Gutter cleaning can be a low-cost business that is easy to start and can be done from the comfort of your home (no need for an office or storefront).
If you have a working vehicle, the right equipment (which only costs $550), and are physically able to handle the work, you can start making pretty good money through this largely recession-proof business.
This article will provide a step-by step guide to starting your gutter cleaning business. This guide consists of the following 5 steps (you can skip ahead to any one of them by clicking on the appropriate link below).
- Step 1: Establish Your Gutter Cleaning Business
- Step 2: Create a Business Plan
- Step 3: Get Your Gutter Cleaning Equipment
- Step 4: Market Your Gutter Cleaning Services
- Step 5: Get the Right Licenses, Permits and Insurance
But before we dive into the guide, we'll cover some key questions around the gutter cleaning business, such as how much money you can make and the pros and cons of owning such a business. Knowing the answers to these questions is critical if you want to have a complete picture of what you are getting into.
It’s a lot to cover so let’s get into it!
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The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
How Much Money Can a Gutter Cleaning Business Make?
According to Skyvac USA (a company that sells gutter cleaning equipment and supplies), you can expect to make between $200 and $600 per day. Of course how much you make will depend on how much you can charge, and that will depend on your local market and the types of homes in that area (we'll get into pricing strategies later in the article). The other main factor determining your profitability will be expenses and these can vary too (we'll get into that later too).
But to set expectations, I would highlight that the Skyvac data gives you an expected range. When you are starting, you will probably have no customers at first, so your earnings may be much less than the range.
Of course, once you are established and successful, your results may far exceed this range. There are people who have built up this type of business into a very successful enterprise that generates six figures in income and has many employees.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Gutter Cleaning Business?
Pros of a Gutter Cleaning Business:
- You can make great money doing this
- We talked about this earlier, but gutter cleaning can be a profitable business
- The start-up costs and ongoing costs are relatively low
- If you already own a vehicle, you can get the basic equipment for around $550. Your ongoing costs are modest as well, with insurance premiums, gas, vehicle maintenance and marketing costs (if any) being the main expenses you will likely incur. Of course, if you use employees, their pay will probably become your biggest expense.
- Although the cost of these things is not negligible, it can be far cheaper than opening other types of businesses (which can cost tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to start).
- The business is largely recession-proof
- You are not selling a luxury item here. People will always need to get their gutters cleaned and there are many people who just will not do this themselves for fear of getting injured.
- No storefront needed
- This helps radically with start-up costs, but also gives you the freedom to operate in the comfort of your own home.
- You are your own boss and can set your own hours
- This type of freedom is awesome (especially if you are currently stuck in a job you don't like)
Cons of a Gutter Cleaning Business:
- You Can Get Injured
- I think this one speaks for itself. You need to make sure you are always alert and being careful when performing this work. You also want to make sure you are adequately insured and that all of your employees are as well (with workers compensation insurance)
- As you can imagine, this type of business performs best in the fall, so you need to be prepared for significant seasonality.
- However, you can reduce the risk of this seasonality by offering other services that are not seasonal and that can be offered using a lot of the same equipment you have purchased for your gutter cleaning business.
- For example, you can offer exterior window cleaning services, window caulking services, power washing services (with that pressure washer you use to clear downspouts), and even skylight cleaning services.
- High Competition
- The barriers to entry are low for this business, which means there is going to be high competition. You just need to be prepared for that – offer great service at a fair price and be a master marketer. This simple advice can take you far.
- Interaction with Customers
- Even if you offer top notch services at a great price, there are always going to be customers who are not satisfied. You will need to deal with the headaches that come with a service like this.
Step 1: Establish Your Gutter Cleaning Business
If you want your gutter cleaning business to be more than just a glorified hobby, you need to actually set up the business. This includes selecting your name and logo, establishing your website, and setting up your business entity.
Name and Logo
The first thing you want to do is select a name and logo that you like.
Having trouble figuring out a name? Try Shopify’s business name generator. It’s free.
As for a logo, I have zero artistic ability and limited tech skills, so I like a simple and easy to use option.
One solid option is to go on Fiverr and hire someone to create your logo. There are tons of people who do this, and I have seen pricing as low as $5. For that price, you can probably try a bunch of folks and pick the logo that suits you best.
Or you can go with Looka. They are an AI-powered platform that will provide you a professional looking logo at reasonable prices. You can choose from hundreds of logo designs (based on parameters and preferences you select) before settling on one you like. You can also customize to your heart’s content. Check them out here.
Note: You want to make sure your name and logo are original to you and are not going to infringe someone else's intellectual property. If you are unsure, you can check the USPTO's trademark search tool as a starting point.
Set Up Your Gutter Cleaning Website (For Free)
When it comes to your website, it does not have to be incredibly fancy or cost a lot of money to set up. There are a lot of resources available to help you with this.
In fact, Google allows you to build your first business website for free.
It is also important to get your new gutter cleaning business on Google. You can do this by listing it on Google My Business. This way, people who are searching for gutter cleaning in your area can find you.
If you want to learn more about how to do this, check out this tutorial from Google.
Set Up Your Business Entity
If your business is going to be a corporation, LLC, or some other business entity, you should establish that as well. Setting up a business entity can give you a range of benefits, including liability protection. You can hire a lawyer to help you, or you can use many of the online resources that can help you set up your business entity.
I like Incorporate because they can get you up and running quickly and easily. They also have some great resources to educate on what type of entity to choose and which may be the right state to choose for your new entity. If you want to learn more, check them out below.
You should consult with your accountant and lawyer before taking this step, so you understand the tax and legal consequences of setting up this type of organization for your business.
