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Starting a Cleaning Business

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is something we all believe in. It applies to all social hierarchies, irrespective of time. As life gets more complicated so does the mess we leave behind in our homes. On the other hand, technology may advance rapidly, making our lifestyles more comfortable, but it can never take away the chore of ‘house cleaning’ completely away, for it is a task that needs to be closely supervised. In today’s busy society, people don’t have time to clean their own mess, and ‘out sourcing’ of this day to day task is becoming a popular practice.

If you are a mom who believes in cleanliness, and practices it at your home, and if you like to clean and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, why not start a cleaning service as a home business? It is a good profit-making venture as the market potential is always high for such service-oriented jobs. It’s a great way to earn an extra income, which I’m sure will be very welcome in meeting your growing household finances.

There is a small start up cost involved, as you will need to invest in cleaning equipment, detergents, etc, and if you are planning to do it on a larger scale, you will have to hire people to work for you. You can use your personal savings to start off the business and can reinvest your early profits to fund the growth of the enterprise. You can also investigate the abundant government programs that support small businesses, for a small loan to meet the start up costs. If you do the necessary homework/research and approach them with the correct attitude, convincing them of your potential won’t be a difficult task.

All this involves proper financial handling. But it’s something you can do yourself. You may think it’s very complicated because it’s a ‘business’, but it really isn’t so. If you have a practice of handling your household finances and if you do your own book keeping at home, then you have what it takes to take care of the financial side of your business. With a positive outlook and a professional approach, you can definitely take care of it yourself. But remember to do your research and figure out all aspects involved. Internet is a good source to begin with. Or you can talk to a friend or colleague in a similar venture for advise.

Focus mainly on advertising, customer service, marketing, insurance and of course, investing. Work out a business plan for yourself, for it can serve as a backbone for the future of your business. Keep in mind that cleaning your own home and cleaning professionally is totally different. When a client pays for your services, they expect an immaculate job done within a short time span. Accuracy and efficiency is a must. Learn the professional approach in the cleaning business to provide that ‘pristine’ effect your clients will appreciate and will keep them loyal.

Getting your first clients is the tough part in this business. Remember, you will not get a hundred clients overnight. So don’t plan too big at the initial level. Design an effective and inexpensive advertising strategy to promote your enterprise. But remember, the secret behind a good client base is quality, accuracy and timely service. Maintain your professionalism at all times, even with known clients you attained from word of mouth advertising through friends and family.

It is always advisable to concentrate on a particular facet of the cleaning industry and achieve a ‘niche’ for yourself in that field. Cleaning services are usually required by two market groups, the consumer market or home cleaning requirements (maid services, carpet cleaners, window cleaners etc.) and the commercial market or industrial/trade based cleaning needs i.e. janitorial services. You can chose one area and concentrate on excelling in that particular field or, given your potential, even provide multiple services. The decision is yours. Whichever you chose, always strive to provide a good, quality service.

You can operate at a small corner of your own home, where you can store your equipment and have a small area for handling paperwork. If you decide to hire people to do the actual cleaning, you will find yourself needing this ‘separate’ space for your operational work, which mostly involves ordering supplies, handling customer calls, scheduling of cleaning tasks, billing and payrolls. You can always get involved in the cleaning yourself, based on your time and availability of staff. Most cleaning services start as a one-man operation, where the owner does the cleaning himself/herself, and as the business grows, they hire staff for that task and concentrate solely on the operational aspects of the business.

Work out an accurate ‘Pricing Structure’ for your service. Consider labor and material costs accurately before you quote prices. This can be a bit tricky at the beginning, where you do not have any records of your own to work out the exact costs involved.

Following points should be taken into account when working out your cost:

  • Labor Wages (usually paid at an hourly rate)
  • Labor Benefits (Medical leave, Insurance benefits, etc)
  • Material Costs (Cleaning equipment, detergents, etc.)
  • Overheads (Telephone bills, transport, electricity etc.)
  • Advertising and Marketing Costs

Total your expenses for one year for advertising, overheads and long-term investments (such as vacuum cleaners and other sophisticated equipment). Exclude labor and material costs. Then divide this number by your total cost of labor and materials to determine an overall rate. Once you are up and running, you can change this according to your actual records and work out a more accurate rate that matches the realities of the operation.

You can charge your clients by the hour, as a flat rate per home or even by square foot. Where as it is advisable to charge a flat rate per home/client, you can adapt the other two methods too. Whichever method you decide, remember to charge what your service is worth. You might think a low rate may attract more clients, but it is not so always. They may think you are inexperienced and that your work is sub-standard. If you provide a quality service, customers will be willing to pay a good price for it.

You can build a name for your business through honesty, integrity and reliability. The best thing about working from home is the flexible hours and the ability to integrate it effectively in your home life. It is the best form of work for a home based mom having to handle the duties of a busy household. With the correct approach and attitude, you can achieve a successful home business that will give added meaning to your daily home life.

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