How to Start a Cleaning Business

If you're thinking of starting a cleaning business company, then this article shows you what's required to start and run a successful business to provide an office and domestic cleaning service.

There are many opportunities to be successful cleaning domestic homes, office and commercial buildings. This industry covers all manner of niches including window cleaners, carpet renovation and janitorial services, so just what do you need to get started?

Cleaning Business Basics

According the various reliable sources, the domestic cleaning market is worth anything between £3 billion and £9 billion per year and is fairly competitive with many franchise companies such as Molly Maid.

In the last boom period from 1995 to 2008 many people had much disposable income to be able to afford a cleaner but as the recession bites some of these services are being disposed of so you might find the market tougher than before.

What's Involved as a Cleaner?

Domestic cleaning is fairly straight forward as in reality all you need are cleaning products you can purchase in any supermarket and some customers. Most people will either get cleaning undertaken each week for 1 to 2 hours or every two weeks.

Depending on your location, you could charge £10 - £20 per hour for this service that is above minimum wage but only just. Many cleaners start working by themselves with a few customers and then employ people they can trust to do most of the work for them as the business expands.

Cleaning Business Insurance

You may need insurance for your cleaning business as you're providing services to the general public and are out and about in your van. Have a look at some of the following and see what you may need.

  • Professional indemnity insurance protects you against claims made by dissatisfied clients and employees of your cleaning business. PI insurance protects your financial interests and helps minimise day to day disruption to your business.

    The insurance could pay invoices if a customer refuses to pay you, covers the costs of rectifying a mistake and protect you if the claim against you isn't valid.

    Professional indemnity insurance also covers you for the dishonesty of your employees, partners or directors. The policy also covers defamation infringement of intellectual property rights, negligent misstatement or misrepresentation and loss of documents or data.
  • Public liability insurance covers you for claims against you from third parties for personal injury, or property damage. Claims for damages these days could reach hundreds of thousands in public liability insurance cases, and insurers sell cover based on the limit of liability the business needs.

There are many insurance companies that can help you why not see how much business insurance will cost you and get a quote for your business now as you can come back later for more information.

Getting Customers and Marketing

Customers want an impeccable service from your company and want people they can not only trust to do a good job but not to break or steal any of their household items. When quoting for jobs, you'll need to ask your prospective customer their exact requirements and then estimate how many hours it's going to take you.

Try not to underestimate the work as their home might not always be tidy, and you may have to take the time to move things around.

Some people want you to use their own cleaning products in their home which is better for you as you won't need to buy so much product yourself. But getting the customer in the first place is the hardest part of starting any business and here are some tips to get you started.

  • Many private cleaning companies get customers through word of mouth so once you have some give out flyers so they can pass them onto their friends.
  • Run a member gets member scheme so that any new business you get via your existing customer base provides a reward for both. Maybe offer a 20% discount off a months cleaning or a free week. This incentive helps you gain new customers and the initial discount shouldn't affect your profits in the longer-term.
  • Local newsagents advertising - this is normally a good way to recruit new customers by placing a postcard in your local shop. If you know the people who work there they may also be able to keep a stack of your business cards or flyers by the check out - just ask as many shops in your local vicinity as even 1 or 2 businesses advertising (for free) for you will help.
  • Avoid expensive newspaper advertising as this rarely works.
  • Speak to all your friends and say you're starting up and if they know anyone who wants your services.
  • If you're starting an office cleaning service then personally go into all the offices you want to quote for and ask for the person who manages the contract. Write to them by name and follow up with a phone call. Don't be discouraged if they say they already have a contract. Ask them when the contract is up for renewal and if you can quote nearer that time. Getting office cleaning work is much harder because businesses already have existing contracts.

Should You Choose a Franchise?

There are many franchise cleaning businesses for sale that you can find on the internet or simply locally. The problem with these is that you'll have to find around £10,000 to give them and in reality all you receive is the brand name, e.g., Molly Maid.

Although they'll provide training, they won't get customers for you. This direction might be an option if you've tried to set up the business before and have failed. You should ask yourself why you've failed because it might be that there is simply no business in your area.

If you're thinking of choosing a cleaning franchise business, it may provide you with more confidence if this is the first business you're starting. Try and find someone who already has one (or stop them in the street) to ask them about it and how it works.