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Central Iowa Roof Cleaning

2016 and You Want To Know How To Build A Roof Cleaning Service?

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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.FIRST_TRUCK.thumb.JPG.4cf849c12400b313c5

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.Tank_System.thumb.jpg.c953882efc17339d2aDSC00156.thumb.JPG.31dc21fdb3046fc213d34

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. 

 

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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.FIRST_TRUCK.thumb.JPG.4cf849c12400b313c5

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.Tank_System.thumb.jpg.c953882efc17339d2aDSC00156.thumb.JPG.31dc21fdb3046fc213d34

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. 

 

Thanks for the motivation. If you don't mind me asking, what marketing route and resources brought u the most business?

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Awesome insight Bruce.  I love it .  This is my second year doing this very part time, and its taken me at least that to get my website, marketing material etc..., going finally, but I can only clean on weekends, and I still have a generic setup.  so its very hard to get up and moving into this full time up here in beautiful Central, Michigan.   Any advise Lol. 

Edited by Roofwash Exteriors

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Awesome insight Bruce.  I love it .  This is my second year doing this very part time, and its taken me at least that to get my website, marketing material etc..., going finally, but I can only clean on weekends, and I still have a generic setup.  so its very hard to get up and moving into this full time up here in beautiful Central, Michigan.   Any advise Lol. 

I fixed your signature, by making your signature website and Facebook links clickable. 

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As with Bruce, I follow the KISS philosophy. Keep the equipment simple and basic. The more elaborate it is, the more it takes to maintain. Marketing is critical but so is your reputation. Do your best to exceed your customer's expectation with every job and they will promote you and sell your business for you!

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The only thing I'd add is to be thoughtful about the equipment you choose and pay attention to what other experienced asphalt roof cleaners are saying. Full 100% disclosure, I have an iron in this fire, look at my signature. But I also talk to a lot of frustrated roof cleaners on the other end of the equation. 

Marketing and getting the jobs is certainly the most important element in the business., but once you get that job, you have to perform the work. Your equipment is what allows you to do so. If you have equipment which is unreliable or slows productivity, it can frustrate your efforts no end, lose you money and leave you looking unprofessional. 

Bruce, I know you run electric rigs...I have to talk to you about coming over to The Dark Side... but there are some technical factors which can't be discussed which make that less of an issue for your application than many guys here.

That being said, anybody running electric needs to follow Bruce's design for the relay setup. Do it now. 

This is my experience, and I am not alone as the calls I get every week will attest. I started out with a $500 trailer, $300 in tanks and bought the cheapest Fatboy spray system with poly spray hose and without a reel as that was not in the set budget. We got the work, plenty of it in fact...but by the end of the second season we had gone through 8 FB pumps, replaced the spray hose after it got massive hose cancer, the spray gun broke on the first job. I replaced two leaking reels, a blown accumulator, battery, and countless relays and pressure switches. Some of it was learning curve, most was due to factors like the high steep rigs and large quantities of moss we deal with. 

When fate forced my hand (now ex-employee destroyed rig drunk driving) and I had to build a whole new rig, Chris Tucker finally convinced me to go air and since then we've had a total of one in field problem caused by employees who kept the pump system pressurized during freezing weather which blew out the pump. I went from endless frustration to reliable productivity which allowed me to concentrate on marketing and sales. My gear head side led to The Pump Man division which sells AODD pumps, Manifoldless Roof Cleaning Reels, and themworlds only small electric powered Air Diaphragm spray system. 

Edited by PeakOfPerfection

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Thank you for the encouragement Bruce.  I can definitely say that at this point, being a couple of months into this business that I am, honestly, discouraged at best.  Every bit of money that we have made so far has been eaten up in marketing.  I am paying a guy commissions to do door knocking and am on the front page in the paper, not to mention the Facebook and Google Adwords that we are paying for at this point.  I do however realize that marketing and getting my business name out there is important and actually feel that this situation is similar to the first time that we took fire in Iraq when I was in the Marine Corps and I could hear bullets cracking past my head and I knew that the only option was to run towards the enemy.  I am in that situation now, feeling that we are running toward certain death, but confident that what we have learned here on this forum will pan out for us in the end.  Dirty roofs are everywhere in this community and 99% of the public has no idea that they can be cleaned.  We are the ONLY ones offering this service and it is new to the area.  Thank you Bruce for affirming that we are on the right track to be pushing every spare dollar we have into marketing. 

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I agree that proper marketing is important, but I am pretty sure Bruce didn't mean to put everything you have AND everything you earn into marketing. I believe he meant to put 70% of your start up fund into marketing. 

FWIW, I believe that what you are really selling here is YOU! Google Adwords, Facebook, etc are all part of the answer but IMO the main thing you can do is PERSONALLY get in front of as many people as possible. Visit every realtor office in your service area and get them to let you do a presentation to the staff if possible. Have a quick power point presentation if possible or at least before and after photos you can show them. Follow up regularly with them by email and personal visits so they keep you in mind. Drop off some donuts every now and then. Become a committed member of networking groups like BNI where you will meet a group of people that will recommend you and send you referrals that already want your services. Visit everyone of these networking groups in your area. There are probably lots of them. These people will become a sales staff for you. Get rid of the commissioned sales guy and YOU knock on as many doors as you can. Set a goal to knock on 20 doors a day and do it! You might be surprised how many jobs you will get out of it.  

