Entrepreneurship

How To Start A Cleaning Business

Cameron Fleming | 7 April 2022 | 2 years ago

How to start a cleaning company

If you like the idea of running your own business, can work hard without direction from others and love to sort, tidy and keep homes and buildings fresher than spring daisy, then you may be wondering how to start a cleaning business.

Simple steps to set up a cleaning business

  • Identify your target market – commercial, residential or specialist
  • Check if any qualifications are needed
  • Crunch the numbers
  • Work Out Your Rates
  • Complete your business administration including registering the business with HMRC, drafting a business plan, defining your marketing plan, setting up relevant insurance and dedicated email and phone numbers for the business.
  • Buy in your materials, equipment and supplies
  • Prepare your sales pitch and introduction to new clients
  • Find your clients
Whether you’re already self-employed and want to set up a new business, are looking for a side hustle to top up your existing income, or want to jump right into a new business idea, then there are lots of businesses that can be set up relatively easily without too much initial expense.

Business ideas such as cleaning will allow you to dip your toe into the water without the risk of losing vast sums of cash along the way and make excellent businesses for both new and experienced business owners.

Read on for more detail on the simple steps to follow if you want to set up your own cleaning business.

Identity Your Target Market – Commercial, Residential, Specialist

The first step to any new business is to define the product or service that you’re offering and to who you will be offering it. Cleaning businesses can span commercial, residential and specialist service areas so think about the pros and cons of each and what kind of people or businesses require the services that you’re offering before deciding on which direction you want to take your new cleaning business.

Residential Cleaning

Residential is the easiest option to go into for a brand new cleaning business. Simply identify the area where you will be happy to work, considering the time it takes to travel between addresses, then get the message out there. Consider the type of client that you would both like to work with and who is most likely to need your services. Paying for a cleaner is a luxury service that not everybody can have, so consider who your target demographic is carefully and have them at the front of your mind when planning how to advertise your business.

Commercial Cleaning

A commercial cleaning business may require special licences or qualifications early on in the process before you can win commercial work to show that you know how to handle harmful cleaning chemicals. Big corporations or public sector companies are likely to tender their cleaning contracts out to larger companies that have plenty of staff on the books. Unless you’re already working in the cleaning sector for somebody else and have a good idea how commercial cleaning works before you go it alone, you may want to start elsewhere with your cleaning business unless focusing on smaller businesses that have similar needs to domestic cleaning.

Specialist Cleaning

Specialist cleaning services can refer to either the location of the cleaning, the service itself or the products being cleaned. For example, you may want to specialise in cleaning roofs and guttering, ovens, or carpets and upholstery, or you may want to offer a dedicated end of tenancy cleaning service to landlords, tenants or students halls of residence. These options can be included in a variety of cleaning services that you offer your customers or something that you choose to specialise in completely with no other cleaning offered.

Whichever option you choose to start your business with, it can be adapted and changed along the way but it is important to be clear from the offset which type of cleaning and the type of client that you are building your business around.

Check What Qualifications You Need

If you’re choosing to centre your business around domestic cleaning, you’re unlikely to need any formal qualifications but you may need to undergo training if using specialist cleaning equipment or chemicals in commercial settings. For more information, and to check what you may need to know about cleaning qualifications, contact the British Institute of Cleaning Science.

Some private individuals may also like to see that you have a current DBS check, especially if you’re working in a household with children or vulnerable adults. You can apply for a basic DBS check and certificate via gov.uk website.

Crunch The Numbers

Calculator and coins on a desk

Having a clear understanding of the amount of money that you have to invest in your business is crucial in getting it up and running smoothly. Take a look at your finances, do you have savings that you have been building especially for your new business venture? Will you need to take out a business or personal loan to buy the supplies you need to start?

When working out how much cash you will need, don’t forget to include things like marketing spend for websites, flyers and adverts that you may need, the cost of materials, supplies and equipment that you will need to buy to run your business, storage costs if any. When looking at the long term business plan, consider how staffing costs such as wages, pension contributions and national insurance may impact your finances if you intend to have staff working for you as well as taking home your own pay.

A cleaning business could in theory be started with a simple vacuum cleaner, mop and essential cleaning supplies but more specialist cleaning services may need expensive professional carpet cleaners or tools which can be much more costly and will need to be considered in the financial planning stage of setting up your business.

Work Out Your Rates

When you know what kind of cleaning service you’re offering and who you will be offering it to, you need to decide on how much you will charge.

To determine what you will charge, think about whether you will charge a flat hourly fee, or if you will offer blocks of 10 cleaning sessions for a discounted hourly price, whether you require a deposit upfront before any booking or if you will accept cash, card or online payments?

All of these things should be considered with your ideal customer in mind to help you determine which is the best option for you and the people you work for and the location that you operate in. One of the best things you can do is to see what other people in your area are already charging for similar kinds of cleaning service that you will be offering as this will give you a ballpark figure of the going rate and always think about your target customer.

For example, there is no point in charging £60 an hour if your target market is residential cleaning for single-parent families because they are unlikely to be able to afford this.

Whatever price you decide to charge, make sure that it is a true reflection of the time, effort and energy that you put into the work, the costs involved in travelling to and from venues and that the cost of cleaning materials are covered.

Business Admin

Lady sitting at desk working with paper and computer screen

Type Of Company

You will need to decide how you will register your cleaning business with HMRC and understand how each option affects your liabilities when it comes to recording your income and paying the tax owed. Will you be setting up as a sole trader or limited company? You can find more about each option here so you can decide which route is best for you.

