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Celeste

Licensing and/or certification

Should pressure washing companies be licensed/certified to power wash?  

32 members have voted

  1. 1. Should pressure washing companies be licensed/certified to power wash?

    • Yes
      23
    • No
      2
    • Unsure - show me pros & cons
      5
    • Yes - but a grandfather rule should apply to businesses older than ?? years
      2


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This seems to have been an interesting topic over the years - I'm curious as to what positions are now in 2008.

As I'm sure this will spark some controversy concerning the government, let's try to avoid the "thing" about how the government will benefit and try to focus on whether or not our industry would benefit from stricter entry in to the business.

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I def. say yes to this one. Too many people do it nowadays without licensing or certification, they screw things up, and then it looks bad on every power washer, because the consumer than thinks "pressure washing is dangerous and messes up my property" ...

not good. So im all for it, as a matter of fact, I wouldn't mind if you had to have certification in order to get a business license.

Just my .01 cent, the other one I lost earlier ;p

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... being new in this industry, I would welcome licensing and certification.

My reasons:

1) I want to succeed and feel that undergoing some sort of training or education would help in this process. I understand the need for doing a job well... not just doing a job, collecting money and riding off into the sunset.

2) Perhaps it is a personality trait, but I feel that it is important to take the time to learn the methods and skills of the industry, allowing the delivery of a better service - I owe it to my potential customers, peers and self to know what I am doing.

3) Many seem to talk about the general public not understanding the industry or having a low opinion work standards - I feel that certification provided by a recognized Pressure Washing body would help reverse opinions - not only because someone has a badge/sticker/certificate, but on the whole steps are taken towards raising standards .

In my county to get a business license for Residential Pool Care you have to be a Certified Pool Operator, a 16 hour course that teaches the basics of Swimming Pool Service. I can't say whether this has helped raise standards or not... but there are still plenty of unlicensed guys getting work?!?!

All in all, I would like to gain certification in Pressure Washing... I know there is no replacement for experience, but it would be good to have the knowledge to ensure that the expected results are achieved... fortunately I have taken the time to speak to people in the industry and read, read, read. Thanks for all the info on these boards!

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no, too much government as it is.

Would you feel this way if you hired an unlicensed contractor because he was cheaper, got ripped off or had property damage and then learned that if you had hired a licensed one things would have been different? Just curious....

Beth

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no, too much government as it is.

let's try to avoid the "thing" about how the government will benefit and try to focus on whether or not our industry would benefit from stricter entry in to the business.

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Agree with James last statement.... Red tape makes money for everyone other than the people doing the work or buying it. Purely from a licensing standpoint it is easier and more likely to find rip off artists being able to dupe the uneducated or trusting by way of their extensive certifications or licensing. Some I hear don't even show up to work and take old people for everything they got....They get duped by a false sense of security.

In many fields I would have to say trusting a projects oversite to a goobermint entity through licensing is plain stupid as the goobermint is mostly incapable of properly administering anything.

People should relearn how to utilize their own good judgement on who is good or bad at something and let capitalizm and evolution work....what was the question?..lol

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Yes.... It's not really Goverment interference but rather folks being held accoutable for thier actions. Too many hacks bypassing all the expenses that we(legit contractors) as contractors that take the high road and do the right thing by our customers and our businesses have to pay for. I simply can't compete when bidding against a guy that isn't paying for his Workers Comp because he knows that he isn't even acknowledged by the system due to not being required to Register.

Oh forget it... I am not going to keep wasting my breath and rather going to take action here to change things. The only folks that I have talked to locally that were against registering/licensing were the guys that pay thier guys under the table or have no insurance to show financial responsiblity when performing work on someone elses property. The are the ones bidding half my bid due to the fact that they don't have to pay the same fees I do for employee related expenses etc... I like the idea of a Lawncare company having to secure seperate Insurance and License before adding Pressure Washing to its services offered. Like the idea that maybe we can stop the Car dealership from being able to buy a machine and having the washing done in-house by a $7-8.00/hr laborer spraying waste water right down the storm drain that empties into the stream our kids like to play and swim in.

Not JUST ANYONE should be Contract Cleaners. It involves more than being able to turn on a machine and point a wand.

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Great thread as this is actually the type of feedback that the new organization will be looking for as it continues to establish it's direction. When I say establish it's direction - the direction meaning coming from the contractor community!

Great thread!!!!!

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I think licensing can be accomplished rather easily and simply. Require all pressure washing companies to hold a valid business license - that's all that's needed. Well, maybe require insurance too.

If you think about it, holding a business license requires a level of commitment to a business that the casual cleaner need not have. If you are not paying taxes on your income - or collecting taxes for employees (not to mention sales tax where applicable!) - of course you can afford to charge less. If anyone can start a business 20 minutes after leaving WalMart...why go the legal route?

