If you not specialized in any particular field and don’t have much technical knowledge then starting a cleaning business is a great choice. Cleaning businesses are most likely to be successful in urban and suburban locations with higher than average level of opulence. Though the cleaning industry is heterogeneous, but it is roughly subdivided into two major sections which are:
- Residential Cleaning or Non-Commercial Cleaning
- Commercial Janitorial services.
In the year 2015, there were approximately 875,000 cleaning businesses which were employing 3.5 million peoples globally. However, this industry has faced a very rough phase during the Great Recession, where revenue fell 5.3% in 2008 & 6.9% in 2009. But the industry once again bounced back in 2015 and there is also a strong economic growth that has been forecasted for the upcoming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a job growth of 6% till 2020.
As the requirements of cleaning business are quite less and can be run with less number of equipment and no such training is required for the employees as well so many new competitors thus spring up very often. Because of which the competition market becomes fierce making an increase in the failure ratio. The average cleaning company loses up to 55% of their customer base due to the poor services, in their very first year of service.
For starting up a cleaning business either commercial or residential you need to make sure to acquire few skills just to ensure the possibility of your business making it, in the long run. Most important out of them are-
- Trustworthiness- Client’s product will not be get stolen
- Can actually clean the location
- No damage to client location
- Management of labor
- Punctual about dates
As mentioned earlier cleaning business can broadly be divided into residential and commercial. But if look into segmentation then these can be divided into following businesses:
- Window Panes Cleaning
- Floor Cleaning
- Carpet Cleaning
- Curtain Cleaning
- Toilet Cleaning
- Swimming Pool Cleaning
- Bathroom Cleaning
- Car Cleaning
- Pet Cleaning
And for these categories, you can approach hospitals, schools, residential apartments, industries etc.
So, first of all, set up your mind about the kind of service you will be avail to offer. It is recommended to decide on a niche and to target a particular set of customers to bag the surety of success, but it’s totally perfect to be avail to serve multiple service demands. Before selecting any particular service get the idea of the current market demand, according to which you can then set the kind of service you are up to offer. Once you are done with the decision you may then proceed further to the next steps.
Write a Roadmap
Don’t just plan your business, write down everything in detail. Write each and every detail of your business on a piece of paper just to find the loopholes and improve them. While setting up a cleaning business you should always consider the following thing:
- How will you generate leads?
- The number of employees and their backups.
- Fixing up a proper service charge.
- Where to source the cleaning equipment.
- Are you and your business team is capable enough to handle any fatal situations?
- What resources to keep for emergencies,
- What are the measures taken in case of any refund due to customer dissatisfaction?
Also, make a business plan if you are planning to raise funds or want to apply for a business loan. Mention about the total market, market share, financial projection, working strategy etc.
Pricing your Services
Setting price for your cleaning services should be done carefully as your prices going to define your profits. You should be very careful which category to put in count wise and which category on per sq st. For eg- while fixing up your price for window panes, swimming pool, and the floor you should always charge as “per square feet” instead of “per unit”, to avoid any loss and trouble in future. And in case of a toilet, machine etc you should charge as “per unit” as in these case “per sq ft” is not possible.
You can also set your cleaning charges according to your method of cleaning like if your business is able to provide an eco-friendly cleaning method then targeting customers who are concerned about the environmental damage, might be able to fetch you some good amount.
So before setting up your service charges take a note and compare with what competitors are charging. According to which you can strategically fix up your service charges, and be ready to negotiate if needed.
Budget & Funding
Though the requirements of this business are quite less as compared to others, keeping a minimum budget of 10 lakhs would definitely do the job. In order to save money try to purchase multitasking cleaning equipment like a steam cleaner that removes gums, eliminates allergens, and also act as a wet and dry vacuum. Your budget will spend in the following manner:
- Equipment- Rs 4 lakhs
- Vehicle- Rs 30000/ month (rent)
- Chemicals- Rs 30000
- Salary- Rs 10,000/ worker
The cleaning business industry falls under the small business segment. So for funding one can opt for small business loans or SBA loans which are available at every bank. You can also approach an investor or VC if you have any plan how you will expand your cleaning business at an exponential rate.
Paperwork and Legalities
To run a fully licensed cleaning service company you need to acquire major documents like insurance policies, surety bond, Tax Identification Number. You will also need to have a proper set of “Service Contractor License” done according to your state or country law.
The insurance license needed to be done for the life security of the employees working in the commercial cleaning sector, who needs to clean the big buildings just with the help of a harness and equipment risking their life.
You need to apply for License bond to get certain client contract. As the license or the surety bonds assure the reimbursement of the client who has paid for the service but didn’t receive that. These bonds don’t just assure the client for their proper financial coverage, but also works in to assure the professionalism that your service would be offering. Few more licenses like driving licenses would be required to run a business properly.
Manpower and Equipment
While choosing the manpower for your cleaning business, you need to make sure to go for the people who are trustworthy and not having any track record of stealing. Before hiring anyone, get aware of their whereabouts and do check and submit their proper identity proofs and other legal documents. While hiring commercial cleaning staffs make sure to hire people who are fit enough to work in the stressful conditions and are flexible and patient enough to work according to the client’s needs and demands.
Few of the major equipment needed to start a cleaning business are:
- Multipurpose cleaner.
- Vaccum cleaner.
- Glass cleaner and polishing cloths.
- Cleaning brushes.
- Microfibre cloths.
- Protective gloves.
- Sponges and scourer.
- A plastic caddy to carry the essentials.
- Disinfectant cleaner.
- Extension cord.
- Washing up liquids/chemicals.
Regardless of the kind of cleaning business you will choose, chances are very less that your client will ever visit your office as this business is fully client’s premises based. But that’s not the thing that would influence your decision of home-based office or a commercial location. Many a time the state or the local laws and policies limit the commercial activities that occur in the residential areas. And some does completely prohibit the idea of home-based business.
If you want to go with the idea of commercial location, then try choosing a location which is surrounded by offices, hospitals, and many more commercial buildings. And then find out the rules that your state or country is being governed by and plan accordingly, you may need to adjust your plan to fit according to the ordinances.
Marketing and Advertisement
In order to make your cleaning business a part of a long and profitable run, all you need to do is to figure out the distinctive feature of your business and highlight the same while promoting it. Few of the major marketing tricks are as follows-
- Joining local business associations and groups.
- Running campaigns with NGOs related to cleanliness.
- Cleaning political party waste (pamphlet and banner) and gaining social media attention.
- Making short viral videos on cleanliness for Instagram and Facebook Promotion.
- Advertise your business in the newspapers, magazines, banners, flyers and etc.
- Organize a campaign in front of the commercial and non-commercial sectors to advertise your business.
I like that you mentioned the importance of researching the people that you hire in order to ensure that they will provide quality services. My uncle is interested in opening an office cleaning service next summer and needs to make sure that his staff will be able to clean at least 3 offices a day in order to help his business financially grow. He should find a quality management business that can help make sure that he is on track.