Why SkyVac Gutters?
Why SkyVac for your Gutter Cleaning Business?
As a new or seasoned professional gutter cleaner you will have opportunities to earn lots of money in your business but will inevitably face many challenges. Let's discuss some ways to maximize those opportunities and minimize those challenges. Then we would like to help you along your journey by suggesting ideal scenarios while you explore the alternatives to traditional gutter cleaning.
You’re new to the profession
You would like to make money. Every time you drive through your neighborhood you see gobs of debris piled high in people’s gutters. You see opportunity. It’s easy to target your customers because their debris-filled gutters are staring you right in the eyes. They need help. You’re the person to help them.
Gutter cleaning compliments your existing business
You have been very successful at window cleaning, power washing, soft washing, pest control or any number of similar related businesses. Sometimes your business is seasonal and you have some "downtime" in the winter or spring. You already have a bunch of customers asking if you'll do gutter cleaning for them. The customer loves and trusts your services, they depend on you. You've earned their business. Why not offer gutter cleaning as add-on? You can even sign a multi-clean or multi-year contract with them.
Get an upper hand on rainy days
What happens on rainy days? Are you or your staff sitting at home on the couch because it’s too dangerous to be cleaning gutters while it’s wet outside? Your competition is doing the same thing. Maybe it’s time to get a step ahead of them. Don't let weather stop you from completing the job and earning more money in your pocket.
Easily win business others don’t want
Traditional gutter cleaners mainly apply three different methods depending on the type of job:
- Walk the roof with a leaf blower (use ladder to climb up)
- Move ladder from side-to-side, climbing up and down, up and down and scoop debris by hand into a bucket or onto the ground
- Steep roofs- use a pulley or rope system to scale down the roof to reach the gutters, blow or scoop, repeat
Most traditional gutter cleaners are looking for one story single family homes that can easily be “walked”. These are the quickest to clean and theoretically the most profit vs. time scenario. But what about the other 50-60% of the homes or commercial properties out there that don’t meet that criteria? Houses with steep pitch roofs and commercial buildings have less competition. If you remove the ladder risk from the scenario it gets much easier to bid, win and tackle these higher paying jobs.
Fear of heights
Whether you have been cleaning gutters for 1 week or 20 years the fear of heights can creep in. This is actually your mind & body giving you a warning sign: Danger! Slipping off a ladder or roof is a real threat. It’s not a matter of “If” it will happen it’s a matter of “when” it will happen. Have you had a “close call” ? Maybe a small mis-step or slip on a steeply pitched roof? Heed the warning now before it’s too late.
Not as young as you used to be
You’re like a fine wine, you’re improving with age. However, your vision, reflexes and coordination are not as good as they used to be. If you would like a highly scientific explanation for why your physical abilities will likely decline as you get older then click here. But that’s no reason to stop doing what you enjoy doing. So let’s see. You’ve been cleaning gutters as a profession for years and you’re not ready to stop. Customers call you year after year for service and you don’t want to let them down. Also the money is still good. It’s time to minimize your risks.
Fear for your team
You have a solid business. Maybe it’s window cleaning or pressure washing. Maybe it’s a mixture of home based services. There’s no way you can do it all alone. If you hire others to clean gutters for your business then you take a huge risk every day, especially with inexperienced employees. Your team leaves out every morning to tackle their jobs…do you worry that they’ll come back unharmed or that you’ll get the dreaded call to meet them at the hospital? 90,000 ladder falls a year are hospitalized in the USA. When someone falls it is typically a serious injury: shattered bones, concussions, internal injury, head trauma, and sometimes death. Do your employees fully realize the danger? The inexperienced guys either think they’re invincible or the opposite: they are entirely petrified to use ladders. Is it tough keeping an employee for a long period of time? It’s time to eliminate that fear.
Your insurance policy isn’t cheap. Some businesses believe that having an insurance policy “protects” them. This may be true to some degree but let’s look a little deeper. Really, there are three areas to be concerned about. (Disclaimer: We are not insurance agents or attorneys. So please speak with your licensed insurance agent or attorney for details. Also, this varies state-to-state)
Worker’s Compensation- If someone is injured on the job then the employee will typically file for worker’s compensation. If they are a 1099 contractor and they file against your business then the government will likely investigate to see if that worker qualifies as a 1099 contractor or employee. If you haven’t abided by a strict set of guidelines for 1099 then a court could rule against you. If the worker is self-employed (this includes you too) and injured on the job many times (and in many states) there is no workers compensation to cover the owner of the business. What does this mean? You can be fully responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical bills. One surgery can easily be a 100K.
