Low budget start-up washer

Wetwillie

New member
With all the start-up costs associated and a limited budget, what woukd you buy? Given about $1,000, would you buy 1 commercial grade unit or 2 heavy duty units to get through for now. Already factored into the budget is everything else needed to support and maintain the units including extension hoses/poles/brushes, etc. so what's left is the actual balance to buy the main business component. This is a discussion my partner and I keep circling around without resolution.

My thinking is we go with 2 half decent sub 3000 psi units, pressurewasherdirect.com has Karchers that are $499 that I think would get us through lots of jobs early on. They would be new, under warranty and quality but not commercial grade. My thought is that in a week of jobs, they're paid for and we can upgrade through the season and these become back-ups and low duty units.

He thinks we should get 1 new commercial unit for that thousand but that leaves us with 2 guys and 1 unit to handle each job early on, to me that doesn't add up. His other idea is to get 2 used commercial units but I don't want to buy used, who knows what will break and I'd rather have new with warranties for the first month til we can upgrade than the unknown factors that used units bring.

Your thoughts/recommendations are greatly appreciated.
 

"Red"

Graphic Designer
If you're talking about the PW unit itself and nothing else, I would go with the biggest baddest machine you can afford (just 1). In my opinion, the cleaning results will be superior, your referrals will get you more jobs and then you can add another unit (if needed). Two smaller units may make the work go quicker, but the cleaning results will be (somewhat) diminished by comparison. From what I understand... GPM rule.
 

KGILL

New member
If you are really starting up, I see no sense in getting 2 units. Sure it would make work quicker if you had two machines and two guys working them but there is no guarentee you will have the work to support having 2 machines and workers. What happens if whatever marketing you do fails and you barely have work coming in. It would make no sense having 2 machines collecting dust. In my opinion, get one machine and build your business from there. if you get to the point you need (not want) two machines, you should have enough money to be able to purchase a good 2nd machine.

Also, with one machine there is no reason that you can not have two people working a residential job. Someone to cover plants, brush gutters, clean gutters, pull hoses etc...
 

John Marentay

New member
Let me add my voice to echo those sentiments. You'er going to get a better clean in less time with a better machine and there is always something to do onsite.

Not to be a nudge but http://www.pressurewashsupplies.com...re_Washer_w_Lifetime_Aluminum_Frame-19-5.html is a pressure pro machine that might suit your needs perfectly.

(If you want to see it on the site you were shopping earlier, its at this linkhttp://www.pressurewashersdirect.com/Pressure-Pro-E4040HC-Pressure-Washer/p1513.html) you'll see that they rated it the best version of that type of machine.)
 
Not trying to be a Debbie downer BUT. Its gonna take a lot more than $1000.00 to start your business. Equipment, licenence, insurance, marketing etc...and all the other costs involved in start up. When I started years ago I went through about $8000.00 before I did my first job. That was just for the basics. I'm not here to discourage you or anyone else just starting out. Just giving MHO.

To answer your question though,,,, Go with the one better machine and work hour way up from there. They do a much better job and will last you much longer without the hassle and headache of breakdowns and needless out of pocket expenses.
 

Wetwillie

New member
Ok, I see where this is going.

I've been in another industry and walked away from a pretty successful business after 10 years so yes,Larry, I understand about the other costs and after factoring everything from LLC costs and business formation, insurance, website, marketing and everything else, the 1000 budget is whats left. I kinda worked backwards with the equipment list and considered everything else first and deducted that from the budget.. I've been a designer/art director so all that is in-house except printing costs, website is my partners wifes contribution and I've got some skills there also.
 

Wetwillie

New member
John, thanks for the links, I'm amazed that there's that big a price difference.

kgill, I'm in a position to maybe need 2 machines as we do have things lined up and the connections we have lead to more commercial projects and a contractor I know has me calling on people down the jersey shore where there is a TON of everything to be done and professional cleaning is just one of them.
 

Wetwillie

New member
Haha, I know what you mean, I've had partners in the past so I've been down that road but was never too bumpy for me, been lucky. This was a minor talking point and I told him we go with what this board suggests so it's not our fault. Haha I've got a method called the 6-pack fix, each guy has 3 beers to come to terms, there's the rest of the case to help swallow the collective prides.
 

KGILL

New member
Dan, I am not trying to rain on your parade, or pee in your cornflakes. If you need two machines, great however there is a difference between having things lined up and having contracts to do the work. The difference is things that are lined up can fall apart and they often do (speaking from experience) I think most people here would agree that getting one awesome machine beats two okay machines both in efficiency of work (time is money) and maintenance costs. If your lined up work pans out, you should have no problem getting upgraded the machine you will get plus getting another awesome one. My two cents from someone who had a bunch of work lined up that did not pan out. I am currently starting my 2nd year of business and I am hitting the ground running with marketing, avoiding the mistake I made last year of relying on "lined up" work.

Best of luck to you.
 

Moose

New member
Buy the best one unit you can afford. If the need arises for the use of 2 or if you should need heat (hot water) rent one by the day, night or job. Build that much more cost into your bid to cover the rent. As your cash flow grows then reinvest in the companies equipment. Renting will also help you in deciding if having 2 units are better than one and how you are going to work. If you rent and you have the cost built in the job you are out nothing but time to pick up and take it back for now it seems to be the best solution in my way of looking at things.
 

Guy Blackmon

Roundtable Host 2009
Ok, I see where this is going.

I've been in another industry and walked away from a pretty successful business after 10 years so yes,Larry, I understand about the other costs and after factoring everything from LLC costs and business formation, insurance, website, marketing and everything else, the 1000 budget is whats left. I kinda worked backwards with the equipment list and considered everything else first and deducted that from the budget.. I've been a designer/art director so all that is in-house except printing costs, website is my partners wifes contribution and I've got some skills there also.

