This article is part of our “Starting Business” series, an in-depth look at how to start a company in a particular niche or industry.
Let's be honest: in the modern world, many households lack the will, time and inclination to spend an entire evening or weekend cleaning up their humble abodes. This isn't down to a lack of pride, either; our lives are ever busier and finding the time to crack out the Lysol wipes is a premium few of us can afford.
The good news is that, for these very reasons, housekeeping services are in massive demand. And, while such ventures typically take a backseat during economic downturns, flexible businesses prove that they can endure and adapt to any type of market.
Starting a Housekeeping Business
Therefore, a house cleaning service is probably one of the best ventures an aspiring entrepreneur can pursue, since it requires very little investment to start. Supplies, a vehicle and elbow grease: there are not too many capital expenditures for this kind of company, whether to begin with or even in the future.
So, is it time to earn a living by putting on latex gloves and scrubbing toilets? After all, if you do this for your residence, then why not turn it into a profitable corporation? To help get you started, we have compiled an extensive, step-by-step breakdown on how to start a housekeeping business.
These are the steps you need to follow:
Step 1: Conduct Market Research
It is said that superb service often goes unnoticed for years. However, one bad job (you missed a spot!) could immediately lead to the termination of a contract. Remember, the market is full of competition – in the United States alone, for instance, around 900,000 cleaning companies are employing approximately 3.5 million people, with the industry generating tens of billions of dollars in revenue every year. As a result, the consumer has the advantage in this realm.
In a normal market, experts would say that an entrepreneur would be better off buying a franchise. However, during economic uncertainty, it might be better to be independent so you can establish your rates, offer unique services, and do what you can to attract and retain clients.
Ultimately, the more you do – from junk removal to blinds cleaning to upholstery restoration – the more appealing you will be to interested prospects.
Step 2: Conduct Company Research
Following an intensive look into the cleaning industry – and the relative state of your local economy – the next step is to look inward and consider the many aspects of owning and operating a company. This is particularly true when you are starting out, since there are several factors to consider when getting the ball rolling:
If you already possess an automobile, then most of your asset expenditure is already covered. However, if you need to purchase one, then a loan may be necessary. Outside of that, your primary expenses will be supplies and equipment, which will not require an exorbitant amount of startup funding.
While cleaning a house or an office may not seem too difficult, some aspects require technical expertise. This is especially true if you are providing a diverse array of services that go beyond wiping down a bathtub and declogging a sink full of hair, such as carpet cleaning, or cleaning contracts in hygiene-sensitive environments, such as hospitals.
If you are planning to franchise, then much of your networking will already be done for you. If you are starting independently, however, then your contact book will likely prove crucial in getting things moving and securing your first clients. Ask family, friends and previous colleagues if they will give your company a chance at their place of work.
As mentioned, your main resources will consist of a reliable vehicle, cleaning supplies and equipment. If you are offering specialist services, then you may need some additional tools at your disposal. For the most part, though, you can get started with the same basic goods that you use at home.
Licensing / Legal
We will get into the details of commercial insurance later on, but for now, it is important to become acquainted with the fact that having insurance is critical for any cleaning service. It is pertinent to possess insurance since you are performing tasks at various locations outside your office.
By concentrating on these five points, you can move ahead with your business with confidence.
Step 3: Prepare Business Documentation
For an established and proven product such as a cleaning service, it is important to create a business plan. From managing cash flow to marketing your company to future outlooks, this plan will serve as a blueprint and a roadmap for your company.
Within the plan, you need to establish who your target market will be and define your end goal; ask yourself:
- Will you be focusing on upper-class households or providing an on-demand service for two-income households?
- Will your company be home-based?
- What are your short, medium and long-term objectives?
- What makes you unique from your industry rivals?
- What are your revenue projections?
A key part of defining your goals is your mission statement – the reason why your company exists. If there are dozens of other comparable cleaning firms in your city, what makes you different? You can also include a vision statement, too, which identifies your company's values and the way you want to manage your organisation.
Step 4: Brand Your Company
Essentially, branding is how consumers identify your business. By homing in on a brand strategy, you can differentiate yourself with a unique style, an incomparable tone, and an unmatched reputation. You might think it is hard to execute a branding blitzkrieg for something as mundane as housekeeping, but it is a lot easier than you may initially believe. It can even be fun, too.
Your name, your aesthetics, and your services: these are the fundamental tenets of any brand strategy, and will be front and centre on your website and your social media outlets.
Consider what kind of persona you want to create for your brand; are you a straight shooter who is professional and gets the job done? Do you prefer to focus on enhancing the customer experience? Are you utilising local search engine optimisation, a traditional visual identity initiative, and various styles that appeal to different audiences? Whatever it is that your brand strategy includes, be sure to establish an impression in the consumer's mind.
Step 5: Cover the Legal Bits
Like any other business, it is important to register your company; as a cleaning service, it’s likely that, at first, you will be a sole trader (or a partnership, if you are sharing responsibilities). As part of this, you will need to research and identify a suitable name, which, as you grow, you may want to consider trademarking, too.
The main thing, however, is to purchase comprehensive insurance coverage to protect your company from a whole host of potentially damaging problems.
For a housekeeping business, the core types of insurance that you should consider are:
- General Liability Coverage: This protects your business against costly legal mishaps, such as a lawsuit after an employee damaged expensive equipment.
- Personal Injury: This covers costs related to medical care after a workplace injury.
- Lost Key Coverage: This pays for the key replacement costs.
- Property Coverage: This shields you from damage that may incur in a house or office you work in.
These are only just a few of the insurance packages you should consider when starting a cleaning agency. The longer you are open and the more clients and employees you take on, the more commercial insurance you will need to buy.
Step 6: Attract Customers
Consumers have various demands that need to be filled, from window cleaning to carpet cleaning. Instead of having to rely on multiple services to get these things done, wouldn't it be more convenient (and affordable) if they could depend on a single source?
Well, that is where you come in. You can stand out from the crowd by going beyond elementary residential or commercial cleaning. How? By extending into the speciality realm. Examples of niches in this domain include:
- Furniture restoration and cleaning
- Junk removal
- Window cleaning
- Blinds cleaning
- Laundry service
- Room organisation
- Yard cleanup
You can also differentiate yourself from your competitors by marketing your investment in green products. Rather than using cleaning tools that contain harsh chemicals, you can advertise your eco-friendly business model.
It's worth remembering that, because you are competing against a huge number of other companies, you might need to go above and beyond the basics in this regard.
Green Clean Squad, co-founded by Katie Pearse in Canada in 2008, is an excellent example of the potential of a cleaning company, becoming a multi-million-dollar company in just four years.
"We would never turn a client away, because we were trying to build it, build it, build it," she recently told Jobber Academy. "It was snowballing all the time.
By 2016, the company was generating $115,000 per month in revenue, maintaining more than 200 clients, and employing a dozen staff members (full-time and part-time). Pearse used every marketing trick to grow her enterprise, from offering clients 50% savings if they completed a full assessment of cleaners, to providing website visitors with online quotes. Her advice? "Work through what you would want from a cleaning company, and then give that to the world".
Whether you are sitting in an office right now or in the comfort of your living room, you can probably notice several things that need a thorough cleaning after weeks of abandonment. Thankfully, there are plenty of cleaning services around – from gig workers to full-service firms – that can wipe, scrub and mop at the office or in your home.
Therefore, when you launch a housekeeping business, the world is your oyster – whether you offer speciality cleaning or general residential cleaning. Whatever your business model, you will find that seeping the kitchen floor or folding laundry is a profitable endeavour in many different types of markets.
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