Starting a cleaning business requires little to no funds, which makes it perfect for budding entrepreneurs with a limited budget. Knowing that, establishing your own cleaning company probably seems like the most reasonable thing for you to do. And rightfully so.
By Lisbeth Larose
But while starting the business itself is simple, keeping it afloat is a whole different story. Making a name for yourself is difficult in the crowded cleaning market, and you can’t hope to attract clients without having an actionable plan that supports everything you do.
If you don’t know where to start, grab a cup of coffee and check out the 7 tips below to transform your company from a mere investment into a profitable venture.
1. Define Your Goals
While you know that you want to succeed in the cleaning industry, this information alone is too vague to work with. To give your business a clear sense of direction, you have to dig deeper and ask yourself some questions
For example, will you only offer window cleaning or a range of other services? Will you cater to domestic clients or have you set your eyes on the commercial sector? Will you work alone or hire employees to help you?
If you’re still uncertain of how you want your company to shape up, take a look at the options listed below to find the one thing that fits your vision and budget like a hand in glove.
Working in the domestic cleaning sector
This face-to-face approach involves visiting your client’s home and cleaning the area as per their personal instructions. The advantages of picking up this trade is that:
- You can begin working on your own;
- You will build client connections easier;
- You can use the client’s cleaning products;
- You can travel via public transportation;
- The work is stress-free (for the most part).
A downside is that you will have a low initial income until your business gets off the ground.
Working in the commercial cleaning sector
By far the most profitable approach to cleaning. It involves polishing of premises, such as:
- Office buildings and TV stations;
- Shops, pubs, and restaurants;
- Public schools and hospitals;
- A variety of other properties.
But here’s the catch – not only will you need to hire a crew of well-trained and certified people, but also purchase expensive professional equipment. This field of work also comes with more responsibilities, so be prepared to carry out lots of managerial work as well.
Focusing on a single niche service
This option is perfect if you can capitalise on a specific niche in your area that hasn’t been developed by any other competitor, but is currently in high demand. Here are some of the services you can choose to provide, depending on your skills and budget:
- Window cleaning;
- Oven cleaning;
- Carpet cleaning;
- Gutter cleaning;
- Roof cleaning;
- Car washing;
- Other services.
Since you will be offering a single service, you can expand it to include both regular and commercial clients. This streamlined process will also allow you to take on more jobs and perform them faster. However, market saturation is a big concern here and you will constantly need to be on top of your game to ensure that clients always choose you over other companies.
2. Build Trust
While not necessary, running a CRB check of your employees will show your clients that quality and honesty are things your company cares about. You can also enroll in relevant courses to obtain professional qualification, for instance Cleaning Masterclass.
But don’t just stop at that. Go one step further and ensure that any hazardous substances are handled responsibly by meeting all official health and safety regulations. And since you will perform your services in your clients’ properties, make sure to also look into insurance policies.
3. Search for Opportunities
Start by taking a good look at the local demographic stats, then ask yourself this:
- Do people in your area prefer hiring a professional for the services you provide?
- Are they looking for a particular service (or set of services) that nobody yet provides?
- Are they able to afford your services or are they turning to cheaper providers?
While answering these questions, you may be forced to reconsider your business strategy until you find an optimal business format that brings high ROI and provides value to your customers. Note that you can also start a business with a local cleaning franchise company, as they would already have an established strategy and a stable client base.
4. Make Smart Investments
Just as you wouldn’t rent an apartment that you can’t afford, you need to avoid overspending on equipment and other assets. Let’s review the main costs associated with providing a cleaning service (especially a commercial one) and what you can do to mitigate some of them.
Depending on the niche you’ve chosen, the price for your tools of the trade can range from affordable to exorbitant. For example, as a provider of carpet cleaning services, you will need to spend buy a carpet cleaning machine and a van. To cut some corners, you can buy detergents in bulk from wholesale suppliers to benefit from big discounts.
While renting a commercial facility to store all your equipment makes your company look more reputable, it also costs a lot. The more practical solution is to run your business operations from the comfort of your home since you will not have to worry about rent and travel expenses. Of course, you will need to ensure that you have sufficient storage space for all your equipment.
Since either you or your employees will need to visit your clients in person, travel costs will quickly add up. Mitigate this by calculating your expenses (fuel, vehicle maintenance, etc.) and adding them to your service price in a way that makes financial sense to you and your clients.
