How to Start a Cleaning Business From Scratch and Make $300+ Per Week!

How To Start a Cleaning Business

The House Cleaning for Profits System
Free 5,000 Word Guide

Start a Cleaning Business

Domestic cleaning is one of the largest growth sectors within the US, UK and other countries and regions where the population has above-average wealth.

The demand for house cleaning services has quadrupled over the past ten years and it had an estimated turnover of $53 billion in 2019 (www.franchisedirect.co.uk) and is predicted to double over the next five years alone.

The cleaning industry is still a really busy industry regardless any downturn in the economic climate, therefore making it a very viable home-based cleaning business option today.

The Demand for House Cleaning Services

With over 60% of the US & UK population who turned 50 years of age in 2010, and this age group having 75% of the total disposable income, there is clearly a growing market for offering home cleaning services to this age bracket.

In addition to this age bracket, there is also a growing trend in the need for home cleaning services to:

  • Professionals
  • Busy families
  • Working Couples
  • Working Singles
  • Elderly
  • Disabled

This is mainly due to a dramatic increase in two-salary households. The lifestyle of these ‘cash-rich, time-poor’ households mean that they have no time or little inclination for housework duties. In addition to this, there is a distinct change in the role of mothers and home life, which is also contributing to the increasing demand for household cleaning.

Lastly, it’s practically recession-proof.

Wherever there’s dust, there’s a demand for cleaning services!

I’m sure you will agree that the above is pretty impressive as to why you should get in on the act now, take advantage of this demand, and start profiting from your own home-based house cleaning business!

Below you will find the main points you need to know and take to learn how to start a cleaning business as an Independent Cleaner and follow the formula to make $300+ per week.

1. Legalities

Now, before I start here the legalities of running a small business will be different in different countries.

For example, as of writing this you have to register your business name in the USA, but you don’t have to register a business name in the UK. Yes you need to register your business within three months of trading in the UK, but not register separate for your business name;

For UK customers, please visit: Gov.uk – Self Assessment

For US customers, please visit: SBA – Launch Your Business

For customers in other countries find your local service that helps small businesses.

Here is a breakdown of what you should do to make your business legal. But once again, please note that this will differ from country to country.

  • Register your business name
  • Register your business
  • Pay income tax
  • Register for VAT (only when you are making over a certain amount per year)
  • Open a business bank account

Then you need to:

  • Insure your business
  • Insure yourself for any breakages
  • Get good references
  • Get yourself CRB checked*

*By getting yourself CRB checked (police checked), will give you an advantage over your competitors. It does cost a few pounds, but it is worth it.

Think about it. Your customers are looking for a trustworthy cleaner. What better way to prove your trustworthiness, than by showing documentation that you have been police checked and have not done time for burglary!

You can even put reference to this on your advertising.

For further information visit: Disclosure & Barring Service (UK)

2. Choosing a Business Name

For advertising purposes, you really should give your cleaning service a name. It could just be your own name, i.e. ‘Joan Walter’s House Cleaning’ or you could give it a more generic name i.e. ‘Your Sparkly House’. Well, you get the idea anyway!

Having a business name forms an identity for your business. If you are serious about making a profit and an income from this, then you need to take your little business seriously and it all starts with a name.

If you’re still stuck, look in your local Yellow Pages and Online to find out what other house cleaning services are calling themselves. Don’t copy anyone’s name. But it will give you a good idea and get your brain storming ideas of your own.

3. Set-Up & Costs

As an Independent Cleaner, there is very little you need to buy to start your own business. Most Independent Cleaners tend to use the cleaning products and equipment of their customers.

However, you will find that one or two of your customers who will expect you to bring your own cleaning products. Therefore, it is best to get a stock of these from the beginning. This will be covered in more detail in the next chapter.

The following are what you will probably have to spend some money on:

  • A good diary
  • Cleaning products
  • Advertising
  • Traveling costs

The main expense will be your advertising. Advertising is discussed below.

But what you need to know now is that you need some up-front money to get your business off the ground and let everybody know about you.

If you don’t have any money at all to start-up, don’t worry, I have a good tip for you…

Have you ever sold anything on eBay? If not, then now is the time to learn.

  • Go around your house and see what you don’t want anymore. And I mean anything! Clothes, books, ornaments, toys, unopened perfume or other smellies.
  • Open an eBay account and start listing all your unwanted items. Then ask your friends and family for their unwanted items and sell them too.

To get an ebay account go to:

www.ebay.co.uk www.ebay.com.au www.ebay.com

You’ll be surprised at how much money you can raise simply from selling unwanted items from around your home. You can then use this money as your start-up capital to buy your cleaning products and advertising materials.

