If you're looking to start your own business, you might consider learning how to start a cleaning business. You already know how to clean. Many people are busy these days and don't have the time or the energy to clean but still enjoy a clean house. You could fulfill that need. Starting a cleaning business is a relatively low-cost way to become an entrepreneur. So, how to start a cleaning business?

Creating Your Business Plan


Creating a business plan

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The first step in how to start a cleaning business is to write out a business plan:  the nature of the business, your clientele, the budget, and what you hope to accomplish. Will this be a part-time business or a full-time business? Try to be as detailed as possible. This is your roadmap for what you want your business to be. When writing your business plan, these are the factors you must consider.

Make a Budget

Creating a budget is the first step in figuring out how to start a cleaning business. Figure out how much capital you have and then decide where to invest it.

Licensing and Permitting

An important step in how to start a cleaning business is you must figure out how to register your business. You can either register as a sole proprietor or as a Limited Liability Corporation.

  • Sole Proprietor
  • As a sole proprietor, you will have total control over the business
  • You will be responsible if you get sued or go into debt
  • Limited Liability Corporation
  • More expensive to get, but it protects you if your business get sued or goes bankrupt

Insurance

Insurance can protect you if you or an employee damages something. If you have commercial clients, they usually won't even consider hiring you unless you have insurance. Clients may be more inclined to hire a service that is insured.

Necessary Equipment

After you learn how to start a cleaning business, you need cleaning supplies and equipment. You can probably purchase these items at a department store or a warehouse store, or even rent some heavy equipment. As your business grows, look into a janitorial supply company. You will need:

  • mops
  • scrub brushes
  • disinfectant
  • window cleaner
  • cloths
  • paper towels
  • sponges
  • vacuum cleaner
  • a trolley for lugging around supplies

Marketing

You will need to budget some money to let people know about how you are starting a cleaning business. Marketing is complex and is discussed in more detail below.

How to Start a Cleaning Business


Now that you have the money issue sorted out, there are still things you need to decide:

Decide on a Business Name

First things first, you will need a name for your business. While there are "business name" generators on the internet, choose something that means something to you. Try to make it memorable so that people can find you easily.

Design a Business Logo

When you start a cleaning business, you'll need a logo to go on business cards and to put on all your marketing materials. Not creative? Try hiring someone through Craigslist or Upwork.

Decide on Clientele

What sort of client are you looking for? Will you be targeting residential clients, or commercial clients? When starting out, you may want to pursue residential clients, as commercial clients require more work and more insurance.

Set Your Rates

Decide how much to charge for your services. The first thing to do is research what the going rate is in your area. You should also figure out if you want to charge by the hour, or a flat rate—for example, $50 per room or whatever the market will bear. An hourly rate is the most common, but a flat rate may be more attractive to clients—they know going in that cleaning will cost them X amount of dollars, as opposed to an hourly rate, which varies depending on how long you take.

Also, decide what level of cleaning you will offer. Dusting, mopping and vacuuming are basic cleaning. More in-depth cleaning such as washing windows, getting rid of mildew or carpet stains is more time consuming and should be a compensated accordingly.

Design a Uniform

It can be a very simple uniform, but it should clearly state the name of your business and be recognizable by clients. Also consider you need to move around freely. As you get more established, there are companies you can hire that will embroider the name of your business on your uniform. When you have employees, you can have their names embroidered on their uniforms, too.

Marketing


A person drawing a business strategy

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When you research how to start a cleaning business, you will find out that marketing is the most important part of any business.  You could be the best house cleaner in the world but no one will hire you if you don't let them know that. The first thing to decide is, what sets your business apart from similar businesses in your area? Do you use organic cleaning products? Are you especially good at removing pet hair? Removing allergens? Whatever sets you apart is what you want to feature in your marketing campaign.

Newspapers

When starting your cleaning business and your budget is limited, consider classified ads. They are usually low-cost and people check them if they are looking to hire a specific business. As your business grows, you can place small ads in the newspaper. Newspapers don't have the readership they used to, but they are still a fairly inexpensive way to let people know about your business. And you can offer coupons.

Website

These days everyone has a website. If you don't know how to design a website, consider hiring a freelancer to do it for you. However, programs such as WordPress, Squarespace or Wix are fairly easy to learn and result in an effective, attractive website. Once you have a website up and running, you must draw attention to it. Research how to use keywords appropriately so that your website comes up when people search for "house cleaners in my area". It's called SEO, or search engine optimization, and there are a number of websites that can help you if you don't know how to do it. Be sure to include:

  • rates
  • what sets you apart
  • all the services you offer
  • how to contact you

Word of Mouth

The oldest way to advertise something is still the best. Tell everyone you know you are starting your own cleaning business! They might have need of a house cleaner or know someone who does. Best of all, word-of-mouth advertising is free.

Social Media

The modern version of word-of-mouth is advertising on social media. You can start by just posting about your business yourself. You can also add motivational sayings, or offer a discount to the first ten people to respond to your posting, or a discount to everyone who reposts your ad. Be creative.

Business Cards

Business cards are another low-cost way to get the name of your business out there. Hand them out to people, drop them off at local businesses, staple them to every bulletin board that allows them. Do this with as many as you can, everywhere you can think of.

Managing Your Business


group of people talking to each other

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When researching how to start a cleaning business, you will learn many businesses fail because of poor management. Don't let your business be one.

Customer Service

Your customers are the backbone of your business. It's not enough to just offer an excellent service, you also have to treat customers with respect and appreciation. People hire people they like. Be friendly, smile, and be polite. Communicate with your clients so you know what their priorities are and what they expect. Then deliver.

Value Your Employees

Customer service is imperative, but treating employees with respect is equally important. If you disrespect your employees, they will not work as hard for you because they won't care if you succeed or not. If you care about your employees, they will care about you and your business.

Be Prepared

Not everything will go according to plan. Someone will knock over someone's flat screen TV, little Johnny will come down with the flu on the day you have a new client. Have a plan in place for when things go wrong.

Follow Up

After you clean a new client's house or business, call them and ask them if everything met their expectations. Are they happy with the service you provided? Yes? Great, offer a discount on repeat business. No? Find out how to make it right.

Pay Attention

After a while it's easy to let things slide, or assume they're going well. Don't do that. Complacency has ruined many a business. Check in with your employees, check in with customers, and make sure the money is accounted for. Pay bills on time.

Be Realistic

Don't take every job if you don't think you can do an excellent job. Some jobs might be too far away, too complex or too time consuming to make them worth your while.

Conclusion


workers cleaning hallway

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There are many things to consider when you ponder how to start your own cleaning business. However if you pay attention to detail and work hard, you can be assured of success. Everyone wants a clean house or a clean business and not that many people have time to clean. A cleaning business is a great service to offer, and one that will remain in demand for years to come.


Featured Image by Elaine Smith from Flickr

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