You need every advantage you can get.
With the right resources and strategies, starting a residential cleaning business or a commercial cleaning business from scratch can be an inexpensive way to become an entrepreneur.
How to Start a Cleaning Business
- Define your cleaning business
- Write a business plan
- Hire an experienced business attorney
- Decide your legal business structure
- Set up accounting and bookkeeping
- Assess your finances
- Develop your brand identity
- Crunch the numbers
- Fill in business blanks
- Establish an online presence
- Create a sales plan
- Spread the word
- Find the right help
Define your cleaning business
A cleaning business can be lucrative and rewarding at both the residential and commercial levels.
Before you pack up your mops, brooms, and Magic Erasers, consider these facts:
- In May 2018, there were about 924,290 jobs in residential cleaning with the titles ‘maid’ or ‘housekeeper,’ and estimates suggest that 236,500 new cleaning jobs will be created by 2023.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows the cleaning industry growth at 7%, above the national average for all occupations. The field is expected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, presenting a good opportunity for prospective business owners in this category.
- Hourly rates for house cleaning range from $20 to $50 per hour per worker, with most home cleaning visits lasting at least two hours with one worker for $75–$110.
But, even if you’re motivated by the potential to become a cleaning business owner, it’s natural that you’d still have some questions when deciding whether to start a cleaning business.
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make as a business owner when you start a cleaning company is to decide if you’re interested in starting a residential or commercial cleaning service.
While you can certainly add cleaning services as your cleaning business grows, most cleaning companies fall under one of these two umbrellas.
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Residential cleaning business
A residential house cleaning business offers cleaning services at a client’s home.
Residential house service providers supply all cleaning products, cleaning chemicals, and cleaning equipment needed to perform these cleaning services (unless otherwise agreed with the client).
Consider offering these cleaning services as a residential house cleaner:
Home maintenance cleaning jobs
Duties in this type of cleaning company can vary, but they usually include dusting, vacuuming, washing surfaces, mopping floors, polishing mirrors, and interior window cleaning. Most of these involve helping with regular household chores. Think of these as basic maid services.
Each client’s needs will vary and will need to be agreed upon before starting service. Some clients will need a window cleaner only, while others will want a mix of cleaning services.
Pricing averages for house cleaning and maintenance can vary by location, home size, etc.
Move-in and move-out cleaning jobs
No one likes to move. It’s stressful, exhausting, and after everything is moved out, there is still plenty of house cleaning left to do.
Landlords are often left with a rental property that needs to be properly cleaned to prepare for new tenants.
Moving cleaning services are highly sought after by customers and potential customers to lighten their load.
This type of cleaning service will go beyond simple home maintenance. While expectations will vary based on the circumstances, you can also expect to deep clean walls, appliances, windows, and more.
Pricing for move-in and move-out house cleaning services is generally a flat rate (as opposed to an hourly rate), determined by the amount of work needed and the home’s size.
Deep cleaning jobs
You may consider offering deep cleaning services for residential cleaning or commercial cleaning. This type of cleaning, also known as spring cleaning, goes beyond normal maintenance.
Deep cleans involve cleaning out pantries, cupboards, and more. It also will likely include walls, baseboards, fans, and other hidden areas. This cleaning is intended to prevent cross-contamination and deeply clean frequently used home or office areas.
The pricing structure for deep house cleaning services can be hourly or flat, depending on the client’s needs. And you can provide these cleaning services as part of your residential cleaning service and as part of your commercial cleaning service.
Residential event cleanup jobs
Hosting a party is fun; cleaning up after one, not as much. Consider adding event house cleanup to your cleaning company service roster.
Event cleanup involves cleaning up the mess left from an event and getting the home back in tip-top shape.
Pricing for this type of residential house cleaning service can be both hourly rate or a pre-determined flat rate.
Green cleaning jobs
We don’t suggest following all trends for your new business, but offering eco-friendly cleaning services, is a piece of the pie you’ll want to sink your teeth into.
Today, customers and potential customers are more concerned with the ingredients in cleaning supplies and the effect those ingredients have on the environment and their own health.
This is especially important in residential cleaning services, where people spend most of their time.
In fact, a recent survey showed that approximately 18 percent of respondents stated they would spend up to 10% more on environmentally friendly cleaning products.
