The cleaning industry has been growing in recent years, and experts predict that this trend will continue well into the future. This makes starting a cleaning service an excellent business choice for entrepreneurs, especially in the big cities.
But it’s important for those who don’t yet have dedicated experience in the field to get started on the right foot. Read on to find out about 13 things it takes to start and run a successful cleaning service.
1- The Right Insurance
Just about all businesses need some form of business insurance. For commercial cleaning services, it comes in the form of janitorial services insurance. New business owners will find help available at garrity-insurance.com that can minimize the risk of legal troubles and inspire more confidence in their clients.
2- Right Cleaning Supplies
Most commercial cleaning services start small and build client bases slowly, at least at first. There’s no need to spend a small fortune on buying cleaning supplies in bulk, but new business owners should make sure they and any employees already on their payrolls have access to all the basics.
As a general rule, it’s easier to start off taking residential clients since cleaning even large homes still requires only basic supplies, not expensive, specialized machinery.
3- A Business License
Most states require commercial cleaning services to take out business licenses or permits. These may come in the form of vendor’s licenses or DBA registrations. Business licenses also allow cleaning services to operate and pay taxes as official business entities, collect sales tax from clients, register a name for the company, and avoid the stiff penalties that can come from operating without a license.
4- Adequate Startup Funding
Starting a cleaning business doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Some successful business owners have started with next to nothing and scaled their operations from there. However, every commercial cleaning service will still need to cover a few costs, including those described above, so it’s wise to either have a little bit of money saved up or take out a small loan to cover these costs.
5- A Well Thought Budget
Make sure any startup funding can be stretched as far as possible by coming up with a budget in advance. Expect to pay between $30 and $500 for licenses and permits, $500 to $3,500 annually for insurance, $300 to $600 for cleaning supplies, $100 to $200 for marketing, and at least minimum wages for each employee.
6- A Catchy Name
Come up with a catchy, easy-to-remember name that reflects the services offered by the cleaning company. This will be the name the business is registered under, so spend some time thinking about it because it will be difficult to change.
Keep in mind that branded names sound more professional to most clients than those that include the business owner’s name. This will also make it easier to sell the business should the opportunity eventually arise to make good money off the sale.
7- A Business Address
In some places, business owners can start home-based cleaning services. Since all the work occurs at customers’ homes or offices, there’s often no reason to rent an office. However, some municipalities limit the volume of commercial activities performed by home-based business owners, and others outright prohibit residents from using their homes as commercial addresses. In these cases, a virtual office address can be a huge benefit.
8- A Work Vehicle
Work vehicles are arguably more important than commercial addresses for cleaning services since all of the work occurs in clients’ homes. An economy car or station wagon should offer enough room to transport supplies and cleaning teams, but make sure the vehicle is in good condition and provides a good impression of the company. Paint the company’s name and telephone number on the vehicle to use it as a form of advertising and attract more clients.
9- Consistent Pricing
Consider pricing for services in advance. Most clients will ask for quotes from multiple cleaning services, so business owners will need to do some research to make sure they are pricing their services appropriately. If they offer quotes that are too low, new business owners will lose money but if their estimates are too high, the company won’t be competitive.
10- Sound Billing Processes
Most residential cleaners start out accepting only cash, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t still create clear and official invoices. Those willing to extend credit to clients should include terms of the credit, additional charges for late payments, and discounts for early payments on their invoices, as well. Make sure all aspects of payment schedules are clearly defined.
11- Well Researched Target Audience
Choose a target audience for the cleaning company before even considering marketing. Most cleaning services start out offering residential services, but even they must decide whether to focus on condos and apartments, private homes, or empty units. Business owners who have sufficient startup capital can also consider focusing on offices, retail spaces, manufacturing facilities, schools, and other larger spaces.
12- A Foolproof Marketing Plan
While it’s perfectly fine to start growing a cleaning business by word-of-mouth recommendations, all successful businesses will eventually need to market their services to draw in new clients. Make sure to keep the target audience in mind.
13- A Positive Image
Whether the company consists of only the business owner using his or her own vehicle, or it has already grown to include multiple employees and a small fleet, it’s important to present a positive image. Keep interactions with clients friendly but professional, operate with integrity, and ensure that both employees and their vehicles look clean and presentable.
Consider designing a t-shirt and having all employees wear it to the job to get in some free advertising and present a more professional image.
The Bottom Line
Starting a cleaning service doesn’t have to cost a fortune. New business owners should take the time to think everything through and come up with comprehensive business plans before they even take their first clients. As they gain experience and working capital, they can scale up their operations and hire more employees, buy new equipment, expand marketing, and more.