- Do you think you’ve got what it takes?
- Which is better: a franchise or a stand-alone business?
- Market You’re After
Consumer and commercial cleaning are the two main market segments in the cleaning business. Residential maid services, as well as carpet cleaners, window cleaners, and a range of other cleaning services required on a less-frequent basis, dominate the consumer market. Janitorial services, which often provide a broader range of services than maid services, as well as other cleaning companies that target businesses rather than individual consumers, such as carpet and window cleaners, dominate the commercial arena. While it’s recommended that you choose a specialization and focus on establishing a business that will serve that market, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect to be able to successfully serve many markets.
It’s critical to look at the cleaning business with 20/20 vision before jumping in. Cleaning services are not a high-tech business, despite the fact that technology has had an impact. It’s also devoid of glamour. And there will be periods when you have as much difficulty gaining respect as Rodney Dangerfield.
However, the advantage is that you can establish a highly profitable business that generates revenue quickly. The majority of cleaning service businesses can be run part-time or full-time, from home or from a commercial facility. This industry’s adaptability makes it appealing to a wide spectrum of people with various objectives.
This means you can create a business that reflects your own personality and skills. You can stay tiny and perform the work yourself if you choose. You can establish and manage teams to accomplish the work if your talents are more administrative in nature. Opportunities in service areas such as window cleaning and pressure washing abound for persons who enjoy working outside. Residential maid services operate on a pretty consistent schedule; disaster repair and cleanup, on the other hand, may require calls at any time of day or night.
Few sectors provide such a diverse range of options and prospects, and the need for regular and specialty cleaning is projected to grow in the future.
Do you think you’ve got what it takes?
The required qualifications will, of course, vary depending on the type of cleaning service you choose to establish. However, you’ll need determination to make the business work, a willingness to delight the customer, and the dedication to offer a comprehensive cleaning job for any type of service business.
In terms of cleaning abilities, a maid service is perhaps the most straightforward business. Janitorial services, carpet cleaning companies, and other specialty cleaning businesses frequently demand the use of specialized equipment and/or cleaning solutions, which you must be educated to utilize.
A cleaning service operator need some fundamental business skills in addition to being able to conduct the task. You must grasp the administrative requirements of running a business, be able to effectively manage your time, and be able to form relationships with your staff and customers.
Which is better: a franchise or a stand-alone business?
That franchisees will work closely with you as you establish your business and grow it to the point where it is profitable is a plus, especially in the beginning. However, once you’ve established yourself and are financially comfortable, you may realize that a franchise agreement is a significant disadvantage.
A franchise is the way to go for people who want to own their own business but would rather choose an opportunity that has proved successful for others rather than risk establishing their own system. Furthermore, most franchises give a level of marketing support that is difficult for individuals to match, particularly in the areas of national advertising and brand recognition.
In the long term, operating an independent service rather than joining a franchise will almost certainly save you money. You’re also not bound by any pre-established formulas for concept, name, services offered, or anything else as an independent. This is both a benefit and a disadvantage. You have the advantage of being able to do things your way. The disadvantage is that there are no rules to obey. Everything you do is based on trial and error, from identifying your market to cleaning a bathtub. As a sole business, you must thoroughly investigate every facet of your business before and during its existence to ensure that you get off to a good start and can adjust to market changes.
Market You’re After
The majority of the cleaning service owners we spoke with started their businesses with personal funds, then spent their early gains to support expansion.
If you want equipment
you should be able to obtain finance, especially if you can demonstrate that you have invested some of your own money in the business. When it comes to generating funds, you have a variety of possibilities beyond standard financing. Here are some ideas:
You have your own resources
Make a detailed inventory of your possessions. The majority of people have more assets than they realize. Savings accounts, real estate equity, retirement accounts, vehicles, recreational equipment, collections, and other investments are examples. You can either cash in on your assets or use them as collateral for a loan. Examine your personal line of credit as well. Credit cards have fueled the business of many successful businesses.
Family and friends
After you’ve gathered your own resources, the next obvious step is to approach friends and family members who believe in you and want to see you succeed. Be cautious when making these agreements; no matter how close you are, present yourself professionally, put everything in writing, and make sure the people you approach can afford to invest in your business. Never ask a friend or relative to invest or lend you money that they cannot afford to lose.
Look for someone who might wish to join you in your endeavor using the “strength in numbers” approach. You could choose someone with financial resources and a desire to work alongside you in the business. You might also find someone with money to invest but no desire to do the actual labor. Make sure you have a written partnership agreement in place that spells out your roles and duties.
Programs run by the government Utilize the numerous local, state, and federal initiatives aimed at assisting small businesses. Make your first stop at the Dublin Small Business Administration, and then look into alternative options. Women, minorities, and veterans should look into specialist funding options tailored to assist them in starting a business. Your local library’s business department is a wonderful spot to start your investigation.
