Hello and Welcome! This is a step by step guide on getting started with a Residential Cleaning Business.
Who is this guide for?
I help and serve those individuals who are looking to start their own Residential Cleaning Business.
- It’s for those who are just looking to make a little extra money to supplement income and to clean homes on their own.
- It’s for those who are looking to make a full time income and want to hire
- It’s for those who are already cleaning homes, but are looking to start expanding their business.
What does it take to start a cleaning business?
Starting a cleaning business is simple and does not cost a lot of money. As a result it takes very little effort and very little money to start your very own cleaning business.
For a few hundred dollars a month, lots of middle class families are hiring maid services, like yours, to meet their cleaning needs. Most people don’t have time to clean. We live crazy, busy lives now a days and in most families, both parents work. Cleaning generally gets thrown to the bottom of the to-do list!
And the awesome thing is, you could easily start a cleaning business in a day…that’s ONE DAY.
Additional Blog Posts to Read:
- Read this post if you need help with pricing your cleaning services: What to Charge for House Cleaning Services
- If your nervous quoting your cleaning services and want to know the best approach to take, read this article: How to provide a house cleaning quote
- If you need help with building your new client forms, and what to put in a new client welcome kit, read this article: New client welcome kit guide
- If you need help with marketing, but don’t have a ton of money. Read this article: Low cost marketing idea’s for your cleaning business
- Get help with business forms through My FREE resources page, down load my free resources
- Get access to My Recommendations page, where I share the products and equipment I used.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are Affiliate Links. What that means is I may earn a small commission if you click on one. This comes at no additional cost to you as the buyer. All of these products are products that I used exclusively in my Cleaning Business. I only recommend products or services which I have used, tested and highly respect. When you order through my link it helps to provide you free content. I greatly appreciate your support!
The cleaning industry is a very low entry, easy access market. Because of the small financial start up costs and licensing requirements, virtually anyone can start a cleaning business. In fact when I started grad school I started a cleaning business as a fun project and hobby. But figured out how lucrative the cleaning industry could actually be!
I have created a step by step guide to help you in starting your own cleaning business.
How to Start a House Cleaning Business
1. House Cleaning Business Business Plan
Estimated Cost: FREE! There is no cost in you creating your own business plan.
Your business plan is like your road map. To succeed in your cleaning business, you need to have a documented focus so you know where to go. Without it, you will become lost and loose focus.
At the bare minimum, your business plan should answer the basic who, what, when, where and how of your business functions. This will allow you to clearly define and be consistent with your services.
Because of the ever changing markets and needs of your customers, your business plan is an ever changing document. Therefore, keep in mind that as your cleaning business grows and the markets change, you will want to re-evaluate your plan.
- Who will you serve. You need to designate who your target market will be. Will it be higher income families or middle income families?
- What services will you offer? Will you offer continual residential continual services or 1 time foreclosure cleans?
- Where will you service? Will you service your local neighborhoods? A local city or metropolitan area?
- When will your hours of operation be? Will you clean Monday – Friday, 8am – 4pm? Will you include weekends?
- How will you run your business? Will you hire employee’s? Will you clean with 1, 2, or 3 person teams? What kind of equipment will you use (and subsequently need)? Will you use green cleaning or traditional cleaning supplies?
2. Pick a name for your house cleaning business
Estimated Cost: FREE! There is no cost for you to choose your business name.
Picking a name for your cleaning business can be fun. You get to use your creative side. But keep in mind, your business name should clearly define what your cleaning business does. When people hear your business name, they should know you’re in the business of cleaning houses!
To choose a name for your cleaning business, start with the core key words of Maid, Cleaning & Service. Put those words at the top of a sheet of paper and start writing as many adjectives as possible and adverbs that will describe your company and describe what makes your company stand out. This will help you create a list of possible names for you to choose from.
3. Choose your business structure and file your cleaning business name.
Estimated Cost: $50 – $200, this depends on your state fees and the type of structure you choose to file.
A business structure is the type of legal structure your company operates as. The type of structure you choose will determine what type of tax return forms you will need to file.
The different types of structures include sole-proprietor, partnerships, Corporation, S-Corporation, or Limited Liability Corporation. Each have their own tax advantages based on your business type, liability, and size. It is extremely important to educate yourself on the different structures and how taxes are paid and filed with each. You should ALWAYS consult with a tax professional who is familiar with your situation.
Start with whomever prepares your taxes. They will be familiar with your personal tax situation and can lead you in the right direction for your needs.
For information on choosing a Business Structure check out the following sites.
Once you have chosen your business structure you will need to file your name with your state. To save money you can file one your own. Or your CPA can assist you in filing.
Registration requirements vary by state. Be sure to check with your State’s website to make sure you are compliant.
4. Apply for an EIN
Estimated Cost: FREE! It is free to file for an Employer Identification Number with the IRS
An EIN is an Employers Identification Number. It is a tax ID number to identify employers and certain businesses. If you filed as a Sole-Proprietor, you may not need an EIN. I do recommend applying for an EIN, though. You most certainly need it when you hire your first employee.
