Don't Be Another $99 House Wash!

ClydeEdit2One of the worst customer experiences of my life left me lost and alone on the streets of Tokyo, Japan at 5:00 in the morning. I went with a guide and a small group of tourists to see the famous Tsukiji fish market auction. We were lucky to get tickets. The tours are on a first come first serve basis, so we had to rush from our hotel to the market at 3:00 am. The experience was amazing, but the auctions ended quickly. We were on our way back to the hotel by 5:00 am. The tour guide was walking so briskly that we had to jog to stay together. As the sun began to spread a dim light though the streets, we passed a Shinto Shrine. When we asked about the shrine, our guide mumbled a brief unenthusiastic description as he kept walking. This six-hundred-year-old shrine was more interesting to me than the thought of returning to my hotel to wait for my friends to wake up. So, I peeled off from the group to take a few snap shots. I had planned to run and catch the group when I finished, but I turned around to find myself completely alone. Our guide was so focused on his goal, that he did not bother to listen to what his customers wanted. He passed that shrine every day and never gave it a second thought. I had no idea where my hotel was, and there was no one around who spoke English. I wandered the streets for about two hours watching the merchants set up their shops before I finally stumbled upon my hotel. Customer service starts with listening.

Every year, I see a new crop of rookies promising to wash any house for just $99! This classic mistake only makes sense to a novice. Be the lowest priced choice, and people might forgive my poor service. Unfortunately, there are two major issues with this ideology. First, a bad experience will stick with you even if the price was low. Second, the “tire-kicker” customers who chose you solely based on price will abandon you as soon as someone with a lower price comes along. Pressure washing is a service industry. Successful businesses separate themselves from their competitors by constantly improving their services to build a loyal customer base.

The most obvious way to learn how you can improve is to ask questions during every interaction. Always start a relationship with, “How may I help you?” The answers you receive to this question can offer some insight into what problems your potential customers are trying to solve when the found you. If you find that several people are asking for services that you cannot offer, you may need to change your advertising strategy, or your marketing materials. Answers to this question could also offer some great ideas for add-on service.

Another great technique is to use questions to avoid saying no. If you are going to wash a pool deck, but you don’t want to move the furniture, you could ask your customer, “Would you like us to move the deck chairs for an additional charge, or will you prefer to move them before we arrive?” This technique only works if you are okay with either outcome.  The added charge should be high enough to cover the potential labor costs if you end up moving the chairs. This technique is better than just saying “no”, because the customer feels empowered. Sure, they must move the chairs, but they are “saving money.” If you find that several people are springing for the add-on chair moving service, you can consider including it in your regular package to help separate yourself from your competition.

Never leave a job without asking if there is anything else you can do to help. This is the best way to avoid the dreaded one-star Facebook rant. Ask questions during the first meeting. Create a service agreement that defines the work to be performed. Then end the service by asking if there is anything else you can do to help. This is a great time to offer an upsell. Let the customer dismiss you.

A survey is a great way to follow up with customer’s after service has been completed. Services such as Survey Monkey make it easy to create professional surveys that your customers can take anonymously, right from their smart phones. Keep them brief with simple questions. Focus on key metrics for service. Use rating systems to gain more insight into the overall quality of your service. A yes or no question will not offer as much detail as a scale. For example, a question such as, “On a scale of one to five please rate the overall quality of our service.” Is better than, “Are you pleased with our service? Check yes or no.” Give them a chance to leave an open-ended reply, but don’t expect an essay. Use the responses from the rating system to grade yourself.

The customer is NOT always right, but this is not an excuse to stop listening. You should never let your customers tell you what you are worth. Instead, determine what you need to perform the service, and show them how you will earn their loyalty. Always ask questions, and listen carefully.

Meet The Author

Clyde Hemminger develops visual curriculum content for PowerWash University. Clyde has a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Wesleyan University. He entered the pressure washing industry in 2010. His photographs have been published in Cleaner Times Magazine and eClean Magazine. He is a contributing author to the SprayTips Newsletter; a weekly publication for power wash professionals. Clyde enjoys studying human interactions with written and visual media. He uses that observational data to help him create engaging and intuitive content.

Why Roof Cleaning Matters

Why does roof cleaning matter? Well every property - whether it’s commercial or residential, big or small, stucco or vinyl - has a few core things in common. The most obvious? A roof. We completely rely on roofing to provide the elements that are most valuable to a building. Soft washing is the best way to preserve this important part of your property.

