A Real-Life Look Into Running a $100K/Year Cleaning Business

– Do you wanna make a
hundred dollars an hour? That is the standard rate for Peakwalker, a cleaning business that's so popular. They regularly have to
turn away their customers. So stick around and find out how exactly the business
got to this point. (upbeat music) On this episode, we'll
be featuring Josh Raff, who is the owner of Peakwalker roof, gutter, and window cleaning. He is an avid rock climber and this experience paved the way into starting this business. Also, he has worked in
large cleaning businesses and notice they didn't
prioritize customer service in which, he decided to change
that by starting his company.

Where does your expenses
go the most you would say? – This year you know starting
out it's gonna look like breaking over a hundred grand. I've been increasing my prices because I have so much work coming in. – Today, we're gonna
catch Josh and action. Peakwalker has grown so quickly that Josh has stopped
paying for advertising and still receives more job requests than what he can handle, and that is a great problem
to have as a business owner. Can you show me your current setup for your cleaning business? – So I spent some time getting this truck nice and a Built-out. – So by the end of this interview, you will understand first on how to start a
cleaning business company. Secondly, how to build a reputation that will bring the customers back. And lastly, what Josh will
do to take his business to the next level.

(upbeat music) – Hey everybody, this is Max Babshinskiy. I'm the new host and I'm very excited to join the Upflip team. So let's get into the interview. – Hey! – Hello, Josh. Nice to meet you brother. – Nice good to meet you. – So with the first question
Josh, tell me about yourself as the owner of the
Peakwalker cleaning business.

And how did you transition
from working for a company to now working for yourself? – I was kind of halfway forced into it by finding out I was more
or less unemployable. And I thought I kind of
come across the lucky break when I got hired to be a lead technician for a company doing this
work setting up here. And they were from out of state and they wanted to get
developed in Oregon.

And there's just like a lot of half hazard procedures
within the company. And I just gotten back in California I got my skydiving license. So after exercise and that kind of like competency for
like a week straight. – Yes.
– I just realized I could probably do this better on my own than these pile of idiots. So I ended up taking out the expenses for the initial startup and here we are. – Awesome. (upbeat music) – How do you decide on the price estimates and also you charge hourly
or is it a flat rate, how does that work? – It's a flat rate. The estimates are based off of mostly square footage to begin with – Okay.

– And then – Roof type, window type,
the pitch of the roof, how difficult it's gonna be to set up a rigging system to work safely on it. Other little variables like for example this roof here has a porch
roof on the front end the back. – [Max] Yeah. – [Josh] So, and that
situation that expands the actual square footage of roof that's gonna have to be addressed. There are other things like balconies, if the neighbors are super close, I ended up having to
clean their properties off from any over-spray.
– [Max] Yeah. – [Josh] In this case, the neighbors are a good distance away. So this is a good scenario,
but yeah it comes down to square footage, roof type, and the pitch of the roof mostly. (electronic music) – I'm guessing the
equipment is important part of this business. – Yes. – And so when you buy equipment you mostly buy use or
you buy new equipment.

How does that work? – Well, there's some
things that I probably just wouldn't want to buy used. You know, the harness, for example that's kind of something I want
to know who's had it before or what it's been exposed to, you know make sure it's not been used in ways that shouldn't have been that might compromise
its ability to, you know do the fall protection
that it's supposed to. It all really just depends on how much of a headache you want to deal with. If you want to buy a used
pressure washer, it's just like you know, anytime you buy
a used engine, you know you don't know this person really keep up with the oil changes. Did they do something to it that really, it was hard on it. And I personally bought
most everything new except for the truck, obviously. – Okay.

– The way I sort of reasoned around that was I could spend a little bit more
upfront for something new and probably make it back, you know in a matter of months or I could go on the cheap and buy something used and then end up at a job
where it breaks on me. And now not only do I
have to buy something new but also this job I'm losing money on because it wasn't bid for me to go run and grab a new pressure washer
or something like that, so. (upbeat music) – So when it came to advertising, what would you say was the best method to attract new customers and new clients? – The pay-per-click ad? – Okay.

