Do you dream of becoming an entrepreneur, owning your own business?Have you ever considered cleaning services as an option? If not, you really should give it a thought. It may not be the most glamorous option out there, but there is a lot of scope in this field.
Read on to learn more about starting a cleaning service business.
Major things needed to start a cleaning business
There are numerous business opportunities out there. Why would you want to go for one that involves getting your hands dirty? This is the million dollar question. Well, to be clear, despite the icky factor associated with cleaning, it is a potentially lucrative field.
The primary focus of any business is, of course, the profit angle. And just think about the potential demand. For a business to succeed, there has to be stable and sustained demand for its product or service.
Other products and services can go out of fashion. Hygiene and cleanliness will always be important, for homes as well as businesses. Just because it is Here are some other factors that make cleaning business potentially lucrative:
Requires less capital
This is one of the main reasons why cleaning business is so lucrative and attractive. Other products and services come with huge equipment and overhead costs. Cleaning business only requires basic cleaning equipment if you plan to start small. We are of course talking about small-scale domestic cleaning services.
Excellent part-time option
When it comes to home cleaning, most clients prefer to have the services delivered when they are present in their homes. This usually means that peak demand is often during weekends. If you already have another regular week job, you can still serve this particular demographic of customers.
Less space requirement
The site of delivery of cleaning services is in the client’s home or business premises. They will not have to visit your office or anything. So you don't have to maintain a full-fledged and expensive office space anywhere.
You can make do with a compact space somewhere really cheap and affordable. All that is required is a space to keep all your equipment.
Less hard work
When you own your business, you are the boss. This does not mean you can laze around of course! But still, the perks of being a boss are undeniable.
You can keep the managerial job, taking care of the accounts, customer handling, and organizing services. The manual side of things can be left to the employees.
What are the opportunities for cleaning business?
Most often, cleaning business is identified as a part-time option. This is a widespread misconception. It can be a gratifying full-time business as well. All you need is some long-term vision and planning.
Here are some examples:
- Pool cleaning
- Commercial workspace cleaning
- Specialized domestic cleaning (like carpets)
- Duct cleaning
4 Challenges to the cleaning business
Every business endeavor comes with its own set of unique challenges and risks. And despite its relatively easy entry point, cleaning business also has its fair share of risks and challenges. Here are some common factors you will have to handle when starting a cleaning business:
1. A sudden increase in responsibility
This is a challenge that is common for all new businesses. To grow your business, you will have to focus on multiple aspects. These include growing your client base, finding staff, and delivering a quality service. You will have to keep multiple parties happy while trying to keep yourself in the green. It is not easy.
2. Competition in the market
If something is this easy to get into, the chances are high that other folks have also had the same idea as you. The cleaning service market is pretty crowded. The onus is on you to figure out how to stand out in this crowd. You will have to think outside the box and come up with innovative services or features.
3. Non-paying clients
This is not unique to the cleaning business. In every economic endeavor in this world, you will always find cheapskates and a lousy customer who try to cheat you out of your hard earned dollar. They can seriously hamper your business growth if you are not careful.
4. Not having a proper backup
Availability of skilled labor is always an issue in the cleaning business. You will inevitably face situations where you have clients to serve, but no competent employees to handle the workload.
This is a risk that goes with the business environment of cleaning services. Always try to keep a backup ready and waiting to face such emergencies.
13 Step by step guide for starting the business
Never jump into an unknown pool with both feet. Always remember to test the waters using your toes initially. Rash steps can be fatal in any industry. And the cleaning business is no different.
You will need proper and careful planning and preparation to survive the crucial early days. Here are some useful tips.
1. Research the market
Identify the opportunities and challenges in your chosen market area. This will help you plan. Try to gather as much information as possible as part of your market research. Check out the competition.
Figure out their pricing strategies, and find out the neighborhoods they serve. Use private surveys to find out about your potential customers.
