Cleaning service…If it can be cleaned, chances are people will pay you to clean it. Houses, carpet, upholstery, windows … the list goes on and on. A vast majority of dual-income families use cleaning services, which means your market is huge. Startup is easy and requires little initial investment.
Starting a cleaning business offers huge profit potential with minimal startup costs. To start, you just need a business plan, proper licenses and insurance, some cleaning supplies, and a solid marketing strategy. A savvy entrepreneur who doesn’t mind doing dirty work can start a profitable cleaning company for $1,000 to $2,000
Steps to Starting a Cleaning Business
Cleaning businesses range from individual home cleaners to specialist industrial cleaning services. It’s important to determine the focus of your service early in this process, because the up-front investment you make depends on the size of your team, the cost of equipment, and competitive rates in your local market. Home cleaning businesses larger than a few individuals will need more structure than a service you operate alone or on the side of another job.
Once you’ve established a target market for your new business, you can start to flesh out the details of your business plan and make arrangements for transportation and supplies. You’ll want to get the word out about your service as soon as you’re far along enough to begin taking on clients. Depending on your personal network, you might start with friends or acquaintances, and expand to a larger market with an online presence and marketing
Create a Budget
You will need to spend a little to start your cleaning business. But, it is possible to start a cleaning business for less than $1,000. Your budget will mostly consist of licenses and permits, basic cleaning products, and advertising. In the beginning, you may work by yourself. But if you plan on hiring a cleaning staff, be sure to budget for labor.
Here’s a breakdown of the estimated costs for starting a cleaning business:
- Licenses and permits: $30 to $60 if you register as a sole proprietor or $100 to $500 if you register as a limited liability company.
- Insurance: $500 to $3,500 annually depending on number of employees. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars per month.
- Cleaning equipment and products: $300 to $600 depending on the type of tools. High-quality vacuums can cost $200 to $300, $10 for several large all-purpose cleaning solutions, $10 for a broom, $20 for a mop, and $20 for dusting supplies.
- Advertising: $100 to $200 for print and online marketing.
- Labor: Roughly $11.63 per employee, per hour. With these numbers, you can launch an operational cleaning business for as low as $930. While it’s possible to start your business for less than $1,000, it’s always a good idea to have more funds available. With any new business, it can take time before you start seeing a profit, so having funds to cover a few months’ worth of expenses or any incidentals that pop up is a smart business move.
Choose the Right Business Structure
Prior to launching your cleaning business, you need to have it registered. Registering your business is necessary for opening a business bank account, applying for loans, and hiring employees. Registering your business involves choosing a business or legal structure, a name, and planning for taxes.
Best Business Structures for Cleaning Companies
The two most popular business structures for small businesses are sole proprietorships and limited liability companies (LLCs). Many bootstrapped startups register their business as a sole proprietor. There’s not a lot of paperwork involved under this business structure. Plus, as the owner and sole proprietor, you have absolute control over your business.
The biggest disadvantage to a sole proprietorship is that there is no distinction between your business and personal assets. That means you are held liable if your business goes under due to debt, and your personal assets could be at risk.
Other cleaning businesses register as a limited liability company (LLC), which gives owners some protection from personal liability. So, if your cleaning company were to go out of business due to debt, your personal assets are more likely to be protected. However, the tax structure of an LLC is a little more complicated than a sole proprietorship, and LLCs have higher startup costs.
Choosing a Business Name
Naming your business is a crucial step that requires careful consideration. Ideally, your business name will be around for a long time, so make sure it is something you truly love. The name of your company can reflect your name, the services your business provides, or company ideals or promises.
To help you out here, we created the ultimate business name generator. You just have to enter your services, area, and your name as the founder. The tool generates multiple suggestions which you can use as a starting point to come up with your own unique idea. Once you have the final list, head to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to check which names are still available.
Franchises are another popular and profitable option to consider when starting a cleaning business. With a franchise, you have the benefit of name recognition, regional or national marketing efforts, and established procedures and guidelines already in place. One disadvantage of starting a franchise is that you give up a lot of the creative freedom that comes with owning a small business, and have less of a say when it comes to operational procedures.
Organize Your Business Finances
Another important step in setting up your cleaning business is organizing your finances. Having your business finances separate from your personal finances makes it easier to manage your cash flow, organize your taxes, and can help protect your personal assets should anything go wrong.
Purchase Cleaning Service Equipment
Purchasing or renting professional cleaning tools and supplies to handle any cleaning job is an important step in starting your cleaning business. Buying powerful and effective cleaning solutions is key, but you may also want to consider alternative cleaning supplies to cater to a wide variety of customer needs. For example, scent-free products may be necessary for customers with allergies or other sensitivities. Other customers may request natural or organic products.
Here are some of the basic supplies you will need:
- Cleaning uniform or apron with multiple pockets to store essential items
- Window cleaner
- Paper towels
- Latex gloves
- Scrubbing brushes
- All-purpose cleaner
You can purchase everything at your local grocery store as you launch your business and figure out which products you prefer. However, as your business grows and you get a feel for which products work best, consider purchasing your supplies in bulk from a wholesaler or a local janitorial supplier. Cutting your supply costs will help your business become more profitable.
Market Your Cleaning Service
Now that your pricing model is all set, it’s time to get the word out about your new company. As a startup, you are probably working with limited capital and you’d want to make the most of your budget. Therefore, your marketing efforts should be highly targeted. You want your materials to reach the right types of people. For local businesses, the best marketing strategies often include a blend of online and traditional marketing.
As a small business owner, you have the benefit of your friends and family cheering on your success. Instead of asking your friends and family to become customers, ask them to help spread the word about your new business. Word-of-mouth marketing is particularly effective, since nine out of 10 consumers are more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend.
Having the right promotional tools can make word-of-mouth marketing more of a science and less of a guessing game. First, create brochures and business flyers that describe the services you offer, pricing, hours, and contact details.
Next, offer coupons and a loyalty program. Coupons for new customers are a great strategy for getting people to try your business. Coupons can be something as simple as 10% off your first 10 hours of cleaning, or 20% off a single-home cleaning service. For extra efficiency, you can print the coupons right on your service brochure.
Customer loyalty programs are an effective way of retaining your customers once they try your services. A simple punch card works fine. But there are also many digital loyalty programs that make it easy for you and your customers to track their progress. Your loyalty reward doesn’t have to be extravagant, just enough to show appreciation to your regular customers. For example, a free window cleaning upgrade after five home cleanings is an easy reward.
When first starting out, you may be running your business, including cleaning homes, by yourself. Since time is limited, your marketing efforts need to be direct and effective. A majority of customers use the internet and Google searches to find local businesses. Many customers who need your services are looking for you online by searching for terms such as:
- Home cleaning Baltimore
- Carpet cleaning Akron
- Chimney cleaning Chicago
Having a strong online presence is important so that when potential customers search for cleaning services in your area, your business is one of the first to pop up. Having a strong online presence includes having a website and active social media accounts so that customers can find you easily, no matter how they search.
Use Social Media Marketing
Using social platforms like Facebook and Instagram is an effective way to reach potential customers before they even search for a cleaning service on Google. For just a few dollars a day, you can create ads that can reach thousands of people. Our guide on how to create a Facebook ad will walk you through the process.
Register Your Business With Google
Creating a business profile on Google is completely free. If you register your business, it will show up on Google search results and on Google Maps. Plus, you can include information like your website, phone number, and business hours. Registering your business also lets customers leave a Google review. Positive reviews can help draw in new customers. Overall, registering your business makes it much easier for people to find your cleaning company