– services. made the most sense to me. when I first started,
I looked at everything and you know, I created
an account with everybody. I won't name names, but there's a lot of
these services out there that offer you a means to
make a business profile and then you'll get
referrals through them. And basically the way it worked out was you pay several
hundred dollars a month. – Okay. – For a minimum of six months. – Okay. – And they have no guarantee or even way to show you the metrics as to whether or not
you're reaching anybody on top of that, you
had to offer a discount for your services to
advertise to their customers. – Now you compare that to the service providers
that offer pay-per-click ads, I can set a budget, I can see exactly how
many people were looking at the ad versus how many clicked it.

And once I hit my budget then no more money is gonna be spent meaning that it's really easy
to gauge how effective it is. And also it's very safe
for spending the money but when just starting out,
it just made no sense to me to pay a subscription fee to a service that doesn't
have any transparency as to whether or not the
money you've given them is weeding to you making money.

(electrical music) – Okay Josh, so I see a rope
coming down from the roof, I see your truck. What exactly is going on here? – You know, whenever a roof is too steep that you can't stand up on
it, you should be roped up but regardless OSHA law requires
that you be roped up for anytime you're working on a roof. So you got to set up some sort
of rigging fall protection.

– Okay. – I have techniques that are adopted from you know, tree work and a bit of rock climbing
that allow me to do ground-based anchor systems. Like for example, to my truck here I have ways to set up fall protection that if I were to fall off a roof,
I wouldn't hit the ground. – And then I have a
shock absorbing lanyard and that'll prevent the static line you know, putting all
the shock into my spine. – Yes, yes. – So what I'm doing now
is just rigging that to work this route safely. ( upbeat music) – So Josh, what's your annual income per year you would say. – This year, you know, starting out it's going to look like breaking over a hundred grand. – A hundred grand.
– Yeah. – And so what would you say For example, – Over a hundred grand. – Oh over a hundred okay. So someone just starting this
cleaning business company, would you say is it possible the same year to achieve this annual income, or does it take time year
or like, is it possible? – I don't know, I moved here from Kentucky and I don't think you're
making this kind of money on that side of the country.

You know, the minimum wage is higher over here in the Pacific Northwest. There's a lot of fields
that pay better here. So, you know, yeah. If you're in this area on the I five corridor where
range issue, maybe you can but I don't think I could charge what I charged for these
services the same back home. – Hey everyone, sorry for interrupting. But if you decided that cleaning business is not for you, it's okay
it's not for everyone, but if you're interested
in starting a business and need a business loan,
you're in the right place. As you could check out
upflip.com/business loans which you'll be able to
receive the best loan offers. And secondly, checking the rates will not affect your credit score.

So let's get back into the interview. (upbeat music) – So Josh, when it comes
to the cleaning business what would you say, where does your expenses
go the most you would say. – Pretty much just gas and
moss treatment right now. – Gas and moss treatment. – I'm not paying anything for advertising. – Yes. – And as far as the equipment I use on a daily basis, you
know, ropes will wear out, prospects will wear out
those need to be replaced. You know, depending on use once a year every six months, regular monthly expenses it's just gas in the
Moss treatment you know. – So how much would you
just say right now being as a one man team. How much does it cost you
a month on these expenses? – I don't know, I can break
open QuickBooks right now.

– No, like an estimate. Like
throw a number right now. – Yeah, I guess with
the brushes that I use to remove them off those were down. And so it seems about every
month I spend anywhere from you know, three to $500. – Three to $500. Oh it's not bad. – It's not a lot of overhead. (upbeat music) – So Josh, can you show
me your current setup for your cleaning business? – Sure, I got four ladders,
various sizes that I found gets your bag anywhere you
need to get on residential. They're all accessorized with
leg levelers, stabilizer bars. That's important that, you know you have the safest setup that doesn't do any
damage to the property. I think altogether, those added up with the accessories
somewhere around like $600. – $600? – Yeah, you can see that organization is pretty important to me. So I spent some time getting this truck nice and built out to fit everything stays where I put it last
and it's easy to access and I don't have to go
rifling through things pressure washer here. One of the things that saved
me an immense amount of time is before I was willing to
staying out on board ramps.

