If you have ever hankered after running your own business, why not consider the commercial cleaning industry? Believe me, cleaning is no longer a dirty word and the rewards can be more than you might expect . . .
Although these days I mainly write informational articles like these and run an online business, for many years I ran a redbrick janitorial supply company. Some of the things I learned there made me think that maybe, just maybe, I'd made the wrong choice within the cleaning industry!
What made me think that? Well, my company supplied cleaning chemicals and equipment (it still does - I just don't work there anymore!) to end-users and also to what, in the UK, are termed Contract Cleaners. These are firms who clean on a commercial and contractual basis for other businesses - hence the term Contract Cleaning.
Some of these companies specialise in heavy-duty, one-off cleans at industrial and catering sites. That's a dirty, tough job. However, the ones I noticed who seemed to be making the money - and some of them made really serious money - were the ones who specialised in light office cleaning.
It took me a while to figure out why and, by this time, my own business was well established and I didn't want to change it. Had I known the money to be made in cleaning offices a few years earlier, I would have put the wheel over and changed to cleaning services instead of supplies.
But that's history. The thing I'd like to share with you in this article is WHY you should look at a cleaning business as your choice of employment. Here are a few reasons that might tempt you:
1. Low entry cost. You can start an office cleaning business with just a few hundred pounds or dollars plus a pickup truck, panel van or even an estate car. I've seen it done. Contrast this with starting up a janitorial supply business. In my experience I would say that if I started that type of business again - knowing what I know now - I'd want to have about £50K ($100K) in my pocket before I'd even consider it.
Why? One word - stock. OK, let's make that two words - stock and premises. No, that doesn't do it. Three words - stock, premises and transport. I think you might see where I'm going!
Yet I've seen many Contract Cleaning businesses start up with minimal equipment and succeed. Yes, some fail. In business this happens. But generally in the office cleaning industry those who work at it will succeed. That brings us to the next point.
2. Grow as slowly or as quickly as you like. This is one of the few types of business where a pretty good income can be had from the word go. If you're happy with that, fine! Maybe you just want to work three or four days and spend the rest of your time on your leisure. On the other hand, I have seen these office cleaning businesses simply explode in terms of turnover for those that want it. One in particular that springs to mind went from zero turnover to just under £1M (about $1.9M) in SIX MONTHS.
If that doesn't get your attention I don't know what will! Now before you get too excited, that's a turnover figure from a firm who was really trying hard. Profit margins are generally pretty good though, so although you might not be an overnight millionaire like some business ideas promise, you would be earning serious money at those sort of figures.
3. Swift transition into a management position. Sure, at the start you'll be the one doing all the work. That's the way things are - but office cleaning businesses have to employ workers to do the work. That leaves you - the boss - to manage the business. I have yet to see one successful owner of this kind of business get their hands (or anything else) dirty on a regular basis. Maybe sometimes you WILL have to do that - but the vast majority of the time you'll be the one in the suit - out getting further contracts!
4. Good exit opportunities. It may seem strange to mention selling a cleaning business before you have even started one but consider this: most people never, ever think of the day when they may well want a change. Cleaning businesses with a good contracts portfolio and a healthy turnover to profit balance can literally be worth a fortune. Bigger outfits snap them up every day of the week. Could you see yourself retiring in ten years time? Or less? I've seen it done. Maybe you can do it too!
To conclude this short article I would point out that, although starting and running a cleaning business is pretty easy, only you will be able to make it work. It's not an easy money option - but it's a darned sight easier than many other business options I have seen. A last piece of advice. If you are serious about starting out down this road, go and work for a cleaning business for a while. Sure, it's maybe not the greatest job you'll ever have but consider it an investment for the future. Then go and set your own up!
Steve Dempster was until recently a Director of a janitorial supplies company. Learn more here about how to go about having your own cleaning company!