Tips, Tricks and Facts

Chapter 3: Training Once, Training Twice...

Now that your new employees are hired and ready to work. It’s paramount that they are trained consistently and up to your high standards. They are the face of your company out in the field when you are not around. In order for your company to maintain a reputation of high quality services, they need to be trained to do things right.

 

  • Document how to do the work step-by-step.
  • Train each employee the exact same way.

 

“When you go out and actually do the work yourself, it can be helpful to document how you're doing it, step by step.  You can also find a resource that can systemize and be able to create the training for you,” says Michael Hinderliter, a leader in the Texas Power Washing industry and employer.

 

Write it down, take pictures, make videos, maybe do a screen grab. Whatever works best for you and your specific job/industry is the best way. Make sure you document every part of the process. A new employee won’t intuitively know where to find things or where things go, so make the process as simple as possible to follow.

 

Ask yourself these questions when making training resources:

  • What are the exact steps, as detailed as possible, to do this job?
  • Where do I get the resources needed?
  • How do I utilize the tools needed?
  • What constitutes an emergency? Who do I report to if there is a problem or concern on this specific project?
  • What did I wish I knew the first time I did this?

 

This is when details matter, no matter how mundane or obvious they may seem to you. Now is also the time to note any shortcuts that are tempting and spell out in your training documents why they are a ‘no’ for your company. (Especially when they are concerned with safety procedures or procedures regulated by law.)

 

Hinderliter says, “No matter how you approach it, you need to take the time to train each employee in the same method, so that as the next guy comes in, they're all learning the same way of doing it.”

 

If you don’t standardize your training procedures you risk your company standards slipping. If every employee just trains the next one, then shortcuts get taken and some employees may never actually learn the “right way”.  This leads to discipline, work integrity issues, and major headaches for you later on.

 

“It's always good to have someone train with a supervisor so that as they're going through the process, that supervisor can watch them and tweak what they're doing, so they get that corrective action as they're performing the service,” explains Hinderliter.

 

He continues, “If they get off track, the supervisor brings them back on track, and if they've got questions, they can answer those questions, and monitor the way they perform.”

 

Remember that your training processes and documents are not set in stone. They are a living document and should be updated consistently as industry standards, technology, or work place practices change. Whenever you update your policies ALL employees should be re-trained.

 

Stay flexible and be open to suggestion. We know you worked really hard to make a comprehensive training program but be open to ideas on better ways to do things from employees and outside resources.

 

Remember, these keys to successfully training a new employee whether it’s your first or hundredth.

 

  1. Document EVERY step of the process.
  2. Train every employee the same way and be sure they are using your training processes each time.
  3. Re-train ALL employees any time a process or policy changes.
  4. Training documents will need to change as innovation and law changes in your industry.

 

Sample Cleanings Can Help Close Big Contracts

Trying to close big commercial pressure washing contracts can be stressful.  There is a lot of work that goes into a job before you ever unroll your hoses. Sometimes it may not seem worth the effort, but put yourself in your customer's shoes for a minute. They are about to spend thousands of dollars! They have to think about potential safety hazards that may occur while you are on site, as well as possible disruptions in their business. When it's all done they want to know that all of the hassle will be worthwhile.

You might be asked to do a sample cleaning before the client approves the bid to make sure you can get the job done. Here are some ideas to consider when doing a sample cleaning:

Don’t think of it is a free cleaning:


You are not expected to do the whole job, just a small portion. It takes extra time to drive to the location, set up and do a sample cleaning, but once the client sees the result, they will be ready to sign the bid. Try to clean in a not-so-obvious place so that the rest of the dirt is not glaring to your client’s customers.

If the client seems nervous, offer a sample cleaning:


Commercial cleaning projects can be expensive and a client might be nervous about giving the go-ahead. Offer a demo as a way to show off how great the building, roof, etc. will look once you are done. You are more likely to get the job with a demo because it makes the result clear in the client’s mind. They also get a chance to work with you and see your awesome customer service.

Don’t take longer than 30 minutes:


You should not take more than a half hour from set up, spraying the cleaning chemical, rinsing and packing up. Even if the client is watching you work, be quick and efficient about the sample cleaning. Sometimes the client will not see the result until a day or more anyway.

Follow up:


Be sure to ask the client when they plan to see your work and then follow up that day or the next to make sure they did. Once they express how happy they are, ask when they want to schedule the full job. If you gave that sample cleaning your best, the job will most certainly be yours.

