If you are thinking of starting a cleaning business, this article will be helpful to guide you even if you are not a master at it.
Before you leap into the cleaning business, it’s essential to look at it with a broad vision. If you are willing to start a cleaning business with low overhead, know that cleaning services tend to have lower up-front costs than other ventures. A cleaning business is one of the few businesses you can start operating quickly with little capital, provided you are willing to work hard for a modest profit and gradual grains.
Most cleaning service businesses can be operated either part-time or full-time, from home or a commercial location. The flexibility gives the industry a solid appeal to various people with various goals. Below is the guide on how to start a cleaning business.
What is a cleaning business?
A cleaning business is a business that renders the service of general cleaning of premises such as offices, shops, and residential places, including household goods such as carpets, sofas, and curtains, for a fee. Individual cleaners work mainly in personal residences for a small number of clients. You can provide cleaning services to the customer under an agreement. If you go the house cleaning route, you’ll spend less.
Some independent contractors keep weekly appointments with a fixed schedule of clients and jobs in the cleaning business. Other people are available for short-term or one-time services by the day or hour. There are two main options for starting a cleaning business. You can purchase a franchise from an established and reputable cleaning company or start your own business with the backing of an established cleaning equipment brand.
When you start your cleaning business, make sure your work is worth paying for. Begin with your close friends and family circle. You can even offer a free house cleaning in exchange for candid feedback and cleaning supplies. Alternatively, if you know someone who works as a cleaner, you can ask to accompany them on a job to make sure your cleaning standard meets the expectations of paying customers.
Moreover, the best way to do that is to tackle a job for someone else. Decide what kind of cleaning services you want to provide. Cleaning services range from one person to national chains and from most basic light home cleaning to specialized services—for example, pressure washing and industrial carpet cleaning.
How to start a cleaning business?
Cleaning can be a lucrative and rewarding business for individuals with a great work ethic and customer service behavior. A friend or family member involved in the cleaning service industry will be a considerable resource. It is okay even if you start your business from scratch without connections. Ultimately, a record of high-quality service and satisfied customers is a key to operating a successful cleaning business.
You are tapping into an enormous market with many clients by starting a cleaning business. You will have a high demand for clearing services because people usually feel stressed and unpleasant cleaning their house. The right ways to start a cleaning business are listed below:
Start the cleaning job by yourself
One of the best ways to start a cleaning business is by doing most of the work yourself instead of beginning with staffing. First, you need to learn about the company before successfully running it. To land your first clients, ask your friends and family for references to clean their houses. Committing to sourcing and working for your first few clients will ensure you keep your costs low as reasonably.
Instead of investing money in hiring workers, you can pay yourself reasonable earnings. At the same time, you work out any kinks in your business model and determine best practices for your company. By taking care of clients yourself, you earn a positive reputation and maintain control of your business image. Once the business begins to pick up, you can start contracting with bigger cleaning jobs.
Fund your cleaning business
It will be challenging to finance a new venture if you start from scratch. You can borrow money from friends or family, take out a business loan, or spend on credit in such a case. Depending on the scale of the business, startup costs for a cleaning business can be comparatively low. So you can keep debt to a minimum when first planning a cleaning business from scratch, then expand operations and spending as you generate revenue.
Usually, the costs associated with starting a cleaning business include the price of cleaning supplies and products, advertising, business insurance, and business license and permits. Supplies can usually be bought for less money at big-box retailers. The items you need will depend on your business’s specialty, but most cleaners’ products include mops, window cleaner, latex gloves, paper towels, brushes, etc. Once you establish your business, you can even purchase directly from manufacturers.
Choose your market
The clientele you pursue and services offered should be based on local demands, your abilities, and access to transportation. For example, if you need to be able to walk to your cleaning jobs, establish a radius you feel comfortable commuting within the focus of your market research on that area. People with access to a car or public transportation have more flexibility and can start by searching online for existing businesses that offer similar services.