As your business grows, you will sooner or later reach a point where your overall efficiency will plummet unless you hire extra help. However, having extra staff members on board can be taxing (salaries, benefits, etc.), so calculate how many people you will need first before fully committing. You will also need to invest in an employee management tool to track work hours.
5. Name Your Price
Coming up with a fair price for your service may be difficult, but is not impossible. You can begin your research by roleplaying as a customer and calling your competition for quotes. After analysing a set of quotes, you should be able to pick a number that is profitable enough, but that is also affordable for the customer and is able to compete with prices by other companies.
Next, you will need to determine how you want to receive your payment. Will they pay you in cash after each service or will you request a small deposit upfront? Will you offer your services on weekends and, if so, will you charge extra for those appointments?
When you have finalised your price model, come up with a business forecast to know exactly when your work will finally start to pay off. This will help you decide how many appointments you will need to carry out per week in order to reach your goal quicker and start making a profit.
6. Give Your Brand an Identity
Think about what makes your brand stand out and write it down. This may be the competitive rates you offer, the speed at which you deliver the services, or the technology that you use in your day-to-day work. Whatever it is, make sure to embrace it and promote it across all your business channels (we will touch on these in a bit).
The second part of reinforcing your brand is to think about your brand’s visual representation. For example, you will need to design a company logo that clearly communicates what your business is about. You also need to have branded uniforms and vehicles so that more people can learn about you and the services you provide.
Finally, don’t forget to write down some testimonials from satisfied clients to further reinforce your image of a brand that can be trusted.
7. Create a Viable Marketing Strategy
In the past, you were forced to advertise your services through newspaper ads, printed flyers, TV commercials, and other expensive marketing channels. But in today’s interconnected age, you have myriad of affordable options at your fingertips, some of which are completely free!
With platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Youtube, you can reach out to millions of potential customers without spending a penny. To win the social network game, you need to maintain a fairly active online presence.
This involves posting content twice or more per week, answering comments, etc. The key here is to stay as transparent and honest as possible. Promoting false information about your products or typing sarcastic replies to dissatisfied customers is a sure way to quickly tarnish your good reputation.
This is THE platform to use if you want to connect with your customers on a more personal and meaningful level. Having a blog is also a good way to reinforce your brand image since you can write about topics that your clients may find useful.
Since you will be publishing content on a schedule, this will prompt your visitors to return time and again to in order to see what new things you have to say. They may even be tempted to hit the “Share” button and let others know about your post on social media!
There is no better place to talk about your services and products in more depth (and to provide tempting offers) than on your company’s very own website. It is also here where you will need to include a strong call to action in order to convince your clients to make an appointment.
To create a user-friendly page that ranks high, avoid window pop ups, walls of text and other clutter that will immediately prompt visitors to abandon your page. Make sure to also include online chat, a booking form, and other interactive elements to facilitate the booking process.
Spread brand awareness on social and other media platforms by participating in local charity events. While you can simply donate money to a charity and be done with it, we encourage you to get your hands dirty with some volunteer work. This way, you will be able to mingle with people, build valuable connections, and indirectly promote your services through your work.
With the advent of printing technology, this old-fashioned way of spreading the news about your company is now much cheaper. And they’re still an effective promo tool since you will be going door to door and meeting people directly. Before you print your first flyer, here are a few tips:
- Focus on a clutter-free design (use lots of white space; remove distracting text/colours);
- Avoid walls of text. Craft service descriptions that are brief, informative, and to the point;
- Provide clients with easy ways to get in touch (phone, website, Facebook group, etc.).
Investing in pay-per-click ads is a good strategy, especially if you are focusing on providing a single service. To enjoy a quick ROI, however, you will need to learn how your customers think.
For example, if you provide carpet cleaning in your area, type in “carpet cleaning” in your search engine and note down all autocomplete suggestions that are relevant to your niche.
Since all of them were written by real humans, your ads will likely receive more attention since you’ve used the exact words and phrases people write when looking for a carpet technician!
Lisbeth Larose is a professional writer for JoinFantastic, a company that offers domestic services franchises in the UK, Australia, and the US. Her fields of expertise include topics such as business, management, marketing, blogging, travel, cooking and many more. What makes Lisbeth happy the most is helping people succeed in business, and that’s why her main focus is writing guides.
Cleaning business stock photo by Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock