Starting a Cleaning Business, the A-Z Definitive Guide to Starting and Growing a Successful Cleaning Company
Ever thought about starting a cleaning business? Being independent, self-sufficient, and financially secure? You are in for some good news. You can start a cleaning business with very little money and no experience. Maybe you have experience cleaning in your personal life or as an employee. Maybe you have some of your own equipment, experience, and contacts. You are in the right place!
No matter where you are starting, there are a ton details that go into starting and growing a cleaning business. Let’s jump in and get you everything you need to get started.
Before you get your first client, there are lots of things to get done. To make your life just a little easier, we have broken them down into online and offline needs. Let’s start with…
Many new businesses fail; somewhat foolproof ones like the cleaning business. Why? Often, it is because the owner failed to perform some basic research. This applies to any business but especially starting a cleaning business. You aren’t going to make that mistake. Ask yourself a few easy questions. Who do you want to serve? Residential or commercial? What part of town? Somewhere wealthy? Downtown where all the businesses are? Remember, your clients can’t pay you what they don’t have. Make sure whoever you serve has the desire for your services and the ability to pay.
Let’s take it a step further and choose a niche. What’s a niche? A very specific group of people that you choose to serve. To know and understand better than your competition. To be able to help solve a problem for them better than your competition or anyone else in the world. You and your business will grow so much faster and easier if you FOCUS on a niche.
Start by deciding if you want to serve residential or commercial accounts. Residential businesses are typically going to grow more slowly. The average account size is smaller, but you can get clients much faster. Also, you will typically be working regular business hours during the week.
Commercial cleaning companies can grow faster. Your average monthly account can be much larger, but it will take longer to get accounts. With commercial cleaning, you will typically be working nights and weekends, when businesses are closed This can be tough when you are starting out and don’t have employees.
What are core values and why should you care? Core Values are the foundation of what YOU believe. Your vision is where you want to go- your Core Values are the rules you play by to get there. Establish your core values when starting a cleaning business.
Your Core Values will influence everything from your company’s name, your advertising choices and who you hire. Will you and your company be known for fun? Hard work? Serving the community? It’s about who YOU are and what kind of community YOU want to build!!
Once you have your Core Values, live them out loud! Customers, vendors, employees who share your beliefs will be drawn to you and your new company like moths to a flame!!
Before you can organize a company, you need to be able to organize yourself. The best way to do that is with S.M.A.R.T. goals. As you may know, S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
For example, you might set a goal to find $10,000/ mo of customers in the next 6 months. The dollar figure is specific and measurable, hopefully, you feel that is achievable, it is extremely relevant and it is time limited (6 months).
Once you have a couple S.M.A.R.T. goals set, the next step is to make sure you manage your time in such a way to hit those goals. An online calendar is a great way to get and keep you and your company organized. If something doesn’t go on the calendar, it has no record. So get in the habit of using the calendar – it can be as simple as the calendar found on your smartphone. Build in extra time to do everything, because when growing a cleaning company- stuff happens! Better to plan for the worst and have a nice surprise when things go well, then plan for the best and have to scramble when things come up… and things ALWAYS come up!
Once you schedule what you do want to do in your calendar, eliminate time sucks. Attempting to multitask is a great way to waste huge amounts of time. Email, texts, Facebook messenger, phone calls, personal interruptions will suck the time and the life right out of you. Every time you’re interrupted, you lose focus. When you return to whatever you were working on, you have to start over.
Box your time. Block out one or two time slots to catch up on email, texts, and phone calls. Outside of those planned in advance “boxes of time” to catch up on communication- cut it off. Train your customers, employees, and everyone else associated with your business that you are NOT available outside of those time boxes. This will make starting a cleaning company exponentially easier.
Another important consideration early on is your corporate structure, not just for starting a cleaning business but for any company The IRS has very helpful information (that almost never happens), so feel free to check them out first. Typically you are going to start off as a: Sole Proprietorship, LLC, or a C or S Corp. The differences mainly have to do with ownership, whether you can give away ownership in your will, taxes, and liability for accidents. A good accountant and attorney can help you understand what works best for you and your situation. If you don’t do anything at all, you are automatically considered a Sole Proprietor. Don’t get too caught up in corporate structure because if you can always change it at a later date.
