Starting your own cleaning business is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a new venture with low start-up costs and high profit margins. But like every business, you’ll need to research and have the right strategies and systems to succeed, especially when it comes to accepting payments from customers.
In this post, I’ll share 10 essential steps to start your own cleaning business so you understand exactly what to do to get up and running. I’ll also weigh the pros and cons to help you decide if a cleaning business is right for you.
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10 Steps to Start a Cleaning Business
Every business needs a solid foundation to succeed. These 10 steps provide a road map you can follow to create a thriving and sustainable cleaning business.
1. Research the Market
The more you know about the market and how cleaning businesses operate, the greater the chances of your success. That's why you'll need to do plenty of research to understand the local market and your competition.
Get to know the leading companies and study what they’re doing. See what works for them and what doesn't, and look for any opportunities or gaps in the market.
If you know someone in the industry who works as a cleaner or owns a cleaning company, it's a huge opportunity to take your knowledge to the next level. Sit down with them for a coffee to get an insider's perspective. Learn how they price their services and estimate quotes. See if you can get insights into general costs, risks, and legal requirements.
2. Decide What Services You’ll Offer
Now that you’ve researched the market and have an idea of what’s involved in starting a cleaning business, it’s time to decide which services you’ll offer.
It can be tempting to offer many different cleaning services to keep your customer base as large as possible. But specialization can enable you to charge higher prices and stand out from the competition. It’s best to target either commercial or residential customers and offer a specific cleaning service such as basic cleaning, deep cleaning, or sanitization.
You can also niche down further by choosing to specialize in a more skilled cleaning service like high-rise window cleaning. However, doing so may come with additional requirements like training and licensing, not to mention expensive equipment.
3. Develop a Business Plan
Starting a successful cleaning business requires more than just an idea in your head. You need a workable plan you can follow to make your business a reality. That’s where writing a business plan comes into play.
Your business plan should describe the critical elements of your business and explain your goals and how you plan to achieve them. Here’s what you should include:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Products/services description
- Business structure
- Market analysis
- Marketing and sales plan
- Financial plan
- Operating plan
A well-thought-out plan helps you spot potential problems before they arise and makes future decisions easier and less risky. A business plan is also essential should you want to apply for a bank loan.
4. Register Your Business
Registering a business with government agencies is a requirement in most countries, with some exceptions. The registration processes will vary depending on your country or state. Generally speaking, registering a business name is quick and easy. Registering a business structure can be a little more complicated.
In the US, for example, you can choose to operate as a Sole Proprietor, Partnership or Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). Each comes with its own taxation requirements and levels of liability.
- A Sole Proprietorship is easy to set up but comes with unlimited liability.
- A Partnership is for businesses with two or more partners and has unlimited liability.
- A Limited Liability Corporation or LLC is for one or more owners. It can be more painful to set up but offers limited liability.
5. Organize Accounts and Bookkeeping
Getting your accounts and bookkeeping in order is essential for building a solid foundation for your business to grow. The first thing you need to do is separate your personal finances from anything to do with your business.
A dedicated business bank account allows you to view and account for all your business income and expenses without your personal funds. A business account will also help you avoid using funds set aside for business expenses or taxes for personal use.
After you’ve set up a business account, you’ll need a way to create accounting statements and other reports and manage your accounts. You can choose to buy accounting software or start off using excel spreadsheets. If that sounds like too much to handle, hire an experienced bookkeeper.
6. Build a Website & Set Up Social Media
Today, word of mouth isn't what it used to be. Many people are searching for cleaning services online because it's a faster and more convenient way to find the services they need. For this reason, it's essential to have a website to enable potential customers to discover and learn more about your business.
A website also serves as a powerful sales tool and provides a convenient way for customers to pay you for your services. But more about that in the next step. The good news is building a website doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Many website builders make it easy for you to design a modern website at a low cost.
You can use Pay.com to integrate a customized checkout page into your website and allow your customers to pay online through the payment method of their choice.
Besides creating a website, you can boost your online presence by creating a business page on Facebook, LinkedIn, or whatever social channels you think are essential.
7. Set Up a Payment System
Today, many cleaning services still expect payment in cash, but many people don’t carry cash anymore. You can stand out from the competition by offering your customers the convenience of paying with a credit card.
The good news is that getting credit card and online payments up and running is simple with the right payment service provider. Pay.com makes it easy for businesses to accept payments via credit cards, debit cards, and many other payment methods.
In addition to enabling payments through your website, Pay.com lets you create Pay Links and send them directly to customers via email or SMS. When customers click the link, they go to a personalized checkout page where they can make a payment. You can also collect customer credit card details over the phone and enter them into the Pay.com dashboard to receive a payment.