Generate More Leads with Multiple Service Pages

Imagine an online store that put every product on one long page. You would have to scroll through endless unrelated items just to find the one thing you wanted. It makes much more sense to put each product on a separate page. This allows customers to quickly search and find what they need. There may be links to related products, but the main focus is usually one item for sale. Your services are your products. If you offer multiple services, you need to have multiple service pages. Multiple service pages will help you generate more leads. Put each service on a separate page to make them easier to find and more search engine friendly.

Your customers are trying to solve a specific problem. Most pressure washing companies specialize in a particular area like kitchen exhaust cleaning, fleet washing, or house washing. So it’s easy to think of all of the specific services you offer as one service, but that’s not how your customers think. Customers will search for things like “dumpster cleaning, sidewalk gum removal, or grease trap cleaning” before they search for “restaurant cleaning.” If they search for “restaurant cleaning” they are likely to find janitorial services. That’s not where you want to rank if you are trying to generate leads for a pressure washing business.

If you have one page with a bulleted list of services, take each of those items and create a page for that specific service. Then write a keyword rich description for each service. Resist the urge to copy and paste. This will most likely cause your page to be flagged for duplicate content. Make each description unique. Your description doesn’t need to be long. You just need to name the problem and tell them why you are the best person to solve it. Use headings and bullet lists to bring attention to important information and make your content easier to read.

The next step is to add some great before and after pictures of several previous jobs. Be sure to give each photo a descriptive alt tag and title. This is a great chance to use your keywords. In other words, stop calling your images “G85N3.jpg” and start calling them “Vinyl Siding Cleaning Before Shot.jpg” Update your photos and photo captions often to keep your content fresh.

Don’t forget to add a form to request a quote. Don’t risk losing conversions by making your customers click through to another page. Make it easy for them to contact you. Only ask for the information you need to move to the next step in the sales process. Remember you are still trying to earn their trust at this point. Not everyone wants to give out a lot of personal information over the internet.

Multiple service pages will give you a chance to send more meta information to search engines. Instead of creating a single page with a title like “Pressure Washing Services”, create several pages with specific titles like “Vinyl Siding Cleaning Services.” You can also make more keyword lists and meta descriptions that are specific to each of your services. Once again, it is crucial that each page be unique. Do not copy and paste here.

Generate more leads by creating multiple service pages. Write unique, keyword rich content for each page. Add some great before and after shots. Put in a call to action and give customers a place to request a quote. Then finish up with keyword rich meta information.

Measuring Job Sites in the Digital Age

Measuring job sites accurately is important. Your bids for washing a home, roof, commercial property or surrounding area are partially based on the size of the project. Under-measure and you hurt your bottom line; over-measure and potential clients think you are expensive.

The measuring wheel is a tried-and-true tool for figuring out the size, but the digital age brings more accurate, more immediate results. Some people like to "see" the property before arriving, impressing clients with their research and removing potential surprises, or even having a bid ready by the end of the initial meeting. Here are some apps and websites you can use to make the most accurate bids yet.

Measure Map ($1.99) IOS - iPhone or iPad


Put in the address and a picture of the location appears on your screen. Press the "Magic Button" and place pinpoints down on the area you want to measure. It's that easy. Measure Map allows you to measure any distance, route or area and saves data into various file formats. It even takes into account the curvature of the Earth!

Planimeter ($7.99) IOS - iPhone or iPad


Similar to Measure Map, Planimeter was designed with contractors in mind. It lets you measure "anything..visible on the satellite map." You can choose how you want to measure the distance (e.g.: yard, foot) and area (e.g: square foot, square yard). Once you have taken the measurement on your screen, you can email measurements or save the measured image to photos.

Google Earth (Free)


Google Earth is a virtual globe program that has revolutionized how people view what is on our planet, and even in our universe. But you only need to measure a driveway, which you can do! Google Earth provides a linear measuring tool on the laptop version only.

Maps Ruler Pro ($1.99) Android and Samsung Galaxy Note


Similar to Measure Map but an Android-based app. If you are a big fan of Google Maps, this is the app to use as it lets you access the global imaging software on your phone or electronic tablet.

Daftlogic.com (Free)


For laptops only, Daftlogic.com is simple to use. Choose the Area Calculator tool and then put in the location. Once you find it on the map, zoom in and drop pins by clicking a spot on the map. Drop enough pins to measure the area you need and Daftlogic.com will calculate the space automatically. The site does not zoom in real tightly so you might have to contend with trees and such to measure a home.