You will have a distinct advantage by offering your potential customers and customers something that your competitors aren’t: toxin-free cleanliness.
Eco-friendly cleaning is especially desirable for parents who might worry about the chemicals their young children are around, people with allergies or respiratory issues, or even your regular Joe, who is pretty sure breathing in bleach isn’t the best idea.
Use this to your advantage in your cleaning company.
Green cleaning can be a business model you follow for all cleaning jobs or an upgrade cleaning service that your client can add on.
Commercial cleaning business
Commercial cleaning companies offer commercial cleaning services that cater to businesses.
Regardless of the type of business, it is important to maintain cleanliness in our work and business environments.
Whether maintaining an office building, disposing of hazardous waste, or window washing an 87 story building– there is a large market for commercial cleaners.
Unlike residential cleaning services, which are often priced by the hour, commercial cleaning jobs are generally based upon a contract price.
Consider these four types of cleaning services when starting yours.
General office cleaning jobs
Office buildings are the start of transactions, collaboration, and client interaction.
It is vital to keep them clean and prepared to handle day-to-day business.
Business owners want to impress customers and potential customers and maintain property values, so they will hire you to maintain their offices’ cleanliness.
General office cleaning contracts often include janitorial services like mopping and vacuuming, carpet and window cleaning, removing trash, waxing floors, dusting, and sanitizing bathrooms. And for such jobs, you’ll need to provide all cleaning chemicals and supplies.
Large scale niche services cleaning jobs
Some commercial cleaning businesses offer large job services that go beyond office cleaning. Those jobs include window and carpet cleaning, among other cleaning services.
These specialized jobs require specific cleaning equipment and skills. You’ll want to keep this in mind while calculating start-up costs and operating costs.
Commercial window cleaning has an average cost of $5-$14 per hour, while commercial carpet cleaners charge between $30 and $70 per room.
Construction cleanup jobs
Construction site cleanup services perform a final cleaning and removal of construction materials and other cleaning services. This type of cleanup is needed in both commercial and residential properties.
Take note that construction cleanup businesses require various business licenses and permits for the services they offer.
This type of work requires long hours and specialized cleaning equipment (again – an added start-up expense).
Typical customers include contractors, construction companies, and property management firms.
Disaster and hazardous waste cleanup jobs
Disaster and hazardous waste cleanup are less familiar but certainly necessary sectors of commercial cleaning. The cleaning companies in this niche are highly specialized and trained.
These services may be required after natural disasters, in the medical field, or even surrounding crime scenes.
Franchise or independent business?
Whether you’re thinking about starting a residential cleaning business or a commercial cleaning business, you’ll need to decide if you want to start an independent cleaning service or join an established franchise.
Franchises can give cleaning business owners a quick advantage because their name is more likely to be recognized in the industry. They’ll often have national advertising or regional advertising focusing on the brand, and they’ll teach you how to run your own cleaning service.
Franchises may be an easier way to get started when you’re looking to provide commercial cleaning because businesses will carefully consider your reputation and the reputation of your business. If a commercial cleaning franchise has already established a strong reputation in the market, that can help you find potential customers more quickly and get started quickly as a business owner.
For some cleaning business owners, the advantages of a franchise agreement are quickly outweighed by the disadvantages, even in commercial cleaning.
In the long run, you’ll likely invest less money when you start a cleaning business of your own as an independent business. And, as an independent cleaning business, you’re not tied to pre-established requirements for the concept, name, the services you must offer, and the specific processes you must follow.
So, you can do things your way, but you’ll need to define your market and figure out all of the things involved with running and growing a successful cleaning business, especially in commercial cleaning.
Defining your business action items:
☐ Determine if you are opening a residential cleaning business or commercial cleaning business.
☐ Research the requirements of services you are contemplating offering.
☐ Decide on a niche for your cleaning business (you should pick a niche even if you pick residential cleaning).
Write a business plan
Once you choose a niche for your cleaning company and define your cleaning services, it's time to write a business plan.
People make many mistakes when they start a cleaning business and rush into things before considering the important aspects of their business. Although writing a business plan isn’t mandatory for a cleaning business, it can help you crystallize your ideas and avoid many mistakes.