There is a lot to know about building an online presence for your company and no shortage of people telling you what to do and how to do it. Let’s simplify the process for you right now. The internet has grown so much and the growth isn’t slowing down. If you want to have a lot of success when starting a cleaning business then you need to be online.
Picking a company name and a URL
So many owners make the name about them and of very generic:
- Mike’s Cleaning Service
- Squeaky Clean
You want your name (and web address) to be four things:
- All about YOUR CUSTOMER- MikesCleaning.com is all about Mike. Once you have a niche picked out make it about them: www.AtlantaCarDealerCleaners.com. If you owned a car dealership in Atlanta which are you more likely to choose? Of course, as you grow, you can add niches and websites to include other types of customers, but to start, let your name and website speak directly to your customer.
- Tells your prospect EXACTLY what you do – The last thing you want is ABM Services. Your prospects, customers, employees will have no idea what it is you do. What you are reading right now is from “Grow My Cleaning Company”. Does that speak to you more clearly than something from “Business World”? Of course, it does- use that same strategy for YOUR cleaning company!
- Easy to spell & remember- Stay away from numbers and hard to spell words. Clean4You will constantly confuse your customers. Do they spell out “for” or use the number four? Make sure it looks good as one word well. Imagine being a mental health provider’s office with the URL www.therapistsinseattle.
- Available- Go to godaddy.com and make sure the URL (web address) for your name is available with the .com extension.
Not sure whether you need a website? Nearly every prospect, customer, and employee are going to go online as a first step in finding a cleaning service and they are going to start with your website. What they find in their online travels will decide whether or not they ever reach out to your cleaning company. Online customer reviews, formal review sites ( Angie’s ListThumbtack, Yelp, even Google), articles (written by you or others) and social media all tell your story to the world. Your website is the cornerstone. The conversation is happening, whether you are a part of it or not. It’s up to you to make sure your company is represented the way you want.
Formal reviewing sites like the ones we mentioned above can be great resources to discover what people are saying about you as well as research your competitors. What do your customers like? What do they complain about? The world is full of crazy people who just want to complain, but others provide valuable feedback. Take a minute to go online and read a few reviews now.
You can register your new business on sites like Angie’s ListThumbtack and Yelp. By registering your business (or adding or claiming it; the terminology varies on these sites), you have some control over showing your business description, hours, location, phone number, and email address.
You can even set up a Google Alert for your company name which will notify you every time someone mentions your name online good or bad. Add a recurring calendar reminder to check new reviews every couple of months. Once reviews start coming in, select the most positive ones and put them on your website. Click here for an amazing tool that can help you utilize your positive reviews to their fullest
SEO, paid traffic, and landing pages when starting a cleaning business
SEO (search engine optimization), is the art/science of making it easy for customers to find your website. Your cleaning service’s website should say things like cleaning service and cleaners on it. This will let search engines know what you are about and help them to send traffic your way. Add location information, along with any location nicknames unique to your area, like the Big Apple or the Windy City. Don’t just list out these words; write content which uses them in a way that human beings can read it.
You may have accidentally gone to a website which was just big lists of words with no context or sentences. Don’t do that! Instead, write copy, such as we want to be your favorite fast Atlanta cleaning service. With the location and a specific term, people searching for a cleaning service in Atlanta have a fighting chance of finding your site. And that word fast – there’s a clue that speed is a core value.
You can also pay for web traffic. Google, in particular, has thorough methods where you can pick and choose the audience for your online ad. Paid traffic often is per click, so you want to be specific about the audience so you minimize the number of people who just click on your site by mistake. Hand in hand with paid traffic are landing pages. These are more specific pages on your site which better address the searcher. For example, a potential customer searching for hospital cleaning companies in San Diego would love a page which talks about your cleaning services at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego as opposed to the homepage of your website.
Online promotions, email, social media, blogs, and software
You can do a lot of your promotional work online, often at a low cost. One of the cheapest and most effective methods is email campaigns. When your customers and prospects sign up for emails, they have opted in let you know they want to hear from you and your company. You can go all out with a regular newsletter or just a quick email now and again telling your customers how much you appreciate them, maybe even with a coupon for a free upgrade on their next service.