Write A Business Plan

Unless you’re applying for a business loan from the bank, this doesn’t have to be a huge document, but it does help ask yourself certain questions and write down the answers. Things like, how will you finance the business, how many sales do you need before making a profit, somewhere to record your expenses and estimated income etc. Read this guide from the Prince’s Trust for excellent tips on writing your business plan and helpful templates to use.

Banking

Set up a new account or allocate an existing account that you already have but don’t use as a dedicated business bank account. If you’re a limited company, a dedicated business account is required by law, but even if you are operating as a sole trader, keeping your business and personal finances separate is highly recommended.

Taking this approach will ensure that any transactions, income and expenses to do with your cleaning business are kept in one place. This makes it easier when you come to do your tax return at the end of the year and if you require the services of an accountant at a later date.

Marketing

Business cards, flyers, adverts, word of mouth and social media are great, low-cost ways to start spreading the message about your new business. When it comes to creating a professional appearance with your business communications, consider setting up a new email address and buying a new sim card to ensure that your business communications stay separate from your personal ones.

It can cost just a few pounds a month to purchase a professional sounding domain address for your email account and having a dedicated phone number will ensure you know the call is about business, allowing you to answer the phone accordingly when it rings. These are the little things that give the impression of a well-managed business over somebody that is using their personal email address.

Insurance

Business insurance and professional indemnity insurance is an important part of setting up a new business. As you will be working in other people’s homes and businesses, you need to ensure that you’re fully protected if your work causes damage to the property of others or if others make a claim of negligence or poor workmanship against you. Thirdly, if you start employing people to work on your behalf, you are legally required to take out employers liability insurance.

Buy In Your Materials And Supplies

Now that you have identified your ideal customers and have reviewed the financials and important business administration tasks, you’re ready to get going! It’s now time to buy any materials or supplies that you will need to be able to provide the service that you want to offer. This could be as simple as using your own hoover to start with and buying a dedicated bucket of cleaning supplies such as cleaning spray, cloths and dusters that are suitable for household cleaning or you may need to invest in specialist carpet cleaners or Jet washing equipment.

Prepare Your Sales Pitch And Introduction

It can be daunting meeting new people for the first time, especially when it’s in their own home or business. Making sure you think about the questions that you may be asked, the questions that you want to ask, or the information that you want to remember to share that you think will highlight your service over other competition, is a good place to start when preparing your sales pitch and introduction to new clients.

You don’t need to go armed with a PowerPoint presentation and briefcase, just be yourself. You do however need to know your rates, your service offering and availability. It can be useful to have some information leaflets with this information and your contact details available to leave with your potential client after the meeting. Not only does this make you look professional, but it will also serve as a useful reminder of your business if the client is comparing several cleaning companies.

Remember that as well as answering a client’s questions, this introduction phase is a good time to understand their expectations surrounding the cleaning service that they’re looking for. Take time to note what the client expects as standard from their cleaning service, if there are any unusual requests or additional cleaning routines that would be required either regularly or on an ad-hoc basis. Arming yourself with this information from the start will enable you to meet and hopefully exceed all expectations the client has of you.

As part of your introduction, be prepared for clients to haggle on price and know what you are prepared to lower your costs too. Equally, you should remember that although everybody likes to feel like they’re getting a bargain, you have a business to run and you don’t have to lower your costs at all. You have worked out your pricing based on what you can afford, and you’re in charge, so don’t be pressured into reducing your rates if you can’t afford to do so.

Find Your Clients

What's your marketing strategy sign on busy desk

You will have considered the best marketing channels to use in your business plan when considering your target customer and now it’s time to put your marketing plan into action.

Start by telling your friends and family that you’re open and looking for new business then working through some of the simplest marketing options available to spread the message about your new business as economically as possible if you don’t have the budget to set up and maintain a website.

Marking options include, posting in local Facebook groups in the area that you’re operating in, puttings up flying in post offices or community centres, doing a leaflet drop to homes and businesses in the area, handing out your business cards to people that you meet that may have a genuine need for your services, and putting a news article into local newspapers to announce the launch of your business.

Consider creating a buzz around your new business and drum up demand by offering a trial session for a free or limited time only offers. This can be a good way to get new people to contact you as nobody wants to miss out on a good deal! The idea being would be to then convert them to a full-time customer by providing a service too good to live without.

Summary

Starting any new business from scratch is hard work but it can be a very rewarding thing to achieve. If you’re wondering how to start a cleaning business, follow the simple steps above to put you in a good position to start your new venture as you mean to go on.

To recap, to start a cleaning business, you should:

  • Identify your target market – commercial, residential or specialist
  • Check if any qualifications are needed
  • Crunch the numbers
  • Work out your rates
  • Complete your business administration including registering the business with HMRC, drafting a business plan, defining your marketing plan, setting up relevant insurance and dedicated email and phone numbers for the business.
  • Buy in your materials, equipment and supplies
  • Prepare your sales pitch and introduction to new clients
  • Find your clients
As your business grows, it’s important to revisit your business plan. You may want to add in additional income streams from new services or take on staff to manage the increasing workload. Above all, enjoy the journey of becoming a cleaning business owner and don’t be disheartened when the going gets tough, just go back to basics and focus on the things that you can control like who you’re pitching to, how much you’re charging and the quality of the service you are providing.

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