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How to start a commercial cleaning business

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How to start a commercial cleaning business?

In this blog post, we guide you on how to start a commercial cleaning business. Starting a commercial cleaning business can be lucrative and rewarding. 

Whether you’re interested in offering services for residential homes or commercial office complexes, this guide will provide you with the precise steps to set up a successful cleaning company.

 

Step 1: Develop Your Cleaning Services Expertise

Developing excellent cleaning skills is essential for establishing a thriving commercial cleaning business.

To gain experience, consider taking customer service and cleaning courses or working for a local cleaning company. This can teach you valuable cleaning techniques, product usage, and customer interaction skills. 
To improve your skills, learn specific methodologies for different surfaces and rooms while understanding the correct usage and dilution of cleaning products. 

Offering top-tier service can attract more clients, improve your reviews, and allow you to charge higher rates.

Understanding the different services a cleaning business can offer

When starting a commercial cleaning business, you should decide on the types of services you will provide.

Services can range from basic office cleaning tasks to more specialised services.

Specialised cleaning services might include:

  1. Airbnb Cleaning: These services are dedicated to rental properties, ensuring they’re guest-ready. Tasks can involve deep cleaning and restocking necessities.
  2. Window Cleaning: This focuses on cleaning outdoor and high-rise windows using specialised equipment.
  3. Power Washer Cleaning: Power washing uses high-pressure machines to clean surfaces like driveways, decks, and patios.
  4. Office Cleaning: Ensure the cleanliness and hygiene of the office environment. Involving the use of specialised equipment and techniques to clean and sanitise various areas of the office. 
  5. Medical Cleaning: Clinics and hospitals have rigorous cleanliness standards, making medical cleaning highly specialised.

 

Before deciding on the type of services to offer, research local competition to determine what services are underprovided or have high demand. 

Finding a unique service offer or niche can catapult your business to success. 

Offering a variety of cleaning services can also widen your prospective client base.

 

 

Step 2: Create a Detailed Business Plan;

Importance of a Solid Business Plan

Having a solid business plan is crucial for starting your commercial cleaning business. It will help define your mission, vision, and strategies for success. 

You can maintain focus, manage growth, and secure funding with a proper plan. Additionally, it will enable you to make informed strategic decisions about your business’s future, including potential expansions and service changes. 

Without a solid business plan, your business may lack direction and struggle to progress effectively.

 

Key Elements of a Cleaning Business Plan

A solid business plan for your cleaning business should comprise various components:

  1. Executive Summary: A brief overview of your business showcasing your cleaning business idea, the problem it solves, and how it differs from competitors.
  2. Company Description: An outline of your company, including size, structure, location, and specific services.
  3. Market Analysis: An overview of the local cleaning services market. Identify your potential clients, understand your competition, and provide a detailed analysis of your target market and its expectations.
  4. Organisation and Management Structure: Explain your business structure (Proprietorship, Partnership, LLC, etc.). Detail your management team, their respective roles, and staffing plans.
  5. Services Description: Precise details about the cleaning services you offer.
  6. Marketing and Sales Strategies: Promotional strategies to attract clients and maintain client relationships. This section should also explain your pricing model.
  7. Funding Request and Financial Projections: If seeking financing, outline your funding request. Include cash flow forecasts and budgetary information.
  8. Appendix: This is where you store license details, consultancy agreements, insurance policy information, and other relevant documents. A well-thought-out, detailed business plan shows potential lenders, investors, and other stakeholders that you are serious, focused, and ready to make your cleaning business successful.

Step 3: Choose Your Market and Create a Niche

Specialising in specific types of cleaning

Specialisation can set your cleaning business apart and make you the go-to cleaner for particular services.