Studies show that entrepreneurs who take the time to write a business plan when starting a cleaning business (and other types of businesses) are 2.5 times more likely to follow through and get their business off the ground. The work that goes into creating a business plan also helps new entrepreneurs build skills that will be invaluable later.
For insights and free downloadable business plan templates, read this definitive guide on how to write a business plan. And if your time is limited, read the section of that guide on how to write a one page business plan. Several excellent one-page business plan frameworks can help you put together a quick, actionable plan to start a cleaning business of your own.
Finally, take a look at these ten business plan tips on writing a great business plan.
Hire an experienced business attorney
Most small business owners dread having to talk with and hire a business lawyer when starting a business. Here’s what you need to know to hire a good lawyer for your new cleaning company.
Don’t make price your main criteria for hiring a lawyer.
Often, the least expensive lawyers are also less experienced – especially in the areas where you may need help. Paying a cheaper hourly rate might feel good initially, but in the end, you may end up paying far more than if you hired an experienced (more expensive) business lawyer in the first place.
Make sure your lawyer is familiar with the peculiarities of a cleaning business, has experience with clients who start a cleaning business and has represented other cleaning businesses and other small businesses.
Also – be clear about your budget and expectations. Your lawyer should understand that your budget is limited and that they should not waste that budget on irrelevant details.
Typically, the best time to start a relationship with a lawyer is before you start your cleaning company.
Too many people make the mistake of forming a company without consulting a lawyer. A good lawyer will help you find the right business structure for the business – and split ownership interests if you have co-owners – in ways that will protect everyone and give you flexibility going forward.
Decide your legal business structure
Before starting your cleaning business, you need to decide on the type of entity you need to register.
Your legal business structure affects everything, from how you file your taxes to your personal liability and whether you need to comply with any special additional requirements at the local, state, or national levels.
Spend some time reading about each possible entity your cleaning business might fit into. Consider which business structure is most helpful when you start a cleaning business and how each business structure can help you accomplish your professional and personal goals.
What are the 4 types of business entities?
- A sole proprietorship is the most basic business entity. A sole proprietorship means that one person is solely responsible for business profits and debts.
- A partnership is a shared responsibility between two or more people who hold personal liability for a business.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business structure that permits owners, partners, or shareholders to limit personal liability but still includes tax and flexibility benefits associated with a partnership.
- A corporation is an entity legally considered separate from its owners. That means that corporations are permitted to own property, be held liable, pay taxes, and enter contracts.
Be sure to look at which entity will work best for your cleaning company while still considering future business goals.
Also, remember that when starting a cleaning company, most states require you to register your cleaning business (for house cleaning and/or commercial cleaning services) before you take on cleaning jobs, with the secretary of state or county clerk in the county in which you operate your business if the trade name under which you operate your business differs from the legal business name of your business.
Fortunately, this is not a difficult problem to overcome. You can simply register your actual trade name with your state (and or local government) by filing a “doing business as” (DBA) certificate. DBAs are also commonly called “assumed name,” “fictitious business name,” or “trade name.” Here’s a terrific resource that explains what a DBA is, the DBA state requirements, and how to file a DBA for your business in all 50 states and U.S. territories.
Set up business accounting and bookkeeping
To keep track of your finances when starting a cleaning company, you’ll need to set up a bookkeeping and accounting system. This is important so that you understand your business’s cash flow and will also be important for tax-filing purposes.
Business accounting is how your business records, organizes, interprets, and presents its financial information. Accountants analyze the financial condition of a business to help the business owner make better decisions.
Bookkeeping is the recording, organization, storage, and retrieval of financial information related to your business.
The main difference between the two is that bookkeeping is how you record and categorize financial information, whereas accounting puts the information to use through analysis, strategy, and tax planning.
Many small businesses will use an outside bookkeeper, paid hourly to handle all entries, pay all the bills, and manage invoicing and receivables. Having help with this aspect of managing a small company can be indispensable, and the time it can free for a busy owner, invaluable.
Assess your finances
When you start a cleaning company, assessing your finances is crucial. These numbers include tracking your sales and profits - but a smart business will need to account for much more than sales alone.
Here’s what you need to know about business finance and how to crunch the numbers for your new business.
Business finance uses your company’s financial information to help you manage your money and make your cleaning business operations profitable and sustainable.
You have many business financing options when you start a cleaning business.