If you are serious about getting a full-diary and making a good income from your house cleaning service, then you should plough some money from your profits into advertising every month.

4. Cleaning Supplies

As mentioned above, most independent cleaners tend to use their clients’ cleaning equipment and supplies. So, whenever possible you should try to do this too.

You will find that some people insist that you use their cleaning products, their own vacuum cleaner, their own mop, dustpan and brush etc.. If this is the case, then do as your customer wishes.

However, you will also find that some of your customers will expect or want you to bring and use your own cleaning products.

You will need to get an initial supply of cleaning stock.

Here’s a list of what you will need and how to use them:

Light scented multi-purpose cleaning fluid

There are a lot of different multi-purpose cleaning fluids in the shops. I wouldn’t go for the cheapest, you do need a good cleaning solution to get the job done right.

How to Use It: Use your multi-purpose fluid with a stockinette cloth for just about anything. However it will not take off stubborn stains.

The trick for mirrors, chrome and glass is to use your multi-purpose cleaner, then buff the whole area with a microfibre cloth. You should buff a mirror, for example, until there are no streak marks on. The trick is that the microfibre cloth should always be totally dry.

If a customer complains to you that the cleaners have left streaky marks on their mirrors, you will then instantly know that they did not buff the mirror with a dry microfibre cloth!

Vinegar

Some people swear by using vinegar to clean. Vinegar is also good for wooden floors when it is diluted with warm water.

How to Use It: Apply a small amount of vinegar on a damp cloth for general
dusting and cleaning.

For floors, put a cap full into the bucket first then add war water.

Toilet Cleaner

You need a good quality toilet cleaner. Try and get one with a light scented
fragrance.

How to Use It: As you enter the bathroom, the first thing you should do is put the toilet cleaner down the toilet. Continue cleaning the rest of the bathroom leaving the toilet until last. Clean under the rim with a toothbrush then simply flush the toilet and close the bathroom door.

Cream Cleaner

Some people loathe a cream cleaner as it always seems to leave white streaky marks. However, they are great for getting off stubborn stains and water marks in bathrooms and kitchens.

How to Use It: The trick here is to wash it away with warm water then buff the area with a dry microfibre cloth.

Undiluted Floor Cleaner

You need a good strong floor cleaner that is not harmful to wooden floors.

How to Use It: Put one or two capfuls of the floor cleaner into your bucket, then add water accordingly. Mop the floor in a figure of eight motion as opposed to pushing rigorously backwards and forth. This covers more floor
space, is less exhausting and is actually quite therapeutic!

Degreaser

The degreaser is great for softening and removing stubborn dirt marks and grease.

How to Use It: Spray the area with your degreaser then wipe with a wet cloth or scouring pad. Once the dirt/grease has been removed spray the area again with your multi-purpose cleaner and wipe away any smears. If necessary, buff with your microfibre cloth.

Disinfectant

For the sake of cleanliness, it’s best to clean your mops and cloths on a regular basis.

How to Use It: If you can, try and get a spray disinfectant so you can spray your mop at the end of every clean before going on to the next job.

Washing up Liquid

Pretty self explanatory. Always handy to have in the caddy tray to wash any unexpected dishes.

Tip: Make up a mixture of washing up liquid and water to wash windows. This gets the windows shiny and gleaming and also saves you money by not having to purchase a separate window cleaning fluid! Don’t forget to buff windows with your dry microfibre cloth!

Caddy Tray

This isn’t totally necessary, you I think you will agree that having a caddy will certainly help hold and organize your cleaning products.

Flick Sticks

Flick sticks or feather dusters are great for dusting at heights.

How to Use It: For dusting tops of shelves, mirrors, pictures etc.. Make sure you rid the flick stick of dust before moving onto the next job.

Stockinette Cloths

These are very cheap and effective. You will need to buy a large supply of these cloths. You will find that you go through dozens of these every week.

Tip: Buy a supply of white and colored cloths. Use the colored ones for the bathroom only and the white ones for everywhere else. This instils hygiene.

Microfibre Cloths

A cleaners must have! You must purchase good quality cloths and lots of them. Try not to go for the cheapest option, quality is a must-have with these cloths. These are used dry for buffing your glass, mirrors and chrome, shower cubicles etc.

Bucket and Mops

As with the microfibre cloths, you need good quality mops.

Tip: Buy coloured mop heads for the use in bathrooms only. Again, this Keeps hygiene at its utmost.

Scouring Pads

You need two different grades of scouring pads. A non-scratching scourer for benches, these are usually white. Then you need a heavy-duty scourer for more robust areas such as shower trays, these tend to be green.