Liability- You would be surprised how many policies have exclusions for gutter cleaning. Have you reviewed yours to make sure you’re covered for liability (in all situations) if something goes wrong? Let’s say your worker is on a job and there’s a soft spot on the roof and your worker falls through it. In this scenario the worker is ok but now there’s a big hole in the roof. You are liable! It’s your responsibility to have it fixed. A good insurance policy would cover this damage (minus deductible); however, come to find out there’s an exclusion in your policy that does not cover work over a certain height or does not cover any workers walking on the roof. This is fairly common.
“After” the accident
You’ve just settled on the expensive roof repairs for a home that was damaged by your workers on a gutter cleaning job. This ate up a ton of your time and energy dealing with all the administrative mess. Thankfully you reviewed your policy early-on and this activity was covered. Fast forward 6 months later and now your insurance company has tripled your premium. Now it’s so expensive to clean gutters that you have to stop. At that point you’re just working to pay the insurance premium.
How SkyVac addresses these issues
SkyVac is simply the safest method of gutter cleaning in the industry. Work is done from the safety of the ground. It almost entirely reduces or mitigates risks with height issues, fear, safety, and insurance. The SkyVac can be used on rainy days. Training on the SkyVac is easy. Handling the SkyVac is easy. It's the most professional system on the market. It attracts the attention of neighbors, they've never seen anything like it. This is a marketing opportunity.
Researching Alternatives to traditional gutter cleaning
So you’re investigating alternatives?
By now you’ve decided that traditional gutter cleaning may be too risky or at the very least you should reduce the high-ladder work over treacherous ground. We can agree on this point. Now, what are your alternatives?
SkyVac has been sold for over 10 years in Europe and Asia. With our recent launch in the USA we are confident that we will be the leader. Bold words (I know) but here’s why:
- The SkyVac system is professional grade. It looks refined. Looks DOES matter to your customers who will pay a premium for professional grade service.
- It has the best all-terrain chassis, the best & lightest carbon fiber pole system and attachments, the strongest CFM (Water Lift) in the industry, and is designed to be used day-in and day-out by professionals.
- We are dedicated to continual refinement of the SkyVac system. This means we are continuously looking for ways to improve the product.
- We are highly transparent up-front on our website and through our communication (sales staff). We tell you like it is.
- We offer a 1 year parts replacement warranty.
- We offer a money-back guarantee (7 day return policy).
- We offer lease financing if needed. (USA only)
- We offer marketing materials and share best practices.
- We care about your safety and success and that’s not only the right thing to do but is also just downright plain good business.
Now, we wouldn’t feel right if you didn’t do your homework and research alternatives and competitors. So we’ll help you get started.
SkyVac is not just a machine, it’s a system. That means it is wholly designed with multiple features and components to be most effective for specifically cleaning gutters. These items work together to make the full experience the best experience over a period of time.
Gutter cleaning (and high-ceiling cleaning) is a specialized market with a limited number of manufacturers that have created gutter cleaning systems. In order to appropriately address the market a manufacturer has to be fully invested in the product and solution, not just part-time.
That being said there are a few other manufacturers out there that have attempted to address this market. One or two show some degree of refinement and the others are really just “homemade” or only partially address the real issues in creating a fantastic gutter cleaning system.
We will not discuss other company names here (that’s not our style). What we’ll do is highlight some of the key areas we think are important and what you should be looking for in a solution. Then we’ll address the most commonly seen concerns that we have heard from our customers before they made the decision to buy SkyVac.
- Professionalism of overall system (brand, look & feel)
- Vacuum System, Water Lift (CFM), suction, motor power
- Chassis (mobility)
- Drum, discarding debris
- End Attachments
- High-Reach Pole System
- Telescopic pole, video guidance
- System maintenance & clean up
- Transportation to customer sites
The SkyVac brand is strong. The system looks professional. All the components are color coordinated and tie-in with the overall brand. The vacuum is manufactured in Europe, customized in the UK and shipped by container to the SkyVac USA headquarters in Raleigh-Durham NC area.
Customers instinctively know that quality comes at a price. Sometimes this quality is real and sometimes it is perceived. In either case customers are generally going to spend a premium to get a branded, professional looking, quality service. When they see you or your workers using gutter cleaning equipment on their property they can distinguish the difference between a beat-up pickup truck, two guys and a scrappy ladder with foam and towels tied around the stabilizers verses professional vehicles and gutter cleaning equipment. If the system looks homemade (like something duct-taped together in the garage) the customer’s perception of the service company starts to deteriorate. The customer is thinking:
- If they treat their vehicle/equipment this way can I trust these guys on my property?
- Am I paying for quality or am I getting cheap lesser quality service?
- Should I be concerned with someone getting hurt? Are they insured?
- Are they going to break my gutter or my roof?
