BUSINESS STARTUP QUICK LINKS
Table of Contents
You can use the links at the bottom of the page to register your new gutter cleaning business in your region. A gutter cleaning business is not too difficult to start, and can be a great source of full or part-time income. First, lets start with a few positives and negatives to consider when having a gutter cleaning business:
Positives of a gutter cleaning business-Relatively low startup and overhead costs -Flexible hours -Low skill levels needed -Great way to branch off into other related services such as gutter and roof repair. -Repeat business -Great way to get word-of-mouth referrals
Negatives of a gutter cleaning business-Need to deal with heights, risk of falling -is a somewhat seasonal business -while costs are low compared to other business, you will still need to invest in equipment and insurance
1. Equipment for your gutter cleaning business:-Ladders- a 24 ft./26 ft. ladder should be enough for majority of gutter cleaning jobs, but a 32 ft. ladder will be more than adequate for 99% of any jobs you may get. If you are going to start with just one ladder, a 24 ft. ladder should be sufficient. Werner makes a 26 ft. multi-ladder that could be flexible enough for various uses. A ladder stabilizer may also be a good piece of equipment to have. It attaches to the top of your ladder. The ladder stabilizer rests on the roof, keeping your ladder off of the gutter, and helping keep the ladder from tipping or sliding. -Vehicle- Any vehicle you can can fit your ladder on will work. If you use a multi-ladder, you could even fit your ladder in a small car. For larger ladders you may want to invest in a ladder rack. -Buckets and tarps- You’ll need somewhere to dispose of the gutter debris. -Rubber gloves- I recommend heavy duty-rubber gloves. Some gutter debris you will encounter can be pretty nasty! -Insurance- I recommend some form of liability insurance for any type of home improvement work. If an accident involving person or property where to happen, you need to be covered. Talk with your insurance agent. A basic liability plan for cleaning gutters should only be a few hundred dollars a year. If you plan on doing any roof work, be prepared to pay much more. -Taxes- If you are planning to make more than a few hundred dollars a year, you should file a business name with the IRS, get an Employee Identification Number (EIN), and set up a business account with your bank. As a sole-proprietor of a small business, taxes should not be too difficult. An accountant can also be a help.
2. Advertising your gutter cleaning businessFor some business name ideas: Gutter Business Name Ideas You can start with basic business cards and flyers. Create a flyer that includes a special introductory rate for your gutter cleaning business. Distribute the flyers in a neighborhood where you would feel comfortable cleaning the average size of houses there at the rate on your flyer. You can also create a flyer to pass out in a neighborhood where you just finished a job. The flyer can let potential customers know that you just did a job in their neighborhood, and that they can take advantage of the same pricing. Yard signs can also be an effective way to advertise. A low cost website will be an asset if you intend to become more established. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Include your services along with important contact information. If you choose to include pricing, be careful of your wording. You don’t want to give a customer the impression they will be paying one low price, but then find out the actual price is much higher for the size of their house.
3. PricingPricing options for your gutter cleaning business can be tricky. There are a number of factors that come into play including the size of the houses in your area, economic conditions, and competition. For me, I use a few different prices, based on a number of conditions. For the most part, the lowest I will go is $75.00. This is my price for small houses and most average size ranch-style houses. The only time I may go lower is in a situation where the customer only wants a small gutter cleaned that is close to the ground. My next price point is around $100.00. This is for most average 2 story homes. My final price range is $125 and up. I use this pricing for large homes, or homes with a lot of gutters. Remember that this pricing is accepted in my particular region. Your area may be totally different- you may be able to charge more, or a bit less. I use a flat rate instead of an hourly rate. I think this works best for this type of work. I give my price ahead of time to the customer, although I will sometimes bump the price down a little if the gutters end up being mostly clean, or if the job ends up taking just a short amount of time. Most of my $75.00 gutter cleaning jobs take around a half hour to 45 minutes. That can potentially be the equivalent of $150.00/hour! There is no way I could tell a customer that I will be charging $150.00/hour to clean gutters. They would send me away immediately. $75.00 sounds much more reasonable as a service rate. Keep in mind that I am not actually making $150.00/hour. I have many costs that are being taken out of that number- fuel, truck maintenance, insurance costs, and many other miscellaneous costs. I also have to factor in the time it took to get to and from the job, and to communicate with the customer. This is something you can gently bring up if a customer ever balks at your pricing. In your particular area, you may have to start at a lower price point. Do some research and find out what others are charging for gutter cleaning. Make sure your numbers are similar in order to stay competitive.
