How To Start A Cleaning Business In 9 Steps

how to start a cleaning business

Learning how to start a cleaning business is not as complicated as it first may sound. Yes, there is a bit of preliminary work and setup to complete before you get to the actual cleaning, but that’s true of any new business.

What are the specific steps for how to start a cleaning business? In this article, we answer that question and introduce you to a tool that can make opening and operating your own business so much easier.

How To Start A Cleaning Business: Preliminaries

Supplies for starting a cleaning business

1) Decide On A Specialty

The first thing to think about when considering how to start a cleaning business is the specialty you want to focus on.

Yes, you could try to appeal to as many types of clients as possible, but going too general at first can make it hard to stand out from the competition.

If, for example, you want to focus on residential customers, create a specialty, such as:

  • Home-owner-association cleaning
  • House cleaning for night-shift workers
  • Pool cleaning
  • Mattress and furniture cleaning
  • Appliance cleaning
  • Construction clean up
  • Electronics cleaning
  • Pet-friendly cleaning
  • Boat and RV cleaning
  • Car cleaning/detailing
  • Eco-friendly cleaning
  • Air duct cleaning
  • Graffiti cleaning
  • House showing cleaning
  • Foreclosure cleaning
  • Rental property/Airbnb cleaning

Once the business gets going, you can always expand your services into other niches.

2) Research The Industry

So, let’s say that you’ve decided you want to learn how to start a cleaning business that caters to rental properties and Airbnbs in your area. But how much do you really know about the industry itself?

This is where research becomes extremely important.

Read articles online. Talk to a friend who is already in the cleaning business to get their take on the industry. Get a job at another cleaning company to gain experience and see if it’s really what you want to do.

As you do all this, ask plenty of questions, such as:

  • Are there enough rentals and Airbnbs in your area to support your business?
  • Is there a need for this type of cleaning?
  • What standards are necessary for your particular niche?
  • How long would it take to clean one property?
  • What type of equipment will you need?

It’s also important to research the standard cleaning rates in your area for similar services so you know how much to charge your clients (more on this later).

3) Create A Name For Your Business

Coming up with a name can be one of the hardest parts of learning how to start a cleaning business. We suggest doing this early on in the process so that you have plenty of time to think about the choice.

You can always change the name later on, but once you register with local, state, and federal organizations, purchase insurance, and open a checking account, it becomes much more difficult to make the switch.

Changing the business name after you’ve already been in operation for some time can also be confusing for both existing and potential customers.

That’s why it’s so important to find a name you like and stick with it. Doing so will make everything easier down the road.

How To Start A Cleaning Business: Setup

Researching how to start a cleaning business

4) Register Your Business

Once you’ve got the preliminary steps for how to start a cleaning business out of the way, it’s time to register the company with the proper authorities.

You’ll likely have to start by choosing a business structure, such as:

  • Sole proprietor/self-employed — working by yourself under your own name (e.g., Joe Public)
  • Doing Business As (DBA) — a sole proprietor doing business under another name (e.g., Joe Public working as Rental Property Cleaning)
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) — a legal arrangement that serves to keep personal assets and business assets separate
  • S-Corp — an independent corporation that allows profits and losses to pass through to the owner’s personal income
  • C-Corp — an independent corporation that is taxed separately from the owner’s income

Depending on the type of business you choose, you’ll then need to register with the federal government in order to get a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

After that, you can register your business with state and local authorities to obtain any necessary licenses.

5) Get Business Insurance

You may not consider business insurance as a necessary part of how to start a cleaning business.

But, what if, in the process of cleaning, you break an expensive antique? You’ll be solely responsible for reimbursing the homeowner for the damage. That could take a big bite out of your working capital.

With business insurance, you pay a yearly rate that will cover any damages up to a certain dollar amount.

Coverage like that can protect your business from having to empty its bank account — and possibly close its doors — because of an accident on the job.

6) Open A Business Checking Account

Once you’ve got all your paperwork in order, you’ve registered your company, and you’ve purchased insurance, it’s time to open a business checking account.

Regardless of the type of business you’ve set up (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLP, or S-Corp), opening a separate bank account for the cleaning company funds helps make recordkeeping and payroll much easier.

Similarly, keeping your personal account and your business account separate makes paying taxes less of a logistical and numerical nightmare.

With a business checking account, you won’t have to spend hours at the end of the year separating personal expenses and income from business expenses and income.

How To Start A Cleaning Business: Getting To Work

Cleaners working in an office space

7) Set Your Rate

Congrats, you’ve reached the home stretch of starting a cleaning business! Only a few steps left, the first of which is to set your rate.

When considering what to charge for your services, don’t just settle on an hourly rate that you — the one doing the cleaning — would like to be paid. You need to also factor in such variables as time, taxes, supplies, overhead, and profit/markup.

Every job is going to be different, but here’s a simple way to figure out a rate that covers all your bases and an example to get you started.

  • Establish an hourly rate ($30)
  • Figure out how long the job will take (4 hours) — $120 total
  • Factor in tax liabilities (30%) — $156 total
  • Budget for supplies (5%) — $163.80 total
  • Add in overhead (25%) — $204.75 total
  • Include markup for profit (33%) — $272.32 total

Customize the dollar amount and percentages in parentheses to fit your business and use it as a way to set the rate for your cleaning business.

8) Create A Budget

Every business comes with expenses. The cleaning industry is no different.

You’ll have to pay for items such as:

  • Chemicals
  • Rags
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Clothing

You’ll also have to pay for fuel and transportation expenses to and from the job. All of these things can add up quickly and take a big bite out of your bottom line.

To prevent this from happening, create a budget and do your best to stick to it. You already calculated the major expenses for your business when you set your rate, use those numbers as a guide for building the best budget possible.

9) Find And Maintain Clients

Now that you’ve got the business set up and ready to go, now it’s time to find and maintain clients.

You may have to spend a bit up front to advertise, but there are also many free and inexpensive ways to get your business name out there.

Ask your friends and family to spread the word. Post flyers on local bulletin boards. Start a Facebook page. Build a website. Get creative with your advertising to reach as many potential customers as possible.

Then, once you’ve got your first client, do your best work and give them quality service so they’ll stick with you for the long haul.

Stay Organized With Software For The Cleaning Industry

Stay Organized With Software For The Cleaning Industry

Depending on the niche you choose, the process of starting a cleaning business doesn’t take a lot of fancy equipment.

What it does take, though, is the will to stay organized. Keeping track of appointment times, locations, specific tasks for each job, necessary supplies, and everything else can be a full-time job in itself.

But you don’t have to do it all yourself. Inch can help.

Inch is a suite of process and workforce management tools that simplify every aspect of the way your cleaning business operates.

Our software incorporates scheduling, task management, communication, and time tracking in one powerful solution.

With Inch, you and your team can perform a wide variety of tasks from any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop, including:

  • Working from a shared task list
  • Getting clarity on work that needs to be done
  • Receiving voice-assisted reminder notifications
  • Clocking in and out of tasks at different locations
  • Tracking time-on-task, as well as total time, worked
  • Accessing task checklists
  • Communicating with each other

For managers, our app makes it easy to distribute tasks manually across teams or populate tasks automatically based on preset conditions.

Managers can also assign work to the employees closest to the job site, generate tasks automatically as the need arises, and follow work progress and task completion in real time.

Our app gives you unprecedented control over an inherently complicated process and makes it easier than ever to coordinate and optimize your team and your entire cleaning business.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit today.

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