Gloeocapsa Magma: Big name, big roofing threat
There’s a catch. Other things want to make themselves at home on roofing, too. The biggest threat to roofing is a type of bacterial growth called Gloeocapsa Magma. It’s similar to algae in that it clings to outdoor surfaces, creating those telltale black stains. Gloeocapsa Magma gravitates towards roofing because of the limestone composite that is found in most shingles. Once it takes hold, the bacteria:

  • Starts to spread, bringing its black streaks along with it

  • Eats away at the limestone composite

  • Degrades your shingles and compromises its integrity.

  • Absorbs heat, which in turn damages and cracks roofing

The solution: Soft Washing
Gloeocapsa Magma is stubborn. Soft washing is the only way to effectively remove the bacteria without harming your shingles. Whether you’re a property owner, manager, or a power washing professional, “soft wash solutions” and “roof cleaning” are the only phrases that belong in a sentence together.

Soft washing distributes chemical cleaners on your affected roofing using a low-pressure applicator. As the chemicals work their way into your shingles, they kill the bacterial growth, break down the buildup, and safeguard the quality of your roof.

Conventional pressure washing isn’t an appropriate solution for roofs. The power is too much for shingles to safely handle, which means that you might damage your roofing in the pursuit of cleaning it.

With just a little bit of professional soft wash attention, your roof can regain its curb appeal and serve you faithfully for years into the future. From soft washing systems to roof cleaner, Powerwash.com is here to help you protect your property from the very top.

To learn even more try our online Roof Washing course

Is Your Auto-Response Email Missing an Opportunity?

AutoBanner“Thank you for filling out an interest form. We will get back with you shortly.”

If this is your automated email response to someone who just asked for information about your company, then you are missing a huge opportunity to create a connection with this new lead. People get all kinds of junk sent to them - why be another annoyance? Use auto-response emails as a way to sell products and services, build a relationship and win over potentials.

An auto-response email is sent when a customer takes an action on your website, versus direct marketing emails that are sent in mass to your entire email list. Customers open auto-response emails at a rate of 52% while direct marketing emails are only opened at a rate of 20% (Marketing Land, 2013). In other words, if you send out a mass message to 100 customers, only 20 will read it. But if you send the same marketing message to 100 people who filled out your online form, 50 will read it. That’s why you need to turn the auto-response email into a marketing tool, not just another “thank you” note.

When designing your auto-response email, don’t be afraid to get personal. The more formal you sound, the more automated it feels. Refer to yourself in the first person, not in the third person (i.e.: “The owner will get back to you soon.”). Sign the email as yourself, not the business. For example: “So glad you are interested in my services. I look forward to taking care of your power washing needs! – Jack Smith” is much more friendly and inviting than “Thank you for filling out our online form. Someone will get back to you shortly. – Powerwashers, Inc.”

Keep this part short and sweet and be sure to give contact information. Referring to an email is much easier than going back to the website to find a phone number or email address for follow up. “If you need anything, please call Melissa at 555-5555 or email her at Melissa@Powerwashersinc.com.”

Next, don’t be afraid to include your marketing language. “Voted Best in Kansas City!” “We clean anything, anywhere!” Maybe they noticed it on your website already but adding it again is a reinforcement for why they contacted you in the first place. Solidify with them that you are the best at what you do with every opportunity. You can make a short, bullet-point list of reasons why you are better than the competition – anything that sets you apart. (Note the key term: short.)

Lastly, add any current sales incentives you have going. Do you give 10% off to new customers? Are you running a seasonal special? Discounting certain services? Let potential customers know! Not only will it make them more likely to hire you, it will also make them more likely to open future direct marketing emails because they know that you offer specials that they might want.

Now you have an auto-response email that gives them a friendly vibe, information they can use and incentives to purchase your services. This is how you take advantage of a new lead.

The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Could Help Your Pressure Washing Business Save Big Money!

Small business Health Care Tax CreditWith all of the discussion about whether or not the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) is good for our country, you might have missed one of the benefits to small businesses: a tax credit for companies that pay for their employees’ health care. This small business health care tax credit is great for our industry, known for small crews: the fewer employees you have, the better the tax credit.

