If you’re looking for a business that can effectively get you off the ground fairly quickly, with minimal expenses, then starting a cleaning business could be a good option to choose.

However, it is important to note, that even though it’s a fairly simple business to start, competition in this industry is high. There are lots of small organisations out there. So, you need to have a clear idea of how your business will stand out in this crowded market.

You also need to think about whether you will be prepared to clean every day or are you more suited to the administrative side of a cleaning business.

A cleaning business can cover everything from one cleaner with a few domestic properties to maintain each week, to a large commercial business with thousands of staff and clients on their books.

There are domestic cleaners, office cleaners, hospital and school cleaners as well as carpet, window and vehicle cleaners.

starting a cleaning business

Here are 11 ways to help you set up and start your cleaning business:

1. Determine The Type Of Cleaning Company

There are two main types of cleaning businesses to consider:

Residential cleaning business:

Residential (or domestic cleaning) will involve cleaning people’s homes and can be undertaken by you, as soon as you secure some clients. You may eventually take on another member of staff or two, as your client base begins to grow.

Commercial cleaning business: 

For cleaning commercial properties, you will definitely need a team of people (as the properties will be tend to be large office buildings). You may have a managerial role rather than be on the ground cleaning the offices.

Within these two main types, you may also want to consider:

  • Specialised cleaning – there are worth exploring if you and to stand out from the others. Specialism can range from a window cleaning business and a carpet cleaning business to a roof cleaning or a car wash/car valet business. All of these could be done as a residential or a commercial cleaning business.

2. Have A Budget

Cleaning equipment costs can vary a great deal. For example, for domestic cleaners, more often than not the equipment is provided by the households. You may want to bring your own cleaning materials (cloths, dusters) and products (creams, sprays). You can include the cost of these in your prices.

starting a cleaning business

However, for a commercial cleaning company there’s some basic equipment you’ll more likely need to invest in:

  • Equipment trolleys
  • Cleaning products
  • Professional, industrial vacuum cleaner
  • Sweeping machine
  • Van to keep equipment and for travelling to companies

3. Research The Market/Target Audience

Researching the potential market/target audience, as well as the local demographic, is instrumental in deciding the type of cleaning business you should start.

For example, if you’re planning on running a domestic cleaning venture in your local area, then you’ll need to make sure that people in the area are financially able to pay for someone else to do their domestic chores.

Market research will also be key when working out your charges. You could do this by checking out websites of competitors. Or even, by ringing around the local competition (as a potential client) to find out. This way you can make sure your prices are comparable.

4. Check Relevant Regulations And Training Courses

You do not need a license when starting a cleaning business, but obtaining a criminal records check from the CRB will help to improve the image for you and your team, as trusted professionals.

Training is also not essential but some basic training, such as an NVQ or Cleaning Operatives Proficiency Certificate could give your business credibility.

If you’re going to be taking on staff then there is a number of regulations you’ll need to bear in mind:

-Typically cleaning work is not very well paid – it’s likely that your staff will receive the minimum wage in the UK (currently £8.21 for 25yrs and over as of April 2019) so you’ll need to keep on top of annual rises.

-You’ll also be responsible for employer’s liability insurance. This protects you against the cost of compensation claims, arising from employee illness or injury, sustained as a result of their work for you. It is a legal requirement if your cleaning business employs one or more people, and you could be fined for each day you’re not covered.

-If you’re taking on commercial cleaning jobs you’ll need to adhere to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations – which state that when you take on a cleaning contract with an office or other business premises you must use their existing staff.

starting a cleaning business

-There’s also a number of health and safety regulations to consider, as cleaning often involves working with potentially harmful chemicals.

5. Work Out An Invoicing And Payment System

You will need to manage cash flow. Things to think about-will you be expecting cash-in-hand or advance payment?

As with any new business, cash flow can be difficult to manage. This is particularly for domestic cleaners, as clients can become unreliable (how regularly they’ll want you, holidays, sicknesses…)

With this in mind, you’ll need to work out a payment system with clients that work for you. Usually, people expect to pay their cleaner cash-in-hand on the day, but for cash flow purposes (and for the sake of professionalism), you may want to insist on an advance payment system.

It may be worth considering the available options for accepting mobile card payment.

starting a cleaning business

It may be more useful to use a system that allows you to send invoices online as well as take payments from clients online too. This allows for a more seamless process and gets rid of unnecessary delay in taking payments.

Online Invoicing with Grow in Cloud lets you create and send customised invoices from anywhere. It’s easy to use online invoicing tool saves you time and enhances your client communication experience. 
You can also get paid instantly with Grow in Cloud’s online payments solution. Grow in Cloud works seamlessly with payment gateways such as PayPal and Stripe.

starting a cleaning business

6. Use An Appointment Scheduling System

As technologies for scheduling tasks continue to evolve over the years, they are replaced by cloud based systems. Issues of cost and compatibility have been addressed.

