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How To Start A Cleaning Business (12 Steps From Scratch For Under $1,000)

Since I personally grew a cleaning business from $0 to over $5,000,000 in 3 short years, make sure to read the entire article because I will give you the best of the best secrets to help you achieve your goals. In this blog post we will cover a few points that will help you start your new business.

  • How I grew King of Maids from $0 to over $5,000,000 by the age of 22.
  • How my partner and I only invested $6,000 when we were 19 to start it and how you can replicate that process today for under $1,000.
  • Why starting a cleaning business is a good small business idea to start.
  • How to start a cleaning business step by step from scratch (12 step for under $1,000).
    1. Save $1,000
    2. The vision of your cleaning service
    3. Research
    4. Business registration
    5. Bank
    6. Insurance
    7. Name
    8. Logo
    9. Website and software
    10. Branding
    11. Hiring cleaners and maids
    12. Marketing your cleaning business
  • Tips from entrepreneurs who are growing their cleaning businesses right now
  • More helpful resources to help you start a cleaning business

Let’s get started.

Growing King of Maids from $0 to over $5,000,000 by the age of 22.

The first part of this article will cover my personal story and what we did to scale King of Maids. If you’d prefer to read what I go over in the video, you can continue reading the transcript below. There may be extra tips in the video, so I’d encourage you to watch the entire video if you do have some time.

What made you want to start?

“I started working for my dad for a few summers installing carpeting. Then one day on the job, I literally asked myself… is this what I want to keep doing for the rest of my life?. That was the most important moment of my life. In that moment, the decision I made, changed my life. Fast forward 3 years, King of Maids did over $5,000,000 in revenue which eventually led to the start of BookingKoala.

How did you get started?

“I called one of my good friends and asked him if he’d like to start a cleaning business with me. We got together, went over our future goals to see if they aligned with one another. Once we knew we were on the same page, we got straight to work and started a home cleaning service in Chicago. Till this day it was the best decision I ever made.”

Did you have any experience starting out?

“I was 19 when I started my cleaning service, had no experience, no degrees, no loans, no funding, nor no connections. I was still in college and working with my dad as much as I could. In the meantime I opened up King of Maids and after a few months I decided to leave my job. Shortly after that (when I was about 20) things really took off and I dropped out of college to focus all my time and efforts on King of Maids.”

How much did you invest when starting out?

“My partner and I invested a total of $6,000 when we started, most of which went towards a website with an online booking form. Only about $500 went into marketing and with that $500 we gained enough recurring clients to generate recurring revenue. Once the recurring revenue started coming in every week, growing became very easy. Today because of BookingKoala someone can do what I did for under $1,000.” 

What are the 2 most important things that everyone should know?

Start right away

“You need to start right away even if you don’t know what you are doing. You’ve heard it thousands of times from every successful person in the world; the more mistakes you make the quicker you will achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve. Most people wait for the perfect moment which never comes. What happens instead is, that you learn about the failures that come along with the reward and you get scared to the point that you never start. True story, but the more I failed the more I hesitated about another venture. The best thing you can do is to start. In almost all cases the final outcome will come after trial and error and what you envisioned before you started, will be completely different at the end of your journey. That means you will never be ready until you go through the process.”

Set yourself up for scalability

“If you’re goal is freedom you must set yourself up for scalability and here are just 3 simple examples of what I mean:

A) You cannot be doing the work yourself (cleanings, movings, answering customers calls, etc…) – you become limited if you do so. If you want freedom, you have to trust people to do the work for you, while you figure out how to grow your company. If you hire someone and give them a percentage of each job, that opens up your time to figure out how to gain more customers. Eventually, you can even replace yourself with a marketing company giving you complete freedom. That is the ultimate goal. At the end of the day, it comes down to the same level of work. Are you willing to work hard at someone’s home, or are you willing to work hard to figure out how to grow your customer base.

