How do cleaning companies work?

Cleaning companies work in different ways depending on their business model. Independent cleaning companies may not have access to the cleaning products used by larger businesses. Similarly, those investing in a turnkey business opportunity may benefit from better products or equipment, as they can take advantage of the experience of the seller of the business.

What are some specialized cleaning business ideas?

  • Specialized cleaning business ideas include:
  • Window cleaning – which will require ladders, specialist equipment and a head for heights.
  • Restoration cleaning – which might require training or qualifications for cleaning water, fire or smoke damaged homes.
  • Blind cleaning – specialist equipment can be used to quickly clean blinds, however, this is a task that may be too niche for some.
  • Grill cleaning – requires basic training and a simple set of equipment to get started.
  • Restroom cleaning – some businesses will pay well for specialist cleaning, but the competition in this niche is often very high.

What is the best cleaning franchise?

There are dozens of cleaning franchises to choose from in the cleaning industry, which makes picking ‘the best’ impractical, especially when you consider that they are not ‘one-size-fits-all’ products. Cleaning franchises are best suited to business owners who have a sizable investment to spend [1] and don’t mind paying monthly franchise cleaning business fees or commission to franchisors. Whilst the commercial cleaning franchise business model might be the best option for some, it isn’t the only route to success in the cleaning business world.

Types of cleaning business opportunities

Domestic Cleaning – This involves cleaning people’s homes. Typically done while the client is out of the house, domestic cleaning businesses vary in size, however most individual cleaning businesses tend to only have a few employees. Many residential cleaning companies specialise in a particular type of cleaning such as carpet cleaning or kitchen cleaning. Known as a low-cost cleaning franchise, the start-up costs for house cleaning franchise business opportunities are generally small, however, this depends on the cleaning products used, the money required to establish a sustainable customer base, and the amount of travel required between jobs. Smaller start up and maintance costs make it more viable to buy a cleaning franchise that involves domestic cleaning over commercial cleaning – with some cleaning franchise system owners only working part time.

Commercial Cleaning – Commercial cleaning services involve cleaning business properties such as offices, warehouses, shops and medical facilities. Unlike domestic cleaning, commercial cleaning hours tend to be in the early morning and late at night. Commercial Cleaning businesses typically have more employees than domestic cleaning companies due to them having larger individual cleaning jobs. Start-up costs for commercial cleaning businesses are usually greater than domestic cleaning small business start-up costs due to specialised cleaning products often being required and more staff  being needed. Commercial cleaning franchise opportunities tend to be more scarce than domestic cleaning opportunities as commercial cleaning jobs usually require more staff members, a larger quantity of cleaning supplies, and more specialised cleaning products, all of which are more commonly found in specialised commercial cleaning businesses.

Window cleaning – Many window cleaning business owners tend to specialise in either domestic or commercial properties as it makes them more efficient and provides them with more business opportunities. Additionally, many window cleaning businesses also offer add-on cleaning services such as gutter cleaning, screen repairs and pressure washing.

Janitorial Cleaning – This typically involves ongoing cleaning maintenance for schools, warehouses and large office spaces. Typical janitorial services include mopping, sweeping, taking out trash and general building maintenance such as fixing light bulbs and repairing broken doors.

How to start a cleaning business

What to know before starting a cleaning business?

Before you start your cleaning business, make sure you know these key points:

  • Choose a cleaning niche to work in. Ie. cleaning houses, commercial cleaning or specialised cleaning such as BBQ or window cleaning.
  • Research your market. Understand who your competition will be, if you’re working locally then scout out their prices or read their online reviews to see how you could better them.
  • Find a business model. You could choose to start completely independent, or you may have the capital to invest in a franchise business. A turnkey business opportunity is another option that can offer better value.
  • Budget for the costs of equipment. You should prioritise high-quality equipment, as cutting costs might lead to inefficient cleaning when you start operating.
  • Create your marketing plan. Whether you’re choosing to send out flyers, build an email list or start out using social media, you’ll need to have a plan in place that can be adapted as time goes on.

Do you need a LLC to start a cleaning business?

You may need to form a LLC to start your house cleaning business [2]. Depending on the state that you are operating in and the licenses that are required for businesses, some cleaning businesses choose to form a limited liability company in order to reduce their persona liability. This is usually not necessary for niche businesses like BBQ cleaning which take place outside of the client’s home.

What is a cleaning license?

Cleaning licenses do not exist. Cleaning businesses may have to apply for either federal or state licenses depending on the industry they operate in [3]. Business activities regulated by federal authorities (such as aviation, fishing, the sale of alcohol or firearms, to name a few) require federal licenses. Meanwhile, small cleaning businesses will usually require a state license or permit depending on the region.

What do you need to know when starting a cleaning business?

When starting your cleaning business you’ll need to know what niche, if any, you will be working in. This is perhaps the most important decision you’ll make regarding your new cleaning business. Whilst it’s possible to expand your cleaning business’ scope at a later date when you first get started it may help narrow your specialism instead of offering general cleaning services.

