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!
How do I start 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.
- Save $1,000
- The vision of your cleaning service
- Business registration
- Website and software
- Hiring cleaners and maids
- Marketing your cleaning business
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- BackgroundChecks is a good place to run background checks.
- Rocket Lawyer is a good place to create contracts and agreements.
- DocuSign is a good service that allows you to sign contracts online.
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.
Marketing your cleaning business
Marketing 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. 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.
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.
This blog post was co-written by the BookingKoala team and Filip Boksa, who grew King of Maids to over $5,000,000 in combined revenue within three years. If you’d like to grab his step-by-step course on how to grow a cleaning business, you can click here.