How to Start a Cleaning Business From Home - ToughNickel - Money
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How to Start a Cleaning Business From Home

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Megan has been writing on all kinds of topics since 2012. Her main interests include alternative medicine, running, gardening, and her kids.

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If you have ever thought about quitting your day job, and working from home, you have probably thought about starting a business. Starting a cleaning business is a great way for a stay at home mom, or any mom, to make good money, and spend more time with their children once it's up and running.

Being a small business owner can have huge perks! You work for yourself; no one to answer to. You decide how much you want to work and whether to be involved in the actual hands-on work. Cleaning businesses specifically, make it easy to build up and then work behind the scenes. But, you can just as easily jump in and get your hands dirty too. It's all about what YOU want to do.

The trick to starting a cleaning business, or any business, is getting together a business plan. This post will help you look at all the different parts before you get started. I'll show you what choices you have, how to get that first client, and how to make it a success. If your going to do it, you have to start right. You can't just haphazardly decide to do something like start a business or it might be over before it starts.

Start a Cleaning Business From Scratch or Buy a Franchise

Before you start making any plans, you need to decide if you want to build a business from the bottom up. This means that you will start with nothing and build your name, brand, recognition, marketing, promotions, etc. Another option is to buy into a franchise. Whether you want to do residential cleaning, commercial cleaning, or something else; there is probably a franchise opportunity out there. The big difference between the two is your start-up cost, the amount of help you will receive as a start-up business.

What is a Franchise?

The right or license granted by a company to an individual or group to market its products or services in a specific territory. -Dictionary.com

A franchise is a smaller piece of a bigger company. As a franchise owner, the business is yours. But, you do business in a set way that has been dictated by some head honcho. You pay that company a certain fee to get started, and royalties on your profit every month.

Basically, you find a company that has gotten big. Think about those huge names companies that exist around the world. 7-Eleven, Subways, and Little Caesars; these are all franchises. For the most part, each has it's own "owner".

The Perks of Starting a Cleaning Franchise

With a franchise, there are certain things you get automatically that take much longer to establish in a start-from-scratch business.

  • A brand identification
  • A successful method of doing business
  • A proven marketing and distribution system

The Downside to Franchising

  • Less freedom
  • Higher start-up costs
  • Royalty payments

Popular Cleaning Business Franchises

If your thinking about starting your own residential cleaning business, these will probably be some of your competition:

  • MaidPro
  • Maid Brigade
  • Merry Maids
  • Molly Maid

Start-up costs for the franchises listed about are anywhere from $42k - $131k.

*For more information on the average start-up costs of these and other cleaning franchises, check out Entrepreneur.com.

Create a Business Plan

Before starting a business, it's a good idea to create a business plan. I can tell you that I didn't actually write or type one up. But, I created one in my mind before I got started.

Cleaning service business plans typically address the following:

  • Summary, Objective, and Mission. What is your company about? If your mom was to ask you what your business does, what would you tell her?
  • Ownership. Who will own your company? Will you be building your business with a group, partner, or alone? This is where the terms sole-proprietorship, corporation, LLC, and partnership come into play.
  • Start-up Summary. What costs are you going to face and how do you plane on financing them? Will you get a loan? Expand slowly and reinvest profits? What equipment are you going to need for the specific services you offer?
  • Services. What are you going to offer to your clients/customers? Are you going to do strictly residential cleaning? Are you open to doing janitorial work or foreclosure cleanings? What will you actually provide during your cleanings? Will you include the outside of windows in your residential packages? People will be asking you these questions, and you will need to know how to answer them.
  • Market Analysis, Market Segmentation, and Target Market Strategy. What kind of people will be interested in your services? What part of your local population falls into that market? If you had to narrow it down, and explain your ideal customer, who would it be? That becomes extremely important when it comes to advertising and promotion. Finally, how are you going to get those specific customers? If your target market consists of 50-year-old homeowners, your should bother with advertising in an apartment complex by a college.
  • Competition. Who are the big names out there that you will be competing with for business. Check them out. Find them on Facebook, Twitter, their website, etc. What are they doing that you think works? What are they doing that you hadn't thought about?
  • Competitive edge. What makes your business different? Why are people going to come to you, a brand new business, over the ones that have been around for a decade?
  • Milestones & Goals. What are your goals for the business? When do you want to have gained a certain amount of business? How big do you want to get? Is your goal global domination, or to be the best dang local cleaning business?
  • Management Summary. Will you hire someone to be an office manager? Are you going to be directly involved with the day-to-day operation and cleaning? Will you back off and head to the office once you have the clientele, and employees to do so?
  • Personnel Plan. Do you plan on hiring others to work for you? How much will you pay them? What kind of training will you provide, and for how long? How many clients do you need to have to provide enough work for a specific number of full-time employees?
  • Financial Plan. How are you going to handle your finances and accounting? Will you hire an accountant or do it yourself? Are you going to open a business checking account, take out a loan, or borrow money from grandma?
  • Break Even Analysis. When will you make enough money to cover the costs of getting started? How many cleanings, and how long will it take to get there? Is that amount of time reasonable for you?