- Are they going to leave a mess around my house?
If the system being used looks unprofessional, the customer expects to pay less. Plain and simple. In the long run this will cost your business money. Inversely, having a professional look, a professional system will enable you to charge a premium. This could easily be a 10-20% premium over time on all your jobs. As for repeat business...customers will remember the professional and are more likely to call you on the next service or sign a renewing maintenance contract. Six months from now the leaf debris will be back….will you?
We have seen multiple vacuum systems with all types of horsepower and come in all shapes and sizes. Generally speaking vacuum systems are easy to find. They’re all over the internet with various prices. Shop-Vac is probably the most common brand name in the USA. These vacuums typically work great…for general cleaning at the home or office or in the car.
Finding a vacuum system is not the problem. Finding one that has every other component designed to work with it ( to get gutter cleaning accomplished effectively) is the real challenge.
We’ve seen vacuum systems bragging about really strong horsepower (hp). You need something strong (but not too strong or you’ll pull the shingles off the roof). Gutters are typically 3.5 to 5” in width. This limits the diameter of the poles/attachments you can use in the gutter. If you attach too much horsepower to a small diameter hose/pole then you will create a suction that is TOO STRONG. Now let’s say you grab a pinecone in the gutter that is slightly larger than the pole/attachment diameter. But since the horsepower is so strong it sucks the pinecone 2 ft down the first pole and then lodges. You’re gonna have a tough time getting it unstuck. If the suction is just right then it will stop at the entry point and allow the operator to clear the obstruction easily. (water lift is actually more important)
You need a vacuum system that sits nicely into a well-made, durable but light, mobile all-terrain chassis. We’ve seen one homemade unit on the market that looks like a huge box sitting on the ground. It might work great for someone who never needs to move it around. But not-so-great tackling different jobs every day with different needs. We’ve also seen one other unit with an ok style vacuum but sitting on a flimsy chassis. Definitely not designed for the professional day-to-day user’s needs.
The chassis should have good solid tires and brakes. we prefer (obviously) to have larger rubberized wheels on the back so that the machine can be tilted easily and rolled over obstructions or tough terrain, down stairs, through mud between flower beds and over mulch and gravel.
Hands down there’s not one competitor’s chassis that beats the SkyVac. (just sayin’)
The drum (debris storage) is also important. It needs to be durable and lightweight and easy to clean. It should easily hold all types of debris and water. We also think it should easily tilt and easily be removed for carrying purposes. If it holds too much debris it’s difficult to empty. If it doesn’t hold enough debris then you are constantly emptying it (fills up too fast). The drum should find a careful balance in size and functionality to suit the user. We like stainless steel because it will hold up over time (and it looks snazzy)! If the steel is too thick or heavy it will weigh down the machine too much and make it cumbersome to move.
We’ve discovered the ideal weight (vacuum+drum+chassis) to be right around 80lbs. Just the right weight to load and unload from a vehicle, move around the property but heavy enough to feel solid, not flimsy.
Make sure you have a wide-variety of end attachments and carry bags for your accessories. SkyVac’s dirt breaker tool with a metal tip is one of the most frequently used end attachments. They should be durable and lightweight and should fit the end of the carbon fiber poles easily and hang on tight for vigor use. Ordering extra accessories online should be easy.
High-Reach Pole System
This carefully designed component of the SkyVac system is what makes it extra-special. 8 carbon fiber poles for a 40 ft (4 story) reach. Poles that slide together without the need for special metal clips.
Poles need to be lightweight. Your operator is going to be using these all the time. You or your team doesn’t want to experience arm fatigue. At higher heights you need a lightweight pole system because you are reaching fairly high into the air. You do have some extra help by resting the “hook” end attachment into the gutter or by resting it against the gutters but every little bit helps. Carbon fiber is the answer. Super light and durable. Does conduct electricity (not recommended working through lightning storms).
We’ve seen one competitor toting the advantages of using clear or see-through poles so you can see a blockage. Well, sounds good on paper. But guess what? After a few uses those poles are no longer see through. They get smudged and dirty. And by the way they are made from a material much heavier than carbon fiber.
After a few uses of the machine you are going to feel all the debris flow through the poles anyways. If there is a blockage or if the machine drum fills up and is ready to be emptied then you will know it by feel and sound. You gain this knowledge after using the machine just a couple times. No big deal.
All pole systems get clogged in some way. This is really more to do with the way the user handles the machine rather than the machine itself. New users tend to want to eat too much debris at a time. It's more important to take time and let the machine do it's job. We have several easy methods for dislodging a clog or better yet avoiding the clog all-together.
