If you want to start a cleaning business, you are already on the path to success.
While most would-be entrepreneurs get caught up in pursuing the latest and sexiest business model to float across their screens, your interest in a cleaning business means you understand what being a successful entrepreneur is actually about.
While a cleaning business doesn't sound exciting, it's a foolproof vehicle to take you to six figures and beyond.
In this guide, we'll walk you through one of the most reliable business models in the game, and show you how to hit six figures by starting a cleaning business in 2019.
But first, in case you were still having doubts, let's review exactly why professional cleaning services are such a reliable way to make tons of money.
Why Start a Cleaning Business?
The cleaning industry is one that's seeing a major uptick in earnings since the end of the 2008 recession, and it's only going up from there.
As a matter of fact, the total revenue of janitorial services in the U.S. reached 61 billion dollars in 2018.
Another way to say this is that the demand is huge.
And so are the margins.
It's easy to charge between $40 to $50 per cleaner, per hour as a professional cleaning service. It's also easy to employ great cleaners at between $20-$30 per hour. This means your business can bring in $20-40 per hour, per employee, which is not only a high margin, but it's also a model that makes tracking income and expenses very simple and easy to do.
Add in that a cleaning business requires very little capital to startup, and you can begin to understand why it's such a foolproof business model.
Now that we understand the upside, let's dive into the "how to".
1. Set Up Your Business for Long-Term Growth
There's no singular "right" way to set up your business.
Running your business through a task-based platform or the old-fashioned way—building a business from the ground up—are both great options.
There are many task-based platforms available today, thanks to the booming gig-economy. Companies like TaskRabbit or Care.com make it easy to find jobs that align with the kind of work you want to be doing—in this case, cleaning opportunities.
There are plenty of benefits to running a company like this:
- Instantly connect with potential clients.
- No booking software required (it's built into the platform).
- Quickly build a referral network and a strong collection of testimonials.
- Get help with setting your rates.
- Enjoy flexibility regarding who you work with and when.
- Users are protected under the platform's insurance and policies.
Similarly, there are a few downsides to it as well:
- Most platforms take a percentage of your earnings.
- The quick nature of bookings means you must be on top of your job leads.
- A high volume of competition in one space for the same gigs.
- Limited to the clients who are on the platform.
Of course, as with any path in business, running things on your own comes with its fair share of pros and cons as well.
The benefits of running a business on your own terms is nothing to overlook:
- You can do things your way.
- You take home your entire wage.
- No limitations to the clients you can reach.
- The potential to hire more people under you or add to your team.
However, the flipside of running your business this way is something to consider, too:
- You need to build relationships from the ground up.
- Expect inconsistent income until you get established or have set clients you clean for regularly.
- You're not protected by a platform's insurance or policies, so you'll need to invest in that piece yourself.
Lastly—and this can be seen as either a pro or a con depending on how you look at it—running your business independent from a platform means you are in charge of invoicing, saving for taxes, managing client relationships, and every other aspect that comes with being a business owner.
2. Successful Cleaning Businesses Work in a Niche Market
It's a lot easier to search for the clients you want once you know a) who they are and b) what they're looking for in a cleaning service.
Establishing your niche will help you set the tone for your entire business. A niche will guide you in every decision from selecting your cleaning supplies to how you market yourself and find clients.
There are several niches to consider when it comes to the cleaning industry.
Two of the biggest ones include:
- Residential: Homes, apartments, condos, and other communities.
- Commercial: Offices, public spaces, and other businesses or establishments.
Of course, you can niche down even further. For example, maybe you're just interested in cleaning apartments instead of all kinds of residential homes. You could even take it a step further and only offer exterior pressure washing for condo communities.
If you aren't sure about how to select a niche or what is right for you, do your due diligence and research as much as you can. Reach out to others who are currently cleaning in the niche you're interested in and inquire if you could ask them a few questions about their experience. More than likely, they'll have some helpful insight to share, which can help you make your decision.
3. Understand How to Properly Clean the Space You're Contracted to Clean
This may sound odd, but it's important to know how to clean a space before you start cleaning it. Educate yourself on the different types of cleaning products and solutions including what mixes properly with what, what solutions shouldn't be combined, and if a cleaner can be used on a particular surface.
Make sure you know how to clean all surfaces and fabrics correctly, too. The last thing you'd want to do is accidentally put non-color-safe bleach in a load of dark clothing in the washer.
And don't just spray Lysol everywhere and call it clean. Chances are, your clients won't be too happy about that.
Depending on your niche or your client's preference, they may have cleaning supplies of their own they want you to use. For example, if you're cleaning a home, your client may prefer organic cleaners over harsh chemicals. Or perhaps you prefer to purchase your own cleaning supplies and use those instead (with your client's approval, of course).
The services you offer will also determine if there are any additional supplies you'll need to purchase or inquire about using. For instance, if you're planning on providing stain removal as part of your service, you'll need to make sure you have the proper equipment, like mops, gloves, cleaning brushes, and sponges to do so.
Regardless, make sure it's clear to both you and your client what supplies you're going to use and for what purposes.