Specializing in a cleaning niche can help to differentiate you from the bigger competition [4], and should also make you stand out from the crowd. For example, there may be half a dozen general cleaning businesses in your neighbourhood, but you could be the only grill-cleaning guy.

How do I write a business plan for a cleaning business?

Write a business plan for a cleaning business using the following tips:

  1. Get to grip with your niche. Research what others in your niche have done and use the best parts of their plans to build your own.
  2. Make a business plan that accounts for both the short and long term. Meticulously plan your first 12 months and then draw in broader strokes for the months beyond.
  3. Make an allowance in your plan for the unexpected. Consider setting up an emergency fund, so that you are prepared for the future.
  4. Remember that time is money. If you’re making marketing plans or are thinking of leaflet dropping to a new area, remember that these activities could eat into your business time.
  5. Carefully set and standardise your pricing. You should be transparent about your costs, but make sure they’re set properly first. Research what your competitors are charging before setting a price.
  6. Draft your business plan and then review it carefully before setting it in stone.
  7. Critically assess your business plan periodically. Sometimes reality throws you a curveball, you should be ready and willing to adapt your business plan if this happens.
  8. Budget where possible. Your profit margin will live and die on the back of the work put into your business plan. The more ways you can cut back, the better your profits will be.

Cleaning business profit potential

How much can you make cleaning houses?

You can make up to $26208 a year cleaning houses, according to figures from [5]. The salary break down for the average house cleaner is:

Average Salary
Hourly $13
Daily $104
Weekly $520
Monthly $2,184
Annual $26,208

How much does a cleaning business make a year?

A cleaning business can make anywhere from $30,000 a year to over $100,000 a year [6], depending on its size and overheads.

The money that your cleaning business makes each year will depend on the number of jobs you complete, the amount you charge for them and the overheads of your business, such as fuel, equipment and marketing costs. Buying into a turnkey business opportunity can help to alleviate these initial costs.

Find out more about the profit potential of cleaning businesses.

Planning your cleaning business

How do I start my own cleaning business from scratch?

Starting a cleaning business franchise from scratch allows you to keep all the profits of your hard work, without paying a cent to a franchisor, however, it’s not without its challenges. If you’ve never started a business before, then it’s possible that you may need some guidance to get started especially if you’re new to the niche that you’re working in. Some turnkey business opportunity packages offer training, business plans and all the necessary equipment to get started, without charging ongoing fees. This allows the franchise owner to essentially start from scratch and prevents any costly mistakes being made early on.

How do I make my cleaning business successful?

A successful cleaning business will offer a high-quality specialized service that solves a pain point that customers might have (ie. “My grill is dirty, but I don’t want to clean it!”). By offering an invaluable service to a customer, you’ll increase the chance of repeat orders and also referrals, which can then lead to more repeat orders and further expansion. Don’t forget that your marketing and business strategy is just as important to your business’ success as your cleaning skills. A successful cleaning business will be built on a proven business plan that gives you the best foot forward when starting up [7].

Why do cleaning businesses fail?

Cleaning businesses fail due to lack of business experience, improper training and a lack of proper equipment [8]. These factors are what set apart a professional cleaning business from a cleaner looking to make a few dollars on the side. Investing in proper training and buying the right equipment lays the groundwork for a successful cleaning business.

How can I make my cleaning business unique?

Make your cleaning business unique by offering a specialist service, at a fair price, with outstanding results. If you can offer a cleaning service that exceeds the expectations of your clients, then they will happily recommend you to their social circle. There are many cleaning businesses of all types trying to build a reputation, so the best way to stand out is with outstanding service.

What is the target market for a cleaning service?

The target market for your cleaning service will depend on the niche that you’re working in, the area that you are covering in and the price that you are putting on your service. For example, if you’ve decided to clean houses, you may wish to target wealthy, two-income households that make in excess of $125,000 – these people may consider the time spent cleaning their homes a waste of money, considering the opportunity costs to them.

Is house cleaning a good cleaning business?

How do I start a residential cleaning business?

Starting a residential cleaning business requires some planning and investment, especially if you’re planning on offering a complete home cleaning service, as opposed to a specialised service:

  • Draw up a business plan. You may be able to draw on other businesses for inspiration, or you could buy into a turnkey business opportunity to take advantage of a tested business plan.
  • Invest in equipment. Research and purchase your equipment carefully, so that you’re not wasting money onto unreliable or inefficient tools. A business in a box should provide you with everything you need to get started.
  • Get trained properly. Understand the ins and outs of your new industry, so you can provide a great service. Alternatively, pay for training from a successful business owner to avoid making costly mistakes early on.
  • Find your first clients. Draw on your pre-existing social network to find your first clients, you may need to charge a discounted rate at first before building your reputation.
  • Build your client base. Provide a great service and build your client base by seeking referrals and advertising in your local area. A franchise or turnkey opportunity should provide you with marketing support.
  • Promote deals and offers to your existing clients. Keep your client base happy and engaged by offering promotions to get them talking about your business. You could use social media or other digital marketing to do this.