2. Creation of a Business Plan
This is a vital document for your budding business. It should summarize everything important about the business, including your plan of action to start the company and make it grow. Mention how you are going to attract new customers.
The kind of marketing and advertising strategies you are planning to use, your services, and pricing - they all matter. Also, include all financial information. You can use the business plans to get banks to lend you money.
3. Naming of Your Company
This is one area you should never ignore or neglect. Name of a company is significant as it can influence the potential customers. Try to find a name that is catchy, something that will resonate in the mind of your clients. It should plant in their minds a positive image of the kind of services you plan to offer.
4. Form a Business Entity
As a single business owner, you can always opt for a simple sole proprietorship format for your business entity. But always check with a local tax expert and lawyer before taking this decision. In some areas, it might be better to form a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or corporation. You might be eligible for some handy tax breaks or concessions.
5. Decide on Your Target Market
Once you have done your market research, you can pick your target market based on the information you gained. It is critical to making an informed choice. Do not choose an area purely for sentimental or other arbitrary reasons. If possible, do market research in multiple neighborhoods to figure out the best option for your business.
6. Open a Business Bank Account
This is something you have to complete before opening your company for business. A business is a separate legal entity. You cannot mix your personal finance with business finances. So you will need to have a separate business account.
You can get a new checking account for your cleaning business in most local banks and credit unions. You can get separate checks, credit and debit cards for your business use.
7. Obtain any Necessary Business Licenses
Cleaning service is also regulated mainly by local laws and regulations. You will need the requisite licensing before you are eligible to deliver such services to the public. At the very least, you will need a vendor’s license to get everything up and running and start collecting sales tax from your clients.
Check your county clerk’s office or administration office for more information and application forms.
8. Apply for Insurance Coverage
Some kind of liability insurance is probably mandatory if you want to run your business legally. This will be protective cover in case you or an employee get injured at a client residence. The same will cover any accidental damage to the client premises.
A bond maybe another regulatory requirement to run a business of this nature. Check with some insurance agents to get a good idea about the costs.
9. Hire an Accountant
Every business needs a proper accountant to keep track of tax requirements. Work with a CPA or tax accountant as soon as you start your business. This will help you file your returns in time. You can also ask them any doubts you may have regarding business tax laws.
10. Obtain Necessary Business Forms
Paperwork is unavoidable when it comes to business. You will need forms for your clients. They will have to specify the kind of services they require from your company.
Price estimates, invoice forms, survey forms, breakage rep[orts, these are just some of the forms a cleaning service business needs. And you should ideally have your company name and logo on all such forms for a more professional look.
11. Start Marketing and Promoting Your Business
In business, you cannot survive without marketing of some sort. This especially vital as a young, relatively unknown business. Unless your potential clients are aware of your existence, how can they contact you and get you revenue?
Use coupons, neighborhood promo drives, flyers, and commercials on local radio to get things started.
12. Who is Your Ideal Target Customer?
When you start an ad campaign, make sure that it is targeting the right kind of customers. If you want to serve all the condos in a particular neighborhood, make sure that condo owners are targeted as part of your ad campaign somehow. Targeted ads are more likely to deliver new clients.
13. What Equipment Will You Need?
Of course, without the right kind of equipment, you cannot run a proper cleaning service. These are the basic minimum equipment you should be owning:
Is a Franchise or Starting a Business From Scratch Better for You?
This is a major decision. And it is a very difficult one. Do you want to start out on your own, or buy into an already existing franchise? Both options come with advantages and downsides. A franchise can have the following benefits.
You are buying into an already existing business. So much of the hard work has already been done for you. There is less steep a learning curve here. You can just follow an already established business plan to get things started without any trouble.
High Brand Awareness
Franchises tend to be well established and well-known names in the business. You don't have to worry about brand marketing. Clients probably know the company name and are willing to trust you.
Advertising and Marketing
Bigger franchises have the financial clout to run massive campaigns, often at the national level. When you buy into the franchise, you also get the benefit of these campaigns.
