Having the drive and ambition to start a cleaning business is only part of the equation you need to be successful. If you’re thinking about starting a cleaning business, there are many other things you must do to get your business off the ground and let it soar.
If you’re thinking about starting a cleaning business, take a look at this checklist to make sure you have everything you need to get started.
Start a Company
Before you get too far into starting your business, you will want to consult with a CPA or a business lawyer to investigate the best way for you to conduct business in your state and what the federal government requires.
Questions to ask your CPA or business lawyer:
- What company structure is best for your business and personal goals? There are basically four types of business organization that you will want to consider: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation and Limited Liability company. Each has advantages and disadvantages depending upon your goals, so it is best to consult with an expert before deciding how to proceed.
- Are your services subject to sales tax? Every state has different laws and regulations related to sales tax. Before you make your first sale, make sure you know what is subject to sales tax and what is not. If you have to collect sales tax, learn how much to collect, who to pay it to and the deadlines for making payments.
Do you require a license to provide your services? At the very least, you will need a business license to conduct business in your state, but it is best to consult with a CPA or lawyer to make sure you register everything properly. Your bank will also require much of this paperwork before you can accept payments in the name of your business.
- How do you setup payroll and pay yourself? In the beginning, you are likely your only employee but hopefully that will not remain the case forever. How you pay yourself and how you setup your first new hire is critical to know as you begin your business.
A Business Plan for your Cleaning Business
You can’t start a business without a plan. This plan should include how much money you’re willing to invest if you plan to run your business out of your home, and what the competition looks like. You want to remain competitive while offering your own specialties that will let you stand out among the crowd. Within this plan should be the list of cleaning services you plan to offer as well as the prices.
Most residential cleaning services begin with some variation of the following service offerings:
- Deluxe Deep Clean: A top to bottom, comprehensive house cleaning that is best for one-time or seasonal cleanings (think Spring Cleaning!). Many cleaning businesses also use this service for the initial cleaning of a recurring service if the home hasn’t been recently cleaned by a professional.
- General Clean: A general clean is thorough but not nearly as comprehensive as a deep cleaning. This service is best for recurring cleaning services when the home has recently had a deep cleaning.
- Empty Home Clean: Also called a Move In/Out clean, the empty home clean is the most thorough cleaning service provided by most residential cleaners (and thus the highest priced!). You might think that cleaning an empty home is easier, but in reality it can often take more time because there are no areas of the home out of reach due to furniture, etc.
- Other popular service offerings include: Post-remodel cleanings, vacation rental cleanings, eco-friendly “green” cleaning and office (commercial) cleaning.
How much are you going to charge for your cleaning services?
You also want to think about how you’re going to give bids and quotes. Are you going to visit the home ahead of time or give blanket quotes over the phone? You need to decide which is going to be the most profitable for you. You don’t want to give a blanket quote and then arrive at a home only to realize it’s going to be more work than what you’re charging for. This will only make you lose money and isn’t a good way to get off the ground.
In the beginning, you likely will want to provide in-home estimates (or virtually via Facetime or Zoom) while you learn about the business so you can provide more accurate quotes. As you get busier, you’ll find that you simply do not have the time and resources to provide in-home estimates for every prospective client. Most residential cleaning companies eventually move toward providing quotes based on factors like square footage, number of floors, pets, etc. Learn more about providing quotes in our Guide to Estimating New Jobs.
Choose a Name for Your Business
What are you going to call your business? Whatever name you choose, you want to make sure it isn’t already taken. You also want a name that is catchy and memorable. Spend some time on this step because once you choose a name, you should really stick with it for the duration. You should be 100% satisfied with what you choose because it’s going to represent you for as long as you have your business.
In the beginning, it is quite common to want to put your name and face out front of your business. You can instantly establish trust and creditability by making it clear that you take your business seriously and are willing to put yourself out there to back it up. However, let’s think ahead a bit. If your goals include growing your business and hiring employees and eventually becoming a “Mop-free Millionaire”, you may want a business name that relies less on you and your involvement at every step of delivery quality services.
To be clear, it is perfectly fine – and even recommended – to include yourself in your branding and promotions as you’re differentiating yourself as a locally owned business and establishing your credibility as a quality cleaning company. But be careful to project the image that your company is about more than just you. You are the most visible member of a team. Someday, as you grow, you likely will not be the only person your clients speak to and see in the course of doing business with your company.
