The Mailbag Volume 1: Answering some common questions about the cleaning business…

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by Tom Watson on March 22, 2015

Today I want to answer some common questions that get sent my way here at Cleaning 4 Profit.

While I respond to everyone who has a question, I thought a post in a Q & A format would be interesting.

So this lead me to scour my email bin from the last several years to come up with some questions. I hope you find some of the answers useful. Anyway… let’s get started!

Question: Have you had any problems storing cleaning products, like liquid chemicals or aerosol sprays in vehicles during winter?

Answer: Yes… living in NJ means it gets quite cold overnight. We keep supplies in bins, so they can be quickly removed and brought inside. It stinks, but that’s the price we pay for living where it’s cold.

Question: Due to the fact that I have no references . How do I sell myself?

Answer: I would not overly worry about the references. Though they are important, it’s not a deal killer. I would just not mention not having any, either when meeting customers or in any proposals you provide. You can address this topic later as you acquire some.

Question: Would you advise me to start with residential cleaning instead of office cleaning?

Answer: Concerning which field to concentrate on, they both have pros and cons. The house cleaning option can make you some quick cash because the process to hire moves much faster than commercial cleaning.

Referrals also are more likely in the residential side (one happy homeowner can spread the news through the neighborhood quickly). The downside is homeowners are quick to let a cleaning business go due to a change in the household budget (ie: loss of job).

Over on the commercial side, the process to get hired takes longer and referrals, though they do occur, don’t happen like they do over on the house cleaning side. The positives are that one commercial account can bring in much more than many housecleaning accounts can and once hired you tend to stay put as long as you do your job.

Also the commercial side does not run into “cancellations” at the last moment like the house cleaning part does. If your interested, I did a podcast on this very topic. Just go to podcast page and listen to number 7.

If you have the ability, I would consider doing anything that came up. I would focus on one from a strategy standpoint, but I would take whatever came my way to get the cash flowing.

Question: What do you think about foreclosure cleaning?

Answer: Foreclosure cleaning is a nice add-on to an existing cleaning business. In fact, my company has done many over the years. First the good news! There is a lot of money to be made in that market because those properties need more than just a regular cleaning (they can be very dirty).

Average cleaning prices may run several times that of a normal (occupied) home, maybe $200.00 to $400.00 (or more) per property (and in today’s market, there are many of these types of properties to be cleaned).

The bad news is you usually wait a long time to get paid (the bank pays you, normally just before the house goes to closing). This time frame can run a month or two (even longer), which is longer than you would like when starting a new business. For this reason, it’s probably better to skip this route at first, then add it in later as you grow.

Question: Do you recommend buying into a franchise?

Answer: That is a tough one, and it could be answered in a dozen different ways. With that said, my personal opinion is to stay away from them. They cost a few grand to buy into, sometimes much more than that, then they take a percentage of your hard-earned money, and on top of it all they limit you to a certain geographic area. Doesn’t sound like a deal to me.

For much less money you can do it yourself, and have many more options available concerning how you operate your business. Also, in all my years in the cleaning business, I have never had a client ask if I was affiliated with a franchise. This means that the general public doesn’t see it as important either.

If you were starting a burger business, then I would recommend you buy either a McDonald’s or Burger King franchise, as that is about the only way you can sell burgers in volume. But the cleaning business is much different from selling burgers, and a franchise is not needed.

Well this wraps up our first edition of “The Mailbag”. It was something a little different, and I hope you liked it. If anyone has a questions that they would like to be addressed simply email me or leave it below in the comments section. I’ll talk to you either way!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 CATE NDIRITU March 24, 2015 at 8:09 am

Dear Tom
the question and answer mailbag is informative even though my business is in Africa.I follow your articles keenly and highly applaud you.

2 Tom Watson March 24, 2015 at 8:57 am

Hi Cate! THANK YOU so much for writing in. If you need any help, just let me know!

3 Stephanie March 25, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Hi Tom,

Just wanted you to know how much I value your website and contributions! I have built my business up quite quickly using your methods, have just restructured my company and am purchasing a carpet cleaning van to add to my services. In addition I’ve added a quite profitable commercial cleanign account (my first one!) and am very excited at where things are headed for me. I would not have accomplished nearly as much without your courses, podcasts and blog information. Thank you so much!!


4 Tom Watson March 25, 2015 at 2:33 pm

I can’t thank you enough for sharing that Stephanie. I really appreciate the kind words (and keep up the good work, because that is real driving factor behind your success).

5 Kaseem April 15, 2015 at 8:41 am

Hello Tom,

My sister and I want to start a cleaning business soon. We don’t have a license to drive. So I come up with the Idea to target areas I can reach by public transportation All of my cleaning gear fits into a luggage bag with wheels quite nicely. Is this a good way to start off small.

6 Tom Watson April 15, 2015 at 11:28 am

Hi Kaseem! Why not? You are FINDING A WAY to get the job done. That is the correct mindset! Start small, save your profits, then go from there.

7 Kaseem April 16, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Thanks Tom, For your Answer.

8 Tom Watson April 16, 2015 at 8:18 pm

No problem, I’ll be here if you need me.

9 Leticia June 1, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Hello Tom,
Thank you again for this edition. I’m starting this business on my own as I’ve mentioned to you before by email and you’ve been a great help for me.
I do want your opinion on advertising door to door in residential areas. Would you recommend it?

Thank you again,

10 Keshia June 4, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Hi Tom!

This is really great and useful information. Thanks for sharing.

11 Tom Watson June 7, 2015 at 9:34 am

Hi Keshia! I’m happy to help. Touch base if you need anything.

12 Tom Watson June 7, 2015 at 9:39 am

Hi Leticia! We have done that. It’s a very cost effective way to get the word out.

13 Sharon August 13, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Hi Tom!

I have finally, after reading probably every single post you have ever put up started my cleaning business! You are awesome!
At this point the very first person that has reached out to me has asked about my references. I obviously do not have any yet. What would be your suggestion in handling this?

14 Tom Watson August 13, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Hi Sharon! I admire your dedication to read all those posts, that’s a LOT of reading. Anyway… it’s funny someone asked you for references, because the VAST MAJORITY won’t. But my suggestion is to just ask some family and friends to vouch for you. Maybe 3 / 4 people would do. I would probably just be honest and tell them you are new and don’t have any (unless you did clean for them) but here are 4 people that will vouch for my work ethic, dedication and dependability (then hand them the list of references that are nicely typed on some a piece of paper).

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