Back in 2009 I started to research roof cleaning because a friend of mine was selling a house and the potential buyer said it needed a new roof because it was black. Need I say more! In my research I found RCIA and started reading etc. I also read other forums PT State, PWI, etc. Talk about confusing.. In the end I bought the equipment needed because I already had a half ton truck at the time. I went with the 12v setup and use it to this day. My first rig to setup was about $650.00, I had the truck, back then I bought the basic pump 5850, hoses, spray gun, used ladders, two 55 gallon drums, etc. In Des Moines, Iowa no one had ever heard of roof cleaning. I even had one guy ask me if I was going to sweep his roof. LOL Needless to say I realized then this wasn't going to be an easy sell. That is when I also realized having the equipment is one thing and selling a cleaning is another. Glad I still had a day job. Over time I was able to educate home owners to roof cleaning and started getting business. Still was a hard sell. So, I changed my market to cedar shakes roof cleaning and things turned around. I then traded my have ton truck for a F-250 and purchased the fat boy system from Bob @ Pressure tek. I still use a version of it today but have designed my own system. Thus my second rig. My cost was about $1800.00 for my second rig equipment. The I went one step further and did a partial wrap and a set of side board signs. I realized branding and marketing was much more important than the cleaning system I had. That cost was about $3000.00. Best investment I made through all this.
There is a big hurdle from looking good and being good. I get calls, emails, weekly from others wanting to talk about roof cleaning. They say "I'd like to pick your brain". I laugh at how they always say I am not in your area and won't be competition. I am not indicating I am the best roof cleaner or have the best system but I may well be one of the best branded for the service. I don't have crews or trucks, I do all the cleanings myself. There is just Maria, my ground person and myself. We work from May 1st to November 1st and always gross well into the mid six figures every year. We also don't work 5 or 6 days a week. I am 66 years old and those days are gone. Though locally we do all types of roofs and siding and deck cleaning. www.sullivanroofcleaning.com Our main business comes from Cedar Shakes roof cleaning. www.cedarshakesroofcleaning.com Yes, a niche service. Since I first started I have seen this industry take many turns. I see as many selling the roof cleaning equipment etc., as there are roof cleaners. Well, not that many, but you get my point. What I hear from the many calls, emails I get about roof cleaning is they spend their money on some system but have no money for marketing and branding. They put the wagon before the horse! The equipment you use will not make you a dime if people don't know who your are. There are three basic things that any potential customer must know: 1.) Who are you. 2.) What do you do. 3.) What is in it for them/benefit. If you don't get this out there and people don't see it, all the great systems, equipment, solution etc. have very little value to you building your service. If you have a truck, van or trailer already, you can build a very nice cleaning system for well under $2000.00, in most cases for around $1000.00 if you know where to purchase. My point here. Don't spend your money on looking good, spend your money on being good. Branding your service. The three elements above. Equipment just gets the service done, branding gets you the service/job. Because I have built my branding, I have not marketed directly my service in the last two years. I have no advertising budget. Everything comes off my branding. But starting out I had 70% of my budget going to marketing and building my branding. In the last 7 years I know of 5 others that tried to start up roof cleaning in my area and today they are all gone. Oh, they had real nice skids they paid thousands for and nice looking rigs, a lot better looking than mine. But they didn't have the branding and couldn't afford it after spending all their money looking good. So once again this year we have earned well into the six figures in our short season and they are gone. Not because I have the best cleaning system or that I am the better cleaner but because I had the better branding of my services! Food for thought.
Over the years I have used direct mailing and they worked great for me. Back when I started cedar shakes cleaning, which many said I couldn't do my way, LOL, I would drive a location write down all the cedar roof addresses. Would go to the assessors page and get their name. Developed a tri-fold and hand addressed them, stamped and mailed. Got a lot of work that way.
The time down here has been great. Sure beats Des Moines, Iowa weather. Trying not to work much but the phone has been ringing. Sure a lot of cedar roofs in Florida. Here are a couple we just finished. Took us about 5 hours each to clean. Wish they were that easy back home. No moss or lichen here. LOL Low hanging fruit!
