As a cleaning business, you’ll offer a service that is an absolute necessity for people’s daily lives at home and at work. Commercial and residential cleaning businesses provide the same service but have different requirements in terms of materials, clients and marketing. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to start a cleaning business as a side gig or a full-time career.
Before You Get Started: Choose Your Business Structure
If you’re starting your business from scratch, you’ll need to start with choosing your business name and filing company formation paperwork. Although there are upfront costs, this is a crucial step for making sure you can operate your business successfully and start building a loyal client base.
You’ll likely need to form an LLC or corporation to get started. After doing some research on available names, you can start the process of getting your paperwork in order.
5 Steps for Starting a Cleaning Business
Step 1: Know Your Market
When you’re looking to start a cleaning business, you should research the other businesses in the area and the services they offer. If they’re working in the same market as you, what extra services can you offer? You can also look into offering incentives on your pricing to encourage repeat customers.
Part of your research must include reading reviews on Yelp and Google to see what people’s main compliments and complaints are. If customers want more flexible options, you can fill that gap in the market.
Step 2: Choose Your Specialty
Based on your market research, you’ll then need to determine an area of focus for your business. Is there higher demand for commercial services in your area, or residential? Where do you have the least competition? The route you choose will determine what kinds of training you’ll need and what insurance to carry, so choose carefully.
Commercial Cleaning Services
A commercial cleaning business handles spaces like offices, hospitals, schools, retail storefronts and other large spaces where businesses operate. This service is basically providing janitors to large businesses that need to keep everything clean and in order so people can move through the spaces easily.
To clean spaces like these, you may need specialized equipment. It’s also likely that you’ll have to work overnight in order not to interrupt the company’s daily business operations, and enroll your cleaners in classes or obtain certifications. These are especially important in any location that requires extra care with biohazards or sterile environments.
Your cleaning team will need to go in with a regular routine, and they’ll have to know what they’re doing. Having a well-trained, professional team is crucial for commercial cleaning.
Consumer Cleaning Services
Consumer cleaning entails working in people’s homes or residential spaces. You’ll likely get more direction from your client because it’s their personal space, and they might even have different specifications week by week. Your cleaners will have to be adaptable and respectful to the client’s home.
Residential cleaners also have to be more detail-focused and keep track of the ways that rooms are arranged. Cleaning will also take a longer time because of these details. Because of this, the rates might have to be higher to compensate for a lower business volume over the course of a day.
Step 3: Generalist or Niche?
Even after you pick to pursue the consumer or commercial cleaning route, you can still choose to specialize within that field.
As a commercial cleaner, you could specialize in cleaning schools and using cleaning materials that are certified to be safe for children. If you’re hoping to work with hospitals, you’ll want to stock up on specialized materials and cleaning practices for hospitals.
Providing flexible, customer-chosen options for residential services can be a good niche service as well. Advertising your services to homes with young children is a good way to build up a client base because families need consistent services.
Step 4: Set Your Rates
There are three ways to set rates for a cleaning business: hourly, flat or calculated by square footage. Hourly and flat rates work for either commercial or consumer cleaning. It could be prudent to start with an hourly rate for residential homes, and then calculate a flat-rate offering based on how long it takes your cleaners to finish an average single-family home.
Rates calculated by square footage are very common for commercial cleaning businesses. Since you’re doing more regular and repetitive work, it makes sense to simply calculate by how large the space is and how much labor you’ll have to devote to the space.
Step 5: Budget for Transport, Equipment and More
Budgeting in the beginning requires thinking through all of the stages the employees of your business will go through in the cleaning process. If you need any specialized equipment, you’ll want to invest in that up front so you can get started immediately. Special equipment like floor waxers might require training for your employees as well.
In addition to transporting equipment, you may also need to provide transportation for your employees. But even if you expect employees to find their own way to the job site, a qualified individual from your company should oversee the transport of the materials and make sure they get from the office to the job site. A transportation budget should be an early consideration.
Cleaning equipment will be a big expense. In addition to specialized cleaning equipment, you’ll need a large stock of cleaning materials like brooms, mops, disinfectants, protective equipment for employees and much more. It’s important to keep these well stocked, especially during a busy week, in case of any supply chain shortages or other random occurrences.