How to Start a Cleaning Business
How do you start a cleaning business?
Well, first off, congratulations...
You’ve picked a great business to start and I’m excited to see you in it. Janitorial services is a wonderful industry, and here are a few reasons why it’s so great:
REASON #1: It’s a necessity.
Places have to get cleaned. Whether it’s a small office building or a sprawling medical facility, janitorial services are a must-have. It’s not just a luxury or something that’s nice to have - clean facilities are a matter of health and wellness.
Without frequently cleanings, the best office buildings can quickly become health hazards. If employees are sick, they can’t work, and if they can’t work, the businesses can’t make money. Therefore it’s in a business’s best interest to get their buildings cleaned.
When you think about your cleaning business this way, you can see why it’s not incredibly difficult to get clients. I know you might be feeling overwhelmed right now or you might not have any clue how you’re going to get your business off the ground, but it’s really not that difficult. Just understand that people NEED you to clean for them. Without cleanliness, people and businesses cannot operate to the best of their ability.
You’re not selling some fancy new gadget - you’re selling something that businesses need to survive. That should make it a little easier for you when it comes to marketing your services and going to different bids.
REASON #2: Your role cannot be outsourced.
This is starting to become a big problem these days. A lot of people in tech and manufacturing worry that their jobs will be shipped overseas. I know a few people who had jobs manufacturing cars but had their jobs shipped to Asia. It’s not a good situation to be in - worrying all the time about whether or not you’ll have a job a year from now.
With cleaning, that’s different. Nobody can clean an office building from thousands of miles away. You or your employees have to be physically present in order to do the job. Sure, the office buildings are outsourcing their cleaning, but you’re the one who is taking the job, and nobody in India can do the job for someone in the United States.
Whenever I talk about cleaning not being able to be outsourced, I always think of the Roomba. That’s the little robotic vacuum that goes around the house and vacuums and then returns back to its hub. I guess you could say that if that’s the only thing people need, then you can be replaced by a robot. But that’s not usually the case with janitorial services, which require more sophisticated cleaning techniques and thorough sanitization.
REASON #3: Cleaning is recession-proof.
This is similar to the first reason of cleaning being a necessity, but cleaning is recession-proof. Like I said before, cleaning HAS to be done. Plus, one of the biggest reasons why janitorial services recession-proof is because cleaning is typically a very small portion of a building’s overall budget - typically 1 or 2%, if that.
When a recession hits and the economy starts going south, companies start looking for expenses to cut. Most of the time they will cut frivolous items, chop down overhead, and even lay off staff before they cut the cleaning budget.
Plus, if a company has no choice but to clamp down on their cleaning budget, they will likely approach you first and ask if you can work with them. In that case, you can reduce some of the service but still continue to operate and generate some amount of monthly cash flow.
Speaking of cash flow…
REASON #4: You can control your income.
I absolutely love owning a cleaning business because it allows me to be 100% in control of my income. I can make as much money as I want or as little money as I want. I can set my own hours (to a point) and enter the marketplace whenever I want.
For example, if I want to make $15,000 in revenue per month, I can go out and do that. I just know that all I have to do is get fifteen places to pay me $1,000 dollars per month. Or I could get six places to pay me $2,500 per month. Or maybe I could get one massive place to pay me the whole $15,000 per month.
What I’m saying here is that I am the one who decides how hard I want to work and how much I want to put into this business. The cleaning business is fairly simple. All you’re really doing is marketing to get clients and then performing a service for those clients. Your only limits are how many clients you can get and your ability to fulfill the services, both of which we’re going to address fairly soon.
REASON #5: You get paid monthly.
This is probably my favorite reason and it’s that you get paid on a monthly basis. Typically when you’re cleaning an office or a dental practice or something like that, you bill them on a monthly basis. So you send the invoice on the first of the month and they have five days or thirty days or whatever to actually pay you.
This is super cool because it allows you to really scale a business. When you get paid monthly, you now have something called “predictable revenue”. That means you can operate your business with a reasonable expectation that this money will continue to come in. You can sit down and write out a plan to confidently hire employees, buy more supplies, or do whatever it is that you need to do.
Getting paid regularly like this is one of the reasons why a cleaning business is one of the greatest businesses in the world. This doesn’t happen in many other businesses. For example, if you owned a car dealership, you would get paid one time when somebody bought the car and that’s it. Of course, you could get some small residual income from the financing, but cleaning allows you to get a big chunk of change on a regular basis.
Now, a lot of people get freaked out about owning their own business because they feel as if they won’t be able to make enough money quickly enough or they feel like they’ll run out of capital if something goes wrong. Having a cleaning business helps sooth both of these fears because as long as you’re working and not losing accounts, your income should only go up as time goes on.
Besides, even if you lose an account, it shouldn’t impact your income that much. Maybe if it was your only account, but ideally you want to have dozens of them that you work on. A lot of people think that owning your own business is risky and that being an employee is safe. Well, that’s actually the complete opposite in this case. If you’re an employee and that’s your only source of income, you better pray to whoever you believe in that you don’t get fired. Because if you get fired, 100% of your income is gone. But with a cleaning business, if you lose one, it’s only a small bump in the road, not a devastating drop. So which one really has more risk?
Hopefully I have you really excited about getting started in a great business. Now we’re going to talk about the top traits needed to succeed.
