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How to start a cleaning business

Cleaning is a difficult chore and a cumbersome one. This is the reason why most people prefer to hire a cleaning business to get the work done. Individual homes, apartments, offices, hospitals, and other organizations hire a professional cleaning agency to ensure their premises are clean. For householders, this is a convenient solution as it saves them the time and effort on cleaning. They can pay a small amount to get their homes cleaned in a professional way.

Offices or other commercial places have heavy traffic with employees, visitors, and customers on their premises. They need to keep the office clean, not only so it looks good, but also to maintain hygiene. Hiring cleaners and getting someone to supervise their work involves lot of administrative work. This is why most companies choose to outsource work to a cleaning business.

A professional cleaning agency can charge anywhere from $100 to $180 for a two-hour home cleaning session[i]. The work involved in commercial cleaning depends on the office area. Prices are usually charged per square feet. On average, office-cleaning costs[ii] vary from $0.07 to $0.15 per square feet. A cleaning business can be lucrative and can help the business owner earn good money. If you wish to start a cleaning business, here’s how you can do it.

  • Decide your target segment

You can choose to specialize in home cleaning or in commercial cleaning. You can even do both, but you need to understand that the requirements vary. Commercial cleaning involves more work as the space to be cleaned is more. The potential to earn is also higher and you can expect a steady income when you take up commercial cleaning. Home cleaning is also a good option. Some homes hire cleaners to do their cleaning regularly, while others choose to get it done once a month. You need to decide your target segment in advance.

  • Decide the services to offer

Cleaning involves multiple activities. This includes:

  • Floor cleaning and mopping
  • Bathroom cleaning
  • Cleaning doors and windows
  • Exterior cleaning
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Cleaning upholstery
  • Floor waxing
  • Disposing off trash

Depending on whether you plan to do the work on your own or have a team of cleaners, you need to decide which of these services you offer. Ideally, you would need to offer them all. It all depends on the resources you have. Floor waxing and exterior cleaning are difficult for solo operators. You need to work out the services you plan to offer in advance.

  • Plan your business

Every activity needs planning, so does a cleaning business. You need to plan for all the following:

  1. Calculate the expenses you need to incur to setup your business. This includes registration/licensing costs, cost of buying equipment for cleaning like vacuum cleaner, polishing machine, etc.
  2. There would be running costs every month that include cost of cleaning materials and cleaning products. You may also advertise your work and spend money on it. If you hire cleaners to work for you, they need to be paid wages and you need insurance to take care of any risks.
  3. All these expenses need to be estimated in advance. This will help you understand how much money you need to start your business and then run it every month. This will also help you estimate how much you need to earn to break even.
  4. Once you work out your expenses, you need to decide your pricing. Most professional agencies have fixed prices and they charge per sq. ft or per hour. You can also look at contracts where you provide certain services and charge a fixed amount for it every month. This is an easy pricing model convenient for both agency and customer. While deciding the pricing, you need to ensure you will be able to get sufficient returns.
  • Complete all formalities

You need a name for your cleaning service. Choose one that is catchy, and that people can remember. You then need to register the business. You can register as a proprietorship concern or as an LLC. When you start as a solo operator, you can choose a proprietorship form of business. An LLC can be advantageous as it helps you separate your business liability from your personal liability. Many agencies/accountants are available to help you complete your registration easily.

You may need licensing from the state/city where you operate. Make sure you complete all formalities to prevent future problems. When you hire cleaners, there is a risk of accidents occurring. You need to get liability insurance to cover this risk. This is an important requirement that you need to complete. You need an EIN from the tax department for your business.

  • Start your business

Once formalities are complete, you can then start your business. You need to ensure the following are in place:

  • You may need an office or choose to operate from your home. This depends on the scale of your business.
  • You need to hire staff and pay them monthly salary or per hour wages.
  • Get all the resources needed for cleaning like cleaning equipment, cleaning materials, and cleaning products. Mops, detergents, gloves, brushes, etc. need to be available. Get good quality materials, so you don’t have to replace worn out materials frequently.
  • You can consider buying or hiring a van that has your business name and logo painted on it. This makes your cleaning visits easy and gives a professional touch.
  • You need to advertise your services and start talking to people to get business. For a business like cleaning, recommendations from satisfied clients are the best advertisement.
  • You can create a website and use it to market your services online. This is a cost-effective way of promoting your business. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can help you get business. Open social media accounts in your business name and reach out to potential customers.

Starting a cleaning business is easy as initial costs are low. To make it profitable, you need to focus on quality services to satisfy clients.