Being an employee of a cleaning business is one thing: being an owner, responsible to your customers, your employees and yourself, is another level of burden that you need to accept when you start a business.
Much of what we consider ‘hard’ is perception. If you anticipate that something will be difficult, you might prepare yourself for future challenges. You might also psyche yourself out of taking action. This is different for everyone, which is why we’ve put together a list of questions to help you answer the question ‘How hard is it to start a cleaning business.’
If you’re already committed to starting a business, go ahead and check out our comprehensive guide on starting a successful house cleaning business. We cover everything you need to know to start and run a thriving cleaning service.
Becoming a Business Owner is Hard
Before you jump in and start your business, you should consider a few things first to make sure you’re ready to be a business owner.
For example, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have experience with a business startup?
- Do you like to clean?
- Do you like physical labor?
- Are you good at organizing people and processes?
- Do you like doing administrative tasks?
- Do you understand marketing and advertising?
- Do you know the difference between running a business and being an employee?
- Do you know how to provide good customer service?
- Do you know how to handle customer complaints?
- Do you know how to create a budget?
- Do you know how to create a business plan?
- Do you know how much time running a business will take?
- Are you ready to sacrifice your personal life for the business?
These are just a few of the hard things you will need to consider before deciding to start a house cleaning business.
Although a residential cleaning business can be started without a large investment, that doesn’t mean everyone is right for the business. By answering the above questions, you will get some insight into yourself and what you will need to reach success in residential cleaning. Whatever you don’t have direct experience or knowledge of can be learned and must be factored into starting your business.
Explore Each Question in Detail
Do you have experience with a business startup? If you’ve never started a business before, you’ll need to think of this in terms of what you need to do to get started in sequential order:
- Research legal requirements in your city
- Research the competition
- Identify your target market
- Determine if you will invest in your own supplies or use your client’s supplies
- Identify how you will acquire customers
- Plan your cleaning routine
Before we go into the details of owning a house cleaning business, let’s make sure you know the legal requirements of owning a business. There are many reasons you want to protect your business and it starts with choosing the right legal entity.
1. Do you have experience with a business startup?
This isn’t required, but knowing how to setup a business structure, the legal requirements, the record keeping, etc. will make getting started so much easier.
2. Cleaning is hard – does it bring you some kind of satisfaction?
More important than this… do you know how to clean? Cleaning client homes is not the same as cleaning your own home. Besides that, liking physical work and cleaning is important to consider because to make decent money, you will be cleaning houses every day or even multiple houses in one day. The best cleaners like to make a difference for their clients, so it’s essential that you enjoy the process. This also involves good visual routines because you will need to keep your eye on things that can be rotated in/out of you regular cleaning schedule. For example, the sides of the furniture may not need to be dusted on each appointment, but you better make sure you dust them before your client complains.
3. Do you like physical labor?
Cleaning houses is hard work and there are no breaks. Once you start in a client home you will be expected to keep moving until the job is completed. Time is money and dawdling on the job may prevent you from earning enough to keep your business in profit. If you are not in good shape, you’ll want to start stretching, walking, and exercising now so you’re ready. If you have some disabilities, you might want to consider another type of business.
4. Are you good at organizing people and processes?
As you acquire new leads and customers, you will be juggling a calendar of ongoing and one-time appointments. This involves providing estimates, creating a customer file, maintaining a 12-month calendar, and addressing customer needs when they need to reschedule. As you can see, good organizational skills are needed to do this successfully.
5. Do you like doing administrative tasks?
On top of acquiring new customers and addressing client needs, you will be responsible for invoicing and tracking client payments. This will involve setting up your bank account and deciding how you will accept payment. The most common form of payment is by check on the day of service. In today’s digital world, you also have the ability to setup recurring billing through a service like PayPal that younger clients will appreciate. If you are working with your own cleaning supplies and equipment, you will also be attending to inventory and repairs.
6. Do you understand marketing and advertising?
Marketing consists of the processes you setup to deliver your advertising. This is one of the biggest money pits in owning and running a business. If you don’t know how to select the right advertising methods and design your ads to get prospects to respond, you will be wasting your money. This is the difference between ads that work and those that don’t return any new prospects for your business. Learn more in this post about the relationship between advertising and marketing.
7. Do you know the difference between running a business and being an employee?
Running a business involves defining policies and procedures that tell your customers how you run your business and how you will respond to their needs. This consists of what you clean and when; what you don’t clean and will charge extra for; and the policies that tell your clients how you will respond to various issues, such as cancelling at the last minute. Without these policies and procedures, your clients will consider you their worker (or employee) and tell you what and how to clean and find it easy to get you to do more work without paying you. This is the biggest complaint I get from new house cleaning business owners. They complain they are not getting paid enough and this is why.
8. Do you know how to provide good customer service?
Good customer service is not doing everything your customer wants you to do. It is enforcing your policies and procedures without having your client resent you and then cancel your service. You will need to do this with a smile and understand that sometimes everything you do to appease our customers may lead to a cancellation in the end. That’s part of business, but you need to make sure you did everything you could to protect your business while enforcing your policies. This is why having your policies in writing and delivered to your clients is so important.
Read more on how to identify what provides good customer service in this post.
9. Do you know how to handle customer complaints?
This is part of customer service, but special attention needs to be given to complaints. A good house cleaning business must have a service guarantee. This states what you will do when you receive a complaint about the cleaning. Most companies give a 24-hour guarantee that states you will go back out to fix the problem. Sometimes this isn’t good enough for some customers, so you will need to decide how you will handle those. Customers expect you to take the heat and make it right. You will need to know when a customer is abusing that and take the appropriate steps.
10. Do you know how to create a budget?
This isn’t something that is very hard to do, but overlooked by many. If you already keep a home budget, then you can easily create a budget for your new business. It’s simply a process of recording how you will spend your income every month. This will help you to spend wisely, understand where your money is going, and force you to save a portion of your income to grow your business. Once you have your budget established you can track your income to expenses. Download this FREE Revenue & Expenses tracking sheet.
11. Do you know how to create a business plan?
A business plan intimidates many people the first time they are presented with the idea. Think of it as your road-map to success. You wouldn’t plan a trip without a plan, would you? And that’s exactly why you should plan your business. Once you have a plan established it’s simply a matter of following it to reach the success you have planned.
12. Do you know how much time running a business will take?
It’s a common mistake to think running a business will be comparable to going to a job. Yes, you will be going to a job to clean the homes you have on your schedule, but there are more tasks you have to do. You will be returning phone calls from new prospects, performing in-home estimates, keeping a job calendar, maintaining your supplies and equipment, and performing client follow-up and customer service tasks. Don’t forget about the accounting that will need to be done so that you can prepare your annual tax returns. All this takes time that you would otherwise spend with family and friends. The worst of this is during the startup period. Over time, you can take a portion of your profits and hire people to do some of the work for you.
13. Are you ready to sacrifice your personal life for the business?
This is what it takes to get a new business off the ground and into profit. Your personal life will be on the back burner. Before you can go out to dinner with family or friends, you will need to make sure you don’t have any outstanding issues for the business. By paying attention to business issues first, you can put your new business on solid ground and drive it to success.