How to Start a House Cleaning Business

Start a cleaning business

cleaning lady

Check out the Cleaning Service Resources for free information on starting and running a cleaning service.

"If you use Emotion and Love to drive your sales and your business, you will create Loyalty Beyond Reason. And I promise you, you will build relationships and enjoy a business that exceeds beyond your wildest expectations".

My name is Patti Page. I own and operate a cleaning service. I would like to share what I have learned through the years in hopes of helping others who are thinking about starting their own cleaning service.

First of all, before you decide to start your cleaning business, make sure this kind of work is right for you. You will need to be in good physical condition. Cleaning is very hard strenuous work. You will need to have good customer relation skills. You will need to have basic office skills and some accounting skills.

If you are planning on leaving your full time position to start a cleaning business, make sure you have at least six months of savings. Or keep your full time job and start out part time.

Research all the aspects of the cleaning service business. From customer service to advertising, taxes, employees, insurance and bonding, what to charge and how to clean a home professionally. Cleaning your own home and cleaning professionally is totally different. Learning how to clean professionally takes a lot of time. When a client pays for your services they expect to come home and find their home spotless.

Getting those first clients takes time, persistence and patience. You won't get a hundred clients overnight.

Obtaining Those First Clients

The hardest part of starting your own cleaning service is obtaining those first clients. Most clients want to know how long you have been in business and want references. The best thing to do is let clients know that, yes, you are new to the business but that you have thoroughly researched all aspects of the cleaning business and assure them that you know what you are doing and that you are quite capable of cleaning their home to their specifications. Be confident. I can't stress this enough. Clients love to see confidence. It relieves their worries and lets them know that their home is in good hands.

References: To get a few good references when starting out, ask some friends or family members if you can clean their home for free or at a discounted rate. The sound of working for free may not be appealing but it will be worth it to get some good testimonials.

When cleaning those first homes, go for quality, not how fast you can clean the home. Cleaning efficiently takes a long time, but you will get to the point where you can do a thorough cleaning in a short time. After cleaning make sure you go back and double check all rooms to make sure you didn't miss anything. Impress those first clients and word of mouth will spread soon.

Advertising

Womanessity Women's Online Business Directory. Affordable business listings. Created for the purpose of connecting women in business with customers who are looking for their products and or services.

Your company image is everything. Before you start advertising, decide what image you want to portray on your advertising material. Your image is very important. Be consistent with all your advertising. If you have a logo be sure to use it on all your advertising materials. I think it is best to have a website developed before you start advertising. When advertising, stick with the same logo and colors.

Advertise in Local Paper: Start by running a text ad in your local newspaper. Try to come up with an eye catching ad. Don't sell your services on low rates, sell your services on your quality of work and what you can do for the client that other companies don't. There is a lot of competition in the cleaning service. You have to stand out from the rest.

Lettering for your Vehicle: Having your business name and contact information on your vehicle is a great way to advertise. The lettering looks much more professional than the magnetic signs.
Note* If you decide to use lettering on your vehicle, you will need a commercial auto policy.

Flyers: Free Cleaning Service Flyers and Gift Certificate Templates This is a good place to get free cleaning service flyers. Just click on the free download link, download to your computer and replace the text with your text. Hang flyers at Hair Dressers, Laundromats, Restaurants, Bakeries, Grocery Stores, etc. Put flyers on car windows at local groceries stores and businesses. You can even go door to door in neighborhoods you would like to work in. You cannot put them in mailboxes. but you can put them in the front door.

Door Hangers: Door hangers are a great way to get new clients. Pick the neighborhood you would like to work in and hang the door hangers on the doors. When people get flyers or ads in their mailbox they usually throw them away with the junk mail. But if there is a door hanger on the door they will take the time to look at it.

Business Cards: Start passing out your business cards to friends and family members. You can also ask your local businesses if you can leave some cards on their counters.

Referral Program: A great way to obtain new clients is through a referral program. Offer existing clients a discount when they refer a friend. You can give your existing clients a discount when the friend uses your services three times.

Website: These days people live very busy lives so they use the convenience of the internet to shop for the services they need. A lot of working women will shop for services while at work. We obtain 90% of our new clients from our website. Everyone who owns a business should have a website. It shows clients that you are serious about your business and allows them to research your company in their own time.

Free Cleaning Service Forms I wanted to share a link to a great website with free business forms for everyone that has a cleaning business. This site is filled with all kinds of business forms for cleaning services and other businesses. Just click on the forms you want and download them to your computer. http://www.atyourbusiness.com/forms.php

Equipment and Supply List for Professional Cleaning Services

I have been a Cleaning Service Owner since 1998 and have tried many different cleaning tools for home cleaning. Below is a list of the best tools I have found to professionally clean a home. I hope these resources are a benefit to your cleaning service.

