How to Start and Optimize a Gutter Cleaning Business
March 11, 2022
There are more than 82 million homeowners in the US, according to recent census data. Many of these homeowners have average single-story homes, which have between 150 and 200 linear feet of gutters—and they need to be cleaned at least twice a year for proper home maintenance. This creates high demand, making it profitable to start a gutter cleaning business or expand your landscaping offerings to include gutter cleaning services.
Skip ahead to the section that most interests you:
- How to Start and Grow a Gutter Cleaning Business
- How Routing and Scheduling Can Drive Value for Your Gutter Cleaning Business
- Make Your Business More Efficient and Profitable With OptimoRoute
How to Start and Grow a Gutter Cleaning Business
The first step in starting a gutter cleaning company is learning the risks involved. After that, you can begin to create a plan for your business, register it as an LLC, and buy the tools you need to do the job. Next, you can create a marketing strategy to attract customers and expand your service offerings to stay competitive.
1. Be aware of the risks—and get insured
Cleaning gutters requires you to work outside and climb on steep roofs, providing many opportunities for an accident. There are 164,000 falls from a ladder that result in hospital visits each year, and working in poor weather like rain only increases the likelihood of an accident like this. You also need to be wary of legal repercussions if a mistake leads to property damage. Whether you plan to practice as a sole contractor or hire a team to operate as an LLC, you need general liability insurance to protect yourself and your business.
A general liability insurance policy will provide insurance coverage for both bodily injury and property damage, as well as providing medical benefits to help cover treatment costs if a customer is injured. General liability insurance won’t cover employees. So, if you decide to grow your team, you’ll need workers’ compensation to provide coverage in the event that an employee gets sick or injured as a result of doing their job. You should also purchase professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions coverage. This policy will protect you by providing coverage if a disgruntled customer decides to sue for negligence or misrepresentation.
2. Plan for seasonality
It’s best to clean gutters twice a year: once in early spring and again in the fall. This makes gutter cleaning a seasonal business—and you’ll need to plan accordingly if you want your business to succeed. Seasonal business owners face a unique challenge because of the extreme variances in demand that can make it tricky for an organization to survive during the off-season when business is slow.
Demand planning helps you to prepare for how busy your business will be by assessing sales data from previous years to predict future demand. One option for adjusting to meet demand is to hire seasonal staff. This will lower labor costs during the off-season but will require you to regularly train new staff every season when business ramps up. You can also consult a financial advisor, who can help you create a plan for managing your finances and assets. This will help you determine a plan for reserving profits for the off-season to cover costs like insurance, employee salaries, and rent for office space.
3. Create a business plan
A business plan will give your new business its best chance for success. The plan will clearly state goals and outline ways to achieve those goals. To create one, you must first write a summary of your business that includes a description of what your business is and the services you’ll offer. Then, you need to define how your business will operate. List details like how many employees you will need. You should also outline the mobile workforce management strategies you plan to leverage to supervise operations.
Once you’ve finished the description of your business, you can outline your goals. Your goals should include metrics for success, such as aiming to increase sales by 10% in your second year of business. After you’ve set your goals, list the strategies and tactics you will use to achieve your goals—for example, expanding your marketing efforts to generate business from new customers.
4. Register your business
Before you start offering your services to customers, you need to register your business as a legal entity, which allows you to claim your income and pay taxes. If you plan to work as a sole proprietor, then you’ll need to acquire the necessary licenses and permits required by your state, pick a business name, and register your business. If you plan to hire employees, you’ll want to register your business as a limited liability company (LLC), which will provide a level of liability protection. The specific process for registering your business may vary by state, but in most states, you’ll need to register with the local business bureau or state secretary.