B) You have to stop doing unnecessary things, like in-home estimates – you waste too much of your own time or spend too much money and resources. Today, it’s all about convenience and most people prefer to know pricing right away, versus waiting for someone to give it to them next day or a few days later. Personally, I would NEVER let someone come into my home to give me an in-home estimate when I know I can find the price online in a matter of 5 minutes. Look at Uber and Lyft versus Taxis: Back in 2014, Uber and Lyft had only 12% of the market share. In 2018 they had over 72%. You need to let go of the old ways that are no longer needed or necessary and get with the new trends.”

C) You have to start taking online payments only – This is crucial if you want to scale. I personally started by collecting cash/check payments, but as you grow this becomes a hassle. A hassle to you and a hassle to your customer. Payments are forgotten, money goes missing, numbers get messed up and it takes too much time to manage it all.

If you want to grow quickly, these things are crucial and you must set these things up from the moment you begin.”

What marketing strategies did you use?

“We focused on online customers and built our service around them. First, we built an online booking form tailored to convert the traffic that came to our website. Later, we built a customer portal to help customers manage their bookings at any time from anywhere. The portal allowed them to modify their appointments, reschedule and cancel at any time, from anywhere, saving us time and a lot of money. Later we added a referral program for them which added value to the customer and helped us gain more customers from referrals. Our overall business model became so powerful that everyone started copying King of Maids. Even dog walking services and other service-type businesses started to use the same growth strategy, which is what all led to the start of BookingKoala.”

On top of all this, we needed to figure out how to gain traction to kickstart our entire business. To gain traction, we leveraged Craigslist. We knew CL had a customer base where users cared about price most, so we used coupons to undercut all of our competitors. It was free to post there, and the customers started to roll in. Through CL, we gained enough recurring customers where we had monthly revenue. Apart from that, we knew that we had to get Yelp to rank us on the first page of their search engines. If we could get to the first page, we knew we would start to gain free customers from those who use Yelp to find home cleaning services. We didn’t know how many would book, but we knew they somehow would since many locals used Yelp. We leveraged each customer who booked a cleaning from Craigslist and called them after the cleaning to push them to review us on Yelp. After several months of doing that, we gained many reviews, and Yelp ranked us on their first page. It all took off after that.”

If you’d like to learn more, I’d encourage you to read this blog post, which covers how to start a business in general. I add a lot of very valuable tips that I wish someone had told me when I was starting out. Don’t miss out and spend some time going over that article.

Why starting a cleaning business is a good idea and the 12 steps

Starting a cleaning business today isn’t what it was several years or even decades ago. With the help of online technology, our Facebook group, my Youtube channel, and the BookingKoala Education marketplace, you can reach 6 figures in months, and all from your home. So why start a cleaning business?

Starting a cleaning business can be a fantastic idea. There are over 1 million cleaning businesses in the United States alone, and the market is expected to grow annually by 6.1%. That’s a lot of cleaning businesses with more growth on the way.

Before we get into the guide on starting your very own cleaning business on a low budget, let’s knock out some of the popular questions a lot of people have before they start.

How much does it cost to start a cleaning business?

Starting a cleaning business doesn’t cost a lot of money. If you start a cleaning business the right way, your initial investment could be under $1,000. 

Can you run a cleaning business from home?

Yes, with the help of technology, running a cleaning business from home can easily be accomplished in today’s day and age. It’s also one of the nice perks of owning a cleaning business for those that enjoy working from home. If you’re more old school, you can always get an office and work from there.

Do you have to start a cleaning business in your area?

Another great perk of starting a cleaning business is that you don’t need to start where you reside unless you want to. With the help of technology, you can start a cleaning business in Chicago, IL, even if you live in Houston, TX. 

Can you easily and quickly expand your cleaning business?

Since you can start from home and start in any area around the world, it is easy to expand your home cleaning and maid business. Once you figure out a strategy, you can replicate it in the following area.

Do I need to do in-home estimates?

Even though some folks still do in-home estimates, you do not need to do in-home estimates when running a cleaning business. We recommend you do not do in-home estimates in this guide if you are looking to scale your cleaning business. 

Is it easy to start a cleaning business?

