All businesses start somewhere for most cleaning businesses, which usually means cleaning residential properties. This is fine for beginning a business, but as you get bigger, you’ll want to expand. One of the simplest ways is to start cleaning for commercial properties. I’ll be going over a few different types of commercial cleaning options. I’ll be covering a variety of different options. Depending on your type of business, some of these will apply to you more than others.
The Eight Commercial Cleaning Customers You Should Pitch to are:
- Real Estate Agencies
- Apartment and Condo Complexes
- Office Buildings
- Local Government Buildings
- Doctors’ Offices
- Wedding Venues and Funeral Homes
Real Estate Agencies
Real estate agencies are an excellent first step when expanding your cleaning business from housecleaning to commercial cleaning. Essentially, you’re just doing the same job for a client with a lot more properties. Cleaning services typically get many calls from real estate agents around early spring to late summer as this is when they tend to show off properties the most. After all, nobody wants to trudge through a blizzard looking at seven different houses/commercial properties.
Real estate agents call in professional cleaning services because they need the house looking its best. Sometimes, the previous residents don’t take care of the property, and thorough cleaning is needed to get properties ready for a showing. I have seen cleaning services have to clean large amounts of stained carpet, mow unkempt lawns, clean cigarette smoke stains out of walls, you name it. I’ve also seen landscapers get called in to deal with trees whose branches weren’t correctly trimmed. Agents need everything perfect before they start showing off properties.
Worth noting that this can require a bit of networking and getting to know real estate agents in your community. Keeping things clean for presentation is a top priority, and they need people they trust.
Apartment Complexes and Condos
Much like real estate agencies, it’s easy to go from cleaning houses to apartment complexes. You can argue that this is still residential cleaning, but commercial cleaning vs. residential cleaning isn’t just about homes vs. businesses. In commercial cleaning, you’re often cleaning a lot of property at once. Having an apartment complex or two as a frequent customer can set you up for success.
I have worked in the cleaning industry for years. A significant source of our revenue was cleaning an apartment complex. There was always something to do. Hallways and stairwells would need cleaning regularly. Tenets would need us to clean their carpets and furniture. Landlords will need to show off the property during the moving season and get it ready for inspection. Housing inspectors and code enforcers take things like dirty carpet, mold, even dirty windows seriously. If you are offering multiple services, you can use this to your advantage.
If you can get an apartment cleaning job, this would be great for building your business. If tenets hire you on as their cleaner, they might recommend you to their friends and family.
While apartments are chiefly interior cleaning territory, window washers, mold removers, power washers, and even landscapers can also find work in these places. You’ll need to build up some good references among your residential clients.
While many more significant office buildings have their cleaning staff, some mid-size and smaller offices don’t and will call people in as needed. Other times, the office building can be home to different businesses, some of whom don’t have permanent cleaning staff and must hire people to clean as needed. Most offices do get regular visitors. Some of them get frequent foot traffic from clientele. Others have to deal with visitors from people higher-up in the food chain.
Like everywhere else, first impressions are everything in the office world. If an office is filthy, customers will think the people running the office don’t care about themselves and won’t care about them. If someone from corporate walks in to see a dingy office, it won’t reflect well on the business.
There are some things to note. Cleaning apartments and condos can be a big job. If you’re a window washer, you may need a window washing platform.
A carpet cleaner will need a portable carpet cleaning machine if the apartment building has multiple floors. Hoses from a truck mount will only go so far and, depending on the neighborhood, can be a security risk. I’ve met many people who have gotten their trucks broken into because the hoses require them to leave the door open. Plus, water pressure starts to drop as the hose gets further from the machine.
Your Local Government
While local government buildings aren’t commercial buildings in the traditional sense, the size of many of them makes getting a contract with the government an attractive option. While your average local government building has some cleaning staff, they focus on the bare basics. When my local DMV needs a deep cleaning, they call us.
If you’re in the business of cleaning up after traumatic incidents such as crimes and accidents, your local police may be willing to offer you jobs. The crime scenes don’t clean themselves up.
If you’re a minority business owner, that could work to your advantage if you get certified. Some cities are required to give a certain number of contracts to minority-owned businesses. While it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the contract, it’s a shot worth taking.
If you seek to do business with the government, be sure that your license paperwork is in order. Otherwise, not only will you not get the contract, you’ll have to deal with fines. Be prepared to deal with bidding wars too.
While most public schools have janitorial staff, it never hurts to ask if they need additional help, particularly if they’re about to do significant events. The schools most likely to hire a cleaner from outside are smaller private and charter schools that may not have the resources to have specialized cleaners on staff.
