How to Start a Housecleaning Business
Housecleaning has one of the lowest costs of entry in the cleaning industry, second only to window cleaning. The truth is most people already have all the equipment and supplies in their own homes they would need to clean someone else’s. A vacuum, a mop, some cleaning chemicals… what’s left? Very little. Just some basic knowledge on how to start a housecleaning business.
Choosing your company name
Depending on the long term goals of your venture, you may either choose a business name to operate under, or use your own name. If you plan on simply picking up a part time income and have no desire of expanding your service down the road, using your own name for your business is acceptable. However, if you have interest in building a business, then it’s time to decide on a name for your company. Something descriptive is great like ” Angela’s Maid Service” or something commercial sounding even like “Northern Iowa Maid Services”. There is no right or wrong name, I suggest choosing a name that represents you.
Now advertising for a maid service is much different than advertising for a commercial cleaning service. If your customer is a small office building, then it’s very easy to go directly to the office and leave a business card. This, of course, is not really possible if your targeting residential properties. It’s illegal to leave mail (or business cards) in someones mailbox yourself. If you want to send someone information about your cleaning business, it has to be mailed. In other words, the post office wants your money for postage.
There is some good news though. The USPS offers a direct mail service that allows you to target entire delivery routes in your city. So if you know of an affluent area nearby that would be able to afford your services, the entire neighborhood can be targeted. I suggest ordering some postcards from a website like VistaPrint.com . When I ordered my postcards there, I was able to match the graphics with my business cards, letterhead, envelopes and Polo shirt. It looked more professional to have the same logo on all my stationary.
And the last platform I would suggest using are free online directories. This would include websites like: Facebook, Yelp, YP.com, Google+ for Business, Twitter, Pinterest, Craigslist, etc. It would take days to create profiles and pages on all these listings, so I would only target a few to start.
Social media sites are great if you’re active on them, however, reaching an audience on platforms like Facebook is becoming more expensive and very few (typically less than 5%) of your posts are actually served to the people who LIKE your business page. This never used to be the case. If you had 100 LIKES on your business Facebook page, over 75 people would see your posts.
Now if your not into social media, there are other set-it and forget-it methods. I would start with Yelp, YP.com and Google+ Business. All you do is create a profile and anyone using a search engine like Yahoo or Google will be able to find local services in their area.
Google+ especially will show up at the top of Google Search if someone searches a phrase like “Maid Service Austin, TX”. If you’re looking to boost you position in the list of your competitors you can always pay a little extra through Google Adwords. (This is worthy of an entire post of its own, there will be one coming soon 😀 )
How to Start a Housecleaning Business -Cleaning Equipment List
Here’s a general idea of the equipment you will need to get started:
Supply Caddy – Home Depot and Lowes carry different types of these. I suggest the double pail. It’s large enough to hold all your chemicals and scrubbing tools.
Vacuum – This can really be any type. Canister, Upright, Backpack Vacuum… I prefer backpack vacuums for residential cleanings. This eliminates the need for carrying a broom. Backpack vacuums have different head attachments to use on carpet or hard surfaces. Whatever you buy, make sure it’s a good quality vacuum. The vacuum will be traveling to each location you clean, so hoses, wear and tear, power chords and attachments should be considered.
Toilet Brush (if the home doesn’t have a good one already)
Rubber Gloves or Disposable Latex Gloves
Mop Bucket & Mop
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Charge by the Job, not by the Hour
Now that you have your equipment, a business name and people contacting you, it’s time to quote some jobs. There isn’t an exact science to bidding on a cleaning job, but there certainly are some best practices.
First off, when giving a price for your services you should quote based on the job and never by the hours you work. This is called trading your time for money. Your goal as a business person is to make the maximum amount of money by working the fewest hours possible. Otherwise, you will be limited in the potential revenue you can make.
Decide on the types of services you are willing to offer before visiting a home. Your customers will be willing to pay more if you offer cleaning services others don’t. This could be something like laundry, dishes, making beds, etc.
A typical housecleaning service doesn’t necessarily include these tasks. Often it’s dusting, cleaning floors, counters, bathroom, kitchen area. Now when you quote a job you are quoting based on how long it will take you and how much you want to make. If you think it will take you 2 hours per visit and you want to make a minimum of $25 and hour you should construct your bid this way:
2 hours per visit (x) $25 (x) number of visits per week (x) 52 weeks (÷) 12 months = Your monthly bid.
It’s important to construct your bids this way because if you calculate a bid based on 4 weeks a month, you will short yourself an entire months pay by years-end. So you calculate on a per week basis and divide the 52 weeks by 12 months to get your monthly quote total. If you’re unsure about how long it will take to clean someone’s home there’s a simple fix. Clean your own home!
Gather all your equipment and clean your home the same way you would a customers. Then do it again. The second cleaning will take you less time and will be a better indication of how long it would take to clean a home of comparable size. Don’t forget to add on your travel time!
Track all that money coming in
I use Quickbooks to create my invoices and to track the revenue coming into my business. When I first started I couldn’t afford the software so I used Microsoft Excel to create the invoices and a separate Excel sheet to track my revenues. Talk to an accountant to figure out how much money you should be setting aside.
Think outside the box
House cleaning isn’t only for residential properties. There are lots of Realtors who are managing properties that need to be cleaned when its vacated. Read about targeting property managers for cleaning jobs. Also, if you live in an area that sees tourism, there are likely vacation property owners who need someone to clean the units in between renters, usually on a weekly basis. Do a search for vacation properties in your area to find the owners.
It’s not necessary to live near an affluent neighborhood to start a housecleaning service. There are lots of middle income homes that need someone to help out on a regular basis. I’ve found that a common misconception about housecleaning, is that only people with large houses and large wallets hire cleaning services.
Be creative and think outside the box. This will really open up your market and get you the optimum payouts. I hope this helps you better understand how to start a housecleaning business and motivates you to take the first steps!
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