Starting a residential and commercial cleaning business gives you a way to be your own boss while providing a service for those willing to give you the work. If you plan to chase down both people who need their homes cleaned as well as businesses that need office cleaning, you might want to focus on one or the other until you get your business off the ground. If you go after both, you’ll be busy night and day, as commercial cleaning usually takes place after offices close.
Obtain Licenses and Insurance
Choose a business name and obtain a state business license to do business under that name. Obtain an EIN tax identification number if you plan to hire employees. Your city or county might also require that you obtain a business license or a permit. Go to the U.S. Small Business Administration website to find out the types of business licenses and permits you need for a cleaning business. Get liability insurance, and if you plan to hire employees, plan to secure a bond to protect your business from theft by employees while they're cleaning homes or businesses.
Determine Market Position
Figuring out your position in the market starts with identifying cleaning companies in your area to learn their pricing structure, marketing tactics and their target market. Review the services they provide and how they differ from other cleaning services. Your goal is to find ways to stand out from your competitors, such as by offering different types of cleaning services or a less costly initial cleaning that helps you get your foot in the door. Researching the market also helps you get an idea of the cleaning rates you want to charge.
Identify Potential Clients
You’ll need to review at least two different target markets so you can narrow these down to those to whom you want to market your cleaning services. First, identify the characteristics of home, apartment or condo owners, such as their income level, location and willingness to hire outside help to clean their homes. For commercial cleaning markets, look at the size of the company, as well as the square footage of the office or building to narrow down the businesses you can handle.
Marketing to secure residential cleaning jobs requires that you advertise in places homeowners will see, such as bulletin boards at grocery stores, local publications or door hangers. Asking for referrals from happy clients is a cost-effective way to get new customers. To attract commercial cleaning jobs, you must introduce your services to building or office managers and bid on their cleaning projects, usually on an annual basis. Network with carpet cleaners, interior designers, painters and landscapers to share referrals to new clients.
Management and Accounting
Initially, you might choose to handle all cleaning, marketing, bidding and accounting for your business. But hiring employees helps you make more money as long as you secure enough cleaning jobs to keep everyone busy. Hiring employees requires training in the way you want the cleaning done. You also need to withhold income taxes from each employee's paycheck and send payments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).