From the July 2011 Issue of Pressure Cleaning Contractor Magazine
by Allison Hester
Pressure Washing Contractor Profile
K&J Pressure Cleaning in Tampa
Kory Finley of K & J Pressure Cleaning in Tampa struggled quite a bit when first getting started in the industry. He had to learn some lessons the hard way. That’s why he stresses the importance of doing “your research” before doing anything else, including a market analysis. “Make sure there is a need for the type of service you want to provide and that people are willing to pay for it.”
Kory started pressure washing in Atlanta, Georgia in 2006 when he realized he did not want to continue on his career path in retail management. His wife, Lauren, supported his choice to start his own pressure washing business, which then focused on kitchen exhaust cleaning (KEC). “It was a slow start,” he admits.
After working part-time jobs and pressure washing on the side, the Finleys had their first child and decided to move to Tampa in order to be closer to Lauren’s family. “So I had to start all over again.”
He then discovered that the KEC industry was already saturated in Tampa. “They were doing a lot of work for a little bit of money,” he explains. So Kory switched gears, focusing on residential cleaning instead, largely because it let him put more money in his pocket faster.
Today, K & J specializes in commercial cleaning for homeowner associations, residential property managers and restaurants. This change has actually worked out to Kory’s benefit. “I prefer to work during the day and sleep at night,” he explains. Even more, he says he loves “the instant gratification you get when pull up to a dirty property, clean it, then leave with a satisfied customer. Seeing the results of what you have done is very rewarding.”
Since its early struggles, K & J has grown to four full-time employees who pride themselves on being able to tackle any job, including large projects that their competitors can or will not take on.
Some of K & J’s ability to tackle projects is due the equipment they use, which consists of 8 gpm machines. “These allow us to move faster and more efficiently than other companies,” Kory explains. Large water tanks also allow them to bring their own water to sites where none is available.
Beyond their equipment, however, Kory also uses his noggin to come up with solutions to problems. As an example, K & J lost a bid to another contractor who, after one day on the job, quit because he did not feel safe on the job. “He said the drivers on the streets where he was working were reckless,” he explains. “So we resubmitted the bid an rented street safety signs. Problem solved.”
Kory also prides his company on being “fast, friendly, professional.” K & J stresses to customers the importance of looking beyond price alone and hiring a contractor who has all the proper insurances – worker’s comp, liability and automotive. “I never shop on price alone. If someone’s prices are significantly lower, there’s a reason, such as lack of knowledge, insurance, and inferior products or services.” He also suggests customers ask for proof of licenses, insurance and a list of references. “A qualified contractor will be able to provide you with this info onsite or within a day.”
Running a pressure washing business properly is not cheap, and Kory believes in charging accordingly. “When contractors ask me how much they should charge, I tell them ‘whatever you need to average $100 to $150 an hour per rig,’” he says. “Some may think this is high for ‘unskilled labor.’ However, there is a lot that goes into that hourly rate, such as marketing, sales, office work, fuel, chemicals, payroll and taxes.”
He also stresses that contractors need to save for retirement. “So you can’t only charge for today. You need to charge so that you can grow your business.”
To help K & J grow, Kory has turned to others, including his competitors. “Find out what your what your competition does and does not do. Network with them. They can help you build your business.”
He also spends time on the industry bulletin boards, going to industry events and roundtables. “I believe in continuous education,” he explains. In fact, he believes in it so strongly that he has teamed with Ron Musgraves and the National Cleaning Expo to host NCE East for four years. Additionally, Kory is a member of various associations, including the PWNA, UAMCC and several property management organizations. “They are a way to build credibility and are good for marketing.”
Finally, Kory strives to maintain the highest level of professionalism, integrity, honesty and fairness possible in his relationships with suppliers, subcontractors, professional associates and customers. “We aim to make our work rewarding for our customers by making sure they are satisfied through K & J’s efficiency, attention to detail and service-minded attitudes.”
To learn more, visit their website at www.kandjproservices.com