Whether you want to build a full-time cleaning business or start a side hustle, you’ll need more than mops and brooms.
Everyone wants a clean home or office, and if you can give them that, you’ll have no problem getting new clients.
A cleaning business has plenty of potential to reap big rewards once you get going, but it takes some legwork to start your business.
This guide will not only help you start a cleaning business but market and grow it, too.
The Easy Parts of Starting a Cleaning Business
Starting a cleaning business involves a lower financial investment than many other types of businesses. We’re talking less than $10,000.
Cleaning is a potentially lucrative industry, which means a huge return on your investment over time.
With a flexible schedule, you can start your business solo or hire a team to work with you.
Cleaning doesn’t require any certifications or formal education. Once you start getting clients, you prove your skill through your work and customer service. When you satisfy clients, they’ll hire you over and over again.
You may think creating an online booking calendar, invoicing, and generating estimates is going to be difficult, but guess what? There is a simple solution to all of that and more.
Software can help with scheduling and so many other tasks, making the launch of your business even more seamless. Housecall Pro helps over 3,000 cleaning businesses not only book clients but invoice, show results and reporting, create estimates, and even take care of credit card payments.
Housecall Pro helps you manage your business so you can focus on growing it.
Housecall Pro starts at $49 per month and includes online booking, drag and drop scheduling, real-time dispatching, paperless invoicing, estimates, a customizable dashboard, mobile payment processing, and more. The mobile app version is available for iOS and Android.
You can try Housecall Pro free for 14 days to test out the features and make sure it works for your business.
The Difficult Parts of Starting a Cleaning Business
The most significant challenge with launching a cleaning business is finding the right employees. The job market can be very competitive, so simply offering a fair rate may not be enough. Many businesses are alos offering paid mileage, higher wages, bonuses, and opportunities for advancement/raises.
When it comes to a great employee, you need people who are reliable, dependable, hardworking, punctual, honest, and considerate to the clients. They need to not only be great and efficient cleaners, but also be a reflection of your company’s values. You will not be able to be at every job as you grow, so your employees are out there representing you. Background checks, checking references, and specific training should all be part of your hiring process.
A successful cleaning business is also much more than just being great at dusting and mopping. When you start your business, you should consider choosing a specialty.
That’s harder than it sounds. Your skills may not line up neatly with what your area needs.
It’s hard to stand out in the cleaning industry. Learning to set your business apart from the competition can mean the difference between a client choosing you over another company.
Getting clients early on also takes some trial and error. You need to understand your target audience and market to them.
If you don’t reach your target market, you won’t get clients.
Once you do get clients, you can’t stop marketing. You’ll find that doing good work helps you keep the clients you have, but continuing your business requires you to build a positive reputation.
A third challenge is deciding the right products to use. Do your clients want sustainable products or are they okay with anything as long as it gets the job done? And if you go with more expensive products, are you raising your prices to reflect that cost?
Step 1: Create a Business Plan
From naming your business to creating a five- and ten-year plan to budgeting for equipment, your business plan is a detailed document that shows how you plan to run and grow your business.
Business plans typically include things like company name and description, market research, budget and financials, competitor analysis, sales and marketing plans, and more. In this section, I’m going to go into three important parts of it.
A business plan is a great tool for you to make better decisions as you build and launch your business, as well as a tool for generating funding or getting a bank loan.
Choose a Business Name
Having your business name picked out at this point makes it easier to go through the rest of the process of starting your cleaning business.
It helps you market, build your website, register your business, and more. The name features everywhere you promote your business.
Be deliberate and thoughtful in choosing it. You want it to be memorable but appropriate for your target audience while making it clear what your business does. Go for memorable and simple.
Plan Your Budget
You need to factor cleaning supplies and equipment, startup costs, marketing, transportation, and more into your business plan budget. Know where you plan to get your supplies so you can include accurate prices.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of a vehicle that can transport your supplies and equipment and fuel for that vehicle. Equipment shouldn’t be a frequent expense, but it will be a significant one upfront.
Know which expenses are ongoing. Include marketing costs since you’ll need to keep marketing your business as long as you have it, and any software or technology needs, like a scheduling software and business phone service.
