How to Start a Cleaning Business | Here’s Everything You Need to Know
Many of us dream of starting our own businesses, but we’re unsure of how to get started. Owning your own business is ideal for so many reasons—namely, the fact that you have control of your own schedule, income, and life.
When you’re an entrepreneur, you can create not just a job but a lifestyle that works for you. It’s a great way to discover that elusive sense of work-life balance and, with hard work and determination, your business can potentially experience unlimited growth.
When you launch your business, you get to determine how things are done and maintain a sense of autonomy. As your business grows, your life will change.
With an understanding of all the benefits of being a business owner, you may be trying to decide which industry is best for you.
Perhaps one of the best ways to become an entrepreneur is to start a cleaning business.
Cleaning businesses are a great place to start for new entrepreneurs, and they have excellent growth potential. We created this guide to not just show you why starting a cleaning business is a good idea but also the process of how to start a cleaning business. While other business options may include starting a carpet cleaning business or commercial cleaning business, our focus in this guide is really on how to start a house cleaning business.
The Advantages of Starting a Cleaning Business
As part of this guide, we wanted to put together a few of the primary advantages that come with the exciting decision of starting your own cleaning business.
Low Start-Up Costs
Many people are reluctant or unable to start their own businesses because industries come with high startup costs. However, starting a cleaning business can actually be quite inexpensive to launch.
When you’re first starting out, all you really need are your cleaning supplies and a reliable form of transportation. You’re not going to find too many other business options that are less expensive in terms of startup costs.
Fast ROI (Return on Investment)
Often, when you create and launch a new business, it can be months or even years before you start seeing a return on your investment. However, this isn’t the case with cleaning. As soon as you begin taking on jobs, you’ll be able to start earning.
This gives you immediate money to invest back into your business, which can help you grow much more quickly than you might in other industries. You’ll also earn money every time you work, which can prove to be good motivation and help you cover any expenses quickly while enjoying a faster profit.
A cleaning business is inherently more flexible than most other types of businesses or industries. You can select not only the clients you want to work for but also the hours you want to work.
Most clients will prefer that you work during normal business hours to accommodate their schedules; therefore, you won’t have to worry about working odd hours or during times you’d otherwise be spending with your family.
These are just three of the many advantages of jumping into this type of business, but how do you go from having an idea or an initial concept to turning it into a viable company?
How to Start a Cleaning Business
Planning Your Business
Before you start delving into the deeper logistics of how to start your own cleaning business, you need to first begin with the basics.
First, decide what type of cleaning business you want to start.
One of the most popular options is a simple house cleaning business. In this model, you work for individual clients and families who want someone to come to their home, usually on a regular schedule and clean either their entire house or perhaps just a few areas.
When you first start a house cleaning business, it’s easy to work on your own, and it can be simpler to build clients simply through word of mouth and inexpensive forms of advertising.
Two other options include starting a carpet cleaning business or commercial cleaning operation. While these can certainly be worthwhile opportunities, they’re not always best for someone who’s new to the industry since they can require specialized skills or training, and you may have to invest more in the initial startup costs of your business to cover the cost of equipment or things like insurance.
For this guide, rather than focusing our attention on how to start a commercial cleaning business or carpet cleaning operation, we’ll instead focus primarily on the house cleaning model of business since this is often the best starting point for beginning business owners.
To begin, ask yourself a few questions:
Are you reliable and a self-starter?
Although learning how to start a house cleaning business doesn’t require a lot of money or equipment, you do need to have some personality traits if you want to be successful.
You won’t have a boss staring over your shoulder throughout the day, making sure work is being completed, which is why you need to be self-motivated so your clients can depend on you.
Do you have experience cleaning?
Cleaning isn’t a technical profession, but it does require attention to detail and an attitude that allows you to tackle challenges other people might not be comfortable with.
If you’re worried about your ability to spot even the smallest of details, you may consider using a professional cleaning checklist as part of your routine – at least until you have some experience under your belt.
What are your administrative skills like?
Along with cleaning, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of the administrative tasks that go into operating a business. For example, will you work as a contractor, meaning you’ll file 1099s when you file taxes, or will you register your business as an LLC?
There are tax benefits and downsides to each of these options, so you’ll need to explore them and determine which option will work best for you. You’ll also need to keep track of payments, appointments, and client preferences to run your business smoothly.
You may consider investing in basic software or a mobile app option that will allow you to streamline this and ensure you’re organized so you don’t miss appointments.
How will customers pay you?
You may also want to look into an easy way to collect payments. Of course, there is the old-fashioned method of accepting cash or checks, but, to make things easier for everyone, you may want to look into something like Square, which will allow you to accept card payments on your phone or tablet.
How will you find new business?
Perhaps you already have a cleaning client, but you want to expand your business. In this case, you could ask your client to start spreading the word about your services. If you’re starting from scratch, using a site like Angie’s List can be a great place to begin.
Starting a Cleaning Business
You can create a profile that will connect you with potential clients in your area. Once you establish a few regular clients, you’ll find it’s easier to grow your business. If your quality of work is good, you’ll likely start receiving more estimate requests than the number of clients you can take on.
Will you have employees?
When you’re just learning how to start a cleaning business, you may find it’s best to work alone. This will give you the opportunity to earn capital to put into your business and start establishing a regular client base.
It’s also simpler to work alone when it comes to taxes and other administrative and regulatory issues. Once your business grows, you can start considering taking on employees and creating cleaning teams.
