How to Start a Cleaning Business

September 28, 2020

There has never been a bad time to start a cleaning business. Starting this type of small business is within your reach if you do your research and put together a good and realistic business plan.

The good news about cleaning businesses is that they are always necessary and will always provide a steady living for people willing to work hard and provide excellent service.

So, with that being said, let’s get into the steps on how to start your own cleaning business!

Conduct Competitive Research

Once you have decided to move forward with your plans of starting a residential or commercial cleaning business, then it is time to conduct your competitive research to decide the following:

  • Who exactly is your target audience?
  • Do you want to focus on residential or commercial cleaning?
  • Will you charge for a premium service or will you charge more competitively?
  • Would you like to start your own cleaning business independently or would you want to pay for a franchise and work with a proven formula that is already established?
  • Do you plan on having a small team including yourself, or would you like to grow a team in which you handle more of the management and operations?

These are questions that you should think about thoroughly, however if you are uncertain about some, don’t let it stop your progress. These types of items can evolve as you learn more about your personal wants and needs.

A note on franchises; there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Depending on your personality and how comfortable you are taking orders from franchise others, joining a franchise may be a dream come true or might add too much friction.

Another big decision mentioned above is whether you want to start a residential cleaning business or a commercial cleaning business. It can be easier to start a residential business since you can tap into your network and get started with friends and family members. Residential cleaners can typically get started with minimal equipment, often using the same equipment and household cleaning products they use in their own home as a way to keep costs low in the beginning.

While there are niches that fall into each of these two major categories, deciding on whether you want to cater to individual consumers or businesses is a good place to start. By assessing your natural network, it is easier to determine where your natural contacts are and who might be likely to give you a try so that you can launch your new business.

Your research should also include obtaining information about pricing in your area and pay rates for employees. Not every cleaning business hires other cleaners, but in order to grow your business and gain independence, you typically need to hire some help to move to the next level.

Decide Your Niche

As you decide on your niche, it is a good idea to write down your personal and business goals to help you make this important decision. For example, if you want to be home in time to greet your children when they return from school, you should factor that preference into the equation.

If you’re a night owl and don’t like to get up early in the morning, commercial cleaning might be a better choice for you. Many commercial cleaners start working after their client’s employees leave work around 5 or 6pm. Commercial cleaning is perfect for night owls who like to sleep in without setting an alarm clock.

One of the most attractive benefits of owning a cleaning business is that it is easy to get regular customers or clients that will pay you recurring income. Being able to count on monthly or weekly income takes a lot of the stress out of being a business owner and helps your cashflow become more steady.

Additionally, there are other niche markets you might consider. You can specialize in cleaning AirBnbs, construction sites, large corporate buildings, apartment complexes, residential homes and more.

As you decide on the niche that suits you, just keep in mind that every type of business has its pros and cons. Some types of cleaning pay much better, but force you to always be looking for your next project. This uncertainty may be nerve-wracking for many entrepreneurs. Other cleaning companies earn less money, but they enjoy steady business with loyal clients that use them regularly.

Plan a Budget to Determine the Amount of Startup Funds Needed

Writing down a startup budget is very important so that you know how much capital you need to get started.

An obvious choice for new business owners is to use personal savings to buy the equipment needed, and we mentioned earlier, the cost of purchasing your equipment is not nearly as expensive as other businesses, especially when you use economical cleaning products.

To recap, the good news about most cleaning businesses is that the equipment is not typically pricey, unless you are working in a niche that requires highly-specialized tools.

Make It Legal

Before you collect your first cleaning fee, you must be set up as a business entity. You can call a CPA or accountant to get some basic advice about establishing your business to make it legal.

Using a service such as LegalZoom is a great way to easily and quickly get set up legally with your LLC.

As soon as you start collecting fees, you’ll need to begin paying taxes and keeping records.

You can set up your business as a sole proprietor, a partnership, a LLC or a corporation (there are more types, but these are the most common). There are advantages and drawbacks to each.

Depending on your unique set of circumstances, you can decide which works best for you. There is not one right answer that suits everybody.

Establish Your Prices and Identify Your Competitive Edge

Part of your market research must include checking out your competition. Deciding on your competitive edge is key for marketing purposes and to differentiate your company from the competition.

When a prospective new customer asks you why he or she should hire you, you must be able to answer him with confidence and clarity.

Your ability to sell your service as the best choice will dramatically impact your level of success.

Establishing what makes your service unique also allows you to price your services more accurately, whether your pricing is more affordable or more premium.

As an idea, you can offer discounted first-time trials, savings on signing up for a 6 month weekly cleaning agreement, or more!

Finding Your Clients

Depending on the cleaning niche you decide on, there are different marketing strategies that work well.

As mentioned above, one of the best ways to get new business is to provide a one-time, Thank You discount to customers who refer their friends and peers. Since trust is a big factor in the cleaning business, referrals are a natural way to get business, especially in residential cleaning.

Networking is also a proven way to promote any business. Commercial cleaning business owners must find a way to offer their services to other business owners. Networking with other business owners at the Chamber of Commerce and other association meetings is a good way to attract new clients.

Digital marketing is also a good way to get your name in front of prospective clients. That could include Facebook marketing, SEO marketing and many other options. Since people spend so much time online, digital marketing is becoming a very efficient way to promote a new business.

The Takeaway

Cleaning businesses represent a stable and promising business opportunity. Even during bad economies, people and businesses need cleaners and janitors.

By doing your homework and carving out a competitive position for your business, you can start your new cleaning business without a huge monetary investment and a lot of upside potential.

Good luck with your business endeavour and if you are wondering which cleaning product to use for your clients, be sure to check out our commercial cleaning discounts on our True All Purpose Cleaner Concentrate!