How long does it take to clean a house?

It takes a four-person cleaning crew 60 minutes to deep clean a 1,000 square feet house [9]. If you’re starting a cleaning business by yourself, then it could take 4 hours to complete the same job. The length of time it takes to clean an entire house will depend on the cleanliness of the home and its size. Choosing a specialized cleaning niche could reduce the time spent on each job and improve your profit margins.

Can you clean houses without a business license?

To legally clean houses you will need to register at your local county administration office [10]. This is rarely a difficult process, however, you may need to seek guidance before doing so. If you’ve invested in a turnkey business then you should receive support from the seller to get your house cleaning business licensed properly.

Do house cleaners bring their own supplies?

House cleaners will sometimes bring their own supplies and equipment. In other cases, house cleaners might only bring their equipment and ask the client to provide the cleaning products they use. Specialised cleaners will bring their own equipment and products, as clients aren’t expected to have this in their own homes.

How do I get office cleaning contracts?

Get office cleaning contracts by formulating a consistent pricing strategy and determining how your services can be adapted to suit this niche. You’ll need to differentiate your house cleaning service from your office cleaning service, so that it’s clear to both audiences that you are capable of doing both well [11].

Setting up costs

How can I start a cleaning business with little money?

Starting a cleaning business with little money can be achieved by starting on a small scale and relying on tried and tested marketing techniques don’t require additional investment.

  1. Do the cleaning yourself. Even if your ultimate plan is to just manage the business in the long term, you will have to start out doing the cleaning yourself.
  2. Build word of mouth referrals. Marketing costs can quickly mount up, save money by building referrals through word of mouth instead [12]. Offer a great service and encourage customers to share their experience.
  3. Invest in functional, affordable equipment and uniforms. You’ll need to invest some money into your business, in order to efficiently do your work.
  4. Use free online marketing tools. Facebook and Google My Business are two major platforms you can use to promote your business for free. Keep them regularly updated to make the most of them.
  5. Establish your brand values. Set yourself apart from the competition by defining your brand values and sticking to them in practice.
  6. Develop rapport with clients. A happy client base is the backbone of a successful cleaning business, understand their needs and customise their service, so they’ll continue using your service and tell others about you.

How much does it cost to start a small cleaning business?

A small cleaning business can be started for as little as $500, especially if you’re willing to start with the most basic of equipment and go without personal transportation. Realistically, however, even starting a small cleaning business can cost as much as $20,000 – especially if you’re buying into a franchise model that charges a monthly fee. Some turnkey business opportunities can cost much less and charge no monthly fees.

What equipment do you need to start a cleaning business?

The equipment that you’ll need to start a cleaning business will depend on the scale of your operation. For example, a house cleaning business would need:

  • Protective gloves and masks
  • Bleach
  • Bathroom cleaning solutions
  • Floor cleaning products
  • Wood polish or varnish
  • Soft sponges and cloths
  • Microfibre cloths for dusting and polishing
  • Stiff cleaning brushes
  • A mop and bucket
  • A caddy or belt to carry equipment
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Waste disposal sacks

A cleaning business that specialises on one specific item, such as windows or BBQs can cut down on costs as they will only need equipment and materials for those niches.

Getting clients for your cleaning business

How do I get my first cleaning client?

Marketing is the only way to get your first cleaning client. Once you’ve found your niche and decided on the area that you’ll cover, you’ll be able to advertise to people in that area. In some respects, marketing is as important as offering a quality service. After all, you could offer the best service in the world, but if no one hears about it, then no one will hire you.

In some cases, first-time business owners may find that getting their first client is the biggest challenge, however, there are proven methods to make this process much easier. Turnkey business opportunities will include marketing materials and strategies to help new cleaning business owner get the ball rolling.

How do I get clients for my cleaning business?

Get clients for your cleaning business by:

  • Offering an exemplary service which generates referrals.
  • Start a referral program that gives existing customers a discount on your services.
  • Sending out flyers in your local area to drum up interest.
  • Building an email list from locals who are interested in your business.
  • Investing in paid advertising on Social Media.
  • Building a website with content targeted for local searches.
  • Keeping your Google My Business account updated with news and deals [13].
  • Promoting incredible offers or bonus deals to your existing customers to encourage word of mouth.
  • Sponsoring a local sports team or charitable organisation to raise your profile.
  • Engage with your local community or business networks to build contacts.

How do I continue to get clients for my cleaning business?

Continuing to build a client base is necessary for a cleaning business to succeed. Most cleaning businesses get new clients through a mixture of referrals and via marketing. Basic marketing strategies can help cleaning businesses improve their reputation, such as asking for reviews from happy customers, targeting specific locations with marketing materials and using digital marketing to boost your reach. Whilst quality service is always required to keep building on a client base, there are many other ways to expand your new business’ reach.