It’s important that you are aware of the two different grades as you don’t want to scratch a customers’ bench or oven top.

Window Squeegee Handle

For larger windows it’s quicker to use a window squeegee handle – just like the professional window cleaners (but for internal use only).

How to Use It: Wipe the window with your washing-up liquid and water solution, then start at the top of the window and work your way down from side to side. Buff the window with your microfibre cloth if need be.

Rubber Gloves

Always have a supply of rubber gloves.

Tip: Have a specific color of gloves to use in bathrooms only.

Shaving Brush / Powder Brush

Really handy to have to dust small knick-knaks and ornaments. Also good to use on stair spindles.

Toothbrushes

For use on stubborn stains in small crevices, grout between tiles and the toilet rim.

Tip: Have a specific color to use for the toilet only.

Bleach

Don’t use it!

Bleach is very toxic and hazardous. It’s not healthy for you to use and it doesn’t do your clients’ furniture any good.

It splashes very easily and can therefore ruin items such as bath-mats if you’re using it in the bathroom for instance.

There are plenty of other strong cleaning fluids on the market now that are less harmful and toxic so there really is no need to use bleach anymore.

If a client absolutely insists on you using it, keep it until the very end of your clean. This way you won’t have to breathe in the toxic fumes.

5. Types of Cleans

You will find that people want different things from you.

Here’s a breakdown of what you could be asked to do:

Weekly regular clean / Bi-weekly regular clean

  • General dust and vac of either the whole house or designated rooms/areas prioritized by the customer.

One-off blitz

Clean absolutely everything you can think of from top to bottom:

  • Behind sofas, beds, tables, all furniture
  • Wipe down all woodwork (doors, door frames, window frames, skirting boards
  • Vacuum everywhere and behind all furniture (use the vacuum tool to get into corners and sides of carpets)
  • Mop everywhere on wooden/laminate floors
  • Internal windows, window frames and window sills
  • All ornaments
  • Kitchen: all surfaces (including cupboard doors and handles, tiles on walls, sink, fridge door, cooker/hob top (not inside oven)
  • Bathroom: tiles, inside and outside shower cubicle, toilet, floor, buff up shiny taps. Don’t forget to use toothbrush and cream cleaner on dirty tiles or marks around the taps.

Thorough in priority rooms

The same as a blitz but only in specific rooms – not the whole house.

Spring Clean

  • Clean inside cupboards (kitchen mainly) or could be bedroom cupboards, bookcases (take books off shelves)
  • Internal windows
  • Dust, wipe and vac
  • Anywhere else that is specified by customer

As time goes by and you gain new customers, you will find that your diary will be filled up with mostly bi-weekly regular customers.

You will also find that you get many ‘one-off’ customers that just need a house cleaning blitz, or just want certain rooms or jobs done.

If you are handy on the PC, then why not type up a cleaning requirement list. You can leave these with your customers who will then write down what they want cleaned that week.

This is also handy if you are going to offer a key-holding service. A key-holding service is where the customer gives you a spare key to let yourself in.

You can then go off the cleaning checklist that your customer has left for you. You can find a sample Cleaning Checklist at the end of this book.

6. Identifying Potential Customers

You need to know who your customers are going to be and where they live.

You might not have your own transport, so this will have to be taken into consideration. If you have a car then you will be able to travel further a field and be able to do more cleans per day.

If you don’t have your own transport, then you should try and target people near where you live. But you will also need to identify if the people in your area have the money to pay for a cleaner. This is very important.

You need to target people who can afford a cleaner. Not only that you will want to target people who not only need a cleaner, but also have the money and are happy to pay anything from £12 per hour (more on this in the pricing chapter below).

I’ll repeat this again…

You need to target people who can afford a cleaner
You need to target people who are happy to pay $15+ per hour

This is the secret ingredient to the
House Cleaning For Profits System!

You also need to know if there are enough of these ‘premium’ customers within a certain proximity of each other. Ideally you would want as many customers as close to each other as possible. This way you can do more cleans per day.

You need to identify who your customers are going to be. It is very important that you get this established now as the effectiveness of your advertising depends solely on reaching the people you want as your customers.

So, for maximum profits you will want to target:

  • Busy families with a dual income
  • Single professionals with no time or inclination for cleaning
  • Professional couples with no time or inclination for cleaning
  • Retired couples or individuals with high disposable income

These will be your ‘premium customers’ who will look at your benefits and professional service and not just at your price.

