So often small service businesses fail to exploit niches, which have little if any competition. I know as I built my companies we always tried to identify all the market niches and go after them. We were not always able to succeed at everything, occasionally we would fail; it happened more than I would care to admit, but those are lessons learned. The best way to get to success is to learn from the challenges of the past and so in my office I have a huge trashcan, bigger than any executive you will ever meet. And it is always full. That's okay. Let me tell you about one of the more successful niches we discovered in the pressure washing business; tractor cleaning.
This is a great market; there is so much work with all the new environmental laws and the expanding population base and economy. http://www.tractorwashguys.com . One problem we had back when we got into the market was that Greenspan and the Fed had been raising the rates so new home starts started to d ecline and many new developments have been put on hold. This was 10-years ago in a different economy and a different market. It also affected the building Industry and the price of off road diesel fuel was up. Interesting we see the same things happening now today, but a slightly different result as home sales are still going even though the economy is showing a slow down in some sectors.
There is no need to wash tractors, which are sitting, idle or dormant and when we started into the business of heavy equipment cleaning this is where we were at, so we started by offering this franchise as a module to our franchisees of truck wash guys http://www.truckwashguy.com . Since it is similar in nature the type of cleaning done, plus all the companies who own tractors also own trucks to move them, water trucks, and other units, which the truck wash guys would normally wash. So it made sense to go after this niche even in a down economy at the time. Also it made sense to loo k at agricultural tractor cleaning because no matter what the economy does people have to eat, right? We decided to offer this franchise module with a separate franchise agreement for another $ 3,000.00 only. This covered our cost to train the franchisee for one week in Butte MT washing tractors at the mines, specifically Sunlight Gold Mine, kind of funny if you think about it; we will train you for one week at a gold mine?
In Heavy Equipment cleaning there is allot of important information they must know and safety issues are very unforgiving when working around heavy equipment. The only real qualifications in the tractor wash guys business are that the franchisee be a man type man or a tuff woman. A young executive college type student may not like this type of work. The money is very good. I remember times earning nearly $ 3,000 on a weekend cleaning tractors working 24 hours a day for two days and getting greasy to the point you could not tell wh at nationality I was. Well, if you have not guessed it I am a white guy, but if you saw me with a bunch of black guys you would swear I was one of the brothers. At night you are working with steam and in a giant cloudbank of sauna type fog. When you cool down you are soaked, greasy and tired. It is like the playing football in the mud with a bunch of brutes, which do not care about pain. So it takes a real tough person. But the money is great. Obviously this is not the same person type who comes to your parking lot to detail your BMW who wears varneys and Nike High Tops.
We do all kinds of equipment and also strip paint for refurbishing, and detailing cabs for equipment auctions. I started this business because the demand is high for quality companies who can provide this type of service. Generally the types of independents who do this type of steam cleaning are not understanding of how to go about the business aspect of it. Many of the new corporate farmers ru n them like HMOs and the large construction companies have procedures and insurance requirements. They can no longer hire the company who rolls up chewing tobacco and says, "Y'ALL need them things kleen or naut?" They have the OSHA to deal with and the NPDES Requirements and the EPA screaming down their neck. There is just no way to hire the independent guy who cannot follow the rules. We know the way to do it. Give me a hard worker and we will give him a great franchise cleaning equipment and tractors, I use to say. We have been perfecting this co-brand for two years and have brought several people onto our team who have helped. It needs to be its own franchise.
It is a market sector overlooked but is necessary and anyone in the pressure washing business needs to look into this niche. A new Caterpillar engine cost in excess of $ 65,000.00 it cannot over heat, which is what happens if the radiator flanges are not kept free from dirt and grease. Also the blade s on scrappers have to be replaced and welded on and cannot be welded when they are all greasy. Welders make $ 80.00 per hour so they do not want them cleaning equipment. Most heavy equipment pressure washing companies make well in excess of $ 100.00 per hour. There are so many reasons to clean equipment including the fact that operators are Union and do not have to work in unfair conditions around greasy walk ways which cause safety issues or in a dust ridden cab or be exposed to unnecessary fire hazards or unsafe conditions. Also is the railroad industry, major work available there. One of our franchisees worked for the railroad industry as a terminal rail master. We have the inside track to the purchasing process for the major railroads. Some of the contracts are intense. One we recently found out about was over 500,000 dollars on a two-year contract.
Pressure washing companies need to look into the heavy industry and equipment cleaning sector at pl ants, rail yards, ports, agricultural corporate farms, oil field services and heavy construction. I hope you have enjoyed today's pressure washing case study. Think on it.