If your just getting started, check out some of these free sample business plans. They can really get you thinking, and help spur some great ideas. I know they did with me.

Getting Legal

Before you start providing any services, you need to make sure that you are legally allowed to be operating a business out of your home, and in that county. Depending on your county and state, you may have to pay taxes, and licensing fees.

My process went as follows:

  1. Register Doing Business As (DBA) name. This is necessary if you're not doing business under your own legal name. My company is called "Maid on the Gulf". Therefore, I had to submit paperwork saying that I am a sole-proprietorship and operating my business as " Maid on the Gulf". You may also hear this referred to as registering your "fictitious name".
    • My Cost: $50
  2. Register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. If you plan on, eventually, hiring someone to work for you, you will be required to get an EIN. I figured, I might as well just get it right off the bat. This way I didn't have to fool with it once I was ready to hire someone. You can actually apply for this online and it is really quick. Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) Online Here.
    • My Cost: FREE
  3. Pay Local Business License Tax. Every county and state is different. So, make sure you check with your county tax collector to find out what process you have to do for your type of business. Because my business is outside any incorporated city limits, I didn't have to do anything more than pay my county. But, if you live within the city and your business is home-based, you will need to talk to the city tax office as well. However, even if you live outside of the city limits, you need to check on the requirements for any city you plan to service. Ifyouprovide services within the city limits, you will still have to fill out forms and pay them as well.
    • My Cost: $50

More information: Obtain Business Licenses & Permits.

Accounting For Your Money

Before your business even starts making money, you need to know how you are going to handle it. I'm using Intuit Quickbooks Online to make it easier for me. But, I also have a degree in business & accounting. If tracking numbers and money is not your forte, I suggest going to an accountant or bookkeeper when tax time rolls around. However, Quickbooks is great for everyday business bookkeeping for anyone.

You will also need to decide which accounting method you will be using when it comes to tax time. The two main ones are: cash and accrual. They are both named for when the money gets counted.

Cash-basis accounting is a method of bookkeeping that records financial events based on cash flows and cash position. Revenue is recognized when cash is received and expense is recognized when cash is paid.

Accrual-basis accounting records financial events based on events that change your net worth (the amount owed to you less the amount you owe others). Standard practice is to record and recognize revenues and expenses in the period which they incur.

-SmallBusiness.com

I prefer the cash method because it tells me what I have, and what I have already paid. I don't like counting things that haven't yet happened. But, it is up to you which method you choose.

Setting Prices For Your Cleaning Business

Most cleaning businesses, like mine, offer 2 main options for residential cleaning. One is a basic clean. This is your typical weekly or bi-weekly cleaning. The other is a deep clean. Deep cleans are usually offered to one time customers, or for the first time you clean a new regular client's house.

Think about what you will offer in each package and then compare to the average in your area. Remember, you will want to specify that the price is determined by the size of the house and the number of rooms. When you have someone call about a quote, make sure you write down any relevant information that will determine how easy/difficult the cleaning will be.

