Do you want to start a boat cleaning business? If YES, here’s a complete guide on starting a boat cleaning business with NO money and no experience. Have you ever thought of how boats get cleaned? Of course there are cleaning companies that specialize in cleaning boats. The truth is that boat cleaning business in the United States of America is one easy to set up business and it is indeed a profitable business venture especially if you locate it in a riverine area where residents make use of boats.

Starting a boat cleaning business requires low startup capital, and you can be rest assured to attract loads of customers if you know how to deliver excellent jobs. The amount you can make per day is largely dependent on your ability to market your service to ship owners, water transportation companies, ferry operators, fishermen and other boat owners.

If you want to start your own boat cleaning business, all you need do is read this article and you will be well informed. You can start this business from a small town in the United States and if you are consistent and creative, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand especially if you go into franchising.

20 Steps to Starting a Boat Cleaning Business in USA

1. Understand the Industry

Boat cleaning business is niche area in the Commercial Cleaning Services industry. Ship cleaning services provide ship and boat cleaning including dry-dock services or in-water cleaning services.
The commercial cleaning industry that boat cleaning is part of is one of the fastest growing service industries in the United States.

It is predicted that cleaning services will experience a five percent growth rate between 2008 and 2018, and this growth will be largely due to the health care industry, where elderly care needs will only increase over that period. In addition, personal cleaning, laundering and repair of clothing is predicted to increase at a compound annual rate of 3 percent from 2015 to 2019.

If you are a close observer of happenings in the boat cleaning line of business, you would have noticed that the industry was hit hard by the recession and low unemployment rate. As a result of that, boat owners started to clean their own boats themselves. As the economy recovers and boat owners return to work and have less time to clean their boats, the industry will recover. Operators in the industry compete on the basis of price, quality of service and breadth of service offering.

The Commercial Cleaning Services industry that boat cleaning business is a part of is indeed a large industry and pretty much active in most countries of the world. Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 51,145 registered and licensed cleaning services companies (boat cleaning services companies inclusive) scattered all across the United States responsible for employing about 69,895 people and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $3 billion annually.

The industry is projected to enjoy 3.8 percent annual growth within 2011 and 2016. It is important to state that no establishment can boast of having the lion share of the available market in this industry. A recent report published by IBISWorld shows that the Commercial Cleaning Services industry has a low level of market share concentration. The report stated that in 2015, the three largest industry operators accounted for less than 5.0 percent of the industry’s revenue.

The majority of the industry is characterized by self-employed individuals who work as independent contractors or small operators with fewer than three employees. The report further stated that since companies typically offer boat cleaning within a limited geographic scope in order to limit transportation expenses, there are limited benefits to economies of scale; consequently, there is a low level of market share concentration. Rather, the most prominent companies are franchised operations.

Just like any other business, the demand for boat cleaning services usually decline during recession period/economic downturn due to declining boat owner’s spending on cleaning services and reduced demand from business clients. As the economy grows, and income increases, there will be corresponding increase in the demand for cleaning related services such as boat cleaning services.

Boat cleaning services will continue to thrive because of the need for efficiency and to avoid fast depreciation. The truth is that a large percentage depreciation in ships and boats come due to irregular cleaning.

In summary, boat cleaning businesses all over the world are still enjoying good patronage particularly if they are well positioned and if they know how to reach out to their target market.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who hire the services of boat cleaning companies cut across all yacht, ship and boat owners in your location that have the capacity to pay for the services.
Your target demographics should include both commercial and private owners of ships, yachts and boats in the city where your boat cleaning business is located.

3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On

Boat cleaning business is a niche area in the commercial cleaning services hence there are no niche area in this line of business.
But it is important to state that some boat cleaning services companies operate in the Boat Repair & Maintenance Industry and they offer services such as;

  • Dry-dock services
  • Ship and boat repair
  • Supplying new and replacement parts for boats and ships
  • Ship and boat maintenance and cleaning
The Level of Competition in the Industry

The competition that exist in the boat cleaning line of business goes beyond competitions amongst boat cleaning businesses in your location; you are expected to compete with other businesses in the commercial cleaning industry that also offer boat and ship cleaning services. So, it will be right to say the competition in the boat cleaning line of business is tough.
The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure your workforce can carry out thorough boat and ship cleaning services, you can deliver excellent customer care services and you know how to reach out to your target market.

There are several boat cleaning businesses and other cleaning services that also clean boats scattered all around the United States. So, if you choose to start your own boat cleaning business in the United States of America, you will definitely meet a lot of competition.

4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry

There are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and general public than the others in every industry. Some of these brands have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.

