One of the more popular questions I get asked about concerns construction cleanup type work. This specialty comes in many different flavors.
This involves anything from cleaning up commercial properties or single family homes once the builder completes them to simply cleaning up after a renovation has taken place.
There are many different ways you’ll stumble across this type work. Over the years I’ve done retail construction cleanup, fire restoration jobs, industrial buildings, multimillion dollar home cleanup to name a few.
How I found my construction cleaning accounts
The vast majority of all construction cleanup jobs I ever landed were acquired either by simply stopping in at a construction site or some type of direct mail effort. I know that may sound pretty simplistic, but as with most money-making endeavors TAKING ACTION is the best avenue to take!
You will want to do a little bit of BOTH APPROACHES to get money coming in. At the end of the day you need a “marketing mix” to get the best possible results. You can’t be a one trick pony and expect the phone to ring. Aim to be “well rounded” in all your marketing efforts!
As far as the specifics go, if you want to drop in at a site in person and introduce yourself you’ll want to pay close attention to your surroundings. You can do this by paying attention while on the road. Odds are you are in your vehicle for a good stretch of time each and every day.
Make use of that time by looking for any type of construction taking place on homes, retail settings or commercial properties. Maybe there is a new sub-division of homes going up near you. It could be a small group of homes, or maybe even a single home all by itself being built.
When you find these places just stop in and ask for the site manager. Your goal is to find the person in charge of the site and introduce yourself BRIEFLY. Odds are this person is very busy. My goal was to say hi and hand them my card. If they asked some questions I would answer them. Pretty simple stuff!
Retail strip malls also present opportunities for those looking for work as do any type of commercial property. If the building is “going up”, then someone will be cleaning it once complete. That’s a fact! You can also run into situations where the property is established but a new vendor is renovating the facility. That will work too!
If you want to mix in some direct mail then focus on sending your marketing material to builders, property management companies and general contractors. All I ever did was send out a sales letter, flyer and business card. Nothing fancy! The common thread through all of this is ACTION. You need a whole bunch of it.
My overall experience with construction cleanup
I can’t say I’ve done more of this type work than anyone around, but I’ve done my fair share over the years. I never really focused on it. I did it kind of “on the side” in a sense. I was really so worried about keeping the “regular work” running smoothly that I didn’t devote much time to it.
In my opinion this type work is perfect for “extra income”. This means I would not “totally focus or bet the ranch” on just trying to land construction cleanup jobs. In my experience the work comes and goes, not to mention it swings with the economy.
When all is well in the world there is plenty of work to find then you’ll be sitting pretty. However nothing lasts forever and when the economy turns sour it slows to a trickle over time. It’s not a good idea for your business to fluctuate that much. When it does your income will fluctuate too!
Construction cleanup jobs I’ve been hired for
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve done a little bit of everything over the years. Most were of the smaller variety, but some on the other hand were pretty big ones. I must admit that on a few of the larger jobs I was a little nervous during the bidding process and over the course of the job itself. All in all everything always worked out!
The retail outlet construction cleanup
To give you some actual jobs, one was a retail post construction cleanup job in a high-end retail shopping mall not too far from where I live. The complex as a whole must have about 50 shops, anything from ultra expensive jewelry stores to fancy restaurants. We saw construction taking place and stopped in.
The site was being renovated for a very large national clothing company. They basically gutted the place and started over. This meant lots of dusting, cleaning windows and detail type work as the dust got into every nook and cranny of the place. Nothing really hard to pull off from a cleaning stand point.
The guy in charge asked me for a price so I went back to my office and added up what I thought it would take to clean. I bid the job at $850.00 and he said yes. Once we started the cleaning he started to ask for more and more detail which was outside of the original contract.
This meant the job wound up DOUBLING in price by the time we were complete. So we brought in some decent revenue – and plenty of profit – for just a few days work. Needless to say I was very pleased with the outcome. If Sue hadn’t spotted the site under construction we would have missed out!
The apartment complex construction cleanup
This particular account we landed by mailing a sales letter, business card and flyer to a property management firm. We mailed the letter then NOTHING HAPPENED despite several mailings. We thought all was lost until the phone rang with a man telling me to meet him at the job site construction trailer.
Turns out it was an apartment complex that had a major fire. The management company that called me not only managed the complex, they built it too. To make a long story short they needed someone to clean each apartment once their crew was done the renovation.
There was a “catch” however! There were 68 individual apartments that had to be cleaned and the time frame to clean them was short. They were going to be ready at the rate of about 5 to 7 per day. This meant we needed to have crew on site every day until the job was done.
This meant the entire job would be fast and furious! All those units would be ready for a final clean within a two-week period. I put a price together that was just short of $10,000. They said yes and I hoped for the best! Turns out the pace of construction was slower than expected luckily. They said 2 weeks for all units, but it actually took 6 weeks.
There were still stretches of being very busy. They would complete them in bunches, then expect us to be ready to clean them on a moments notice. This meant long hours and working weekends most of the time when the call came to clean. Once all the work was complete I was a very happy cleaning business owner!
Regular customer construction cleanup
I’ll wrap this up by making mention of one final way you may get construction clean up jobs, and that is by your regular customers having renovation work done. This was the case for my last example of construction cleaning. Naturally, this job was landed because they were happy with our regular service.
To cut to the chase, this one customer totally revamped their facility. They went first class all the way, spending untold mountains of money in the process. I already knew this customer was free spending, so I bid it on the high side knowing I would likely get what I asked for.
The job was a one day clean, so I needed to make sure I had the manpower to pull it off within the given timeframe. I was told I had 8 hours on a Saturday to go from dirty to clean. So I had my 5 best people plus myself to supervise. I bid it at $1,440.00 knowing that worst case it would come to $30 per hour.
I did “kind of know” that the guy in charge of hiring me didn’t like to spend his entire day off on the site, so he would really want us gone early, maybe by 2 pm. This meant if we hustled we could make out like bandits! This is EXACTLY what happened as we were all done just after 1 pm!
When all was said and done I made a LOT of money for a pretty easy job. I don’t want to give the impression that this is normal BECAUSE IT’S NOT! I included it because these type situations are possible from time to time if you know how to “read the tea leaves”.
Construction cleanup summary
If you are serious about growing your cleaning business then this type work should be a part of your service portfolio. I would highly recommend starting small then working your way up from there. You need to get your feet wet on jobs that you can feel comfortable bidding.
When I first started out I went around to single family homes that were going up on single lots. This allowed me to get a feel for how to bid the job and how to clean it. Before you know it you’ll feel comfortable with the process. This approach allowed me to work my way up to larger and larger jobs.
One house in particular was a huge mansion. This is crazy, but the “blueprints alone” cost the homeowner $300,000 to have drafted. Yea, that is a ridiculous amount of money to spend. The house sold for several million when all was said and done. We were lucky to clean it. In case you are wondering, we got that one by direct mail.
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