By Peter Engelbrecht
Many websites will tell you that you can start a house cleaning business in just a few days for a very small investment. What they don’t tell you is that finding customers and running the business can be frustrating, time consuming and costly. Most people who start a cleaning business go out of business within the first six months due to lack of knowledge and preparation. There are many challenges which you should understand and be ready to face before you start your own house cleaning business.
Research the industry and know what you are getting into before you invest in starting your own cleaning business. Visit www.startacleaningbusiness.NET for free advice from other entrepreneurs in the cleaning industry and to post questions about starting your own cleaning business.
Following is professional advice that will help you start your own cleaning business and be successful:
Cleaning Fees to Charge - Research the local market to determine what your competitors charge. You must remain within the local standards, and you can undercut your competition slightly; however, if you charge significantly less than the competition, you may end up with less money and more work than you care for. Your growth must be contained so that you can add employees as you need them without raising prices and thereby losing customers. Also, if you have more jobs than you can handle you may not be servicing the homes well, and this is certainly not good for business. Decide how much you will charge and have your fee estimate calculator ready before your first phone call comes in. We recommend charging by the square feet, condition of the home, and total occupants (humans and pets.)
Logo - A professionally designed logo will help to brand your company in the public's mind. Your logo will be printed on business cards, door knockers, letterhead, car signs, etc., so carefully consider the image you want to present, and then choose artwork which will best reflect that image. Visit LogoYes.com to create your own logo for only $99.
Newspaper - Advertise in the "services" section of the classified in your local newspapers. Keep it short, and ad your logo if you can afford to. Your ad might read “Quality housecleaning with integrity. Call ###-#### for a free estimate.”
Yellow Pages - Place an ad in the house cleaning section of your local yellow pages. Research all of your local phone books and notice which ads catch your eye. A good bet is a “knock-out” ad with at least 2 colors. A “knock-out” removes the yellow background and leaves a crisp, attention grabbing white field among all the yellow ads. For a lesser cost you may list your company in the yellow pages free listing column with a knock-out and color. Make this ad a minimum of four 4 lines, with color. In addition to the yellow pages books, consider pay-per-click advertising with YellowPages.com. This will assure that your business listing is shown before all of the alphabetized free listings.
Brochures - If you have lots of time but little money, then hand delivering a marketing piece is your most economical option. Your choices are door hangers, brochures or postcards. I suggest that you use either brochures or postcards rather than door hangers, because you can use them as handouts and also as mailing pieces and not have boxes of door hangers which in two months you may not have time to hand deliver. You can develop your own brochure or postcard using Microsoft Publisher, or you can purchase a pre-designed template to print as needed. You can print the pieces on your printer, or have them printed at a local print shop or copy center.
Direct Mail - When your business starts growing and hand delivery is no longer an option, then direct mail postcards are the most economical advertising tool. You’ll need to purchase a mailing list unless you plan to create your own. We have found that DirectoryStore.com has the best prices on Hill Donnelly directories, the most up-to-date and accurate lists available. You can use labels or merge the postcards with your mailing list and have them copied at a local office store or printer with a high speed/high quality copier. Insist on seeing a sample from the copier before you have the job completed. You MUST deliver high quality postcards in order to make the best impression on your prospects. Flimsy paper with lopsided print, ink rubbing off and jagged edges is not the quality which will get you noticed.
Cleaning Forms - Be prepared for business with a sales script you have memorized to perfection; cleaning fee estimate calculator; professionally written fee estimate letters; follow-up letters for quotes not booked; new customer letters stating hourly fees and payment policies; description of services form; customer information sheets for the maids to follow; maid service checklists to leave with customers after each service; customer referral cards; refrigerator magnets; and customer survey forms for every new customer.
Car Signs - Magnetic car signs are a great advertising tool which can be made by a local sign maker for about $25 a set, plus an initial set-up fee. Be certain that your signs fit on both compact and full size cars, and that you use no more than three colors. When designing your signs keep in mind that bold lettering and brief wording works best. Visit FastSigns.com to locate a sign shop near you.