These include using your own resources and assets, borrowing money from friends and family, finding business partners, applying for financing or grants through government programs, and more.
Business financing is important because you need to determine how you’re going to fund your new business and how you’ll grow it. And you’ll need to put together a cleaning business budget.
If you don’t understand the numbers, you’ll have a tough time building a sustainable, profitable business.
Be extra careful to conserve your funds when starting a cleaning business. Don’t overspend.
Some purchases will be necessary and will make sense for your cleaning business. Still, others, like expensive and unnecessary cleaning equipment or a fancy car, will threaten your small business’s survivability.
Develop your brand identity
Every cleaning business is different. The way your business is run is specific to you.
Your brand and brand identity should be unique.
You may find yourself thinking, “I’m just cleaning houses. Do I really need to worry about branding?” But, the clear answer is yes.
Whether you are intentional about your branding or not, your brand exists. And your brand is much bigger than your brand name.
Making deliberate branding decisions for your cleaning business will give you a leg up on the competition.
Cleaning professionals, especially residential cleaners, are invited into the most sacred place in a consumer’s world – their home. Ensure your brand embodies trustworthiness in addition to quality to gain a client’s trust. And be committed to that message.
Think you can get a perfect score?
Before you start a cleaning business and begin posting ads for your cleaning services, consider the following:
- What makes my cleaning business unique?
- What type of cleaning business am I?
- What cleaning services will I offer?
- Who are my customers?
- What are my brand values?
- What is the most important part of my customers’ experience?
Your answers to these questions will help build the foundation of your brand.
For help with branding, read the definitive guide on building a brand identity. It’s 21,000+ words, and it’s filled with actionable insights and tips on choosing a business name, finding a great and unique company logo, and much more. That guide contains everything you need to build a strong and sustainable business.
Before you decide that you should delay building a strong brand identity because you might not yet have a huge budget, rethink that plan. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on building a strong brand identity. Here are a few pricing guides that can help you identify the sweet spot for pricing:
- How much should a logo design cost?
- How much does a business card cost?
- How much should brochure design cost?
- How much does website design cost?
And if you’ve already started your cleaning business but are struggling to grow it, consider whether rebranding can help you put your existing business on a path to success.
Branding to do:
☐ Develop your brand identity, including your brand name, logo, and website.
☐ Name your business.
☐ Hire an experienced logo designer to create your company logo.
Crunch the numbers
Crunching the numbers when starting a new business can seem like an arduous task.
The good news is, it doesn't have to be.
Cleaning services tend to have some of the lowest up-front costs compared to other start-ups. When you put together your cleaning business budget, consider these costs:
Start-up costs for a cleaning business include:
- registering your business (discussed above)
- buying business insurance
- tools and cleaning supplies, as well as cleaning chemicals and cleaning solutions
- branding and promotional tools
Buying business insurance
It’s alarming how many new cleaning business owners forget to protect themselves and their businesses via insurance before they officially start.
Acquiring business insurance won’t help you after claims against your business have already been filed.
It’s alarming how many guides on starting a cleaning business ignore the importance of business insurance (including liability insurance).
As we shared in our guide on how to start a business,
Insurance can cover property damage, theft, intellectual property lawsuits, and other incidents. Those can be very costly to small businesses and you need to properly protect yourself and your new business.
And if you will employ people, you’ll need to have workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. Coverage varies by location, and many general liability (GL) policies will cover at least workers’ compensation.
If you provide services, you’ll want to have professional liability insurance so that you’re protected against possible claims.
Here’s a good read on the different types of insurance you should consider as a business owner.
Tools and cleaning supplies
The volume of cleaning supplies needed for your cleaning business will depend entirely on the services you offer and how many clients you have to start.
In general, you’ll need basic cleaning supplies and tools such as sponges, disinfectants, paper towels, mops, etc.
When you’re just starting, you can use products found in your home. However, once you’ve established a larger clientele, you may want to begin purchasing cleaning supplies at bulk retailers like Sam’s Club or Costco. Once your business has really taken off, it’s time to consider wholesale vendors as well.
You will also likely require vacuums and steam mops. On average, $500-$800 should be enough to get you started.
Transportation is essential to any mobile business, like a cleaning business. Before starting a job, you have to get there first.
