In the midst of the hot steamy, fog the all-night star employee of a Mobile Power Washing Company, emerged wearing rubber boots and yellow rain gear rubber pants. He had just cleaned over 12,000 square feet of concrete, including the loading docks, trash areas, sidewalks and about a quarter way up the side of the massive Home Depot box store on “A-Street” and, 400 shopping carts.
Luckily, our Power washing Hero, is paid both a set salary and a per-square foot commission. Tonight he worked alone, but it was cold, so he spent a good part of the evening making both fog and ice. The night before he cleaned 4 1/2 fast food restaurants, the night before that he cleaned a large parking structure, the night before that a stadium, with a small crew of three, but tonight he worked alone. He didn’t mind, he can keep the 15% commission on the job, which adds another $90.00 to his paycheck next week.
When he interviewed for the job they asked if he wouldn’t mind working nights, which he preferred as he likes to sleep in. He gets up around 1 or 2 pm and goes to sleep around sun-rise. At first it took him a while to get use to those hours, now he has no interest in changing. Someday, he would like to own his own business, but on this night, he just glad to work without anyone looking over him all the time, telling him what to do. As long as he gets all the work done, with no complaints, he pretty much feels like he works for himself anyway.
And on this night he got done in record time, thanks to the rain, which speed up the process and saved him a stop in cleaning the shopping carts using a blow-up kids swimming pool to collect the wash water. By having the shopping carts already wet, that saved one step in the cleaning process.
As the Founder of The Wash Guys, a mobile washing and cleaning franchising company often folks ask me what it is like to do the kind of work our teams do. Not long ago a couple of students; Mike and Colin, from Ryerson University in Ontario Canada, asked me to describe a day in the life of a power-washing employee.
Before I started franchising my company, I ran a power-washing rig for 10-years, very much like the ones we later franchised. Some days, I worked so hard, I barely had time to sleep. I use to laugh to friends and say;
Thank God for dirt, that was a very smart thing to make the World out of on that first day!
Needless to say, we never ran out of work, something always needed washing. I have cleaned bridges, buildings, trucks, trains, runways, sidewalks, trash compactors, shopping carts, insides of car washes, chicken coops, wind generators, gondolas, stadiums, amusement parks, factories, and well I could go on forever, over the years I have cleaned it all. Carefully, watching the environment and putting the dirt back where it belonged.
Often, I have thought while using a “Hydro-Twister” (a device the size of a lawn mower that swirls the high-pressure hot water on to the surface) doing flat-work (concrete) that if mankind ever vanished, mother nature would reclaim human civilizations in less than a few decades, as the dirt blew and re-covered the entire area.
Most employees of power-wash companies make pretty-good money, much higher than minimum wage. Power-wash companies that do a combination of property management services and street sweeping generally pay the highest. ServiceMaster has power-washing services available and some of their employees are hired by the corporation on company owned units, while other employees hired directly by the franchisees of the company. Most have benefits as part of their pay.
Today we see many immigrants who take up power washing as a business, generally these companies start up and participate in the underground economy, so the workers are paid in cash and do not receive benefits. Typically, this is unfortunate also since these small companies do not comply with environmental requirements of local permits, such as blocking off the storm drains and removing the wash-water affluent, while cleaning gas stations, parking lots, drive-thrus at QSRs (quick-service restaurants) or trash areas.
Generally, employees are paid fairly by legitimate companies and on the bottom end of the pay scale by new market entrants that do not follow all the rules, and a legitimate company has to perform as promised and there is a competitive aspect for good quality employees. This means for now, with low-unemployment figures (under 5.5%) it is a decent job.
Many municipalities, transit districts and companies hire their own power-washers in-house, who are paid very well, with benefits. You will see them out at night cleaning bus stops, facilities, concrete and side walks, sometimes you see them out working during the day. Often, such employees will do other jobs along with their general job description. For instance, a golf cart preventative maintenance employee may also power wash the facilities at the Golf Club and clean the golf with the company’s pressure washer.
In the future, this particular job will be done by robotics, already there are companies, in Michigan, Montana and California that have developed trailer-able shopping cart washing units, that look like a mini-car wash. This prevents the spread of diseases for shoppers and it is a much better process to collect the dirty waste wash-water affluent.