By targeting this market your premium customers will:

  • Have the disposable income for cleaning services
  • Be happy to pay £12+ per hourhave had cleaners in past and looking for a new one
  • Have cleaner but not happy and want to replace
  • Don’t want a Mrs Mop who chats and drinks coffee all day
  • Like the quick and professional service you can offer
  • Are happy to write a cheque or even set up a standing order

You see, these premium customers see past the price and go for your professionalism and quality service. This is why they will help you reach your maximum profit of £300+ per week.

You just need dozens and dozens of these people as your customers!

These are the type of people who will turn their noses up at cleaners charging only $7 per hour. They will automatically think that these cleaners lack professionalism and do shoddy work. Therefore, you want to set your standards high from the beginning.

7. Pricing

You need to set yourself a price structure. The best way to do this is to ring around the local cleaners in your Yellow Pages (Yell.com) and find out what they are charging.

Just be aware of the difference between an independent cleaner, a cleaning agency and a professional cleaning company when you are doing your research.

You want to ring small local cleaners like yourself – an Independent Cleaner. The agencies and more so the professional cleaning companies, charge a much higher rate, so these aren’t really your direct competitors. The other local independent cleaners are.

You can then set your hourly rate in proportion with your competitors.

Whether you choose to undercut them, charge the same, or set your prices slightly higher is totally up to you.

You could also charge per job. However, this means asking many questions over the telephone about the size of the house and what needs cleaning in order to get an idea of what work is entailed.

You could also go out to the prospects’ house to have a look and then give an estimate.

However, I feel for someone who is just starting off and who is working on their own, then you will be better off charging by the hour. You can always change your price structure in the future when you are more confident and have more experience.

Don’t Go Too Cheap

Don’t get sucked into the trap that if you charge less than your competitors, you will get more jobs.

There are many reasons why you should not rate yourself as ‘cheap’.

1. If you only charge $9 per hour, then the psychology of your clients will tell them you probably will do a shoddy job;

2. You will have to work yourself to the ground in order to make a healthy profit;

3. Remember that you have to pay for ongoing advertising and to keep up your stock of cleaning products. All this comes out of your $9 per hour!

In other words, you have to cover your expenses.

This ties in with who your customers are going to be as discussed above. If you target people who live in the poor part of town, then they will not have the money for your service and can probably only afford $9 an hour.

Thus, you would be wasting your time and your money on targeting these people.

However, if you target people with a bit of money, people who live in affluent areas, then they will happily pay you $15-$20 per hour. You just then have to prove that you are worth that much money.

So, for example, if you charge $15 per hour and you had a full diary of 5 hours of cleans per day, five days a week then that would be making you $375 per week!

$15 x 5 hours = $75 a day x 5 days = $375 a week.

But don’t forget

You have to prove that you are worth charging that higher rate

8. Keeping Your Customers

You have been successful in your advertising and have targeted people with money and are charging at least £12 an hour. Good for you!

The next step is keeping your customers. You will find that you do get many one-off jobs. There’s nothing you can do about this, except do a damn good job. Leave a business card with them in the hope that they will use you again for their next ‘spring clean’ or they may recommend you to friends and family.

What your aim is to try and get as many regular customers as possible, then keep a hold of them.

Here is a list of what you should do to keep your customers happy:

  • Always be punctual and turn up on time;
  • Be smart and clean. Wear black trousers if you can with a clean apron.
  • Have two or three aprons to use;
  • If you’re going on holiday, give them plenty of notice.
  • If you’re off sick, ring them as soon as you can;
  • Always be polite and courteous, but don’t stand chatting. This is very important;
  • You must give out a professional image;
  • Always have a healthy stock of cleaning products;
  • Always do a spotless job of cleaning;
  • Regularly ask them for feedback and how you can improve on your service.

A happy regular customer means
regular money in your bank account!

And by doing all of the above points, you are proving to your customers that you are worth the hourly rate of $15-$20 that you charge!

Also, a happy customer will tend to talk to their neighbors and friends about you.

There’s nothing better than free advertising from good word of mouth.

9. Advertising That Works

If you don’t carry out advertising activities, then no one will know about your cleaning service. The best and cheapest way to do this is to create small flyers and to put them directly into your potential customers’ letter box.

This is by far the best advertising method within the house cleaning industry.

Simply type up your flyer in a word processing document or publisher or get somebody to do this for you. Try and put at least two flyers on one page. Take these your local library or wherever has a photocopier. Get them copied as many times as you can afford.

On these flyers you should try to list your benefits/what you offer along with your company name, telephone number and hourly rate.

If you can, try and have these printed on good quality paper.

Remember who your ‘premium’ customers are (Step 7 above) and find out where these people live. Is there a specific housing estate where you know that professionals live there (doctors, solicitors, dentists etc).