Carbon fiber poles do require a little maintenance so that they do not get stuck over time. This simply means cleaning the pole ends from grit and grime with a cloth before sliding them together. Also we like to flush the poles sporadically during our work to keep them nice and clean from mud buildup on the sides of the poles and flexi hose (mostly when tackling sludgy gutters).
We discuss gutter and pole cleaning methods and techniques in several videos we have prepared for users who purchase the system. You will have access to these if you purchase a SkyVac plus additional over-the phone support and training from the SkyVac USA staff if needed.
Telescopic Pole & Camera Guidance System
There is no better accomplice to a gutter cleaning system than a telescopic inspection pole and camera. We’ve found that a good quality carbon fiber pole works best. It needs good quality clamps and should be light.
The camera system should attach easily to the pole. We think the ideal camera system should be:
- picture & video recording capability
- attaches to telescopic pole OR Carbon Fiber Poles
We’ve actually seen one system with a rearview mirror that attaches to the metal vacuum poles. Works? maybe. But how do you keep it clean? How do you keep it from breaking? How do you show the customer a good BEFORE and AFTER shot of their gutters to show the quality of your work? If you’re up 4 stories can you actually SEE the mirror?
When you’ve completed a couple dozen jobs you’ll be thanking your good senses that you spent a little more on purchasing a good quality camera and telescopic pole to assist you with your work. It will also pay for itself with time saved.
Ideally you should never plug-in to a homeowner’s house when operating industrial equipment. Too many things can go wrong. Customers don’t like people in their house or getting their floors dirty. Customers think their electric bill will skyrocket, that your equipment is gulping down their electricity. If something goes wrong with the customer’s electrical system anytime in the future, they’ll blame it on you.
Therefore you’re going to need a power source for your gutter cleaning system. There’s two approaches: 1) go cheap and buy a warranty 2) go expensive. The more expensive one is going to most likely last longer. But does it justify the 5x cost? You have to decide. Either one is fine. SkyVac requires a minimum 2600 running watt generator with a 20 amp circuit to power one SkyVac. They’re easy to find at all major hardware and equipment retailers and online. We have personally tested the Powerhorse 4000, Predator and Honda.
If it’s the heavier, cheaper generator you purchase make sure it’s on a rolling cart. If you decide on the more expensive Honda generator you can get a size that is handheld and quieter.
System Maintenance and Clean Up
Choose a system that is easy to clean up. Make sure you can hose off everything with a water hose and pressure wash the inside of the tank without messing it up. Hardened plastic is ok for the vacuum head. It is typically less soiled than the drum, wheels and chassis which need more frequent cleaning. Cleaning the poles and end attachments should be easy with a quick splash or dunk in the water bucket. We recommend rinsing a system at the end of every workday before the debris gets dried-out and sticks to the drum and accessories.
Transporting to customer sites
A great gutter cleaning system should be easy to transport with only one person. Traditional gutter cleaners typically need 2 people to do a job…two people to unload the ladders, one to clean out the gutters and another person to move and stabilize the ladders during use and then both people clean up the property afterwards. If one person gets hurt then there is a second person there to help or call for emergency services. Of course this means that labor costs are double for each job.
SkyVac enables professionals to clean using only one operator. The same person can unload, setup and clean. Clean-up is easy since it all goes into the drum for easy disposal. Time is saved, costs are less.
We like the option of using a covered van and quickly unloading the SkyVac (80 lbs) by rolling it down a ramp, plugging into the generator and start cleaning. We unzip the carbon fiber pole carry bag and end attachment pockets. We have our flexi hose in a plastic container with our water bucket and safety goggles.
We’ve timed setup. Takes us about 7 minutes to setup at a job site.
We take about 5 minutes to inspect the gutter system perimeter at the property using the SkyPole and SkyCam. Then we lean it against the house fully extended for future use.
If you have a truck or trailer you can unlock the vacuum head and remove it separately from the drum and chassis. Cuts the weight in half and makes it easy to load/unload without a ramp.
Hopefully these finer details will help you while comparing alternatives in the marketplace and help address any concerns you may have with our offering. While researching alternatives it’s easy to get distracted by a singular specification or feature. We urge you to look at the entire system, it’s capabilities, and how it will function long-term on a continual basis to suit different cleaning scenarios. We stress quality and durability over cheapness. We encourage a solid brand and professional look to instill quality in your customer’s eyes.
SkyVac USA is committed to giving you an excellent customer service and purchasing experience. We are available by phone 844-SKYVACS (759-8227) or by email g@SkyVacUSA.com to answer any of your questions. Our website has several links to help you research pricing, options, system financing, comparative analysis of models, common questions and answers and also videos.
If you are in the local NC area we are happy to meet you at our Cary NC office for a demonstration or possibly come to your location.