If you think you can start a cleaning business for a few thousand dollars and clean up, financially speaking, you’re right.
You might even be able to do it for less!
The demand for cleaners never wains, and hourly rates continue to rise, but before you grab your mop and bucket, there are business decisions you need to make and steps you need to take; otherwise, your business could go down the drain!
1. Pick your niche within the market
Deciding what type of cleaner you’re going to be is a crucial decision as it can directly affect your set up costs and monthly outgoings. Your choice can also come down to how and when you want to work.
There are three types of cleaning contractors:
- Commercial – To do this you might need staff and everything that goes along with it. Also, as you will be cleaning work-based environments, you are usually working in the evenings and during the night
- Residential – Cleaning people’s homes can be a one-person job and you can then consider hiring staff when needed. The hours are far more sociable as you generally clean houses when people are at work.
- Specialized cleaning – This type of cleaning can be very lucrative, and there are numerous niches to choose from, carpets, windows, valet, roof, pool, etc. Specialized cleaning often requires specialized equipment; this will increase your start-up costs, but it can be well worth the investment.
2. Develop a strong brand
Before you begin even thinking about marketing, you should be thinking about your brand and how it can help you promote your new venture.
Branding your business means creating a certain perception around it through a set of visual and verbal cues. Through a logo, imagery and dedicated “brand voice”, you can convey to your customers over time that your cleaning business is reliable, fast, etc.
By having a professional-looking brand, you instantly give your cleaning business a professional look and an advantage over the competition.
So, the first thing you’ll need to do to build your brand is create a cleaning logo, which will give potential customers a symbol by which to recognize you. You’ll want to use your logo on any cleaning products you sell, to help create brand recognition over time. Also, you may want to come up with a slogan (like “we don’t cut corners, we clean them”)—something that`s memorable and instantly connects with potential customers when they see it.
Once you’ve made your logo, you can start putting it on everything, like social media pages and your website. When you’re ready to create content for your website and social media, choose a font that complements your logo and look for imagery that uses similar colors. Finally, develop a brand voice (which is the tone of voice you use in your messaging) that goes along with the rest of your brand’s vibe—witty, professional, direct, etc.
3. Choose a business structure
You have to get this right from the start, or it could cost you later.
Before you can start trading, you have to register your business and make it a legal entity. Only then will you be able to open a bank account, apply for loans, and hire employees. It` also illegal to trade before doing so.
You have two choices:
- Sole proprietor – If you are only cleaning residential properties and don’t plan on expanding, this is your best option. It’s straightforward to set up, and the annual accountancy costs are minimal. However, as you are the sole owner, you are also financially liable if anything ever goes wrong.
- Limited liability company – For those businesses taking the commercial route registering as an LLC would be the logical decision as you will probably be hiring staff, and you don’t want to be liable if one of them accidentally spills water onto a company computer. It will, of course, cost you more to initially set up, and the annual accountancy fees can be considerable.
4. Create a realistic budget and stick to it!
You’re in business to make money, but to do that, you’re going to have to spend some. It can either be personal savings or a loan. Either way, you will give yourself a better idea of how much you need and why you need it by creating a budget.
Start by making a list; it could look a little something like this:
- Car / Van – (Depending on requirements – $2000 upwards)
- Specialized equipment – (for example, commercial carpet cleaners start at around $600)
- Cleaning equipment and products– (Vacuum cleaner, brooms, mops, etc. at around $450)
- Insurance – (Depends on several factors such as: whether you’re employing staff, including extra public liability and work vehicle insurance, expect to pay at least $200 per month)
- Licenses and permits – ($50 – $100 for a sole proprietor / $200 – $500 for an LLC, depending on state)
- Advertising – (Website, hosting package, business cards, possibly flyers of posters, a sign on your work vehicle, branded clothing – $100 – $1000)
Your list will reflect your situation, but at a basic level, you can be set up and cleaning for under $1000. However, whatever amount you come to, double it to ensure that you have reserves to get you through the first couple of months of trading, because there’s always some unforeseen financial obstacle on the horizon when you start your own business.
5. Apply for your license and get insurance
It’s now time to bite the bullet and make this real!
The license your business needs will depend on your state as they all vary. Some require cleaning companies to have an occupational license, while others only require you to file a (Doing Business As) form. Don’t let this overwhelm you; as it’s a pretty straight forward process.
As for insurance, don’t take any chances as a simple accident could cost you thousands. Go online and use an insurance compare website like Simply business where you can get a quote within a couple of minutes.
6. Create a marketing plan
Every business needs a marketing plan, and here’s why:
You will undoubtedly have more work than you can do, but it’s the standard of the clients you get that matters. Aim to compile a client list that pays what you’re worth and when it’s due, and this is where a marketing plan can help.
Use it to decide on what online advertising platforms you`re going to use, advertising materials for local displays, signage, and of course, your business name.
- Every business needs a website; it’s the first place that your potential customers will look, and you can now build a click and drag one-page website that provides your contact details and cleaning information for around $50 and in only a couple of hours.
- However, as you’re a locally-based business, use free local business listings services, Google my business, and Google maps. These are the best ways of having an online presence that’s both free and effective.
- Social media such as Facebook is an excellent way of having groups help promote your business for you. Go online and join communities that are active in your area; again, this is free and very effective.
- Old school flyers and knocking on doors still work, as does advertisement in your local mall. Remember, not everyone uses the internet. It’s true!
Everywhere you go, and everything you see has either been cleaned or will be by a cleaning company, by equipping yourself with the right tools and preparing for success from the very beginning, it could be your business that gets the contracts to do it. So, don’t cut corners or clean around any of the tips provided in this article, and by doing so, you’ll clean up!