You’re probably familiar with social media. Maybe even overwhelmed at the options you have. As you get more comfortable with who your customers are and what their pain is (remember the importance of picking a niche), you will be able to focus on the social media platforms they use. Until you get that figured out, start with Facebook.
Facebook has basically taken the place of the yellow pages these days with over a BILLION users every month! If you want to provide quick customer service, consider Twitter as well. Otherwise, it can be too much. Facebook doesn’t have to be fancy or too time-consuming. You just want a good profile image (your company’s logo will do just fine) and a good background image. Then write content somewhat regularly. It doesn’t have to be long or involved. You could thank your customers or wish them a happy holiday or send them to an online survey site to rate your business.
A blog is probably not necessary although you may want to use a system such as WordPress all the same, as WordPress will often solve design, readability, and usability issues all by itself. You don’t need special software for this. The only special software you probably really need is for accounting (see below).
It is so easy to get caught up in logo’s, company names, websites and cleaning itself once you get clients. The fastest way to grow your cleaning company is to focus on client attraction. Advertising. Nothing happens until somebody makes a sale- so let’s talk about how to make that happen.
General information about advertising and marketing
Begin creating client attraction systems right from the start. Marketing. Automated messaging that bring qualified prospects to your door. You are NOT in the cleaning business. You ARE in the business of attracting clients to your cleaning company. This is a major mindset shift that is essential to have when starting a cleaning business.
One effective form of advertising is the lead magnet. Offer something irresistible in exchange for your prospects contact information and permission to continue the conversation with them. Make sure you give them something really useful- ideally something they can access immediately. Something that makes them think “If this is what they give away for free, imagine how amazing it would be to be their customer!!”. Hint: You’re reading a lead magnet right now!
Once again, having a niche and knowing that niche to the rescue. The more specifically you can speak to a group of people, the more successful you will be in getting that group to know like and trust you. Understand what pains and frustration your target customer has and speak directly and specifically to those pains.
Can you imagine how ineffective advertising copy that offers a solution to a doctor’s frustration would be to a property manager? On the other hand, if you speak directly to a specific person (a stay at home mom with a messy house, an owner of a gym, etc) you can be far more effective than everyone else in your market who is using generic language to speak to an unknown audience.
Where should you advertise? Ask your customer… Where does he or she go to solve their cleaning/ facility management problems? THAT is where YOU are going to advertise. Make sure you track your results. How many inquiries did you get? How many bids and sales? Knowing your customer and tracking results is the key to successfully growing your cleaning company.
There are a number of tried and true offline advertising methods, and knowing them is important when starting a cleaning business.
- Door hangers/ direct mail –this can be expensive, but that cost keeps many of your competitors from participating which means opportunity for you!
- Telemarketing – the key here is to call the RIGHT people who might be interested in your services. Your goal isn’t to convince people who aren’t interested in becoming interested, it’s to find the people who already want help with their cleaning and to help them.
- Lunch & Learns – Invite customers and prospects. Encourage your customers to bring their friends who might get value from your services. Serve food, ask questions and listen to their needs. If you have the right people in the room, you will be surprised how many ask you for a bid. Don’t forget to use your smartphone to get video of the entire event, maybe even some testimonials about your company.
- Referrals – Don’t just use customers. Anyone who knows your target customer can be a referral source. The key is to create an automated system that brings in referrals day and night.
- Trade shows – Another benefit to having a good niche. Once you know your customer if someone else (an association or trade show) has done all of the hard work to get them together in one place. Take advantage of that opportunity!
- Networking groups – A great way for you as a new business owner to establish yourself in the community. For example bni.com, local Chamber’s of Commerce, www.rotary.org, There are ton’s of options- pick the one that is right for you as well as the one where your target prospect will most likely be.
- Business cards/ vehicle signage- This is valuable real estate- don’t waste it. Know your customer’s pain and speak to it (along with a call to action) on your business cards and vehicles.
- Candy Jar- Find a handful of your BEST prospects and ask them if you can leave a jar full of candy with a few of your business cards at their front desk. Come by once a week to refill the candy, the cards and to say hey. Another opportunity to get your prospect thinking “If this is the service I get before I am a customer, how amazing must it be for actual customers”. If you do 10 of these, at the right companies- you should get 2-5 opportunities to bid in the first 90 days.