Ensure you have reliable transportation that will easily fit your cleaning supplies and tools.
And, don’t forget the importance of getting there on time!
Branding and promotional tools
Building up your client list is one of the bigger challenges in your new cleaning business. After all, you need clients to have a successful business.
As we emphasized earlier, branding is not a place to cut corners.
Once you’ve established your brand’s core, work with professionals to get a brand name, logo, and website design that will serve your business well.
Setting your prices
You’ll want to research your local market carefully. Cleaning prices for Manhattan can be substantially different from cleaning prices in Kansas.
The three most common pricing models for cleaning businesses are per hour, per job type, and long-term contracts.
To develop your pricing guidelines, consider the profit margin you are trying to achieve. Then keep that in mind when setting your overall prices and your core business model.
Determine your operating costs and expenses per job (don’t forget travel, cleaning supplies such as paper towels and rags, and labor!). Then factor in the amount of profit you want to make for each job. This is the amount you should charge.
Do some market research to see how your pricing structure and business model compares to that of local competitors and adjust your pricing accordingly. This doesn’t mean that your prices should be the same. Maybe your service offers a higher (or more economical) level of service.
But, it’s important to check that your services are priced fairly for your market. Your customers certainly will.
The average hourly rate for professional house cleaning services in the U.S. is anywhere between $25-$45 an hour. Before deciding on an hourly rate, you should consider:
- Job location: Decide on a geographical radius you are willing to travel for the hourly rate. If you are willing to travel outside of that radius, you’ll want to add extended travel fees.
- Cost and profit margin: When deciding what to charge per hour, consider the costs (travel and cleaning supplies) and the profit margin you hope to achieve per hour.
- Hourly minimums: It’s common practice to enforce minimum hours charged for a job. For instance, consider a 2-hour minimum commitment per job. This ensures that you’re getting paid an amount that is worth your time and effort.
- Tiered per-hour pricing: You may consider a tiered pricing schedule for long-term contracts. If a client is willing to sign a long-term commitment to your services (i.e., 2 hours of cleaning/week for 3 months), granting them a price break (per hour) can be an excellent way to retain that client and ensure consistent workflow. Commercial clients can particularly welcome this.
Flat rate by job type
Charging a flat rate fee based on job type (i.e., house cleaning, office building, construction site cleanup) is another way to set up your pricing structure.
You’ll want to calculate the hours required to complete the job before quoting a price.
When opting for a flat rate structure, consider the following:
- Size of the area to be cleaned: This factor will vary for each job. And it’s an essential consideration when deciding costs. After all, an 800 square-foot home can be cleaned in fewer hours than a 3000 square foot residence. Likewise, if you are contracted to only clean bathrooms in an office building, less time is required than cleaning several complete floors with bathrooms, kitchens, and offices.
- Location of job: Decide on a geographical radius you’re willing to travel within. If you are asked to travel outside of that radius, add extended travel fees to cover your additional time, effort, and expense.
- The intensity of job: Maintaining a home on a weekly or biweekly basis requires fewer hours of cleaning than a home that is very messy or needs a deep clean (which is more thorough and requires more cleaning supplies). Deep cleaning will cost more compared to basic maintenance cleaning. You’ll need more paper towels, more cleaning solutions, more rags. More of everything.
- Frequency: Consider a pricing break on jobs with a higher frequency. For example, offer a pricing tier on home cleaning 1x/month, 2x/month, and weekly.
While less common for small businesses, charging for a term contract is another viable option.
Term contract pricing involves a client agreeing to pay for your services for X period of time, with the expectation of X cleaning appointments during that time. This is very popular with commercial clients who need their professional buildings maintained.
While determining the pricing structure for term contracts, consider:
- Contract length: How long is the contract for? Will you offer a price reduction for longer contracts?
- Location: Decide on a geographical radius you are willing to travel for the contract. If you agree to travel outside of that radius, add on extended travel fees.
- Frequency: How often will services be rendered?
- Size of job: How large is the job/and or building that requires your services? Will you need to hire additional employees or buy extra cleaning supplies to complete the job?
When planning an effective pricing strategy, you have to know how much it will cost you to provide service, what the current market pricing looks like, and what profit margin you are trying to achieve.
Your prospects are shopping around. They’re checking out your services and your competitors. That’s why you need to know what your competitors are charging.
