Cleaning—not the most enjoyable thing to do. Many people think of it as a necessary evil. Most of us don’t enjoy it but feel the need to keep our homes and workspaces clean for our health and well-being. The fact that it’s often thought of as a necessary evil is good for anyone wanting to start a home and/or office cleaning business. It means there will always be a need for what you want to do.
You can start a home and office cleaning business by going through the following development steps:
- Set Your Work Boundaries
- Vet Your Competition
- Decide on Services Offered
- Purchase Your Supplies
- Obtain Required Permits or Licenses
- Get the Word Out
- Start Cleaning Yourself
- Hire Additional Help
Starting any business is a stressful undertaking. The key to managing the stress is to have an organized plan for how you’re going to move forward. It gives you something to reference when things get off track or questions arise. The information in this article will describe what you need to do to get your cleaning business started successfully. So, let’s get to it!
Set Your Work Boundaries
Setting your work boundaries means deciding what physical area you will be doing business in and where the lines are for the outer limits. The nature of a home and office cleaning business puts you driving to different locations to provide your services for clients. You need to think about how far you’re willing to travel for clients.
It’s not as easy as choosing the largest area possible. There are things you should consider. If your boundaries allow for too much area, it may be tough to schedule clients with any kind of efficiency because of how to spread out they are. If you have one client wanting their house cleaned on the south side of town and another who wants theirs done in the same morning in a neighboring town to the north, you’re not going to be able to schedule that very well. Or, you will but you’ll spend so much time driving from one location to the next that you’ll be spending money instead of making it in between.
When you set your work boundaries, start small in the beginning. The majority of cleaning businesses start with the owner doing the cleaning. A one-person operation needs a small region to start doing business in for it to be the most cost-effective and profitable. You can always expand your service area as your company grows.
Vet Your Competition
This step should kind of be combined with the first step. While you’re figuring out your service area, you should be checking out the competition in that area. Find out who is already cleaning houses and businesses in the neighborhoods where you intend to work.
There are a few reasons why this is important. One is to find out if there is room for you in the market. Some competition is good. You can capitalize on it. However, if you enter a market that is already saturated with cleaning service providers, you’re going to have a hard time building your book of business. Do yourself a favor and look for an area that doesn’t have as many options for cleaning services so you can successfully competitively move into that space.
Another good reason to vet your competition is so you know what is being offered with regards to services, and what isn’t. Simply offering to clean something that others are not is a way to set yourself apart from the competition. You need to know what the other cleaners are charging in your area, as well. That will help you with your pricing strategy.
A good way to vet your competition is to hire them to clean your home. This will let you see how they’re doing business. You can see what kind of customer service they provide. You will also see what kind of results they give their clients. You’ll use all of this research to set your cleaning business apart from the others in the market.
Decide on Services Offered
Again, this step will be overlapped with the previous one. You need to decide on all of the specific services you intend to offer. Are you going to clean homes, businesses, or both? Will you be doing simple weekly cleaning tasks, or do you intend to offer deep cleaning, Spring cleaning, or anything outside?
Here are some of the various services you can offer:
- Basic cleaning – Clean rooms including sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and polishing. You’ll include general kitchen cleaning and bathroom fixtures like toilets and bathtubs.
- Green cleaning – This serves to clean for your clients with supplies and cleaners that are all eco-friendly and natural. It ensures safety for your customers and the environment.
- Deep cleaning – This service is something you do every so often for clients, such as Spring cleaning. You’ll do more cleaning along with the basic stuff. You can include oven cleaning, baseboard cleaning, ceiling fans, cabinets, and more. You won’t do it as often, however, you’ll charge more for it.
- Laundry – Offering to do laundry tasks while you’re cleaning a client’s house is a good way to stand out. It’s something that is offered by some cleaning businesses, but not very often.
- Blinds cleaning – This is a service that many households need, but isn’t offered by many businesses. It requires specialized equipment and patience. You’ll also have to know how to take blinds down and put them back up.
- Wall cleaning – You can offer this as a specialized cleaning service. You can also include the ceiling with your wall cleaning service. Customers will want this for getting oil and dirt off the walls in heavy-traffic areas and high-touch areas of their homes.
- Office cleaning – This should include all the things you’d do to clean the home but also desks and other work surfaces. You could be cleaning lobby areas, public restrooms, break rooms with kitchens, cubicles, and office equipment.
- Carpet Cleaning – If you’re going to offer this service, you need to be educated and practiced in it. You’ll also have to consider how you’re going to get the equipment for it. You can either purchase a carpet cleaner or you can rent one.
- Window cleaning – Many cleaning businesses don’t offer window washing because it’s very time-consuming and requires different tools. You can offer it as part of your packages or as a standalone service. You can also offer inside, outside, or both.
- Sanitization services – With the events of late, it’s a good idea to include sanitization services within your menu of offerings. You can do this as a separate standalone service or you can make it an add-on to your other cleaning packages.
Keep in mind this list is not exhaustive. This is your cleaning business to design. You can offer the services you think will help you grow your company the most effective. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into and how to be the best at performing whatever it is you’re going to offer.
Purchase Your Supplies
The reality is you can start a cleaning business with just the cleaning supplies you already have for use in your own home. You’ll need rags, various cleaners, a vacuum, a mop, and garbage bags. That’s only going to get you so far, though.