Competitor research is a fundamental part of planning any business, so it’s worth researching cleaning businesses in your area when you wonder how to start a cleaning business. Keep an eye out for services that other companies seem to be missing. Residential cleaning is easier to get into than commercial cleaning when just starting.
Large janitorial companies usually dominate the commercial cleaning business, and they typically have more resources at their disposal. You can narrow your market down even further within the residential cleaning sector, such as apartments or single-family homes. Also, when selecting your market, keep in mind that you’ll more likely be doing your initial jobs on your own.
So, this means being selective regarding the clients you choose to work with. You might not want to take on a job where you are cleaning a large mansion on your own, as this will probably take more time than it’s worth. Further, doing the assignments on your own will minimize costs and allow you to plan work around your schedule.
Find a specialty
You can be successful as a cleaner due to the quality of your service, whether that’s expertise in a specialized area such as cleaning carpets or porcelain or simply efficient and friendly service. Specialized equipment and services are only worth providing if you already have experience or access to required resources. Otherwise, training, equipment, and other expenses might outweigh your cleaning revenue.
Once you get to the point where it makes sense to specialize, you might consider commercial kitchen cleaning, eco-friendly cleaning, and tile and grout cleaning.
Set affordable cleaning business budget
Supplies and transportation are two major expenses of essential cleaning services. Depending on your services, your cleaning expenses will vary from very low for an individual cleaner to considerably more for a business with a multi-person team and company vehicle. Once you establish a transportation and backup plan, you can start to estimate the other expenses of starting up your business.
Transportation is essential to any mobile business like a cleaning service, and one of the most critical prerequisites before starting a job is you have to get there first.
The cost and amount of supplies you need depend entirely on your services and your number of clients. If you clean a handful of private residences each week, you can buy supplies in bulk at retailers. Some customers might prefer you to use their products. Wholesale vendors will likely require proof of your business’s legitimacy, but if you are operating a more extensive service, finding discounted prices from suppliers shouldn’t be a problem once you register the company.
Transportation and cleaning supplies are the main expenses for business cleaning services, but equipment and other rentals will also add up. Unless you already own or have free access to equipment, special machines and cleaning agents for carpets, flooring, and exteriors can be pricey rentals. If you already know how to use a specific type of equipment, it’s worth investigating the costs of renting. You can always hold off on extra expenses until you are more established.
Register the business
Domestic services like house cleaning and babysitting are not always precise, especially when the service is just one individual and clients pay in cash. The amount of registration and income reporting you require to do depends on the extent of your business.
If you clean your aunt’s kitchen in exchange for $20 a week, it doesn’t constitute a business. If you only provide services for family, it is probably safe to hold off on registering your business. If you make more than a few hundred dollars in a month, you need to use the formal channels for reporting income to the IRS. You can select to operate a cleaning business as a sole proprietor or in a partnership with another person. You can even set up a limited liability corporation if you want to separate your business and professional finances.
When considering starting a cleaning business, you might also look into becoming a franchisee of a large cleaning service chain. The advantage is that you already have built-in brand recognition, policies, and procedures. However, you won’t have as much control over your business. Suppose you are interested in working as a cleaner outside of the home. In that case, it’s worth noting that it’s much easier for private individuals to pay other individuals than for a business to pay an individual who is not an employee.
Business registration and proper tax documentation are essential for cleaning services with corporate clients. When registering your business, you are required to pick a business name. Be thoughtful in the name you select for your business, as it is an essential aspect of your marketing and branding efforts. The name you choose should reflect the services you provide, the values of your company, or a combination of both.
Find and maintain clients
Online platforms and service platforms connect individuals with local cleaning businesses, but word-of-mouth still plays a big part in the domestic service industry. Consider asking clients who are particularly pleased with your cleaning services to share your Facebook or Instagram page or give them business cards to pass on to interested friends.
Invest in advertising
Even if you rely on customers to find new customers, investing in an online presence for your service benefits your business in the long run. Current and potential customers can find you online, even if you don’t have an entire website. Create a Facebook page and keep your information and profile up-to-date.
