Sparkle and Shine:
7 Must-Have Tips for Starting a Cleaning Business
More than three million people work in the cleaning services industry in the United States. It’s one of the fastest-growing industries in the country right now with revenue projected to top $175 billion within the next three years.
Whether the economy is up or down, people still need and want clean living spaces. Starting a cleaning business is relatively easy and costs a lot less than it does to start other types of companies.
We’ll give you our top seven tips for starting a cleaning business of your own.
1. Pick a Name
Selecting the right name for your business is a little more complicated than just using your own name followed by “cleaning service”. You want to make sure no one else is using it, and you want to pick a name that’s easy to spell.
You’ll need to register your business with the state you’ll operate in, so run a quick search and make sure the name you want is available.
This is even more important when it comes to marketing. We’ll talk more about that later, but for now, just make sure the name you want will be all yours.
2. Choose the Appropriate Business Structure
If you organize as a sole proprietor, you’ll have a lot less paperwork. You’ll be the only one running the shop, so to speak. You can operate under your own name, or you can pick a business name.
The downside to this is the liability. Because you and your business are the same, you’re responsible for all its debts. Your personal and business assets are combined.
If your business fails, your personal assets could be used to pay off any outstanding debts. You’ll be responsible for all expenses and loans, too.
If you decide to structure your business as an LLC, you’ll have a lot more paperwork. It’s a much more complicated process.
But, the advantage is that your business and personal assets are separated. If your business goes under, your personal assets are protected.
3. Register Your Business
You’ll need to check the registration requirements in your state because they vary widely. Some states require all businesses to be registered and licensed, regardless of how big or small they are.
You’ll want to find out what the state, city and county requirements are for permitting, too. You may also need to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You’ll need this if you plan to hire people to work for your company.
Some cities require cleaning businesses to secure an occupational license, while some only require you to file a Doing Business As (DBA) form.
This is why researching the name of your company is such an important first step. If another business owner has already registered “Daisy’s Cleaning Service”, you won’t be able to.
4. Obtain Insurance
The first kind of insurance you’ll need is liability insurance. This protects you in case something at your client’s home gets broken or damaged.
That happens fairly often, no matter how careful you are. You pick up a vase to dust under it, and accidentally drop it. Or, you use the wrong cleaning solution on a counter and damage it. Liability insurance will cover accidental damages.
The other type of insurance to consider is a bond. Your potential clients may ask if you’re “bonded”. That means you have an insurance policy to protect both of you from employee theft.
A lot of clients won’t hire anyone who doesn’t carry insurance, so it pays to do your research. You can ask your current insurance company (your home or auto provider) if they offer business insurance and what it will cost.
5. Purchase Your Supplies
This will be one of your biggest up-front expenses. You might pick up your cleaning supplies at big box stores or at your local grocery store to start. Most cleaning professionals find they can save a lot of money if they choose to buy janitorial products online.
There are basic supplies you’ll need to stock up. Here are just a few:
- Window cleaner
- Paper towels and/or cotton cloths
- Rubber gloves
- Scrubbing brushes
- All-purpose cleaner
You’ll want to ask your clients if they prefer that you use a certain type of cleaning solution. Some may ask you to avoid using harsh chemicals, especially if someone in their home has respiratory issues or allergies. You’ll want to find this out before you start cleaning.
6. Set Your Rates
If you aren’t sure what the going rate is for cleaning in your area, the easiest way to find out is to call your competitors or check out their websites. Generally, cleaning companies will charge by the hour, the project or the size of the space.
Once you have a general idea of what other companies charge, you’ll know how to price your services. You’ll also get an idea of what the other guys are offering, so you can offer something different.
For example, you might learn that other cleaning companies aren’t offering move in or move out services. That might be a good niche for you.
7. Starting a Cleaning Business Requires Marketing
You won’t make much money if no one knows about you. We talked about choosing the right name for your business. That’s really important when it comes to marketing it.
For example, you’ll need a website. That means you’ll also need a domain name. Make sure the name of your business is the same as your domain name, so people can find it easily.
Here’s an example. If you name your company “Daisy’s Cleaning Service”, then your domain name should be “daisyscleaningservice.com”.
Social media marketing is also important, so you’ll want to set up a business Facebook page. Once you create your website and social media pages, you can start promoting your business.
You might offer a special coupon for new customers or a discount for clients who leave reviews on your website or Facebook page.
You can also promote your business offline. Print flyers and brochures and post them around your community. Have business cards ready to hand out.
And don’t forget old-fashioned word of mouth. Ask your friends and family members to spread the word that you’re starting a cleaning business.