Up the Flue: Starting a Chimney Sweep Business

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Starting a Chimney Sweep Business Business Overview:

Once you’ve learned how to become a chimney sweep, starting a chimney sweep business is a great way to help your community by offering a valuable service. Even if a fireplace isn’t used very much, the National Fire Protection Association recommends an inspection about once a year to ensure it is free from debris and is structurally sound. The same is true for woodstoves. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that standard masonry chimneys be cleaned at 1/8 inch of soot buildup. It’s hard to tell how much soot has built up in a chimney just by looking which is why a chimney sweep business is one of the most important business ideas you can consider. Although not mandatory, chimney sweep certification is available and would put you head and shoulders above the competition. If you are not able to become certified yourself but you do see the value in having these credentials, you can hire certified chimney sweepers to work for you. Once you are certified—or you have your staff in place—you’ll need to purchase tools to get the job done. Some basics you’ll need include brushes, rods, a vacuum and tarps to cover clients’ furniture and carpet. You’ll also need a truck or van to transport your equipment and protective clothing for you and/or your staff. You don’t need to have a storefront for your business, but you do need to have a nice website that explains your services and lists your prices. Be sure to include safety recommendations and outline why it’s so important to have a clean chimney. The more aware potential customers are of how essential these services are, the more likely they are to use your services. Another important piece of your marketing is to create business cards and fliers to leave around town. Home improvement stores and fireplace stores are excellent places to advertise your business. Chimneys can be swept any time of year but you’re likely to be busier in the fall and winter when people start using their fireplaces and woodstoves. Since you won’t be as busy at certain times of the year, it’s a good opportunity to market your business. Offer “early bird” specials to get customers before the busy season kicks off. To fill in the gaps in your schedule and to attract more clients, you can offer additional home services like carpet or roof cleaning. You can also offer related items such as chimney pots, chimney caps and chimney guards. As word spreads about your business, you are likely get a lot of referral and repeat business. You will likely need to add to your fleet of trucks and hire more staff to handle the demand.

A Day in the Life of a Chimney Sweep Business Owner:

This article brought to you by Business Ideas! If you enjoyed this article, make sure to subscribe to the Business Ideas Newsletter to get ideas sent straight to your email inbox.Your day will start with a check of any appointments you may have. You or your staff will travel to the client’s home or business and clean the chimney(s) (or other services offered such as cleaning the roof). You will give the client some business cards so he can spread the word about the excellent service you provided. If you don’t have any appointments, you will concentrate on marketing your business. You will need to employ several types of marketing including making your vehicle a moving billboard (with magnetic signage), advertising in the phone book and newspapers and leaving marketing materials in various places around town.

About Your Customers:

Your customers will be homeowners, property managers or business owners needing high quality chimney sweep services.

What You Need to Start:

  • Chimney sweep business plan
  • Marketing plan and materials
  • Website
  • Certification or certified staff (optional)
  • Tools and equipment
  • Van or truck
  • License and insurance
  • Computer with finance software

The Good:

  • Chimney sweep services are needed by everyone with a chimney and the demand will never decrease.
  • The start-up costs are relatively low.
  • Once you have the equipment, there is very little overhead.
  • You can easily operate this business part-time.
  • Franchises are available to help you get started.

The Bad:

  • This is a seasonal business so you will need to plan for the slow months.
  • It can take time to obtain certification or to find qualified certified chimney sweeps.


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