Traits Needed to Succeed
One of the biggest lessons I’ve ever learned in my life is that if you want to succeed at something, all you really need to do is study people who are already successful. If you can model what those people are doing, eventually you should get the same results.
But that’s not true with JUST behavior. It’s also true with a person’s characteristics. You need to be able to develop the traits and characteristics of successful people so you have the same approach to life and challenges as they do.
I’ve found that the people who succeed in the cleaning business have the following characteristics:
They are disciplined.
I am going to be brutally honest in this course. If you can’t handle someone giving you the straight truth, then please stop watching this and go do something else.
If you want to succeed in ANY business (not just the cleaning business), you need to have discipline. When I say discipline, I mean that you continuously develop your skills and work on your business. I mean that you do the things you don’t want to do because you know they’re the right things to do.
If you have this fantasy of “being your own boss” and just sitting on the couch all day and watching TV, please keep your day job. The world of business can be brutal and if you’re not working and hustling to achieve your dreams, you’re going to get your ass kicked. It’s really that simple.
They have a basic understanding of accounting and tend to be frugal.
I know some of you watching this right now might think that you’re bad at a math or maybe you don’t like working with numbers. Well, you’re going to have to get over that. You don’t have to be a world class mathematician, but you do have to pay attention to your money. You have to know what’s coming in and what’s going out. You can’t make $10,000 a month but spend $12,000.
The best entrepreneurs I have ever seen also have a strict dedication to keeping their costs as low as possible, without sacrificing the quality of the service they provide. For example, you don’t want to skip providing your employees with uniforms, but you do want to ensure you get those uniforms at a competitive price. The same goes for your cleaning equipment and supplies. Don’t hesitate to track your expenses and don’t be afraid to negotiate with your suppliers for a lower price. They want to keep your business. If they can’t compete and lower the price, they shouldn’t be in business. Sorry, but that’s just the way it goes.
With that being said, more of your energy should be focused on your income. You can only cut your expenses so far, but you can always bring in more income. If I had to give you a rough estimate, I would say spend 90% of your time focused on income and then 10% of your time focused on expenses. You can always make more money, but you want to make sure that you have some profit left over to stick in the bank.
They are professional.
This single quality alone will help you stand out from your competitors and win more business than almost anything else. I’m being dead serious… if you can just show up, look professional, act professionally, and consistently do good work, you have pretty good odds of success in the cleaning business.
The sad truth is that most of your competition isn’t doing this. They’re showing up in jeans and a t-shirt, smelling like cigarettes, eating on the job and just being as unprofessional as you can imagine. I want you to think about this - if your competition shows up to a bid in a stained t-shirt with greasy hair and you show up looking clean with a pressed polo, who do you think is going to win the bid? It’s common sense that tends to be not so common.
I tell you this from personal experience; I have been on bids where I have toured a building and as I’m walking out, I see another cleaning company there to bid and they show up in raggedy clothes with tons of wrinkles and drive a beat up rust bucket…. It just doesn’t reflect well on them or their company image.
Keep your body clean, your clothes clean, and your vehicle clean. Yes, I said your vehicle. When you are out bidding for a job, you’ll be surprised at how many people will judge you based on how your car or truck looks. If you can’t even keep your own car clean, how can they expect you to clean their building?
Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s get down and dirty about what you’re going to need to do to start your own cleaning business…
Step 1: Choose Your Business Name
This is going to be one of the most import decisions you make because it will be your business’s label for years to come. I recommend coming up with several names and checking to see which ones are already taken. Make sure you also do a domain name check, to make sure that the website is available for purchase as well.
One of the mistakes that I see people make when choosing a business name is that they make it too wordy or too complex. You don’t want to do this because in the cleaning business, word of mouth is crucial. You want a name that rolls easily off the tongue and can be remembered when clients want to give you a referral. Keep it simple and to the point.
Step 2: Assemble Your Dream Team
If you want to go into business for yourself, you’re going to need a solid team of advisors to guide you through each part of the process. Nobody has time to learn about everything, which is why you want to employ some experts.
There are three people that you need to have on your dream team: an insurance agent, an accountant, and a lawyer.
You need to get an insurance agent that can help you understand what you need and what you should be buying at every stage in the game. Don’t stop shopping around until you can find an agent who can explain things in a way that you can understand and are comfortable with. You need to have insurance - too much can go wrong in this business!
You also want to have an accountant. You might be able to keep the books through some forms of bookkeeping software in the early days, but eventually you’re going to want to bring in a fresh set of eyes. I personally recommending keeping a close relationship with your accountant so he/she can give you expert advice on tax law, business deductions, etc. If you have a good accountant, he/she will save you much more money than you pay.
Finally, you need a good attorney. Your attorney will be the one who helps you set up your business formation. Laws can vary from state to state, so you want to get a lawyer who is well-versed on business law in your state.
STEP 3: Set Up The Administrative Side
These are the smaller details that you need to take care of before you get started. They’re things like setting up a business bank account, setting up a business email address, getting a P.O. Box if you feel it’s necessary, and so on.
If I had to start all over again, I would put a lot more thought into the administrative side of things, particularly when it comes to setting up a home office. I would have a much more dedicated space complete with filing cabinets, backup computers, printers, and more.
So there you have it - those are the very first steps that you need to take in order to start a cleaning business. I wish you nothing but the best!
If you have any specific questions about starting a cleaning business, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org