Zillow.com (Free)


Zillow.com is a website for people in the real estate market: buyers, sellers, renters, etc. Unlike other real estate websites that only list properties for sale or rent by Realtors®, it has information on almost every home in the country. Put in your bid's address and you get the square footage immediately.

Some washers like to use their local appraisal website, which gives you the square footage of a home, though you may have to search for it a bit.

While it is a good idea to hold onto your measuring wheel, once you start using these digital measuring programs, you'll find that wheel won't often see the light of day.

Tips for Choosing Your Next Hose Reel

Many things must be considered when you are choosing your next hose reel. It is important to know how the new reel will be used.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="239"] Hannay Compact 3/8" High Pressure Hose Reel[/caption]

First you must consider the type of hose that you will be storing on the reel. High pressure hoses, and low pressure hoses come in different diameters. Standard pressure hose is 3/8" in diameter. 200 feet of pressure hose will fit nicely on a reel like this Hannay Compact 3/8" High Pressure Hose Reel. If however you think that you will install more than 200 feet of hose you will need to consider a larger reel like the Hannay Wide 3/8" High Pressure Hose Reel. A ¾" low pressure garden hose will also require a larger hose reel, because it is more bulky. If you are looking for a hose reel for high pressure, be sure that your desired hose reel is rated for at least 1,000 psi above your power washers output.  Pressure can spike up to several hundred PSI when you release or engage your trigger. Water should flow through your reel with as little restriction as possible. This is important for your chemical injector to function at peak efficiency.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="145"] Steel Eagle 1/2" Stainless Steel A-Frame Hose Reel[/caption]

You should also make sure that any hose reel you buy has a brake system to ensure that your hose stays put when it is not in use. There are three types ofbrake systems. A "drag brake" will keep constant pressure on your hose and prevent the hose reel from unwinding once the user stops pulling. A "cam lever" applies drag while it is in the on position. When the user wants to rewind the hose reel the cam lever can be flipped to the off position to release the drag. An "internal brake" will automatically apply tension when the hose is being pulled and release it when it is being rewound. The brake that you choose will depend on your needs and budget.

 









How to use a Hose Reel for Pressure Washing by Mike Hinderliter with Powerwash.com
How to use a Hose Reel for Pressure Washing by Mike Hinderliter with Powerwash.com

 

Most professional hose reels are constructed from heavy gauge steel and finished with e-coating or oven-cured enamel. If you are planning on using the reel with a corrosive material such as Sodium Hypochlorite you will need to choose a reel made of stainless steel like the Steel Eagle 1/2" Stainless Steel A-Frame Hose Reel. Professional hose reels handle liquids at temperatures ranging from -20º to +400º F, and operating pressures up to 10000 psi. Before you purchase a hose reel, you must consider the required operating temperatures and pressures required for your situation. You can dramatically increase the life of your hose reel if you always unroll the entire hose off of the reel before you begin any job. A coiled pressure hose will constrict when pressure is applied and crush your hose reel. When you are unwinding your pressure hose from your reel, place the end of the hose next to the reel and leave it there. Then walk away from the hose reel and pull the hose along with you to unwind the rest of the hose. This way, your hose will be doubled over when it is completely unwound, and you only need to walk half the distance back to your hose reel.

If you have any questions about choosing a hose reel for your needs, please call us at 1-800-433-2113.

Save Time and Money with an Airless Foamer

In a previous article we discussed how your pressure washing business can Save Time and Money with Concentrated Chemicals. The proper chemicals can make a power washing job much easier. The work gets done much faster, and you save money on labor. Another way to decrease your costs is to increase you dwell time.

Airless Foamer

Maximize the efficiency of a cleaning agent by increasing length of time that the chemical is in contact with the surface being cleaned. Liquid chemicals will quickly run off of a vertical surface thus minimizing the effectiveness of the cleaning agent. To increase the dwell time of the cleaning agent you can add foam boosters and apply the chemical using either an air driven foamer or an airless foamer.

An air driven foamer will deliver much richer foam but it has many limitations. You can only use a maximum of fifty feet of chemical hose thus limiting you as to what jobs you can use this type of foamer on because you must always have the foamer within fifty feet of the surface to be cleaned. To operate an air driven foamer you must also have an air compressor {either gasoline engine driven or electric}. If you choose to use an electric air compressor you will need a power source. Since you can’t rely on power being available on every job you will also need a generator. It is easy to tie up $2000.00 purchasing all of the equipment needed to operate with an air driven foamer and still not be able to use it in all situations.

