How to build your own cleaning business contract

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by Tom Watson on September 29, 2012

The great thing about starting a cleaning business is that you don’t need all that much to get started.

Aside from the bare minimum of supplies, you are pretty much ready to go right out of the gate.

This of course is why so many people choose the cleaning industry. It’s a way to break free of the ball and chain most folks refer to as “my job”. At least that’s how I felt. I wanted “more out of life” than a job could give me.

Anyway…like a said a moment ago, you don’t need “much”. But one thing you do need is a contract of some sort to get the customer to sign. This doesn’t need to be as long as a Donald Trump prenuptial mind you, but you do need something that outlines the service you offer.

When I first got started, I crafted my own contracts from scratch. In fact, I do that to this day. While the contracts have gotten a little longer over the years, it’s basically 90% the same as when I started.

The way I look at things, you need to keep it simple.

Why? The reason is three-fold:

  1. Simple is ALWAYS better than complicated.
  2. I like simple.
  3. Customers like simple.

Of the three reasons I just mentioned, number 3 may be the most important factor. This is because if you try to get the customer to sign a 10 page service contract, they will probably send you packing (leaving you empty-handed AND broke).

The reason why is clear! Nobody wants to sign a lengthy contract because most people worry about “hidden details” buried deep on page 7 in fine print that they can’t see or because of their short attention span, don’t want to bother reading. So like I always preach…keep it simple! This is how I approach creating a simple cleaning business contract.

How to create your cleaning business contract

1 – Place your company name centered on the top of the page.

Perfectly Clean LLC
109 Davis Lane
Boston, MA 02201

2 – On the left margin a few inches below your company name, list the name and address of the person (and or company) that the contract is for.

Proposal for:
Smith Dentistry
37 Industrial Highway
Boston, MA 02201

3 – Below that you want to list the job requirements (how often and exactly what you will be doing each visit).

Work Schedule: one time per week. Legal holidays excluded.

  • Front door glass to be cleaned inside & out nightly
  • Clean and sanitize bathroom counters, fixtures, mirrors and sinks
  • Refill paper products and soap dispenser as needed in bathrooms
  • Sweep & mop bathroom floors
  • Clean & sanitize sink, exam table, fixtures & counters in each exam room
  • Dust and mop or vacuum exam rooms depending on surface
  • Clean & sanitize break rooms / kitchen areas sinks, fixtures, counters & tables
  • Dust common, office areas
  • Vacuum all remaining carpet
  • Sweep & mop any remaining VCT and or hard surface floors
  • Empty/remove all trash liners and replace with clean liners, remove trash to designated area
  • Check for bulk trash and remove if needed
  • Straighten floor mats by entry and exit doors

Monthly:

  • High-dust for cobwebs
  • Dust return air vents
  • Edge all carpeting

4 – Next make mention of who is supplying the paper goods if any (C-fold towels, toilet paper, tissues etc…). If it’s you, list a price for each item. Consider something like this…

Customer to supply all paper goods and trash liners. Perfectly Clean agrees to stock such items and notify when in need of re-ordering if requested.

5 - Then I also make mention that my contracts are “month to month”, and can be broken with 30 days notice by EITHER party (for any reason whatsoever). I do this because in “my opinion”, folks are afraid to sign up for long-term deals.

They worry “what happens if this new company stinks” (then I’ll be stuck with them). To avoid that I go the month to month route. Besides, if they don’t want me there, I don’t want to stay anyway!

If you noticed, I made mention that EITHER party can cancel the contract. I do this because I like to give myself an “out” in case I don’t like the deal for any reason. Who knows… maybe I underbid the job or maybe the customer is WAY TOO DEMANDING. Whatever the case, I’m not stuck! Keep it simple like I do below…

No long-term contract is required. Service is provided on a month-to-month basis and either party may terminate with 30 days notice.

6 - Below that in bold spell out the cost of the service AND when payment is due. Be sure to make mention whether it’s a per visit price or a monthly price. Nothing fancy…

Pricing: $ 175.00 per month plus sales tax (due upon receipt)

7 - Leave space for signatures at the bottom for both you and the customer. Don’t reinvent the wheel…

Customer Representative:____________________________
Date:________________

Contractor:_________________________________________
Date:________________

What you see above would sum up a VERY simple contract between you and your client. Please keep in mind I’m not a lawyer.  So if you craft your own contract, you may want to run it by an attorney to make sure you are on the right path.

With that said, if you are looking for an “official” contract, you may want to check out RocketLawyer. They offer a free cleaning contract you can download and use right away (just sign-up for free).

I’ll sum this up by saying dealing with contracts doesn’t need to be complicated or scary for that matter. At the end of the day all you are doing is spelling out what you will be doing, and for how much.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to our RSS feed. If you are looking for a blueprint that will show you how to start a cleaning business, then check out my Cleaning Business Start Up Guides. If you are badly in need of a first class website then take a look at my Cleaning Business Websites.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Charlie September 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Great article! When I have time I need to come back to read some more of them.

