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How to Start and Maintain a Cleaning Business

By: April Hill




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There are many people today who have the desire to run their own business. Doing so can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it also takes hard work. I say this from experience because my husband and I have been running our own cleaning business for the past 5 years and it was not an easy task.

There was alot to learn and really there remains alot to learn. How do I get started? What type of experience do I need to have? How do I get and keep clients? These were some of the questions that we had to answer as we started our business. Now, I know that every individual is different and no one thing applies to every person. That having been said, I'd like to give you an idea of our my husband and I started our cleaning business. Hopefully there will be something from our experience that will help you with your business venture.

The first thing we did was decide that we wanted to start a cleaning business. I know that may sound strange because if your reading this article, your obviously interested in starting a cleaning business. But, there is a big difference between being interested in and making the decision to stick with starting your own business. We had to make a firm decision about starting our business and get serious about it. Once we did that, it became easier to do research on what to do to get started. My husband's mom had already had her own cleaning business for many years so we decided to ask her what it was like. She explained that the main way she got her clients was through word of mouth. We have learned that if your good at something, people usually take notice. Ask around to other people that use a cleaning service and you'll probably discover that what most people want is someone trustworthy, reliable and thourough. It might be a good idea to ask friends and neighbors what they would want in a cleaning service so that you can try to develop those qualities.

Another thing you'll want to consider is how much time and money you can invest into getting your business started. If you work full or part time, how much time can you spend on getting your business off the ground? You'll also want to find out what the licensing requirements are for your area and what business laws you'll have to abide by. Consider the cost of these things and if you can afford to lose that amount of money if your business doesn't take off as quickly as you'd like it to. Having some business cards and fliers made up (or making them yourself) is another expense to consider. We did this and put an ad in the local paper in order to get our name out there. You may want to try this as well as passing out fliers and business cards in your local area. Consider too the cost of cleaning supplies. Will you be providing your own or will the client pay for them? Also, consider who will do your accounting and taxes. I was the main one in-charge of this aspect of the business and I found it helpful to use tax software that I was comfortable with. You may want to do it yourself or hire a professional. Depending on what type of cleaning business you start, there are many other costs to consider. Will you focus on cleaning just residences or will you venture into commercial cleaning, move-outs, new construction, windows, or floors? We decided to start advertising with local apartment complexes to do move-out cleaning. This really helped us to get our foot in the door, gain experience and have references to use for obtaining more work in the future. Eventually, we headed into residential cleaning and now our focus is on commercial cleaning. Take the time to really think about what aspect of the cleaning business you would like to pursue and consider the cost of getting started.

Now we come to the area of pricing. My husband and I called around to some local cleaning companies to get an idea of what the going rate was. We found that many companies in our area were charging an hourly rate so, we came up with an idea of how much we wanted to make an hour and set our prices based on that. We wanted to stay competitive with the local companies but at the same time, give the clients a good deal. When we started cleaning apartments, we thought about how long it would take us to clean each type of apartment and then decided on a flat rate. This worked out pretty good because eventually, we were able to work much faster and thereby make more an hour. Our clients really appreciated fast and thourough work and so they were willing to pay the rates we charged them. We advertised to more that one apartment complex so that we could have steady work. This really helped us because in our case, the work was sometimes slow with one apartment complex and steady with another. Remember, any type of contractor work can have slow times so be prepared in case work does start to dry up.

What I consider to be one of the most important parts of the cleaning business is customer relations. Keeping the client happy is good for business. We have had many clients ask us to do extra things and depending on what it was, we gladly took on the work, sometimes not charging extra for it just to keep the client happy. Now, I'm not saying that you have to do extra work pro bono everytime. You'll have to decide for yourself what your comfortable with. Just remember that a happy client makes for a more solid business. Important things to consider that will make the client happy is doing the work thoroughly, being efficient, being on-time and being respectful. Everyone appreciates doing business with honest and hard workers so keep this in mind as you work on the relationship with your clients. Many times we obtained clients because the previous cleaning company they used were not doing a very good job or weren't willing to do extra work and we quickly proved that we could do a great job at a reasonable price. This helped the client to see that we were a trustworthy company that they could depend on. Being dependable is a key quality that you'll want to develop in your cleaning business.

Now, I know there are many subjects I haven't covered such as major marketing plans, keeping records of each client whether to have a dedicated phone just for work and so forth. I couldn't possibly cover everything in one article. But, I do hope that I've given you some good imformation to start with that will help you in starting your business. My husband and I have learned that the best thing you can do is RESEARCH. Ask questions, read articles like this one and others that pertain to the cleaning business. I truly believe that you can never know enough and that there's always room for improvement. Remember, if your determined and willing to invest yourself and your resources, you too can start and maintain a successful cleaning business.


© 2006 April Hill. All rights reserved.