The residential cleaning business does not require much training. But many franchises will nevertheless offer focused training to newbies in some crucial aspects of the business. They will also take the burden of training your employees.
As a part of a franchise, you are no longer alone. This is the polar opposite of being a sole proprietor, were running a business can feel like a solo uphill struggle at times. As part of a large franchise, you get a whole set of contacts who are around to support you all along the way.
But it is not all a path filled with roses when you join a franchise. It also has some notable drawbacks:
Expenses & Fees
There is a price to pay for all that support, training and other “freebies.” There will be an upfront payment, along with ongoing fees from your profits.
You have far less control in a franchise than as a small business owner. You are not completely free to call your shots regarding the business. There are rules and regulations to be followed, and you will have to sign a binding agreement.
You don't have much say or ownership when it comes to your business location. Everything is usually in the name of the franchise company. This includes the building and the office real estate in most situations. Any equity you create there will not reside with you.
House Cleaning Supplies Checklist
It is important to create a checklist of all the equipment you need when you start the cleaning service business. The shortlist provided in a section above is not an exhaustive list by any means. Do some comprehensive research to figure out exactly what you need. Thankfully, most of the equipment can be bought at your local Home Depot or Lowes.
House Cleaning Checklist
Once you have the supplies and equipment, you need to outline the main areas you will clean for your clients. Make a checklist for this as well. You can get a good idea of what to include in the checklist by looking at the services offered by the competition in your area. Create an excel spreadsheet. This can be useful for your clients to understand and decide which services they need.
What Types of Services Will You Offer?
House Cleaning & Maid Services
This usually involves three standard services: regular, deluxe, and move in/out cleaning. Some of these are one time services, while others are recurring services.
Small Office Cleaning Services
You can also include small offices as part of your house cleaning services package. The main difference between home and office cleaning is the work hours. Home clients typically want services in the daytime, while offices may seek after-work hours. Office clients may also need you to polish the floors.
Commercial Cleaning Services
This is a different beast. It is larger and more complicated than a home and small office cleaning business. You will need more equipment and a bigger crew. The hours are also typically late, with night services more common.
Commercial cleaning also includes a rather different skill set, involving more of polishing and buffing.
Post Construction Cleanup
This is more of a niche specialty service. It has different cleaning methods and services on offer. It is often similar to home cleaning, but you will be working in brand new residential units, with a lot of construction debris and drywall dust. Your clients will be contractors, not families or homeowners.
How to Charge for Your Services?
How to Charge for House Cleaning?
For that, you have first to figure out your pricing policy. Fior a rough estimate, check the competition in your market. Look at your workforce and the labor costs. Then estimate the time taken by the employees to complete each task. Use that hourly charge to arrive at a coherent pricing policy.
How to Charge for Commercial Cleaning?
In commercial cleaning also you have to figure out your hourly rates. But you also have to factor in the number of square feet you will be handling. Larger offices also need different input costs. So it is not identical to home cleaning service pricing.
How to Give Estimates or Bids?
How to Give House Cleaning Estimates?
If you have to give estimates, you need to know all the factors that go into creating the pricing as well. If you know how long your employees are going to take to finish a particular project, you can easily give your clients a rough estimate.
If you are at the site, you can take the guesswork out of the equation. But if you are giving estimates online or over the phone, have a checklist or pricing sheet ready to get all the relevant info needed to arrive at a reliable figure.
How to Give Commercial Cleaning Bids?
This process is largely similar to giving residential estimates. Along with work hours, factor in your production rates. This is the number of square feet you can complete in an hour. Commercial bids are a bit more complicated than residential bids due the larger scale and scope.
That brings us to the end of this beginners guide to starting a cleaning service business. This guide covers all the basic steps for the things needed to start a cleaning business. As you may have no doubt noticed, it is not an easy task.
But if you do your homework, the rewards can be considerable indeed. There are plenty of online resources aimed at assisting new entrepreneurs. Make full use of these to get your business up and running.
All the best!