Are you thinking of starting your own cleaning business?
Here is a great starting point:
Step by step instructions to getting set up for success!
First and foremost, you have to decide what area of cleaning you would like to do. Do you have an interest in doing residential or commercial cleaning? With residential cleaning, you will be working in your clients home. With commercial, you will work in office buildings, apartments, restaurants, construction sites, etc. Residential is usually done during the day and commercial is done after hours. Decide what is most appealing to you. You can even do both. It is best to start out small and, once you get the experience, you can move on to offering many different services.
Set yourself apart from others. If you offer residential house cleaning and you have a lot of competition in your area, you may want to offer a “special touch” to your cleaning services. For example, offer bed turnovers, laundry service (if that is your thing), and dish washing. Never compromise your prices to try to get ahead of the competition!
Now that you know what you are interested in and what sort of business you want to set up, you can get started on the business side of it.
First step in setting up your business is deciding on a business name. You need to set up a business name before you can get a license or go any further. Your name should be catchy. You want your potential clients to go straight to yours. Having a name that ties you to the community works best, in my opinion. For example, if you live in Westtown, you can call your business, “Westtown’s Elite Cleaning Services”. Just make sure no one else took that name first. Try to get creative as well.
Now that you have a name, you can get licensed. Contact your local government office to see what sort of business license you will need in your state. Many will just need to register with the state and will not need a license, but it varies. After you check with your state, try your local, township office. Sometimes, they want to know about your business as well and you may need approval. Just make sure all ground is covered so you don’t run into any surprises. I actually went to a township meeting this month and they discussed another individual wanting to start a business selling cars on eBay. He said the cars would be in a garage and never seen by neighbors, but he still needed to get approval. This surprised me. I never thought about township approval. You also need to check on sales tax. Some services are being charged sales tax. Check to see if you need to collect sales tax from your customers.
Once you are licensed, it is time to set up the paperwork part of your business. You will need a cleaning service agreement (businesses are using agreements instead of contracts since contracts have received a bad name) for your clients to sign with a list of your policies and procedures as well as your client’s needs. You will need a cleaning checklist to record what you did during each cleaning. Those are the most important and “necessary” forms you will need. Sound overwhelming? You can purchase these online already premade or make them yourself. I would recommend purchasing them unless you are pretty good with research and design. You want these to look professional. These are your customers first experience with you.
Alright, now you have a business name, license and the paperwork. You are getting closer…
Next you need insurance. Insurance is a MUST. There are so many things you can run into and you should be protected. You may think you can get away with it, but, Murphy’s Law, something will happen when you are not prepared. Your clients trust you with their property. If you should break something, especially something expensive, you are responsible. If you don’t want to pay for a $1000 item out of pocket, get insurance. For commercial businesses, you will, more than likely, be required to have it in order to get clients. Most will not hire without insurance and a particular amount of insurance. You will mainly only need liability insurance, but be sure you talk to the carriers about the best coverage. Make sure you shop around for your quotes. Call your local carriers first. Some other places of interest may be Low Quotes. They will give you quotes from lots of companies. If you do a search for liability insurance for small businesses, you will find a lot of companies.
Next is bonding. Bonding is there to protect you and your company against theft. The way bonding works is if your client accuses you or an employee of theft, the police are involved. They will do a criminal investigation. If they find you or your employee guilty, the bond pays out and you then repay the bond. Some clients want you to be covered and people will get it as a marketing tool. It is up to you if you want to purchase it. You can ask who is carrying your insurance if they offer bonding and add it on to your policy.
Okay, you are bonded, licensed, insured and physically ready to start. Now you need to get clients…
Marketing is the trickiest, most frustrating and time-consuming part of this business. Once you get some clients, the ball will start rolling more by word-of-mouth, but for now, you need to advertise…
Flyers are the cheapest and are best for getting just your area. Now, you can’t put them in people’s mailboxes without going through the post office…it is illegal. But, you can put them on people’s doors and cars. Basically, put them anywhere you go which has a bulletin board (supermarket, post office, supply stores, etc). One great way to gain commercial clientele is to compile a list from the phone book of businesses and fax your flyer to them. You will be surprised at how much feedback you will receive. Other than that, get listed as much as you can on the internet. There are many local websites which will list you for free. Do a search as if you were looking for a cleaning professional in your area and see what comes up. Any directories that come up, get listed there, even if you have to pay for it. Remember, you have to spend money to make money!
Another good advertising technique is the community newspaper. It is cheap, about $10/week and everyone gets one for free.
After that we go up in price. Getting in the yellow pages is expensive and you can only get in at the right time of the year when they are publishing their new book. Call for rates.
When you are ready, get a website. Once you have a website submitted to the search engines, you will start to come up with the search results. For example, if you live in Seattle and someone is searching for a cleaner in Seattle, your site will come up. This will be very beneficial since most people will search while they are at work. Home Business Forms can make you a professional website for a low price. Visit the website packages page for more information.
Alright, now you are advertised and you should be getting that first call any day now…but what are you going to get asked and are you ready to answer questions?
They are going to first ask what your rates are. Do you know what you want to charge? Keep it simple. I see people charging flat rates to all these extras. Don’t confuse your potential clients and don’t make it seem more difficult. This will turn them away. Be straight to the point. Have all you want to offer and rates written out and ready for their call. You will be determining the time you will be spending there by # of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage and type of cleaning. It is typically done per hour. Most charge anywhere from $20-$30 per hour. Typically, ovens, fridges, laundry, etc is not included. Make sure you know what you will and will not be doing. Larger commercial buildings are generally done by square footage. The amount per square foot varies greatly. If you want a better idea of the going rate in your area, call other companies and see what they charge. Stay competitive with their rates. You don’t want to go lower thinking that will gain more clients. It doesn’t usually work out that way. Charge what you feel you are worth and your clients will feel you are worth it too.
Next they will ask you if you are licensed, insured and bonded. Hopefully, you can say YES and give them piece of mind.