2 Tom Watson September 29, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Thanks Charlie!

3 aj September 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm

i need more info how to get more cleaning contract.

4 Tom Watson September 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Hi AJ!

Did you check out this post I did a while back? http://wp.me/pO3Aj-1MB

5 nena wetjen October 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm

hi tom,
thanks for all the advice i learn alot.next week i will start my own business.
and i hope it work.i mwould love to buy alot of books with a soon i make my business running.

thank you.
nena wetjen

6 Tom Watson October 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Hi NENA!

I’m glad to help! You will have success, just don’t give up. Touch base if you need me.

7 plano cleaning services October 3, 2012 at 4:28 am

I totally agree cleaning contract must be kept as simple as possible so that customers are not irritated by lengthy contract…very suggestive post..i will keep your post in my idea.

8 Tom Watson October 3, 2012 at 9:09 am

Yes…no need to scare people away!

9 Intense Cleaning October 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I love the information here. Found your website a few weeks ago and am enjoying some of the reads here. I think it’s a great wealth of information for those seeking to enter the cleaning biz. I learned some new as well.

10 Tom Watson October 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Thanks! I really enjoy hearing that as I’m happy to be able to share what I know about the business. Anyway…thanks for stopping in and touch base if you ever need anything.

11 Conteh McGee November 9, 2012 at 7:24 am

Goodmorning Mr. Watson!

I’ve been promoting my company as a “commercial” cleaning service (direct mail letters, craigslist, business cards etc.) and wouldn’t you know it…residential responses! Like the old saying goes, “I’m not turning down anything but my collar!”
I have my first meeting today and this information is RIGHT ON TIME!! My man Mr. Watson…Guess I have to buy your Residential book now, lol!

Preciate the love sir,
Conteh

12 Tom Watson November 9, 2012 at 8:12 am

Hi Conteh!

You got the right attitude! Money is money no matter where it comes from. Thanks for the comment!!

13 ola ogundipe January 21, 2013 at 7:29 am

Thank you so much. This is very useful. Just in the process of starting a residential cleaning contract for alternate week.

Please what can i charge for a 4 bedroom, 2 toilets, 1 lounge,1 kitchen house initial clean.

14 Tom Watson January 21, 2013 at 10:16 am

Hi Ola! First off…. congrats on getting a house to bid. Secondly… I can’t tell you what to bid. ONLY YOU know how long it will take to clean, and what hourly charge you need to bid at on the contract. Just think through HOW LONG will you be there AND HOW MUCH PER HOUR to charge (that’s it!!).

15 Charlie January 21, 2013 at 10:20 am

Tom,

Thank you for the information, I will take this approach into consideration, great to see you helping others.

16 Tom Watson January 21, 2013 at 11:02 am

No problem Charlie! Thanks for stopping in.

17 Kathryn Thomas March 7, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Hi Tom,

I was just wondering if you should include in the contract/agreement infoirmation relating to who will be liable in the event of injury or damage to property when on site. I notice a some do this, I was concerned this could go one of two ways. It will cause concern to the client that it has got this kind of information included or it may allow the client peace of mind as they have in the agreement that they will not be liable.

Your advice is greatly appreciated.

P.S Thankyou for such a great program, it is nice to know when I have a question help will definately be on your website!

Kind Regards and many thanks
Kathryn

18 Tom Watson March 7, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Hi Kathryn! No I don’t include that. You are right… too much stuff like that will make people nervous. Anyway… if you break it, you fix it (that is the general rule). In all my years, 1 thing happened. We broke a small part on a fax machine. That’s it! Injuries are handled by workman’s comp insurance (your workman’s comp). Glad to be here for you!

19 Ashley April 22, 2013 at 11:52 am

OKAY, so on the “cheerleader” post, i JUST wrote a lengthly comment, then read this…
i would love some input, surface advice on your experience on perfecting pricing & building confidence on your pricing..

how i decided to venture into starting a cleaning business was working for a franchise cleaning comp,
they had state of the art, estimating software, and used a strict timing system that was broken down by,
1st time clean, monthly, bi-wk, weekly, one-time, etc
& then each of those were broken down to a strict system, required to follow unless approved to do it another way. or client asked us to start somewhere else cause… “changing the system slightly was going to flaw it…”
starting w/ a list of instructions, (regardless of layout of home) telling us to start with the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc each room specifically broken down, corner to corner to follow to make the ‘flawless timing’ accurate.
doing everything exactly how we were taught, and not any other way would ensure a high rate of accurate timing for correct pricing. she would remind us, that we need to be cleaning like a robot, and it would perfect this for even dirtier than normal homes….