Mops and Pads: We use and recommend the O'Cedar Hardwood Floors N More Mops and Pads. Microfiber is the purest clean you can get. You simply attach the pad to the mop end and when finished cleaning, remove the pad and wash and dry. The pads can be washed hundreds of times before needing to be replaced so they are well worth the cost. The best thing about the microfiber pads is you don't need a separate floor duster.

Brooms: The best brooms we have found are the Libman Professional or Wide Angled Brooms. They can be purchased at Home Depot or Kroger's.

Vacuums: The Shark Rotator Professional NV400 model is a good choice for Cleaning Services. It has Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology, a 30' power cord and swivel steering. Comes with 18" fixed crevice tool, dusting brush and premium power brush. The Shark Rotators are sold at different locations but Walmart has them for under $200.00.

Toilet Brushes: The Libman Angled Toilet Bowl Brush is the best we have found. It does a fantastic job of getting the grime from under the rim. The Libman Toilet Brush can be purchased at Kroger's or you can visit www.libman.com for a list of places that carry the Libman Products.

Cleaning Caddy's: Home Depot carries the best cleaning caddy's. They are large enough to hold all your cleaning supplies. These large caddy's are deep so it keeps your large bottles from tipping out.

Cleaning Cloths: Sam's Club carries the white cotton cleaning cloths in large packages of 60. They also carry the microfiber cleaning cloths.

Mold: Mix a little Tea Tree Essential Oil in a spray bottle with water and spray on area. Let sit for 30 minutes and rinse.

For getting crayon marks, scuff marks, etc. off of walls and doors, the Mr.Clean Magic Eraser is great. (not for use on wood surfaces such as cabinets and furniture)For cleaning inside Jacuzzi Jets and inside shower tracks the best tool is a good old toothbrush.

Note: Page's Personal Cleaning (Aromatherapy Naturals founder cleaning business) made the decision in 2006 to start using natural cleaning products with the added benefit of aromatherapy to clean her clients homes. By using all natural products, we can offer our clients a healthy cleaning experience and protect ourselves against harsh chemicals.

Tip: Always carry hand sanitizer and wash your hands often while cleaning homes. Wear gloves when cleaning bathrooms. You will be exposed to a lot of different germs in clients homes.

Remember most customers prefer that you bring your own cleaning supplies. That way they don’t have to worry about going to the store for cleaning supplies before you clean. Some customers have special cleaners for certain appliances or floors in their houses. These customers usually will have these cleaners on hand for you to use.

What to Charge

I mentioned earlier that you should sell your services on your quality of work and not your low rates. If your rates are too low, clients will think that your work is sub-standard and that you are not experienced. Also you want to attract the clients that can afford your services. I made the mistake of pricing my work too low when I first started out. Cleaning is hard work, charge what you are worth. As the old saying goes "You get what you pay for."

Some companies charge by the hour, some charge by the room, some charge a flat rate per home and some charge by the square foot. I always give a flat rate charge per home. I think it is better to charge by the home, not by the hour. If a client knows they have to pay one set fee, they don’t care if you take 2 hours or 5 hours. Also your clients will know what they are paying up front and won’t have to worry about added expenses.

No two houses are the same. And there is no set charge for all homes. You have to clean for awhile yourself to get some experience and to work out a system to clean efficiently. Only you know what you want and need to make. Decide what you need to make hourly to cover all expenses and still make a good profit.

A word of advise: Make sure when you start your company that you charge what you would charge if you had employees. Some people make the mistake of under charging when they start out just to get customers and then later on when they grow and need to hire help they aren't making enough money on their houses to pay help. Don’t under price your work. Cleaning homes is very hard physical work and you didn't get into this business to work for nothing.

New Construction Cleaning

If you decide to do this type of work you will need more equipment. You will need ladders, window cleaning kits with long extensions, a shop vac, etc. These types of jobs are usually 2 to 3 person jobs. New construction cleaning requires a lot more cleaning. You may have to remove stickers and labels from windows and bathroom showers, sinks and toilets. Some require that you clean the vents to remove dust from construction work. There will be ceiling fans to clean, scrubbing floors, and cleaning woodwork to remove dust. New construction cleaning rates depend on the area you live in. Normally they run from .12 cents per sq .ft. to .25 cents per sq .ft. depending on where you are located.
Here is a link to a very good article on How to Start a New Construction Cleaning Business 