According to the IRS website, for tax years 2010-2013, small businesses (fewer than 25 employees) can receive a maximum credit of 35 percent of health insurance premiums paid. For tax years 2014 and on, the maximum credit is 50 percent. The small business health care tax credit is available to eligible employers “for two consecutive taxable years.” For 2014, you must pay insurance plan premiums purchased through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace or qualify for an exemption to be eligible.

Unfortunately, as most things tax related, figuring out if you qualify for the small business health care tax credit is, well, complicated. First, the credit is based on the average income earned by full time employees. You can add together part-time employees to create an average based on full-time wages. For example, if you have 10 part-time employees, you add up their income and divide by 5. According to BloombergBusiness.com, “the credit applies fully to companies with 10 or fewer full-time employees who earn on average below $25,000. It phases out as the number of employees rises to 25 and wages go up to $50,000.”

You also need to pay a “uniform” 50% or more toward employee, self-only health insurance premiums. As previously mentioned, for 2014 and onward, plans must be purchased through SHOP marketplace for your state. SHOP helps small businesses get better coverage by pooling them together for higher purchasing power, plus it makes dealing with insurance easier – fewer administration woes, less time spent on it.

Before you grab your calculator, or add more hours to your accountant’s 2014 tax efforts, go to https://www.healthcare.gov/shop-calculators-taxcredit/ for a preliminary check on your eligibility. You can estimate total wages but you will need to know how much you paid in premiums. The actual paper work is much more complicated than filling out five blanks on an online form. You need to send Form 8941 completed with your tax documents. (Here is the instruction form, in case you need it.) As a result, only a small percentage of employers have bothered filing for the small business health care tax credit.

The Government Accounting Office found that 170,300 employers claimed the tax credit in 2012 out of 4 million eligible small businesses, as reported in usatoday.com. Many business owners don’t know about the small business health care tax credit and those who do find filing for it cumbersome at best, or simply not worth the effort because the credit is too small. Those employers who shared their stories with usatoday.com prefer to give their employees a defined contribution and send them to the individual market place for health insurance.

The intention of the tax credit is to entice small businesses to use the SHOP marketplace, which will ultimately keep insurance premiums low for everyone. With a complicated process to qualify, that may not happen.

Still, if you find you could qualify and you decide to apply, you are not penalized if you are turned down. Other than the time it took for fill out the form.

Protecting Your Customers from Potential Slip and Fall Lawsuits

By cleaning your customers' sidewalks, driveways, and other walking traffic areas, you are doing more than keeping their establishments looking good. You are possibly protecting your customers from potential slip and fall lawsuits, the most common personal injury lawsuits in the United States. If your clients don't seem to want to schedule regular cleanings, you can share this information with them and perhaps change their mind.

Slippery when WetCNA insurance reported that people slip and fall on property for five major reasons:

  1. Lack of slip resistance on walking surfaces (i.e.: no mats in a restaurant kitchen)

  2. Poor walking surface conditions (i.e.: uneven surfaces, snow and ice, etc.)

  3. Poor visibility (i.e.: no lighting in a parking lot)

  4. Lack or poor condition of handrails and guardrails

  5. Poor accessibility

Power washers help clients avoid poor walking surface conditions by cleaning off grease, oils, accumulation of sand and dirt, and other kinds of deposits from often-used surfaces. Consistent cleaning makes working conditions and public use safer, perhaps the most important reason for regular service. Injuries from falling can lead to permanent disabilities and even death, specifically for the elderly.

How common are these kinds of incidents? Russell J. Kendzior writes in his book Falls Aren't Funny: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Slip-and-Fall Crisis that:

  • Approximately 25,000 people a day are victims to slip-and-fall accidents. The expense of these injuries is running $3.5 million per hour, every hour of the day, every day of the year. That's over $30 billion per year.

  • The average cost of a slip-related injury exceeds $12,000.

  • The average cost to defend a slip-and-fall lawsuit is $50,000.

  • Plaintiffs win 51% of premises liability claims.

Someone who is injured from a fall can sue under Premise Liability Law, “the legal principles that hold landowners and tenants responsible when someone enters onto their property and gets hurt due to a dangerous condition. With few exceptions, premises liability claims are based on negligence,” as described on Hg.com. The legal definition of negligence, according to the Legal Information Institute, is:
"A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act."

In other words, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant did not act at a level of care that would keep the ground or floors from being hazardous. Regular cleanings might be considered “behaving with a level of care” by someone with “ordinary prudence.” It certainly would be better than risking no cleanings at all.

