The Mailbag Volume 3: Answering some common questions about the cleaning business…

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by Tom Watson on October 11, 2015

I’m going back to the “mailbag” today, which means I’ll be sharing my two cents on some questions that folks have asked me lately.

Today makes the third installment of this series. The second one is here and the first one is here in case you missed it.

If you are new around here, I’ll make mention that I try to answer as many questions as possible via email. So if you have any, you can always reach out to me via my contact page. Anyway, let’s get started!

I’m new. Do you know of any way to make an invoice for the customer?

Great question! There are a few different ways to go about it. I recommend a program called QuickBooks Pro 2016. It’s an easy to use program that does more than just make invoices, as it also allows you to track income, expenses and who owes you money among many other features.

If you can’t afford to part with any cash at the moment, I’ve written a post on how to create an invoice for yourself (it’s not all that hard). I can also suggest you try out a website that allows you to create your own. Simply head on over to

I just started a house cleaning service. How do I get this new client to try me FIRST?

I always offered 25% to 50% off the first cleaning as the “hook” to get them to try me. Keep in mind this “special” did not include any HEAVY DUTY or ONE TIME DISASTER AREAS. You have to go and see the place FIRST before you price the job and see if it “QUALIFIES” for the promotion.

The goal here it to have people who regularly have their home cleaned to SWITCH providers. Then it’s up to you to KEEP THEM. Will some clients use you once then dump you… possible. But that’s the chance you take.

I never felt that a big discount is desperate, it’s just a way to get people to TAKE ACTION. Offering 5, 10 or 15% off doesn’t move the needle enough in my opinion. You need to WOW them to take the needed steps to make a change in who cleans their home. That is my position anyway.

What special paragraphs should I include in the contract to protect myself?

Well that is a BIG topic, so it’s hard to summarize in a paragraph (my courses have the actual contracts I use) but I will provide a few to get you started. Off the top of my head here are some things you may want to address…

1 – I would address how you expect to be paid. I always made the terms net 30 (need to be paid within 30 day of invoice date). Let’s say I get hired to start Jan 1. When this happens I mail them an invoice Jan 1 and make it payable net 30 (end of month).

2 – I would add a paragraph stating what would happen if payments are late (possible suspension or termination of services).

3 – I would address who supplies the cleaning solutions (you or them). It’s normally you.

4 – I would address who supplies the paper goods (that is 50/50, as sometimes it’s you and sometimes it’s them). If it is you, then spell out the cost of each item.

5 – I would make it known you won’t take out trash that exceeds some predefined limit (you don’t want to be tasked with tossing out 150 pound filing cabinets).

6 – You reserve the right to cancel for inclement weather

7 – What holidays if any your will have off.

8 – What time you can enter facility.

9  – The fact that extra keys may be needed (you can’t have just one key to share with an employee for entry into building).

That are some of the things you need to at least think about. There is more than that, but at least you have a head start!

I’m new. Is it possible I could clear $1,000 or more per month within three months?

Yes you can, but that doesn’t mean it’s 100% guaranteed. In some ways it just depends on how the jobs fall. Some jobs will be more than that in and of themselves. At other times you may need to string several jobs together to get $1,000 per month coming in. Hard to tell, but I will say it’s certainly possible (much more probable than not if you follow through on your day to day effort).

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 gary October 11, 2015 at 1:31 pm

I use Microsoft excel for my invoices. I’ve got in built into my ledger.

2 Tom Watson October 11, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Hi Gary! That’s a nice method.

3 Mary Beiter October 11, 2015 at 3:40 pm

I found using a company Estimate Rocket is excellent to use. The website organizes all of your contacts, invoicing, photos, contracts, ect. It’s well worth the $25/month.

4 Tom Watson October 11, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Hi Mary! THANKS for sharing that with everyone.

5 gary October 11, 2015 at 10:26 pm

Not sure I would want an online company to manage my company, just saying.

6 Tom Watson October 12, 2015 at 8:31 am

The upside is that it’s only 25 per month (though that does add up to $300 per year EVERY year), the downside is what happens to all your info once you leave or they go out of business.

7 Angela October 21, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Hi Tom,
Now that the business has grown to the point of 7 employees and 15 contract’s with more prospects in store can you tell me a good Scheduling software you recommend? It’s been simple to this point but now with a new sizeable 7 day contract with multiple people working it I thought I would ask your thoughts in comparison to my current ways.


8 Tom Watson October 25, 2015 at 10:01 am

Hi Angela! To your question… I never had one that was worthy of being recommended. I tried a whole bunch, they all were either too simple for my needs or too complicated.

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