It is also important to note that perceived value – what a customer thinks your services are worth, is a big piece of the puzzle. And, your branding will play a large role in determining how your clients perceive your business.
A word about payment methods
I think we can all agree that getting paid is an essential part of any business.
It’s smart to offer your clients payment options.
You may consider offering the following:
- Cash: Cash may no longer be king, but plenty of customers will still want to pay for services this way.
- Check: About 20% of U.S. consumers use checks. Proceed with caution. While most transactions may go off without a hitch, you do risk canceled and returned checks.
- Credit Cards: It is common, particularly with contracts to keep a credit card on file with planned charges. You may also consider using services such as Paypal, Venmo, and Square to collect credit card payments.
Financial action items:
☐ Calculate startup costs (registration, insurance (including liability insurance), tools and cleaning supplies, transportation, and branding).
☐ Research pricing structures and desired profit margins.
☐ Determine your pricing.
☐ Set up payment methods.
Fill in the business blanks
Whether you're starting a cleaning business as a full-time venture or simply a side hustle, it's important to remember that it is a business.
You will need to follow your state's legal requirements that are required for all businesses.
As we mentioned above, every business must choose a legal structure.
Once you’ve decided which entity would be the best fit for you, the next step is to register with the government (each state has its own set of rules regarding new businesses) and the IRS.
You can find a full list of the forms for each type of entity on the Small Business Administration’s website. You can also find state-specific tax obligations on the same site.
The SBA tells us that some form of business license or permit is necessary for virtually every type of business. You can find all the info you need regarding business licenses or permits needed on their website.
For more details about legal considerations for your cleaning business, read this article by NOLO’s contributing author David Steingold.
Many cleaning businesses can be based out of your home. Your customers and prospective customers will likely never come to your facility or office because all cleaning work is done on their premises.
But, carefully check your local regulations and requirements. Some municipalities and many homeowners’ associations limit the types of businesses that can be run from your home. This is especially relevant if your cleaning business will need signage, employees, or commercial vehicles. Before you decide on a location, find out what your homeowner’s association and local ordinances permit and prohibit in connection with home-based businesses.
If it’s difficult to run your cleaning business from your home, consider opening a commercial location.
A commercial location for a cleaning business does help you build a more successful and professional image. But, be sure you get a commercial location with a large enough office with space for you, the administrative team, and any employees who will work out of your commercial location. Also, be sure that you have a storage area for the cleaning equipment and supplies you’ll need in your cleaning business.
And, you should dedicate some space for laundry and work are to repair equipment. Both are necessary to the successful operation of a cleaning business, and you’ll save a lot of money doing both laundry and small repairs in-house.
Finally, consider what vehicles you’ll need and where you’ll park them. Because all of the cleaning work is done on a customer’s premises, vehicles are important. They should be selected carefully to meet your needs and require minimal maintenance.
An economy car, a minivan, or a station wagon will be perfect for maid service cleaning businesses. You need room to store supplies and cleaning equipment and to transport your cleaning teams. And, since maid service doesn’t need large equipment, you don’t need large vans.
But, for certain types of cleaning services, like carpet cleaning, you’ll need a truck or van. You’ll need to carry larger equipment and, therefore, must purchase larger vehicles.
Fortunately, you can buy good used trucks for $8,000 to $12,000 and don’t need to invest in new trucks. So, even though a truck can add a substantial cost, it’s still far less expensive than if you were starting a trucking company that focuses on long-haul or short-haul deliveries and transport.
Finally, remember that whether you use your own vehicles or have your cleaning team use theirs, get vehicle wraps or magnetic signs that you can put on all vehicles to advertise your business. And be sure that the vehicles – your own and any used by your cleaning crews – are properly insured for business use.
Cleaning offices or homes may not be the most dangerous activity, but you could be working with toxic cleaning supplies. And, if you take on a medical cleaning contract, you may find yourself exposed to other dangers.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has a variety of regulations relating to, among other things, eye and face protection, hand and foot protection, toxic and hazardous substances, and ventilation. For more details on federal safety and health rules, check the OSHA website’s cleaning industry section.
Fill in the blanks to do:
☐ Choose a legal structure for your business.
☐ Visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website for the required forms, permits, and business licenses.