To confuse matters some, several power washing-related websites post the following statement with regard to approaching clients about keeping floors safe:
"According to OSHA and The American Disabilities Act (sic): Passed by Congress in July 1992,Title III notes: For all business open to the public, flooring and walkways should have a friction coefficient of .60 or above and ramps should have a friction coefficient of .80 or above. There are penalties for failure to comply (up to $50K first offense) and tax benefits for businesses that take steps to comply."

When checked against OSHA guidelines and the Americans With Disabilities Act, this statement is incorrect. Juan Rodriguez, Deputy Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Public Affairs confirmed that the above statement “is not a paragraph from OSHA.” The actual guidelines state:
"28 CFR 1910.141 (a)(3)(ii) The floor of every workroom shall be maintained, so far as practicable, in a dry condition. Where wet processes are used, drainage shall be maintained and false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places shall be provided, where practicable, or appropriate waterproof footgear shall be provided."

OSHA regulations do not mandate specific floor friction coefficients. OSHA has made only recommendations based on a study done on floor slippage. To another point, OSHA and the Americans With Disabilities Act are not related. OSHA is an agency of the Department of Labor while the ADA is a law enforced by The United States Department of Justice. With regard to flooring, the ADA states:
"The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that walking surfaces have a static coefficient of friction of 0.5. A research project sponsored by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) conducted tests with persons with disabilities and concluded that a higher coefficient of friction was needed by such persons. A static coefficient of friction of 0.6 is recommended for accessible routes and 0.8 for ramps."

It goes on to explain that friction coefficients vary and that builders are encouraged to use materials that fall within the recommended range.

Again, no coefficient of friction is mandated - hence, no penalty. Lastly, and most important to those cleaning floors, power washers are not part of the material selection process. The friction coefficient of the flooring purchased is up to the builders.

If you are considering selling floor cleaning services based on safety, simply inform your clients of the prevalence of people suing when they fall and that it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Pressure Washer Burner Maintenance Tips

The heater portion of a hot water pressure washer requires more maintenance than any other part of the machine. Pressure washer burner maintenance extends past the components that make up your burner assembly. In order for your burner to operate at peak efficiency, your engine, battery, pump, and unloader must be functioning properly.

Keep Your Fuel Clean

A water separating fuel filter should be installed in your burner fuel line. (RACOR or equivalent) The filter should be checked daily and drained, if any water is found in the bowl. The burner fuel tank should be topped off at the end of each work day. (If there is no dead air space in the fuel tank condensation can’t form in the fuel line!) The fuel filter element should be changed every two months regardless of the amount of use or the quality of fuel used. If the fuel becomes contaminated the filter element should be changed prior to using the heater and the fuel should be replaced with fresh clean fuel.

Don't Waste Fuel

The fuel nozzle should be changed as the seasons change. The burner is set up to raise the temperature of the inlet water to around 110 degrees above the ambient range. In the summer you will need to install a fuel nozzle that has an orifice that is smaller by ¼ of a numbered size. Example: Winter Nozzle Size 2.75 80 degree A. The Summer Nozzle Size should be 2.50 80 degree A. Doing this will assure that your water stays in the same temperature range as the seasons change. Also fuel nozzles wear with use and you will get an uneven fuel pattern which will cause poor ignition and smoking.

Burner electrodes should be changed when you change the fuel nozzles, because they will also wear with use and this wear will create ignition problems. Electrodes must be set properly when they are changed. This setting will vary with the type of heater that you are using. I recommend that you check with a certified repair shop to determine the proper setting for your electrodes.

Burner drive couplings should be replaced yearly because they are made of plastic and will also wear as time passes. Burner tune up kits are offered for different types of burners. These kits contain electrodes and drive couplings as well as other things that you may need. Your vendor of choice should know what you need based on the type of pressure washer that you are using.