A Location That Is Based At Home
Cleaning services are good candidates for this type of arrangement, as it is one of the trendiest business trends today. After all, since all of your labor is done on their property, your customers are unlikely to visit your location. But it isn’t the only factor impacting your decision to work from office or in a business location.
Many cities have rules restricting the type and level of commercial activity that can take place in residential neighborhoods. Some states openly forbid the start-up of home-based enterprises. Others may permit such businesses but impose limits on things like signs, traffic, personnel, commercially designated cars, and noise. Find out what ordinances apply to home-based businesses before applying for a business license; you may need to change your plan to stay in compliance.
Getting a Commercial location
Many industry professionals believe that getting out of the house and into a commercial facility is the only way to achieve genuine business growth. Certainly, doing so will assist you in projecting a successful and professional image, but before you start looking for an office, consider what you’ll require.
A small greeting room, work space for yourself and your administrative personnel, and a storage place for equipment and supplies should all be included in your office space. You may also need room for a washer and dryer, as well as a small work area where you may perform minor equipment maintenance. Consider allowing for a small break room, depending on the size of your team.
Regardless of the type of cleaning business you operate, keep in mind that your customers are unlikely to visit your office. So look for a facility that fulfills your operational needs and is in a reasonably safe location, but don’t pay a premium for a prominent address—simply it’s not worth it.
Vehicles are as vital to your business as the location of your office because your work is done at your customers’ locations. In reality, your automobiles are really a mobile version of your business. To effectively serve and represent you, they must be carefully selected and well-maintained.
An economical automobile or station wagon should serve for maid service. You’ll need adequate space to store equipment and supplies as well as transport your cleaning crews, but you won’t be transporting major pieces of equipment that would need the use of a van or small truck.
You have the option of providing vehicles or allowing employees to use their own. Paint your company’s name, logo, and phone number on the vehicles if you give them. This promotes your business all across town. Ask for proof that your employees have enough insurance to cover them in the event of an accident if they use their own automobiles, which is very prevalent with housekeeping services. Also, double-check with your insurance agent to see if your own liability coverage covers you in certain situations.
The size and type of equipment you employ, as well as the size and number of crews, determine the sort of trucks you’ll need for a janitorial service. If you’re doing relatively light cleaning in smaller offices, a budget vehicle or station wagon might suffice, but most janitorial services will require a truck or van.
For carpet cleaning services, you’ll need a truck or van for each service member and his or her equipment, which might be new or used. A nice used vehicle will set you back around €10,000, while a new truck would set you back anywhere from €18,000 to €18,000.
Do you require the services of employees?
Consider the following tips for startup staffing:
For a maid service business, your initial staffing requirements will be determined by the amount of capital you have, the size of the company you wish to run, and the number of customers you can realistically expect to serve. Many self-employed maid services begin with just the proprietor. Others will begin with the proprietor and a sufficient number of servants. You may not need to recruit office help right immediately if you perform the administrative tasks yourself.
If you’re starting a janitorial business, you might be able to get by with just one or two part-time staff. If you have the funds and the business plan in place, you may need to hire more people. You might also consider hiring an administrative assistant to handle the records and answer the phone during the day; after all, if you’re working all night, you’ll need to sleep. Consider hiring a marketing/salesperson, a customer service manager, crew supervisors, and additional cleaning staff as your business grows.
For a Carpet Cleaning Business: As you get started, engage at least one and possibly two service people, as well as a clerical worker who can schedule appointments and manage administrative tasks, depending on the strength of your pre-opening campaign and your startup budget. Although one person can probably manage the majority of the residential work, you might want to consider staffing each truck with two people: a senior technician and a helper. The assistant can aid with task prep (unloading equipment, moving light furniture, etc. ), mixing chemicals, emptying buckets, cleaning up afterward, and so on. This will make each task go faster, making it more efficient and cost-effective while also increasing client satisfaction.
Pricing can be time-consuming and tiresome, especially if you don’t have an aptitude for math. Don’t speed through this process, especially at first. If your quote is too low, you’ll either lose money or be obliged to reduce the quality of your job in order to meet the price. If you make an overly optimistic estimate, you risk losing the contract entirely, especially if you’re in a competitive bidding position. Remember that you may be competing against the customer in many cleaning circumstances; if your quote is too high, he or she may think, “For that much money, I can just do it myself.”
During the early days of your business, you should review the actual prices of each task once it’s completed to evaluate how accurate your estimate was. You’ll be able to set a competitive pricing schedule while still making the profit you need if you learn how to precisely estimate labor and calculate overhead.
Consider the following three factors when developing a robust pricing system for your business:
- Materials and labor: You’ll have to estimate labor and material expenses until you establish records to serve as a reference. Wages and benefits paid to employees are included in labor costs. If you are even partially involved in the execution of a task, the cost of your labor must be included in the overall labor charge, proportionate to your input. The cost of labor is typically stated as an hourly rate.
