How to start a cleaning business in 20 steps
If you are looking to start a business, one of the easiest business to get into is a cleaning business. The barriers to entry are very low which means that the cost of starting a cleaning business is quite low. You can literally start a cleaning company in a matter of days.
If I were to start a cleaning business today, these are the 20 steps that I would follow and focus on:
- Come up with a business name and register a domain
Initially, the first step is to come up with a name for the cleaning business. It is important to come up with a name which people can remember as repeat customers are very important. Come up with a name that is easy to remember, and is not too long. There are many websites which generates names for you such as: https://businessnamegenerator.com/ which will help you to narrow down to the name that you want.
Once you come up with the name, make sure that you double check with the government business registry whether the name is already register or not. In Australia you can check the name of the business on ASICS and can look up ( https://abr.business.gov.au/ )which will help you to understand if the business name is already registered or not.
It is important to come up with a name which does not relate to other business names as you may face issues in the future from copying their name, etc so make sure you double check that you are not using or copying another company’s business name through these government registries.
- Register ABN & business name
In Australia, you have to initially register for an Australian Business Number or ABN. Registration of an ABN is free of charge on: https://www.abr.gov.au/business-super-funds-charities/applying-abn There are many companies that charge for creating an ABN which I do not recommend as you can do it very easily by following the steps and answering the questions on the website provided.
Once you come up with an ABN, you have to register your business name with the business registry in ASICS. In Australia, the business registry is ASICS. The charges are $37 for one year or $87 for 3 years
Once you register the business name, you have all the rights to the name and no other person or company can copy your name legally.
- Register a Company
Next step would be to decide the structure of the business. You can decide on whether it would be a sole trader, partnership, Pty Ltd company, etc. To get the best business structure advice, you should consult a financial expert.
My personal recommendation would be to register a Pty Ltd Company from the start as there are a lot of benefits from registering for a Company.
The liabilities are limited to the company while a Sole trader has unlimited liabilities. What an unlimited liability means is that should you be unable to fulfil your debt, the debt collectors can go after all your personal assets such as your home, etc as well. However, when you register a company, the liabilities are limited and a debt collector can only go after the assets of the company.
- Decide which cleaning services you will offer
It is important to focus on a few cleaning services at first rather than trying to be a complete cleaning solution for all the clients. First you need to specialize in one area and then move onto the next cleaning service.
When you try to be a complete cleaning solution, you have to train for a longer period and the initial capital cost is higher. But when you focus on one or two cleaning services, the initial cost will be lower and as the cash flow from these services increase, you can easily focus on other cleaning services.
There are different types of cleaning services you can offer such as: office cleaning, commercial cleaning, house cleaning, window cleaning, carpet steam cleaning, tile & grout cleaning, pressure cleaning, etc. Decide on one or two services, and then do your best to provide the best quality service for your clients so that they recommend your service to more people.
- Buy the cleaning equipment and products
As mentioned before, the initial cost of buying the cleaning equipment/products are very low. You can start a cleaning company by buying a commercial vacuum, mop and mop wringer, microfibre cloths, toilet brush and cleaning chemicals.
However if you get into more specialized services such as carpet steam cleaning, pressure cleaning, the costs are higher as these equipment are quite expensive. These bigger equipment also means that you will require a commercial vehicles to carry them which adds to the initial cost.
- Get the business liability insurance
Business liability insurance is essential and a must when starting a cleaning business. As you start a cleaning business, there are many mistakes that you may make, so it is important to have the safety of a business liability insurance.
Also, when you get hired for regular cleaning services by companies, they will request a business liability insurance to ensure that they are giving their office or commercial premises to a company that has the cover of an insurance should they ever require it.
There are many things that could go wrong such as cleaners losing keys, alarm not being setup by the cleaners when leaving after a clean, etc. And a business liability insurance would help you if such problems arise.
- Come up with a business plan
A business plan is a very important part of starting a cleaning business. You should know where you are heading towards and what you need to accomplish for the year to understand you are going in the right direction.
When you do not have a business plan or goals setup for the year, you are pretty much going blind in different directions which is not good for a company. When running a business, it is important to be fully focused on your goals as there will be a lot of obstacles you will face on your way and the business plan will be a guidance which helps you to go in the right direction.
Also, many individuals feel unfulfilled when they do not have goals set up for the year. As the company grows, you tend to forget where you were at in the start and how far you have come. When goals are setup, it will always remind you of how far you have come.
- ADVERTISING AND MARKETING!!
In my opinion, this is the MOST important aspect of your business. You can be the greatest cleaner in the country but if you do not advertise your services, no one will ever know that you are the greatest cleaner. I work with so many companies that understand specialized cleaning services much better than me, but they are struggling to find work because they do not advertise their work. Our cleaning company has a much more consistent stream of work on specialized cleaning services than the other companies solely due to advertising and the quality of the service we provide.
Advertising your business is the only way you can grow your service. Word of mouth is great, but it takes a very long time to build your business only from word of mouth. In my opinion, Google is the best place to advertise as everyone searches for cleaners on Google whenever they need a cleaning service.
If you can reach potential clients and have a great value proposition, you are going to always get a good stream of jobs. This is where I can help you. To reach the potential eyeballs!
- Get a Business Mobile or Landline Number
It is important to have a different number for your business and your personal life. This will help you to answer calls from your potential clients professionally when you receive calls on your business number.
It also helps to have a 1300 or 1800 number as this type of number showcases your business to be bigger than you actually are. At the end of the day, people trust bigger companies and a landline number such as 1300 number helps to showcase your business to be large even when it actually is not. I personally use a service named evoice, where I got the 1300 number. And all calls made to this number will divert directly to your mobile number which makes it very convenient.
