Intro

Getting Started
with this guide

CHAPTER 1

Getting Started
with this guide

CHAPTER 2

Getting Started
with this guide

CHAPTER 3

Getting Started
with this guide

CHAPTER 4

Getting Started
with this guide

CHAPTER 5

Getting Started
with this guide

start reading
INTRo

Introduction to the Guide

This guide is designed specifically for...

Entrepreneurs who’ve dismissed the idea of starting a service business because “that’s not what Tim Ferris says will get me to my 4-hour workweek.”
Solo cleaners who are drowning in their cleaning schedule and need help hiring cleaners they can trust
Successful cleaning business owners who want to create automated systems to scale easily.

Why Start a Cleaning Business?

For those greenhorns who are wondering...cleaning? Like wiping off people’s toilet seats from guys who can’t aim?
Why would I ever want to do that?

I could give you a million reasons but for simplicity’s sake, here are my two favorites:

Reason # 1: Six zeros
Reason # 2: Two commas

Put those together ($1,000,000) and that’s exactly what people like you are earning right now in the cleaning industry.

Think of this guide as your playbook. We’ll cover the X’s and O’s that will take your cleaning business to the next level.

Now, grab those bootstraps, start scrolling, and learn how you can join the “2 Comma Club.” Just like Felicia...

How to Read this Guide

Imagine you're standing in front of a steel door with a heavy-duty dial lock.

The right combination of turns will open the door to the business of your dreams. One that will propel you to 1 million dollars in annual revenue per year.

This guide is the secret combination.

The chapters are the sequenced turns that you will need to make in order to release the intricate lock.

At times, the locking pins may be a little sticky. Simply click on the links within each chapter for a deeper dive to help those stubborn pins align into place.

For those of you who have already discovered the first few combinations of turns, skip ahead to the chapter that covers the area of your business where you feel 'stuck.'

READY FOR CHAPTER ONE?
Chapter One

Getting Started

I am standing on the edge of the cliff right now. I know I need to jump but the fear is paralyzing. I clean solo, but that isn't my dream. I want to grow. At least I know that much. But how!?

This chapter is for...

Solo cleaners, with a successful book of clients, who want to stop cleaning and take the "scary" next big step in your business
The young entrepreneur looking for a limitless stream of income
Any cleaning employee who has ever thought, "I can run a business way better than my boss." But might be afraid to venture off on your own.
Rockets use 85% of their fuel just getting off the ground. Elon Musk will probably solve this issue, but in the meantime, it's a great metaphor to illustrate how much energy is burned to "get started."

Starting a cleaning business is no different.
There are hundreds of key decisions and an overdose of conflicting information (typically attached to false promises) that will paralyze you if you let it.

This chapter will sort through controversial questions and give you clear steps to get your cleaning business off the ground.While our approach is not rocket science, the road ahead is going to be difficult. You're going to feel stuck, lost, and overwhelmed.

You're not alone...

People from all over the country with different backgrounds have felt your fear. They've been overwhelmed and decided to take massive action...instead of giving up. As you can see, they've all been rewarded for their grit and determination.

Remember, you'll burn 85% of your energy getting this thing off the ground but then you can coast off your hard work and glide into your dreams.

Now, let's get ready for take-off.

STEP 1: Key Decisions

This section is designed to help you navigate through 4 tough questions that you must answer before you get into the "fun stuff" like designing your logo.

Think of these questions more like a personality test as opposed to a high school pop quiz. There aren't any right or wrong answers. Assess your local laws, risk tolerance, and personal preferences to determine the best fit for your cleaning business.

01
Where do I start my cleaning business?

As a brand new business owner, you should start right where you are. More than likely, you already have everything you need. A supportive network, a few bucks for cleaning supplies, and people with dirty homes or offices.

If you're in a rural area, there's an argument to be made about more opportunities in bigger cities. However, you can always get your feet wet locally and then explore the idea of starting another location remotely AFTER you've achieved some cleaning success.

02
What services do I offer?

Residential and commercial cleaning are the two major services offered in the cleaning industry. With each category of service, you can offer sub-services like deep cleanings, floor waxing, steam cleaning, and so on. Those are broken down in more detail in our services article.

For now, let's focus on which route you're going to focus on.

Residential
Consistent hours - always working during business hours; no night shift required
Less competition - larger pool of potential customers
Less risk - low overhead to get started and immediate payment
More headache - homeowner's schedule is constantly changing and customers tend to "get in the way" while you're cleaning
More headache - homeowner's schedule is constantly changing and customers tend to "get in the way" while you're cleaning
Commercial
Awkward hours - typically completing cleanings after hours, when businesses are closed
More competition - smaller pool of potential customers that you will be competing for
More risk - heavier duty equipment requires a bigger investment and most commercial companies don't pay out for services until 30 days post cleaning
Less headache - buildings are typically empty when cleanings take place; giving your team the freedom to operate without interruption
Less opportunity - there are fewer commercial properties than there are residential homes

03
Should I work with employees or independent contractors?

This is one of the most controversial topics in the cleaning industry. Even after heated debates and Social Media arguments, there is no crystal clear answer.