The potential specialisations are vast and can depend on segments like:

  1. Green Cleaning: With more consumers opting for eco-friendly solutions, offering green cleaning services using environmentally friendly products and practices is a considerable niche.
  2. Carpet Cleaning: Offices and homes require deep-cleaning carpets, making this a sought-after service. This requires specialist equipment but can be exceptionally profitable.
  3. Window Cleaning: For commercial buildings with many glass surfaces, window cleaning can be your niche.
  4. Post-Construction Cleaning: New buildings or renovated spaces need a thorough cleaning before occupancy. Offering this service can provide a steady stream of significant project work.
  5. Sector Cleaning: Schools,  daycares, hospitals, care homes, and gyms have specific cleaning needs, distinguishing each as a distinct niche. 

 

The key is identifying which specialisation aligns with your skills, interests, and local market needs. This niche focus can help you target your marketing efforts, hone your skills, and make your business a renowned expert in that cleaning domain.

 

Step 4: Register Your Business and Legal Setup

The best legal structure for your business

Choosing the proper legal structure for your commercial cleaning business is crucial as it can significantly impact how you run it. The legal system influences many parts of your business, from the tax you pay to your liability.

Here are the most common business structure choices:

  1. Sole Proprietorship: The simplest structure. It means that you’re the only person responsible for the business and that you can include business income and losses on your tax return. However, this structure provides no separation between business and personal liabilities.
  2. Partnership: Similar to a sole proprietorship, it involves two or more people. All partners are equally responsible for the business’s debts and obligations.
  3. Limited Liability Company (LLC): This hybrid structure combines the best features of partnerships and corporations. Its structure provides owners with limited personal liability, and owners can report their share of profit and loss in the company on their tax returns.
  4. Corporation: This structure is more complex and recommended for larger established businesses with many employees. It provides the most robust protection to its owners from personal liability but involves costs and complexities in administrative operations and record-keeping.

Your choice should factor in your need to protect your assets from lawsuits against your business, how much your business might grow, and if you’d eventually like to sell your business. This decision can significantly affect your business, and you should seek advice from a business counsellor, attorney, or accountant.

Necessary Licenses and Permits

Before launching your commercial cleaning business, acquiring all the necessary licenses and permits to operate legally is crucial. While the specific requirements can vary by state and locality, there are several common and essential licenses and permits you will likely need:

 

US Market:

  1. Federal Employee Identification Number (EIN): Also known as an EIN, businesses need this Federal Tax Identification Number for tax filing. It functions somewhat like a Social Security number for your business and is required by the federal government for tax purposes.
  2. Vendor’s License: Your primary business registration license renews annually. It registers your business within your state and allows you to collect and pay sales tax on your services.
  3. Doing Business As (DBA) License: If you plan on conducting business under a different name than your legal name, you’ll need a Doing Business As license. This is renewed every five years.

UK Market:

In the UK, a business license isn’t needed. However, specific to which cleaning niche you may need additional permits, such as a waste carrier’s license for disposing of hazardous waste. 

Consult with your local government office or a business attorney to help you identify all the requirements to operate your cleaning business legally. Doing this due diligence at the onset of your business can save you from future legal problems.

Remember to keep these critical business documents organised and readily accessible, as they will often find a place in the appendix section of your business plan!

 

To find out more about licences and insurance coverage needed for cleaning companies, read this post here:

What license do I need to start a cleaning business?

 

Step 5: Secure the Necessary Funds and Set Your Rates

How much do I need to start a commercial cleaning business?

While the economic barrier to entry makes the cleaning business popular among new entrepreneurs, understanding the initial startup costs is crucial to ensure your business’s financial feasibility. Here’s a breakdown of estimated costs:

  1. Licenses and Permits: The necessary licencing and permit costs can vary depending on where you live. US prices can be between $100-$500 for business registration. This could include fees for DBA registration and obtaining EIN.
  2. Insurance: Insurance costs depend on the number of employees and can vary annually from $500 – $3,500. Keep aside a few hundred dollars per month to cater to insurance costs. 

 

In the UK, an employer’s liability insurance varies depending on the severity of risk in the job and how many cleaners you employ. Based on their specialisation and risk, pricing can vary between £60-£600 per employee. 

