Many websites will tell you that starting a cleaning business in just a few days is easy, and that you can start a house cleaning business for a very small investment. What they don’t tell you is that finding customers and running the business can be frustrating, time consuming and costly. Most people who start a house cleaning business go out of business within the first six months due to lack of knowledge and preparation. Don’t be one of the failures! Research the industry and know what you are getting into before you invest in starting your own cleaning business.
Here is some professional advice that will help you start your own cleaning business with minimal investment and maximum return:
A professionally designed logo will help to brand your company in the public's mind. Your logo will be printed on business cards, door knockers, letterhead, car signs, etc. , so carefully consider the image you want to present, and then choose artwork which will best reflect that image. Visit LogoYes.com to create your own logo for only $99.
Decide what you will charge for your services. Research the local market to determine what your competitors charge. You must remain within the local standards, and you can undercut your competition slightly; however, if you charge significantly less than the competition, you may end up with less money and more work than you care for. Your growth must be contained so that you can add employees as you need them without raising prices and thereby losing customers. Also, if you have more jobs than you can handle you may not be servicing the homes well, and this is certainly not good for business.
Advertise in the “services" section of the classified in your local newspapers. Keep it short, and ad your logo if you can afford to. Your ad might read “Quality housecleaning with integrity. Call ###-#### for a free estimate. ”
Place an ad in the house cleaning section of your local yellow pages. Research all of your local phone books and notice which ads catch your eye. A good bet is a “knock-out” ad with at least 2 colors. A “knock-out” removes the yellow background and leaves a crisp, attention grabbing white field among all the yellow ads. For a lesser cost you may list your company in the yellow pages free listing column with a knock-out and color. Make this ad a minimum of four 4 lines, with color. In addition to the yellow pages books, consider pay-per-click advertising with YellowPages.com. This will assure that your business listing is shown before all of the alphabetized free listings.
If you have lots of time but little money, then hand delivering a marketing piece may be an option. Your choices are door hangers, brochures or postcards. We suggest that you use either brochures or postcards rather than door hangers because you can use them as handouts and also as mailing pieces. Why purchase boxes of door hangers which in two months you will not have time to deliver, if you are running the business correctly? You can develop your own brochure or postcard using Microsoft Publisher, or you can purchase a pre-designed template, and print the pieces in-house or have them printed at a local print shop or copy center.
When your business starts growing and hand delivery is no longer an option, then direct mail postcards are the most economical and effective advertising tool. You’ll need to purchase a mailing list unless you plan to create your own. We have found that DirectoryStore.com has the best prices on Hill Donnelly directories, the most up-to-date and accurate lists available. You can use labels or merge the postcards with your mailing list and have them copied at a local office store or printer with a high speed/high quality copier. Insist on seeing a sample from the copier before you have the job completed. You MUST deliver high quality postcards in order to make the best impression on your prospects. Flimsy paper with lopsided print, ink rubbing off and jagged edges is not the professional image that will make your prospects eager to call.
Be prepared for business with professional business forms and letters. You should have: a sales script memorized to perfection whether you do in-home estimates or estimates by phone; cleaning fee estimate calculator; fee estimate letters; follow-up letters for quotes not booked; new customer letters stating hourly fees for cleaning services and payment policies; a customer database and accounting system; information sheets listing vital details for each customer; cleaning service checklist form to leave with customers after each service; and customer survey forms for every new customer to complete and return.
Magnetic car signs are a great advertising tool which can be made by a local sign maker for $25 to $50 a set, plus an initial set-up fee. Be certain that your signs fit on both compact and full size cars, and that you use no more than three colors. When designing your signs keep in mind that bold lettering and brief wording works best. Remember to include your logo for name branding.
Purchase cleaning supplies at your local discount center, grocery and dollar stores. Either store or brand name household cleaning products will work, however, compare percentage of the active cleaning ingredients. Consider paying a few cents more for the better brand in order to lessen time spent scrubbing. Avoid products containing bleach as it can cause damage to carpets and counters.
Commercial grade vacuums will last much longer than home quality. We have found that Royal brand commercial vacuums, crafted with die-cast aluminum, are the lightest and longest lasting available anywhere, and they out clean the competition. Available in several models, Royal Commercial Vacuums come with a lifetime warranty on the motor housing, fan casing and nozzle. Visit VacLand.com for the best prices, reputable salespeople and 2 - 5 day nationwide shipping.
Your own website is a luxury that is worth the expense when you can afford it. Be certain to add your website address to all business documents, and to all of your advertising. The website should have an online estimate form and customer testimonials.
When you’re ready to hire employees be certain you have your employment application, employee policies handbook, cleaning procedures manual, warning certificates and all of the appropriate human resources paperwork. With strict policies and procedures to follow, your employees will know that they are working for a professionally run company, and therefore will be less likely to take advantage of you. Also, you will need to keep employee files containing tax paperwork and employment history including a record of verbal and written warnings. To obtain the appropriate tax documents for employees contact your accountant or local state employment office.
Before You Start a House Cleaning Business:
Obtain your federal tax ID; local & state business licenses; bonding insurance, and liability insurance. When you hire employees you will also need worker's compensation insurance. The Small Business Administration is a great source of information for start-up paperwork, business plan templates and links to other informative websites. http://sba. gov/starting_business/startup/guide.html
The Internal Revenue Service has a website which offers a wealth of information for small businesses. You'll find start-up guides, information on tax credits and business deductions, advice on record keeping and choosing an accounting method, employee tax issues, and more. The most up-to-date tax information is available through the site, as well as forms, publications and instructions for filing taxes. http://www.irs. gov/businesses/small/index.html
State tax information can be found at http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/link/forms.html which provides links to the Department of Revenue for every state.
Other Webites You Should Visit:
Cleaning Business Forms and More: http://www.MaidDocs.com - MaidDocs provides free information for cleaning service businesses, both start-up and established. With the MaidDocs system you can successfully start a cleaning business without a franchise, and keep it growing strong. MaidDocs offers a complete cleaning business system, or an economical start up package which includes a cleaning fee estimate calculator; lists of resources; a full color tri-fold customizable brochure, and over a dozen customizable forms and customer letters. There is also a complete Employee Package which includes a guide to hiring and managing cleaning business employees, an employee handbook and cleaning procedures manual; performance reviews and warnings; and a payroll template.
Business Law: http://www.businesslaw. gov - Complying with business laws and regulations can be a burden. To help small businesses overcome this, the Small Business Administration (sba. gov) in cooperation with multiple Federal agencies developed BusinessLaw. gov, an online resource designed to provide legal and regulatory information. Topics covered on this site range from choosing a business structure to hiring an attorney. The site also provides links to federal, state and local agencies.
Employment Law: http://www.dol. gov/asp/programs/EmpLawGuide - This guide describes the statutes and regulations administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) that affect businesses and workers. The guide is designed mainly for those needing “hands-on" information to develop wage, benefit, safety and health, and nondiscrimination policies for businesses in general industry.
Compliance Laws: http://www.dol. gov/esa/regs/compliance - Statutes and regulations administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) that affect businesses and workers.
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Walter L. Gibson, Jr. and Gwynneth Sawyer-Berkeley are co-owners of MaidDocs.com. MaidDocs offers a very affordable, non-franchised, house cleaning business system, economical document packages, and a-la-carte documents for residential cleaning businesses. Visit http://www.MaidDocs.com or call 1-877-779-6955 for complete information.