Chris, Yes I drove my truck down and Maria followed in our other truck because we'll be here till April 1st and then back home. Not looking to do anymore work really. Made enough already to pay our stay. I am going to sell the location to someone in our network, as I am retiring after this year. Will be great location as I already have marketing started. Have to be a locate person/service provider. Solar panels were not and have not been an issue. Matter of fact it cleans them some.
This is a tile roof cleaning we did about 10 days ago. Palm City, FL. We cleaned the roof, siding and driveway. All from a ladder and rinsed with garden hose pressure. Great experience. Easier than I thought it would be. Also did a cedar roof in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. last week. Have one to do in the Polo Club, Wellington. FL. this coming week. Talk about high end location! LOL
Great feedback and discussion. All the points are well made and have merit. These are the types of network discussion I like to see on a forum. Yes, to my point when I said majority of budget should go to marketing it was start up budget. Of course the next question to follow up on my well be what types of marketing? Should make for a good discussion.
I remember back when I first started cleaning roofs part-time. Had a half ton pickup, bought some 55 gallons barrels on side the road for $20.00, bought some ladders off Craig's list for $100.00 and bought a 5850 pump, chem. hose etc. for about $650.00 and was in business cleaning roofs. I had about $800.00 invested in my first set up.Minus the truck Cost. Since then I did buy a 2008 F-250 8' bed $15,000.00 used, and all my equipment was about $2,000.00 as I build my own system stickily 12v. Starting out was no easy task. No one in my location, Des Moines, Iowa, had ever heard of roof cleaning. Fast forward to now and I get more requests than I can handle. Every year I have to have my friend Neil Krans, Show Me Clean Roofs, come up from St. Louis area to help me do all the jobs. Starting out we did asphalt, then switched to cedar and have done some metal and tile. Now days we do all cedar roofs and Neil does the others for me. Though Neil does cedar also. We have stayed small with just myself and Maria. Bigger isn't always better. LOL We net, not gross, into the 6 figures every season just cleaning roofs. Yes there is a business to be had in cleaning roofs! In our season we work about 90 working days on average. What I learned, I learned from all my mistakes over the years. I also didn't listen to the naysayers either, who said you can not do this that way and that cannot be done that way etc. I also realized that having the latest greatest solution/mix or the newest and biggest skid/system, wouldn't get me to my place today. I basically use the same solution/mix I started with or developed and never tried to change it. I also stayed with the same 12v cleaning system, other than upgrading i.e. from 5850 to fatboy pump, bigger tanks etc. Being the best roof cleaner, which I am not, having the newest/greatest rig, which I don't, using the new and improved solution/mix, which I don't, didn't get me into a steady profitable roof cleaning business/service. What worked for me was marketing and branding my service. What I learned was there are three things potential clients want to know or care about. 1.) Who are you. 2.) What do you do. 3.) What is in it for them or the benefit. In 2016, my recommendation for anyone starting out or trying to build their roof cleaning business/service, it to use 70% of your budget on your marketing and branding your service. Use the K.I.S.S. principle, keep it simple stupid. Years back most cleaned roofs with the same basic solution/mix, same basic equipment/rig. You can spend your budget money on the latest and greatest but will that really get you the business you need to pay for it and make a living? If potential customers don't know who you are, what you do, and what is the benefit to them, all that latest and greatest means nothing. For 2016, consider investing in your marketing and branding of your service. Once you have done that you can always upgrade if you want because you can afford it. It is like buying a brand new car but you don't have enough money left for gas to drive it. So what do you have? A Nice new car! I am sure you get my point. Other than our present Florida market, where we are right now, we did no marketing last years. Our branding and other customer referrals got our business. My advice to anyone just getting going or starting out, use the majority of your budget for marketing/branding your service. That's what I did and I run Sullivan Roof Cleaning instead of Sullivan Roof Cleaning running me because of such. Good luck and have a good 2016.