Secrets to Running a Successful Family Cleaning Business

Steve Hanson

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According to the U. S. Small Business Administration, family businesses are not only common, but contribute to more than 60 percent of the U. S. Gross Domestic Product. Your cleaning business may fall into this realm as many new businesses rely on help from a spouse, siblings, children and even parents. The upside to a family business is that the individuals know one another and can identify their strengths and weaknesses. There is also a general feeling of trust and loyalty between family members, which helps them get through rough spots. However, a family business can also bring about much frustration between family members and non-family employees.

For any small business owner it can be tough to keep “work at work" and “family matters" at home. This is even tougher if you work with family members. If you are not careful, your cleaning business can easily slide over from work hours into your private family time. As the lines between family and business become blurred you will find your attention diluted and this may prevent your business from reaching its full potential.

What are some common problems that family run businesses are likely to run up against?

- Giving family members jobs they are not qualified for

- Giving family members too much responsibility and not enough authority

- Allowing parents to evaluate children's work performance

- Paying family members more than non-family members for the same job

- Treating family members as “family" on the job and not as colleagues

- Constantly discussing business at family gatherings Ignoring mistakes because they are caused by a family member

- Giving family members special perks because of who they are instead of how well they perform their job duties

How can you keep your cleaning business running efficiently when you have family members as employees?

First and most importantly, separate your family life and business life as much as possible. Once the time clock is running employees should not address family members as “dad", “mom", “uncle" or “son". Second, although it can be difficult it is important to separate the family part of your life from the business. Some family businesses have found it helpful to have three separate areas:

1. The home, where only family issues are addressed

2. The business location, where only business issues are addressed

3. A neutral area - where a mix of family and business issues are addressed.

It helps if your business has a clear chain of command that both family and non-family members, have to follow. An employee manual can be helpful here as it can spell out not only the “chain of command" but other important guidelines that apply to all employees.

Your business should also have a written plan of how to accomplish your goals and what happens when key players of the organization decide to retire leave the company. It's also important to keep good communication between family members and non-family employees.

Having loyal and dedicated family members as a part of your cleaning business can give you the support and encouragement to take your cleaning business from a part-time endeavor to a successful company. Keeping family and business separate is difficult but necessary if you want your cleaning business to grow and succeed. Following a few simple guidelines can help you keep your family life intact and keep your cleaning business on a professional level.

Copyright 2006 The Janitorial Store

Steve Hanson is co-founder of, an online community for owners of cleaning companies. Sign up for Trash Talk:Tip of the Week at . Read success stories at .


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