To apply for an EIN, you will need to file a SS-4 with the IRS. It is free and simple to apply, so I highly recommend doing it now.
There are a few ways to apply for your EIN. You can apply online (I highly recommend this option, you will receive your Number right away!), by fax, snail mail, or phone. The IRS has information on the options of filing here.
To apply online you only need to be a business operating in the US.
5. Get a Business License
Estimated Cost: FREE – $50. This depends on whether your local municipality.
The good news is there are no Federal Licensing requirements to start a cleaning business, Yeah! (Another reason the cleaning industry is so easy to jump into!) BUT, some states and/or local municipality may require a business or occupational license to conduct business in your area.
A business license (also called an occupational license) is basically a permit that allows you to conduct business in your local jurisdiction. When you apply and are approved, you will be authorized to conduct your business in the specified geographical area.
For instance, the city municipality in my area requires what they call a ‘Business Tax’. It is their version of an occupational license. For a residential cleaning company the ‘tax’ is $50. Which really is not very much.
Not sure if your area requires a business license? The easiest way to know, is to call your local municipality and ask. That is what I did. It was a 5-minute call between wait time and conversation.
The SBA is a world of training and information. Visit this page —–> SBA.gov to find your state and search licensing requirements. Not all states and municipalities require this, and if they do the costs are minimal. But it is very important that you verify the information. You could be liable for fines in the future if you do not comply with your states and local municipalities requirements.
6. Get Business Insurance and/or Bonding
Estimated Cost: Dependent on number of employees and business size
You will want to get business insurance for your cleaning business. Accidents happen, we don’t like to admit it, but they do!
In the cleaning industry we clean many different surfaces and around lots of possible break-a-bles that you’ll want to make sure you will not be liable to repair or replace any of that damage. That is why insurance is a very important piece of your cleaning business.
Business Insurance is not as expensive as you may think.
When you first start a cleaning business, it may seem easy to cut costs and/or corners by not obtaining insurance, but it can really cost you in the end. I remember thinking insurance was going to be this HUGE expense…..in fact it cost very little.
I was really nervous about this step, that I put it off to the very end. But once I called around for quotes, I realized it really wasn’t! Insurance is based on your business volume and payroll amount.
If you are starting out with just yourself, you will not be spending thousands or even hundreds of dollars of insurance. My first monthly premium cost to insure myself was about $30/month!
Insurance is so important for your small business, I dive into how it can help your company stand out and protect you from costly mistakes. Read all about it here —–> 5 Reasons to insure your cleaning business
How to get insurance for your cleaning business
To get insurance, always get multiple quotes. Shopping for business insurance is similar to shopping around for car insurance. I recommend that you start with your car insurance company. You already have a relationship with them, therefore most time you can get a discount with bundling with your car insurance.
Other good sources to shop for liability insurance is through a local insurance broker. I ended up using a local broker when I started my company. I gave them the coverage I wanted, and they shopped around for the best deal. And so, they ended up coming in lower than my car insurance provider did.
How to Run Your Cleaning Business
How to Run your Cleaning Business
Many people start a cleaning business using products from their house. But as you start cleaning more and more houses you will want to get separate equipment and supplies to use for your business. You will need a vacuum, mop, towels, cleaner, dusters, apron and cleaning basket.
A few things to keep in mind
Keep your supply list consistent. Don’t just purchase cleaners because they are on sale one week. Your customers will expect a consistent cleaning service. You will not be able to clean consistently if you are not using the same products.
Choose quality over cheaper options. This will keep your cleaners effective and your clients surfaces safe. I recommend using a quality All Purpose cleaner that can be used in both the bathroom and kitchen.
Buy in bulk when you can.
This will save you money with shipping and product cost. If your cleaners are sold in concentrate, this is the best way to buy them. Your store bought cleaners are diluted as well, you should not have to pay for water. You can dilute the cleaners yourself using dollar store water bottles.
We ordered a lot of our cleaning products on Amazon Prime when we could. If you have a Prime account you can get FREE 2 day shipping. If you use my Affiliate link you will get a 30 day FREE trial to Amazon.
We found most of our supplies on the site, and most of the time at a lessor price as well. To save even more money I applied for the Prime credit card. When you make a purchase using your Prime card you receive 5% back on your purchases. Further more, I would use the rewards on future purchases to save even more money.
Earn rewards to pay for Cleaning Supplies
Short on cash? You can earn points using Swagbucks, an online rewards site that pays you to complete online searches, surveys, playing games, shopping and more. Most users earn between $20 – $200 a month, which is enough to cover your cleaning supplies.
If you use my link here, and earn 500 points in your first month, you will get an extra $5 worth in rewards.
Create a consistent cleaning system you will use for each house clean. Even though all homes are different, you can still create a consistent cleaning system for your business. This allows you and your cleaners to clean faster but maintain high quality.
Your cleaning system should look as follows: Wear an Apron with needed supplies. Start cleaning from top to bottom, left to right. Do not clean an area more than once. Wipe with your dominant hand (right or left) and pick up items with the other.
You should be cleaning in a constant flow. Never retracing your steps. It is helpful to start in the back of a home and finish by mopping your way out the front door.