Now I've got it set in
here with a hose reel. – Oh nice. – This thing was well worth it. It was kind of a pain
to mountainside there. – How much did it cost this? – Ah, the reel was somewhere in the range of like one $150 to $200. – Okay. Worth it (inaudible) – I shopped around for the right one, I'm kind of like an Uber dork when it comes to reading reviews and stuff and making sure I'm not spending
money on a subpar product but this was so worth it because you know this whole it's 200 feet of hose. I really want to use a pressure washer for distributing treatment
using the soap nozzle on the roofs and cleaning
up after like, for example if I splatter anything on the gutters – Yes.

Business

– Or the softener that you
use on a property like this then I'm not guaranteed
that the hose pressure from the regular house tap
is even going to reach there. – Yeah – So I've got a nozzle that
will shoot a stream, you know up to 40 feet and it just makes
it makes cleanup a breeze. And I don't have to go through the hassle of wheeling that
thing out to the ground. I can just park the truck close enough that I hook up the garden hose. And then the hose reel
allows me to just pull, spray wrap it back up and I'm out of there. (upbeat music) – Do you mostly do
commercial or residential? It was just cleaning, cleaning business. – Yeah. Residential, for sure. – Okay. – It's easier to adjust the profit margin or I should say it's easier
to constrain it, meaning that if a job is under bid, then
you'll probably make it back in the next ones.

– Okay. – and you won't be stuck there for days. Whereas if you do a commercial
property, that's like you know, 6,000 square feet and you don't really nail that bid, you'll feel the pain a lot more. – Yes – And I, I took a couple of
like warehouse jobs and stuff and it's just kind of
hard to gauge exactly what the scope of the work is going to be. There was one where I was
just running football field of links along this roof of the blower, just getting all the
leaf debris off of it. And, you know, I made a
good price on it or whatever but it's just a lot easier to gauge the, how long a job is going to
take and what the profit margin is going to be.
– Yes. – when you're doing just the homes. ( upbeat music ) – Okay Josh so you have
no employees yet, right? – No employees at this time no. – Well you're planning on
expanding the business rights and employees and later on in the future.

– Yeah, it seems kind
of like an inevitability because I'm getting to
the point where I spend so much time having to
respond to quote request that I don't have the space
in the schedule still. It's kind of like I'm
handicapping my own company in a way right now, just 'cause I don't
have the infrastructure and the employees to take it all on 'cause here's the thing
when things go right, that's not always the blessing that you thought it was going to be. Like in my situation where
I didn't expect to have as much work coming my way as I did. And then it's very easy to burn out. So you add one other person
on that and things go right, well now you probably need
to have an office personnel to handle the double the workload of scheduling and stuff like that.

And it's going to be like
one of those wool, you know those little marble machines,
you send a marble down and it all just starts happening. That's what I want it to be because I came really close to burnout
during this COVID season with all the work that came through. And it really taught me a valuable lesson about knowing how to
regulate how much you work. I didn't realize this, but
when you own the company you can work in ways where you don't consider
yourself as working. You know, you can be
sitting there responding to emails at 8:00 PM because they came in because you didn't put the
discipline in place to say I'm only going to respond to emails from this hour of the day,
to this hour of the day.

– Okay. (upbeat music) – So Josh, What would you say, what are some ideas you would offer to those who are watching, who are planning on starting
a cleaning cleaning business? – I would probably work
for somebody else first. – [Max] Okay. – And make your mistakes,
you know, learn from doing without it being your reputation
and your money on the line. – Okay. – Not to say that I think you know, you should do a bad job
working for someone else, but I think you should really get some experience under
your belt and know what doing before you go and present
yourself as a one man show.

So even if you haven't
done this work per say having experience – Yes. – With ropes and ladders and hand tools is probably a good thing
to get before you just jump into something on your own. There's a lot of this
that doesn't necessarily take specialized training,
but there's a cumulative knowledge you get that's only gleaned from being on the job. – Yes – And that becomes really
valuable, specific knowledge. – So basically first to get
comfortable with all the things before you move on to
kind of build a foundation before moving on type of thing. – Yeah, and you know, be
humble and willing to learn for a period before you try and go and play the expert in the field.

