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How to Choose the Right Pressure Washing Company

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It is that time of year again – you are noticing mold and mildew buildup on your gutters, patio railings, and fascia. There is a developing colony of green algae growing on the shaded side of your house, and your gutters are filled with leaves and debris. If this sounds like you, it is time to call your local pressure washing company for a maintenance cleaning. After researching companies on Google, Facebook, and Yelp, you gather a huge list of companies to call but don’t know where to start. We are going to help you by providing a framework of questions to ask yourself and the companies you choose to get proposals and estimates from.

1) Location

  • Is the company close to you, around 25 miles or less?
  • Are they local or part of a larger chain of businesses?

These two important questions, although less though of, are critical in choosing the right company for your needs. Lets say you choose to get bids from two companies: one is located 5 miles from your house, and the other company is 30 miles from your house. It is safe to assume the bid from the company 30 miles away is going to be higher by default, as they have to take more time to get to your property and use more fuel in the process. Even if the companies price the same per hour, the business 5 miles from your house will almost always be a lower price than the bid from the company 30 miles away.

Going with a pressure washing company that has 3 or more locations across a certain region, versus a company that has a few trucks running in one city, has its own pros and cons. Going with a larger company usually means you can get estimates, service, and questions answered faster as they have dedicated office and sales staff, as well as on-call cleaning technicians. This can be a plus for time-sensitive projects, such as a getting pressure washing completed before the sale of a home, or an oil spill outside of a gas station.

A few downsides to going with a larger company exist – one being what we call the “diffusion of responsibility”. Let’s say a cleaning technician does not pre-soak a rose bush with water before doing a roof cleaning using a strong chemical mixture. The chemicals overspray onto the rose bush, killing the plant. The customer has to call the dedicated office staff, the office staff has to coordinate with management to speak to the customer about how they want to handle the dead rose bush (insurance claim or monetary reparation), and then the problem has to be fixed accordingly. In some cases, this process can take significantly more time compared to a local company where the owner can simply offer to pay out-of-pocket for a new rose bush and plant it the next day.

2) Responsiveness

  • Did the company pick up the phone right away?
  • If not, did they call you back the same day?
  • Did they get their estimate to you punctually?
  • If you have gotten service with them, did they do the cleaning on-time?
  • Do they handle questions and concerns quickly and effectively?

These are all the questions you should be asking yourself from the very start of the bidding process. If a company takes 2 days to call you back and is 3 days late on when they said the estimate would be ready, there may be some problems in getting you scheduled and completing your project in a timely manner. During the height of the washing season, companies can be booked out months in advance and working with clients all day, every day. You can expect delays in service and estimating during spring and summer, while getting estimates from pressure washing companies in fall and spring can be a quick process.

Some exterior cleaning businesses will working with clients on a floating schedule, some will schedule by “morning” or “afternoon” appointments, some will give exact times, and some will give time windows. Regardless of how the business chooses to do their scheduling, do they stay consistent with how they said they would perform their scheduling? A washing business that says they will be there at 2pm and shows up at 4pm is less consistent than the company that says they will arrive between 2pm and 4pm, and arrives promptly at 4pm. Nuances like this tell you a lot about the companies you choose to work with and how you can predict the scheduling process will go moving forward.

3) Professionalism and Licensure

  • Do they schedule, provide estimates, and invoice in a timely fashion?
  • Are they licensed?
  • Are they insured?
  • Are they bonded?
  • Do they have any accreditations from professional cleaning organizations?
  • Are their trucks and equipment clean?
  • Are the owner(s) and staff professional?

This is likely the most important category as working with a company that has appropriate insurance coverage and licensure can save you from costly out-of-pocket expenses. Going with the insured company that will wash your driveway annually for $600, may actually be cheaper than working with the non-insured and non-licensed company (or individual, usually) that will wash your driveway annually for $375. Let’s imagine both companies provide a driveway cleaning at that price using too high of pressure, causing the cream coat to be taken off, leaving the once smooth appearance of your professionally poured driveway looking splotchy, discolored, and damaged. The insured company can work with you via the claims process to come to a solution. The uninsured/non-licensed contractor will have to pay out of pocket and risk being sued personally if they do not provide a solution the client wants. This can cause weeks, months, and or years of headache for both parties involved.