5. Purchase the necessary equipment
You’ll need the right tools to clean gutters efficiently. This includes a ladder tall enough to reach second- and third-story gutters so you can see that the gutter is cleaned properly. You should also invest in a stabilizer to keep the ladder securely in place. You’ll also need tools and supplies specifically made for cleaning, including:
- Heavy-duty rubber gloves
- Gutter scoops
- Gutter spoons
- Leaf blower
- Pressure washer
While it doesn’t help you clean gutters, software is another valuable tool that assists you in keeping your business running smoothly. A few types of software you may want to invest in include:
- Human resources software to manage your workforce, store and track employee data, streamline payroll, and manage employee benefits
- Accounting and invoicing software to generate and send invoices to ensure you get paid for your work
- Field service management software to maximize profits by planning routes that are optimized for efficiency so you can complete more jobs
6. Develop a marketing strategy
To earn a profit, you need customers to hire you. You can use traditional marketing tactics like handing out business cards and putting up yard signs, but using a marketing strategy will help you bolster sales and maximize profits. A marketing strategy will help you attract and grow your customer base to generate business by outlining marketing goals.
For example, one goal should be to generate awareness of your business by making it easy for potential customers to find online. You can achieve this by building a presence on social media and registering your business with Google. You should also focus on making your website user-friendly so that customers have a positive experience, which will make them more likely to hire you. Your website should make it easy for customers to find information about what services you offer, your pricing structure, and how they can contact you.
7. Offer other gutter-related services in tandem
Gutter cleaning season may not provide enough business to cover ongoing expenses such as insurance and salaries during the off-season. Expanding your service offerings can help your business to stay competitive year-round so you can continue to earn a profit even during the off-season. Consider expanding your services to include offerings such as:
- Rain gutter installation
- Gutter repairs
- Ice dam prevention, removal, and repair
- Roof shingle installation and repair
- Exterior cleanings like power washing and window cleaning
- General landscaping services
How Routing and Scheduling Can Drive Value for Your Gutter Cleaning Business
A gutter cleaning business makes money by completing jobs. The more jobs your company is able to complete, the higher your profits will be. Once your business is up and running, it’s time to start looking for ways to increase productivity so you can complete more services.
The best way to increase the number of jobs you can complete is by using route optimization to reduce travel time between job sites. Route optimization is the process of improving routes by considering a variety of factors, including technician scheduling, the distance between job sites, service appointment details, and the total number of stops on the route.
Make Your Business More Efficient and Profitable With OptimoRoute
It’s incredibly difficult and time-consuming to manually plan routes that are optimized to improve efficiency while lowering mileage to reduce costs. You have to not only create employee schedules and build transportation routes but also make last-minute changes if an employee calls in sick. You can eliminate this hassle by using OptimoRoute, a scheduling and planning software, to save you time by automating route building.
Generate routes automatically
OptimoRoute saves dispatchers time by automating route planning—and the platform can build routes as many as five weeks in advance. Upload service appointment data directly to the platform, and then the software can go to work automatically generating routes. OptimoRoute considers a variety of factors to build the most efficient routes, including the scheduled service time, appointment location, and specifics like which services the customer is requesting and instructions for gaining access to the property.
Optimize driver schedules
Efficient technician scheduling is vital for your business to be profitable. You need to schedule enough technicians to complete all of the scheduled services while avoiding overscheduling, which adds unnecessary labor costs that can eat into your profits. OptimoRoute helps facilitate this by automatically scheduling drivers based on their availability and the number of scheduled jobs. The solution can even schedule breaks to help ensure your technicians get time for meals without making them late to the next service appointment.
Complete more jobs with the same workforce and equipment
Route optimization helps you to increase productivity by finding the most direct route between each job site so you spend less time on the road and more time completing service appointments. OptimoRoute streamlines the time-consuming process of manually optimizing routes by automating the process. The system analyzes factors that are overwhelming to consider without automation, such as:
- Scheduled appointment times
- Appointment duration
- Travel distance between job sites
- Available technicians
- Technician skillsets
Provide customers with live ETA
You can improve customer service by using OptimoRoute to provide customers with a live ETA so they know when to expect a service technician. This gives your customers peace of mind by providing clear expectations of when their service appointment will be completed. And if something happens that delays the technician, like a flat tire, then you can send the customer an update via text right away so they aren’t disappointed when a technician doesn’t show up when they expected.
To see how OptimoRoute can make your gutter cleaning business more profitable, sign up for our free 30-day trial!
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