Marketing is a great way to get interested prospects to come to you. The client attraction systems we talked about above will make the job of selling worlds easier.
This is probably one of the most fun aspects of starting a cleaning business. Before we dive into getting new accounts, remember it is FIVE TIMES cheaper to keep a current customer than to find a new one! Most owners focus on getting new customers- let’s be honest, it’s a lot more fun and exciting (and we are going to give you some killer strategies below), but the real money is to be made on keeping the customers you have in love with you and your company!
Check out some fantastic strategies to make your sales process less stressful and more successful:
- Setting ground rules – Don’t go on an appointment without clear ground rules. How long will the appointment be? What exact problem can you solve for them? Will you have their full and undivided attention? Will all of the decision makers be present? What will happen at the end of the meeting?
- Avoiding “I’ll think it over”- One of the benefits of good ground rules is the ability to eliminate the dreaded “think it over”. Agree up front how the meeting will end. Give them the space to say NO, but agree that there will be a decision when you present the bid. Once you give them the bid, they often lose interest and stop calling, forcing you to “chase” them. Setting clear ground rules can save you from that sort of nonsense.
- No pain. No sale. If your customer doesn’t think there is anything wrong, they won’t change. Your job is to find out what their real pain is. What keeps them up at night? Stresses them out? Frustrates them? HINT: It’s almost never price. Until you understand their pain, you can’t possibly solve it for them.
- Strategic Alliances – This one can be a game changer. Ask yourself this question- Who sells a different product or service than you to YOUR ideal customer? For commercial cleaning companies, it might be accountants, insurance reps, merchant accounts- they all sell to businesses, typically with buildings. For residential clients, it might be the pool guy, pest control or landscaper. They have a list of YOUR target customer and you have a list of their target customer. Partner up and leverage each others list of customers and prospects.
Show me the Money!
So many new business owners tell themselves “Money? Finances? That’s what I pay my accountant and/ or bookkeeper to handle”. Your bookkeeper’ job is to get you the financial data you need to run your company. Your accountant or CPA’s job is to help you prepare your taxes properly. Never forget that it is YOUR job to review that data at least monthly and use it to make good decisions for your company.
Business Profitability and Sales
Like we said before- nothing happens until somebody makes a sale. Let’s start there.
Before Bidding and Selling
Before you can get a check, you have to tell your prospect how much you are going to charge. Sometimes there will be other bidders, sometimes there won’t. HINT: The better your marketing is- the less often you will be dealing with other bidders.
The biggest mistake new owners of cleaning companies make is bidding too little. Always bid based on paying someone else to clean, even if you are going to do the cleaning to start. You don’t want to get into a position where you can’t afford to hire employees because you didn’t bid enough. That’s called being a maid or janitor instead of owning a cleaning company.
To make sure you are bidding the right amount, you first have to know what the job will cost you. Follow these three steps:
- Figure out how many man hours the job will take
- Determine how much you will pay employees
- Add drive time/ mileage, supplies and payroll costs like workers comp/ social security, etc (typically around 25% above and beyond your hourly pay)
Once you have your job cost, you have to add profit and overhead. This will depend on what stage of business you are in, if you serve commercial or residential and how much money you want to reinvest into your business vs. take out as profit. A good starting point/ rule of thumb is:
45-55% Job Cost (COGS- Cost of Goods Sold- as described in the above three steps)
15-25% Net Profit
You are going to want to have minimums bids. If something only takes a couple of hours a month and the bid comes out to $100- that’s only $15-$25 profit/ mo. It’s more trouble than it is worth. Consider setting a monthly minimum and/ or a profit minimum so you aren’t wasting your time.
Remember ALWAYS take into account your cost of labor. NEVER use yourself/ the owner for “free” or cheap labor!
Setting up the Bidding/Bidding
Generally, you will have a conversation with your prospect before you go on a bid/ job walk. Don’t miss this important opportunity to lay the groundwork for a successful bid. This is also your opportunity to pre qualify and in some cases disqualify your prospect.
You don’t want to go on a bunch of bids that aren’t a good fit for what you offer. You are going to use the sales strategies we talked about above to set yourself up for a successful bid/ appointment. Your competition is going to talk about themselves and how amazing they are. You are going to do the opposite. The best sales training I have ever received is only three words. Are you ready?