If our local governments would promote the hiring of licensed contractors (unlicensed contractors are stealing revenue from city, state and federal governments) by raising residents awareness of the dangers associated with unlicensed contractors - we could bring respectability to all small contractors.

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It involves more than being able to turn on a machine and point a wand.

Exactly. I am beyond sick of reading - I got me a machine from the Home Depot and I did my driveway. My neighbor wants me to do his? What do I charge and what do I use?

I think licensing to perform power washing of any sort should be required - and if we don't want the gov't to regulate it then we, as an industry need to self-police a helluva lot better than we do. Beyond that, I also think certification in varying degrees is something that can separate the old contractors from the new. That was something that the PWNA did wrong IMO - guys in business for YEARS that weren't PWNA certified but far more qualified were considered "less" because Joe Newbie took a certification course. Bad balance there.

Celeste

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I'm on the fence.

Licensing will only work with tough enforcement and more than a smack on the wrist for violation. That's where the issues arise. A crooked business owner is going to weigh his averages.

Here are the facts:

• A company is breaking a federal law to send water down storm drains. Thousands of companies do it everyday and will continue to do so. The fine is steep but again it doesn't stop a person that doesn't care and figures he will slip through the cracks.

• You risk a raid by the DOL and INS if you if you hire illegal aliens. I read an article that mentioned a number of 15 million ilegals working in the US every day. Wow! Here is an old article about Walmart hiring cleaning contractors that employed ilegals: Wal-Mart Raids by U.S. Aimed at Illegal Immigrants STEVEN GREENHOUSE / NY Times 24oct03

Scan the article and take notice of this: "This is the result of almost a four-year investigation. We're a law enforcement agency, and we're going to enforce the laws."

Four years? More proof that our government is not the most efficient machine in the world. Here was a large scale operation that probably cost taxpayers hunreds of millions of dollars. Is it unrealistic to think the government can make a dent in this epidemic? They certainly aren't going to waste resources tracking down small companies that hire ten illegals to cut grass or pressure wash residences.

Again, I am on the fence with the issue. I look at PW licensing in the same vein as gun control. The only people that comply are the honest ones. Without enforcement the end result could very well be that we get what we wish for and add more operational expense. This just makes it harder for us to compete with companies that ignore silly little federal laws like the Clean Water Act (CWA) and The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). Those guys will now laugh their way into the hearts of the homeowner because they now have even less overhead and can continuously undercut a legitimately operating company.

I am more with Jim on this and favor certification. (Jim, mark your calendar) I understand what the goal of everyone that strongly favors licensing. I believe there is a different route to take than letting the government have another finger in our business. I think we all agree that the government can pass laws. I think we can also agree that the government cannot enforce those laws with diligence.

So what can be done?

Food for thought. Licensing does not mean a company is qualified to perform the work they sell. Lets face facts. Guys have been writing "licensed and insured" on their trucks and print materials for decades.

Do you know how many homeowners ask me if I have a license to operate or ask to see my insurance certificates? Almost zero. Yet, there are a million articles/check lists out there that tell consumers what to look for before hiring a contractor and one of them is always to check license and insurance. Why does no one do that? (PS: PA requires no state licensing but I spend nearly $700 per year on municipality/city licenses) This makes every license I have to operate nothing more than a tax.

A national agenda can be undertaken to combat this situation via a marketing campaign.

Huh? Let me explain. Whenever a person has a problem, you first get to the core of it. Why do we want licensing? My answer: Because I want to ebb the tide of hacks that undercharge and vandalize properties. I think that's what we are discussing right?

I tend to go by real world business models.

Licensing: not really working. Many states already require PW'ing companies to be licensed. Has it changed anything in your area?

Telling people to ask for insurance certs and licensing: not really working. Here's the whopper: Check to see if the BBB (Better Business Bureau) has given the company a good rating. Well blow me down, people do this every day by the millions. Your feelings about the BBB as a business owner are irrelevant. People think the BBB is a government watchdog agency. They trust the BBB. Why? Because the BBB has marketed themsleves that way. Period.

I'm going to stop there as I have ideas that I am not ready to expose that I think will accomplish more in one maneuver than we could spend the next five years discussing the merits of licensing.

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I have mixed views on this also. Just because someone has a license and maybe passed a test of some sort doesn't mean they will abide by the rules when they are out in the field. There are plenty of people out there with general contractor licenses that cut corners, hire illegals, don't always follow code, etc.

On the back of my business card I tell customers to always ask for verification of general liability and workers comp insurance. On the residential end almost no one ever asks about it and I have never had a resi customer ask me to produce proof of my insurance.

I don't know what Ken is talking about but steps to educate the customer would seem key to me. Maybe take out ads in trade journals for property managers, real estate agents, etc talking about the difference in contractors and what to look for in a power washer.