With Pay.com, set up and day-to-day payments management is a breeze too. You can start accepting payments in a few clicks and manage all your customer payments in one user-friendly dashboard. Click here to see how easy it is to get started.
8. Purchase Supplies and Equipment
A great benefit of owning a cleaning business is that they are cheap to start up and operate. Besides standard costs for things like business registration, your website, and employee salaries, cleaning supplies and equipment are all you need to spend money on to start earning revenue.
Cleaning supplies include things like gloves, trash bags, cloths, cleaning liquids, buckets, mops, etc. Of course, depending on the cleaning services you offer, you may also need to buy more expensive items like vacuum cleaners and other specialized cleaning machinery.
When buying supplies and equipment, remember to always think like a business, not a consumer. Build a relationship with a reliable supplier that offers reduced prices for bulk purchases to help reduce your expenses. Strong supplier relationships will become increasingly important as you grow and need more supplies and equipment.
9. Find Your First Clients
You don't need to spend thousands on marketing and advertising to find your first clients. In fact, you probably shouldn't, because there are many free and inexpensive ways to get clients without pumping money into marketing.
Tap into your existing friendship and business network to get some experience and references to show future clients. Post these references on your website and social pages along with before and after photos.
Often, these first clients will refer you to new clients if you do a good job. If this continues, you'll have a steady flow of clients without spending a cent on marketing.
If you don't have an existing network to help you, many online forums connect individuals and businesses with local cleaning services. Get active on these platforms and start promoting your business!
Offering free cleaning tips on social media, your own blog, or even YouTube could be another great way to promote your business organically.
10. Invest in Your Business Growth
Relying on referrals to grow your business can sometimes only take you so far. To expand into a large cleaning company with a team of professional cleaners, you’ll eventually need to invest time and money into growing your business.
Consider allocating a budget for online advertising on Facebook and Google. Targeting your ads the right way is important, so you may want to hire a professional.
You can also do offline advertising by printing flyers and business cards. Ultimately, what’s most effective in the long run is to take the time to build your online presence so customers can find and trust you.
Invest in SEO to get your website higher up in Google search results. You should also post on social networks and local groups and list your services on review platforms. Having verified customer reviews on well-known platforms builds trust and will help grow your business.
The Pros and Cons of Starting Your Own Cleaning Business
Starting a cleaning business is a great idea and can be very lucrative, however it’s not without its challenges. Here are some pros and cons to consider:
- Quick and straightforward startup: Starting a cleaning business can take as little as a few days or a week. There are also no complex regulations or business models to navigate compared to many other types of businesses.
- Low costs: Cleaning businesses need minimal capital to start. In some cases, all it takes is a few hundred dollars to get up and running. Operating costs are also low, with no office or expensive equipment required.
- Highly profitable: With low startup costs, overheads, and steady demand, providing cleaning services come with big profit margins.
- Reliable demand: Demand for cleaning services is stable, even during economic downturns. People will always need to keep their homes and businesses clean, but most hate cleaning or don’t have the time.
- Predictable revenues: Cleaning businesses often have recurring revenues, making operating and managing cash flow easier.
- Limited experience: While cleaning is physically demanding, you don’t need experience to start up and provide excellent services. All that’s required is hard work, common sense and an understanding of what customers want.
- Competition: One of the great things about starting a cleaning business is that it doesn’t need much investment or experience. But low startup costs and barriers to entry also mean there can be lots of competition, especially if you’re in a big city.
- Pricing: The cleaning industry is competitive and filled with companies offering to work for low rates. As a result, pricing your services competitively at a level you’re also happy with can be challenging. Maintaining and increasing your prices without losing customers can also be difficult due to the price-sensitive nature of cleaning services.
- Hiring employees: Finding the right employees can make or break your company. But finding, attracting, and keeping great cleaning employees is far from easy. There is often a shortage of people willing to work in the industry and the demanding physical nature of cleaning work can result in high staff turnover. The hiring process can also be long and frustrating as it involves posting job ads, reviewing applications, calling references, holding interviews, and negotiating salaries.
The Bottom Line: Is Starting a Cleaning Business Right for You?
There are a lot of steps to consider when starting your own cleaning business. That's why it's always essential to research, weigh the pros and cons, and crunch the numbers before you take the leap.
A cleaning business might be for you if you're looking to start a simple venture with low startup costs, no barriers to entry, and high-profit potential. On the other hand, there are some definite downsides to consider. Offering cleaning services is competitive and the physical demands can be exhausting.
Ultimately, only you can decide if starting a cleaning business is right for you. But if you choose to move forward, remember to partner with the right payment service provider. Pay.com is simple to set up and provides your customers with convenient ways to pay. Click here to get started.