“Ask questions. Listen.”
This is how you understand their real pain. Why they called. Why now. What you need to do to get them as your client. Once you have that you can lay out the ground rules for your onsite appointment. Of course, if you ask enough good questions and determine they are not a good fit for you and your company, this is a great opportunity to tell them so and save you both some time.
Once you have pre-qualified, agreed on ground rules and made sure they have pain, it’s time for an on-site bid. Often times (especially for commercial) they will try to rush through this process when you arrive. Start out by restating the ground rules you set out on the phone (how long they have, undivided attention, decision makers present, what will happen at the end of the appointment, etc).
Next, spend 10-30 minutes really understanding the pain you are there to solve. Here are some questions you might ask to help understand their needs:
- What made you invite me out?
- Can you give me an example? Be more specific?
- Why today?
- How long have you been trying to solve this problem?
- What have you tried and how did it work?
- How does all of this make you feel? Why?
- What happens if you don’t get this problem solved?
- How much do you think that will cost you? In time, money and stress?
Once you understand their pain and they have told you they are committed to fixing it, it is time to discuss their budget. If you haven’t gotten real pain, you aren’t going to get a real budget. Spoiler alert: Customers lie. The only way to know what they are really able to spend to solve their problem is to get them in touch with how big of a problem they have and how much it is costing them using the questions above.
Once you have their budget, you can tailor a solution that will ideally solve their pain AND meet their budget. If you can’t do both- offer two options. One that solves their pain (even if it is over their budget) and one that meets their budget (even if it doesn’t give them everything they want).
Many owners of cleaning companies want to leave and email the bid later. This is a huge mistake. The customer is most likely to take action to solve their pain when you are right in front of them and they just spend 20 minutes explaining how big their problem is and how committed they are to solving it. When possible give them a bid right then and there. Have a template ready to go and just fill in the numbers/ services specific to them.
For residential cleaning companies, you should do this every time. For commercial cleaning companies, you may need more time to figure out your price. In that case, set another appointment with them to give them the bid in person. You are going to go over their pain and commitment to solve that pain again on that appointment before you give them the bid!
Once you have your customers pain, it’s time to walk the building, determine how many hours it will take to clean and create a bid based on the info you received above. Once again- make sure you bid enough- It’s always better to lose a winner than win a loser!
Shock & Awe
The physical bid itself and how your present it is a HUGE opportunity. So many owners of cleaning companies (and probably your competition email a 3-5 page boring document with a bunch of legalese. This is YOUR opportunity to blow your prospects socks off. Create an entire problem-solving package!
Have you ever purchased a product from Apple? How about Tiffany’s? Packaging is everything! Fella’s you know if you come home with that little blue box from Tiffany’s, the woman in your life is going to have a fantastic night. Ladies, when you bring home a clean, sleek, white box from the Apple store, you are going to have your man’s attention!
Don’t miss that opportunity in your cleaning business. Put together a compelling package. For residential, you might include nice smelling bath salts or cleaning solutions in a beautiful bag printed with your logo (remember Tiffany’s?). For commercial, it might be your favorite book on business, a nice picture of their facility or a white paper “7 Steps to Lowering Employee Turnover Through Facility Management” (that might even make a good lead magnet like we talked about earlier). You could kick it up a notch and package it all in a sleek aluminum case (Click HERE for a great example).
Now that you know what to put outside- what should be inside? Since you know your niche and their pain so well, EVERYTHING should speak to that pain.
- Perhaps your customers are concerned about who is in their building… include a copy of a sample picture ID and uniform that all of your employees are required to wear.
- Maybe they are concerned you will start great and then slack off as time goes on… Include a BIG bold Service GUARANTEE
- What if your customer is afraid you will break or damage something valuable in their building… Include a copy of your insurance policy
Every pain you hear your niche customer express- acknowledge it in your Shock & Awe bid package. Here are a couple more fun ideas you can use to make an unforgettable package:
- A personalized video to them explaining something of value to them on a flash drive
- Popcorn and snacks for them to eat while they watch the video
- A framed picture of them and their staff (or family) and building
- A framed copy of your amazing service guarantee
- Video testimonials of other customers just like them telling the world how amazing you are
Like you read earlier, many owners want to delegate (or even worse ignore) accounting and bookkeeping right from the start. Don’t make that mistake. Start by keeping your own books. There are a lot of accounting software options out there, but the most well known are https://quickbooks.intuit.com/. It is reasonably priced, easy to use, and easy to find people who know how to use it.