These are some of the leading boat cleaning companies in the United States of America and in the globe;

  • Blue – Thru Marine Engine Flush and Salt Remover Company
  • Miller Detailing Services of Somerset
  • 360 Yacht Care
  • Blue Magic Marine Detailing Services Company
  • Expert Boat Detailing Services Company
  • Amberjack Dive Services Company
  • Bare Bottoms Boat Cleaning Services Company
  • Rightway Boat and RV Detailing Services Company
  • Pier 3 Yacht Maintenance Inc.
  • Lighthouse Marine Detailing Services Company
  • 757 Boat and Boats Cleaning Company
  • AAA – Custom Boat Cleaning Services
  • Above and Below Boat Detailing Services Company
  • DECKHAND DETAILING – Seattle’s Premier Boat Detailing Company
  • USA Clean Master | Boat And Yacht Cleaning Services
  • Florida Boat Detailing Company
  • Detail Kings
  • Yachtez Boat Detailing and Cleaning Company
  • Jim’s Cleaning Services
Economic Analysis

As an entrepreneur that is planning towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, you would need to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.

Boat cleaning business is not a green business, as a matter of fact; you will come across several boat cleaning companies and other commercial cleaning companies that clean boats when you drive through town, search through directories and browse through the internet.

So, you should carry out thorough market survey of the amount required in renting a space where you are expected to open your boat cleaning business and the amount required to purchase the required work tools and equipment such as jet snakes, brushes, industrial vacuums, dry clothes for cleaning, brooms, dust masks, safety shoes, and overalls vacuum cleaner with attachments, bowl cleaner, dust pan & brush, dry mop, wet mop & bucket, latex gloves, wet floor signs, extension cord, disinfectant cleaner, soft scrub, high duster, caddy with handle to keep your supplies in, cleaning chemical supplies, detergents and soaps, and truck and also the running cost to successfully run the business. et al.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

As an aspiring entrepreneur who is looking towards starting a boat cleaning business, you would have to start from the very scratch because you can hardly get the franchise of a boat cleaning business to buy except you want to buy the franchise of a commercial cleaning services brand that also offer boat and ship cleaning services.

But starting a boat cleaning business from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other similar small – scale businesses. With a boat cleaning business, you should just try as much as possible to learn the trade, register your business, purchase the required work tools and then leverage on every marketing tools within your disposal especially the internet to market your business.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

One of the major challenges you are likely going to face if you decide to start your own boat cleaning service in the United States is the presence of well – established boat cleaning companies and other commercial cleaning services companies that also clean boats. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.

Some other challenges you are likely going to face is economic downturn; if the economy is in bad shape, history has it that business such as boat cleaning services businesses and any other businesses that offer cleaning services and related services usually struggle to maintain their old customers or even welcome new customers. Also, unfavorable government policies can hamper the growth of your boat cleaning business. There is nothing you can do as regards these challenges other than to stay positive that things will work well for you.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

If you are considering starting a boat cleaning services business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow.
By and large, you have the options of either choosing a general partnership, limited liability Company, or even a sole proprietorship for your boat cleaning business. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale boat cleaning business especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital in a small neighborhood and with just one outlet. But if your intention is to grow the business and have offices and clients all across key cities in the United States of America via franchising, then choosing sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company or even general partnership will cut it for you.

Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities.

Here are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your boat cleaning services business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes. If you take your time to study the various legal entities to use for your boat cleaning services with the ability to sell franchise and having offices and clients all across the United States of America, you will agree that limited liability company is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.

Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your boat cleaning services business so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below

When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents.
If you are considering starting your own boat cleaning business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Twofold Clean® Boat Cleaning Services, LLC
  • Lake Freetown® Boat & Ship Cleaning Services, LLC
  • Paulo Jordan© Boat & Yacht Cleaning Services, Inc.
  • Miami Township® Boat Cleaning Company, Inc.
  • Claudius Lucas ™ Boat & Yacht Cleaning Services, Inc.
  • Water Way™ Boat Cleaning Services, Inc.
  • King’s Pride© Boat & Yacht Cleaning Services, Inc.
  • Queen’s Pride® Boat & Ship Cleaning Services Company, LLC
  • Marcus Rushford© Marine Cleaning Services, Inc.
  • Riverine Mandate© Marine Cleaning Services, Inc.

9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

It is a known fact that in the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your boat cleaning services business.
These are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own boat cleaning services business in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Marine Insurance
  • Health/Medical insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance
  • Payment protection insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

As an aspiring entrepreneur who is considering starting his/her own boat cleaning business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection / trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Aside from the results you produce as it relates to providing professional cleaning services, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some boat cleaning services stand out. If you want to make an impact in the boat cleaning line of business, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization. Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career and up-to-date in the market.

These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own boat cleaning services company;

  • Institute of inspection cleaning and restoration certification – IICRC
  • International janitorial cleaning services certification – IJVSC
  • Cleaning business owner certificate – CBO

Please note that you can successfully run a boat cleaning services company in the United States without necessarily acquiring professional certifications and business license as long as you have adequate experience cum background in the commercial cleaning industry.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hand of the law catches up with you.
These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own boat cleaning services business in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Tax Payer’s ID/Tax Identification Number
  • Chemicals handler certificate
  • Health inspection Certificate
  • Business Plan
  • Employee Handbook
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (basically for online payment portal)
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • Franchise or Trademark License (optional)

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Starting a boat cleaning business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale by running the business from your home or sharing office space.