Read my Article on 5 Rules to Speed Cleaning
Have a consistent cleaning system will save you time and money and will allow you and your cleaners to clean more homes while maintaining a high level of clean and customer service.
An area many small business owners seem to neglect is finances. It is easy to get wrapped up in how to clean houses and how to get more clients. But it is just as important to know where your money is going.
Whether you clean by yourself and have no employees or you have several employees cleaning daily for you, having organized books and knowing where your money is going is crucial to your profitability.
There are several options for recording business transactions. For smaller businesses (1 Cleaners) using an Excel spread sheet should suffice. But as your company grows you should look into other online accounting programs.
Online accounting programs can be Free for basic packages. Programs offering Free bookkeeping software include WaveApps or FreshBooks. Or you can look for other online options such as Quickbooks which also have the ability to run Payroll, tax statements, and other financial statements.
What you should be tracking:
1. Track Revenue:
First of all, keep a daily/weekly income log. You will need to know how much revenue you are making. Each time you clean a customers home, log how much revenue was collected and log how long it took to clean the home.
2. Track Payments:
Recording payments from clients and following up on those that may be late in paying. Most residential cleaning services require payment up front, but it is important to know who is not paying you on time.
For information on collecting payments from clients read my article: How to Get Paid for Your Cleaning Services
3. Track Expenses:
Cost of Good Sold (COGS) is the total cost it costs your business to perform a service. This includes labor cost, cleaning supplies and small tools (do not record equipment like vacuums here).
What this information will tell you includes whether or not you are charging enough for cleaning services. Or it will tell you if you are spending to much on supplies. Additionally, it can also tell you if your labor costs are too high. In a nut shell, COGS is something you as a cleaning business owner should be tracking regularly.
4. Track Mileage:
Mileage is another expense to track. The main reason is that the IRS allows for businesses to expense mileage to cover gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. As a residential cleaning service your mileage will be a considerable expense for your business.
Your mileage log should include the date, mileage, places driven and for what purpose. Each time you drive to a clients home record the date, number of miles and the clients name.
Read More about Bookkeeping for your Cleaning Business
Getting your first clients can be intimidating. But it does not have to cost you a lot of money. The key here will be to create a marketing plan. Your marketing plan should be diverse so that you can put your name in front of a larger population. What that means is, do not focus one only 1 channel.
Create a Simple Website
1. Sign up for web hosting. Web hosting is what holds your website. If you use my Affiliate link for Blue Host you’ll bet webhosting for $2.95/ month and a Free Domain Name for the first year.
2. Create your Domain name. You’ll want to use your business name as your domain name.
3. Build your website. I recommend first using a free template. Many website providers offer free templates that you can use.
4. Include the following pages: Services Offered, About me page, Contact page (include your phone number and email address), and Reviews Page (As you collect reviews from clients update this page. This helps to build trust with your potential clients.)
5. If you have additional budget you can add booking to your website. This is a great goal to reach for. Booking forms are becoming more readily used and allows you to book clients while you are out working on other areas of your cleaning business.
Low Cost Advertising Efforts
Marketing can be expensive, but when you are first starting out you will have limited resources. Therefore taking advantage of as many low cost marketing will help to keep costs low, but grow your cleaning business at the same time
Some ideas for low cost advertising include local Facebook groups, rating sites such as Yelp, Google Business Listing and putting a sign on your vehicle (make sure you have business insurance for your car before you do this).
For more additional resources on getting more clients read my additional blog posts:
Here are my tips for moving forward with a successful Residential Cleaning Business. For a more extensive list visit Pro Tips to Running a Successful Residential Cleaning Business
Keep a professional image.
Inviting a business into your home is personal. Homeowners want to know they can trust you. Presenting yourself in a professional manner 100% of the time will help build that trust.
Have a consistent cleaning process.
You want to provide quality service in the least amount of time. You will achieve this by cleaning with the same cleaning process for every home you go into.
NEVER BID FOR A JOB.
There is this saying in the cleaning industry, if you must bid for a cleaning job set your price 2.5 times more than your normal. The reason being is, you do not want that job!
Have the right tools.
Make sure you have the tools to complete the job. Don’t show up to a house without a vacuum and mop! Trust me it happens 🙂
Don’t undercut yourself.
Make sure the prices you are charging will result in profit. NEVER work for less than what you are worth. In the beginning it takes time, but make sure you know how much you need to charge to make a profit. Otherwise you will never make money with your business.
Don’t overspend with fancy tools and marketing.
If you cannot afford it, don’t make the purchase. My first year I spent $225 a month on an ad in a community. I was promised huge exposure. I never got ONE call from that ad!!! Most of my clients came from free or low-cost marketing efforts. If you are first starting out, $225 a month on an ad is WAY out of your price range.
Well that is it! Now you can market your services and get your first client…which you can learn how to here —–> Growing your Cleaning Business …. and you will be on your way to success.
You are never alone and I am here to help. If you ever have any questions drop me an email and I will be glad to help guide you in the right direction. I have been there and I have lived through it! I know what you are going through 🙂