If you’ve been thinking about starting your own business, a cleaning company is a great option. There are so many people who don’t have the time or expertise to clean on their own. Not only does this mean it is a profitable option for you, but it’s also rewarding because you’ll be helping others regain their free time to better enjoy their lives.
Whether you have a lot of cleaning experience or very little, it’s possible to build a successful cleaning business if you know what to do. To help you, we’ve put together a guide which covers all of the essential steps to starting a profitable cleaning business.
Step 1: Decide What Kind of Cleaning to Do
The first step in starting your cleaning business is to decide what kind of cleaning business you want to be. Part of this process will include researching and validating this decision, then determining what services you’ll offer within your business.
Types of Cleaning Companies
There are many kinds of cleaning companies out there, and it’s important to find one which fits both you and the market you’ll be working in. A few types of cleaning companies to consider are:
- General House Cleaning
- Commercial Cleaning
- Airbnb Cleaning
- Carpet Cleaning
- Window Cleaning
- Biohazard Cleaning
- Mold Removal
Each of these types of cleaning companies will require different equipment and can be charged at different price points based on how specialized they are. Commercial cleaners, for example, charge more for services and work mainly on retainers. General house cleaning tends to charge a little less and relies on getting a large volume of customers. Meanwhile, biohazard cleaning, mold removal, and other specialized and hazardous cleaning jobs can charge more, but require greater amounts of time, knowledge, and equipment. These industries are not for the faint of heart, and because of these requirements it can be more difficult to break into them.
Choosing the right type of cleaning company means considering your experience, how much you intend to invest in specialized equipment, and whether you have it in you to tackle hazardous jobs. You’ll also need to consider what kind of prices you can charge and if you think this is viable for you.
Validating Your Cleaning Choice
When you think you may have settled on a type of cleaning company, you’ll need to make sure that the market can support it; this is known as validating your idea. To do this, you’ll need to do some research.
First, you should look at what kind of competition exists in your market. Although you might think you want a type of cleaning company that doesn’t have much competition, that’s not the case. If there’s no one else offering that kind of cleaning company in your area, it probably means it isn’t needed.
On the other hand, if there are many other companies like the one you want to start, it’s a good sign that there is a market for it in your city. In other words, it means your idea is validated. Don’t worry that there are already too many – if you provide exceptional services and set your prices correctly, you can compete with the others and your business can still thrive.
Set Your Services
Once you’ve determined which type of cleaning company you’ll go with, you can begin to set the services you’ll offer.
You may want to start by determining what kinds of services you know you do not want to offer. For example, many residential cleaning companies do not offer exterior window cleaning, mold removal, or cleaning up after biohazards. You may decide you don’t want to provide after-event cleaning because you hate dealing with the mess left behind after parties. Perhaps you don’t want to provide any laundry service. As the business owner, you get to decide what you will and will not do. Just keep in mind what your competitors are offering so that you don’t make your company look undesirable by not offering popular services.
When you’ve determined the services you don’t offer, you’ll have a clearer picture of what you do want to offer. These are the services you’ll promote to gain customers.
Step 2: Pick a Business Name & Domain
The next step in creating your business is to choose a suitable name. When thinking of your name, you want to make sure you pick something that isn’t too long. A shorter name will be easier for people to remember.
If you think you have a name, check to see whether that name has already been registered by someone else in your state. If it hasn’t, you should then check to see if a domain name is available to match the name you’ve chosen, as well as social media names on popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If these things are not available, you should probably look for a new name.
You’ll also need to consider what kind of vibe your business name gives off. You won’t want to use a silly name if that doesn’t suit you or the kind of business you want to run. You’ll also want to make sure your business name is relevant and makes sense for the type of business you’re running.
If you’re having a difficult time coming up with a name or finding one which has an available URL, you can use sites like LeanDomainSearch to help you discover possible options.
Once you’re ready, you should go ahead and register your domain name. You can do this through sites like GoDaddy, Blue Host, Site Ground, and others which offer both name registration and web hosting together, or you can purchase your domain separately and choose a web hosting company.
Step 3: Package and Price Your Services
The third step in preparing your business is to determine how you will package and price your services. You’ll need to do some more research for this step – check out what your competitors are doing. Look at their websites and call to get info on what services they offer and how they are priced.