(upbeat music) – So underneath that says the setup for my Diana's water cleaning system. So this right here, this
brush head that's boar's hair. Did you ever think Boar's hair is best for cleaning windows? – Never would guessed. – Yeah, it was a surprise too. – Nice, nice. – Italians. So this thing right here it feeds water is this quarter inch hose that I run through a
filter that has a resin. So you run the hose, tap through that, and the water that comes up the other side which you can test this with
the parts per million meter.

– Yeah. – It has no mineral content
in it at that point. I'm assuming it's usually calcium deposits that we the sort of white
milkiness it's on your shower. All that gets bound up to the ionic resin. And then this right here this is the carbon fiber extension pole. And it can extend to
something like 35 feet – This one running at 35 feet. – Yeah so what this does
is in certain situations when you have windows that
clean up pretty easily you can run the water through that hose attached to this pole,
connected to the brush. And whereas you would have
to set up a ladder, you know to get some of these windows up here, Now you can just get it from the ground the brush is renting the
whole time that you're using the abrasive
qualities of the bristles and then you rinse off the windows. (upbeat music) – So Josh, when it comes to hiring what exact characteristics
are you looking for? – Hiring people? You know, it's interesting
'cause on one hand, I'm looking for someone that
has some degree of creativity because problem solving is probably the most important aspect of finding a good employee.

Not every house is the
same after doing this job long enough, it can kind
of feel like Groundhog day but you'll come across
properties more often than not, that have little strange
quirks about them that require an adjustment and the usual
methods that are used. So I don't necessarily want
to hire somebody like me. I want to hire somebody that
they enjoy the improvisation that is required job to job,
but they don't necessarily want to take in the full
scope of the business. You know, the advertising side
of things or the scheduling or the communicating with customers and explain the services.

They just kind of want to do the work, but at the same time, they
can't be someone who is so bound by formula and procedure
that they're help less to work on their own on certain jobs. (upbeat music) – So most of your customers
are recurring customers, right? Are they mostly just new customers or are they most the same
was just coming back to kind of touch up in saying? – Right now, most of the
customers are new customers. – New customers, okay. – I'm building up the
recurring customer slowly. I don't like to sell people
on stuff they don't need. And a lot of them are condensed to the busiest seasons too. – [Max] Okay – So all lot of the work I take in is still new customers and
I've been increasing my prices because I have so much work coming in. That that is one way of
filtering out what jobs I take, so there might be a little
bit of a restructuring where if the new baseline for prices, if the people sign up for
the recurring services don't meet that margin anymore.

And they're not willing
to pay the higher rate, then maybe some of those will get dropped off
– Okay. – And new ones will
come in, but we'll see. (upbeat music) – So like I'm really curious on how big you want your team to be like, is there a number
like, how do you plan on building this team and
like what specific number? What areas like, how would that look like? – Man, max some days my
mind is like franchise go down the entire I five corridor, go huge man, beat shine
to span out nationally. And then another part of
me is thinking, you know part of the problem with labor
based businesses incentive how do you get somebody to wanna stick with it for the long haul? Or how do you be honest
about people's situation? How many people, you know when they were on
elementary school and said I want to clean windows
and gutters, you know.

People end up where they
end up in our society. Not always because they
wanted to be there. So part of me thinks that to
live with myself as a boss I have to acknowledge the reality of why people are working for me. – Okay. – And if it's a means to an end that could be something better than what they're currently doing, as a leader I want to
put protocols in place to get them thinking about that.

Hey, how long do you want to be here? Where would you like to
end up at the end of this? Have you ever thought about that? No, okay let's think about it. Did you come up with something? Okay, can we put together a plan for how to get there or, hey, I like working at doors, I like working with my body, this is it for me, but you
know, by the time I'm 50 I'm not going to be able to go as fast as I was when I was 20.

So how can I set up a system
where they can take on additional leadership responsibilities and maybe not necessarily be working at the revenue based
hustle they were before. Maybe if they're willing to relocate they can be a decentralized
command over a separate area far from where the company was started. That's all the sort of stuff
that you can be idealistic and you can strategize all day, but the reality is a logistical problem that you can only learn from experience.

– So coming to the end, the
one thing that stood out speaking with Josh is that safety always comes number one. Thank you all for watching, don't forget to subscribe
and hit the like button. See you all next time..

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