Becoming a housekeeper sounds simple. You apply to housekeeping jobs on sites like Care.com and slowly start to build a group of clients who pay you to clean their houses. But if you want to make a good living in this career, you need to start thinking about starting a cleaning business.
Setting up a small business can be a daunting challenge and most people don’t know where to start. There are start-up costs, business licenses, advertising, etc. — all before doing any actual cleaning.
Here are eleven tried-and tested tips for starting a cleaning business of your own:
If you have a family, your small business will likely begin by discussing with family members the impact starting a business will have on your family. Other questions you’ll have to answer include:
- Will you do it all yourself or hire employees?
- Is this a part-time or full-time business?
- Do you want to hire strangers or work with family and friends?
- How many staff/employees will you need?
- What will your role be: worker or manager?
- Do you have business skills, or does anyone involved have experience or training to run a business?
- How will payroll work?
- How much do you think you will be able to pay your workers and yourself?
Go to school
When it comes to starting a cleaning business successfully, you’re going to need to know all the details and specifics of running your own business. Regulations tend to vary depending on your area, so make sure you attend classes near you to brush up. You’ll be able to find them at local community centres, small business organisations or even a community.
Name for your business
Choosing a name can be tricky — look for something interesting and catchy to draw the interest of prospective clients. Before you even begin brainstorming, you’ll have to pinpoint your focus: Will you clean homes or serve corporate clients? This could affect your name. Search for other housekeepers and cleaning companies near you, to make sure that no one already has your prospective name and that yours stands out.
Hone your skills
You may want to think twice about starting a cleaning business if you haven’t touched a vacuum in two years, or you’ve only cleaned your own home. This is a business and clients will expect expertise. Get practice by offering to clean the homes of friends and family. Practice techniques such as spot or pet-stain removal, polishing chrome or silver, oven cleaning, floor polishing or treating furniture. Experiment with different cleaning products and equipment to find the most cost-effective and efficient methods.
Procure a company vehicle
Outfit a business van or car with professional signage, including your company name, colours, logo and phone number, plus the fact you are insured, licensed and bonded. Using an outfitted van to create an easily recognisable and memorable brand will provides successful outreach to prospective clients.
Create a budget
Slow growth and budgeting is of great importance. Determine all the costs associated with your business and allocate how much money, resources and time you have to dedicate to each. For example, insurance and transportation are costs that must be considered, in addition to supplies, labour and advertising. Always be on the lookout for ways to save. Purchase cost-effective cleaning equipment that can multitask, such as a steam cleaner that can remove gum, eliminate allergens and act as a wet and dry vacuum.
Investing in accounting software can help you manage your appointments, payroll issues, expenses and income. Spreadsheets, for instance are very useful for keeping a checklist for each client and their cleaning expectations.
Determine how much to charge
Deciding the price of your services goes and-in-hand with creating a budget. Once you figure out your costs, you know how much money you need to bring in. Balance the number of clients you need with how much you charge in order to make your budget work. Also research other local cleaning companies to see what they’re charging.
Get a business license
The process of getting business licences is relatively painless: you will generally be able to obtain them from you city’s government office. However it’s important to know exactly which licences you need to avoid financial penalties from the Revenue Agency later on. Visit the Government of Canada website for more information about the licences you will need for your specific business.
Having a business licence enables you to buy cleaning products at much cheaper prices from wholesale suppliers – another incentive to getting it sorted as early as possible.
The key to success when starting a cleaning business is customers. You need to make sure people know about your services. Let everyone you can think of know you started a cleaning company, from friends to the cashier at the supermarket. Build a basic website to provide prospective clients with information (try free and simple website creators like Weebly, WordPress and Google Sites. Create a profile on Care.com that talks about what you offer.
Build relationships with your clients
To build your client base and help your company grow, you need to make sure that your service is not only efficient, but also memorable and slightly different. Build a relationship with your clients to keep them coming back, and to help word spread. For instance, you could consider adding a personal touch to your cleaning, such as leaving chocolates on their bed pillows, or leaving a small vase of fresh flowers on the table.
Balance your time
If you’re lucky, you may build up a client base very quickly. However, make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew. You need to be able to balance your time and workforce effectively to provide the best possible service for all of your clients.
Above all, do your research before starting any business and determine if you truly are suited to run your own enterprise. Times may get tough. It’s a competitive marketplace and you need a solid business plan to succeed.
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