How to Start a Cleaning Business

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Cleaning may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of starting a business from scratch. However, a well-run cleaning business can be profitable. 

There is always a reliable demand for cleaning services. Eighty percent of households are expected to leverage residential cleaning services in 2024. The percentage of companies outsourcing their cleaning services has also increased by a staggering 72% since 2014.

Then there are the low upfront costs of starting a cleaning business. No formal training is required for basic cleaning jobs. You can start a cleaning business with a modest investment in supplies such as microfiber cloths, spray bottles, and trash bags. Overall, the average startup cost for a cleaning business in 2023 was just $3,500.

However, to start a cleaning business, you’ll still need to do a lot of planning. Ready to jump on the commercial or house cleaning business bandwagon? Here are five steps to follow: 

1. Market Research

Before you set up any type of business, business owners like you need to know the market first. Understanding the market is the foundation of any successful company. Without research, you won’t know how the products or services you plan to offer fit into the market and what strategies to follow to stand out and pull customers in.

Start your market research by identifying your target clients. Who exactly would be willing to pay for cleaning services? How much are they willing to pay? What types of cleaning services do they prefer? You can use surveys or interviews to gather the relevant information. The more information you get, the better.

As part of your market research, you’ll also need to conduct competitor analysis. Check out your direct competitors, or the cleaning companies in your area and those that provide a similar service. Look at their pricing structure, list of services, and marketing techniques. These details may help you identify potential gaps you can fill in the market.

2. Choose Your Specialty

Your market research findings should inform your choice of specialty. For example, you might find that specialized janitorial services for sports facilities are currently lacking in your area. This provides a great opportunity for a start-up to offer this type of service. 

You can also choose your specialty based on your skills. It would be better for you to showcase your pressure washing, deep cleaning, carpet cleaning, or pool cleaning skills if you have previous experience in those areas. After all, that also means more potential customers for you.

When picking your specialty, consider the knock-on effects of your decision as well. For instance, using the example given above, cleaning sports facilities may require a lot of evening and weekend work. Are you comfortable working those hours? If you’re not, then that might not be the best type of service to offer, unless you plan to hire someone to help you from the get-go.

Although it’s important to niche down when you start a cleaning business, you don’t want your specialty to be too niche either. This will limit you to a small audience and hinder business development. 

So, even if you’ve already determined your specialized services at this stage of your business planning, keep your options open. You might have to make adjustments down the road based on your target market’s response.  

3. Plan the Business Budget

You must set a realistic budget to get your cleaning business up and running. 

Estimate the initial costs, including equipment, insurance, and license fees. These costs will vary based on several factors like your chosen specialty and business size. 

For example, you will need specific equipment if you do window cleaning. This includes window vacuums, squeegees, and a telescopic pole, as shown below. 

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Also, with staff working outside and potentially using ladders, you’ll need to think about insurance costs. On average, the cost of business insurance for a cleaning business is between $96 and $114 per month.

The typical cost of a cleaning business license is between $100 and $500. However, the overall amount you spend for licenses and permits may increase or decrease, depending on the type of cleaning services you offer and the size of your business, among other factors. A commercial cleaning business will need a commercial cleaning license. On the other hand, there is no specific house cleaning license given in US states. Also, some local governments base how much a company will pay in licensing fees on its size.  

When creating your budget, consider your ongoing expenses, too. These additional costs include employee wages, and the money you need to spend for marketing and running a company vehicle. While some items, such as brushes and mops, can be reused, cleaning supplies like detergents will also need to be bought regularly. 

You should also specify ways you can save when planning your budget. For instance, if you stick to a lean cleaning team of three to four people, you can limit the number of company vehicles to one. That will help you further save money on fuel, tax, and insurance. 

As part of your budget plan, you might specify the possibility of applying for small business loans and grants to help you out with initial costs and recurring expenses. 

4. Register the Business

You must register your business properly. That starts with choosing the appropriate company structure for your start-up. The options are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or a corporation.

If you want complete control of your business, a sole proprietor structure is the way to go. On the other hand, if you are starting your business with one or more partners, a partnership is the best option.

Go with an LLC or corporation if you prefer some personal liability protection. These ownership modes protect your personal assets if your business suffers financial losses. 

You must register your business name once you’ve chosen your business structure. Then acquire any necessary licenses or permits to operate a cleaning business in your area. To get your business license, in particular, contact your state’s department of revenue or taxation. You’ll likely be redirected to the relevant city licensing board that will give you the requirements to obtain the license. You might also need a vendor’s license, which will allow you to collect sales taxes on the cleaning equipment you purchase. This is a requirement of some states.

Don’t forget to secure the cleaning licenses you’ll need to offer specific services. For example, to clean medical facilities, you would need a certification in infection control. You might also need health department permits for handling medical waste.

The steps to secure these specific cleaning licenses may vary depending on existing local regulations. You can consult an attorney or go to the relevant local government website to determine what specific cleaning licenses to apply for and how to apply.

Finally, be sure to set up a business bank account. A business bank account keeps business transactions, such as paying suppliers, separate from your personal account, allowing you to manage your business finances more easily.

5. Market Your Cleaning Business

To ensure the success of your cleaning business, you need potential clients to know about it in the first place. That’s why marketing is a critical component of how to start a cleaning business.

Develop an overall marketing plan outlining your promotional strategies. Here are some promotional strategies you might want to consider.

Create a good company website, like the one below:

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The website ensures practically anyone can find your contact information. Also, with a business website, visitors can easily explore the company’s range of excellent services. If you lack experience in this field, you can hire a web designer to create your site.

Make sure you also leverage social media. Use your knowledge of the cleaning industry to identify relatable content that resonates with your audience and share it, like the example below.

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Humorous, relatable content like this are great ways to engage your followers. 

You can also create your own authoritative social media content. For instance, why not create and post a video teaching your audience how to clean a pool properly? Or give some tips on how to ensure their wooden floors are in tiptop shape.

To ensure the visibility of your initial organic content, consider leveraging the services of social media agencies that offer free Instagram likes first. This is also a great way to boost traffic to your newly-created profile.

Another promotional strategy you can consider is paid advertising through Google Ads or Facebook ads. These come with targeted advertising features you can leverage to reach local customers. 

But for these, you’ll need effective landing pages to boost conversions. Have a landing page for each type of service you provide, taking customers directly to your website where they can book. You can use Instapage to create these landing pages. If that’s expensive, there are Instapage alternatives you can check out that might better fit your budget. These tools include various templates to guide you through the design process.

However, marketing doesn’t have to be all digital. Creating relationships with other local businesses and engaging with local community initiatives can also ensure the visibility of your cleaning business. 

Conclusion

Despite the low startup costs, a lot of meticulous planning is required if you want to start a cleaning business.

Thorough market research is essential. You need to understand both the industry as a whole and your local cleaning industry. Use competitor analysis to identify any gaps in the market that you could fill for potential customers. Then, using this research, you can choose your specialty. 

Next, you must carefully plan the business budget. With your specialty and overall business goals in mind, set a feasible budget that will allow you to achieve these goals. Then, acquire all relevant licenses, and register the business. Don’t forget to market your cleaning business. That’s the only way people will know your company exists in the first place.

Now go and start a cleaning business and achieve long-term success.

About the author

Nicholas Prins

I'm the founder of Launch Space. We work with global companies helping them scale lead generation through SEO and content marketing. Head over to the homepage to find out more.

By Nicholas Prins