NOTE: As you’re considering a name for your business, it is also a good idea to see if there is a good website domain name available that closely matches your company name. Legally, your domain name does not have to match your business name but from a marketing standpoint it is helpful if it is close. Once you find a good domain name, go ahead and buy it so it is not taken by someone else. A domain name should cost about $15 per year, so even if you are not ready to invest in designing a website, having the name locked down is a good idea. You can conduct free domain name searches via any registrar like Godaddy or Namecheap.
Supplies & Equipment
If you’re starting a cleaning business, you need to have your own supplies and equipment. Be sure you have enough for the entire staff, especially if you’re doing different jobs at the same time. Some of the supplies and equipment you’re going to want to purchase include:
- Floor & Glass Cleaners
- Garbage bags
- Dusting cloths
- Spray bottles
- Cleaning Cloths
You’ll also want to decide if you’re going to clean carpets or polish floors with special machines. If so you need to look into the costs to rent or buy them.
When first starting out, you may find it easier to simply buy your supplies from your local wholesale club. As you grow, you can save a lot of money (and increase profit margins!) by buying in bulk from a wholesaler. Of course, you will also need space for storing the supplies when you start buying higher quantities.
Accounting and Scheduling Systems
Running a business requires that you keep track of just about everything. The better you become at tracking your income, expenses, time, etc., the easier it will be to manage your profits and growth.
There is no shortage of quality accounting software for small businesses, but the most popular (and easiest to find assistance with) is Quickbooks. Consult with your accountant to learn the best way of setting up and using your accounting system. You may even consider hiring a part-time bookkeeper to help you get started.
When first starting out, you may find it simpler to keep your schedule on your favorite calendar app (like Google Calendar) or to use a simple spreadsheet. As you grow and hire additional employees, you’ll likely find it useful to use a more robust system designed specifically for cleaning businesses. An efficient scheduling system will let you and your staff know where to be and when and also allow you to quickly know when you have openings for new clients.
The most popular maid service scheduling systems include:
Each system has its advantages and most offer at least some sort of a demo or free trial. It can also be helpful to talk to other cleaning business owners to learn what they use and why.
Protect Yourself and Your Business with Insurance
Ask your CPA or business lawyer what type of insurance you need to carry to fully protect yourself and your business. What if you or an employee gets into a car wreck on the way to a client’s house? What if you or an employee accidentally breaks a priceless item while cleaning? What if you or an employee is injured on the job? Not having the proper insurance coverage is only going to hurt you and may even force you to close your business just as you’re getting started.
Advertising & Target Market
When you’re starting your cleaning business you want people to know about your business, but you may not want to spend that much money doing so. Social media is a great, free tool that you can use to get the word out. Start a business page and advertise there. Ask people to share the info as well. You may also want to post signs on community boards to get the word out. Check out what local events are going on where you may be able to rent a table for a low price to advertise your services.
When you’re in the process of advertising, decide what your target market is going to be. Do you want to focus on homes or do you want to go after large businesses? Whatever the case, you need to have a good idea of who you’re targeting so that your advertising time and dollars are not wasted.
You may also want to consider a direct mailing or leaving fliers in neighborhood mailboxes if you’re going after residential customers. Your advertising strategy can also be included in your business plan.
Also check out: Free and Low Cost Marketing Tips For Your Cleaning Business
Employees & Transportation
How many employees do you plan on taking on in the beginning and how much do you plan on paying them. You can do some research as to what housekeepers in your area are making hourly. You want to be competitive so that you get quality help, but you also don’t want to be paying too much in the beginning.
It may be best to start with a small fleet of workers until you build up more consistent clients. Then you can add to your roster so that you have enough staff to handle all of the jobs.
Another thing you need to keep in mind with employees is transportation. Many companies depend on their employees to provide their own transportation to the places they are cleaning. But, if they are far away, are you going to pay the mileage for your employees? Are they going to expect you to do so? These are all questions you need to consider as you think about starting a cleaning business.
Are You Ready to Start a Cleaning Business?
If you’ve been thinking about starting a cleaning business but aren’t sure where to begin, Debbie Sardone, the Maid Coach, can help. Debbie has all the tools and expertise you need because she’s been right where you are. Debbie started her business out of the trunk of her car and turned it into one of the largest maid services in the country. She can share her step-by-step course to help new cleaning companies, like yours, not only get off the ground but also be successful. Debbie shows people how to build their cleaning business and get it to a seven-figure business. Doesn’t that sound like something you want?
Call Debbie today at 972-827-7837 to get started and find out how she can help you start your cleaning business!
Known as The Maid Coach, Debbie Sardone is America’s top cleaning business consultant. Debbie helps owners of residential cleaning companies build a 7-figure dream business, with a 6-figure income and the freedom in their lives that they deserve.