It’s understandable why you might want to start a cleaning business. Regardless of what the economy is doing, you can have good business. Houses always get dirty, and there are always people who would rather not do housework or, in some cases, can’t.
The top six tips for starting your home cleaning business are:
1) Do your research
2) Design a business plan
3) Get your supplies
4) Get your legalities done
5) Market your business
6) Obtain your first customers
While it is possible to make good money in a home cleaning business, it isn’t easy starting. I’ve found that many people go in without thinking, and they make things harder for themselves as a result. So, I’m here to help you by giving some tips on starting a cleaning business.
Do Your Research
Before you start a business, you need to do your research. Reading articles like this one is a good first step, but it’s not the only step.
Look at what type of cleaning business you intend to start and look at the supplies you need. Itemize how much they cost so you can factor that into your business plan. While it might be tempting to get the cheapest things possible, it’s not the best idea. Providing quality service requires quality products.
Big companies do market research before bringing a product or service to market. Though it’s not realistic for you to spend money on a marketing firm, you can still do some basic research on your computer. Look at the market in your local area to see if you can build a customer base that can sustain you. Look at what services people are requesting.
Don’t forget to check the competition. You need to know how much competition there is. Sometimes, the market is too competitive. Cleaning can be a competitive marketplace, and you may have to find a niche you can fill. But, if there isn’t much competition, that isn’t necessarily a good sign.
I meet plenty of people who have thought that there’s a market for their business because nobody else is doing it. However, sometimes there isn’t a market, and nobody wants what they’re selling. Before going out for loans from friends, family, or banks, be sure your idea can work.
When looking at the market, you should look for what your local market needs. This will help you determine what kind of cleaning service to offer and the best way to market it.
You also need to know what your business will entail. Maid service (or any other cleaning service) isn’t as easy as you might think. I find that spending some time talking to people who are in the industry is helpful. You can find them on social media or forums dedicated to the subject. It may be possible to go along with a cleaner in your area if you know one. Firsthand experience helps determine whether or not you want to be in this industry. It will also help you determine what you need to invest in when you design a business plan.
Design a Business Plan
A good business plan and a budget are necessary to get started. They should contain a list of short-term and long-term goals and realistic ways you intend to achieve those goals. Part of the reason I see a lot of businesses go under is a lack of planning. Many failed business owners thought their businesses were “sure things” or were so caught up in being their boss that they didn’t take the time to develop a practical business plan and ended up worse than before.
If you’re trying to get investors like banks and families to contribute to your house cleaning business, they will want to see a business plan to evaluate it to see if it is something they want to invest in. If you’re getting money from friends and family, you should show them a business plan. They will possibly help you adjust your business plan or help you see things you may have overlooked. Having a well-thought-out business plan will help persuade investors and loan officers.
If you intend to expand your small business and have employees rather than one-person operation, you need to incorporate that into your business plan. Your employees need your business to be stable, and they need the checks to clear.
Get your supplies
Once you’ve decided what business you want to run, you should get any supplies you need. Deciding what supplies you need is another good place where your market research can come in handy. I live in an area where people tend to have hardwood floors rather than carpets. So, I buy extra hardwood cleaning chemicals and fewer carpet chemicals (though I still have some carpet cleaning solutions on standby.
Don’t forget to make sure your vehicle is in proper working order before setting up advertisements. While vehicle failures can and will happen, it’s important to keep them to a minimum when you’re starting and don’t have a tolerant customer base.
Handle the Legal Stuff
Depending on your state and local laws, you may have to get a license to run a home cleaning business. If you live in such an area, get the license. Not only does it keep you from paying fines and going to jail, but it’s also good for business. People are inviting you into their homes or offices with sensitive information and valuables. Being licensed will help you earn their trust.
Market Your Business
The next step is marketing once you’ve decided what your business will be and have gotten financing and licensing handled.
Marketing is more than just advertising. Marketing starts when you first name your business. Your business’ name should adequately explain what you do, even if it isn’t catchy. Something like “(Insert your location here) House Cleaning, for example. There are some businesses out there that choose names to turn heads. But I always have trouble figuring out what service the businesses with flashy names are trying to provide.
Customers like having things spelled out to them. It’s also more efficient in terms of search results (be it Google or Craigslist). If your business’ name does not explicitly say that you’re a house cleaner, it will be lower on the search results than someone upfront about what their business does.
Learn more about advertising your business HERE.
Making fliers is a good idea if you know where to post them. They should be in places with a lot of foot traffic. Like business cards, they should have your contact information. Since they’re bigger, you can afford to put your price list on them. Be sure that you have permission to put up fliers if you’re putting them up on the private property.
You should also make use of social media. Create a page that emphasizes your cleaning skills. Have it show before and after pictures, your price list, any specials you offer, and any contact information. Whether or not you use any of the options to increase traffic to your page is up to you, but many of these make cost money, so keep that in mind.
There is room for creativity on a logo, social media page, or business card. Still, it would help if you remembered that these things should communicate that you’re running a cleaning business and your business card needs to give your contact information.
Your First Customers
Admittedly, your first customers will probably be your immediate friends and family. It would be best if you used this as an opportunity to gain more experience. Have them post reviews on sites like Yelp and FourSquare. That will help steer customers to you.
Try to get experience cleaning all types of things to broaden your skillset. That way, you’ll know what to do when high-value clients start coming in.
1. Are these tips helpful for all types of cleaning businesses?
Yes. Even if you’re going into something like commercial carpet cleaning, these tips apply to you. Granted, you’ll have to scale up your budget since carpet cleaning machines can be expensive.
2. How big should my operating area be?
The area you work in should be realistic and take things like gas money and any jobs you have that day into account. I don’t suggest going beyond your tri-county area without an additional travel charge.
3. What other skills do I need as a house cleaner?
A big skill that is not talked about is the ability to keep a secret. A lot of people keep things in their homes that they would rather the community not know. When people invite you into their homes to clean their rooms, you should remember that they want you to keep their secrets. You’ll probably deal with friends and family asking for juicy gossip, particularly if you clean for someone they don’t like. But as a cleaner, you should keep that secret. In a business that requires you to see things that are often weird, being known around the area as the cleaner who tells everyone everything they see will hurt you.
Of course, this tip does not apply to secrets where there’s an imminent danger to someone, or there’s something criminal going on; it’s okay to speak up to the proper authorities at that point. Just don’t tell your friends and family the business of your customers.
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.