When Michael Zuniga, Owner and Operator of Florida Custom Soft Wash, moved from Michigan to Citrus County in 2002, he continued his career as a Ford Master Service Technician, but also launched a side business. Identifying an opportunity to meet local demand, Zuniga started Florida Custom Lawn Care. Six years later, he got the itch to start a second business. Zuniga shared the story behind his new journey and what his plans are for the future.
"It all started at a campground," he said. "I met a guy who was down from Green Bay, WI, with his family for four months. They were in the next site over from us. I learned that he cleaned roofs for a living. We talked for a while and he seemed to think that his business would do really well in Citrus County. In the past, I often saw subpar pressure washing companies and thought that I could definitely do a better job."
The business that Zuniga learned about was much more than just your typical pressure washing business. The business specializes in a "soft" washing technique using water-based, biodegradable chemicals to remove dirt and grime, break down bugs nests and webs as well as kill mold, mildew, and bacteria. Other benefits are that soft washing uses only one third the water of pressure washing and the results last four to six times longer. Zuniga didn't hesitate to pursue this new business.
"I reached out to SoftWash Systems right away," he said. "SoftWash is the company that supplies chemicals and equipment and provides training to guys like me. You go through them to become a Certified Applicator and eventually an Authorized Professional. The process starts with a discovery session followed by a week long class where you learn everything you need to know about the business. You then do a five day course prior to becoming certified."
Since launching Florida Custom Soft Wash in August 2018, Zuniga has reached the "Authorized Professional" status through SoftWash Systems. This designation allows him to offer a five year warranty on all roof cleanings, an added benefit most independent soft wash companies aren't willing to provide.
With a service area that includes Citrus, Hernando and Marion Counties, Zuniga provides roof and exterior cleaning for homeowners and businesses. He safely clean all roofs, sidings, stucco, pavers, pool cages, gutters, driveways using low pressure combined with biodegradable water based chemicals.
"We set the gold standard for service professionals," Zuniga said. "We offer a nationwide 5 year limited spot free warranty on all our roof cleanings. We use only water based and biodegradable chemicals, we do not use pressure washers. We can also clean most roofs without walking on them. The look on my customer's face when we do the post walk around and they cannot believe how clean their home looks is what I enjoy most."
Looking ahead, Zuniga's goal is to grow his business to where he can move from owner/operator to owner/manager and spend more time working on his business instead of in it. He'll eventually get to a point where he's operating multiple trucks and multiple employees with the majority of his time spent on managing the operational side of the business.
What advice does Zuniga have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Network with like minded professionals that can point you in the right direction based on their experiences."