An Airless Foamer is an accessory that attaches to the end of your spray lance. Chemical is pulled into the foamer head by the stream of water that flows from your pressure washer. Then it is mixed with air at the foamer head. Foam is created at the nozzle. Although the foam that is created in the airless foamer isn’t as thick as the foam you will get with an air driven type foamer it is thick enough to increase the dwell time and improve cleaning efficiency. This unit is made of stainless steel and can be purchased for less than $200.00 from PowerWash.com.

Downstream Chemical Injector vs X-Jet and the X-Jet M5

In the early days of the power washing industry, contractors relied heavily on high pressure and hot water for most cleaning jobs. In those days, chemicals were milder than modern chemicals. They were injected before the pump and carried through the entire pressure washer system to eventually emerge super-heated from a high pressure nozzle. In time, we learned that high pressure can be more damaging to surfaces than proper chemicals. Modern contractors use chemical to break surface tension, pressure to agitate stains, and water to float them away.

Many chemicals that are used in the power washing industry today will damage your pump due to their harshness so they must be applied after the pump.  This type of chemical injection is referred to as downstream chemical injection.



Downstream chemical injectors are designed to be mounted as close to the pump as possible. They work on a venturi draw principle. The faster the water travels by the venturi the greater the amount of vacuum it will create. The vacuum suction is needed to draw chemicals from their holding tank. Any restrictions that are placed in the discharge line such as high pressure spray tips, extra pressure hose etc. will slow down the water, and lower the vacuum at the venturi until it stops drawing chemical. The spray tip must have a large orifice to lower the pressure and cut down on restriction. But, lowering the pressure at the nozzle will limit the amount of pressure hose that can be used with this style of injector. Even with all of these issues, the downstream injector is still the chemical application method of choice for most power washing contractors. However it is for these reasons that the X-Jet has become so popular in building cleaning.

Chemicals that are commonly used in the mobile power washing industry often need to be applied to areas that are beyond the reach of the normal application tools and methods without the use of a ladder. Climbing up and down a ladder is not only tiring and time consuming but it also presents safety issues as well. Ladders won't work in all areas. The ideal situation is to be able to stand on the ground to apply the chemicals.

The X-JET Original was designed with this thought in mind. It serves as a chemical injector and a nozzle as well. It is mounted at the end of the wand instead of at the pump. The X-Jet comes with 15 feet of chemical pick-up hose and a set of chemical proportioners that will allow you to draw chemicals at a ratio of 2 to 1 all the way down to 480 to 1. Using this device you can project a chemical and water mixture up to 40 feet. This means that when you are cleaning a building you can easily reach up to the top of a 3 story building while standing on the ground. Since you have a 15 foot chemical pick-up hose you can cover a lot of area in a short period of time without needing to move your chemical supply so often. The gallons per minute and pressure of the pressure washer that you will be using must be determined prior to choosing the size of X-Jet that you will need. The X-Jet is rated for pressures up to 5000 psi.



The X-JET M-Jet M5 will do a similar thing however it is designed with an adjustable spraynozzle that allows the user to select a wide fan pattern for covering large areas more efficiently. The wide spray patterns will not project as far as the straight stream will but for the lower areas it will allow you to move much faster because you can cover wider areas with a single pass of the wand. The spray pattern being adjustable allows you to select the pattern that you require for the particular job.

If you should decide to purchase a downstream injector, X-Jet or even a spray tip you will need to know the volume and pressure of the machine you intend to use.

Are You Preparing Your Business For The Worst?

A small selection of items that you show have readyHow much money will you loose if you have to spend a day waiting on parts to repair your machine? Even if you have a strict preventative maintenance routine, you will have occasional parts failures, damage or losses. That is why it is very important that you are preparing your business for the worst. With this in mind we have compiled a list of the items that you should keep in your shop, and on your rig, to minimize costly down time and to better serve your customers.

  1. A trigger gun of your choice. This is an item that will fail or may be damaged that you can't do without. Having a backup will save you costly down time. We recommend upgrading to an easy pull gun like the YG-5000. These guns feature a trigger that is designed to reduce the amount of energy required to keep the trigger engaged. This will greatly reduce operator fatigue.

  2. Spray wands of the size you most commonly use can come in handy when one is lost, damaged or in case an adjustable wand simply fails. You may want to consider upgrading your standard aluminum wand to a Zinc Plated Insulated Steel Spray Wand. If you are looking for a dual lance variable pressure wand, we recommend the Suttner ST-53.

  3. Spray Nozzles will wear out and can be damaged or lost! Nozzles are available in many different sizes and configurations. We recommend upgrading to a nozzle with a quick coupled connection. These nozzles are easy to change and brightly color coded to make them easy to find in your tool box.