When you’re first starting out, you’ll want to either match or even be slightly lower priced than your competitors so you can start getting some bookings. Once you’ve built enough trust with your customers and have the social proof and reviews to show it, you can begin to slowly increase your prices.
A few things you need to consider, depending on the type of cleaning company you’ve chosen:
- Pricing for one-time services
- Pricing for recurring services
- Pricing for different levels of cleaning (e.g. standard clean vs. deep clean)
- Will you offer flat rates, hourly pricing, or both?
- Will you offer discounts for first-time customers, holidays, birthdays, or other occasions?
- Will you offer rewards or discounts for referrals?
Once you’ve determined these things, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Step 4: Brand Positioning and Identifying Your Selling Points
Step 4 is where you will figure out what makes you stand out from your competition. Once again, you’ll look at your competitors to determine how you will position yourself in the market.
The best place to start is with reviews of your competitors. You can look at Yelp, Google reviews, or anywhere else you know that people leave reviews in your area. Look specifically at the negative reviews. Find the things that customers have complained about over and over again within your industry and determine how you can do these things differently – these will be your selling points.
Once you’ve compiled a list of complaints and how you will handle things differently, these will be used to position yourself in the market as someone better than your competition. All of your messaging and branding should incorporate these things to show customers that you’re aware of these issues and you have solutions for them.
For example, one of the things many customers complain about no matter where you’re located is when a company is late or doesn’t show up at all. So, to stand out, you could guarantee an arrival within a specific window or a partial refund, and make sure customers are aware of this. Anyone who’s had a previous bad experience with this will appreciate your solution and be more likely to hire you.
Using your selling points to position your brand as one with superior customer service and solutions to common complaints will give you an edge up on your competition.
Step 5: Identify the Logistics of Your Business
This is the step where you determine the details of how you’ll run your business. You’ll need to address each of the items below to make decisions about your processes.
You’ll need to determine how far you and any employees are willing to travel as part of your services. Will you service the entire city, or only specific areas? Will you service other cities, too? Specific zip codes? This will become your service area and will need to be clearly conveyed to your customers.
How will your customers book their appointments? What software will you use to store their details? How will you manage all of your bookings? There are great software options which can do all three. You’ll need to choose one that suits you and your budget.
What payment processor will you use? Will you accept online credit card payments? What about cash or check? It’s important to think about what payment methods your ideal customers will prefer.
Who will handle the accounting for your business? Will you do it yourself, or will you hire someone? What software will you use to keep track of income and expenses? When making this decision, you should consider your own ability with numbers as well as your budget to hire someone.
You will also need to determine whether you intend to hire a team. Will they be employees or independent contractors? How will you assign them jobs? Can it be handled with your scheduling software, or will you need to come up with another system? How will you determine their performance?
Addressing each of these topics and any issues that arise from them is critical to setting your business up for success right from the beginning.
Step 6: Set Up Your Website, Logo, and Online Information
Now that you’ve figured out the details of running your business, it’s time to set up your brand and online contact information.
You should start by setting up a business phone and email address. If you’ve already registered your domain (Step 2) then you can set up an email address with your domain to look more professional.
Once you’ve done that, you should set up your Google My Business listing, which will help customers find you. This will include important information about your company, like contact info and business hours. It should also include some short, well-written copy to show customers that they’ve found the right business.
With your contact info taken care of, it’s time to set up a website. You’ll need a content management system (CMS) to create and modify all of your digital content. The most popular CMS these days is WordPress, and it makes it very easy to use and maintain your website.
There are a few critical things which your website must include:
- Services Page
- Service Area
- About Page
- Booking Page
- Contact Form
You’ll need to make sure that your website displays your unique selling points and highlights why you stand out from your competition. Use this space to build trust with your customers by showing your solutions to common complaints and displaying great reviews from customers once you have a few.
Though it may seem like a big expense when you’re first starting out, hiring a professional designer to set up your site will ensure that you make a great first impression and put forward a professional and trustworthy image. They’ll also be able to ensure that your site runs smoothly and loads quickly, which is important for Google ranking.
You’ll also need to hire a designer to create a logo. You can hire someone from a place like Fiverr who can create an affordable and nice design. You don’t need to waste too much time on this – just a simple, clear, relevant logo will be enough to get you going.
