Business cards, flyers, yard signs and local search engine optimization are all effective ways to promote a gutter cleaning business.
Once they’re established, business owners can sometimes get multiple jobs at once by talking with homeowners associations. Many HOAs will pass on gutter cleaning specials to their members if the price is decent and the company has a good reputation. By getting several jobs close together, business owners can afford to reduce their price slightly and they can get more jobs done in a day.
How to keep customers coming back
Business owners who are professional and charge a fair price will see a lot of repeat customers. In this industry, just showing up on time and doing good work goes a long way.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
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.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
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.
Start a Gutter Cleaning Business in your State
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Is this Business Right For You?
Anyone who likes being outside may enjoy running a gutter cleaning business. Business owners shouldn’t be afraid of heights, since they’ll spend much of their time up on ladders. And, while it can be a dirty job, they’ll get to spend their time outside working on people’s homes.
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 gutter cleaning business ?
Business owners spend as much time cleaning gutters as possible, and they’ll try to line up multiple cleanings in a single day. When not cleaning gutters or driving to customers’ locations, business owners spend time marketing and disposing of debris.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful gutter cleaning business ?
While gutter cleaning isn’t the most complex work, it is more involved than many people assume. For example, there are several ways to clean gutters. The best method depends on the debris being removed and roof slope:
- Leaf blowers can be used for jobs that have low-grade roofs and only dry debris.
- Scooping from the roof is possible for jobs with low- and mid-grade roofs.
- Setting up ladders about every 6 feet is best for jobs with steep roofs.
Of course, business owners should know how to safely walk on roofs and use ladders. The Roofer’s Helper also points out several other items to consider, such as where debris is dropped and how to clean outlets.
Business owners who don’t have experience cleaning gutters may want to spend a season working for another business in the industry, as this lets prospective business owners get paid while gaining experience. Alternatively, there are several videos on YouTube that provide all necessary information. Lowe’s has a popular one.
What is the growth potential for a gutter cleaning business ?
A gutter cleaning business can be a small one-person operation or it can grow into a large company with services in multiple locations. MJ Richardson in Syracuse, NY is an example of a smaller gutter cleaning business that serves the surrounding area. We Get Gutters is a much larger company with locations in 37 states.
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 gutter cleaning business ?
Business owners who don’t have experience might want to begin by offering to clean family members’ and friends’ gutters for free. Business owners can practice before charging someone for their time, and they can post a sign in front of each home they work on to advertise their services. Doing just a few homes around town will give business owners exposure in several different neighborhoods and developments.
How and when to build a team
Many business owners start out working by themselves, and some decide to never hire employees. Those who do bring on workers do so as their customer base and revenue grows.