How To Start A Cleaning Service Business

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by Tom Watson on March 30, 2010

Starting a cleaning service business is not rocket science.

But with that said, you do need to educate yourself (the education part is a very important step). Starting a cleaning service business is one of the easier businesses to get started.

With common sense, hard work and the determination of a pit bull you will succeed. To give yourself the best chance of success you will need to educate yourself however. This is not to say it’s impossible to start a cleaning service business today and still be in business in five years from now without ever picking up a book. That certainly does happen.

You just improve your chances of success exponentially by reading a book or two in the beginning. Though my goal is to point you in the right direction, no one article can encapsulate the entire process of starting a cleaning service business. Take what you read here and build upon it by continuing to learn as much as possible in every way possible.

When I first began my career as a business owner I had very little going for me in the traditional sense. I had no formal training in the business world whatsoever.

I never even managed one employee at any job in my entire life.

Looking back in time I wonder what made me think I could pull off such a task. But with the hindsight of over ten years behind me I attribute my success in great part to learning from others. Especially from those who set out to out to do exactly what I wanted to. I wanted to learn every detail I could. I was a sponge so to speak.

Without learning from those who walked the same path the process would have been much more painful. Firsthand knowledge of a topic is just invaluable and I highly recommend you invest in some educational material. Spending some cash on the right materials will save you many hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Reading also saves you tremendous amount of time because you get to skip the whole trial and error process most people go through. Business is all about getting a return on your investment. Education is an investment that is second to none.

Mentally prepare yourself. Turning to the next part of the process, you need to be mentally prepared. Things do not always work out as planned. Many times the simplest tasks turn into projects that you did not expect. You will need to accept that before you begin to soften the blow when the inevitable problem happens.

When I first started my cleaning business I was determined to make it work, no matter what brick wall I had to run through. But even with that mentality I still went through stretches where my will was tested. Expect some problems to appear out of nowhere and keep moving forward no matter what. Don’t lose momentum if you can.

The act itself of starting a cleaning service business is not terribly hard. It just involves many tiny little tasks that need to be completed. Most people get frustrated by all the hoops you need to jump through. This is why most work for someone else.

You also need to know that you will be the CEO, CFO, Manager, Supervisor, Quality Controller, Bidder and phone answerer all at the same time. None of it is hard in and of itself. What gets you is that you need to be a little of everything.

I would also spend some time thinking about what type of company you want to build. I will give you some suggestions of what traits fare well in my opinion. Companies that are built on relationships, value and trust succeed. Business is all about building relationships, then adding a valuable service in a trustworthy way.

Much like you want to be a good friend to someone you care for, business is no different. Care about your customers problems then go out and solve them. Building that type of company will ensure your services are in demand.

Financially prepare yourself. You can not start with ten bucks and expect to succeed. The act of starting a cleaning service business does cost money. Not nearly as much as most other types of businesses, but you need to have some set aside to begin.

While you are taking the time to educate yourself (as mentioned earlier) do your best to set aside as much as possible. I do not have a dollar amount that will work for everyone. With that said I think having $500 to a $1,000 to start would be a minimum for a bare bones start-up.

Part of your learning process will include money management as well. Do not spend money before you need to and do not waste it on items you do not need. Be wary of people who claim to know the best way to get customers. For that matter be wary of anyone who wishes to part you from your money. You will run into many so called experts. Most are only experts at parting your money from your wallet. Unless they have a long track record of verifiable success, proceed with caution.

Set some goals for your cleaning business. Goals are just mile markers on the way to your dreams. You pass them each time you complete a task on your to do list. Spend some time thinking about what you want to accomplish. Put a time line to it then make a list and start crossing them off.

It does not need to be a complicated process with a flow chart. Grab a yellow pad and put your dreams to paper. The process of goal setting holds you accountable which will propel you forward.

Run your own race. Rule number one is run your own race. Many beginners look to mimic what the business down the street is doing. This particularly manifests itself in how people determine how much to charge for their service.

Do not copy what others are doing. Odds are the company you are emulating will be out of business in five years, maybe less. You wouldn’t follow someone off a cliff, so why do the same with your company? This does not mean that you can just randomly charge some ridiculous rate for your service.

You do need to study what the market rate is and you do need to spend time determining what your costs are. This is what drives your pricing structure. With that said I would not spend a ton of time trying to be the lowest price. Most people know what low prices get them. That is low quality. The added benefit of charging more is you get better quality customers. Ones that want a good job and are willing to pay for one.

My experience is that people who want the absolute lowest price also want to squeeze every penny out of your effort. This means nothing but grief because you are stuck with a customer that wants both low price and high quality. Catering to those types of customers will have you running back to your old boss begging for your job back.

Get ready for business. As I mentioned earlier you need to spend some time determining how much to charge for your services. Do some research on what the market prices are and compare to what you think your costs are. I can’t tell you what to charge because only you know what your expenses are. Remember the goal is to turn a profit, so don’t be afraid to charge for your time.

Your going to need to get your marketing materials in order. These items would include business cards, flyers and sales letters to name a few.  Taking the time to have quality marketing materials produced, even if you make them yourself is a good idea. You need to produce first class materials to charge first class prices so take your time.

Having a logo that sets you apart from the pack is also highly recommended. Logos provide a polished look to all materials they are placed on and they help you brand your image. People will know your company at a glance once they become familiar with your logo.

Websites are another must have item. They work for you all day everyday and all night too. The days of people going to their phone book to find companies is nearing an end. The Internet has changed the landscape of business and you will need to get online to get noticed. A website also allows you to get your entire message out to the masses. Having a one page flyer or two page sales letter can only convey so much information. A website tells the whole story.

Have fun. Starting your own cleaning service business is a terribly satisfying experience. It provides financial security, personal freedom and many other perks that working for someone else does not offer. It may not happen overnight but it will happen. Put one foot in front of the other and before you know it you will be on your way to owning your own cleaning business. If you have the determination to get up everyday and go to work you can get up everyday and run your own cleaning business. Like I said earlier, it’s not rocket science.

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