Starting a business can be a lot to bear and in the beginning it involves years of dedication, sacrifice, hard times, hard work, stress and the list goes on. Only those who can handle it, have good work ethic and attitude and those who are driven will succeed, those who thought they would get rich quick or think it happens over night or the ones who count the chicks before they hatch will almost most definitely fail or give up.
It took me roughly 6 years of working by myself from 5 a.m. to way past dark without a break except the drive between stops 7 days a week, driving over 150 plus miles one way to do a single cleaning job in Ft. Pierce, working myself to absolute exhaustion, soaking wet or freezing cold or in heat that can kill most people, bitten by every kind of bee, wasp, spider, ant that is found in Florida, living from week to week and sometimes having no money except the money to cover the costs of owning a business and personal bills but not enough for a good meal or even a beer, but never once did I even consider throwing in the towel. I had worked too hard for too long and I saw the results and each year that passed my client list grew, it went from my very 1st job the Fanskas in Titusville at 1 to now over 5000 in a 13 year span. Needless to say I am very good at what I do and there are only less than a handful in Florida who I can say come close. Remember, I did not start Tropical Roof and Exterior Cleaning Systems by buying equipment, asking questions and learning along the way. I actually worked for at the time, the largest, original and most well known, non pressure roof and exterior cleaning companies in the United States. I started there when I was only 17 years old, no I did not drop out I graduated early and was bound for a career as a Navy Corpsman and then in the medical field as a civilian. That was my families dream for me, not mine. I cannot stand being indoors and worse I cannot stand hospitals or office environments. I do love fishing however and competing in both Bass and Saltwater tournaments and my goal was and still is becoming a national touring bass pro, the local thing I have achieved. It has been a dream of mine since I was 3 and my dad was my inspiration who ignited that passion in me.
I am married now for 14 years and have two children and now that they are both at the age to where they are independent enough to where I can afford to leave out of state for a few weeks at a time I will be back at it for the 2020 season and on.
Lets get back to the topic. I started in this industry with no experience like everyone in this industry has. Working for that company that once was 30 trucks strong and growing fast and opening locations left and right until the holes in that ship started becoming more and more evident gave me a doctorate in the industry. I learned a lot, perfected my own techniques, became more confident walking on roofs no matter the pitch or size, clay, asbestos, slate, concrete tile or shingle. It became and still is second nature, the 3 years I worked there I went from assistant tech to spray tech to lead tech to senior tech in less than 12 months. I was awarded tech of the year 3 years consecutively until my departure when that company was whittled down to 4 trucks and 1 location and a very bad reputation, mainly for massacring almost every landscape on almost every job. I say almost because my crew was the only crew that had minimal to no plant damage, zero complaints and no touch ups. I did have a few when I first led a crew and I learned very fast to take my time and take pride in my work. When I started, all the techs there were good workers and in the end it was almost a labor pool. I remember picking up guys at the “Right Hand Man” staffing just so I had a ground guy. It was really sad to see what once was to what is and the man who created it watched it slowly fall apart. BTW on a good note: that guy is still a good and close friend of mine who is still in the industry he just thought outside the box and is now a builder and supplier for the guys who are in the service industry.
