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Operating a Successful Cleaning Service

written by: William Busse•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 5/19/2011

A successful cleaning company provides important services to customers by keeping their living environment sanitary and healthy. The key to understanding how to run a cleaning service is implementing the critical elements involved in the business development process.

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    Cleaning Service Opportunities

    Encompassing a number of different business sectors, the cleaning industry is comprised mainly of janitorial companies, maid services and carpet cleaners.

    Janitorial services focus primarily on commercial and industrial customers including schools, hospitals, and large institutions. Maid services typically concentrate on the residential sector of the market while occasionally servicing light commercial office buildings as well. Since carpet cleaners are specialized, their scope is only limited by the capacity of their equipment and the number of employees.

    The attractiveness of a cleaning business revolves primarily around its relatively low initial investment requirements and minimal learning curve. Although a degree of technical expertise is useful, learning how to run a cleaning business involves efficiency, thoroughness, friendliness, and a commitment to customer service.

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    Start Up Requirements

    Like any entrepreneurial endeavor, it is important to treat a new cleaning business with the professional respect it deserves. This includesMAID SERVICE  avoiding the temptation to circumvent the license, bonding, and insurance process or accepting unreported cash payments for services. For the serious cleaning business owner, building the company on a solid foundation includes a proper business license, registering with federal and state governments for tax reporting purposes, and obtaining appropriate liability insurance in case of an unexpected incident.

    It is also important to establish a relationship with an accountant and lawyer to determine the appropriate legal status for the business. A sole proprietor is the easiest business classification, but incorporation provides certain appealing tax benefits and eliminates most personal liability in the event of a judgment or default.

    Initial financial capital requirements will vary substantially by the scope and chosen segment of the industry. Many successful residential cleaning services were started with one vehicle, a basic inventory of cleaning supplies, and a vacuum cleaner. A one person residential maid service can be started with as little as $500 assuming the owner already owns a computer for scheduling, invoicing, and accounting purposes.

    Establishing fees for services is also a critical step in the process. It is important to create an hourly rate structure based on the individual elements of the cleaning process as well as the square footage of the structure. Generally, rates of $20-$50 per hour are competitive in the cleaning industry depending on the thoroughness of the services provided and the area where you reside.

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    Maid Service Equipment and Supplies

    The essential equipment and supplies for starting a maid service include the following:

    • Several sets of durable gloves with heat resistance properties and multiple boxes of disposable gloves
    • Comfortable, water repellent work shoes
    • A durable vacuum cleaner
    • Several wet mops and buckets
    • Job specific cleaning solutions and cleansers for tile, grout, granite, ceramics, and windows
    • Clean rags and towels
    • Brushes varying in size, and bristle stiffness
    • A squeegee for the outside windows
    • A broom and a duster

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    Janitorial Service and Carpet Cleaning

    For the janitorial business serving the commercial and industrial market, there are additional tools and equipment requirements that can increase capital investment by several thousand dollars. These would include:

    • Plunger
    • 10 Foot ladder
    • 50 Foot industrial grade hose with a multi nozzle sprayer
    • Drain auger
    • Essential hand tools
    • A variety of degreasers
    • Commercial rotary floor cleaning unit
    • A truck or van for transport

    A carpet cleaning service is perhaps the most investment intensive cleaning business. Professional grade carpet cleaning equipment can range in price from $1,500 to $5,000 per unit. A fully functional industrial grade truck can cost as much $20,000 or more, but will have a longer operational life and perform more effectively.

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    Securing Customers

    A significant advantage to operating a cleaning business is the easy access to a large potential customer base. Quality maid, janitorial, and carpet cleaning services are always in high demand and basic word of mouth advertising is usually sufficient. If necessary, this can be augmented by joining breakfast clubs, attending home shows and investing in direct mail advertising. Businesses, factories, and institutions can also be solicited directly.

    Even flyers placed on the windshields of cars in shopping malls or grocery store parking lots are an effective advertising tool when considering how to run a cleaning business.

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    Presenting a Positive Image

    The success of a cleaning service company will depend largely on the image it presents to the customer. In any residential orCLEANING EQUIPMENT  business environment, it is important to remember that perceptions and judgments are made almost immediately. A disheveled appearance and a discourteous attitude are the quickest ways to ensure the cleaning service will not be invited back to the home or office.

    Professional appearing invoices, brochures and newsletters all provide the customer with a sense of security and solidify their belief they are dealing with an honest and legitimate business.

    Equipment should be serviced at appropriate intervals and cleaned regularly to project the pride of ownership the proprietor has in their business. Regardless of age, vehicles used by the business should be clean on the outside and organized on the inside.

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    The Benefits of a Cleaning Business

    Many entrepreneurs wondering how to run a cleaning business already possess a great deal of the knowledge necessary to experience substantial success. Drive, determination, organization, and a commitment to providing customers with a healthy and clean environment will ensure significant financial reward and a great deal of personal fulfillment.