Insurance and Bonding

You need to be an honest person and somewhat personable. People will need to trust you to be in their homes. Most clients are concerned about having someone new in their house, with good reason. You should be bonded and fully insured. Liability insurance rates depend on your insurance carrier and where you are located. Each person you hire will increase your liability insurance. It’s well worth the cost. You can pay quarterly or yearly. You can purchase your bond through your local insurance company. You will need to renew the bond every year. *Note: if you hire employees and cover them under your insurance, they must be an employee on payroll and not a sub-contractor. If you employ them as a sub-contractor your insurance will not cover them. If they are a sub-contractor they are required to carry their own insurance. Also, if you hire a sub-contractor your insurance company will need to see their certificate of insurance. If you are going to hire employees, you will need workers comp. Workers Comp rates vary depending on which state you are based in. It can run as much as 2500 to 3000 per year. If you are a new business most companies will require the full years payment in advance. You can obtain Workers Comp from your insurance carrier.
Here is a link to a website that has some general information about liability insurance and bonding. Note* For residential cleaning you should carry at least 1,000,000 in general liability insurance.

Business License

Do you need a license? It depends on the County you are going to be servicing. You should call the County you are going to be working in first to see if you need a license to operate in that county. You can also check to see if your state requires a license to operate at the Small Business Association. http://www.sba.gov/hotlist/license.html

Taxes

I have listed a few links that are very helpful with answering questions about taxes for your cleaning service business: starting a business and keeping records, deductions for your business, employee taxes and a very nice withholding calculator.

Small Business and Self Employed One Stop Resource. http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/

Business Taxes
Starting a Business and Keeping Records
Businesses with Employees
IRS Withholding Calculator

Introduction to Employee Taxes
http://www.womanowned.com/Growing/Employees/TaxIssues.aspx

Credit Cards

The easiest way to accept credit cards is through your website. PayPal offers credit card services with no set up and only 2.9 percent per transaction. Some clients will prefer to pay with a credit card. They simply sign on to your website and make the payment. The payment goes into your account immediately.

Gift Certificates

House cleaning gift certificates make great gifts for any occasion. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Housewarmings, Weddings, Baby Showers, Christmas and Valentines Day. I have a lot of requests for gift certificates around Christmas. If you have a website you can email the gift certificates to the recipient. I have a custom made gift certificate that I email to the buyers when they order. Always remember to keep a record of gift certificate sales. Some clients who receive gift certificates wait several months to use them.

Hiring Help

If you start out cleaning the homes by yourself, you will eventually get to the point where you need to expand your business. Start out with one part time employee. Train her and let her take your place one day a week. Then have her take your place 2 days a week and so on. This will give you the free time that you need to market your business and obtain more clients. After you get more clients you will be able to hire more part time help. Eventually you will be able to stop doing the cleaning yourself and just run the business end, which is the only way you will be able to grow your business. When training new employees, always, either train them yourself or have a lead person train them. Make sure there is a lead person on each and every cleaning job. Employees have a tendency to slack off when they are on their own.

Growing Your Business

You will eventually get to the point where you have enough employees and lead people and you will be able to stop working in your business and start running your business. You will find that after awhile it will get to be too much trying to clean everyday and at the same time giving estimates, answering calls, scheduling, doing book work, obtaining new clients, etc.

Add on Services

After you have been cleaning homes for awhile, you may decide to offer additional services to your cleaning company. There are so many services you can add:

Window Cleaning

Carpet Cleaning

Errand Services

Party Cleaning and Assistance

Real Estate Cleaning

New Construction Clean-Up

Organizing Services

Information on hiring and managing employees:
http://www.womanowned.com/Growing/Employees.aspx

Small Business Administration: This site has a wealth of information. Everything from starting a business to growing a business to subcontracting information.

Buzgate: Free Small Business Help.

BizFilings: Information on Business License and LLC's

Remember one of the most important qualifications for a cleaning service is TRUST. A client has to know they can trust you alone in their home. After you acquire a few cleaning positions ask the clients if you can use them for a reference. Most of the time they are more than willing to let you use them for a reference. This is how you build your business and acquire new clients is through referrals. Be dependable. Most clients will want to be set up on an every week or every other week schedule on the same day of the week. Try to always keep this same schedule unless the client asks you to switch to another day. If you have to cancel a cleaning date, make sure you try to reschedule at the earliest possible date to make up the cleaning.

The Pro and Cons of Running a House Cleaning Business

Let's start with the Pros

Great income potential

Flexible hours

Big demand for professional house cleaners

Work close to home

Your the boss

You choose who you want to work for (most of the time)

Paid daily

No nights

Now the Cons

Cleaning is hard physical work

You are exposed to a lot of germs on a daily basis

Cleaning toilets is not the most respectable job

Good employees are few and far between

You can't depend on a certain salary every week

Copyright © 2014 Page's Personal Cleaning. All rights reserved.
You may use this article in full provided you include the bio below.

Author: Patti Page. 


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