You’re going to need to buy the supplies needed to complete any services you’re offering. For instance, if you intend to offer carpet cleaning, you need to have carpet shampoo on hand, and either has the carpet cleaning machine or know where you will rent one from. Don’t offer a service you aren’t prepared to complete. Even if it’s something you know clients won’t ask for as much, you still need to be ready in case they do.
The cost of your cleaning supplies will vary depending on what services you decide to offer. The upfront cost will be more than what you’ll spend to keep your supplies replenished once you’re up and running. If you’re looking to get the supplies for a basic cleaning service, you’ll probably need to spend around $400 to $600. That range should cover your different household cleaning products, dusting rags, a mop, a dust mop, garbage bags, and a high-quality vacuum.
Providing specialized services and green cleaning will usually cost you more in supplies. It works out, though, because you will also be charging more for those services.
Obtain Required Permits or Licenses
There is some paperwork you’ll need to complete for legal documents you need for doing business. Before you apply for anything you should submit an employment identification number or EIN. You’ll use your EIN for opening bank accounts for your business and tax filing.
You also need to register your cleaning business as a legal entity to make it separate from you as an individual. You will have to pay a fee for this. It can be as much as $500 depending on what state you’re in. It’s worth it, though. If you don’t register your business separately, then you could be held personally liable for anything that should come up in terms of legal action against your business.
You may need a business license. Many states don’t require business licenses for cleaning services; however, some do. You will most likely have to get a general business license through your city. City governments use these to keep track of who is conducting business in their area.
Beyond that, you need to get general liability insurance. It’s not required by any governing agency, but you want to be protected in the event you damage something in a home or someone gets hurt due to your cleaning practices. Not carrying GL insurance could cost you, customers, as many of them will ask to see proof of this type of insurance before hiring you.
Check out our guide to naming your business HERE.
Get the Word Out
As you’re heading toward getting your operation started, you should be working on getting the word out about your business. Even just mentioning you’re bringing a cleaning service into the area in casual conversations with neighbors and friends is a great way to start your marketing campaign.
You’ll want a website for potential clients to visit for more detailed information about your cleaning service. You need to decide on a domain name and see if it’s available, so by this point, it would be good if you’ve chosen a name for your cleaning business.
It’s best if you have someone design the website that knows what they’re doing. Business websites should be well-thought and designed to be user-friendly and attention-grabbing. You know you’ve gone to a website before and left it quickly because you were too frustrated to keep digging for the information you were seeking. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good website.
You also want to get something going on social media. This is proving to be one of the best ways to market products and services these days. You can reach a ton of people quickly and for free, in many cases.
You’ll want to get your business listed on the local online directories for your region. You can also sign up for Google My Business, a free service provided by Google to help business owners attract customers locally.
Make sure to have some business cards on hand whenever you clean someone’s house or business. Leave a few behind for them to give friends if they’re satisfied. You can also leave personal touches behind, such as hand-written notes, thank you cards, or another small trinket. Adding a personal touch to your service appointment gives your customer something to talk about with their friends in the neighborhood. You could even leave hand sanitizers, a sweet treat, or something festive for the season.
Start Cleaning Yourself
You may or may not have a plan in mind for how big you want your cleaning business to get. For most privately-owned cleaning business startups, it will be just the owner or a couple of owners running the whole operation. You’ll be doing everything from marketing to scheduling, to the cleaning. That’s ideal in the beginning.
You want to do the cleaning yourself for a while. Even if you know you’re going to be expanding your business into a much larger service provider, you need to start by learning what it’s like to perform all of the chores you are offering to clients. The better you know all parts of the business, the better you’ll be at making your company a successful one.
Some of the specialized cleaning services you plan to offer may require specific training to be able to perform them safely and effectively. Even if you plan to hire someone to perform those chores for your business, it’s best for you to have experience with it, also. You’re the one who will run everything. You’re the person your employees will come to with questions or issues. You need to be able to step in and help wherever you’re needed. Several agencies train for cleaning professionally. Taking some courses can help increase your value to your clients and any employees you bring on board.
Hire Additional Help
At some point, you will likely want to hire some staff members. As your book of business grows, you won’t be able to keep taking on new clients because there are only one or two people available to take the cleaning jobs. Not many of us go into business just to get to a certain level and then stop growing.
Business owners who don’t hire the appropriate number of employees will end up losing customers, eventually. You need to have enough people to cover all of the appointments your clients want to book, as well as provide availability for new customers. The more times you have to tell clients you don’t have time slots available, the more you risk losing them to competitors that can accommodate their requested times.
You should be selective about who you hire. It’s best if the people you decide to employ have experience with professional cleaning. You should have a process for the training set up, as well as a way to evaluate candidates’ skills.
There You Have It
It’s an exciting thing to start your own business. There will always be a need for home and office cleaning services. Go into your endeavor with a plan and follow the steps listed here. Choose the area and check out the competition. Plan out the services you’ll offer and purchase the supplies for doing so. Get all your legal ducks in a row and tell the community you’re coming. Start cleaning homes or businesses yourself and, when the time is right, hire some additional help. With the proper planning and some good efforts on your part, you can have your own thriving cleaning business in less time than you may think.
Some related questions:
Is it worth starting a cleaning business?
It is worth starting a cleaning business. This is a service that people want and, in some cases, need. It will always have some level of demand. A cleaning business can be started with very little money and you can grow it at your own pace.
What should I charge for house cleaning?
This can vary from region to region. There is a national average rate that is about $120-150 for cleaning a single-family house. Hourly rates usually run between $25 and $90 per.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
To learn more on how to start your own cleaning business check out my startup documents and course here.