How much to charge per hour for pressure washing work?

Victor Hayes - The ExpertBy Victor Hayes Popovics
Power Equipment Expert
Ultimate Washer Inc.

So, you’ve started your own pressure washing business. You probably spent hours thinking up a name; you’ve purchased equipment; you’ve likely spread the news around to friends and family: you are in business.

At this point, one of the most important decisions you face is how much to charge your customer per hour. Charge too much and you will have a hard time finding customers; charge too little and you may have plenty of business but not much to show for it when all is said and done. Additionally, if you under price in the beginning and then realize your error, you may lose all the clients who were accustomed to paying your low rates.

Hitting the right balance for setting on how much to charge hourly rate is a matter of taking all variables into consideration and keeping an eye on the bottom line. It may seem like you are making a good wage if you charge your clients $50 an hour, but think about all the costs involved in performing your particular service should be an essential part of your pressure washing business plan. Being prepared and understanding what goes into setting wages will pay off in the long run, and in more ways than just financial.

Let’s take for example a start up pressure washing business that specializes in house and deck cleaning. The obvious factors would be supplies, transportation, possibly rental space for the business or a payment on a loan for one or more vehicles. What may not be immediately to a new business owner is the amount of time spent on the business that will not be billed directly to customers. If you are running this hypothetical business, you will have to make phone calls to set appointments, take time to visit homes and meet clients as well as give quotes. You should even calculate the time necessary to load and unload supplies at job sites. All this essentially unpaid time should be calculated into determining how much to charge hourly.

How much to charge pressure washing

A good blueprint begins with a breakdown of monthly costs divided over the number of hours for which you will actually be able to charge your customers. Let’s continue with the example of a pressure washing business, and estimate that the number of paid hours per week is 30.

  • One vehicle loan of $400 is equal to $3.33 per hour
  • Car insurance of $125 is equal to $1.04 per hour
  • Cleaning supplies of $400 is equal to roughly 3.33 cents and hour
  • Phone and internet services of $150 per month are equal to $1.25 per hour
  • Gasoline costs for vehicles of $500 per month are equal to $4.17 per hour
  • Advertising and marketing costs of $600 per month are equal to $5.00 an hour
  • The cost to run equipment can vary, but if you are including maintenance and fuel $10 per hour is a good estimate
  • If you are renting shop or office space at $900 a month, add another $9 per hour to your hourly wage

These major and minor costs have already added up to almost $40 per hour and you haven’t even paid yourself yet, or made any money to put back into your business. If you are looking to make a good salary and have some money to invest back into the business you need to do some careful calculations. Keeping in mind that only about 30 of your weekly 40 working hours will be paid for by your customers, you need to know how much to charge accordingly.

If you would like to make a salary of $60,000 a year, with money to put back into the pressure washing business (and to give to Uncle Sam) you should take your yearly salary, and break it down to weekly, based on a 40 hour work week. So, $60,000 is roughly $29 an hour. Say you want a cushion of $20,000 for business growth, which equals about $9.50 an hour. You already know that your costs have added up to $40 per hour, so add these together for a total of roughly $80 an hour. But is that what you charge your customer? Not if you want to be paid for all the time you are actually working.

Your $80 dollar an hour/ 40 hour a week paycheck equals $3200 per week in revenue. If you are billing customers for only $30 hours per week, your hourly fee needs to be $106 an hour. Now, you are in business!

Determining how much to charge your customers may seem like a lot of work, and honestly, it is. But, the work you put into setting your wages will enable you to have a clear picture of what your financial future will be and determine the success of your pressure washing business right from the very start.

The publisher of these pages is in no way responsible for any damage caused to you, your pressure washer, anyone else, your property, or anyone else's property by trying to implement or by successfully implementing the above-mentioned performance and services.