Make Sure You Have Enough Power

There are other parts of the Heater that may fail due to use or due to the improper operation of certain other components of your pressure washing system. If the charging system in your engine fails, the battery which provides the electricity for a 12 volt burner will not maintain enough power to operate the burner. Low power to the burner can cause electrical components to fail as a result of this, or they may just cease to operate. For this reason you should test your charging system occasionally. Your engine is designed to charge at a certain rate based on the speed of your engine. If your engine should slow down for any reason this will also cause a loss of charging power thus creating a low voltage issue. If you are using a 120 volt burner system your engine will be driving a belt driven generator which must run at 3600 rpms to maintain the proper voltage output and the proper Hz or voltage frequency. This is set up at the factory by installing the proper drive and driven pulleys and assuring proper belt tension. This speed will be maintained so long as the engine speed remains the same and the belt tension is correct. You must also occasionally check this belt for wear and replace it as needed.

Replace Your Thermostat or High Limit Switch

Pressure washer manufacturers use either an adjustable thermostat or high limit switch to keep the heater from overheating. Either is subject to failure due to excessive pressure spikes in the system, power surges or improper handling of the machine. If either of these units should fail they most commonly fail in the open position which means that your burner won’t work at all. In order to test this condition, you must temporarily bypass the component to verify that it is responsible for causing the problem. If you determine that this is the problem you then must replace it before using the heater. DO NOT OPERATE THE HEATER WITH ANY SAFETY DEVICE BYPASSED!

Replace Your Pressure Switch or Flow Switch

When you release the trigger at the gun, and interrupt the flow of water through the heater, the fire that heats the water must also be stopped. If the burner continues to burn, you will cause a steam explosion. It is for this reason, manufacturers use a pressure switch or high pressure flow switch. Either is subject to failure due to wear, extreme pressure spikes, power surges or abuse. If either of these units should fail they most commonly fail in the open position which means that your burner won’t work at all. In order to test this condition, you must temporarily bypass the component to verify that it is responsible for causing the problem. If you determine that this is the problem you then must replace it before using the heater. DO NOT OPERATE THE HEATER WITH ANY SAFETY DEVICE BYPASSED!

Regular pressure washer burner maintenance will help you avoid costly repairs. If you have any questions about pressure washer burner maintenance, call our experts at 1-800-433-2113. We can help you get the parts you need to keep your machine running at peak efficiency.

This advice is intended for use with oil fired heaters as they pertain to pressure washers only. This is in no way intended for use with any other type of heater.

Tips for Writing Pay Per Click Ads for a Pressure Washing Business

This article is the third in a four part series of articles on pay per click advertising for power wash contractors. The first article focused on global changes that you can make to campaigns. Article two explored keyword settings. This article will give tips for writing pay per click ads for a pressure washing business, and the fourth will discuss what should happen after your ad is clicked.

Ads that appear in search results are brief. One word can sometimes drastically increase conversion rates. Some ads get a lot of clicks, but none of the clicks convert. It may take a you a few tries to figure out what works best.

Be Scientific

Create multiple ads within each one of your ad groups, and monitor your variables. Your potential customers will only see one of your ads displayed at a time. So it is okay if each ad is almost exactly the same as the last ad.

Start by choosing a headline that is rich with keywords from your ad group. Then alter the headline by arranging the order of the keywords or using close variants of those keywords. Keep everything else in the ad the same. This way you can A/B test to see which headline works the best.

After you have created a few good headlines, you can start optimizing your ad content. Use the same A/B strategy with your ad content that you used with your headlines. Try to give the user some idea of what they will see on your landing page when they click your ad. Sometimes just switching the top and bottom lines can impact your click through rate. Keep making adjustments until you find what works best.

Your display URL does not have to match your destination URL. The domain must be the same, but the content after the slash can be used to give additional clues about the content of your landing pages. This is another place to try and use keywords that may match search queries.

Sell Your Services Not Your Price

Avoid phrases like, "Our Prices Can't Be Beat." They will often bring in the wrong kind of traffic. These people will click your ad and immediately start looking for pricing information. Unless you can give them the "right" price, they are likely going to leave your site without contacting you.

Use Ad Extensions

Ad extensions appear below your search network ads and add valuable information for your potential customer. They can improve your visibility. When two ads have the same bid and quality, the ad with extensions will be chosen over the ad without extensions. There are several types of extensions. The most relevant extensions for power wash contractors are described below.

  • Call extensions allow users to call you directly from your ad. You can track the calls and count them as conversions

  • Location extensions are excellent for businesses that have a physical location. Mobile device users can click through and get directions to your facility. Perfect for truck wash bays, or other stationary power washing facilities.