Put ads in home magazines or other media that could reach homeowners and educate them. Talk to HOA groups about the guys that dump their stuff into the local lake etc. Get people to recognize what a responsible contractor is.

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We are in the process of domain transfer for the ***** website to a new server. Once I get the files successfully uploaded, we are adding a message board and chat room to that site. Ironically, chat rooms seem to be the flavor of the week so the timing is perfect. We will be announcing the formal dates for a three night chat where contractors will have the opportunity to speak out on the issues that concern them. These chats will absolutely determine the direction of the ***** and begin the focus for our formalized business plan so everyone is welcome to attend and speak their peace. This topic is obviously a hot one so bring your agenda and we'll all discuss an effective strategy for making some real strides.

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My 2cents is that normally the only people whining about non lic. / insured / work comp / tax paying ya da ya da yada are the people that are already well "established". Don't think for a second that they / you are doing ANYTHING less than trying to make it as hard as possible to keep anyone else less established than them / you from stepping in your pie. Period. Yes you should have insurance and stupid if you don't but like it or not this is a buyer beware world. Don't act like your not just being selfish by trying to force your competition out under the color or "saving the community at large from them selfs" Or from "the cheap guy" aka "the guy who doesn't have as much money and fancy equipment invested as me". I understand some of you have some "hacks" in your market that are doing shoddy work for 99 bucks but face it, you know if some idiot comes to your door and gives you a "too good to turn down" deal thats it going to be questionable and so do most others. Again buyer beware. You have to ask questions about someone working around YOUR house such as insurance and the like and if you don't shame on YOU. I equate it to like making it illegal to own guns, then only criminals will have guns. The "criminal" in our industry will still be knocking on doors with fake credentials, giving "too good to turn down deals" and the idiot cheap a** home owner will still say "OK thats a good deal". But government regulation is not the answerer, you just have to step up your sales game and sell your worth.

And I know I'll get bashed for this as I am a newbie but I've got liability insurance and working on LLC and the other things that I need, but I don't believe for a second that my only competition in town, established and running two big rigs with crews wouldn't love for me to have to jump through 80 more hoops (aka regulations / certs ect..) with extra cost hoping it will price me out of the business.

Now I'll go over hear and put my rain gear on and wait for the rotten tomato's and eggs down streamed this away, just do me the favor, would someone finish off with some hot water /simple cherry mix, no wax.

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Huh? Let me explain. Whenever a person has a problem, you first get to the core of it. Why do we want licensing? My answer: Because I want to ebb the tide of hacks that undercharge and vandalize properties. I think that's what we are discussing right?

Ken your whole post as a whole makes lots of sense to me. I liken the invite of more goobermint oversite as an invite that leads to us taking a mandatory course in goosestepping. I flat out plainly see that pushing for regulations/licensing beyond what any normal business would require by already existing laws is a self serving/jealousy ridden event that blinds those that would partake to the more important inability of goobermint to oversee or judicate most anything properly. Let alone the fact the wasteful spending that would ensue. Go ahead folks..red tape every entity and enjoy paying 50% taxes to the neighbors that live on either side of ya, go ahead and reward fed and state workers for doing such a fine job of taking and securing yer hard earned dollar...lol

But hey Ken wanted to address this one statement above by saying in a perfect world a very simple certification on the use of a washer is all that is needed to prevent vandalizm. I would not agree that the idea of ebbing 'undercharging' is a worthy goal. Just reaks of jealousy and disrespect to letting chips fall where they may. I don't see a fairly uncommon event of a little surface damage as requiring some big trade organization leaning on everyone or making movement toward lobbying more red tape laws.

Celeste, HO or a business should not have the right to opperate a pressure washer without a license?

What about a hammer or screwdriver or lawnmower or edger or chainsaw.?

Maybe we can push for organizational rights, goobermint oversite, or certification course over them tools too.

Fact is we just making money and want more pure and simple..end of story.

Doug, yes yes on the education thing. All the ads would have to say is "People using pressure washers should learn how proper tip selection will prevent damage to property". oH and maybe something like "Please don't flood our lakes and rivers with wash water full of chemicals"...

Better yet....I'll consider allowing one simple mandatory gooberment intrusion.

Get the powers that be to mandate every pressure washing machine display dedicated signage such as:

1. "Improper tip selection can lead to surface damage!!"

2. A tip chart with suggested pressure for various items.

3. "It is a federal crime to dispose of or allow waste water to flow into any body of water!!"

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Mad, please feel free to make your points. I think you hit the nail on the head. The smart people know that if it sounds to good to be true, it is. There is a reason someone lives in trailer park versus living in a $700,000 home. that's not meant as disrespect, it just is what it is. People need to be able to afford the luxury of peace of mind that I provide to them.

