With the right planning and strategies, starting a cleaning business can be an inexpensive way to become a business owner.
Starting a cleaning business can be really lucrative. There will always be homes that need cleaning, and it’s a job people are eager to hand off. Just ask our cleaning industry expert, Katie Pearse. Over the course of 7 years, she tripled her cleaning business’ hourly rate from $62 per hour to $180 per hour!
Even better news: your upfront investment can be next to nothing, especially if you’re willing to do a lot of the work yourself.
Disclaimer: You’ll Have to Spend a Little
You’ll need to follow the laws in your area to legally practice business. At the very least, this usually means you’ll have to register your business. While not always legally required, you may want to explore business insurance.
And, of course, you’ll need to buy essential cleaning supplies. The right cleaners, rags, bags, and scrub brushes are the only way you’ll be able to get the job done!
Now, let’s focus on the things you can do to start your cleaning business that don’t require money.
Target the Right Clientele
Residential cleaning, where you’re cleaning homes, is an easier business to get into than commercial cleaning. Large janitorial companies dominate the market that cleans office buildings and the like, and cleaning at this scale requires equipment and labour hours that demand a large starting budget.
It’s also easier to attract new residential cleaning clients, which we’ll cover later in the article.
HOW TO RUN A CLEANING BUSINESS
If you’re starting a cleaning business, or if you’re looking for ways to run your existing business better, this free 45 page guide is for you.GET THE GUIDE
Do the Cleaning Yourself
In the beginning, doing all of the cleaning yourself is an obvious way to eliminate labour costs associated with hiring someone else to clean for you. You can schedule cleaning jobs around your full time job, on weekends or in the evenings depending on your schedule.
By taking it slow, you can focus on quality service and building your reputation, rather than relying on low prices to build your client list.
Cleaning yourself also allows you to ease into your new business, taking the pressure off finding a long list of customers right away to keep employees busy. By taking it slow, you can focus on quality service and building your reputation, rather than relying on low prices to build your client list.
At a certain point you’ll feel it’s time to leave your current job to grow your cleaning business full time, and soon after you may decide to hire your first employee.These are exciting future steps that can follow your original plan to handle cleaning jobs yourself.
Create an Easy Uniform
There’s no need to splurge on a fancy uniform featuring your logo when you’re starting out. A simple dress code of all black, or dark pants and a coloured tee (pick your favourite!) will do just fine. Achieve an extra layer of polish, that will also keep your color-coordinated uniform cleaner longer, by wearing an apron.
The key is to be consistent with your uniform. If your clients see you in the same look each time you interact, your professional image will have a much better impact than if you were to show up to their homes in random graphic tees plastered in logos.
Use Word of Mouth Marketing
Continuing on from our uniform pointers, a client is more likely to refer a business with a professional image to their friends and family members.
To get your first customers, reach out to your circle of friends, letting them know you’ve started a cleaning business if they or anyone they know is interested in trying out your services. Once you’ve cleaned someone’s home, let them know you’re looking for new clients. You can even offer them a discount off their next clean if they refer a friend.
Word of mouth is a powerful customer generation tool, so be sure your service is on point to keep your customers raving about your business.
Customize Your Client Experience
Remember that your customers hire you to make their lives easier, and you can ensure your customers are satisfied by tailoring your service to their needs.
Ask them what they’re looking for from a cleaning session. Maybe they’re looking for help decluttering or want someone to spend extra time vacuuming all of the pet hair off the couch. They might appreciate small touches like elegantly folded toilet paper ends.
Taking the time to discuss these details with your client can make or break an ongoing customer relationship, and set you apart from the competition. Our free Client Profile Template can help you collect and manage this information.
Establish Your Brand
Attention to detail, a consistent uniform, client profiles—all of the details we’ve covered contribute to a strong and trusted brand.
Getting your company values on paper will help you communicate to your customers what they can expect from your business, and how you’re different from the competition. Maybe you’re committed to using environmentally friendly products, believe in customized experiences, or promise to be on time every time. Our free Branding Toolkit can help you through this process.
Getting your company values on paper will help you communicate to your customers what they can expect from your business, and how you’re different from the competition.
Company Name and Logo
Once you know what your business values are you’re in a good position to come up with a business name and develop a logo. You might choose a name that plays off your values (e.g., incorporating the word ‘green’), or you may choose to let your creative side come up with something catchy.
Having a designer create a logo for your business also adds to your professional look. Add it to your quotes, invoices, and receipts and you’ll look like a pro from the start.
Setting up a Facebook page for your business is a free way to establish an online presence. Go a step further and claim the social media handles for your business name on Twitter, Instagram, and any other key sites, so that you have them ready if and when you decide to use them.
Create an email address with email@example.com so that you have a professional communication channel with your customers, and none of your business communication gets lost among your personal emails.
Finally, as you’ll most likely be booking first time appointments by phone, have your personal phone do double duty by changing your voicemail greeting to work for your business.
Use Free Tools
Government websites often offer helpful resources for new business owners. This Government of Canada site has checklists, business planning advice, and legal information for starting a business. For our American readers, the IRS has a helpful site with similar information.
We’ve scattered a few of Jobber’s free templates throughout this article, and you may also find our free Invoice and Quote templates helpful. We’ve also developed a free Breakage and Damage Toolkit just for cleaning businesses, because accidents are a reality of the business.
When you’re first getting started and you have a handful of clients, you may be able to keep track of your clients and schedule on paper or by using free software. As you grow your client list and make the transition to running your business full time, a paid software like Jobber can help you keep track of clients, jobs, and invoices, and save you a lot of administrative time.
Technically, it’s never too early to start using software like Jobber that can help you manage your business, especially if growth is your goal.
Free Guide: How to Run a Cleaning Business
You’ve learned some solid ways to start a cleaning business with no money, but there’s so much more to learn about running an efficient cleaning business. At the start of this article we mentioned the success our industry expert, Katie Pearse, experienced running her own cleaning business.
Katie shared her best strategies and tips with us, covering everything from cleaning business operations, to hiring, to customer service, and more. We compiled all of it into a free guide: How to Run a Cleaning Business.