How To Start A Cleaning Business
If you are looking for a low-cost business idea that you can get off the ground fairly quickly with minimal expenses then setting up a cleaning company could be the perfect option for you.
However, bear in mind because it’s a fairly simple business to start, competition is common, with the industry dominated by lots of small organizations.
You will need to have a clear dream about where you plan to position your cleaning company in this somewhat crowded market and carve a niche for yourself to ensure your start-up stands out: Cleaning businesses cover everything from one cleaner with a couple of domestic properties to maintain each week, to a large commercial business with thousands of staff on the books.
There are domestic cleaners, office cleaners, hospital, and school cleaners and then let’s not forget the other niches in this industry such as carpet, window and vehicle cleaners. Our team can assist you to scale through one of your choices on how to start a cleaning business.
Read our eight simple steps to get your cleaning venture on the path to success.
1. Determine what type of cleaning company you are going to specialise in (residential, commercial or specialized?)
There are two main types:
- Residential cleaning business – residential or domestic cleaning will involve cleaning people’s homes (normally while they are at work) and can be undertaken by you as soon as you secure some clients. You may eventually take on staff as your client-base builds.
- Commercial cleaning business – in order to clean commercial properties you will need a team of people (the properties will tend to be large office buildings) and it may be that your role is more managerial than on the ground cleaning.
- Specialized cleaning – there are lots of potentially valuable niches to explore: from a window cleaning business and a carpet cleaning business to a roof cleaning or a car wash/car valet business (all of which could be done as a residential or a commercial cleaning business).
When starting a business, position in mind your skills. Are you prepared to clean every day or are you more suited to the administrative side of a cleaning company?
2. Research the market
As mentioned above, researching the potential market and local demographic will be key in determining the type of cleaning company you should start. If you are planning on running a domestic cleaning venture you will need to ensure that people in the local area are financially able to pay for someone else to do their domestic responsibilities, likewise for a commercial business are there enough viable contracts to win? Market research will also be key in determining your prices. Posing as a prospective client and ringing around the local competition to ensure your pricing point is competitive is the key to success.
3. Decide on your business model
From the outset, it’s important to think about your long-term plans for your cleaning company. If you are looking for a business that you can grow slowly and organically and that you can keep control of in the long-run then going it alone is probably sensible (have a look at our business plan template to help you put together a forecast). However, to hit the ground running (and if you are nervous about some of the elements of setting up a business) you could consider contacting us to support and train you throughout the process.
4. Budget appropriately for your equipment
Cleaning equipment costs can vary considerably. For domestic cleaners, more often the equipment is provided by the households, but if you are thinking of launching a commercial cleaning company there’s some basic equipment you will need to invest in:
- Equipment trolleys – £250-£400 each
- Professional vacuum cleaner – £100 upwards
- Sweeping machine – £200-£2,000
It’s important to know that any money spent on equipment will be achieved in profits.
5. Create a marketing plan
As well as some initial spend on equipment, it may be necessary to allocate some budget for marketing. One of the hardest elements of starting a cleaning company and in fact any service business is building up a client list. We are able to cover that expenses when you buy a business from us.
Depending on the nature of your business some traditional advertising such as classified listings and flyers could be the best place to start, although it’s worth considering investing in some online advertising as well, such as pay-per-click, particularly if you are offering a niche service.
Don’t be afraid to go out and knock on some doors – cleaning can be a personal business and prospective clients may be more likely to sign up if they meet you face-to-face.
Once you build up your client list, you may want to consider some form of customer relationship management (CRM) system to help you keep track of your customer data and offer promotions to loyal customers.
6. Develop a strong brand and build a reputation
Once your business gets underway and starts to gain momentum it’s important to build a brand that you can be proud of. You will mainly be dependent on gaining customers via word of mouth and personal recommendations. To build a brand identity it’s a good idea to have a logo designed and to have a uniform for any staff with clear branding on it. Subscribing to trade organisations which have a compulsory standard for membership can also help create a professional reputation, as well as getting satisfied clients to provide testimonials. Try to create something that isn’t just about price rather something that clearly defines your brand as a cleaning company that won’t be forgotten.
7. Work out a payment system to manage cashflow such as cash-in-hand or advance payment?
As with any new business, cash flow can be sporadic initially but particularly for domestic cleaners as clients can be somewhat unreliable in terms of how regularly they will want you, bearing in mind holidays, sicknesses, etc. In addition, you will need to work out a payment system with clients that work for you. Typically people expect to pay their cleaner cash-in-hand per job but for your cashflow, you may want to insist on an advance payment system. It may also be worth considering the available options for accepting mobile card payments.
8. Check relevant regulations and training
The great thing about starting a cleaning business is that you do not need a license to run a cleaning company but obtaining a criminal records check from the CRB can only improve your image and that of your staff as trusted professionals. Some basic training such as an NVQ or Cleaning Operatives Proficiency Certificate could give your business credibility but not a must as we are here to support and train you.
If you are going to be taking on staff there is a number of regulations you will need to bear in mind. Typically cleaning work is not well paid, it’s likely that your staff will receive the minimum wage so you will need to keep on top of annual rises. You will also be responsible for employer’s liability insurance and if you are taking on commercial cleaning jobs you will need to adhere to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations, which state that when you take on a cleaning contract with an office or other business premises you must use their existing staff. Lastly, there’s a number of health and safety regulations to consider, as cleaning often involves working with potentially harmful chemicals.