No business is easy; however, starting a cleaning business is easier than some other business ideas out there. With the help of recurring bookings, you can generate recurring revenue every month, helping you fund your growth.

For example, if month one you have two monthly clients at an average of $100 per cleaning, you now make $200 in revenue per month. If you gain eight new monthly clients next month, you now have $1,000 in revenue coming in per month. Having recurring revenue is extremely powerful because now you know that you have clients coming back next month without looking for them. The profits from those clients can be used to test new marketing ideas and strategies without fear of losing all of your cash.

Is it worth starting a cleaning business?

From what you’ve read so far, it’s clear that starting a cleaning business is a fantastic idea. The industry is growing at an incredible pace, you don’t need a lot of money to get started, you can start from home without doing any in-home estimates, and recurring revenue makes it easier to grow your cleaning business and succeed.

Now that we got some of those popular questions out of the way, let’s get started! 

The 12 steps to starting a cleaning business

To start your own cleaning business from scratch and on a low budget of under $1,000, you’ll need to follow 12 steps.

  1. Save $1,000
  2. The vision of your cleaning service
  3. Research
  4. Business registration
  5. Bank
  6. Insurance
  7. Name
  8. Logo
  9. Website and software
  10. Branding
  11. Hiring cleaners and maids
  12. Marketing your cleaning business

Step 1: Save $1,000

The first step will be to save $1,000 and invest it in your business. If you follow the steps below, $1,000 is all that you will need to start a successful cleaning business.

Step 2: The vision of your company

Have an idea of your end goal. This is important because the preparation will be different, and you’ll want to prepare everything accordingly. For example, understand if your end goal is to sell home cleaning forever or if you’re going to be selling various services down the line. Knowing your vision is essential, and you’ll see why below.

Step 3: Research

Here are some of the critical things that you will need to look into:

Are you doing the cleanings yourself, or are you going to outsource all the work to someone? 

We suggest outsourcing the work to someone right away because it will make growing your company much more manageable. When someone performs the job on your behalf, you get a cut, and you can focus on growing your cleaning business. If you perform the job yourself, most people come home tired skipping the most important part of your business: marketing.

How much are you going to pay your providers?

You also need to figure out how much you will pay your providers at the start. Don’t overthink this too much, as you can always change this in the future. Starting with 45%-50% of the invoice is often a good start. This will give you room to increase the percentage for your seasoned workers or those who perform exceptionally well.

Are you focusing on large homes or small homes?

You must pick one because it will make your life easier when starting your cleaning business. If you choose small homes, it will give you the ability to hire individuals instead of teams, and managing one person is more manageable than managing teams.

Are you hiring teams or individuals?

Once you’ve decided if you’re going to clean large homes or small homes decide who you will hire. Decide if you are going to hire individuals or teams. For example, if you do small homes, customers won’t mind an individual 99% of the time however sending 1 individual to a 7 bedroom home is most of the time unacceptable simply because 1 person would be there all day if not more.

How much are you going to charge your customers?

Research what the competitive pricing is in your area and start with that. You can always improve your pricing over time.

What location will you start your cleaning business in?

Our recommendation is always to start where there is a demand that could mean outside of the place you reside. If there is demand, that means the potential for growing a large cleaning business is excellent. Don’t make a mistake starting in your city if no one wants cleaning services.

Step 4: Business Registration

When you start, make sure to register your business online. LegalZoom is a service that will help you register your business online. Provide them with some information, and they will file the necessary paperwork on your behalf. Once the process is complete, they will send you legal paperwork stating that you are an official business. On top of that, LegalZoom also offers other services you may use in the future. Instead of using LegalZoom, you can visit a local accountant to help you with your business registration needs (it may be a cheaper option).

Step 5: Bank

Once you’ve registered your cleaning company, you can open up a bank account, get a debit card, and potentially a credit card. This isn’t the end of the world, but it will help keep you organized when growing your cleaning business. It will separate your personal and business transactions, plus it will help motivate you to keep going since you’ve already opened up a bank account.