If you choose to buy your own supplies, be sure to account for those purchases in your business expenses. It might make sense for you to purchase some of your supplies, like mops and brooms, but use the specific cleaning solutions your clients favor.
The bottom line: The quality of your service—or how well you clean—is what's going to keep you booked full.
4. Collect Client Testimonials to Build Social Proof
Testimonials are so crucial that they could mean the difference between a client booking with you or choosing another cleaning company. In fact, a study from BrightLocal found that 93% of local customers look to reviews to determine if a business is "good" or "bad."
The words of your customers matter, but what's the best way to approach collecting those valuable endorsements?
1. First, unless you already have a client base you are ready to tap into, you'll need to offer lower rates or special services to get your first customers in the door.
2. Next, find a way to incentivise feedback. For example, offer 25% off for customers who follow you on Facebook, and encourage them to leave a review. (NOTE: It is very important you don't ask for a positive review. This is unethical at best and illegal at worst. However, asking for "honest reviews" is wise.)
3. Use the testimonials to your advantage. Put them front and center on your site, ask customers to post them on Google My Business or your social media platform.
4. If you have a customer who you know had a positive experience, but who has yet to leave a review, email them directly to ask for a quick quote.
After a while, you'll have a strong collection of client testimonials and feedback that can help you in more ways than one. This is also a great opportunity to identify any areas in your business that need fixing and will help you continually deliver excellent service.
So, once your have testimonials, how can you make them work best for you?
Take 5280 House Cleaning, for example. They make sure client testimonials are front-and-center on their website to ensure potential customers see them immediately.
Testimonials can be used in a variety of ways. Put them on your website, use them in ads, or put them on other marketing materials. The aim is to place them where potential customers will see them.
5. Create a Digital Marketing Strategy Based on Customer Search Intent and Interest
There's no question that having an online presence is fundamental to growing a business these days.
But it's not enough just to create a website that lists the types of cleaning services you offer. We hate to break it to you, but the cleaning appointment requests won't just magically start rolling in once your site goes live. It's imperative to have a way to drive people who are in the market for your type of cleaning service to your website.
Ads are an excellent way to do just that. Whether you use social media ads or SEM, you can target your exact audience and maximize your budget.
Below are examples of Google Adwords ads for different cleaning businesses. These ads use many of the same words, like "deep cleaning", "local cleaners", and "affordable", to appeal to the searcher.
In addition to Google AdWords, Facebook ads are a great way to reach potential clients who are looking for cleaning services. This Facebook ad from Sunshine Cleaners appeals to those who are looking for a house cleaner. Using phrases like "sparkling paradise" and "Get a cleaner home without lifting a finger!" allude to what potential customers can likely expect from this particular company.
Experiment with different channels to see what triggers the most response from your target clientele.
Depending on the channel you select, you can target your ads by search intent, interest, demographic, and even location as it relates to cleaning and your business.
Lastly, one of the great things about online advertising is that you can choose how much you spend at a time, so don't feel like you have to invest a ton of money upfront in seeing any results.
Digital ads are a powerful way to get your name in front of your ideal customer and reach them at different points of their buyer journey.
6. Deliver the Best Customer Experience to Every Client
When it comes down to it, what sets successful service-based businesses apart from others is the ability to provide outstanding customer service time and time again.
Just ask the co-founder of wildly successful Green Clean Squad, Katie Pearse. Pearse and her business partner started their cleaning company in April of 2008, and grew the company to a million dollar business in just a few short years.
How did they do it?
Pearse was open to trying things that other companies weren't and went above and beyond to make sure her customers were getting the most value. The Green Clean Squad launched a secret shopper program that was beneficial twofold:
- Clients would receive 50% off their next cleaning service if they completed an evaluation of the Green Clean Squad staff.
- Employees that got great reviews would receive a bonus for their hard work.
This kept everyone happy and ensured that every customer was getting the best service possible.
But excellent customer service doesn't stop there. There are tons of other ways to exceed your clients expectations like:
- Pay additional attention to cleaning often-missed areas like under large appliances or behind furniture.
- Leave goodie bags for clients with sweets or a pack of Lysol wipes with a hand-written thank you note.
- Take time to double-check with a client that they are comfortable with you using a specific cleaner before you use it.
Lastly, when issues arise—and they will!—be sure to address them head-on. Regardless if you or your customer were in the wrong, it's essential to set egos aside and make sure the customer is satisfied. As we discussed above, negative reviews that go without response typically end up manifesting into something worse.
Continue to provide the best service possible and your clients will keep booking you and referring you to others.
Next Steps: Don't Overthink It
Creating a profitable cleaning business isn't complicated. It just requires consistency.
Don't overthink it. Don't wait. What's holding you back from starting right now?
If you feel like you aren't quite ready, and you want to dive deeper into the process of creating a service-based business, click below to try our premium course, 100% free.
This is the same course that has allowed over 3,000 students to quit their jobs thanks to successful businesses bringing in full-time income.
Whether you start your business to day or start your journey to being an entrepreneur by taking our course, don't let another day get wasted on daydreaming.
Don't overthink it. Don't wait.
Now's the time.