One important option to consider, when researching how to start your own cleaning business, is whether or not you should invest in a franchise operation.
A franchise means you’ll be operating under the umbrella of a larger corporation that sells local businesses to operators in various areas.
The advantages of a franchise include the ability to use the already established name of the franchise. You’ll be risking less when you’re part of a proven system of cleaning companies, and many of these franchise opportunities include marketing and advertising as part of the package.
With that being said, there are also disadvantages to starting a cleaning business as part of a franchise. The first is that it requires quite a bit more in upfront costs. If you’re looking for a low-cost option for starting a business, this is probably not the best route. Also, when you’re operating as part of a franchise, you’re required to follow certain guidelines, resulting in the loss of quite a bit of flexibility, which may very well have been part of the initial allure of learning how to start a cleaning business in the first place.
Pricing is an important aspect of growing any business, and this, of course, holds true of starting your own cleaning business.
It’s a good idea to establish a pricing model before you begin meeting with potential clients so you’ll have a baseline. This isn’t to say you can offer some level of flexibility in your pricing.
However, particularly as you’re just starting out, you do want to build consistent, reliable clients. This may require some level of discount in your pricing, but always know the lowest level you’re willing to go to so that you don’t end up selling yourself short or wasting time.
To determine a good pricing baseline, start by looking at your competition. Call other local cleaning services to get their rates, ensuring you’re remaining competitive with the market value.
It’s really about finding the right balance when you’re looking at how to start a cleaning business.
If your prices are too low, you’re devaluing your time and work, and it may be difficult to raise your prices over time. If your prices are too high, potential customers are going to feel as if they could do the work themselves or find someone who’s less expensive.
The following is recommendations to be included in your pricing model:
- Your labor, or if you have employees, their labor. You need to estimate an hourly wage for yourself that you’re comfortable with. Think about how much effort or input is required, and then find an hourly number that’s going to be adequate in your mind and in line with the rest of the market.
- Materials will include the cost of cleaning supplies if you bring them with you as well as things like paper towels, laundry costs for cleaning your materials, and service and upkeep required for things like vacuum cleaning and electric mops. You’ll also need to factor in your transportation costs here.
- Overhead may be small to begin with, particularly if you’re working independently when you first start a cleaning business, but even when you’re first starting out, you may want to factor in future overhead costs, such as what it would cost to rent an office space or hire additional employees.
- You certainly don’t want to forget about your profit, which is the difference between operating costs for providing customers with service and what you’re charging them.
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One of the most important considerations of launching any new business is how you build relationships with your clients. When you look at some of the most successful companies in any industry or niche, they’re often the ones that have invested heavily in customer service.
Before you start your cleaning business, you should already be planning to provide the very best in customer service.
Once you begin advertising your service, ensure that you always respond promptly to any inquiries or estimate requests, even if you’re not able to take on the job.
You should also have a customer satisfaction outline in place, in which you first meet with clients to gauge their needs and take a tour of their home. You should then also have a checklist for the cleaning process, which can be customized to each customer’s needs.
You can then ask for feedback after each cleaning to help you hone your skills and cultivate a stronger business. Always ask your clients how your quality of work was, and have policies in place that determine how you’ll handle dissatisfaction or customers who request that you redo certain areas of a cleaning job.
Creating a Brand and Image
An important aspect of learning how to start your own cleaning business pertains to the type of image you hope to cultivate. You want to convey a sense of competence and professionalism from the start. Consider the following factors:
- What does your vehicle look like? You need a reliable form of transportation to get to jobs, so even if you don’t have the nicest or newest vehicle, you should make sure that it’s always clean and well-maintained to portray a positive image to your new cleaning business clients.
- Will you have printed marketing materials and collateral? This may include not only advertising information but more detailed information about your services and prices as well as what the services include. You can also print inexpensive business cards and billing statements to evoke more of a sense of professionalism.
- What type of uniform or clothing will you wear when you’re working? You want to wear something that looks put together and professional but that is also easy to clean in. Uniforms become more important when you hire potential employees since you want everyone to look like they’re part of your organization, and you won’t have to worry about regulating the individual outfits of your workers.
- You may need to consider insurance, particularly as you take on employees. Clients tend to respond more favorably to businesses that have things like liability insurance and bonding for their employees. This will boost your credibility and help you create a more professional image. This can cost more to you upfront, but when you have these things, they can also help you build a larger and higher quality client base so that you can also charge higher fees.
- You may also need to obtain some licensing. Check on your state and local regulations to see if you’ll need a license to start a cleaning business.
- Are you going to create a website? These days, it’s very simple and inexpensive to start a website that advertises your house cleaning business, and it can be an excellent marketing tool. Your website will not only help you find new customers but can also professionalize your image, and it’s often the first place potential new clients look at in their search.
- Will you encourage customers to leave reviews on sites like Yelp and Google? If so, set up profiles on these sites and, after every cleaning with a satisfied customer, follow up and encourage him/her to review the service received.
Final Notes on How to Start a Cleaning Business
Whether you’re in the very first stages of researching how to start your own cleaning business or you’ve decided with certainty it’s the right path for you, the above tips and guidelines give you an excellent base to start from. With some hard work, a self-starting entrepreneurial spirit, and a bit of creativity, you can launch a cleaning business that has the potential to grow and expand over time while providing you with profitability and flexibility.
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