Start a roof cleaning business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your roof cleaning business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
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 long it will take you to break even?
- 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 roof cleaning business?
Fortunately, startup costs are low. A pressure cleaner can be purchased for as little as $2,000. Meanwhile, cleaning supplies can cost as little as $300 per month. While these costs are small, you’ll still need liability insurance. Having $1 to $2 million in liability insurance, after your company grows, is reasonable. This insurance is incredibly important, and it’ll defend your business in the event of an accident.
What are the ongoing expenses for a roof cleaning business?
You’ll need to maintain your high-pressure power washer. Similarly, you’ll need to keep all cleaning products fully stocked. Gas will be needed, as well as a small shop for operations. Typically, a small shop’s rent sits at around $3,200 per month—not accounting for utility costs. Any additional workers will be paid between $10 and $20, depending on their experience.
Who is the target market?
The best clients are residential homeowners. A lot of homeowners contact roof cleaners who cleaned the roofs of their neighbors. If one household gets a roof cleaning, you can expect nearby homes to purchase services too. There’s a high degree of “competing with the Jones’,” so to speak, giving roof cleaning busines,ses quite a lot of service in a single area. Often, this snowball effect can be prioritized during services. Aside from residential homeowners, apartment complexes are lucrative clients. Because multiple buildings need to be cleaned, they’re often great profit sources. These locations are also great networking opportunities, giving a roof cleaning business plenty of future clients to work with.
How does a roof cleaning business make money?
A roof cleaning business makes money by cleaning roofs. Cleaning, itself, can be an in-depth process. Normally, a location needs to be bleached, stripped of algae, and cleared of tree debris. In some cases, money can be gained by removing moss and lichen. The better a roof cleaning business can reduce algae-stained surfaces, the better.
How much can you charge customers?
On average, roof cleaning businesses charge about $1,500 for a single cleaning. Larger roofs, however, can be charged up to $2,800. Smaller services, like in-depth gutter cleans, can carry extra charges.
How much profit can a roof cleaning business make?
A well-off roofing business can make as much as $120,000 by its third year. The actual owner can make about $44,000 after his or her first successful year. Because roof cleaning businesses don’t require complicated billing, merchant accounts, or collections, hashing out expenses and profits is relatively easy.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Offer discounts and special services. Because homeowners don’t rely on roof cleaning services often, they’ll gravitate to any company which generates services based upon great deals. To earn bigger profits than your rivals, consider building a custom pressure cleaning rig. These rigs cost less, and they can clean roofs in less time while using half the chemicals of a conventional rig.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your roof cleaning business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Check out the Top Business Formation Services from our friends at StartupSavant.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
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?.
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
- 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.
Recommended: Find the right bank for you, read our review of the Top 5 Banks for Your Small Business
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
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.
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
In most states, it is necessary to obtain a roof cleaning license. Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a roof cleaning business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
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 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.
Roof cleaning 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 roof cleaning 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.
Labor safety requirements
It is important to comply with all Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements.
Relevant regulations include:
- Appropriate hazard identification
- Injury reports
- Proper safety precautions when operating potentially dangerous equipment
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.
How to promote & market a roof cleaning business
A lot of roof cleaning businesses promote themselves within neighborhoods. Again, a lot of residential areas purchase roof cleaning services in waves. You should thus market your business in neighborhoods with signs, promote at local hardware stores and use word-of-mouth marketing.
How to keep customers coming back
Customers will primarily be attracted via home improvement stores and a neighbor’s word of mouth. Because roof cleaning services aren’t needed often, retention will happen naturally. As long as you offer high-quality services, your customers will return—even if it’s years down the road.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Roof Cleaning Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
The roof cleaning business is great for any previous roofing contractor, cleaner or household maintenance worker. It has a high profit potential, and it’s great for eco-lovers, explorative types, and hard workers alike. Workers can be their own boss, control their own schedule, eliminate costly trial-and-error methods, and experience a rapid startup.
What happens during a typical day at a roof cleaning business?
A roof cleaning business removes rooftop impurities. Normally, this includes using a pressure cleaner to remove algae. Roof cleaners can also use light bleach solutions to delicately lift difficult stains. Because typical roof cleanings last about three years, a roof cleaning business may not return to the same area for quite some time. Roof cleaning businesses also seal roofs with algae inhibitors, preventative solutions and shingle protectant. Often, this extends to using zinc strips to inhibit mold growth.
From an administrative end, a roof cleaning business administrator must constantly upgrade their services to ensure higher profits. They additionally need to conduct financial analysis, study markets, pay workers, restock cleaning materials and strike deals with clients.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful roof cleaning business?
Understanding home price evaluations helps. A clean roof can greatly raise a home’s price. By understanding this, a roof cleaning business can target homes and offer services based upon home evaluations. Other skills include basic roof cleaning, which includes the removal of limestone, moss and algae. Roof maintenance is another solid skill to have. The average roof costs about $15,000 to replace, which should be a price comparison point for most homeowners considering an in-depth clean.
Business ethics are also important. A lot of roof cleaners don’t have good reputations. For this reason, having a solid service plan helps. A deep understanding of cleaning equipment helps as well. You’ll need to understand how to use a pressure washer, detergent, and bleach. It is very important to practice safe cleaning approaches.
What is the growth potential for a roof cleaning business?
A roof cleaning business can grow quite a bit. That said, local cleaning businesses will likely have to compete against other providers. A cleaning business’s growth potential can be attributed to its credibility, benefits, qualified leads and special deals. Additionally, you’ll need to have a solid insurance plan. Communities don’t hire companies who aren’t properly insured, and they’ll avoid any company without a solid track record.
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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.
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 roof cleaning business?
Start out with few tools. Really, all you need is a pressure washer, detergent, and bleach. Keep the upfront costs low, and understand the various pitfalls roof cleaning businesses experience. Don’t hose a roof with too much pressure—as roofs are fragile and flimsy. Use a pressure washer with under 1,500 psi.
How and when to build a team
While you can run a roof cleaning business single handedly at first, you’ll need to take on an extra two to three workers within the first three years. Extra employees are necessary to handle large projects, and they can ensure a properly scaled business.