- Get a Virtual Office Address or Office
This is not a must but a virtual office address makes your potential clients think that you are bigger than you actually are. At the end of the day, trust is the most important thing to easily close leads. A virtual office address or business landline number helps to create that trust.
When a potential client lands on your business website, they will check your offer, the reviews you have on trusted sources, address, mobile number, etc. All of this adds up. It is important to note that a virtual office is not a must as I only got one very recently myself.
- Create a Website
A website is your real-estate. This is where you show your work, what you offer, the reviews, etc. If you do not have a good website, no one will trust your brands. Think about it, when you are looking to hire a company to carry out any type of work whether it is painting, plumbing, etc, you usually check their website and the reviews the company has before hiring them. If a company has great reviews and a really good website, it makes it very easy for you to make that decision of hiring them. It may require a large initial cost to make a good website, however the benefits of having a great website will cover the initial cost in the long run.
- Train yourself
In my opinion, it is not a must to have a lot of training & certifications to provide a basic cleaning service. It is a plus to have these certifications and training, however in my opinion, a basic training will get the job done. Most of us will understand how to carry out a basic cleaning service.
I did not train a lot when I started the cleaning service but I had a good team of cleaners who understood what they were doing which made the job very easy for me. Most of the stuff I learnt was on the job from looking at how my cleaners worked. If you know how to manage both your business and your cleaners well, you will do great.
However, if you are going to provide a specialized cleaning service such as carpet steam cleaning, tile & grout cleaning, etc, I would definitely recommend training yourself as there are lot of different products and chemicals that you have to use for different stains, floor types, carpet types, etc and without the right knowledge, you will make a lot of mistakes.
- Focus on delivering a world class customer service
As you know, there are hundreds and thousands of cleaners and cleaning companies. The main way to differentiate yourself is by providing a great customer service. If you are able to provide a world class customer service at a competitive pricing, you will have a lot of work come your way.
Be punctual for your bookings, explain the customer what you will be doing, agree on a pricing so that the customer is not shocked when you bill them, and follow up with your clients to ensure that they were happy with the cleaning service provided. These are few things you can do to ensure that you provide a great customer service.
Always focus on your customer and think about how you can provide a better service than your competition. Come up with different solutions such as GPS tracking cleaners to ensure that they are carrying out the cleaning service for the agreed period of time, setup communication books at offices, etc.
- Create social media pages
It is important to have social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, etc and to also maintain them. I am a culprit myself of not posting regularly enough on these platforms as these platforms are a great way people find you. There are apps through which you can schedule posts such as “Later” which I have used quite efficiently.
- Get reviews on Google & Facebook
Always try to get a review from every client. It is not something that happens every time however if you are persistent, you will have a greater number of reviews on your Google profile or Facebook page.
When potential customers want to hire, the first thing they do is search your company name on Google or Facebook and check if you have reviews from previous cleaning services that you provided. If you do have great reviews and a lot of them, then they will definitely hire you for the cleaning service without a doubt. But if you have bad reviews or no reviews at all, there is a good chance that you will not be hired for the cleaning service.
- Register your business in local classified websites
It is free to put your website on classified websites and this helps link building. We have had a lot of jobs come through these websites without a lot of effort being put to it and it is good to register in these websites such as Reddit, Gumtree, Yellowpages, etc
Pricing is a very important aspect when it comes to acquiring cleaning jobs. I believe in being price competitive at the start so that more people will choose you over your competition.
There are two options of pricing where you either price higher and do lesser jobs or price competitively and get more jobs. I prefer pricing competitively so that we have more work.
You can either charge on an hourly basis, square meter basis or per job pricing. I use the hourly rate for general cleaning services, square meter pricing for carpet, tile & grout service and per job pricing for window cleaning, etc.
It is essential to come up with an easy pricing system so that customers will enquire only if you are within their price range. If you mention the pricing from the start, you would have a better success rate with closing leads and be wasting less time going for unsuccessful quotes.
- Create a cashflow from regular cleaning services
Having a good cash flow every week helps you grow your cleaning company very quickly and the best way to do this is by having clients that gets the cleaning service done regularly, every single week. With this in mind, the best cleaning service to target is for regular office or regular house cleaning services where it is done every week. One off specialized cleaning services such as window and carpet cleaning is also great.
However, regular house & office cleaning services occur every week which helps to build your cash flow. Once you are guaranteed that every week you are going to get X amount of dollars from regular cleaning services, you can further invest in the business by marketing more or by buying more equipment, etc.
- Have a uniform and marketing material
It is important to have all your cleaners uniformed as it helps to build your brand. Handing over a business card, leaflet, etc after every clean help to bring in repeat customers.
Having leaflets printed with a portfolio of services you provide will help you to upsell your other cleaning services and get more sales/revenue per customer.
Signage on your vehicles showcasing your services is another great way to market to potential customers.
- Provide consistent service & follow up with clients
There is nothing better than ensuring that your service is consistent and to continuously follow up with your clients to assure that they are happy with everything. Communication is key to ensuring that long term customers always stay happy.
There maybe times when you or the cleaners miss some of the tasks when you regularly clean offices or houses and a regular feedback from your clients help to ensure that your customers stick with you long term. It also shows that you care about them and it is important to at least follow up once or twice a month.
Regular inspection of offices and houses is a great way to ensure that the cleaners are providing a great service.
If you have any questions, regarding anything cleaning related, please reach out to me below, on email or social media. I am always happy to answer all of your questions and assist you in building a successful cleaning company.