Step 6: Insurance

If you’re following our guide, we talk about outsourcing all of your work to other cleaning individuals or businesses. If you go that route, your independent contractors should have the proper insurance needed to perform the job allowing you to skip this step potentially. If you hire employees and skip the hiring process discussed in this guide, we recommend speaking with a lawyer to ensure you have the proper insurance and forms when hiring an employee.

Step 7: Name

Find a short, memorable, and easy to pronounce name for your cleaning company. Also, make sure that the name you go with is available when buying a domain. Having the same domain as your name will make your company look more professional.

For example, if you’re name is BookingKoala your domain would be www.bookingkoala.com 

Also, when picking your name, make sure that it fits your vision. If you’re selling home cleaning specifically, you may go with a name such as ‘King of Maids.’ However, this becomes a problem if you decide to expand your services to non-cleaning related industries. Due to the name, everyone will automatically assume you only offer cleanings, and changing your name later is a big deal. Many of those who remember your name may no longer recognize you. It’s important to set everything to align with your vision.

Step 8: Logo

You’ll need to find a good logo for your business. Make it look professional and relevant to whatever it is that you are selling. Good logos are memorable and simple. If you need help making a logo, you can visit Fiverr and pay someone to do it for a few dollars. Another option is to use Canva and create one on your own for free. Later, when you make some money, you can always have someone improve it professionally.

Step 9: Cleaning and maid service software

You will need a website to sell your items online, and making a website on your own is extremely easy. All you need to do is sign up for a service that gives you all the tools you need to build a cleaning business website yourself in only a few hours. These services are also very affordable, saving you thousands of dollars by avoiding expensive developers and designers. Not only will you need a good website, but you’ll need software explicitly designed for a cleaning business ready to help you scale efficiently. Once bookings start to come in, you need powerful software to help you manage everything all in one spot.

To learn more about the power of a website and a good software, you can click here.

Step 10: Branding

Focus on establishing a brand the moment you start your cleaning business. People trust brands, and building trust in the first few years should be your primary focus. Don’t stress over profits; focus on your online image. Sell at break-even if that means more reviews, more testimonials, more publicity for your company. Through BookingKoala, you can create coupons. Create those coupons and distribute the codes throughout your ads. Later, people can use them when booking through your website.

For more tips on branding your cleaning business, you can watch these videos made by entrepreneurs who are growing or grew a successful cleaning company.

Step 11: Hiring cleaners and maids

Hiring for some can be the most challenging part of this business model. Not because it’s hard to find people, but because it’s a lengthy process. Most people think that hiring stops when someone is hired, but the job is actually done somewhere around 90 days after they are hired. We suggest hiring independent contractors and looking for someone with 2+ years of relevant experience. If you’re hiring someone for home cleaning, they need home cleaning experience and not hotel cleaning experience. It is not the same, and you will be disappointed.

To find someone go to a site like Craigslist, Glassdoor, Indeed, or Monster and make a job offer. You can also ask around and see if people you may know are interested. Once you have a lead, properly interview them over the phone, background check them, and if they pass, add them inside BookingKoala. Make sure to have them sign a binding agreement as well before allowing them to accept jobs.

Through BookingKoala, you will quickly decide whether they are a good fit or not. Whenever a job comes in, a provider will be able to determine if they want to accept or decline an assignment. If they take it, the job will be visible inside their account. After they complete the job, the customer will be able to rate the service. On your end, you will be able to track the ratings, and over time, you can decide for yourself if the provider will remain on the platform or if they should be removed. You’ll want highly rated providers on your platform only, ensuring your services are excellent.

For more tips on hiring more maids and cleaners for your cleaning business, you can watch these videos made by entrepreneurs who are growing or grew a successful cleaning company.

Step 12: Marketing your cleaning business

Marketing and advertisement is where things usually go wrong. If you have little to no money, don’t go starting with paid ads, nor should you go out and hire a marketing company that offers services for $250 a month. It will end badly nine out of ten times. Your focus should be to build up your brand and reputation as well as your recurring customers. Pick a channel where people find your services and make it your mission to be the top seller. For example, Yelp is a big deal for most service-type businesses like a cleaning business. If you establish a profile on Yelp, get enough reviews and manage to rank your cleaning company on the first page of their search results, your cleaning business will see a massive increase in business organically.