Your bookkeeper should help you set up your accounting software and basic systems: how to properly receive money, pay bills, payroll, etc. This will make sure that your software will be able to give you accurate reporting. To start out, just focus on your P&L (Profi Loss), which is simply a list of your income and expenses over a given period of time. Next, you might want to get to know you Balance Sheet. It is just a list of your assets and liabilities on a given date. A good bookkeeper can help you understand both of these reports.
Start out doing the books yourself to get comfortable with your companies finances. Once you are very comfortable doing it yourself, and it becomes tedious, it might be time to hire a part-time bookkeeper to take some of the accounting off of your plate. The one thing you are going to do yourself (forever!) is review your P&L (and maybe Balance Sheet) on a monthly basis.
You are also going to want a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). CPA’s can be too expensive for day to day bookkeeping, but you will need one to properly file your tax return. A good CPA can also consult with you on your business and help you understand what the numbers on the reports mean to you.
Most new businesses do NOT fail because of lack of profit. They fail due to lack of cash. The cleaning business is an excellent business for a lot of reasons (recurring income, always a need, can’t be outsourced), but one of my favorites is it is a cash positive business when done right.
What does that mean? Many, if not most businesses are cash negative. They provide the product or service in advance and get paid weeks, sometimes months afterward. This creates a problem for all companies, but it is a BIG problem for fast growth companies. The faster you grow, the more you have to produce and the more is owed to you. The problem is you can’t pay today’s payroll with cash you are going to get tomorrow.
To make matters worse, nearly every business deals with “bad debt”. Clients that just don’t pay. If you are already struggling with cash flow due to slow pay, imagine your life when someone doesn’t pay at all! The good news for you is, when set up properly, the cleaning business can be a cash positive business with nearly NO bad debt.
In the cleaning business, you can almost always bill your clients at the beginning of the month for the upcoming month. Automate the process by having your customer’s credit card on file and set it up to automatically charge the amount due on the first of every month. Imagine all of your money for the upcoming month in your account right on the first of the month. You can grow as fast as you like without being choked by cash flow problems.
What about bad debt? Another win for you. If your customers haven’t paid by the 3rd of the month. STOP CLEANING. This can be scary and you might be afraid they will find someone else. If they are going to steal cleaning services, let it be from your competitor. Set this up right from the beginning and you should never have cash flow or bad debt problems!! Even better you will spend ZERO time/ month on collections (the business owners least favorite task). Best of all, you will position you far ahead of your competitors and nearly every other business!!
Taking credit cards/ merchant accounts
We mentioned earlier having an automated system to run your customer’s credit card at the first of every month. To do this you are going to have to set up a merchant account. This allows you to take credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Often your bank, your bookkeeper and/ or your CPA will be able to help you find a reliable vendor.
Not too long ago, you needed to invest in a credit card machine that cost money upfront and every month. Nowadays, most platforms are online and don’t require any equipment!
Unfortunately, as a new business owner, a lot of banks will not give you a merchant account. That’s ok- there are other vendors like www.stripe.com and www.paypal.com that will allow nearly all new business owners to accept credit and debit cards just like the banks do. Because they take on “riskier” new businesses, they typically charge more.
Merchant accounts through your banks can be as low as 1-2% of the amount you are running. Companies like Stripe and PayPal are around 3%. Quickbooks also has a company they work with that accepts credit cards and integrates with their software.
Whatever option you choose, the 1-3% is a small price to pay to have a cash positive company, with virtually no bad debt or collections efforts- this is an investment you are going to want to make!
What about debt?
Many new owners of cleaning companies feel they have to get “investors” or bank loans to start their cleaning company. Like we talked about above- if you set your company up to be cash positive, you shouldn’t have to borrow to grow your cleaning company. Debt is a great way to get off track and focus on things that aren’t important that will ultimately cost you an arm and a leg in interest. Not to mention limit your freedom to run your business the way you like.
One of the big draws to the cleaning industry is the low barrier to entry. You can start your own business for very little money and/ or experience. The problem is, this leads business owners to think they don’t need ANY money, and that they won’t have to invest in their business.