Cleaning Supplies - Purchase cleaning supplies at your local discount center, grocery and dollar stores. Either store or brand name household cleaning products will work, however, compare percentage of the active cleaning ingredients. Consider paying a few cents more for the better brand in order to lessen time spent scrubbing. Avoid products containing bleach as it can cause damage to carpets and counters.
Cleaning Equipment - Commercial grade vacuums will last much longer than home quality. We have found that Royal brand commercial vacuums, crafted with die-cast aluminum, are the longest lasting available anywhere, and they out clean the competition. Available in several models, Royal Commercial Vacuums come with a lifetime warranty on the motor housing, fan casing and nozzle. Visit VacLand.com for the best prices, reputable salespeople and 2 - 5 day nationwide shipping.
Website - Your own website is a luxury that is worth the expense when you can afford it. Be certain to add your website address to all business documents, and to all of your advertising. The website should have an online estimate form and customer testimonials.
Cleaning Employees - When you’re ready to hire employees be certain you have your employment application, employee policies handbook, cleaning procedures manual, warning certificates and all of the appropriate human resources paperwork. With strict policies and procedures to follow, your employees will know that they are working for a professionally run company, and therefore will be less likely to take advantage of you. Also, you will need to keep employee files containing tax paperwork and employment history including a record of verbal and written warnings. If you are not working with an accountant, then contact your local state employment office to obtain the appropriate tax documents for each employee to complete.
Before You Start Cleaning:
Licenses & Insurance - Get your federal tax ID; local & state business licenses; bonding insurance, and liability insurance. When you hire employees you'll need worker's compensation insurance. The Small Business Administration is a great source of information for start-up paperwork and links to informative websites. www.sba.gov/starting_business/startup/guide.html
IRS - The IRS website offers a wealth of information for small businesses. You'll find start-up guides, information on tax credits and business deductions, advice on record keeping and choosing an accounting method, employee tax issues, and more. The most up-to-date tax information is available through the site, as well as forms, publications and instructions for filing taxes. www.irs.gov/businesses/small/index.html
State Tax - State tax information can be found at www.taxadmin.org/fta/link/forms.html , which provides links to the Department of Revenue for every state.
Here's a few other links you should look at:
Cleaning Business Forms and More: www.MaidDocs.com/shop - provides a start up cleaning business package which includes a cleaning fee estimate calculator; lists of resources; a full color tri-fold customizable brochure, and over a dozen customizable forms and customer letters. When you are ready to grow your business there is a complete Employee Package which includes a guide to hiring and managing cleaning business employees, an employee handbook and cleaning procedures manual; performance reviews and warnings. There is also a payroll template and customer database template.
Business Law: www.businesslaw.gov - Complying with business laws and regulations can be a burden. To help small businesses overcome this, the Small Business Administration (sba.gov) in cooperation with multiple Federal agencies developed BusinessLaw.gov, an online resource designed to provide legal and regulatory information. Topics covered on this site range from choosing a business structure to hiring an attorney. The site also provides links to federal, state and local agencies.
Employment Law: www.dol.gov/asp/programs/EmpLawGuide - This guide describes the statutes and regulations administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) that affect businesses and workers. The guide is designed mainly for those needing "hands-on" information to develop wage, benefit, safety and health, and nondiscrimination policies for businesses in general industry.
Compliance Laws: www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance - Statutes and regulations administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) that affect businesses and workers.
Copyright © 2004 MaidDocs® ~ All rights reserved.
Walter L. Gibson started a home based cleaning business in 1989 which has grown into a major competitor in the local cleaning industry and is still going strong. In 2004 he gained a copyright for his business system and MaidDocs was born. MaidDocs offers very affordable start-up & add-on packages or a complete cleaning business system and a-la-carte documents. Buy what you need, when you need it and grow your business as large as you'd like. Visit http://www.MaidDocs.com/shop for complete information and free advice
about how to start your own cleaning business.
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