And don’t forget how much you’ll need to pay your employees!
Plan out your budget by months or quarters to determine how much you’ll need to spend to get started and how much you need to make every month to cover your expenses.
Create Business Goals
Business goals vary from one business to the next.
Know what you plan to charge for your services. Include your specialties, your target market, your strategy for finding clients, and when and how you plan to grow your business.
For example, do you plan to start your business solo but hire employees later? Include when you want to do that, how many people you want to hire, and how you want to expand your business in the future.
Create a plan for one, five, and ten years and how you expect to achieve your goals.
Step 2: Choose Your Niche
When you’re cleaning for family or friends, you can get away with generalizing. If you want to expand, people need to know how you will help them better than other services.
Know your specialty and target market, research other cleaning companies in your area, and choose what kinds of clients you plan to serve before putting yourself out there.
Understand Your Market
Before you start marketing your business, you need to understand the people you want to market to.
This is the time to choose your clients. First you’ll decide whether you plan to go into residential or commercial cleaning.
Residential is typically easier to start, but know you’ll be doing most of the work yourself. Commercial cleaning typically has more competition with larger corporations.
Spend time researching and reading reviews from people in your target market. What do they need most from a cleaning service? Is it flexible hours, special cleaning services like carpet cleaning, window cleaning, etc.? Identify what they want and figure out how you will provide it.
Choose your clients based on what you can handle and create a plan to market to them.
Research the Competition
Before officially choosing your niche, check out who else is doing the same thing in your area. For example, if you plan to specialize in carpet cleaning, research carpet cleaners near you.
Know how many there are, what they offer, areas they serve, and more. Read their reviews to see what people like or don’t like. This will help you figure out which holes in the market you can fill.
Researching the competition helps you figure out how to stand out and get clients who need your services.
Pick a Specialty
Having a specialty allows you to manage your workload and get clients who truly need you. It plays to your skills and knowledge of your industry.
Choosing a specialty applies more if you already have the knowledge necessary to provide a specialized service. It is certainly possible to have a generalized cleaning business, but a specialty can help set you apart and narrow your target market.
Your specialty doesn’t have to be a specific type of cleaning. You can also tailor it to clients’ personal needs or preferences, like fast service or deep cleaning.
Set Your Prices
Don’t wait until the last minute to set your prices. Know what your service is worth in terms of labor, equipment and supply costs, transportation, and other parts of your business, and price accordingly.
Setting rates intimidates many business owners. Research prices of similar services in your area to get an idea of what you can charge and what people are willing to pay.
You need to strike a balance between what you want to make and what people will pay, but make sure you’re not losing money.
Invest In Business Software
Software can help you run your business once you’ve started it, but you don’t want to wait until you’re overwhelmed with work to invest in it and have to play catch up. Housecall Pro can help you organize your cleaning business and schedule clients from the start.
Housecall Pro has features like scheduling, dispatching, estimates, invoicing. It offers automated marketing in the form of thank you emails, seasonal postcard marketing, and other features to keep you top of mind with clients. It can also make your service more efficient by providing service agreements.
Housecall Pro makes it easy for customers to connect with you by text, which streamlines booking. Live map GPS helps you keep track of where your employees are. It also helps you grow your business with advanced reporting.
Housecall Pro has three packages to choose from. The Start package gives you the basics, including scheduling, dispatching, invoicing, and estimates. You also get a customizable dashboard, review generation, a professional community membership, and a mobile app.
Grow has all Start features, plus more advanced ones like Quickbooks and Zapier integrations. You can also use employee time and GPS tracking and postcard and email marketing.
The XL tier has advanced reporting to help you grow your business faster. You can work with a key accounts onboarding specialist, so you don’t have to worry about figuring the system out on your own. You get a Sales Proposal tool, recurring service plans, and a website builder to create an online presence.
Step 3: Get Funding
Not everyone has all the funds they need to start a business out of pocket. If you don’t, you can take out a business loan. Funding is one of the most important steps to starting your business and ensuring you can make it happen.