  • Previous visit extensions let users know if they have visited your site before, and how many times they visited. This extension can help you build repeat business. A home owner may not remember the name of the company who cleaned their driveway last month, but they remember what your website looked like. This extension can tell them how many times they have visited your site, and even when they visited.

  • User review extensions show positive reviews from third party sites. Users will click through with more confidence, and are far more likely to contact you once they have visited your site.

  • Site links show users some of the most important pages on your site. They can help them land on the right page and get the information they need to make a purchase decision.

Top ad position is not just awarded to the highest bidder. According to Google, "Ad position is determined by a formula called Ad Rank that gives your ad a score based on your bid, the quality of your ads and landing page, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats." Google wants to present the most relevant information possible when a user searches for content. Make sure your keywords match your ad content and your landing page content. Test and make adjustments to your ads to increase your conversion rates. Small changes can have a big impact on your bottom line.

Can I start a business with a cheap pressure washer, and then save up for a professional pressure washer?

The answer is no, you cannot start a business with a cheap pressure washer and upgrade later. Power washers built for home owners will seldom be built using high grade components. The typical life expectancy of a consumer type power washer will be less than 50 hours of use, many less than that! I know that sounds like a very short time for something that you would pay that much money for, but remember the average home owner will take 10 years to put 50 hours on a power washer where a professional may do that in 3 or 4 days. What we in the industry refer to as homeowner units most generally cost far less than those made for use by a professional! As you can see a power washer that is manufactured for use by the average home owner will not last long being used as a professional will need to, so the professional unit will be made of parts that are far superior in quality.

Consumer Pressure Washer

The theory behind cleaning with a power washer is to remove dirt and stains from a surface in a cost efficient manner. If you want to compare the cleaning power of two machines, you can multiply the GPM and PSI to determine cleaning efficiency. Most consumer power washers are only capable of 3.5 GPM or less. They also tend to have low pressure output. If you choose a power washer that is capable of 3500 PSI you can lower that pressure by installing a larger spray tip. If you lower the pressure you will be able to wash many surfaces that can't stand up to the higher pressure yet still clean the surface in a cost efficient manner. A home owner doesn't need to be concerned with the time factor, but time is money for power washing professionals. Labor is often the most expensive part of a pressure washing job.

If you are going to start a mobile power washing business you should make sure you start off right. One of the first things you should do is draw up a business plan. Doing the research for this plan will give you an idea of what it will cost you to start this business. Determine what you plan to clean, and what kind of equipment you will need to clean it properly. If you can't afford to start off on the right foot then wait until you can. You will need money for equipment, chemicals, insurance, advertising, transportation, uniforms and many other things. It is important that you make the correct decisions at this stage of your business planning. Don't set yourself up for failure from the beginning! Seek advice and training learn all you can and be prepared. Contact our Technical Advisors at 1-800-433-2113

Should I Buy an Open Pressure Washer Trailer or an Enclosed Pressure Washer Trailer?

There are many things to be considered when choosing a trailer on which to carry your power washing equipment. The number one concern of most power wash contractors is durability. The second is usually protecting their investment. Many important considerations are ignored.

Open Trailer made

The primary consideration should be load limit. The amount and type of equipment and amount of water that you will need to carry will be a major factor in choosing the best trailer to suit your needs. Trailers will be rated by the amount of weight that they can carry and by their GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight). You will need to know the weight of all of your equipment, the chemicals and accessories that you will be carrying and the water as well (Water weighs about 8.33 pounds per gallon.) Remember that these weights combined with the actual trailer weight will determine the GVW. An enclosed trailer will be much heavier than an open trailer. If you don't know the weight of your equipment you should be able to get that information from the vendor who sold it to you.

You will also need to know that your truck or the vehicle that you will be using to tow the trailer with has the rating to tow this much weight and the proper braking and lighting system as well. Once you have determined the size and load limits that you will need you can proceed to making the decision as to whether an open or enclosed trailer will best suit your needs.

Another thing to consider when choosing a trailer is the type of roads that you will be traveling when servicing your customers. If you are traveling on rough terrain such as one might do when performing work in the oil fields, an enclosed trailer may not be the best choice. There are certain weaknesses in the framework that won't stand up to rough roads because of the constant flexing of the framework as you go over bumps and ruts in the terrain.

Have you ever heard anyone say this before, "You wouldn't purchase a lawn and garden tractor and leave it sitting in your yard exposed to the damaging elements! So why would you expose the equipment that you make your living with to these same dangers?" Their solution is of course an enclosed trailer. It is true, that an enclosed trailer offers more protection for your equipment, but they are not right for every situation.

