I made a general pricing blog last week. I now want to go into what I have the heaviest experience in, and that is fleet washing.
Fleet washing has many dynamics on pricing, but I will try to keep this as simple as possible to understand how I price.
The most important things to consider in fleet washing are frequency of cleaning and level of expectation.
Fleets should be cleaned either weekly, bi weekly or monthly. If someone wants you to clean every 2 months, or QUARTERLY. They are not your customers, they are your competitors' customer. Customers who are this cheap are C type customers. Their truck will be the dirtiest, and they want the lowest price.
So my favorites are obviously weekly customers. I give them the best price. Why? Because these trucks stay the CLEANEST and will keep you with a CONSISTENT work schedule. Customers who want weekly cleaning are most of the time an A type customer. Any time you have garbage trucks that are done bi-weekly they fall under B or C type customers. Garbage trucks get insanely dirty fast, and any logical waste company will want them done weekly for the health and safety aspect of their employees. Employees getting sick because of an unclean environment and not coming to work, is a classic example why C customers struggle with operations, and furthermore remain cheap to overcompensate for issues they create in their work environment.
Now the level of expectation is pretty simple, if you have a customer who has 10 year old garbage trucks with a lot of cosmetic damage, you can’t expect to ever make these trucks “look good”, you can only make them “clean”. These are often B and C customers and you need to set the expectation up front you won’t be able to make them look great, when they need a paint job as indicated by all the chipped paint on the hood. Also, let them know about aluminum brightening, if they are expecting it every time, then that boundary needs to be established in the beginning!
So here is a small pricing guide on what I have cleaned and what has worked for me in the Houston market (Note: I have found some markets get more per truck, and some markets get MUCH LESS per truck)
Weekly Fleet (6-10 Trucks)
Garbage Trucks 45$
Vac Trucks 85$
Day Cabs 45$
Sleeper Cabs 50$
53’ Box Trailer 35$
14’ Box Trucks 30$
Weekly Fleet (10-25 Trucks)
Garbage Trucks 40$
Vac Trucks 75$
Day Cabs 40$
Sleeper Cabs 45$
53’ Box Trailer 30$
14’ Box Trucks 25$
Weekly Fleet (25-50 Trucks)
Garbage Trucks 35$
Vac Trucks 65$
Day Cabs 35$
Sleeper Cabs 45$
53’ Box Trailer 25$
14’ Box Trucks 20$
I have never washed for a fleet of more than 50 trucks, so I can’t say much about pricing other than I know it would need to be more aggressive because companies that big can simply buy their own power washer and hire a full time crew to save on cost. You don’t want to service companies with less than 6 trucks.
Do they want Biweekly? Add 5$ on what I have posted here. Is it monthly? Add 10-15$ per truck because they will be EXTREMELY dirty every time you wash them.
Now pricing aluminum brightening is another ball game altogether. What I have found is that on a standard Day Cab, I can charge 20$ and it isn’t a big deal because I am usually just cleaning the fuel tanks. However, on a Vac Truck there is an insanely LARGE amount of aluminum and you will want to be closer to 50$ per truck on aluminum brightening. And on a horse trailer that is dull aluminum you will want to charge well over 150$ for them because of the large amount of aluminum brightener needing to be used.
Also sometimes they will ask you to pop the hood and clean the engine bay. This is an easy task and can range from 10 to 25$ per truck depending on the level of detail they want. Generally its just a degreaser and rinse job.
Now there is a drawback to this, many of these fleets will require you to reclaim your water, if you do the pricing will go up. If they require you drive the trucks on a berm your insurance rates WILL GO UP and you have to account for this. Depending on your market area there will be different regulations and you need to be aware of them before you decide to get into fleet washing. But one thing I can assure you is that if there is a concrete parking lot and the storm drains are not MS4 drains, nationwide it is ILLEGAL to allow water to enter the storm drain per EPA guidelines. And in most instances, allowing the water to enter a public roadway is illegal. In Texas you can be fined for “littering” and it is measured by the weight of the waste. If it exceeds 5 pounds, it is enhanced from a C misdemeanor to a B misdemeanor which graduates from only a fine, to jail time and a fine. If it exceeds 1000 pounds it becomes a felony.
This is not me trying to scare you, this is just the reality of this business and something you need to be aware of.
Ok let’s get back to why you are reading this, pricing.
One thing I have found not to do, is 100% clean the trucks on your first cleaning. Get the trucks 80% clean and set the expectation with the customer. Why do you do this? It is easy for you to 80% clean the truck and see what they will point out to fix and what THEY want done. Remember this is fleet washing, NOT DETAILING. If you DETAIL the truck on the first wash, they will expect it DETAILED every cleaning and this pricing model WILL NOT WORK AT ALL.
If you have a good system with 1 brusher and 1 washer with a hot water 5.5 GPM pressure washer you can clean 5 to 7 garbage trucks per hour. And although there are brushless cleaning methods for trucks like 2 stepping or our 1 step chemical R Soap I the first time you clean a fleet, you will absolutely want to brush them or else you will waste a ton of chemical trying to “go brushless”. I am not going to go into how to properly clean fleets in this blog, but want you to understand you need to factor in cost, labor and TIME.
Time is your worst enemy in fleet washing, so the faster you can clean trucks, the more money you will make.
Another thing you will find is that everyone wants their trucks cleaned on the weekend. One thing we have done is a discount per truck if we can clean on a weekday. But sometimes we ended up having to just wash at night, which we don’t offer a discount on. We found garbage trucks can sometimes be washed on Wednesday. So if you have to shuffle them to Wednesday so you can place another fleet on Sunday or Saturday, DO IT. Fleets that run 24 hours are good and bad. They are bad because you never know how much money you’ll make, but good because you can do them on weekdays if need be.
IMPORTANT NOTE Fleet washing and industrial equipment washing are NOT THE SAME THING. The way you price a crane or dozer is NOT the same as fleet washing. In fact, the only time I will ever tell you to charge by the hour, is when doing a crane or heavy duty industrial piece of equipment because it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to set a price on these, because the level of detail can vary so much.
Make sure when you price washing these trucks you discover how long they take to wash and how much each truck COSTS you to clean. If you can figure those 2 numbers out, pricing these are easy. My pricing may or may not work for your market. I know in Midland Texas people can charge 150$ per truck, where I am at 50$ per truck in Houston. They have an unusual market and it is exactly why I say my pricing is just a benchmark, NOT intended to be duplicated because your market may be entirely different from mine.
I have found some people will get into the industry and charge 20$ per garbage truck, that is about the same as a 100$ driveway (business Model 1). 40$ per garbage truck is like 175$ per driveway (Business Model 2). 65$ per garbage truck is like 300$ per driveway (Business Model 3).
What business Model do you want to be?
That is about the best way I can translate this to you, the reader.