4. How to clean guttersI realize cleaning gutters is not rocket science, but there are numerous ways it can be done. I suggest doing what you feel comfortable with, according to what you have specified with the customer. I am also a roofer, so I am very comfortable walking on a roof. If at all possible, I try to clean gutters from up on the roof, reaching down into the gutter. This is mainly for speed. When the roof is too steep, I will set up the ladder every six feet or so, reaching 3-4 feet to my right and left. You need to do what is comfortable and safe for you. Make sure the feet of the ladder are on stable, level ground. Don’t overreach. It would be wise to wear heavy-duty rubber gloves, especially if the gutter debris is wet. You will notice some rather disgusting waste in the gutters, so it is important to keep your hands clean. I have encountered dead animals such as bats, birds, mice, and other rodents, mosquito larvae, ants, worms, along with various forms of animal excrement. I don’t know about you, but that is not the kind of stuff I want my bare hands touching. Another reason to wear gloves is to protect your hands from cuts. There are sharp edges on the gutters, screws and nails, metal flashing, and other roofing materials that can slice or pierce your hands. I have had my heavy-duty gloves ruined because of sharp edges. I am very careful about where I drop debris. Obviously, you do not want to throw half-rotten leaves down on a beautiful flowerbed or shrubs. The idea is not to leave a mess for the homeowner. Either use a bucket, lay down a tarp, or try to throw the debris in a pile that you can easily clean up later. Every homeowner is different. I have had more than one homeowner tell me they didn’t care about me to throw the leaves on the ground, and that they would clean them up later. I have never done that, as I don’t want to leave a job with a mess on the ground. I always try to clean up any mess I make. Most of what is in the gutter is organic plant matter, that will biodegrade. If you are scooping up nails, shingle granules, or other type of debris, be courteous and remove it in a bucket, or throw it down on a tarp. If you do need to throw anything into the grass, be careful to clean up afterwards. Some gutter cleaners will use a hose to flush out the gutters. I don’t personally do that, but perhaps that will be a service you would like to provide your customers. Don’t forget to make sure the outlets and gutter elbows are clean. Often a gutter will be clean, but the downspout and or elbows will be packed solid with waste. I have had to remove downspouts in order to clear 5 feet or more of leaves and debris that were blocking the water flow. If you encounter severely blocked downspouts, don’t be afraid to inform the customer of the situation, while indicating some additional costs may be incurred. Whether you decide to charge more for this is up to you. Whether you have roofing experience or not, it is courteous to inform a homeowner about any issues you may see with the roof or gutters while you are up on a ladder.
5. Gutter RepairsA nice service option to include in your gutter cleaning business is gutter repairs. You don’t have to be a gutter expert to make simple repairs. Some common issues you may be able to correct are leaking seams, detached elbows or downspouts, or a sagging gutter. You may choose to give the homeowner a price for this additional work, or decide to complete the task at no extra charge. Either way, you should inform the homeowner of any work you will be doing on top of the gutter cleaning. Most silicone or polymeric sealants are adequate for re-sealing a leaking seam. I don’t recommend that spray stuff from the “As Seen On TV” commercials. Make sure the area you are sealing is totally dry. Remove as much loose sealant as possible. Seal on the inside of the gutter instead of the outside if possible. If you must seal on the outside, make sure you use a clear sealant, or a color that matches the gutter. Repairing loose elbows and downspouts can be as simple as using self-tapping screws to re-secure the loose pieces. Most hardware or roofing supply stores will carry screws made use with gutters. If the gutters are copper, you should be able to find copper screws at a roofing supply house. You may not want to tackle rehanging a sagging gutter depending on the circumstances. I would not recommend rehanging a gutter unless you have confidence that your skills are adequate for the job. The easiest type of gutter to rehang is a “K” style gutter mounted against a flat fascia. In this case, hidden hangers can be used to rehang a sagging gutter. Hidden hangers can be purchased at most major home improvement stores, along with roofing supply houses. Make sure you purchase the right size. The most common “K” style gutter size is 5 inch.
6. ProfessionalismNeatness and good manners will go a long way with signing up a customer, getting called back the next year, and gaining referrals. While I generally give verbal estimates for gutter cleaning jobs, I always leave a written bill/receipt with the customer. This not only gives a record of the work done for the customer, but for you too. Some customers may request you clean their gutters on a regular basis. You can set up an annual, or bi-annual schedule if you wish. In my particular region, a majority of gutter cleanings are scheduled in the autumn season, after the leaves have fallen from the trees, and in the spring. As you build your customer base, you will get more and more referrals, and your gutter cleaning business will continue to grow. The following links will help you register your new gutter cleaning company in your area. The links were created from a roofing perspective, but will still apply to any roofing or home improvement related business.
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How to Start a Gutter Cleaning Business in Canada: How to Start A Gutter Cleaning Business in Canada
How To Start A Gutter Cleaning Business in the UK: How to Start A Gutter Cleaning Business in the United Kingdom