This logo will be displayed on your website and any marketing materials. If you eventually decide to get things like uniforms, the logo should also be displayed on them.
Step 7: Register Your Business and Set Up Legalities
Once you have everything else in place, it’s time to make your business official. You’ll need to register your business, set up your finances, and get protection in the form of insurance.
Registering Your Business
Look into your state laws to find out what is required, then register your business. You should set up a limited liability company (LLC) which will protect your personal assets in the event that your business is ever sued or sent to collections. This way, things like your house and car generally can’t be touched by creditors.
Setting Up Finances
You’ll need to open a business account with a bank and make sure to keep your personal and business finances separate. Mixing your personal and business finances could void any benefits from registering as an LLC and could make you liable for business debts.
Check around a few different banks to see what kinds of benefits and fees come with their business options. Though some may have an annual fee, you might find that they have more benefits. Weigh your options and go with the one you feel provides the most benefit to your business, whether that is a free account or an account with premium benefits.
The final step in making your business compliant with the law is getting insurance. This is incredibly important because you will be visiting customer’s homes, so you’ll need protection in case anything is damaged or you’re accused of taking something. This is known as general liability insurance.
If you intend to have even one employee, you’ll also need to get insurance which will cover them if they suffer an injury or illness due to work. This is known as worker’s compensation insurance. Even without employees, this type of coverage may be important to protect you in case of any injuries on the job.
You’ll need to check the laws in your state to find out which type of insurance is required for your business. In some states, both may be required.
Step 8: Set Up Online Marketing Channels
Now that your business has been established, it’s time to get the word out! You won’t have a profitable business if no one knows you exist.
There are many different types of marketing channels and you’ll use each one of them eventually, depending on what phase you find your business in.
You’ll need to make sure that your business has an online presence besides your website. One that can be shared easily and won’t cost lots of money.
You should have already claimed your business name on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other platforms you would like to use. Start putting posts up so that your business looks active. Invite people to follow your accounts, and try to engage with people whenever possible.
Friends and Family
In the early days of your business, this will be one of your most important forms of marketing. Tell everyone you know about your business. You can hand out business cards, ask friends to like and share your business pages on social media, and offer a discount or free cleaning services in exchange for some reviews. You never know who might have a friend looking for exactly what you offer!
You will need to set up a profile on a few different popular review sites like Yelp. Make sure you have a few great photos and your logo on the profile.
Now, you won’t just magically receive reviews. You need to earn them. And one of the best ways of doing this is to offer free or heavily discounted services in exchange for a review. Look for some locals with a solid review account and offer them your deal. Offer the same deal to friends and family. Someone will take you up on the offer, and when they do you’ll need to WOW them, big time, so you can ensure a glowing review.
You’ll need to keep this up until you have about 10 great reviews. After that, things should start to pick up.
Once you’ve got some social proof in the form of great reviews, you can begin to pay for advertisements. Pay per lead sites such as Google Local Leads and Thumbtack are a great way to start bidding on jobs. You can also start running ads on Google and other places, such as Craigslist.
Search Engine Optimization
Eventually, search traffic is going to become your bread and butter. Most of your new customers will come from searching for your type of business.
To make sure that happens, you should start tweaking your website for SEO purposes so that you can begin ranking on Google. You’ll need to make sure your site speed remains fast, your page headers and titles contain key words you want to rank for, and your website is user friendly.
In addition, you can create content like blog posts, which will bring in people searching for those topics and build credibility. Having these blogs featured with other local businesses can bring in customers as well.
Step 9: Scale and Grow
With everything set up properly, and with some hard marketing efforts in the beginning, you should start to receive steady business. You can continue looking for new customers until you’re completely booked up.
Once you start finding that you’re fully booked, you can start to scale your business. You’ll need to hire new team members so you can take on more customers. Keep in mind this will incur some costs, such as background checks and of course wages. Once you’ve reached this stage, though, your prices should be high enough to cover your employee wages, your costs, and still leave profit margin.
Once they’re also becoming fully booked, you can hire again.
With this model you can continue to grow your business. If you’re regularly booked out, you may want to consider hiring team members in other places and expanding your service area. The sky is the limit once your business and processes are established.