To do so, find your first set of clients and find a free source where you don’t spend money on acquiring customers. Look for a platform like Craigslist or equivalent to Craigslist in your area. It’s free to look for clients on there or at least it used to. People on Craigslist look at the price, and you can take advantage of that opportunity. Use coupons to pull in those customers. A combination of a professional brand and a low offer will get you a lot of sales. Using BookingKoala, you can easily create coupons, add them to your ADs, and track if people used them later when they book.

Later push everyone to leave a review on a site that matters, such as Yelp mentioned above. Work hard in the first 12 months and gain as many reviews as you can. Keep repeating the same process until you see $5,000 in profit per month. Once you hit that goal, you should now start experimenting with your marketing ideas. Up until this point, this will all be manual labor. Don’t pay for ads or leads until you make money organically every month from a platform such as Yelp or something that can organically bring in traffic.

Once you’ve reached a nice goal of around $5,000 in profit per month from recurring clients, you can start experimenting with other marketing channels. Now you can perhaps advertise on Yelp since you most likely have 100+ reviews on there. You can also begin SEO to help bring more customers or look for something else that will bring clients to your cleaning business.

When you find three quality marketing channels that bring in constant revenue, you can now look into expanding your business or services. You can do that by adding more services such as office cleaning or mobile car washing or going to a new area and replicating everything you’ve done in your first location. 

When picking another area to work with, make sure you do some research to ensure that what you’ve done in location A will work in location B. Just because Yelp is popular in one area doesn’t mean it’s popular in the next. You want to avoid such mistakes because if you spend six months creating a Yelp profile where Yelp is not popular, you won’t get any clients, and all the work will be worthless.

For more tips on marketing your cleaning business, you can watch these videos made by entrepreneurs who are growing or grew a successful cleaning company.

Always remember the fundamentals 

Bookmark this complete cleaning business guide and come back to it whenever you are confused about something. These are the fundamentals of building a big cleaning business on a low budget, and you will never want to forget them. Fundamentals will help you grow a strong company.

Look at it this way; in basketball, there is a proper way of shooting a basketball. If you are a shooting guard using the wrong shooting form for 20 years, you’re going to miss out on many awards, records, and opportunities. The same applies to business. If you don’t learn the fundamentals, you will leave a lot of money on the table. Not only that, but it will take you longer to generate any sales, resulting in frustration. 

Focusing on the business fundamentals will help you get small wins faster, which are vital to keeping you motivated, preventing you from eventually quitting. We know this is a lot to take in all at once, but if you keep working at this daily, it will start to become part of you. 

Remember, every success story has a beginning.

Tips from entrepreneurs who are growing their cleaning businesses right now

These tips can be beneficial so watch all the videos if you are ready to start or take your cleaning business to the next level.

Sergio and Johnny on growing Mary & A Mop

Sergio and Johnny started Mary & A Mop in Orange County, California. They opened the business with $0 out of pocket in January 2022. Within four months of opening their fully remote home cleaning company, they are on track to $150,000 in revenue for the year. In the first month of January, they secured $12,000 in revenue with $4,000 in profit.

The video covers:

  • Why did Sergio and Johnny start Mary & A Mop?
  • How much did Sergio and Johnny invest?
  • What sets Mary & A Mop apart from their competitors?
  • What marketing strategies did you use to kick start your cleaning business?
  • How did you hear about BookingKoala?
  • How much time do you spend on the business?
  • Where do you see Mary & A Mop in 5 years?
  • Would you recommend BookingKoala? 
  • Do you have anything else valuable to add to our viewers?

If you’d like to learn more about their story, you can click here.

Helpful resources

To help you get started in the cleaning industry, check out these helpful blog posts:

Other helpful blog posts to help you get started:

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