Starting a cleaning business is a very profitable and fulfilling career. However, when you are first starting your business, it is easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to begin! When you search the internet, you are bombarded with information about how to get started. Suddenly, creating your own business becomes a daunting task. To take away the stress, we have put together a step-by-step guide to creating a cleaning business that is simple and easy to understand.
Here are 11 steps to follow when starting a cleaning business:
- Research Cleaning Services in Your Area
- Decide on Your Hourly Rate or Flat Fee
- Learn How to Provide Customers with an Estimate
- Name Your Cleaning Business and Design a Logo
- Get a Business License and Insurance
- Create a Facebook Business Page
- Purchase Your Supplies
- Ask Family and Friends for Leads
- Run Opening Specials or Promotions
- Ask Current Customers for Testimonials
- Consider Investing in Advertisement
Step 1: Research Cleaning Services in Your Area
Before you put a lot of time and effort into creating a cleaning business, the very first step you want to complete is researching the cleaning industry in your market. Completing this research first will make some of the following steps a lot easier because you will already have the data that you need. You will want to begin by researching the demand of cleaning services near you. Are there particular parts of town that have a higher demand for cleaning services? What are the characteristics of the customers that are already purchasing cleaning services from other companies in your area?
Another question to ask yourself while doing your research is how other companies in your area are advertising their cleaning services. Are your future competitors using social media to advertise or are they sending out printed flyers in the mail? It is recommended to pay attention to the well known or popular cleaning businesses around you because seeing what they are doing will give you a better image of what is already working in your area for later down the road.
During this step, you will want to begin calling around to reputable cleaning companies or maid services in your area and ask them for their rate. If they won’t give you their hourly rate, you can also ask for an estimate to clean your home and ask how long they think it would take to complete the job. Once you have the total estimate and the hourly total, you can divide the estimate by the hours, and you’ll get the approximate hourly rate they charge. Getting a clear understanding of what other companies are charging in your area will give you an idea of what you can make your rate and will help you get an idea of how profitable your new cleaning business can be!
Step 2: Decide on Your Hourly Rate or Flat Fee
Knowing what to charge is one of the most important parts of owning your business. By charging the correct amount for your area, you are more likely to be profitable and successful in the long run. If your rate is too low, you run the risk of losing money. You want to make sure that after you pay for your business expenses, you are still bringing in enough funds to keep you and your business profitable. However, if your rate is too high for the area that you are servicing, you may experience difficulty finding new customers.
In the US, the average cost of cleaning services is $25 to $45 per cleaning person per hour. However, a more precise average rate will depend on your location and the demand for cleaning services there. To decide on your hourly rate, you will want to refer to the research and data you found in the first step. What was the average rate you noticed most of the companies in your area were charging? Did the companies provide you with an hourly rate, or was there a set fee instead? We recommend you stay close to this rate when first starting your business.
When you are first beginning your cleaning business, it is recommended that you start by charging an hourly rate. Once you become more familiar with how long specific cleaning jobs will take you, you can begin to charge set amounts. If you stick to flat fees at the beginning of your business, you take the chance of underestimating how long a cleaning job may take you to complete, and then you will lose money. We will go over how you can give your customers an idea of what you will charge them to clean their homes and still stick to an hourly rate in the next step.
Step 3: Learn How to Provide Customers with an Estimate
As mentioned in the last step, you can still give your customers an idea of what you will charge them to clean their home and stick to your hourly rate at the same time. This is referred to as giving them an estimate. An estimate can change and is only approximate. It is not set in stone like a standard set fee is. When you give your customer an estimate, it is important to let them know that the final cost could possibly be lower or higher than the quoted cost, depending on how long the cleaning takes.
Before you provide your customer with an estimate, it is important for you to find out more details regarding the cleaning job. You should ask the potential customer what type of cleaning they are looking for, how many square feet the home is, and how many bedrooms and bathrooms are in the home. Are they looking for a deep cleaning, including the inside of appliances and cupboards? Or are they looking for a simple cleaning of the easily visible parts of the home? You will be able to provide a more accurate estimate once you have a clear image of what the customer is looking for.