Kevin, by undercharging I mean offering a service at a price that will not sustain their business. These guys sell on price hoping to get volume. The problem is volume means advertising. When they realize they are not the big business mogul and they have worked hard and made no money they either cut corners and eliminate insurance, chemicals and quality control or they go out of business. Either or, both are a detriment to the industry.

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My 2cents is that normally the only people whining about non lic. / insured / work comp / tax paying ya da ya da yada are the people that are already well "established". Don't think for a second that they / you are doing ANYTHING less than trying to make it as hard as possible to keep anyone else less established than them / you from stepping in your pie. Period. Yes you should have insurance and stupid if you don't but like it or not this is a buyer beware world. Don't act like your not just being selfish by trying to force your competition out under the color or "saving the community at large from them selfs" Or from "the cheap guy" aka "the guy who doesn't have as much money and fancy equipment invested as me". I understand some of you have some "hacks" in your market that are doing shoddy work for 99 bucks but face it, you know if some idiot comes to your door and gives you a "too good to turn down" deal thats it going to be questionable and so do most others. Again buyer beware. You have to ask questions about someone working around YOUR house such as insurance and the like and if you don't shame on YOU. I equate it to like making it illegal to own guns, then only criminals will have guns. The "criminal" in our industry will still be knocking on doors with fake credentials, giving "too good to turn down deals" and the idiot cheap a** home owner will still say "OK thats a good deal". But government regulation is not the answerer, you just have to step up your sales game and sell your worth.

And I know I'll get bashed for this as I am a newbie but I've got liability insurance and working on LLC and the other things that I need, but I don't believe for a second that my only competition in town, established and running two big rigs with crews wouldn't love for me to have to jump through 80 more hoops (aka regulations / certs ect..) with extra cost hoping it will price me out of the business.

Now I'll go over hear and put my rain gear on and wait for the rotten tomato's and eggs down streamed this away, just do me the favor, would someone finish off with some hot water /simple cherry mix, no wax.

I don't think anyone here is "whining" - nor is everyone as "established" as everyone else in this conversation. This is also an age old topic that a number have been retouching on every few years. The current power washing company is getting smarter by the year, realizing that we are an industry, not a sideline and by trying to protect our investment in our companies as best we can doesn't mean that we're trying to put small guys out of business. We (our company) is as small as you can get!! Don't want to be any bigger either.

Licensing or certification is not a hoop - it's another investment in your business. We have dozens of licenses to work across two states, not because it was a hoop, but because it's what we do to legally perform our services. We have certifications on different levels because we feel like any education is just a way of bettering ourselves.

Out of curiosity, have you learned anything from this or any other pressure washing bbs? If the only way you could have logged onto any of them was to pay to learn, would you have done it? Would you have even gotten in to the pressure washing business if it had required a license or some form of certification or education?

I am of the same frame of mind that developing regulations is going to be difficult - implementing even more of a challenge and then finally, yes, enforcement is really going to be hard but can it be any harder than struggling against the mindset that prevents an industry from growing stronger?

Celeste

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I got ya Ken.. I just can't be troubled if some idiot wants to cut his own throat by using subpar chems and producing a subpar product.. that is evolutionary or part of capitalizm and it is no business of mine...The multitude and use of chems is way too subjective in the cleaning trades to be forcing use or perticular product. Always has been. Yes some trade are forced to use certain qualities of a product but that not a deck, a house, or a slab of concrete. Someone wants to put acrylic on there deck or house they should be allowed to. Usually any oversite relates to food service and bacteria..you know things that can really hurt people..

Some may have the knife be a regulated tool too but it aint gonna happen..well actually the length is someplaces or where you can carry one.

BTW, I'm not even gonna vote as the context of poll results is bound to be misinterprited.

"Should pressure washing companies be licensed/certified to power wash?"

-They should be licensed as it is law and some revenue needs had for the goobs.

-Non pressure wash specific companies should not need specific license or further oversite to charge for washing at profit if their trade licensing already encompasses cleaning or implies surface prep.

-Non pressure washing related companies should be made to be licensed if they charging for a discrete washing operation.

-Any company should be allowed to opperate a washer during their course of normal business without direct goobermint certification.

Any company performing washing during their course of business should carry out regular safety training/meetings to keep their employee abreast of correct safe use of all tools. Is that not standard?

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How does one go about getting licensed and certified as well as any other training for pressure washing I would love to be trained professionally. All my training and experience comes from trial and error and that's starting to cost me more and more with each mistake. I always, always let each customers know I am new to the industry however have everything to lose so I'll do what ever it takes to satisfy the customer.

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I have no idea where you are or what you do first off so that question set needs your response.

 

PWNA has a certification program but beyond that, where you are would help to know because there are a limited few who do offer some types of training

but not all in the same fields.

 

Rod

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