Securing a standard office space in a business district and purchasing working tools like jet snakes, brushes, industrial vacuums, dry clothes for cleaning, dust masks, safety shoes, and overalls vacuum cleaner with attachments, bowl cleaner, brooms, dust pan & brush, dry mop, wet mop & bucket, latex gloves, wet floor signs, extension cord, disinfectant cleaner, soft scrub, high duster, caddy with handle to keep your supplies in, cleaning chemical supplies, detergents and soaps, and truck et al are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital.

If you choose to start the business on a large scale, you would need to go source for fund to finance the business because it is expensive to start a large – scale boat cleaning business with over a handful of fulltime employees.

The truth is that when it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your boat cleaning services business;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for loan from your bank
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

When it comes to the choice of location when it comes to your boat cleaning business, there are no hard and fast rules on how to go about it. You just have to settle for an office facility close to places like seaports, lakes, and riverine communities in general.
Please note that whatever location you choose to start your boat cleaning business must be visible, easily accessible, secured and with good parking amongst others.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

There are no special technology needed to run an average boat cleaning company except for working tools and equipment such as jet snakes, brushes, industrial vacuums, dry clothes for cleaning, dust masks, safety shoes, and overalls vacuum cleaner with attachments, bowl cleaner, brooms, dust pan & brush, dry mop, wet mop & bucket, latex gloves, wet floor signs, extension cord, disinfectant cleaner, soft scrub, high duster, caddy with handle to keep your supplies in, cleaning chemical supplies, detergents and soaps, and truck. So also, you will definitely need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst other and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

As regards leasing or outright purchase of an office and store facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standings, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short – term rent / lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location / facility for such business.

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard boat cleaning services business with plans to have clients all across major cities in the United States of America, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (you can occupy this role), Admin and Human Resources Manager, Supervisors, Sales and Marketing Officer, Accounting Clerk, and Cleaners. On the average, you will need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff members to run a small – scale but standard boat cleaning services company.

The Services Delivery Process of the Business

The operation process of boat cleaning companies depend largely on their organizational structure.
Usually, when a boat cleaning company gets a contract from a client, it could be speed boats, normal boats, ships, yacht, ocean vessels / tankers and ferry et al. They will first conduct cost analysis in order for them to know the risk involved, manpower and resources needed to carry out the job.
Once they conclude their cost analysis, then they will deploy the required manpower and machines to execute the job and then they will get paid after successfully carrying out their job.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies

Running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch a boat cleaning services business, then you must go all out to employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well – known brands that determine the market direction for the boat cleaning line of business.

These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your boat cleaning services business;

  • Introduce your boat cleaning services company by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to households and businesses that owns boats, yacht, water transportation companies and other key stake holders throughout the city where your boat cleaning services company is located.
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across
  • Create a basic website for your business so as to give your business an online presence
  • Directly market your services
  • Engage in road shows in targeted riverine communities from time to time to promote your boat cleaning services business
  • Join local commercial cleaning business associations for industry trends and tips
  • Join local chambers of commerce and industry with the aim of marketing your services
  • Advertise our business in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)

17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products

One key factor that will help you offer your boat cleaning services at rock bottom prices is to purchase your cleaning supplies directly from wholesalers in pretty large quantities. The higher the quantity of items you purchase directly from wholesalers, the cheaper you tend to get them.
Another strategy that will help you offer your boat cleaning services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products.
You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers; it will help you save cost of paying sales and marketing executives.

18. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

The availability of competent boat cleaners under your payroll, your business process and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry.
Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust clientele base.

Over and above, ensure that your organization is well positioned; key members of your team are highly qualified and can favorably compete with the some of the best in the commercial cleaning services industry.

19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

When it comes to business, no matter the industry you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your service delivery, they can hardly source for an alternative service provider.
Statistics has it that one of the major reasons why clients source for alternative service providers or product is when there is a drop in quality. Another reason is poor customer service.

One of the strategies you would need to employ in order to generate repeated sales from your customers is to ensure that your cleaners are always on time and your customer services do not fluctuate. The truth is that if the services and customer service fluctuates, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers coming back.

Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also to attract new customers.
Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers, and building loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software. With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).

20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.

If your intention of starting a boat cleaning services business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand by opening offices all across key cities in the United States and franchising, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

Irrespective of the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is a dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market.

Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create a corporate identity for your boat cleaning business;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and relevant magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community based events
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your boat cleaning services business
  • Install your Billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
  • Engage in roadshows from time to time in targeted business district to create awareness of your boat cleaning business
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • List your boat cleaning services company in local directories
  • Advertise your boat cleaning services company in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
  • Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your boat cleaning services company is located.
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your carts, vehicles, trucks and vans are branded with your company logo
Ajaero Tony Martins