Once you know what your customer wants, calculate how many hours you think it will take you to clean the home and if you will need help. Then, multiply the hours it will take you by your hourly rate. Keep in mind that the amount of time it takes will double if you have another cleaner helping you. For example: If a cleaning job will take you 4 hours with a total of 2 cleaners (8 hours together) and your rate is $30 an hour, your estimate would be around $240 total.
If you don’t know how long it will take you to clean a home yet, begin by timing yourself. You can ask a family member or friend if you can clean their home to give you the experience. Set a timer for each room and write down how long it takes you in detail. You want to know how long it takes you to clean the following areas: full bathroom, half bathroom, bedroom, living space, full kitchen with only the outside of appliances, full kitchen including the inside of appliances, basement, etc. This is the amount of time you will want to stick with when you’re calculating how long it will take you for estimates. Chances are, you will get faster once you have been cleaning homes longer and then you can alter your time for your estimates!
For cleaning jobs that may require extra work like full move out cleaning or seasonal deep cleaning, you will want to add more time to your customer’s estimate. By adding on more time for jobs that you expect to take longer, your customer will be less surprised in the end by a higher bill. Customers prefer to receive a higher estimated cost upfront than be surprised by a higher bill after the cleaning has been done. The goal is to make the estimate as accurate as possible to keep your customers happy and more likely to hire you again in the future.
Step 4: Name Your Cleaning Business and Design a Logo
Once you have the research and numbers figured out for your business, it is time for the fun part of deciding on a name. When you are first considering what to name your new company, ask yourself what you want to specialize in. Is there something you want to be known for? Maybe you provide quick turnaround times and can clean within 24 hours’ notice. An example of a cleaning business name would be Same Day Cleaning. You could also specialize in using eco-friendly products for all your cleaning jobs. By including what sets you apart in your cleaning business name, potential customers will have an idea of what you’re all about right when they see the name.
When some professionals first begin cleaning homes and are doing all the work themselves, they choose to go by their own name and not pick a fictional name for the business right away. There is nothing wrong with this! If you plan on growing your business and hiring on help to complete cleaning jobs, we recommend picking a name that can be used for all cleaners involved and doesn’t give customers the idea that you’ll be the only one cleaning their home. For example: In the beginning, you may simply use your name, Sam Smith. Once you begin growing your business and hiring additional cleaners to help, you could go by Smith Premium Cleaning. You don’t have to stop using your name entirely, but this gives your clients the impression that yours is a business that has multiple cleaning professionals.
When naming your cleaning business, you will want to research your top choices to make sure there aren’t already companies in your state with the same name (which will come in handy when you’re registering your business). You want to stand out in your area and have a name that is unique to you. We also recommend picking a name that isn’t too trendy and is more on the professional side. Ask yourself if you think you will still love and go by the same name in 5 years. If the answer is no, then you might want to consider another name for your company. Your company name should be something that you’re proud to use and will also attract your potential customers.
Once you have decided on a name, you might want to consider getting a logo made. This is optional, and there are cleaning businesses that are profitable without a logo. However, a logo will be beneficial if you plan on advertising in the future. A logo is a way for your potential customers to recognize your company immediately. Your logo can be used on social media, printed advertisements, or even apparel. Consider the ways you plan to advertise. Most of the methods to increase your business’s recognition today’s market will be enhanced with a logo. You can get a logo designed inexpensively by a freelance designer on sites like Fiverr or Upwork.
Step 5: Get a Business License and Insurance
Although starting a new cleaning business does not have to be expensive, there are some mandatory items you need in order to legally set up shop in your area. At the top of this list is a business license. The type of business license you need will depend on what sort of cleaning jobs you are doing. If you are doing all your jobs on your own, and you are going by your first and last name, you can get a vendor’s license (in most areas). Once you pick a fictitious name or begin hiring additional help, you will need to invest in a full business license. You can get more details on obtaining a business license and learn about the requirements for your specific area by visiting your local city government offices. In most cases, you can apply for these licenses online as well. Although the license isn’t necessarily expensive on its own, you do want to keep in mind that you will likely be renewing your license annually.
