Starting a cleaning business is more straightforward than you might realize, but it’s a ton of hard work. Provided you’re willing to put the necessary time and effort into doing a top-notch job, you can build a steady pipeline of customers and make excellent money. If you want to be your own boss and set up as an entrepreneur, carefully read through this guide about how to start a cleaning business.
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How To Start A Cleaning Business From Scratch
Starting a cleaning business is a great way to work for yourself and build up a company. It’s always in high demand, and there are a broad range of niches for you to choose from, such as residential, commercial, industrial, window cleaning, or pressure washing.
Before you do anything else, we’d recommend conducting research into what cleaning services are available in your local area. Tag along with another cleaner or offer out your services to an honest friend and ask for feedback to ensure you’re delivering a professional standard job. Once you’ve done some research and established an idea of what you plan to do, you’re ready to get started.
Step One: Financing
The most challenging aspect of how to start a cleaning business is often financing. There are some, but not too many, start-up costs associated with this type of business. Entrepreneurs might need to take out a business loan, borrow from friends and family, or use personal credit to get a kick-start.
Although there are overheads with a cleaning company, they’re relatively low compared to other markets. As such, you’ll be able to minimize debt and start expanding your operation as you generate income. The main costs when you first set up are licenses and permits, insurance, marketing, and cleaning equipment.
Step Two: Choose A Market
Now that you’re ready to start planning your cleaning business, it’s time to consider which market you’re best suited to. Identify which market you’d like to specialize in based on your expertise and the local target audience.
Once you’ve got an idea of which type of customer you’re going to serve, get your company values down on paper. By matching up your value proposition with your target market’s expectations, you can start to build a cohesive brand story. This helps to make sure your company’s website, advertising materials, and employee training materials are aligned.
Carving out a niche also means you don’t get sidetracked and remain focused on what you do best. Remember that your top two priorities are speed and quality, no matter what niche you’re in. When choosing how to position yourself ahead of the competition, ask the following questions:
How are you solving customers’ problems?
What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)?
- Time guarantee
- Luxury service
- Easy appointment scheduling
- Price point
Step Three: Build A Brand
With an idea of the type of company you intend to be, you’re ready to pick out a name and start expanding the brand story. You could select a name that speaks to your USP — for example, incorporating the words “green” or “environmental” if you’re an eco-friendly company. A name should be creative and unique but memorable.
Try to ensure your cleaning company name is:
- Easy to spell
- Easy to say
- Fewer than three words
A brand might sound like something fancy that you don’t need to worry about as a cleaning business, but it’s essential. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, you need to make sure your company sticks in people’s minds. Branding creates a level of consistency that encourages your customers to remember who your company is, what its message is, and what you do.
Create a company logo and select the fine details such as fonts, a color palette, and a style of speech. Do you want to be seen as formal and old-fashioned or young and cool? Keep in mind that your logo and branding will be reflected everywhere, from your website to uniforms, vehicle design, door hangers, business cards, social media, business signature, and business documents.
Step Four: Register Your Business
There’s a bit of a gray area around a business such as small-scale residential cleaning when there’s a single business person and customers pay cash. Whether you’re expected to declare registration and income depends on your revenue. Generally speaking, if you’re earning upwards of a few hundred dollars per month, you’ll need to report to the IRS.
You’ve got the choice of setting up alone or with a partner, or you can set up an LLC to keep your business and personal finances separate. If you have corporate clients, correct tax documentation and business registration are especially important.
- 1099 contractor: If you provide services as a contractor to a local business and earn more than $600 per year, you’ll need this type of contract.
- Consumer vs commercial: Consumer cleaners work in people’s homes, while commercial cleaners have contracts with corporate or state entities.
Cleaning Business License
Most experts recommend getting licensed and insured as soon as possible to prevent any issues down the line. Now you’ve chosen your business structure, you can get it registered using the official channels.
Cleaning Business Insurance
Insurance is nonnegotiable because it protects you and the people who work for you. Entering someone’s home or business without the necessary insurance is too risky and could cost your business dearly. Insurance provides an essential safety net in case something like a breakage or scratch occurs.
Step Five: Pricing And Service List
When conducting market research, pay close attention to competitors’ prices and service lists. This is the best way to hunt down gaps in your local market and incorporate them into your offering. Keep in mind that there’s a ton of demand in the cleaning industry, so your business doesn’t need to jump through hoops to stand out. Nonetheless, you’ll need to carefully consider your pricing and service list.
Cleaners mark up prices in different ways, with some charging an hourly rate and others charging based on square footage. Some considerations when putting together a price list include:
- Calculating your hourly rate
- Calculating employees’ hourly rate
- Taking into account overheads, equipment, and insurance
- Adjustments for special materials and services
- Determining profitability
- Fees and taxes
Step Six: Purchase Equipment
While starting a cleaning business is a low-cost option for an entrepreneur, you can still expect to spend some cash. Transportation, supplies, and equipment are the main costs you’ll need to think about — and your choices matter. The quality of the products you use must be aligned with your branding so potential customers are satisfied that the job you do matches up to what you promised.
Here’s an example of some of the items you might need to purchase:
- Marketing materials
- Glass cleaner
- All-purpose surface cleaner
- Dustpan and broom
- Vacuum cleaner
- Extendable pole
- Scrubbing brushes
- Microfiber towels
- Rubber gloves
- Face masks
Step Seven: Marketing Strategy
While you’ll be able to get a few clients by speaking to friends and family, you’ll need to market your business to get the word out about your services. Thankfully, the internet makes it easier than ever to tell the world about your awesome cleaning business. Let’s take a look at some top tips for marketing a cleaning business:
- Website: Your website should list your services, with a landing page for each location you work in. Use SEO to ensure your site ranks high on the search engine results pages.
- Business directories: Lead generation websites and business directories are excellent ways for cleaning companies to drum up interest.
- Cleaning services business cards: Business cards are relatively cheap and highly effective if you’ve got the gift of gab. Wherever you go, whether it’s out to dinner or into a local business, offer your business card to people you start chatting with and tell them about your company.
- Google My Business: A GMB profile is essential for any small business. Listing with Google makes it easier for customers to find your company when they conduct local searches or use Google Maps to search for services near you.
- Social media: Social media is one of the best marketing tools out there. Facebook, instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat are excellent means of getting your business in front of customers’ eyes. Create a local Facebook group and offer tips and recommendations instead of going for the hard sell.
- Door hangers: Every time you do a great job in a house or business, be sure to leave door hangers on the neighbors’ doors. You might conveniently solve a bunch of people’s pain points without them even needing to search!
- Real estate agents: If you’re thinking of getting into commercial cleaning, working with real estate agents can be an excellent shout. Most rental properties require a professional cleaning before the next people move in. By positioning yourself with real estate companies, you have access to a never-ending pipeline of customers.
- Referrals: Good old word of mouth is always going to play a key role in a business’s success. Offer a reward to customers in return for referrals, or partner with other local businesses and offer referrals in return for referrals.
Starting A Cleaning Business Checklist
That’s pretty much everything you’ll need to get started as a cleaning entrepreneur. Here’s a checklist for quick reference:
- Which company structure is best suited to your goals?
- Do you require a license, permit, and insurance?
- How do you set up payroll?
- Which services do you offer?
- How much do you plan to charge for services?
- What’s your business name?
- Do you have all the necessary supplies and equipment?
- Have you set up a viable accounting and scheduling system?
- How are you going to advertise to your target audience?
- How many employees do you plan on having in one year, five years, and 10 years?
- How much profit do you plan to make in one year, five years, and 10 years?