The most important lesson and thing I learned there was not what or how to do the work, all that depends on the individuals will to learn and succeed. I learned A LOT of what not to do and who to avoid. I am certain that is why I have not grown Tropical to anymore than 1 truck, it is hard to find good workers. I can and have the call and sales volume and capacity to run 3 or 4 trucks full time from September to Mid June before the Summer doldrums hit and majority of the population is more concerned about having summer fun, taking family vacations and spending time with the kids rather than worry about what the roof or pool deck looks like. Every single summer since I remember has been slow, that is when the cheapskates and low ballers become customer and service provider. The guys who are not the type to lowball bids become lowballers themselves for a little bit to keep income flowing. I KNOW……. I DID IT TOO!!! You have to do what it takes to survive and grow and the same goes for your business. I have not lowballed a job since 2009 or 2010, I don’t have to. My work is so impeccable and perfect every single time, most who get my info from a friend, neighbor, associate, other cleaning company or just see my work hire me regardless of the cost. No, I do not overprice anything ever, I factor in and price everything accordingly. Most of my clients are mine because they are or should I say were gun shy of even the thought of getting their roof cleaned because the last 3 or 4 who did it killed plants and damaged something never to be heard from again after the check has cleared. I admit I have had on very very very rare occasions had damages like a broken water spigot, sprinkler head, accent night lighting, roof tiles, spotting on clothes and furniture etc. The difference they see between me and the other companies is either I have it fixed properly before they even notice or within 1 day depending on what it is. Plants too, I have had 11 plant damages since Jade became Tropical in 2006. Over 9,000 roof cleanings alone not counting all the exteriors, screen enclosure and pool decks, driveway and sidewalks and every other project we have done to 11 plant damage claims. All 11 claims were corrected within 48 hours of the call from the customer, and I don’t pussyfoot around and toss a 2 gallon plant where a 15 gallon plant was and tell you to wait for it to grow. I find the twin or the closest one to it and I plant it properly. I have spent according to quickbooks $1,101.67 since 2006 on plants. The one that added to it that made the number was a topiary right at the corner of the house where the seam had a slow drip that we missed or started leaking after we left. Yep, a 500.00 plant on a 700.00 job. Yep, I found the match that was shaped just like it and I got a discount on it too. 8 Foot tall spiral topiary. It was not my fault but it was my responsibility. The gutter had a bunch of crud sealing the seam where the leak was, our solution slowly broke down that crud and the residual found its way through, dripped and toasted it. Topiaries and Italian Cypress are a roof cleaners worst enemy if they are not experienced or know what to look out for. Covering any plants with tarps, plastic or sheets is absolutely prohibited and forbidden by me and is not recommended what so ever. Remember the things I learned about what not to do? Yeah, that was one of them. I stopped using plastic at that company (they did not know for a while) and that is part of why I never had plant damages. Water is all you need, oh and a good ground guy with a good attitude and work ethic to use it. No fertilizer or neutralizer or any of the hocus pocus crap others may feed you to add to the bill or the sale. So yeah my secret is out of the bag!! But!! Anyone can spray water, very very few can do it the right way, there is just a certain way to do it and no other way and my guys have it down.
So where the question at the header states ” Is it the chemical or human error that damaged the landscape?”
It is always the human error.
I get asked daily from potential clients – ” Can or will your solutions kill my plants and grass?” I always reply with; my solution is the same as all those who clean roofs properly but MY solution isn’t going to hurt anything. They ask why? I tell them we know exactly what we are doing. I say the chemical can in the wrong hands. So it is always human error due to lack of either experience or just plain lack of work ethic.
What to expect from the lowest price from a collection of bids for the most part? Poor quality for sure, some or all plants burned and if they didn’t burn up the yard they burned up the life and warranty on the roof, no response from them when you repeatedly call them with concerns or questions about the damage. Those guys are just cowards and bad for the industry.
I have said it for years and it is actually an old cliché ” YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR” especially in all service trades. You have a cheap plumber, expect leaks and issues. Cheap electrician, expect a fire. Cheap tree guys, expect damages to your property. Cheap used car, it is gonna have issues. Cheap meal, McDs not Seasons 52 and expect a tummy ache or high cholesterol. Cheap car wash, spots missed. Cheap roof cleaners, horrible results and an endless nightmare. It never works to save money by being a cheapskate when it comes to specialty services like some I mentioned above, you’ll spend way more in the end on top of the stress and aggravation. Just pay the median cost after you confirm the one you want to hire is good at what they do (NOT BY GOOGLE REVIEWS) because 95% of the reviews on newbies are fake reviews. But by referrals or references that you get or by credible review sites online. I have had my listing on Google since 2006 and I have had 31 reviews all 5 star and all authentic. I lost 21 of them because Google decided to delete my listing page from not maintaining it for 10 years because I really did not need to update it. I do not advertise I do not need to.
Don’t get burned …….. they are out there and they are good talkers but bad walkers. Remember in every market 90% of them are crooks or pop tarts. I say pop tarts or pop starts because they get in and get out quick. They didn’t factor in all the other things that are involved in roof cleaning, poor guys thought it was a spray, collect money and go. There are 100 more steps than that, and too many different scenarios for every job that the 5% like me only know.
Thanks for reading, and remember… it’s never the chemicals fault.
AND DO NOT EVER LET THIS (see below) HAPPEN TO YOUR PLANTS OR TO YOUR ROOF! The yellow buffer looking thing you see is for non painted flat surfaces like driveway and sidewalks, not roofs. The plastic over the plants is now an oven cooking the plants while the roof is being cleaned, you cannot water, keep cool and hydrate plants that are suffocating under a tarp or plastic sheets.