Again FWIW, in my opinion, the key to your success will be if you can sell you, not if you can sell roof cleaning. I believe that hiding behind paid advertising and other people instead of personally building relationships and trust with your potential customers and referral partners is a mistake. It may be out of your comfort zone to do these things and it is for me too. However, not succeeding is not in mine or your comfort zone either and I promise you these people will find what you have to say very interesting! You will be speaking of something I assume you are both knowledgeable and passionate about and it will become very easy quickly. 

 

 

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Often, many Real Estate Offices will allow you to buy the whole office lunch, and you get to make a sales pitch in front of several realtors.

I went in with 2 other vendors on a Real Estate office once, all 3 of us split the food cost for 27 realtors. For less then 60 dollars, I got 10 minutes in front of 27 Realtors, and landed 2 jobs that very day, and plenty of work down the road.

 

 

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Often, many Real Estate Offices will allow you to buy the whole office lunch, and you get to make a sales pitch in front of several realtors.

I went in with 2 other vendors on a Real Estate office once, all 3 of us split the food cost for 27 realtors. For less then 60 dollars, I got 10 minutes in front of 27 Realtors, and landed 2 jobs that very day, and plenty of work down the road.

 

 

Yep that's something I plan on doing.

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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.

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Thank you for the encouragement Bruce.  I can definitely say that at this point, being a couple of months into this business that I am, honestly, discouraged at best.  Every bit of money that we have made so far has been eaten up in marketing.  I am paying a guy commissions to do door knocking and am on the front page in the paper, not to mention the Facebook and Google Adwords that we are paying for at this point.  I do however realize that marketing and getting my business name out there is important and actually feel that this situation is similar to the first time that we took fire in Iraq when I was in the Marine Corps and I could hear bullets cracking past my head and I knew that the only option was to run towards the enemy.  I am in that situation now, feeling that we are running toward certain death, but confident that what we have learned here on this forum will pan out for us in the end.  Dirty roofs are everywhere in this community and 99% of the public has no idea that they can be cleaned.  We are the ONLY ones offering this service and it is new to the area.  Thank you Bruce for affirming that we are on the right track to be pushing every spare dollar we have into marketing. 

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SR&E...Don't give up!! It takes a little time to train your customer base. FaceBook works well for me using two ad settings. 35-65 within a 25 mile radius and friends and their friends. Look up real estate agents in your area and FRIEND THEM ALL!! They are all connected, so when you advertise you even hit the ones that didn't accept your request. Advertise starting Sunday after church. This has been my best result.

This is the end of my first legitimate ( I went LLC last February) year and it is starting to truly grow. Everything I know I learned here. I went from a Subaru Outback with two pawn shop ladders strapped to the top and a pressure washer in the back to a truck with a rig and two full time employees. This year I will add a full time roof cleaning crew. God is good!

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This really is an awesome thread.  Boot strapping a business really drives efficiency, either you're efficient or you starve.  If I had waited to have the best equipment to get my business going it would have never happened.  With minimal money I got the  bare bones to get started and used the vehicle I had, looking back I can't believe I was actually that crazy.  Well actually it wasn't crazy that did it, it was some serious motivation!

Marketing is a very important.  It can also suck the money right out of your budget and fast. Before you start marketing be sure that you know who you are marketing to, what marketing channels reach them, and when are they listening.  If there is one thing I have learned from marketing is that wrong decisions can be costly and deflating.  Learn and move forward, remember there is a cost to education.

Facebook has really been a good channel for me to market in and gain new customers.  Another service I use is Yext, this service has done wonders in getting my website landing page one and also getting my business #1 on Google Local.  I utilize a lot of passive advertising most of the time and throw in some active here and there, it works for me.

The biggest reminder is if you get comfortable you're probably flat lining.  Keep learning, keep improving and you're customers will notice that you're a leader in the industry.

We are truly in an awesome industry!

 

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Thank you for the encouragement Bruce.  I can definitely say that at this point, being a couple of months into this business that I am, honestly, discouraged at best.  Every bit of money that we have made so far has been eaten up in marketing.  I am paying a guy commissions to do door knocking and am on the front page in the paper, not to mention the Facebook and Google Adwords that we are paying for at this point.  I do however realize that marketing and getting my business name out there is important and actually feel that this situation is similar to the first time that we took fire in Iraq when I was in the Marine Corps and I could hear bullets cracking past my head and I knew that the only option was to run towards the enemy.  I am in that situation now, feeling that we are running toward certain death, but confident that what we have learned here on this forum will pan out for us in the end.  Dirty roofs are everywhere in this community and 99% of the public has no idea that they can be cleaned.  We are the ONLY ones offering this service and it is new to the area.  Thank you Bruce for affirming that we are on the right track to be pushing every spare dollar we have into marketing. 

Ben, I see that you're a vet.  I've helped two other vets get their businesses rockin' in the last couple of years, and will be glad to offer guidance to you.  Give me a ring if you'd like.  (We do 5-10 roofs per day, in Virginia alone, March through November).   Bruce kicked off a great  thread!

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Besides Real estate offices, Property management companies will often times let you come in and give presentations. They are a great resource because they typically manage hundreds or even thousands of properties. 

Always ply them with food and chocolate.

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