Appointment scheduling systems are software designed specifically to grant business owners an easy way to arrange and manage their various appointments.

Apart from booking/scheduling appointments, most businesses are now under pressure to join other businesses and remind their clients of upcoming appointments via SMS or email.

starting a cleaning business
Names have been hidden for data protection purposes.

By using a proper appointment scheduling software, such as Grow in Cloud, with features of appointment reminders and notifications included, these time-consuming tasks are managed automatically and with little user effort. 

7. Create a Website

There are many small businesses that still don’t have a website. Reasons they give: – don’t have the skills, the time, or the money to build a business website.

starting a cleaning business

But a surprising number say that their business doesn’t need a website. Either because it’s not required or because they use social media instead.

There is an importance of a website, for sales. This is important to every business and not just for a cleaning business.

Developing a website won’t automatically bring paying customers to your business but through the use of SEO (search engine optimization) of your website, you can improve your chances of being visible online. This will help bringing in potential clients/leads, who are more likely to make a purchase of the variety of cleaning services that you offer.

8. Create A Marketing Plan

As well as spending money on equipment, it may be necessary to allocate a budget for marketing too. One of the struggles when starting a cleaning business (and in fact any service based business) is building up a client list.

When it comes to marketing a cleaning business some traditional advertising, such as classified listings and flyers could be the best place to start.

starting a cleaning business
An example of a flyer that could be created for door to door marketing. Obviously you need to add your contact details on the flyer!

It’s worth considering online advertising as well, such as pay-per-click, particularly if you are offering a niche service (and can therefore go for a specific search term, e.g. “Borehamwood Window Cleaning”).

Don’t be afraid to go out and knock on some doors too! Cleaning can be a personal business and prospective clients may be more likely to sign up if they see you and know who exactly they are doing business with.

9. Use Social Media

Almost everybody you know, will be on a social media site of some sort. It is a great platform for sharing your content as well as connecting with potential clients or maintaining relationships with existing clients.

Depending on what industry you are in, some social media sites work better than others, so here are a few that would be more useful for your cleaning business:

Facebook:

Facebook has the most users (over 2 billions) out of all the social media sites so having a Facebook Business page is worthwhile for a cleaning business to reach a wide audience of all ages.

You can also create Facebook as a way to set up a community for your clients who can post cleaning tips and hacks or share questions with each other about cleaning products.

Instagram:

Instagram is the most popular social media site at the moment. It is a visual marketing tool so it is useful for showing before and after cleaning process pictures. 

You can share short cleaning tip videos on Instagram stories, share pictures of your team with brief information sharing fun background information about them.

Twitter:

Twitter is another great way to interact with your clients and potentially new ones as your clients can promote you and your cleaning business through tweets. You can engage with your audience by hosting Twitter chats as well as create a community for your clients and interact with them in real time.

Whichever social media platform you use it is always a good idea to use one or two and use them well and post regularly so you are not overwhelmed trying to keep up to date with your posts and trying to run a cleaning business!

Also, try and get your clients to tag you and your business when they add posts to their own profiles-this is another way of promoting your cleaning business on their contacts list.

10. Develop A Strong Brand

Once your cleaning business gets started and builds momentum, it’s important to build a brand that you can be proud of.

You will want to keep gaining new customers via word of mouth and personal recommendations. You also want to be able to get existing happy clients to provide testimonials.

To build a brand identity for your cleaning business, it’s a good idea to have a logo designed and to have a simple uniform for you and your cleaning staff, which has clear branding on it.

starting a cleaning business

Try to create a USP that isn’t just about price; something that clearly defines your brand as a cleaning business that stands out from a heavily competitive industry.

11. Have A Contact Management System

Once you build up your client list, you may want to consider some form of customer relationship management (CRM) system to help you keep track of your client data and offer promotions to loyal clients.

A contact management system allows you to store key information about your clients. This is usually their contact details (name, address, telephone number and email address), communication, payments and interactions with customers.

All this is kept in one place. It can also keep a record of each activity; such as booked/ reschedules appointments, sales, invoices and any notes made by staff member.

starting a cleaning business

There is a misconception amongst many small business owners that a contact management system is only suitable for large businesses. They think that small businesses (especially a small cleaning business) do not require a contact management system, because they have a small database, which can easily be stored and managed on spreadsheets.

However, in order to build and scale your cleaning business, you do need to invest in a contact management system.

Summary:

Focus your early marketing efforts on friends and family members. Ask them to help share, advertise and promote your cleaning business.

They can be your best service ambassadors (especially if you can afford to clean some of their rooms for free, to show off to prospective clients!)

Good luck with starting your cleaning business. Happy Cleaning!

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