How to start a cleaning business

How to Start a Cleaning Business

August 21st, 2012   •   No Comments   

The cleaning business is full of opportunity, especially on the small business front. It’s a great business to get into if you want to start something small with limited funding. From there you can choose to keep the business small or you can expand to a much larger full scale company. This business can be full of challenges, but the rewards are definitely worth it. Let me go ahead and say it now though, starting your own business is not for the faint of heart.  While there is a sense of freedom in doing your own thing, there is a huge amount of responsibility to go along with that freedom.  Retaining clients, working with employees, running payroll, maintaining cashflow and even cleaning a toilet or two are just a few of the hats you will find yourself wearing, especially in the beginning.  Running every facet of your business will keep you on your toes, but if you are still reading this, it must mean you are still interested. So here is how you too can start a cleaning business:

  1. Research. Do your research. The cleaning industry is extremely competitive and requires some crazy working hours. Research every aspect of the business including, how to clean an office or home, because I guarantee you will be doing it at some point. Also look into how you bid for a space, how to treat your clients, basic accounting skills and the list can go on.
  2. Commercial vs. Consumer. Decide if your cleaning business will be geared toward the commercial or the consumer arena. Both are great businesses to get into and you can do both if you want. You do need to know the difference though. A commercial business is geared more toward providing janitorial or porter services to businesses. The consumer side is geared toward residential cleaning or housekeeping services. Both are great businesses to get into but you do need to decide what services you will offer while you’re ramping up.
  3. Independent Operation vs. Franchise. Decide if you would like to operate independently or if you would like to be a part of  franchise. There are definitely some pros and cons to both. There is no right or wrong choice, but depending on your personal character traits and your financial status, there may very well be a decision that is more suitable to you and your business goals. If you do decide to go with a franchise, make sure it is a reputable one with a clean legal history and a track record of success.
  4. Business Plan. Create a business plan. If this sounds way too corporate for you, just remember it doesn’t have to be. It can be a very simple plan but you need a plan nonetheless. You can’t create a business without a plan in place. Not sure where to start? Check out Score. They are a business counseling/mentoring organization and they are setup to help small businesses by provide free counseling, resources and advice to people who are in business or want to start a business. They have a ton of free tools on their website so bookmark their site. I cannot stress enough how important this is for you as a new business owner. The final product may not be worth much to you but the process of creating and researching your business plan is where the real value lies. Now the creation of the business plan does take some time but I promise it will keep you from making monumental mistakes in the future.
  5. Register the Business. Register your business which includes registering your name, and obtaining a Federal and State Tax ID. This is sure to make you feel more official!
  6. Insurance & Bonding. You need to be fully insured and bonded. This is extremely important in the cleaning industry because it provides clients with a way to collect reparation in case an employee decides to steal from a client. When large clients are requesting cleaning bids, this is one of the first question you as a business owner will be asked. It is very inexpensive and total worth it.   Check out this blog post about how surety bonds affect the janitorial industry. And one other thing, if you are going to hire employees, you will need to have workers comp insurance as well.
  7. Dirty Work. Be willing and able to get your hands dirty, and I mean this very literally. I can guarantee in the beginning you will find yourself in a situation where you will be the only backup to clean a facility where you had a no show.
  8. Customer Service. Remember this is a service industry, so you HAVE to be service oriented. Your number one goal needs to be to please your client. This means, getting back to them as soon as possible, paying attention to every last detail, following up when you say you will and building relationships with them.
  9. Marketing. Create a Website. It shows clients that you are serious about your business and allows them to research your company in their own time. There are very inexpensive ways to do this. WordPress, which is what we use, has some great free template options and they make editing your site extremely simple. You will also need to purchase a domain name and a monthly hosting service. Try Host Gator for these services. Once your website is up, go ahead and order business cards. You will need them when networking or when visiting with potential clients. Check out VistaPrint for some inexpensive cards to get you started.
  10. Cost of Service. Decide what you are going to charge for your services. Be sure not to underbid for your services. You don’t necessarily want to be the least expensive company on the block, even to attract new clients. Here’s the thing, at some point, you hope your company will grow so that you will not have to be the one cleaning the space. So once you start paying an employee to clean the space, you need to factor in your profit into your bid. Keep that in mind when bidding for those initial clients.

Before you decide to start your cleaning business, make sure this kind of work is right for you. Starting your own business takes a lot of effort, dedication and patience and in the cleaning business you need to be in good physical condition.  You will need to have good client relation skills, basic office skills and some accounting skills as well. If you are planning to leaving your full time position to start a cleaning business, make sure you have at least six months of savings. Or it’s totally doable to keep your full time job and start out part time. Remember, you don’t start making money overnight, but the potential can be worth it.

So  you’ve read this post and now you’re wondering what you need to start your company?  Check out “What should you purchase to start a cleaning company“. And please take the time to let me know if this information is helpful.

 

 

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