If you literally have NO money, you might consider getting a job and saving a couple thousand dollars. The cleaning business does deliver on the promise of low investment, but it’s nearly impossible to grow a real cleaning company with no money. Don’t freak out and think you need to be rich to start, but you don’t want to be starting a cleaning business if you don’t have a couple of months rent in the bank.
Investing in your business
So what do I need all of this money for? How much if any of my profits should I reinvest back into the company? The key is to invest in things that are going to make a return on your investment. Here are the tree categories you can expect to get good returns from when done properly.
- Equipment- Commercial grade equipment can help your company solve your customer’s pain better and faster. The more you grow, the more teams you will have and the more sets of equipment you will need.
- Training- Hopefully by reading this, you are learning exactly what to do- and just as importantly what NOT to do! Investing in your own education can save you years of frustration and untold thousands of dollars!
- Client Attraction- Remember- you in NOT in the cleaning business. You are in the business of attracting the right clients to your cleaning company. This requires an investment in client attraction methods to see which work and which don’t. You might have to invest in multiple client attraction methods that don’t work before you find one that does. Another reason to invest in training (above), to save you from wasting precious your advertising dollars.
Finances for Managing Employees
Employees are going to be your biggest expense and your biggest opportunity for growth. You can only clean a limited number of hours in the day, but with employees, your opportunity to grow is unlimited!
So where do you go to find good employees? This can make you or break you when starting a cleaning business. Just like your client attraction efforts- you need to understand exactly WHO your ideal prospective employee is- what pain they are trying to solve with your job offering and WHERE they go to solve that problem. Once you have that information, your job is to write a compelling offer (job ad), that speaks to their pain and put it where they go to find employment.
Often your best prospective employees are friends with your current best employees. Birds of a feather flock together. Hard working, honest people tend to hang out with hardworking honest people. Make sure you look inside your current team before you look outside.
NOTE: The good employees are NOT on Craigslist!
indeed.com has some great free and paid options to start, but you are going to want to find where your ideal prospective employees congregate sooner or later and start advertising there. Of course, you are going to want to hire employees that have the legal right to work in the United States.
The EEOC keeps a list of the requirements (see section (b) (1) (C)).
One of the first decisions you are going to have to make is whether to hire W-2 employees or utilize 1099 contractors. With w-2 employees, you have more control over what you can expect from them and you are responsible for workers compensation insurance and payroll taxes. 1099 contractors have more flexibility to work for other people and dictate their schedules, but are responsible for their own payroll taxes and insurance. You want to contact a good employment attorney to make sure you are doing everything legally.
If you do hire w-2 employees. Invest in a payroll service like www.adp.com (Quickbooks also has a payroll service). Make sure they guarantee their work and take responsibility for any mistakes they make. Payroll tax mistakes are extremely expensive and you are paying to have them take that responsibility. It is worth the couple of hundred dollars it will cost you a month. Simple thing s like this will make starting your cleaning business a breeze.
Hold quarterly meetings with your employees to discuss pay increases and performance. Use the same format for every meeting. You can discuss performance in areas like
- How well they represented your Core Values
- Tardiness & absences vs. covering other people’s shifts
- Customer complaints vs. positive feedback
- How long it takes them to clean
- BONUS: Did they refer any customers or employees to your company?
You can also help them grow personally by holding them accountable to a personal goal they may have.
Set up an onboarding process to get them familiar with everything from how to report their hours to who to call if they are going to be late. Write this process down and/ or make videos and host them on YouTube. It doesn’t have to be too formal but you should make sure you don’t forget anything.
Training can usually be on the job, and it should be ongoing. Talk to your workers about methodology and about customer relations, as needed. If there is new equipment, make sure everyone knows how to use it.
Your employees are also a terrific source for qualified applicants. So ask them if they know someone, whenever you are hiring. Make sure you reward them, whether it’s a bonus or a paid day off or a fruit basket or whatever works. This is how you can get some of your best employees when starting a cleaning business.
Sum it Up
It can feel like a huge amount of work to get everything done that needs to be done, but you now have the framework you need to get started. For more resources and EVERYTHING you need to grow YOUR cleaning company, go to www.growmycleaningcompany.com