☐ Research additional legal considerations.
☐ Visit the OSHA website for up-to-date safety regulations.
Build an online presence
Gone are the days of thumbtacking black and white flyers with tear-off phone number tabs in your local library or laundromat.
Consumers today expect all businesses to have a website and be online.
Your cleaning business needs a website.
In fact, most people prefer the convenience of researching your business via the web over talking to anyone on the phone or in person.
A business website will give your business credibility, serve as a 24-hour ambassador even when you’re unavailable, and can even tackle some vital tasks like setting appointments and making sales.
You may feel overwhelmed at the idea or question if you have the budget for a website, but the reality is: your business can’t afford not to.
To dig deeper, take a look at the step-by-step, easy-to-follow instructions on creating a small business website.
Suggestions to get the most from your website:
Your website must be consistent with your brand, what you represent, and offer. This consistency is key to building trust, recognition, and customer loyalty.
Create brand consistency on your website by…
- Featuring your business name, logo, and tagline prominently.
- Using the same brand colors from your logo to create visual coherence.
- Offering an “About Us” page introducing prospects to you and your business.
- Including a “Services” page highlighting the services you offer.
- Featuring a “Contact Us” page that is easily accessible from everywhere on your website.
- Providing links to your social media accounts.
Establishing your web presence action items:
☐ Ensure your chosen business name has a web domain that can be purchased.
☐ Choose a web hosting service.
☐ Get your website (and logo if you haven’t already) professionally designed.
☐ Hire a developer to code and deploy your website.
Create a sales plan
Reading about how to start a cleaning business is easy. But coming up with a strong sales plan takes a bit of thinking and strategy.
Your sales plan will be the difference between success and failure.
And, this is where some practice will help you.
Take time to develop and rehearse your “elevator pitch” until you can deliver it comfortably and confidently. This 20-30 second explanation of what you do should be intriguing and dynamic.
You’ll also want to practice overcoming objections. No matter how great your services are, clients and potential clients will always have reservations – after all, their money is on the line, and they’re typically letting you into their private spaces. It’s natural for them to be selective.
So, brainstorm as many possible objections as you can think of. Then practice putting those concerns to rest.
You’ll want to develop both an overall sales strategy and a list of day-to-day tactics that will keep your sales efforts moving forward.
When you’re a one-or-two-person show, it’s easy to let active selling fall to the wayside. But, the reality is that you don’t have that luxury.
If you’re not selling your cleaning service, there’s a good chance that no one is. So, you’ll complete your current gigs or jobs to find an empty calendar and no income looming ahead of you.
Make sure to make sales a part of your day every day.
Spread the word
You may be awesome at cleaning. But, if you're not marketing yourself and your business, no one will know it.
Marketing your business is the only way to ensure that you have a steady flow of clients and potential clients. It's time to focus on getting the word out about your awesome new cleaning services to your target market.
When starting a cleaning business, your first few clients will likely be family and friends who want to show their support.
But, you’ll need to spread the word to build up your client list and grow your business.
You may be wondering:
- How can I get exposure for my business?
- Should I run advertisements, and if so, where?
- Should my business have social media pages?
- Should I offer promotions?
While there are no one-size-fits-all answers to these questions, you should consider the following methods of growing your client list:
Word of mouth
Before social media existed, the most powerful form of marketing was Word of Mouth (WOM).
Guess what? That’s still true.
People still hold the opinions and experiences of those they know above social media marketing and advertisements. And word of mouth continues to be a powerful form of marketing – especially for a cleaning business.
It makes sense.
Imagine you see an advertisement for a steakhouse claiming they’re the “Best steakhouse in town!” But, your good friend also recently told you about a different steak restaurant that has the “best steak she’s ever had.” Which would you be more apt to try out?
Statistics say you’ll heed the recommendation of your friend.
Encourage your first customers, and especially every family member you help, to share their experience through word-of-mouth, especially on local networks like Nextdoor.
You can do this verbally, in a written thank-you card, or via a follow-up email. However you do so, be sure to follow up after providing service.
You can even consider rewarding your clients with refer-a-friend discounts. For example, for every long-term paying client that an existing client refers, you can offer to clean the existing client’s house for free the next time.
With willingness on their part and consistent quality service on yours, new clients will begin rolling in.