Things to consider before giving a quote:

  • Home size in square feet.
  • Pets. How many, what type, and do they shed?
  • Cleaning frequency. How often do they want cleaning services? The more often, like weekly, allows you to get it done faster and charge a little less.
  • Number of bathrooms, bedrooms, and kitchens (yes, some houses have more than one kitchen)
  • How clean their house is already. Do they have 10 kids and work all the time? When was the last time they had a cleaning service come in?
  • Additional requests. Do they want their oven and refrigerator cleaned? Most companies offer this as an add-on service.

Call some of the competition and get a cleaning quote for your own house just to see how the process works. This also gives you somewhere to start. Many cleaning businesses base their quotes rate on how much they charge per hour. If a house sounds like it will take 4 hours to clean, and they charge $30/hr, they quote $120.

The first client I ever had was a 1950 sq. ft. house, 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 kitchen, a dining room, living room, and family room. There were 2 adults, a toddler, and 2 fuzzy dogs living there. She requested service every 2 weeks and told me her last professional cleaning was about 2 months before and she had done the upkeep herself.

I did a walk through to give her a quote and found the house to be pretty well kept. I quotes her $150 for the initial cleaning and $125 for each after that. The initial took me a hair under 5 hours. This means I made my goal of $30/hr.

Cleaning Business Supplies

Think about the services you plan to offer and the cleaning supplies you will need to get the job done.

Cleaning Supplies Checklist:

  • Vacuum
  • Mop
  • Mop Bucket
  • Broom & Dustpan
  • Microfiber Cloths
  • Furniture Polish and/or Dusting Spray
  • Trash Can Liners
  • Baking Soda
  • Oven Cleaner
  • Soft Scrub
  • Air Freshener
  • Glass Cleaner
  • All Purpose Cleaner
  • Bleach
  • Metal Polish
  • Floor Cleaner

Office Supplies Needed:

  • Pens
  • Notbook
  • Post-its
  • Computer/Tablet- I use my Samsung Galaxy 10in. tablet for so much; Calendar, contacts, bookkeeping, taking payments, taking notes, etc. It goes with me to every house.
  • All-in-One Printer
  • Printer Paper
  • Printer Ink

For your new business, this is enough. If you want a more inclusive office supplies list, Staples has a great one.

How to Find New Clients

Finding new clients is often the hardest part of any new business. You already have this great idea, product, or service. But, no one is buying it. You have to actively search out new clients. They are never going to know you exist if you don't.

Looking Professional

If you want to be taken seriously as a business, you NEED to have a website. It doesn't have to be anything fancy; just a couple of pages that look clean and organized.

Pages to include on your business website:

  • About
  • Contact
  • Services
  • Reviews

Advertising Your Cleaning Business

Make sure that you get business cards done and give them to everyone. You never know when they might run into someone that needs your services, and hand your card to them. Make sure it has your name, your business name, a phone number, e-mail (at least).

Design a logo for your business and get a shirt made for you to were when you clean. This makes you look more professional and gives you advertising everywhere you go wearing it. Also, use that logo and get some magnets made for you vehicle, or get decals made for your window. Make sure it has the business name and phone number.

One of the first places you should start advertising is the internet. Everyone looks thinks up online before they call the business. A basic listing on things like Yelp, Angie's List, Yellow-pages, etc. are all free. You just have to take the time to submit your business to each other these or pay someone to do it for you. My first ever client actually found me on Angie's List.

Read More: Local SEO Checklist for Small Business

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is huge now! Small local businesses are actually the best ones to take social media and run with it. Being active on social media also helps your business website do better. You can read more about that on WooRank.

There are 4 main social media networks your business needs to be on:

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. Pinterest
  4. Google +

Once you are on social media with your business, you can use it to get your name out there. Ask all of your friends and family to like and share your page. Also, you can run a deal; if they like and share, they are entered to win a free cleaning. Be creative and start networking!

By the time you have gotten through this whole post, and implemented all the strategies, you should have your first client. Now, go out and find more, and keep growing! Congratulations and good luck in the future. If you have any questions, please e-mail me or leave them in the comments below. Don't forget to bookmark this page and share it with your business minded friends. They just might want to go into business with you!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 Megan Dodd