Step 2: Create a Business Plan
A business plan is essentially a roadmap for your business.
It organizes your thoughts relating to your business into an actionable plan. Some things to include in your business plan are budgeting, identifying your target market and competition, pricing strategy, marketing strategy, and growth projections.
Don’t stress too much about getting it perfect. I would use it more as an organizational tool at this point.
Another benefit of having a business plan is that it can help you raise money from banks and investors (If your business takes off and you want to grow it, you may need to get some financing). These folks will want to see a professional-looking business plan as part of their lending or investing process.
Don’t know how to get started? The Small Business Administration has a great tool to help you write your business plan.
Step 3: Get Your Gutter Cleaning Equipment
As you can imagine, getting the right equipment for your gutter cleaning business is essential. The following list is not exhaustive, but it does include the basic equipment you will need to get started as a professional in this space. The good news is that you can get all of this stuff for around $550.
The Equipment List
- A very tall ladder (28′ – 32′)
- Ladder Stabilizer (you need this to stabilize the ladder and keep you safe)
- 5 Gallon Bucket (to collect debris)
- Heavy Duty Rubber Gloves (to deal with bugs, moldly leaves and all sorts of things you do not want to touch with your bare hands)
- Gutter Scoop (this can collect more debris from your gutters faster)
If you want to buy any of the above items, check out my gutter cleaning equipment and supplies page for links to all of the corresponding Amazon product pages.
Using the items above, you can clean gutters with your hands, but there are other ways to get the job done.
For example, you can use a leaf blower, wet/dry vacuum, and/or a pressure washer to tackle the job. Check out this article by Bob Villa that shows you 5 ways to clean gutters if you want to know some alternative strategies for cleaning gutters quickly and efficiently.
Of course, in addition to equipment, you are going to be need some form of transportation to get you and your equipment to customer sites. If you don't own a truck that can carry the large ladder, you can rent one out for jobs as needed. But once you make enough money to buy (or at least finance) a decent used truck, you should do so.
Step 4: Market Your Gutter Cleaning Services
Marketing your business is going to be key to running a successful gutter cleaning business. Because of the low barrier to entry, competition is going to be fierce, so you need to be on point with your marketing.
For online marketing, you can do the following:
- Set up a Google My Business, so that people looking for gutter cleaning services can find you. You want to encourage people to leave good reviews there for you if they like your work. Research has found a strong relationship between the number of online reviews a business and the revenue that it generates.
- Get a great website that draws traffic to your business (you can hire an SEO expert to help you do this)
- Get on Yelp for business and let your customers find you. They are an extremely well-known brand, and many people look there when searching for local businesses. Want to learn more? Check them out below:
- In addition to advertising on Yelp, you can buy online ads from other online and social media outlets (Facebook, etc.)
If you want to go old school, you can also advertise in your local newspapers, circulars, or through direct mail, etc.
Secret Ninja Tip: Try some “boots on the ground” marketing. Walk around your neighborhood and leave flyers (or even knock on doors on the weekends). Talk to folks and see if they would be willing to give your services a try. A lot of people forget about their gutters until someone reminds them they may need attention.
When doing this, make sure you look and act professional. Show them you are a legit operation by having business cards and demonstrating that you are appropriately licensed and insured.
Ultimately, you want to experiment with various marketing strategies – you may be surprised at what works best.
How much should I charge for my gutter cleaning services?
Most gutter cleaning companies charge by linear foot (which is just how long the gutters are around the given area), with prices being higher for second story gutters. You may also want to charge a premium for roofs that are so steep that they are unwalkable.
Here's an example of how you can calculate pricing. Let's say you have a two story home with gutters on each level. If the first story gutters are 100 linear feet and you charge $1.00 per linear foot, your quote for the first story will be $100. If the second story gutters are 50 linear feet and you charge $1.50 per linear foot, your quote for the second story will be $75. This will give you a combined quote of $175 for the entire house.
Of course, the above calculation does not really help you figure out what to charge per linear foot. For that, you should evaluate the prevailing market pricing.
As a general rule, pricing for a gutter cleaning can range between $100 – $300, depending on the size and type of house you are servicing.
Take a look at what other gutter cleaning services in your area are charging. A good way to do that is by googling “gutter cleaning” or looking on yelp. Some of them may have very detailed pricing information on their website. Or you can just call them for a quote.
Try to be competitive (or even undercut their prices). As a beginner you are trying to take market share from existing businesses, so you will need to sweeten the pot. Ultimately, you may need to experiment with different pricing to find the sweet spot.
Step 5: Get the Right Licenses, Permits and Insurance
This step is about getting your legal and risk issues squared away.
First, you should get insurance for your gutter cleaning business. You may want to look into the following:
- General liability coverage (protects against third party claims for property damage and injury)
- Commercial Auto Insurance (for claims arising from use of your vehicle)
- Professional Liability Insurance (for claims based on your professional negligence)
- Workers compensation insurance for your employees (unnecessary if you are operating alone)
In addition to getting the right insurance coverages, you will need to check with your state and local municipalities to see what type of permits and licenses you need to operate your business. A good place to start is your local county clerk's office.
In many cases, you will need to get a general business license (which is usually not too expensive or difficult to obtain), but there may be other more specific permits or licenses required, depending on where you live and the scope of activities you plan to engage in.
If you need help navigating all of this, your county clerk's office is the best place to start, but if you run into a wall, you can always hire a qualified lawyer to help guide you through the process.
So, there you have it: 5 simple steps to start your gutter cleaning business.
For more great ways ideas on how to make money on a budget, check out my article on 9 low cost passive income ideas that work.