For anyone that is debating opening their own cleaning business, the question you’re probably asking yourself the most is: “will it be profitable?” People start businesses for all sorts of reasons, but one thing they all have in common is that they need to make a profit.
So how profitable is the cleaning business?
The cleaning business provides a unique opportunity as one needs little overhead and capital to start. Depending on work ethic, desire for growth, and opportunity, a cleaning business can make anywhere between $27K to $100K a year. A typical trajectory for a cleaning business with the desire and opportunity to grow takes that company from $30K in Year 1 to $100K by Year 4.
The profits of the cleaning business will depend greatly on the number of jobs you want to take on. Typical cleaning businesses start with one person cleaning homes and expand from there. As cleaning services are necessary and repetitive, the cleaning business offers an opportunity for constant growth. How much your business grows will depend largely on you, and how big you want it to grow.
The Beginnings of a Cleaning Business
Starting your own cleaning business has many perks. You get to be your boss, work on your schedule, and take on only the jobs that you want, or know you can handle. There is also a low overhead for start-up cleaning companies, since you typically will be the only employee at first, and can use your own home and vehicle for your office and transportation needs. Cleaning residential homes are typically where new cleaning businesses start.
Be Your Boss
One of the main reasons people start their cleaning businesses is the opportunity to work at their pace, on their schedule. The majority of cleaning businesses begin with one employee, the owner, and the operator.
- Make Your Schedule – When you own your own business, you decide when you can and will work. The benefit of being the only employee is that you know your schedule the best, and when best you can do what jobs. Many cleaning businesses begin as one-person companies, with the cleaner scheduling their jobs with the owners of the homes they will be cleaning.
- Build a Relationship with Your Clients – Every cleaning business starts somewhere, and most start with one house. Whether a friend, neighbor or relative, someone you know will most likely hire you for your first job. From there the snowball starts rolling, and you’ll probably find yourself with a few clients in a short time. These precious few will be your best marketing assets. Cultivate your relationships with them, show them you can provide professional cleaning, and they will tell others about you.
- Use Referral Programs – Once you gather a few clients, you can offer them referral programs to get them to share your business more easily. A percentage off the next cleaning for each referral is a typical program, but you can customize it however you want. Have business cards at the ready for your clients to share, and you can even print up referral coupons if you like.
Use Your Own Home
An easy way to keep overhead expenses low as you get started is to work out of your own home. Your residential address can also be your business address, making it easier for clients to know where to find you. This provides you a home base at no extra cost.
- Using Your Home Address for Your Business License – To have your own cleaning business, you’ll need business insurance and a business license. While an inspection still may need to take place, you don’t have to worry about making sure a commercial office or warehouse is up to code. Because of the small size of your business, your home can double for your office on any official form.
- Easy to Reach – With cell phones replacing home phones, you can be reached pretty much anywhere, at any time. Using your home as your business office allows clients to know just how close you may be to them, or exactly where to send a check. It can simplify things for both you and your clients.
- Easy Storage – Whether using your garage, spare closet, or guest bedroom, your home has space for your cleaning supplies when first starting. This allows you to keep them stored with no extra cost, and keeps them close for when you need them. Time saved driving to and from a storage location will allow you to work more efficiently and in a way that increases your profits as well.
Use Your Vehicle
Another way to keep expenses low as you start is by using your vehicle as your business vehicle. More than likely there’s enough room for the cleaning equipment you’ll need to start with, and you won’t have to worry about purchasing another vehicle. At least not yet.
- Room to Spare – For residential cleanings, you’ll probably only need a few pieces of equipment, such as a vacuum, broom, mop bucket, and duster. All of these items should fit inside of your vehicle, allowing you to move what you need, when you need it, with no extra cost.
- Tax Write-Off – Another advantage of using your vehicle for your business is that you can write off the miles you drive for your business. Small businesses can get many tax breaks, and gas mileage is one of them. Keep track of all the miles you drive to and from cleaning jobs, and you can report that as a write-off on your business taxes, which will also help your profits.
- Avoid the Cost of a New Vehicle – As your business grows, the need for another vehicle may arise, but to begin it most likely won’t be necessary. Starting in the cleaning business is easier than most precisely because of the low overhead. Extra equipment and vehicles can be acquired once your business expands to need them, but not before, which is a huge benefit to early profits. Extra equipment and vehicles can be expensive, so it’s better to wait until you need them before you spend on them.
Keeping your overhead expenses low is one way to improve profits when starting a cleaning business. Using your home and personal vehicle to do so is the main draw to owning your own cleaning business, but once you get started, you’ll probably want to expand to grow your profits even more.
Check out our guide to start a commercial cleaning business HERE.
Expanding Your Cleaning Business
Once word gets out about your new cleaning business, you should have the opportunity to expand to increase your profits even more. Good cleaning services are always in demand, and you can find bigger jobs with the right connections.
Commercial Cleaning Jobs
Office buildings, warehouses, and other commercial buildings need to be cleaned too. Expanding your business to include these jobs can increase your profits, but also your overhead.
- Office Buildings – If you’ve ever worked in an office, you probably know about the cleaning crew that comes in at night. Getting a contract to clean office buildings can expand your business by giving you a consistent job. Many office buildings need to be cleaned weekly, if not daily. This provides a more reliable job for your business than cleaning houses. Some cleaning businesses thrive by just cleaning offices.
- Rental Property/New Homes – Realtors can also provide reliable jobs for cleaning businesses. Whether it’s cleaning out an apartment, or a brand new home that has just been built, realtors need cleaning businesses regularly. If you can build a relationship with a real estate agency, it can provide an opportunity for growth for your business and your profits.
- Freelance Commercial Space Cleaning – Many other types of commercial spaces need cleaning over time, from warehouses to mall spaces. With a good reputation, your cleaning business can take advantage of this need by providing your services on an as-needed basis. If you expand your business and grow your name, these types of opportunities will help improve your profits.
The advantage of commercial cleaning jobs is that they are more reliable than residential ones, and can provide a steady stream of profit. Depending on how big you want to expand will determine much of your overhead costs. Additional employees, vehicles, and equipment can all be needed for larger commercial jobs. For this reason, many cleaning businesses expand slowly, growing their companies as each new job comes along. This is a way to ensure steady profits despite more overhead costs.
How much income can you make in a cleaning business?
According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for a cleaning business is $30K. The majority of cleaning businesses are one-person, house cleaning companies. Depending on your work ethic, the amount you expand your business, and the amount of overhead you are willing to take on, cleaning businesses can make anywhere from $27K to $67K per year just cleaning homes. Upgrading your cleaning business to commercial services can increase that to $100K a year or more.
How does a cleaning business break into commercial cleaning?
Breaking into the commercial cleaning world is more difficult than getting into residential, or home, cleaning. To secure a commercial cleaning contract, a cleaning business must usually provide efficient and reputable home cleanings for a time first. Once the cleaning company becomes known for providing excellent home cleaning services, commercial jobs will become more accessible through marketing or personal connections.
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.