#175 – How to start a deck staining business

Show notes from Episode #175 of the Sweaty Startup Podcast.

People frequently reach out asking about businesses with low capital investment and low skill requirements, and Nick’s recent home improvement project spotlighted a perfect opportunity for that.

Since buying their house in Athens, Georgia in 2018, Nick’s deck has always been in poor shape. Putting stain on it was a short-term solution, but it looked horrible 6 months later. He decided to have a professional come in to clean and stain it, but had an awful time finding options in the area and dealt with unprofessional businesses. When he was finally able to get a quote it was for $750, which is when he decided he would do it on his own. After watching an hour of YouTube videos on deck restoration it became clear how easy it is to make a deck look amazing with just some simple tools.

The Process

  • Purchase bleach, dish soap, linseed oil or deck stain, and a broom to brush to spread the stain. This total investment should be less than $100, and even less than $50 if you already have some supplies. 
  • Take a spray bottle with half bleach and half dish soap, and completely spray the deck.
    • Let this mixture sit for 20 minutes before spraying it off with a water hose or power washer.
  • Apply stain or linseed oil, using YouTube as a guide if you’re a complete beginner.

This one day investment can make you $750 in revenue.

Building a Barebones Business

  1. Buy a Google domain with your town name and the word “deck” in it.
  2. Install WordPress.
  3. Get a logo done on Canva.
  4. Restore either your own deck or a friend or family member’s and take before and after photos. Post these on your site.
    1. Add a video to the site talking bout your deck restoration process.
  5. Make a Google My Business location complete with a Google Voice phone number.
    1. Make sure you’re marked on Google Maps.
    2. Get early reviews from friends or family that you work for at a reduced rate.

Getting Leads

  1. Get a printing company to print door hangers and flyers that include your company name, phone number, and the services you offer.
  2. Go on Google Maps and find every house that has a deck.
    1. Use Google Earth to go back in time and see how many decks are 10+ yeras old.
    2. Mark these addresses, knock on their doors, introduce yourself, and tell them what you do.
  3. Find new builds in your area, find out who bought the house and talk to the contractors that built the deck.
    1. Establish a referral system with these contractors, and have them point new deck owners to you for your services.
  4. Find homeowners looking to sell their house. Sell them on bringing up their home value with a small investment in deck restoration.
  5. Connect with local realtors. They get asked all the time about home service company recommendations.
    1. Offer to do a free deck restoration for them to build the relationship.

Very soon you could find yourself doing this every weekend. Buying a power washer can be helpful in the long-term, but early on look to set up appointments for one day on the weekend and rent a power washer to clean the decks of all your appointments. Come back the next day when the deck has tried to stain the deck. Your margins will be high, investment is low, and you’ll be delivering a great service that people will want to pay you for.

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship. 

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