An enclosed trailer is a rolling billboard for your business. This type of advertising can be extremely effective for B to C contractors. Neighbors in a residential area can look out their window and see your trailer parked in front of a house you are cleaning. They are reminded of you every time they see the clean house on the block.

Also with an enclosed trailer pilferage and the loss of small items is less likely. Your equipment is hidden from view. This also helps you look more organized. People passing by will see your advertising instead of the wands, brushes and other items you have tucked away.

If you are still not sure what type of trailer is right for you, call PowerWash.com at 1-800-433-2113. We have been making custom trailers for power wash contractors for over 30 years.

Check out our gallery page.

Check out our trailer packages.

Not all Awning Cleaning Jobs Are Exactly the Same

The following is an interview with Wayne Shockey, owner of Specialized Maintenance and Awning Cleaning. Wayne has been cleaning awnings for 20 years, and recently encountered a very unique challenge that turned out to be a very lucrative endeavor. It should be noted that his answers have been edited for the sake of brevity and legibility.

How did you get involved with the project?

I do quite a bit of marketing through the internet and postcards, but this job came from a company that makes and repairs awnings. They do everything but clean and protect the awning, because they don’t have the equipment and knowledge. Sometimes when they are doing a repair they need it cleaned beforehand, because the workers can leave finger prints and smudges all over the surface of the awning. If they don’t have it cleaned beforehand, they often have it cleaned after.

I build relationships with people who can get me into places I can’t get into by myself. In this case, they had worked on this awning before, and they knew that it would be a mess unless I cleaned it first. So we met ahead of time and walked around, took some measurements and photos.

What made this job unique?

The toughest part of this awning was that it was on a hill. So there are only two sides you can work from. The awning was high enough off the ground that my 12 foot ladder would just barely reach it, and it measured about 50 ft by 30 ft. I started cleaning from a window above the awning, but I could only reach about 2/3 of the awning from that angle. I did the rest from the 12 foot ladder. At times I was reaching out as much as 22 feet with my extension poles to get it clean.

How did you determine what equipment and chemicals to bring?

We knew we wanted to clean it. This was a vinyl material built in two sections. One was older than the other. The dirt was pretty heavy. The material was not an expensive material, so it doesn’t hold up well. We decided to use AC-22, because we knew that we needed a chemical that could be mixed extra strong. We also knew that we would need AC-42 Vinyl Awning Restorer. The surface was so dirty that when we removed the dirt, the awning would be faded and the vinyl would be dried out. It doesn’t really look good unless you add the protectant.

I measured the awning and it ended up being 1500 square feet. I knew how much product I would need to get it clean, but I doubled that amount just in case. I located the faucets, and made sure they worked, so that I could determine how much hose I would need. Then I doubled that amount. I even brought an extra ladder. I have a checklist of everything that I need for a job, and I review it before I leave for every job. That way I can be sure I don’t leave anything.

Please describe the process that you used to complete the job.

I arrived on site and set up cones and set my equipment up. The building managers worked with me to prepare for the job. We planned the cleaning for the least busy day of the week. The patio beneath the awning was closed off and the room that I worked out of was empty.

When cleaning an awning, you work a small section at a time. In this case I had to double clean everything, because it didn’t get completely clean the first time. Then I had to rinse really well. The rinse water ran off into some plants that were below the awning, so we didn’t have to worry about runoff.

What strategies do you use to manage client expectations?

I usually tell them that I can get about 80-90% off. Once I was asked why I couldn’t get it all clean. I have to explain that in order to get it all clean, I would need to clean it three or four times, and the extra cost to get that last 10% just isn’t worth it to most people. It’s like doing laundry. Some stains aren’t going to come out. If you clean it too hard, it will just fall apart. What we try to do is give them the best looking awning, that will last the longest, without doing any damage. Rarely have I ever had anyone come back and say that it wasn’t clean. I always remind myself to make sure all areas are covered.

Wayne Shockey teaches our Awning Cleaning Class at Power Wash University.

Find the products mentioned in this article in the Awning Cleaning Chemicals section at PowerWash.com

The Dirty AwningWorking from the Windo
Awning Cleaned without ProtectantApplying Protectant with an Extension Pole
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