There are people who are exceptionally skilled in cleaning so well that they could start their own house-cleaning business. Truth be told, the home-cleaning business is becoming one of the hottest topics today.
Not only is it in the center of attention these days, but it is one of the easiest home-based businesses to start. The major advantage is that it requires minimum start-up funds. You typically use your clients’ cleaning supplies, and out-of-pocket expenses will be light. If you are ready to start a house-cleaning service, below are a few steps to ensure your new business is a success.
Figure out Your Game Plan
Decide whether you want a side business to generate extra cash each month or if you want a full-time, house-cleaning business. For years, people have been successfully using house-cleaning work as a part-time way to make extra cash. If you are looking for a small gig on the side, start out with one or two clients to service each week. A brief cleaning may offer the basics: dusting, vacuuming and mopping.
If you decide to make it your full-time job, your house-cleaning business can offer a more in-depth cleaning in addition to the standard dusting and vacuuming. A list of extras include: blind cleaning, window washing, polishing silver and mildew removal. The additional items will require more time at each job, and the rate should reflect this.
Whether you run a part-time or full-time business, you will have to accurately predict how much time it will take you to complete each home. It is best if you have a standard set of services to offer, making your time calculation easier.
Research the Competition
The next thing you need to do is research the market. What is the going rate for housecleaning services in your area? Do you want to charge the going rate or come in a little lower? Your first instinct might be to come in lower to draw business, but be cautious. While the start-up costs for the cleaning business are low, you be driving to each location and the cost of gas is significant, not to mention your time.
Which days you are willing to work? If it is part-time, you may only offer Saturday morning cleaning or one evening a week. If you are doing housecleaning as a full-time job, you may still be able to have weekends off if you could do all your cleaning during the week. Most of your clients will probably want you to clean their house while they are at work.
Though it is an obvious suggestion to research the competition, many people skip this step. Look online at cleaning businesses. Call them and ask questions regarding price, services offered, time spent cleaning and transportation. Check with office buildings in the area to learn the cleaning companies they use and confirm if you can offer a lower price.
Set Your Boundaries
Long before your first job, know how far you are willing to travel for work. If you only serve a certain area, keep that in mind when accepting new clients.
In your enthusiasm for more work, you may agree to jobs that cost too much time (and gas) getting to. Or, if you are willing to spend more time on the road, agree to come out if the customer can refer you to two more clients in the same area. At least you can get a day’s work in at the location. Setting these boundaries early will keep more money in your pocket.
Think about the conditions you are willing to work in and those you are not. Will the owner will be home or at work? Do you need a code to enter the building?
Market and Advertise
Now you can decide on your marketing strategy. Instead of offering general housecleaning, you can specialize in an area like pre- or post-party cleaning. Team up with local real estate agents in your area who can recommend you to sellers. They will want their homes in tip-top shape prior to a showing. Contact local builders and offer your services to clean new homes. You can send individual emails mentioning your availability, create flyers or mail postcards.
Also, if you are web savvy, you can start a website for your housecleaning business. It can list the services you provide, the areas you will service, the discounts you will offer and contact information. When you get business cards made, list your website so customers can look you up and email you with questions. Put an ad in your local paper with instructions to see your website for more information.
This is the area where you will invest most of your start-up money. Advertising is expensive, but necessary. Even if you decide to just make flyers at home to hang on local bulletin boards, you have to factor in the expense of the ink, paper and photocopying.
Professional advertising can also include yellow page ads and direct mail. Yellow page ads can be quite pricey, but they do work, especially for those who don’t use the Internet. If direct mail is out of your budget, have a brochure professionally printed and canvas neighborhoods.
Obtain a License
Check with your state regarding licensing. A professional cleaning service will need to be registered with the state. Information and forms can be found on your state’s Department of Commerce website.
Insurance is also a consideration. Insurance can protect you in the event you should damage or break and expensive piece of decor at a client’s home. Clients will be reassured if you tell them that you are both licensed and insured. You may also have to change your automobile policy for business if you plan to shuttle around other cleaners to their jobsites.
Consult with an Accountant
If you are going to do housecleaning as a full-time profession, you should consult with an accountant to determine the tax implications for your family.
If you have established a large client base, you may need to become a sole proprietorship or even incorporate to save yourself from heavy taxation. Plus, if you should ever need to hire someone it will be easier to report the taxes you withhold and remit. Never underestimate how fast your business will grow. Before you know, it you could need one or two employees. Hence, It is good to be prepared.
Expand Your Network
You should give consideration to joining your local Chamber of Commerce or Lions Club. These organizations will give you a chance to network, plus, you never know where a business lead will come from.
Be open to exchanging services with other professionals. You could clean the local print shop in exchange for discounted or free flyers. You also may be able to receive discounted insurance rates for being part of one of these organizations. Don’t forget to join your community’s small business owners’ association, if they have one.