unless under “rare occurrences of special circumstances” the cleaner should be able to meet the goal by an hour under or over that was an equal client/company fair agreement that as long cleaning stay within that extra hour timeframe nothing extra is charged, same for company if under. (which boss lady would be very concerned if we went under, especially if more than an hour. long interrogation to ensure we are following the system, cause its EVERYTHING to them, and its an almost flawless method) which i had trouble with believing cause on initial cleans, i almost always needed more time than just one hour…. but the clients were STUNNED, and pleased. and whatever her percentage she gave me when she hired me on the average tippers, was blown outta the water by me… it did start to get weird on her creepy devotion to this system, that she learned from a manual, and friendly videos. the lectures got old when she only visualized a home by customer description, then ours. if customer obviously was way off initially, we did get slack if we called when we first took a walk thru & knew it was impossible for that time. then she’d call client, and try to re price & we’d either get approved more time or not.
- point of this. i like sharing MY experinces, but also
they only did phone/email quotes…
and no contracts/bids were used.
we were only required to leave behind our checklist, comment card, mints, and maybe special gifts for FTC or special occasions, showing appreciation of their business if they had an issue. etc etc
soooooooo are contracts/bid forms needed for residential?
—i get a LOT of people scheduling a FTC, and unsure if they are gonna commit to more cleans, usually from past bad experiences…
they are always happy with me,
but more and more i don’t end up getting regulars,
or they will just sched. again whenever!! months later, and
expect a lower price cause they already had the FTC, and run into issues

i firmly believe ALL homes have hot-spots, and especially on the FTC, need the extra TLC, and individualized needs, and more time is needed in 2 full bathrooms sometimes than the kitchen.. FIRST TIMES take me SO much longer when they didnt have reg cleans or if the old one was lacking that special cleaner eyesight, wealth of knowledge from experience. i really feel the need to spend that extra time to get it just right.
so would offering an incentive… 50% of first time clean, if you schedule regular bi-weekly/weekly cleans..or sched. a second cleaning with two weeks?

…like i said i am confident i can TALK the TALK about how i can stun with my cleaning, and follow it with WALKING the WALK by living up to that talk about the “sizzle”

…..i am just lacking confidence in expressing my pricing.
and sometimes i am concerned that i don’t have “estimate software” so i could be under-pricing
and the other concern is that
from taking notes from the franchise,
i may be too comparable to their overly priced selves,
and not within the competitive prices of local small family type owned cleaning services.
so how did you float into finding that perfect wave of pricing things right.
research you did?
do you charge more for FirstTime cleans, and if so, how much difference is that from regular cleaning afterwards?
do you have a way of comparing dos and donts of pricing?
how do you handle a customer saying your too expensive,
and trying to lower the price?
how much wiggle room do you give for negotiating the price?

is it okay, if they don’t end up scheduling a clean, to follow up with inquiring why they decided not to go with us, for future reference, via phone/email?
is asking how they felt on pricing appropriate?
and if they felt it was too costly,
that i offer a special discount for the FTC, to get in the door, to really show that lost client, what they could be missing, why the price was that price.
ORRR if they are iffy, or went with someone else that i offer to come walk thru, gurantee to match the other cleanrs FTC price. anyway to get a chance to see the home. and if i can, have them give me a tour, and point out things that may have been missed or just not covered. and show them i do more. and it will end up making them happier, and more satisfied to choose me.
reg. cleans after that would be my pricing, to meet their new level of expectation on how a cleaner cleans! :)
good plan??!?

20 Tom Watson April 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Hi Ashley!

1 – Don’t worry about fancy software. Let your EYES tell you how long a home will take to clean. The software CAN NEVER duplicate what YOU SEE.

2 – I am not familiar with how they had people working. “Not normal” comes to mind.

3 – You can’t quote over the phone!!

4 – The boss you had probably under-estimated the time needed “on purpose” to keep her costs low.

5 – First time cleans do cost more many times (just charge twice as much if need be, then go back to a regular price).

6 – You never know who will commit to more cleanings, it’s a roll of the dice. Do the best job you are capable of (as that is what determines it most of the time).

7 – Offer 50% a second clean so not to shortchange yourself on the first (or offer 50% off the third, or forth… BE CREATIVE).

8 – I don’t worry about what others do (or what they charge). I make sure I MAKE MONEY. I bid each job as unique.

9 – First time cleaning sometimes cost more (if the house is sloppy).

10- People who think I am too expensive can go to somewhere else’s cleaning company (in general), as my goal is to make money, not be concerned with hurting someones feelings that my price is too high. A good job costs a few bucks more, and most people understand that.

11 – I don’t “wiggle” on price. I will instead ask what their budget is and tell them what I can do for that price.

12 – Don’t match others prices. That will get you BROKE.

21 somsu miah June 7, 2013 at 7:22 am

hi , i wanted to open my own cleaning business but do i also need to register my company and let the tax people now of it or when..

22 Tom Watson June 7, 2013 at 10:20 am

Hi! You do need to register it. Generally speaking you do not have to notify anyone on taxes UNTIL you start collecting them or making money from your services. An accountant will walk you through that with a free consultation (which most will gladly provide).

23 Kelly November 5, 2014 at 11:33 am

Hello I have a question I usually do residential homes however I just accepted an offer for a bakery but I cannot find a contract that I can email to the client do you have free contract downloads or any suggestions.Thank you

24 Tom Watson November 9, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Hi Kelly! I’ll send you one over in the morning. You’ll have to modify it, but it will be a start.

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