To get a feel for the roof cleaning market in your area, just take a drive around your community. In most parts of the country, you will notice ugly black streaks on residential and commercial building roofs. Those are your potential customers! Homeowners, apartment buildings, commercial buildings, property owners, HOAs – all are great potential markets.
Marketed correctly, roof cleaning can be a particularly profitable service. That’s because those ugly black streaks are not only unattractive, they are downright destructive and need to be removed for the health of the roof.
Black streaks on roofs are actually caused by a hardy type of blue-green algae called Gloeocapsa Magma that feeds on the limestone in shingles. Left unchecked, the algae will literally eat away at the shingles’ protective outer coating, causing premature deterioration of the roof. The good news is that a proper, thorough cleaning of the roof not only removes the ugly black streaks, but it also can prolong the life of the roof.
Educating Customers is Key
Most homeowners/building owners do not realize that those black streaks are not simply caused by the elements and that they are actually destroying their roof. By educating customers about Gloeocapsa Magma, you can help them to understand that although cleaning their roof will cost a few hundred dollars, it will save them several thousands of dollars in the long run. Having their roof cleaned may also help lower electric bills, as roof algae can reduce the roof shingles’ UV protection, making attics hotter and electric bills higher.
Once potential customers understand the cause and effect of black streaks on roofs, you must also educate on the proper way to remove them. The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) recommends that shingles be cleaned using non-pressure, chemical methods. The improper use of a pressure washer works similarly to a hailstorm, removing granules from the shingles and again, prematurely destroying that protective outer layer of the roof. In many cases, misusing a pressure washer will also void the roof’s warranty. This is especially important to point out to DIY homeowners thinking they clean the roof themselves, or when they are comparing your prices to the $99 roof guy who uses high pressure.
Finally, customers need to understand the safety issues involved. In many cases, the right equipment will allow you to clean the roof from the ground, but there may be times when you may need to use a ladder or walk a roof. Again, those DIY homeowners especially need to understand the risks involved in trying to maneuver a pressure washer on a ladder or walking on a potentially slippery roof. According to the CDC, around 165,000 Americans require medical attention for ladder-related falls each year, and 97% of those accidents occur at home. One slip could potentially change their life forever. By hiring you, the professional, they are eliminating that risk.
Roof cleaning is a particularly profitable service.
Your basic equipment costs – a chemical pump, chemicals, and some sort of rinsing mechanism (i.e., a hose or a pressure washer) – is low. A ladder is also a good idea, although a lot of roofs can be cleaned directly from the ground. If you are getting on the roof you will need fall protection equipment. There also a lot of accessories that can help you work more efficiently, but they aren’t necessary when first getting started.
Keep in mind that when pricing your services, you are not just charging based on your time and your equipment costs. You are also charging for professionalism (which should include insurance), your ability to do the job safely, and most significantly, your expertise.
Roof cleaning prices vary depending on the local market and the size, complexity, and height of the roof. To give you a starting point, Angie’s List customers reported paying an average of $550 for roof cleaning in 2017. Compare that to their reported price range of $5000 to $14,000 for roof replacement, and you can easily see that roof cleaning is a fraction of the cost of roof replacement!
Finally, offering roof cleaning services can naturally lead to other exterior cleaning projects such as house washing, gutter cleaning, driveway/sidewalk cleaning, or even window cleaning, provided you have the equipment to handle the jobs. Since you are already on the property, it’s easy to offer add-on services in a bundle deal and still turn plenty of profit in the long run.