When it comes to schools, don’t limit yourself to conventional K-12 schools. College facilities may also need a hand with cleaning, especially since they’re frequently renting out extra space to hold various events. Boarding schools can also be a potential source of jobs. Offices and hallways could need cleaning, and for landscapers, boarding schools have a lot of property to clean.
Daycare Centers and Preschools
Daycare centers are always a prime target for a commercial cleaning service with all the concerns about cleanliness over the last year. Everything needs cleaning frequently. Art projects frequently go wrong, and young kids don’t always have the best grasp of sanitation. Daycare owners don’t want their kids and staff getting sick, and they don’t want a surprise inspection on a day where everything is filthy. If you’re running a full-service janitorial business, a daycare might be an excellent place to look.
Businesses that focus on cleaning outdoor areas can also find work in daycares. Playground equipment frequently needs to be sanitized, bushes need to be trimmed, and branches need to be removed.
Getting sick is always a hazard of working in the cleaning business. If you don’t have all your vaccines or kids of your own, you do run the risk of getting sick yourself. I can honestly say that child germs have laid me low on some occasions. So be prepared if you want to clean at a daycare.
I’m not suggesting that you’ll get a contract with the biggest hospital in your region (hospitals have an army of cleaning workers), but smaller doctor’s offices can have openings for a cleaner to come in. Places like private practices are excellent places to look for work. Doctors do need their floors cleaned since they get a lot of traffic. Pediatricians can be perfect clients but keep my warning about child germs in mind.
Whether they’re upscale eateries promising couples a romantic experience or a casual eatery offering a fun experience for the whole family, the restaurant industry is often looking for a professional cleaner. After all, the government requires them to stay clean. That said, you probably won’t get a franchise for a big chain to hire you, as the chains have their list of people they’re allowed to call. Typically, they’re extensive chain cleaning services. Mom and pop businesses have no such restrictions.
That said, if you’re a carpet cleaner, you should be aware that restaurants are trending away from carpet in favor of tile. Fancier restaurants often still have carpet.
Wedding Venues and Funeral Homes
Every bride wants their day to be unique. Every mourner wants their dead relative to be respected. If the wedding venue and funeral home aren’t cleaned, the people involved won’t feel respected. So the venues do try to stay clean as much as possible.
This can be good for cleaners since food is often served on these occasions, there are often children, and there’s usually a lot of foot traffic. People will pay a premium to make sure their family gatherings go well.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I look for when trying to get a commercial cleaning job?
When it comes to commercial cleaning, you’ll have to look beyond the obvious. Like I’ve said throughout the article: Bigger places often have their cleaning staff. It never hurts to ask, but check smaller versions of a similar establishment if the big public high school doesn’t hire you. Always try to approach problems from different angles.
Are there other ways to expand besides going into commercial cleaning?
Yes. Going into commercial cleaning is simply the easiest. You could try and add more services, but there’s always the chance that your market doesn’t want that service. Plus, adding more services requires a more substantial investment. You’ll have to get more equipment and possibly a bigger vehicle. If adding a service fails, it can be a significant setback.
Another way might be to expand your functional area and hire more employees. But if you’re expanding from a small residential operation, that may not be the best idea. I think you should get more established before hiring new employees and investing in more equipment. Not only does it make more sense, having commercial customers means you’ll be more equipped to sustain an employee or two. Keep in mind that employees not only mean more paperwork, they can also mean more equipment will be needed to support them.
What are some other things to note about commercial cleaning?
You and any employees you have might have to go through a background check. If you’re working for places that handle lots of money and sensitive data, they’ll want to make sure you and your employees are law-abiding.
If you’re dealing with more significant buildings, be prepared to do a lot more physical work all at once. It’s easy to do one or two rooms at a house. Doing several floors of hallways in an apartment is harder.
Finally, be ready to work nights if you’re doing interior cleaning. Most commercial establishments only let the cleaners in after-hours. Be sure to talk things over with your family so they can adjust to the new schedule.
Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.
About the author. Entrepreneur and Cleaning Business Fan.
Hi! I am Shawn and I am a happy individual who happens to be an entrepreneur. I have owned several types of businesses in my life from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now I create online cleaning business resources for those interested in starting new ventures. It’s demanding work but I love it. I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. That’s why when I meet a cleaning business owner, I see myself. I know how hard the struggle is to retain clients, find good employees and keep the business growing all while trying to stay competitive.
That’s why I created Cleaning Business Boss: I want to help cleaning business owners like you build a thriving business that brings you endless joy and supports your ideal lifestyle.