Your clients are on social media. Most people are.
Statistics show that billions of people are active on social media each day. And, it’s not just young people.
If you’ve questioned at all whether your business should be active on social media, the answer is a resounding “yes!”
You may be asking yourself:
- What social media platforms should I have a business page on?
- What type of posts should I share on these platforms?
- When is the best time to be active on social media?
Social media marketing uses social platforms to connect with your audience. Actively marketing on social media will build your brand, increase sales, and grow your website traffic.
The best social marketing involves great content, consistent engagement with your followers, and running social media advertisements.
Maintaining an active social media presence will help you build an audience of devoted clients.
What platforms should I use for my business?
There is no one right answer to which social media outlet will work best for your business.
Maintaining (at a minimum) a Twitter, Nextdoor, and Facebook presence will help you build an audience of clients.
Help people by answering questions about cleaning certain items of their homes or offices. You can even share your experience on starting a cleaning business and offering tips to others who might be sources of referral for you.
Don’t give away all of your secrets, of course. But, do be sure to offer valuable information from your unique perspective.
Establish yourself as a subject matter expert and build relationships with current and future clients by maintaining an interactive presence. This will reassure people in your community that you’re accessible, knowledgeable, and reliable.
Most social media platforms give the option to create a business account for free. Do that.
Business accounts have relevant features such as contact information, analytics, customer reviews, and the ability to purchase advertisements.
What types of posts should I make on social networks?
Your social media content must be valuable, relevant, and consistent… while staying on brand. Think about what kind of content your clients will find interesting or useful. That’s what you should post.
Keep posts related to your cleaning businesses, but don’t be afraid to show some personality and a sense of humor. After all – it is social media.
And tailor your content to the platform. Instagram may be the perfect venue for “before and after” cleaning photos, while Twitter would be a great choice for general announcements.
Use these platforms to connect with clients, post ads and specials, respond to feedback, and share helpful cleaning tips.
When is the best time to post on social media?
You can ask this question to a hundred marketers, and you would likely get 100 different responses.
The truth is, there is a science to social media posting. But it’s not the key component.
Be sure to try posting on different days and times so that you can compare performance. And, over time, you’ll learn what posting times receive the most interaction with your clients.
Your main focus should be to provide content and respond to interaction consistently.
Spread the word action items:
☐ Reach out to friends and family members to establish your first clients.
☐ Encourage your clients to share your new business via word-of-mouth.
☐ Research social media platforms and decide which ones are right for you.
☐ Establish business accounts on social media.
☐ Publish content and ask your followers to share.
☐ Post and engage consistently!
Find the right help
At times, every entrepreneur has felt like they're in it alone.
And, when you first start your cleaning business, there's a good chance that you will be.
But, for your business to scale and grow, you’re going to need help. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day, and you can’t work all of them.
You can ask for a family member to help you, but eventually, if all goes well, you’ll hire employees to take tasks off of your plate so that you can focus on serving your clients or expanding your cleaning business.
But employees must be paid. So, at first, you should only hire for positions that will provide the most immediate benefit to your business.
If you’re a newbie to marketing, consider hiring a salesperson or marketer to help you strategize your business and find new clients.
If you’re not confident about invoicing and numbers, hire a bookkeeper to manage accounts and ensure payments are collected.
Hire an employee who is an expert in those areas in which your business is currently lacking. Building a strong, well-rounded team will create a stable foundation for your business.
You’ll also need to decide whether you’re hiring full or part-time employees.
Part-time employees cost less. So you may want to start with part-timers. As the business grows and you can afford it, you can expand their hours.
Full-time employees also require more paperwork to get set up. To gain complete insight into the hiring process, read Indeed’s step-by-step guide, “How to Hire Employees.”
You Made It!
Phew! You made it!
If you've made it this far and followed the advice in this article, you are well on your way to a successful cleaning business.
Pat yourself on the back! (With white latex gloves, or latex-free gloves, if you’re allergic to latex!)
You may still have lingering questions, and that’s okay. Building a business is hard work and requires continuous education.
That work, when done well, pays off big.
We suggest reviewing these additional resources for your cleaning business…
Cleaning business resources
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We regularly update this how to start a cleaning business guide to keep it current. We most recently updated this guide on July 19, 2021.
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