Although accreditation is not required to perform pressure washing, it is always beneficial to have a proven track record of continuing education in the pressure washing businesses. To name a few, there is the UAMCC, the Doug Rucker School, the Southeast Softwash Serious Starter Boot Camp, the F9 Approved Applicator Certificate, and the Spray Wash Academy. There are easily over 100 education and training programs exterior cleaners can go through. The point is, companies you work with should place some emphasis on what they are doing to stay at the top of their game to provide the best clean for their clients.

A pressure washing company, who’s primary service is cleaning, should be clean themselves – clean and maintained trucks, well-dressed staff, and clean equipment. At the end of the day, so exceptional service is the top priority, but a professional appearance is highly correlated with professional service.

4) Prices

  • Are they transparent with their pricing process?
  • Are they competitive with others in the area?

Every exterior cleaning business has their own pricing process, labor rate, and operational costs, but there are some commonalities between all companies. Most pressure washing companies price by square footage, factoring in the type of surface they are cleaning (vinyl, concrete, shingles, pavers, etc.) what contaminants they are removing (algae, moss, oil, etc.), and how soiled the surface is. You should be able to ask a company what they are charging per square foot if you please – although some companies price solely on what they predict a project will take time-wise. Square footage is a more accurate measure, although the pricing model used is up to the business.

Competitive pricing is important – price too low or too high, and you start to create an abrasive relationship between competitors and clients across your service area. For example, an individual starts pressure washing as a side gig, and washes houses for $150 when his competitors are pricing anywhere between $500-600 for the same house. This creates issues both for the individual washing homes, the customer, and other companies in the area. Some contractors will cut corners when they realize they are performing poorly at their hourly rate, causing issues between themselves and the customer. Let’s say that individual washes a customer’s home at that price for 5 years, and decides to move to a different state. When that customer looks for a new company to wash their home, they are then going to be surprised or upset when other companies in the area want to wash their house for $400, $500, and $600. The pressure washing businesses that have been pricing at those points for many years then have to attempt to explain to the customer why they charge what they charge, causing some abrasion between the customer and the contractor.

Overpricing is also an issues, usually due to shady business practices called “Cadillac pricing”. Let us say a contractor charges most of his customers 18 cents per square foot to wash their driveways, but then charges his wealthy clients 25 cents per square foot to wash their driveways without adding any extra benefit at a higher price. That is called Cadillac pricing, which refers to contractors charging people more based on the type of car they drive, the size of their house, or what they do for a living. This type of pricing behavior is deceitful and can create long-lasting trust issues between customers and pressure washing companies in their market.

5) Reputation

  • Do they have good reviews online?
  • Do they perform charitable acts in their community?
  • Is their word-of-mouth reputation good?

Having a good reputation is the main way for pressure washers to get business. Having good reviews across different social media platforms, getting referrals from customers, and maintain a good public appearance can make or break a cleaning company. It is important to look at the reviews of a company online to see what others are saying about their experience.

Giving back to the community is just as important for an exterior cleaning business as it is for each other. Some form of charitable act should be visible on a company’s website, whether that is donating a portion of their funds to a non-profit organization, doing some free cleaning for a school, church, or elderly person, or giving away free cleanings periodically to those in need.

If you ask someone you know about a certain company, does that company have a good first impression? Being able to hear a friend or family member say they had a good experience with a company carries a lot more weight than a bunch of strangers’ Google reviews.

6) Transparency

  • Do they pay their staff a fair amount?
  • Do they tell you what they charge per hour or square foot?
  • Do they tell you what chemicals they use or do not use?

Transparency ties in with a lot of the previous points, but overall, it is important to be able to get your questions answered in an open and truthful manner. If any of the above questions are important to you, a company should be able to answer them to your satisfaction.

If you are looking for a reliable, fair, and trustworthy pressure washing company in the Charleston area, look no further than our team at Mount Pleasant Pressure Washing. We pride ourselves on being the Lowcountry’s go-to exterior cleaning solutions provider, offering a full spectrum of services ranging from graffiti removal to deck restoration. Give us a call or fill out our intake form to get scheduled this season or in advance for the next year!

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