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Keep track of your customers with a computer and database program

If your not good with computers it's time to start learning.  It can help your marketing tremendously.  The advantages of having a computer are numerous, but the main advantage is the ability to keep a great database and market to your customers.  Most of our business now is from repeat business, and keeping in touch with those customers would be much more difficult the old fashioned way.  There are many books and programs that can help you to learn about computers and software. 

Programs to set up databases

Microsoft Works is an inexpensive but powerful program the integrates database, form letters, labels, etc. into one program.  It's not the best program for your flyers because it's not very good at handling graphics.

Programs to make your Flyers

Microsoft Word is just one, is comes with many computers these days.   There are many programs that are great for flyers and the quality of these programs has really improved recently.  They come with a lot of clip art and are fairly easy to use.

Yellow Pages Ad

In the Detroit area there is a category in our Yellow Pages called Deck Cleaning, it was added by popular demand.  Placing a small three line yellow pages ad can really help your business.  The prices can escalate rapidly the fancier your ad gets so keep it simple.

Pricing

Pricing varies around the country, check out our bulletin board for what others are charging.  On the average are prices have gone up about 20 cents a square/ft. in the last couple of years.

Sprayers

Our favorite low priced sprayer is the Gilmour Spray Doc 2000P available in Builders Square, HQ, Home Depot, and Several other stores.  Several other more expensive options are available, airless sprayers work great but are expensive and require more maintenance, a good place to find one and get good advice is a store like Sherwin-Williams, they can recommend a good machine with the right type of gun and tips.  Our company has tried several options and still prefers the less expensive sprayers for there ease of use and storage capabilities, they are also great for triceps development.

Spray Shields

Most paint stores now carry inexpensive, plastic or metal, over spray sheds with an attached handle so you don't have to bend over.  This really simplifies working around the edge of the house. A good size is 24" wide. A bigger size can be awkward.

Controlling Over Spray

Spraying sealer on a deck is one of the more challenging aspects of deck sealing.  It is however, in our opinion, the most effective way to work quickly and get an even finish.  The problem with spraying is definitely the over spray  The best way to avoid over spray is to use plenty of drop cloths.  The bigger the better.  We use 10' x 25', 4 mill thick plastic drop cloths.  They cost about $5 a piece.  When doing your estimates figure the cost of  the drop cloths into the price.  To avoid over spray along the side of the house use a good spray shield as mentioned above.  What causes most problems is the wind.   Sealing a deck on a windy day requires a little creativity, try to seal the floor boards during the windiest times, and seal railings during the wind breaks.  Wind and rain are your enemies in deck sealing.  Treat the windiest days like a rain day and do more washing or other productive work.

Angular Sash Brush

This may sound simple but working with an angular sash brush vs. a regular paint brush is much easier, especially when cutting in where the railing meets the house.   We found a good size to be a 2" brush.  No need to spend a lot of money, just get the mid priced brush and store it in a ziploc bag between uses.

Turbo Nozzles

A good addition to your tips is a turbo nozzle that many manufactures make (Dirt Killer, Rotomax, etc.).  They are not good for wood but really help on concrete.  These tips are more powerful (zero degree tip that rotates in a figure 8) and tend to leave less zebra stripes.  It is easy to pick up extra money by suggesting to customers that you can clean up other hard surfaces around their house. An example would be to wash their front walk for $50.  These tips are rated for the flow of your pump so make sure you get the right one.

Flat Surface Cleaners

If you find yourself with a lot of flatwork opportunities, a flat surface cleaner is a great investment.  On surfaces such as concrete they can literally let you work 20 times faster as advertised.  Even though they are advertised to work on wood we do not recommend it.  Since the tips are spinning in a circle they tend to leave swirl marks on the wood when you slow down.

Yard Signs

A great form of advertising is yard signs.  Many business use them and most home owners don't have a problem with leaving a sign on their yard for a few days.  Deck jobs tend to spread through word of mouth in neighborhoods and condominium complexes, and a yard sign can be a big mouth.

High Pressure Hose Reel Connector Kit

When buying a high pressure hose reel make sure you also get a section to connect the hose reel to your power washer, the length varies depending on your set up.   We use a 9' length.

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