Once you have established service and a roster of clients, you can sign up for a platform to make it easier for clients to find your business. Having customer reviews and a registered company will strengthen your online profile. For online networking, consider printing business cards.
Starting a cleaning business with no money
The cleaning industry generally targets the customer market by providing residential maid services or the commercial market by providing janitorial services for businesses. Some cleaning businesses specialize in move-in or move-out cleanup or post-renovation cleanup. A residential cleaning service is the most straightforward cleaning company to start with the necessary cleaning skills.
Still, it also requires much less equipment to begin with, than a janitorial service or niche cleaning service. Follow these ways to start a new business with no money:
- Borrow from friends and family. Be proficient and put everything in writing.
- Use credit cards.
- Find a partner who’s willing to invest money in the business.
- Apply for funding from the small business administration and the other government programs. There are unique financing options available for women, veterans, and minorities. You can benefit from these if you have a shortage of money.
How much money do I need to start a cleaning business?
Depending on the scope, the initial investment required for a cleaning business ranges between $2,000 to $6,000. This estimated figure includes legalities, insurance policies, equipment, supplies, labor, and marketing. The initial fund needed is considerably lower when compared to other industries or businesses. Furthermore, the location of your company determines how much money goes into your initial investment.
You don’t need an exclusive license to start your own cleaning business in Florida, but it is a legal requirement in many other states. In New York, the average salary for a housekeeper is $17 per hour, while in Texas, it adds up to $12 per hour. Thus, fees and rates vary depending on where you plan to start your business.
Starting a cleaning business checklist
Before starting a cleaning business, make sure to make a checklist for your ease so you won’t make any wrong decisions. Checklists can be revised from time to time as your circumstances change. You should adjust your plan or checklist to make necessary adjustments as your business grows.
● Make a plan
It is essential always to have a strategy of where you want to start your business. You need to know exactly where you want to be after a certain period and what will be your action plan to be there.
● Do market research
You need to do perfect research on the cleaning market to see what industries, locations, and equipment are suitable for you to get started. You can choose what you will focus on, domestic or accommodation cleaning.
● Business registration
Ensure you have fulfilled all the fundamental business conditions, such as obtaining an ABN. Talking to your account is an excellent source to find out what business requirements you need to meet in the future.
● Manage your finances
The success of your business relies on how efficiently you manage your finances. Keep a check on how much you can contribute from your finances, can you buy equipment on a finance plan without taking a loan, and whether you have a per-day breakdown.
● Insurance policies
You must purchase the right business insurance policy to minimize future uncertainty or risk. You can seek guidance from your accountant regarding this.
● Hire an accountant
You must hire an accountant before starting a business. An accountant or bookkeeper can keep your accounting books accurate and handle tax issues.
● Marketing and sales
Without clients, there is no business. Effective sales and marketing campaigns like a local paper advertisement, business cards, door hangers, and website building are essential in reaching your customers.
How to start a cleaning business from scratch?
If you are starting a cleaning business from scratch, make sure you get things organized first. You can begin with yourself as a cleaner. Take a start by cleaning your family or friends’ houses. Set an affordable rate so you can at least get work. Choose your cleaning services to offer. Below is the list of services you can submit to your clients:
- Basic cleaning
- Deep cleaning
- Spring cleaning
- Regular maintenance
- New home cleaning
- Move-out cleaning
While making a list of cleaning services, check out your competitor’s website to see what they offer. You can learn what services are missing in the market and which ones you can contribute to standing out in the market. Offer the services that you are best at. Your skills should be seen in your work to satisfy your customers. You can decide if you would like to focus on residential cleaning or if you want to be a commercial cleaning business as well.
When you know the type of services you will offer, you can choose whether to run a solo operation from your home, a more significant business with other employees, or something in between. You can also choose if you’ll work part-time or full-time, on weekdays or weekends, and where your service area is.
How to start a cleaning business with no experience?
Even if you have no experience with cleaning, you can still start and run a successful cleaning business. To start a business with no experience, build the skills you may be lacking, which may be the cleaning or business side, and scale your business steadily. Starting your business is exciting because it can lead you to a life of freedom.