- Overhead: This category includes all non-labor, indirect costs associated with running a business. The majority of the time, your overhead rate is computed as a percentage of your labor and materials costs. Calculating an overhead rate is simple if you have previous operational expenses as a guide. Add up all of your spending over the course of a year, excluding labor and materials. To calculate your overhead rate, multiply this number by the entire cost of labor and goods. You won’t have historical expenses to assist you when you’re starting off, so utilize statistics that are established industry averages. You can adjust the statistics later to reflect the realities of your business.
- Profit: This is, of course, the gap between what it costs to offer a service and what the consumer actually pays. Calculate your net profit by multiplying the total cost of labor, materials, and overhead by a percentage of profit factor. The profit factor will be higher than the actual proportion of gross revenue that your net profit will be. To obtain a profit factor of approximately 61.3 percent on labor and materials plus overhead, for example, if you want to net 38 percent before taxes out of your gross income, you’ll need to apply a profit factor of about 61.3 percent to your labor and materials plus overhead.
If you’re giving your customers credit—which you probably are if you have corporate accounts or are in the cleaning business—you’ll need to set up and stick to sound invoicing processes.
Make sure your billing system is in sync with your clients’ payment policies. Ask directly what you can do to ensure fast payment; this could involve double-checking the billing address and learning what evidence is needed to help the client evaluate the invoice’s validity. Remember that many large organizations pay specific sorts of invoices on specific days of the month; find out if your customers do, and arrange your invoices to arrive in time for the next payment cycle.
The terms under which you’ve given credit should be clearly stated on your invoice. The due date for the invoice, any discounts for early payment, and any late payment penalties are all part of the terms. To avoid any misunderstandings, it’s also a good idea to indicate the exact day the invoice goes past due. If you’re going to impose a late payment penalty, make sure it’s a late payment or rebilling fee, not a financing charge, on your invoice.
Finally, invoices can be used as a marketing tool. Mention any planned offers, new services, or other information that can entice customers to utilize your services more frequently. Even if the invoice is being sent to an established customer, you never know where your brochures will find up.
Despite the vast size of the cleaning services market, you must choose a specific specialty to focus on. Handle you wish to clean private homes, condominiums and apartments, or vacant rental units if you do residential cleaning? Will you focus your janitorial business on offices, retail stores, or manufacturing plants if you start one? Will you cater to small, medium, or large businesses? Will you clean residential or commercial properties as a carpet cleaner, or both? And what additional services will you offer than carpet shampooing?
After you’ve chosen a market niche, you’ll need to consider the geographic area you’d like to serve. If you’re starting a maid service, you’ll want to be able to schedule cleanings so that you spend as little time as possible on the road. Carpet cleaners are in the same boat. Janitorial staff who have to move from building to building have the same issue.
After you’ve decided what you want to do and where you want to do it, look into the demographics of the area to make sure there are enough potential clients there. If it does, then you’re set to go. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to rethink your specialized or geographic region definitions.
Your costs to servicing that market are a part of your market analysis. Because your trip time is reduced in a densely crowded market, you can serve a larger number of consumers, but you’ll also consume more goods. This should be anticipated and reflected into your charges.
On recommendations, you can establish a very profitable cleaning service, but you’ll need those first customers to begin going. What happened to them? Bane-Clene Corp., situated in Indianapolis, recommends contacting the following organizations to begin:
- relatives and friends
- your next door neighbors
- Employers and former coworkers
- Card clubs, bowling teams, athletic leagues, lodges, fraternities, alumni groups, and neighborhood associations are examples of social groups and clubs.
- religious acquaintances or church
The Image Elements
The image you project is one of your most significant marketing tools. Image is made up of various components, according to Jim Cavanaugh, founder and president of Jani-King International, a commercial cleaning company in Dallas.
- The way you and your team are dressed. Are your employees clean and well-dressed, with appealing uniforms or at the very least decent jeans or slacks?
- You’ve got your printed documents. Are your bills and statements handwritten or typed? Do you maintain a professional image by using handwritten bills and scrap paper for notes, or do you harm your image by using handwritten bills and scrap paper for notes?
- Equipment. Is your equipment clean and in good working order, or is it filthy, with loose wheels, taped cords, and other signs of wear and tear?
- Integrity. Do you operate and conduct in a way that allows building managers and owners to trust you and your staff with unsupervised access to their property?
- Insurance.Having proper business insurance, such as liability, workers’ compensation, and employee bonding, enhances your reputation and image.
- Your automobiles. Are your company vehicles clean, well-maintained, and clearly labeled with your name and logo? Your clients will not be impressed by a filthy, dented truck that emits smoke.