Starting a cleaning business isn’t necessarily one of those business where if you love to clean, you should start a business doing it.
Most people don’t love cleaning. However, if you’re good at it and you think you can do well with an office or house cleaning business, this might be a great money making idea for you.
A cleaning business can be very large scale, or it can be something you do on the side. It all depends on what services you offer and how you choose to run your company.
What will you Clean?
You can start by cleaning houses for money, or you can venture off into other areas as well such as offices and other buildings. Don’t offer services you aren’t prepared to do.
For example, if you say you can clean offices but you don’t have the equipment or expertise to properly clean an office building, don’t offer the service.
Some people have small offices that might be okay. Give a good detailed description of what you can handle.
Also, think about what you can and will do specifically. Some things might be off limits. For example, this is a cleaning business, not a landscaping business, so you won’t offer the service of lawn care, unless you choose to have it as a bonus if that is your area of expertise, too.
On the other hand, don’t give clients a huge list of things you won’t do just because it’s not your favorite cleaning job.
For example, don’t tell clients you won’t clean bathrooms because they’re gross. For a house cleaning business, you should at least be prepared to clean the whole interior house include the living room, dining room, kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc.
Start a Franchise or Build your Own Cleaning Business from Scratch?
There are a large number of franchises in the cleaning business. If you’re serious about the business, you can start a franchise. There are pros and cons to owning a franchise.
The advantage of a franchise is that you get their name and reputation. The top business does marketing that you can feed off of.
Also, individuals may trust you more when you have a big name backing you. Plus, there is a lot less guesswork, assuming the business comes with a solid business plan and instructions.
There are several disadvantages, too. As with any franchise, if it isn’t very successful or has bad reviews already, you’re not starting in a good spot.
Then again, if the business is successful enough to have franchise opportunities, this might not be the case. If it is, be persistent about letting your region and customers know that you are one of the best in your franchise.
Another problem is that owning a franchise throws you into the business. If you’re starting a cleaning business from home as a side project, you don’t need a franchise.
Getting a few clients on your own might be just enough. Also, if it turns out you don’t like the business, you can get out fairly easily if you only had a couple clients whereas with a franchise, you’ve gone all in investing your time and money.
Tools and Supplies
While cleaning doesn’t require an office or storefront (you can learn how to start a cleaning business from home) you do need tools and supplies. Exactly what you need will depend on the type of cleaning you do.
Some common items you may need include:
- trash bags
- cleaning towels or rags
- squeegees and sponges
- some sort of cart to hold everything
- cleansers including window cleaner, bathroom cleaner, dusting spray, etc.
You may go through a lot of cleaning supplies, so it is a good idea to purchase them wholesale or through a discount club. You can get a large amount of supplies for less.
Be sure to have some sort of cart or caddy to hold your supplies in. This will make it easier to transport your tools and supplies from house to house or office to office.
Typically a person cleaning as an employee gets paid an hourly rate. However, if you’re cleaning as a business, you probably shouldn’t charge this way, but you can use an hourly rate to help you determine what to charge.
Many cleaning businesses charge based on the size of the cleaning requirement. When cleaning offices, you can charge by square foot, and when cleaning houses, charge by the size of the house.
To help you get started with your rates, time yourself cleaning your whole house from start to finish. Decide how much you would charge for an hourly rate, typically Rs.1000/- to Rs.1500/- an hour. The amount will depend on the region of the country, your experience and expertise, and how filthy the house is.
Let’s say it took you 2 hours to clean your whole house. If you were to charge Rs.1000/- an hour, it would cost Rs.2000/- to clean. If you have an average 3 bedroom home with 1,200 square feet, you can use this as judgment for other homes. A good rule of thumb is to give a square footage price.
For example, this would equal about Rs.2/- per square foot. When you give clients your rates, give them a range for different size spaces. Rs.1000/- for 500 to 799 square feet, Rs.2000/- for 800 to 1199 square feet, Rs.2500/- for 1,200 to 1,500 square feet, etc.
Another idea is to do an approximate price range for the square foot range and then do a survey of the home based on rooms and job description to settle on a price. Some cleaning people choose to include laundry for an extra fee.
Ask other house-cleaning individuals in your area what they charge. This will help you determine your own rates fairly for both you and your clients.
Advertising and Finding Clients
It doesn’t matter what you charge if you don’t have anything to clean. Finding clients can be a bit tricky when you’re starting out.
You have to prove to people that you have the skills and experience without testimonials, and you have to find people who want cleaning services.
Word-of-mouth marketing is a great way to start, especially when it’s a small business. It’s better to work with people you know, especially if you’ll be working by yourself for safety reasons.
Over time, happy clients will refer you to their friends. If they trust them, you can usually trust them, too.
If you’re working with other people and you’re trying to build up a big client base, be more aggressive with your marketing.
There are number of ways you can promote your business. Put an ad in the newspaper, put up flyers, etc. Set up a website to send out and give people a place to see what you’re all about. This is also beneficial if you have a Facebook page and lots of friends. It’s a great way to get the word out.
Scheduling your cleaning jobs can be tricky, especially if it’s only a part time job. It’s tough to juggle multiple clients around your own schedule. Some clients will want to be home when you’re cleaning and others won’t.
Give all your clients an list of times you’re available. Make the amount of time as large as possible. This doesn’t mean you’ll be working 100% of the time you’re giving, it just gives flexibility to both parties.
Be very good about tracking your schedule with a calendar. Double-booking cleaning appointments is very bad and unprofessional. You’ll not only miss jobs, but you could lose long term customers.
Offering Specialty Services
Sometimes offering bonus services or special services can help you stand out from the crowd. Consider adding services such as rug cleaning, laundry, dishes, special care, etc. This may secure customers you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten.
Advertise all your services on all flyers, print and websites. Someone might not want a full house cleaning, but they want their rugs cleaned.
If you don’t list it on your ads that you clean rugs, they might ignore it. If you do, they might sign up for your service and be so pleased with your work that they pay you for other cleaning as well.
Another service that has become popular is the green option. This means giving your clients the option to use green cleaning supplies that are better for their health and the environment.
There are lots of green cleaning products on the market, and you can charge a little more for this bonus service.
Should you Partner Up?
Getting a partner is a great idea for safety and expansion. If you’re willing to clean any house, whether you know the person or not, having a partner with you will make you feel more comfortable and keep you safer in strangers’ homes.
A partner will also help you expand your business and deal with scheduling problems. If you accidentally double-schedule 2 people, you could split up to accommodate both cleaning appointments as long as it doesn’t conflict with safety concerns.
Keep your Clients
As with any business, the best practice is to have repeat clients. It’s easier to keep existing clients than it is to find new ones. Wouldn’t you rather spend your time cleaning and earning money instead of looking for new clients?
Always do a great job. Go above and beyond what you’re expected to do. Clean their house better than you would clean you’re own house.
Always be punctual, always work steady and take very few breaks, always respect their belongings and always be pleasant and respectful to your clients.
Happy clients are returning clients. A good cleaning business should be built upon returning clients.