Are you thinking about or seriously considering starting a cleaning business but wondering how to do it?
What critical steps that shouldn’t be overlooked?
For instance, are you wondering how to get clients or even what equipment you’ll need or how to get funding?
This blog post will serve as an important resource for those looking to start a cleaning biz, covering everything from creating a business plan to funding to marketing and everything in-between.
1. Create a Business Plan
You may or may not have thought about having a business plan in place, but it’s an important step that serves as the foundation of any business. Furthermore, it’s often necessary in order to secure a small business loan should you need one (more on this to come).
Don’t know what a business plan is or what to include? Don’t worry, we have that covered.
Think of a business plan as a high-level overview of your business – sort of like a strategic plan for growth. It covers topics like who is your ideal customer is, who your competitors are, staffing and pricing strategies to name a few.
Here is an broad overview:
- What services will you offer?
- Who is your target customer?
- What does the market look like in your area?
- What equipment will you need?
- What are your start-up costs? For instance, consider things like transportation, insurance, etc.
- How will you fund your business?
- What will the ongoing costs be to run your business?
- What are your staffing goals? What will trigger the hiring of staff? How will you pay staff?
- How will you measure the success of your staff?
- What software will you use to manage your business, bookings, etc.?
- How will you manage payments?
Pricing and Retention
- What are your pricing strategies? Pricing typically takes into account labour and materials, overhead (i.e. all non-labour costs) and profit. Additionally, consider charging for extras – additional services – like cleaning the fridge, cleaning the inside of windows, etc.
- How will you retain clients?
Marketing and Sales
- What is your brand identity? For instance, will you be all about environmentally-friendly cleaning products or something else?
- Who will build your website?
- What social media channels will you use?
- Where will you advertise?
- What is your launch plan? For instance, will you offer some sort of opening special?
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- How will you measure success (i.e. what specific metrics will you use to measure success)?
- What are your clearly defined goals?
- What is your future vision?
While this list is not exhaustive, it’s a great starting point for any business. Should you decide to apply for a small business loan from the government, the government of Canada provides the the following resource for business plan templates to help you formulate your own.
Also, you’ll find some additional free resources for business plan templates with a quick search on the Internet.
2. How to Fund Your Cleaning Business
At this point, you’ve likely given your business a lot of thought, but how will you fund it? This becomes more of a pertinent topic if you decide that transportation is something worth investing from the start.
For Canadian businesses, a small business loan is a viable option. And in this case, the Government of Canada offers small business loans (as well as grants) here.
To apply, you need a business plan, to find a leader near you and download the pamphlet.
For those in America, this is a great resource for various options here.
3. Develop a Marketing Plan
How will you generate new clients? As a new business, you only have so many resources at your fingertips. That’s why you need to be deliberate with your time, investing in the strategies that will deliver the best results as quickly as possible.
For a local-based business like yours, both non-digital and digital marketing strategies are key. As we mentioned earlier, it’s ultimately about appearing professional, and marketing can really help with that.
Essential Non-Digital Marketing Strategies
Cleaning businesses are locally-based, which means referrals are going to be a key part of your business. Delivering outstanding service is paramount to this, but you will also want to incentivize your customers to refer you as well.
As we’ve mentioned on the blog before, it would be a mistake to rely on word of mouth alone. While research shows that people are happy to provide reviews, only 29% people actually do this without any reason to do so. Of course, 29% isn’t bad, but the idea is that you can increase this percentage even more with a few simple programs.
This is also a great option for businesses without a huge marketing budget.
Essential Digital Marketing Strategies
- Google My Business. Nearly 30% of Google My Business searches end up in purchase, which shows that this platform is an important one. However, an important part is continuing to generate reviews and updating your profile in general. Here are 7 ways to optimize your Google My Business listing.
- Social Media. There are a lot of options when it comes to social media platforms, but there is a lot of potential on Instagram and YouTube. The hashtag cleaning brings up 3.9 million post; “cleaningmotivation” brings up 220k posts. Posting appealing cleaning photos with relevant hashtags is a great way to build an audience. Cleaning hacks are another popular search.
Sure, not all of your online followers will be ones who become paying customers given that you’re a local business, but an online following still builds social proof, which is still important.
Similarly, cleaning videos are an entire niche on YouTube. Popular YouTube channel Clean My Space does exactly this. Melissa Maker branded herself as a professional cleaner and started making helpful cleaning tips on her channel. Now, she has over one million subscribers. And you don’t need any expensive equipment to do this, either – a smartphone will work just fine!
- A Website. While you likely won’t need a business website immediately, it should definitely be on your list to do sooner than later. Not only does this create the look of more professional business, SEO (and the use of strategic keywords) will drive traffic to your site. Here are some website builder options (and the differences between them) as well as the top five options for website hosting. On this front, having a chat service where people can message you can also help close leads.
4. How to Choose Software For Your Business
Software is another important decision for your cleaning business, and will become especially critical as your business grows and you rely on it to automate many tasks.
Here are some essential types of software for your cleaning business, even as you’re starting out.
- Accounting Software. Accounting software will be the one pieces of software you will need most immediately to send invoices, manage payroll and so on. Don’t make the mistake of using spreadsheets when there are a lot of free options on the market that will serve you business well for a long time ahead. Here is our list of the best accounting software options for small businesses.
- Scheduling Software. While you may be able to get by with pen and paper as you start out, there are free scheduling software options on the market that are easy to use and will offer a lot of benefits over pen and paper (Yocale, for instance, has a free plan for up to 5 staff accounts). A scheduling software with a built in CRM (client relationship management) component is even better, this will allow you to make special notes for each client of preferences, track their appointment history and know which clients are your VIP’s.
One of the benefits of starting out with scheduling software right away is the ability to offer clients the option to book online appointments through any platform your’re listed such as your website, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, your Google listing, and review platforms like Yelp (while still giving you the ability to confirm these appointments first), this elevates your level of customer service immediately.
Remember, clients want to book online. Furthermore, the plan is to grow your client base quickly, and this will make organizing your schedule easy from the very beginning. Scheduling software will help you to automate many tasks that will begin to take up your time very soon. For instance, it will automate cleaning appointment reminders and rebookings, saving you hours of time every week.
Extra Tips and Tricks
- Outstanding Service is Essential. This is especially true for local-based cleaning businesses. Delivering a high level of customer essential is what will generate referrals for your business.
While an entire blog post could be dedicated to this topic alone, a great tip is to customize your client’s experiences. For instance, taking the time to ask clients what they really need from their cleaning sessions (is it decluttering?). This gives you an opportunity to really invest in your client relationships and ultimately differentiate yourself from your competitors.
- Proper Hiring is Key. As you saw above, cleaning is highly reputation-based; therefore, it’s important to minimize complaints from clients. To this end, strong hiring – and investing in a training program where employees follow a detailed checklist – are key.
- Use Reddit To Your Advantage. Reddit, an online community for just about every topic out there (cleaning businesses included!) is a great resource for any new business. Simply ask your question and you’ll be met with a myriad of (mostly) legitimate answers from people who have done this all before.
Wrapping It Up
This only begins to scratch the surface when it comes to starting a cleaning business, but it still offers a solid foundation for getting your new company off on solid footing.
Thinking about the benefits of cleaning service scheduling software for your new business? Yocale is a free scheduling software that will help automate your business, book new clients and more. Book a free demo here.