Or is there a school near you and you know that the houses nearby are full of dual-income families?

Take some time to think about where your premium customers live and then map out exactly where you’re going to put your flyers.

Then put your flyers out by the hundreds if you can. You will be surprised at how quickly this actually takes. Hopefully by the time you get back home, you might even have your first phone call!

You should expect a response rate of between 1%-3% on your flyers within a few days of delivery. So this means for every hundred flyers put out, you could expect between 1-3 inquiries from potential clients.

This is what you should expect:

Distribute 100 Flyers (approx. 1½ hours)

Result in One to Four Inquiries

Result in One to Two New Customers

Result in $$$

So, you can judge by the above scenario as to how many flyers you should distribute by the hundreds in order to get five hours’ worth of work a day, five days a week (approx. 1,600 flyers).

Hire Help

Once your diary is full of cleaning jobs, you won’t have time to put any flyers out. For this reason, you might want to consider hiring someone to do this for you.

If you know someone, then that’s great. If not, put out some flyers advertising for a distributor, or put a small lineage ad in your local newspaper.

They only need to do about 4-5 hours of distributing a week to help tide you over with new customers. Pay them about £7 per hour.

A sample flyer is at the end of this book.

Yellow Pages

In addition to flyers, depending on your budget, advertise your cleaning service in the Yellow Pages. If you cannot afford this from the onset, once you start making some money you can then think about placing an advert then.

Business Cards

Business cards are always handy to carry around with you. They are also great for you to keep a hoard of in your car to hand out or leave behind with customers.

As with the leaflets you should try to list the benefits of your services along with your company name, address and telephone number. These should be on good quality card as opposed to paper.

Tip: Our good friends at Vista Print can do your business cards for you at a very reasonable price, sometimes free on special promotions!

www.vistaprint.co.uk www.vistaprint.com www.vistaprint.com.au

Newspaper Adverts

From personal experience I wouldn’t bother paying for adverts in local newspapers. They simply do not work and are not financially beneficial as they are not targeting your ‘target market’.

10. Additional Tips for Success

Below are some very handy and useful cleaning tips and ideas.

These will help you portray a professional image for your cleaning service:

  • Wear clean, tidy uniform at all time
  • Be polite at all times
  • Don’t forget to empty bins
  • Switch off all lights and close all doors when finished
  • Polish light switches
  • Look for the ‘Cleaning Requirement’ list from customer. If no list, ask the customer what requires cleaning. If customer not there and not left list, use the priority method (living rooms, kitchen, bathrooms).
  • Offer a key-holding service
  • Provide references and policy check documentation

For that ‘extra touch’ do the following ‘finishing touches’:

  • Fluffing and rearranging cushions
  • Organize shampoo bottles – labels facing
  • Fruit bowl – rearrange
  • Fold face flannels
  • Fold or roll towels
  • Sweep doorstep
  • Clean front door
  • Clean door handles
  • Clean light switches
  • Move furniture slightly (this shows you have moved furniture to vacuum)
  • Tidy papers/magazines etc.
  • Push dining/kitchen chairs under table

11. Expanding

Once you are well on your way of having a full, jam-packed diary you might want to think about expanding your cleaning business. By now you will be beaming with confidence of what you have accomplished all by yourself.

So thinking about hiring a cleaner to help you expand should not be too daunting.

Put an ad in your local newspaper advertising for a cleaner. Once you have chosen a satisfactory candidate take him/her with you on your cleaning rounds for him/her to get used to your cleaning methods and techniques.

Once you are happy and confident that he/she can go and clean on their own, you can then either have some free time to yourself or double your customer base.

Once you are totally confident with managing cleaning staff there is no reason why you can’t hire more cleaners.

To give you inspiration to expand, it is very doable to make in excess of $100K per year when hiring/employing your own cleaners. You also don’t need an army of them neither. You could make this kind of money from employing only a few cleaners.

12. Closing Comments

I hope you have enjoyed reading this free 5,000+ word guide, but more importantly I hope you have found it useful and learnt at least the basics on how to start a cleaning business from scratch.

I truly hope that you can use some of the tips and techniques to help you get started with or expand your own house cleaning business. Everybody is different and everyone has different expectations and visualizations of how their cleaning business will operate.

I cannot guarantee that you will succeed, and I also cannot guarantee that you will make $300 per week, but it is totally possible. I can only provide you with my knowledge and experience in this field so that you can use this book for reference purposes as you set up and run your own house cleaning business and make a success of it.

I wish you all the luck in the world and hope that you truly succeed!

Claire Bullerwell x

How To Start a Cleaning Business from Scratch

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