If you are expertise in cleaning windows or another skilled service, it is worth honing your business focus on your skills and resources. In the case of opting for a franchise, plenty of training and support will be provided. However, there is usually a considerable investment with a franchise-type set-up, and there are rules and regulations that a franchisee needs to abide by.
For example, a rule might be how much you can charge, what you wear, and the process in which you deal with customers. The other way to start your cleaning business is to buy a cleaning business starter kit through a reputable cleaning equipment business. Here you will need to build your reputation, but you will enjoy complete control over your business operations and take home all the profit.
The equipment company will be able to deliver you the right product package to clean for a range of industries. One familiar with contract cleaners should be capable of giving you tools and resources to help start and grow your business.
Do you need a license to start a cleaning business?
Once you establish your business, you need to become licensed. Any company regulated by a federal agency needs their approval. Cleaning businesses don’t require federal agency approval. If you clean in a niche industry or use restricted cleaning solutions, it’s worth it to make sure. Even if you don’t require a business license approved by a federal agency, you still need to register your business for income tax purposes.
In addition, you will need a vendor’s license to calculate and pay sales tax. You can apply for a vendor’s license with your city clerk or a regional administrator. It’s a great idea to speak to your city clerk about all the local ordinances to ensure you are fully compliant. Some cities or countries require that cleaning services be bonded, even if it is not a related company.
Bonding requires you to pay a surety company a sum of money to ensure your business against claims from your clients. Unlike standard insurance, the business pays the total amount of the bond upfront and has to reimburse the surety company for any claims paid out. As a business owner, being bonded protects your customers and shows that you are a reliable and trustworthy company.
Some places require that cleaning services be bonded, so check if you have any such requirements before setting up your business to avoid significant unexpected expenses. Don’t presume this means you don’t need to be licensed and bonded. Always correspond to your city clerk or state business office to be sure.
Pros and cons of starting a cleaning business
There are many positives and negatives to starting a cleaning company that will have you reaching for the mop and bucket in seconds. Take a look at the following:
- It has low start-up costs. You can start a cleaning business with a bit of money. All you need to get started are a few essential cleaning products and the passion for succeeding.
- It has very few overhead expenses. It’s doubtful that you’ll need to rent or buy premises, buy a company car or pay utility bills, especially in your early days. You can start your business with minimal financial concerns.
- You can work from home with no office, shop floor, or warehouse required. You can execute your business from the comfort of your home.
- You can be your boss as setting up your own business means that you’ll be working for yourself. You can set your hours, have total control of expenses and pick and choose the jobs you want.
- The cleaning business has flexible working. Being self-employed means working when best for you, whether seven days a week or mornings only.
- Starting a cleaning business demands no specific qualifications or certificates. All you need is hard work, determination, and the desire to do well.
However, having your own cleaning company and being your boss won’t always involve calling clients from the comfort of your living room. Here are a few things you should acknowledge before getting started:
- It’s challenging physical work. Cleaning is a physical job involving repetitive movements, carrying heavy supplies, reaching high shelves, and crawling on your knees to reach the corners. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
- Income might be slow, especially to begin with. You might not earn much money starting up your business in the first months.
- It’s a competitive business. Cleaning is such a lucrative market that start-ups pop up left, right, and center. You’ll need to keep on top of your competition and focus on succeeding.
- Jobs might take longer than you think. You must get your timings right and leave enough time to finish jobs. If people have a very messy house, what you expect to take you 1 hour might take you 3.
- It’s stressful. Managing work schedules, employee wages, legal compliance, and advertising can take their toll when doing it yourself. Ensure you factor in some downtime.
Every business demands effort and sacrifices. To start a cleaning business, you need to put a lot of effort into standing out in the market, especially if you start from scratch with no experience. It’s a great idea to start from your circle of friends and family. This is how you can have a good start by earning a good amount and experience. According to your skills, choose the service you are best at. Once you start from lower prices, you can expand your business and hire employees.