Take Out a Business Loan
You likely don’t need a big business loan to start a cleaning business. You might not need one at all and can start it on savings or by borrowing money from people who can support you.
To get a loan, know what your bank needs to consider you. It helps if you have good credit, but there are options for people who don’t.
You should have information about your business, including:
- How long you’ve been in business
- Your industry and specialties
- Your credit score and credit history
- Your industry
Know what kind of loan you want, whether it’s a small business loan, a traditional bank loan, or one of many other options. Have the necessary documents ready—your lender will tell you what you need.
Know What You Need for Your Business
Knowing what you need in terms of equipment, supplies, software, transportation, and more will help you determine how much money you need for your loan.
You can find most of this information in your business plan. Having it available will make you more organized and ensure that the funding you get covers your business needs.
Step 4: Register Your Business
Registering your business makes it legal and legitimate. It’s what you need to do to be able to pay business taxes. There are also other legal considerations to keep in mind as you grow.
Private vs. Corporate Cleaning Services
Decide between providing consumer and commercial service. The type you choose can impact the growth of your business long term.
Consumer cleaning businesses clean private homes while commercial ones clean businesses and office buildings. It’s usually easier to start with consumer cleaning because it has a higher demand. Larger cleaning corporations dominate the corporate cleaning world.
Other Legal Considerations
Consider what forms you’ll need for taxes, like a 1099 contractor form if you make over $600 with a single business client per year.
It’s essential to register your business properly, whether you’re a sole proprietor, LLC, partnership, or something else so that you can pay taxes correctly.
When choosing a business structure, take a look at our guide to the various business entities, what each is, and how to choose one.
Step 5: Market Your Business
Marketing is one of the most challenging parts of starting and building a business. You need to create an online presence, use relevant ads, and reach your specific audience to get clients. Without marketing, it takes much longer to grow your business.
Build a Website
Whether you do this step by yourself or hire a professional web designer, you need a website. An online presence is important both on your website and social media.
Your website should have everything a client would want to know about you, including:
- Business name
- Services you offer
- About page
- Pricing list
- Contact page
- Your location
- Service area
A website is an excellent place for static content and quick information for clients. Visitors are more likely to hire you when they feel you’re trustworthy and transparent online. Follow website best practices to create a high quality site.
If you are building your first website, we highly recommend Wix, with its seamless website creation tools, tons of templates, and easy-to-use interface. Wix is one of many great options, which you can see here.
Target Your Audience with Ads
Marketing involves knowing your audience. Target your ads to the people who need your services.
If you do consumer cleaning, tell them what services you offer for homes. Show the benefits and value of using your business over the competition.
Make sure you target the right people. If you miss your market, you miss getting their business, too.
Use Housecall Pro Automated Marketing
Housecall Pro helps you give a thoughtful touch to your marketing.
It sends postcards and emails to thank your customers and let them know what you offer seasonally. It also shows them you’re thinking about them and that they should be thinking about you, too. The tool can even generate reviews from clients.
Step 6: Get and Keep Clients
Getting clients is one of the hardest parts of owning a business but it gets easier with good marketing and excellent work. Getting clients relies on more than marketing.
You need to make clients want to tell other people about you. That means keeping up high-quality service as long as you own your business.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth continues to be one of the most effective ways to grow a business. When people get a recommendation from someone they trust, they’re more likely to hire you than if they were to see your ads.
As you grow your business, more clients will recommend you to others who need your services. This part often comes after the initial marketing phase, but you might have friends or family who can help you here.
Build a Reputation
Doing good work makes people want to recommend you. You build your reputation this way, so you get better reviews and more people interested in your services.
As your reputation spreads, your business grows with it.
Housecall Pro can help by providing advanced reports about your business so you know where you can improve and where you’re already succeeding and asking clients for reviews to start creating an online reputation.
Have References and Referrals
With a cleaning business, you should have current or former clients you can use as references if a potential client asks. These should be people who have been happy with your service.
Your potential clients can talk to these people, which will encourage them to hire you, too. You can also ask current clients to write a referral to post on your website. These referrals show that you’ve built trust between you and your clients.