Tips for beginners to the cleaning business

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by Tom Watson on September 11, 2016

When I first started my cleaning business I was a total novice. I never ran any type of business before and I’m sure it showed.

Yet despite jumping into the business world without much experience I was able to succeed via a combination of determination and boundless enthusiasm. With that said, I wish I knew more.

And that got me thinking, which leads me to today’s post. The goal is to touch on a few topics that may help out the beginner to the cleaning business. These are geared for those who are just getting started in their own cleaning business.

Tips for beginners to the cleaning business

Take the long view – A successful company will take some time to build, so give up on the idea that this will happen in the next 60 to 90 days. Building a business is all about building relationships with people. This process takes time and can’t be rushed. Think about getting your first five accounts, and focus on that. Then once you get them, make them AS HAPPY AS POSSIBLE. Once that is done, REPEAT THE PROCESS.

Start small and go from there – A lot of people want to start bidding the largest building in town right off the bat. While that is tempting, it’s not wise if you are a beginner. As my old mentor once said, “when you start small you make small mistakes (which you can recover from), when you start large you make LARGE mistakes” (which may be fatal). Start with smaller 1,000 to 4,000 square foot properties and master that first. Then bid larger ones, NOT the other way around.

Do the work in the beginning – I always recommend you knowing the business inside and out, and this is especially true when it comes to performing the work. For you to effectively bid this is crucial. You need to know “how long things take to clean” before you can master bidding a job. As an added bonus you wont get bamboozled by staff who claim they need more time to get done PLUS you’ll earn more due to lower payroll costs.

When you do hire, choose the best “attitude” – Having employees who know what they are doing is great, but the one thing more important than that is having employees that REPRESENT your company in the best way possible. Good, positive and enthusiastic employees do that better than anyone. A “great cleaner” with a bad attitude will do MORE HARM than good! So hire great attitudes and train them well!

Don’t get complacent – It’s easy to get a few good paying jobs and then sit back and just cash their checks without doing the best job you can. I thought it would never happen to me but it did. I did the work myself at first, and cleaned well. But then I hired people who started off good but then went down downhill because I didn’t oversee their work. Guess what happened? I got fired! Learn from my mistake!!

Focus on getting jobs at first, THEN focus on getting higher paying ones – This concept is kind of tricky. When new, you NEED EXPERIENCE. This means you may have to bid some lower end jobs to get that experience.  It’s called “paying your dues”. From there you need to TRANSITION to getting jobs that pay more. This means upping the price on all new estimates so that you secure better margins. It’s like baseball… when new, try to hit singles. After a while go for doubles and triples (and the occasional home-run/grand slam).

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to our Cleaning 4 Profit RSS feed. If you are looking for a step by step blueprint that will show you how to start your own cleaning business, then check out my Cleaning Business Training Manuals. If you need a great website or would like to upgrade what you already have then you may want to take a look at my Cleaning Business Website Packages.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Renee Clark September 11, 2016 at 5:31 pm

I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for keeping it simple and taking the time out to share, it really means a lot to me.

Renee C Clark

2 Tom Watson September 12, 2016 at 10:18 am

Hi Renee! I’m happy you enjoyed it. Thanks for commenting!

3 H.P. September 14, 2016 at 11:54 am

Great Advice. Thanks

4 MariaG September 17, 2016 at 10:31 pm

Great tips Tom! thank you!

Question: which is more profitable (and perhaps less headache) , an employee based cleaning business or a referral cleaning agency? Unlike the employee based, I can’t seem to find much information in regards to running a referral agency.


5 Tom Watson September 19, 2016 at 4:13 pm

THANKS Maria! To your question… I ran a business that had employees, so that is all I know. I would think having staff is better.

6 dof November 29, 2016 at 4:46 pm

great tips Tom your website is really helpful

My question is how to approach customer for first time for office cleaning?
send them a proposal letter include my price of office cleaning or send them a letter letting them know that my business is around and is doing promotion of 20/50/75% off and wait for them to call me for free estimate

please tell me what’s the best way ?

7 Tom Watson December 11, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Hi DOF… I used direct mail (a sales letter and flyers combo, which is in my start-up guides). That was my main approach, I also joined networking groups, handed out flyers, advertised on craigslist (free!), among other techniques. I did offer a big discount (normally 25% off) to get people to sign up.

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