 

1.Cleaning Equipment and Products: Depending on the type of tools, you could spend hundreds or thousands on cleaning equipment. You’ll need a significant budget for supplies for commercial companies with lots of staff (over 100). You can decide to purchase or lease the specialised equipment at this stage. 

2. Advertising: When starting, prepare to spend around $100-$200 for print and online marketing. 

3. Labour: If you plan to hire staff right from the start, wage expense would be around $14-$20 per hour per employee.

Generally, the total startup cost for a cleaning business can range anywhere from $2,000 – $60,000 (or much more, depending on the use of vehicles, equipment and employees). 

However, finances should cover business permits, licenses, insurance, supplies and equipment, initial labour, and advertising costs. 

Knowing these costs upfront is crucial to help you decide how to fund your business and set your initial service rates.

 

How much do commercial cleaning companies charge?

Pricing strategies for your cleaning services

Setting prices is a critical decision that will significantly influence your cleaning business’s profitability. You want to set a fair price for your customers, cover costs, and generate a reasonable profit. Here are some pricing models to consider:

  1. Hourly Rate: Charging by the hour is a common approach. This way, you account for the time and labour required for each job. According to industry norms, most general cleaning businesses charge between $20-$75 per hour per cleaner.

Depending on the location, hourly rates for commercial cleaning services can vary from £15 to £40 plus VAT if in the UK. 

  1. Flat Fee: This involves setting a standard rate for a specific service regardless of length. To set effective flat fees, you must know how long different tasks usually take.
  2. Per Square Foot: Especially relevant in commercial cleaning, this involves charging based on the space’s size. For this model, the national average is between 5 and 55 cents per square foot, depending on the type of cleaning service provided.
  3. Added Value Pricing: This strategy involves bundling services at a discounted rate, making it attractive for customers looking for comprehensive cleaning.

A pricing model for one cleaning business may not work for another, as it depends on various factors, including overhead, your local market, and your costs. While staying within your general market’s price range is wise, the service quality can also impact your pricing. Some customers may be willing to pay a premium if you offer exceptional cleaning service.

Remember to review and adjust your pricing periodically. As your business evolves and your efficiency improves, your cost structures may change, requiring different pricing.

 

Step 6: Purchase necessary Equipment, Supplies and Uniforms

Essential cleaning tools and materials

Investing in the right equipment and supplies is essential for your commercial cleaning business’s success. The correct tools will improve your work’s efficiency and effectiveness, influencing customer satisfaction. Start by making a comprehensive list of items to put on your shopping list:

  1. Basic Supplies: These include brooms, mops, buckets, dustpans, and dusters. You’ll also need sponges, dusting cloths, and a selection of brushes for jobs requiring varied amounts of scrubbing.
  2. Vacuum Cleaner: Essential for carpet and upholstery cleaning. Ensure the model selected suits different surface types.
  3. Power Washer and Carpet Cleaner: Investing in these machines is necessary to offer power-washing floors or carpet cleaning services.
  4. Cleaning Solutions: Include a multi-purpose cleaner, bathroom and kitchen disinfectant, dishwashing liquid, glass cleaner, carpet shampoo, and floor cleaner. Use EPA-approved disinfectants for enhanced sanitation.
  5. Rubbish Bags and Bins: Necessary for waste management.
  6. Protective Wear: This includes rubber gloves and aprons or cleaning uniforms to keep your clothing clean and deter any chemical contact.

Remember, while these are the basics, your list may evolve based on specific services and client requirements. Always aim for quality supplies as cheaper equipment might seem appealing but could cost you more in long-term replacements and repairs. 

A robust inventory management system would ensure smooth operations of your business and prevent any halt due to a lack of supplies.

 

Designing uniforms for a professional appearance

Uniforms are an essential aspect of a commercial cleaning company’s professional appearance. 

They help create a sense of unity and consistency among the staff, instilling client confidence and promoting trust in the company. 

