Starting your own janitorial cleaning service is one of the easiest businesses to start. You can start it as a home-based business and grow it as you receive more jobs and income.
But, as with any business, you should be prepared and follow necessary steps to ensure your business is successful such as:
- Write a business plan: A business plan is a document outlining your business goals and strategies for achieving them. It will help you to organize your thoughts, identify the competition, and help you generate more ideas to make your business successful. A good business plan will force you to research and think what is best for your business and it will help you look at different things at once which you may otherwise miss. Also, if you want to obtain funding, most financial institutions will require a business plan. Even if don’t need a loan right now, you may need one later. Go ahead and write your plan and realize you can change it as your business develops.
- Get your required licenses and insurance: Ensure you follow all state and local laws to start your own business. Research the necessary licenses you will need in your area. Check with the Small Business Association to determine if your state requires you to be licensed. If a license is not required, you will need to obtain a Federal Tax Employer Identification Number(EIN) through the IRS. If it is required, usually a tax ID number will be created with the license. When starting your own business in your home, ensure you follow all necessary laws for your zone. Also, you may want to get bonded which protects you in case anyone who works for you is accused of stealing property. You can also advertise on your marketing materials stating you are licensed and bonded.
- Do market research: Before you jump in and start offering cleaning services, you should conduct market research to find out exactly what is wanted in your area. Ask yourself if you want to offer green services to become environmentally friendly? Do you want to clean both businesses and homes? Do you want to offer other services such as buffing floors or carpet cleaning? By conducting market research, you will find exactly what is wanted in your industry today. Some information can be found online such as competitors, but you might want to go to your local library to get information from the research or reference desk. They can provide you with all types of data that you will need. Talk to potential customers, read industry publications, or hire a focus group company to research what customers really want from their janitorial service.
- Determine your marketing methods: Once you have conducted your market research you should determine your marketing methods. The first thing you should do is develop and get a logo with business cards. There are several online services which hire freelancers at a great price to get a customized logo for your business such as Fiverr or Upwork. Make sure your freelancer will provide you with digital copies in different formats so you may use them on your website, marketing materials, etc. Do you want to send out flyers to businesses? Do you want to participate in community events to market your business? Whichever marketing methods you use, talk to other business professionals around you to get their ideas so that you market your business in the best way with the least amount of money. Join your local chamber to participate in networking events. The main thing is to get your business name out there and be professional. Don’t show up to a business in a beat-up truck or in a t-shirt and shorts. Ensure you always maintain a professional image.
- Develop professional bids: You may want to respond to Requests for Proposals (RFP) or sign up to receive them. You can find government contracts on the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) page or your local government’s page. Research different ideas online and ensure your format and proposal is very professional. Because your bid will be against other businesses, you should try to price your services competitively. Some businesses will underprice to get the contract, so you will want to highlight your top services and other variables which will make you different from other bidders.
- Hire employees for growth: At some point you will want to hire employees to help you as you grow. Ensure you develop a good job description, develop good hiring practices, and understand exactly what you want for your small business. Also, you want to ensure they present a clean, professional image for your business, especially if they will have customer contact. Many times, when the owner is doing the work, they do well. But once you start hiring staff, ensure they are an extension of the professionalism you want to maintain. Consider purchasing uniforms or logo shirts to ensure they present a professional image. Also, ensure you conduct background checks on your employees. You want staff that you can trust. Your business may be bonded, but you don’t want your business reputation to suffer.
- Develop best practices: Research other companies to discover what they are doing to make their business more successful. For example, develop social media accounts so customers can message you directly. You should at least have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. If you’re having a sale or running a promotion, post it across your website and on all your social media accounts. If someone is searching for a service in your area on Google, the sale will show up in results on Google. Also, research shows 56% of customers now want to send messages instead of calling. Ensure you have messaging available across your social media accounts and consider using text messaging as well.
- Understand and use good technology: Research and purchase good technology that will help you streamline your business practices. Are your employees clocking in or out on a time clock machine or are they writing down their times? Consider using a janitorial time clock app. This will allow you to create work schedules for your employees and assign employees to a specific work site. In addition, your employees can clock in and out from anywhere. The best mobile time clock apps offer GPS verification so you can ensure they are at the job site when they clock in/out. Also, employees can view their schedules on their phones or computer whenever you make changes. One of the biggest problems for industries is workers forget to clock in/out or turn in their timesheets late. By using a precise janitorial time tracking app and having the location verification at your fingertips, it’s easy to see which employees consistently are late to work, leave early, or don’t show up at all.
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- Expand your knowledge: If you have never managed others before or you aren’t good with basic business spreadsheets, sign up for classes and read articles online. Many libraries or local governments offer free online or onsite classes to help you continuously improve your abilities. You may be great at the janitorial aspect of your business but research your own personal weaknesses to see where you need to improve.
Starting a cleaning service may seem hard at first, but once you do the initial work, it will become easier with time. Conduct research, present yourself professionally, and hire workers to maintain that image. Ensure you spend time developing a good business plan as well. The time you take to develop your business in the beginning will pay off in the end.
Author: Kimberley Kay Travis
Kim Travis, co-owner of Travis and Adams Consulting Group, has over 20 years’ experience in human resources and leadership roles.
She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, leadership development, manufacturing safety programs, and writing business articles and blogs.