Business insurance is another necessity. This will keep your business safe in the long run if any accidents happen during jobs. Not having the safety net of an insurance policy puts both you and your business at a major risk. As you are cleaning the inside of people’s homes, customers will often ask if you are insured. They want to trust that their belongings are safe with you as you are cleaning. Being both licensed and insured will be a major benefit and advantage when you begin getting new customers or advertising your company. In our opinion, safety is a top priority.
Step 6: Create a Facebook Business Page
By this point, you have done your research on cleaning services in your area, decided on your hourly rate, begun to provide estimates to potential clients, picked a name for your business, registered your business legally in the state you provide service in and looked into business insurance. Now it is time to start bringing in more customers! Social media is an excellent way to reach your ideal audience.
Creating a Facebook business page is easy and completely free – the best type of advertising. You can create a new page by visiting the Facebook home page and clicking on “Pages” on the left-hand side. From the next page, select the option to “Create Page.” You are creating a page for a business and brand (which provides a service). For the name, we recommend sticking with the full business name you previously decided on. Once the page is created, you will want to make sure that you add photos and descriptions that are relative to your business. A potential customer should be able to get a clear idea of what your business is and what you offer when they visit your Facebook page.
If you decided to get a logo created in step four, the logo will make an excellent profile picture for your new Facebook page. You want to start collecting photos, articles or items that you want to share on your Facebook business page. The content you share should be things your potential customers will benefit from. You want to focus on providing them with value, even before they have purchased your services. You can include things like tips for spring cleaning or a list of your favorite eco-friendly cleaning supplies.
Step 7: Purchase Your Supplies
You are almost ready to serve your first customer! This step is vital before completing any cleaning jobs. If you are ahead of the game when it comes to landing your first customer, you will want to move this step up on the guide! If you haven’t received your first customer yet, don’t worry. All the remaining steps after purchasing your supplies are focused on getting you more customers and building awareness for your company.
When purchasing your cleaning supplies, there are basic items that you will need to make sure you have. The essential supplies for your cleaning business include:
- a caddy to hold all your supplies
- multipurpose cleaner
- glass cleaner
- oven cleaner
- bathroom cleaner
- a vacuum, bucket
- paper towels
- a mop
- a broom
- a dustpan.
There are other items that will be beneficial to invest in if your budget allows. A step ladder, furniture polish, magic erasers, degreaser, bleach, protective gloves, and floor cleaner are also helpful to your cleaning business. By having the specific cleaners mentioned here, you will be better equipped to clean your customers’ homes.
Since you are just starting your cleaning business, it is okay to start with the essential supplies and grow your stock as your business grows. Getting a clear understanding of what your potential customer wants before you arrive at his or her home will help you know what to bring with you. For instance, if a customer asks for ceiling fans to be dusted, you know ahead of time that you will need a step ladder or other tool to help you dust in a higher area.
While shopping for your supplies, keep both your budget and your specialty in mind. Do you specialize in eco-friendly products? Make sure to include eco-friendly cleaning products in your stock. If you are operating on a lower budget, you can use coupons or shop at discount stores, which often have a great variety of cleaning supplies.
Step 8: Ask Family and Friends for Leads
The remaining steps all focus on getting more customers for your new cleaning business. Start with your “warm leads” first. This includes your family, friends, and anyone that is in your close circle. You may already know someone in your circle that is looking for help with cleaning their home! They may have a rental that needs to be cleaned for new renters or they might be looking for help with seasonal deep cleaning.
Even if none of your family or friends are looking for cleaning services themselves, they may know others who are. Begin by asking them if they know of anyone who may be interested in your cleaning services. You can also ask them to share about your new business. The more you tell others about your new business, the quicker word-of-mouth will get around! Word of mouth is often the cheapest and most trusted version of advertisement!