Uniforms also help to establish a professional image for the company and its employees, which can be particularly important in the competitive cleaning industry. 

Additionally, uniforms can provide practical benefits such as protecting employees from cleaning chemicals and making them easily identifiable in a busy workplace.

 

Step 7: Marketing your Cleaning Business

To promote your cleaning business, you can create a website and social media profiles to showcase your services and expertise. 

Utilise paid advertising options on search engines and social media platforms to increase visibility and attract more clients. 

By implementing a well-rounded marketing strategy, you can increase brand awareness, attract new clients, and grow your commercial cleaning business. Build a solid online presence for your cleaning business

Step 8: Get Insured

Types of insurance a cleaning business needs

  • employers’ liability insurance
  • Professional indemnity insurance
  • Business equipment insurance 
  • Motor insurance
  • The COSHH Regulations

We write extensively on what insurance is needed for a cleaning company here: 

What license do I need to start a cleaning business?

Step 9: Hire a Team

When and how to hire staff for your cleaning business

Commercial cleaning companies require a big team. The first step is clearly defining the job roles you must fill and the skills required for each role. 

When you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, advertise the job opening through appropriate channels like job sites, social media platforms, and agents. 

Once you have identified potential employees, conduct thorough interviews and background checks to ensure you find the right fit for your team. 

It is also essential to provide appropriate training to ensure your employees have the skills and knowledge they need to deliver top-quality services. 

Remember, hiring staff can be a significant investment, so make sure you have a solid plan to manage their workload and ensure their productivity.

 

Step 10: Start Cleaning and retaining clients

Landing your clients as a new business owner can be daunting, but it’s certainly achievable. Here are some tips to help you land your first client:

  1. Advertise online: Set up a Google My Business account. This way, when local people search for professional cleaning services in your area, you’ll appear in their results. 
  2. Develop an online presence: Get your business a well-working website. Post pictures of your quality of work and build an excellent reputation through reviews and customer feedback. 
  3. Utilise social media: Use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to promote your business and connect with potential clients. Share your services, post testimonials from happy clients, and engage with your followers.
  4. Attend networking events: Attend local networking events and introduce yourself to people in your industry. Be sure to bring business cards and be ready to discuss your services and how you can help potential clients.

Remember, landing your first client takes time and effort. Stay persistent and optimistic, and market yourself and your business. Managing your client’s expectations, needs, and wants is essential to a successful commercial cleaning company.

 

Commercial Cleaning Software

Investing in proper software to support your business documentation is essential. 

Utilise a Document Management System to send, store and retrieve documentation between your clients and staff for easy organisation and smooth customer service. 

DocFlite – DMS for commercial cleaning companies

Using the DocFlite system guarantees that you offer your customers a top-notch service and create strong relationships with them. 

You don’t need to worry about being organised or managing your finances because our purpose-built tool handles everything. 

Documenting quotes, invoices, onboarding documents, SLA, and e-signatures will be effortless. 

Here are the reasons to use DocFlite for your commercial cleaning business: 

Using DocFlite for clients

  • Signing Contracts digitally (e-signature) 
  • Quick and easy sending and storage of contracts
  • Fast and efficient quoting and invoicing 
  • Visibility into clients’ usage of the documents sent and their process in the timeline (if still waiting for a contract to be signed) 
  • A centralised system to easily manage many different client contracts and their progress status. 

Using DocFlite for staff

  • Staff onboarding
  • Staff Training
  • Sending and storage of Employee Contracts 
  • Access to Driving policy, with qualified staff contracts 
  • Easy staff access to policies and procedures

 

How to start a commercial cleaning business- Conclusion

Starting a commercial cleaning business can be a profitable venture if done right. It requires careful planning, research, and a willingness to work hard. 

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create a successful cleaning business that meets your client’s needs and provides you with a steady income. 

Remember to focus on providing excellent customer service, building relationships, and continuously improving your services to stay ahead of the competition. 

You can achieve your goals and build a thriving business with dedication and perseverance.

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