Dan, the equipment you're looking at may have a quality name slapped on it but it's the same mass produced Chinese junk sold in the box stores.

I guess the real question is are you going to "Dabble" in pressure washing or are you going to build a serious pressure washing Company? Having run a successful business as you stated, I think that you understand that the equipment you choose will be the source of generating revenue for your Company. I don't understand why anyone would cap their budget so low for what will be the main generator of revenue.

The equipment you are looking at will not be dependable and is too low in gpm to be profitable in either a residential or commercial setting. Most Commercial jobs require hot water to be efficient and profitable.
I think you posted to verify that what you're thinking of in equipment purchases is correct....it's not. The professionals here are telling you that, so you can listen to what these successful business owners say or not it's up to you.

Best Of Luck To You And Your New Business!!!!
 
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Tony Shelton

BS Detector, Esquire
I am the black sheep here. I've started a few businesses before and I've always had luck with the dabble method.

See, at first you have a lot more time than you have money. So if you have to, you can always use that 3gpm 2500 psi home depot washer and spend all night cleaning the front of a Home Depot. A wand will do just as good of a job as a surface cleaner (sometimes even better), but it will just take a LOT longer.

Use this time to decide if this is really what you want to do.

I'd suggest you get what your can afford, save every dime you can and buy up ASAP. You can always sell the HD pressure washer on craigslist and at least get some of your money back.

That's just my opinion. I've used that method in the past and it worked well for startups.
 

Scott Stone

New member
Well..I have a couple of opinions, but your mileage may vary:
1. My partner is my wife. As much as I love her, it is sometimes a pain to have her in the office next door...yes, we each have an office. Her ideas are different then mine. If you are going to defy odds and make a partnership succeed, you need to define each others responsibilities, and live by them. If you are over equipment and logistics, and he is over HR and Finances, then you do your job, and he does his. Sure, you are both accountable, but the final decision is going to be left to the person that has responsibility.
2. One big machine will clean faster then two small machines. It has proven time and again. I vote that you get the large machine, and not worry about the junk little machines. You say that they will be paid for in a weeks worth of work, well then, buy the first one with start up capital, then wait a week to buy the second one from your profits.
3. If you are going to depend on this board, any other board or contractor to make decisions for you, you probably are not going to find the best solution for you. Case Study: Years ago, I was washing trucks. Residential is not huge in the area I live in, so it was not a viable target market for me. Others seem to be able to make money at it, but I just could not see the profit. If you know me, I try very hard not to work Sundays. It is a personal, religious based choice, and it is mine. There have been times that I have started at 7 pm for work that could not be done any other time. Anyways, back when fleets were our target markets, I had some machines repaired by a company owned by a competitor. I went into his office, and he was quizzing me on who we did work for, etc. and I explained that I did not work on Sundays. He told me at that time, "You will never have a successful business f you don't work on Sunday in this city." I stuck to my guns, and being stubborn, I was more intent then ever on keeping that standard. You have to have integrity with yourself first. I will say, I have had years where I only netted low six figures, but I can also say that most people would be pretty happy with the little business I have built. At this time, because of contractual obligations, I do some Sunday work, but no one is forced to work Sunday, and we don't even start until 7 PM, or after dark. Like I said, don't let other contractors make decisions that may, or may not, work for you.
 

Tony Shelton

BS Detector, Esquire
Well..I have a couple of opinions, but your mileage may vary:
1. My partner is my wife. As much as I love her, it is sometimes a pain to have her in the office next door...yes, we each have an office. Her ideas are different then mine. If you are going to defy odds and make a partnership succeed, you need to define each others responsibilities, and live by them. If you are over equipment and logistics, and he is over HR and Finances, then you do your job, and he does his. Sure, you are both accountable, but the final decision is going to be left to the person that has responsibility.
2. One big machine will clean faster then two small machines. It has proven time and again. I vote that you get the large machine, and not worry about the junk little machines. You say that they will be paid for in a weeks worth of work, well then, buy the first one with start up capital, then wait a week to buy the second one from your profits.
3. If you are going to depend on this board, any other board or contractor to make decisions for you, you probably are not going to find the best solution for you. Case Study: Years ago, I was washing trucks. Residential is not huge in the area I live in, so it was not a viable target market for me. Others seem to be able to make money at it, but I just could not see the profit. If you know me, I try very hard not to work Sundays. It is a personal, religious based choice, and it is mine. There have been times that I have started at 7 pm for work that could not be done any other time. Anyways, back when fleets were our target markets, I had some machines repaired by a company owned by a competitor. I went into his office, and he was quizzing me on who we did work for, etc. and I explained that I did not work on Sundays. He told me at that time, "You will never have a successful business f you don't work on Sunday in this city." I stuck to my guns, and being stubborn, I was more intent then ever on keeping that standard. You have to have integrity with yourself first. I will say, I have had years where I only netted low six figures, but I can also say that most people would be pretty happy with the little business I have built. At this time, because of contractual obligations, I do some Sunday work, but no one is forced to work Sunday, and we don't even start until 7 PM, or after dark. Like I said, don't let other contractors make decisions that may, or may not, work for you.

Elitist!!! Lol.
 

Wetwillie

New member
Already decided on the one big gun vs. 2 lower GPM units, was a no brainer after the first few posts and appreciate everyones feedback. In fact, budget is going up to maybe 12-1300, found a few things I can save on.

Kgill, I hear you loud and clear and as things might be lined up but not contractually committed, I am counting on nothing until we park the truck the day we do it. I'm hoping you didn't realize til your 2nd year the value for good marketing. Of all the things I'm doing to launch the biz, that's the thing that needs the least amount of work.
 
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