Running your own business can be both exciting and overwhelming. While many cleaning businesses may seem straightforward, starting any business requires research, paperwork, marketing, and more. Before you get order business cards or book your first client, there are several housekeeping items you should attend to (pun intended)
To help you out, we’ve put together an easy guide on how to start a cleaning business from scratch. Plus, we’ll show you how it takes just minutes to check one critical thing off your list: cleaning business insurance!
STEP 1: RESEARCH
Study Your Market
The people and area you serve will dictate which type of cleaning business will be most successful. Are you considering a maid business or a janitorial service? Have you considered carpet cleaning or window cleaning? More specialized cleaning services like these can be more challenging to start but could be a lucrative choice if competition in your area is low.
Find answers to the following questions to help narrow down your business ideas: What type of cleaning service is lacking in your current area? Which services are oversaturated in your market? Who will your target customers be? What cleaning services or solutions are they already using?
Create Your Niche
Once you have a better idea of your market, find unique ways to fill those gaps the competition has left behind. For example, complete an audit of all your competitors’ operations. What is their pricing structure, and how much do they charge? How is their service rated online? Is it easy to book their service online or over the phone? Anything, from how you brand yourself to how you collect payments, can be a distinct advantage in differentiating yourself from the other businesses in your area.
STEP 2: MAKE IT OFFICIAL
Create a Business Plan
A business plan is an important document for every entrepreneur. It will require you to think through each step of how to start your cleaning business and show lenders you’re prepared, organized, and deserving of a loan. You’ll refer to your business plan repeatedly; it’s a resource you may edit and adjust as time goes on. Think of it as the blueprint for your business.
Unfamiliar with business plans? The Small Business Administration breaks down the two most common types of business plans and what to include in each.
Choose Your Legal Business Entity
Determining the type of business you’ll create is important because each entity comes with distinct pros and cons. We recommend this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It offers an in-depth explanation of each entity. Before you file any paperwork, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney about which entity will work best for your situation. Here are the three most common types of legal entities for cleaning businesses:
- Sole proprietorship – Legally, you and your business are the same, with no separate legal entity for your business.
- Partnership – A sole proprietorship comprised of two or more people.
- LLC – or a “Limited Liability Company.” A hybrid entity between a sole proprietorship and a corporation, LLCs provide the liability protection of a corporation yet aren’t subject to double taxation as the profits go through your personal tax return.
Obtain Proper Documentation
Before you launch your cleaning business, you’ll also need to obtain proper licensing. Because business requirements vary by state, you’ll have to research your state, county, and city regulations to understand what you need before applying.
In some cases, your state may require getting a contractor’s license and bonding. Here’s a great online resource from Self-Employed HouseCleaner that filters your requirements by state. It’s an excellent place to start your research.
Secure a Small Business Loan If Needed
Start-up funds are a necessary expense to get your business off the ground. Suppose you don’t have savings to cover your initial expenses, or would prefer not to dip into them. In that case, small business loans are an effective and low-risk way to secure funding for marketing materials, supplies, equipment, vehicles, retail or commercial space, and more.
Buy Cleaning Business Insurance
Insurance is an important next step after registering or licensing your business if you want to protect yourself or your family from financial risks. At Insurance Canopy, we’ve simplified the insurance buying process by allowing you to purchase your policy completely online. In addition, you can also reach any of our licensed agents by phone or email should you have any questions.
Not only does insurance protect you, but it reassures your clients. When you protect your business with us, you have exclusive access to our insurance badge. Many business owners feature the insurance badge on their website to advertise to clients that they are a trusted professional in the industry.
STEP 3: GET THINGS STARTED
To kickstart your business, figure out your pricing for cleaning services and then market your affordability, reliability, and efficiency to the right people.
Figuring Out Rates
Depending on the cleaning business you’re running (maid services, janitorial cleaning, window cleaning, etc.), your options for rates will vary. Below are just some of the ways current cleaning businesses charge their customers.
Many customers like knowing what they’re paying for once the job is done. There are no surprises when you decide to charge a flat rate, and the chances of dealing with an unhappy customer over the bill are low.
Hourly rates may prevent you from going to individual locations and calculating costs. If you need help calculating whether you’re charging too much or too little, try contacting other cleaning businesses in your area.
Buildings come in all shapes and sizes. Charging by square footage can be helpful because each location has specific needs and warrants special pricing.
A La Carte:
Some customers like to pick and choose specific cleaning services, such as deep cleaning bathrooms or detailing kitchens. Pinpoint the services you’d like to offer and let your customers know!
Whatever route you take, it’s essential to stay consistent in how you charge your clients. Changing your rates frequently or without notice could cause them to look elsewhere.
There are many scheduling application options —from simple and free alternatives to those that offer robust paid subscriptions. We collected our top choices below to give you an idea of what’s out there.
This tool lets customers book their cleaning appointments online and automatically syncs them to your calendar. You can also send reminder texts or emails to your clients and keep them updated with any appointment changes.
With Time Tap, you can organize your appointments, set up recurring appointments, accept payment, and more.
This online tool takes appointment setting to a new level. You can send email and text reminders, give your employees their login to manage the calendar, accept payments, and give your customers access to book their own appointments.
STEP 4: MARKET (ONLINE AND OFFLINE)
We’re sure you understand the value of investing time and money in marketing your cleaning business. The best marketing efforts come from slow and steady online and offline tactics that will pay off in the long run.
Don’t forget to include all the information a future customer of yours would want to know on your website—the services you offer, your pricing, past customer reviews, and where they can schedule an appointment. If you haven’t created a site yet, don’t fret. With options like Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix, you can build and customize your online presence without a pro.
Google My Business
To increase visibility for your business, create and optimize a free Google Business profile for your cleaning company. It’s quick and easy to do and can dramatically boost your presence on online searches. Here is some helpful information on improving your profile.
You should have a Facebook page for your business to increase visibility in your area. Your Facebook business page will allow you to post job listings, access business page insights, check how your posts perform, launch paid ads, and more.
Once you have established a following, branch out to other social media platforms and expand your audience. You can keep track of your posts and schedule them ahead of time using Buffer or Hootsuite.
Independent review sites like Yelp or Google help your clients decide whether they should hire you (or someone else). Always ask satisfied customers to leave you a review. Make it easy by emailing them a direct link after one of your cleaning appointments. If you ask, most clients are happy to review a small business they like and use.
Leave Your Business Card
Visit your local shopping centers and restaurants to see if they have an advertisement wall. If they do, ask the owner or an associate if you can pin your business card there. Better yet, go to a community center where they’re bound to have a place where you can advertise your business. You never know where your next customer will be!
Canvas Surrounding Neighborhoods
Check out your local neighborhoods and leave flyers about your cleaning business. You may run into a potential customer who is moving in or out of their home and needs cleaning services. It’s a great way to build your network and gain potential leads.
Attend City-sponsored Events
Purchase booth space and interact with your community at a city-sponsored event. You can network with fellow small business owners and discuss future advertising collaborations.
Create a referral program
The best way to gain new clients is through your existing clients! Encourage your clients to recommend your business to their friends and family. To incentivize them, offer a discount on their next cleaning for each person they refer! It’s a simple but effective way many cleaning businesses market.
YOU’RE READY TO GO!
Now that you know how to start your cleaning business from scratch, all that’s left is putting plans into action!
With the right tips, you can easily run an efficient business and keep customers coming back to you time after time. More importantly, with cleaning business insurance, you can have peace of mind and focus on what matters—building your business and taking it to the next level. Looking for additional tips? See how you can improve your cleaning business marketing plan here.