  4. Quick Couplers can fail or be damaged. Spare sockets and plugs of each size should be readily available. Consider upgrading to stainless plugs and sockets for cleaning with corrosive chemicals like V-502. Stainless steel couplers also stand up to rust and surface abrasion better than standard brass couplers.

  5. "O"-Rings can also fail and cause leaks, and they are not all created equal. The best O Rings for chemical applications are made from viton, and O Rings for high temperatures are made from silicone. For general cleaning use you can't go wrong with standard black buna.

  6. Unloader Valves can fail at any time. When this happens you are often out of business until it is replaced. When you must replace your unloader valve you should replace it with the same valve that was installed from the factory.

  7. Pressure Hoses are often damaged and fail during a job. To keep from having to leave the job before it is finished you should always carry a spare hose with you! Pressure hose is available in 1 wire braid for pressure up to 4000 PSI and 2 wire braid for pressure up to 5800 PSI. We recommend non-marking hose if you need to drag your hose across concrete or tile surfaces.

  8. Pressure Relief Valves often fail as they age! Your pressure relief valve is like an artificial weak point. It will pop off if your pressure spikes to prevent a failure in another area like your hose or trigger gun. Keep them in working order to maintain your margin of safety.

  9. Burner Fuel Filters need to be replaced at 2 month intervals under normal circumstances, but if you get fuel that is contaminated you may have to change them on a moments notice.

  10. Water Filters often fail due to freeze damage or rough handling. Water filters protect your system from debris in water that can damage your machine. We recommend the can type water filter, because it has an easy to clean screw off cup.

  11. Burner Transformers, especially the 12 volt variety can fail without notice. Often they do so when you are on the job. With this in mind you should always be prepared to replace one when needed.

  12. Burner High Limit Switches can fail due to extreme pressure spikes, from vibration or from damage. The high limit switch is installed in the flow path after the burner coil to monitor the water temperature as it exits the burner. If the temperature reaches a dangerous level, the switch will fire and the burner will shut off. This important safety device can save your life.

  13. Pressure Switches are most often used to control the fuel solenoid located on the burner fuel pump. They are part of the system that turns the burner off when you release the trigger and stop the water from flowing through the system.

  14. Fuel Solenoid Shut-off Valves attach to the discharge from the fuel pump and are used to interrupt the flow of fuel to the burner when there is no water flowing through the system. These are commonly used on mobile hot water pressure washers.


The parts mentioned above are based on you having one hot water pressure washer though some of these parts can also be used with cold water washers as well. They aren't all that you will ever need but they are the most common ones that will fail and cause you to lose time on the job!

How To Use A Construction Fire Hydrant Meter for Pressure Washing

First we need to answer the question "What is a construction meter". A construction meter is a portable meter that can be moved throughout a municipality to legally hook up to a fire hydrant. This allows the contractor to fill their fresh water holding tank rapidly. For example a 500 gallon tank can be filled in approximately 5 minutes compared to using a water hose that can take from 1 to 2 hours from a standard water hose connection. This can be a huge benefit since it can save a considerable amount of time during and between job(s).

To get a construction meter contact the local water department, set up an account and get a meter issued to you or your company. Normally there is not a cost for the meter but most cities will require a deposit from $500.00 to a $1000.00. Additionally there may also be a monthly rental charge in the range of $20.00 to $50.00. A monthly reading will be taken to assess the cost of water used. The actual cost of water is normally lower because the use of water does not include a sanitary sewer fee. Typically, this ranges from $10 to $25 a month depending on how much water is used.



There are some safety / health requirements that need to be considered when using a construction meter. The assumption is that the water from the hydrant is always under pressure but what happens if there is a loss in pressure do a break in the main, etc. This means that when connected to a hydrant a tank that is being filled can actually back flow into the water main and contaminate the municipal drinking water. For this reason two options are available. The first option is to fill the fresh water tank from above with a 4" air break to prevent any chance of backflow. The second is to install check valve(s) on the meter so that the water can only flow one direction. These requirements may vary slightly from area to area so make sure you do what the local officials require.

In closing, remember that a construction meter can be another useful tool that a power washer can use to increase profitability by saving time to increase productivity.

Get Special Pricing on our Construction Meter Hook-Up Kit - Only $129.00!




[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="100"] Fire Hydrant to Water Hose Adapter[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="100"] Adjustable Fire Hydrant Wrench[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="100"] Vinyl Fire Hose[/caption]
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