Step 9: Run Opening Specials or Promotions
To celebrate the opening of your new cleaning business and spark the interest of potential customers, you can run specials. An example of a special you could promote is 10% off cleaning services during your first month in business. People are frequently attracted to a good deal and it makes them more likely to give your services a try. Specials are also an easy way for others to help you promote your services. When you know about the latest sale or discount, you want to make sure your friends and family know about it too!
Even as your company grows, you can also run seasonal type promotions. This is commonly seen around April and May for cleaning companies, promoting spring cleaning. Since cleaning is in high demand during the spring season, it is an excellent time to attract new customers to your business! Other promotion ideas you can run throughout the year include Black Friday discounts, gift certificates for Christmas, back to school cleaning around August or a discount around your company’s anniversary of being in business.
One important part of running any sort of special or promotion is making sure it still makes sense for your company. When deciding on what to offer, you will want to go back to your hourly rate and list of expenses. After offering a discount, will your company still make a profit? You want to be careful to not offer discounts so low that your company then loses money. Specials and promotions are only beneficial if they help your company continue to grow!
Step 10: Ask Current Customers for Testimonials
Once you have experience under your belt and are getting repeat customers, ask customers to provide you with a testimonial. Having testimonials visible for those who may be interested in your services, providing a way for them to build trust before working with you. After reading testimonials from other customers, your potential customer gets a better understanding of what it’s like to hire you.
If you are struggling to get customers to provide testimonials, you can offer a discount if they provide a testimonial. This is also an excellent way to get referrals! Customers love referral programs. You can offer something like a percentage of cleaning services for every referral a customer sends your way or a free home cleaning after 10 referrals. You can decide on a discount or number that makes the most sense for your business and will also make your current customers eager to participate.
Step 11: Consider Investing in Advertisement
The last step for creating a cleaning business is considering advertisement. If your company has grown rapidly with your free Facebook business page and word of mouth, then you may not need to consider further advertisement, especially if your calendar is full! However, if you are still struggling to bring in more clients, then you may want to consider other forms of advertising to catch the eye of your potential customer.
One of the most cost-effective forms of advertising is social media ads. Both Facebook and Instagram will allow you to design your own ads. You can select your area, customize your target audience, and decide how long you want the advertisement to run. The best part about these advertisements is you decide what your budget is! You don’t have to spend a fortune.
Another form of advertisement is printed material. To target an exact area, you can get a flyer designed and printed off. You can pass it around town, hand it out to family or friends to give away or you can consider having it mailed out with the local mail. No matter what your budget may be, there are multiple forms of advertisement available to you!
Once you have completed the 11 steps mentioned above, you are on your way to creating and running a successful cleaning business! It may seem overwhelming to start a cleaning business in the beginning, but it doesn’t have to be stressful when you follow the steps above. As your company expands and grows, refer back to this article for refreshers on business basics!
Should I keep my price low to get more customers?
No. There are risks involved with keeping your price too low. If your hourly rate is too low, you take the risk of your company losing money in the long run. You want to be sure to consider the prices of the expenses and your time when deciding on an hourly rate. Do not be afraid of charging what your services are truly worth!
Is getting insurance optional for a cleaning business?
Although the type of insurance you get for your new cleaning business is not mandatory, it is not optional to get insurance at all. You at least need liability. Like keeping your price too low, you are taking a major risk by not getting insurance for your cleaning business. It is not only a risk for your business, but for your own finances as well. If a situation arises and you do not have insurance, you could potentially go bankrupt. It is always better to stay on the side of being safe!
Do I need a website for my cleaning business?
A website is optional for a cleaning business. However, in our opinion, it is not mandatory. When considering if a website is right for you, you will want to consider your goals for your business and how much you are looking to grow. You also need to consider your budget. If you want to grow to become a massive organization, then a website will become a necessity to help you get there. However, if you desire to keep your cleaning business small, including only you and a couple of additional cleaners as employees, social media can work wonderfully as your online presence. The most important part is ensuring a potential customer can find you online (whether that is through a website or your social media channel).
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.
Ready to start your own cleaning business? Take a look at our startup documents here!