Some companies will start out with contractors and switch to employees and vice versa. In the end, it depends on the amount of control you're willing to sacrifice in exchange for lower operating costs.

Employees

Whenever you use the drive-through at Chik-Fil-A, you're greeted with a familiar, smiling face wearing a crisp, red uniform. They're systematically trained to make a perfect Chik-Fil-A sandwich (with 2 pickles), salt fries with precision, and say "My pleasure..." exactly the same way every time.

The experience almost feels robotic.

Chik-Fil-A can offer a repeatable system to every customer because they legally have more control over an employee.

On the flip side, uniforms, training, worker's compensation, and other employee expenses come at a higher cost.

More overhead, more control.

Independent Contractors

Have you ever ridden in an Uber or Lyft?

While these transportation services offer the same goal - point A to point B - the experience is always a little different. Some drivers will offer you gum. Some drivers let you choose the radio station.

No matter what, they're all incentivized to offer you a unique ride so they can get a 5-star rating and stand out above other drivers.

Uber and Lyft enjoy a lower overhead because they don't have to train drivers, reimburse their mileage, pay for uniforms and insurance, or manage the high cost of purchasing and maintaining a fleet of cars.

On the other hand, they lose some control because the drivers get to choose when they work, who they offer a ride to, and how they get their passengers from point A to point B.

Low overhead, low control.

04
How much should I charge?

This question was purposefully placed last because the previous questions will all impact your pricing. Be sure to fully answer the questions above before you start determining your rates.

There are plenty of different ways to charge for your cleaning services. Let's discuss the main pricing structures starting from the most common to the least.

Hourly

Trading your time for their money. Charging the customer per hour is one of the fairest ways to price your services. Customers who keep their homes well maintained will receive a lower rate since it takes less time. On the other hand, you'll earn more money for homes that are in terrible condition because extracting elbow grease takes more time.

You'll need to determine how long it typically takes your teams to complete everything on their cleaning checklists, but here's a handy, universal equation to help you get started:

1 labor hour for every 250 sq. ft. of deep cleaning services (250 / Home Sq. Ft. = Total Labor Hours)
1 labor hour for every 500 sq. ft. of standard cleaning services (500 / Home Sq. Ft. = Total Labor Hours)

Pro Tip: Clarify whether you charge per cleaner, per hour (labor/man-hour) or simply charge by the hour (no matter how many cleaners are there).

Flat Rate

Charging the customer a fixed fee provides your leads and customers with peace of mind because they know exactly how much they're paying for the cleaning.

The fee is typically based on variables like square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms, and extras (i.e. pets or dusting blinds).

This fee structure will take longer to establish because you'll need to determine a price for every variable that you could come across while cleaning.

A firm, fixed rate is risky for companies who complete cleanings "site-unseen".

Per Square Foot

Take the square footage of your customer's property and multiply it by a fixed rate. Most commercial companies use this model and start with .11 per square foot. It works great on the residential side as well.

If you used the nationwide average, then a 1,500 sq. ft. cleaning would cost your customer $136.36 (1,500 x .11).

Pro Tip: Increase the rate for heavier duty cleanings

Hybrid

Some companies choose to mix up their pricing structure.

Eloise's Cleaning Services in Wilmington, NC uses a Hybrid model. Residential customers will pay by the hour for all Deep or Move-in/out Cleaning services and then a fixed Flat Rate for their Standard, Recurring services.
Some companies choose to mix up their pricing structure.

Our hybrid pricing model gives us the flexibility to complete Deep Cleanings without having to go and look at the property. This is a benefit for the customer and also protects us against houses that need WAY more attention than estimated.

- Owner of Eloise's Cleaning

Since the pricing will vary by location, it's impossible to offer a formula that would work in all states.

Because of this, you'll need to do some investigative research to determine your market's pricing.

Nowadays it's easy to find your competitor's pricing because they have it posted on their website. Take some time to find your top competitors in your city and determining the average pricing for your area.

If you're an overachiever, then you can do some secret shopping and call local cleaning services to help you formulate your pricing.

STEP 2: Planning

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

- Benjamin Franklin

When it comes to starting your cleaning business, what's your biggest fear?

1.
Not making any money?
2.
Walking in on your client's wife changing?
3.
One of your team members leaving your customer's front door open as they are unloading their equipment, the family dog running outside, then proceeding to get hit by a car? The family is destroyed and sues you, but you're not incorporated so the settlement drains your business and personal accounts. Then you're left with no business, no money, and a guilty conscience.

All three of these scenarios are true stories that have happened to real-life cleaning business owners. This section is going to focus on establishing the legal foundations of your cleaning business.

The information may seem stale but is vitally important for your future protection and success.
Speaking of protecting yourself, here's our legal disclaimer regarding the following content.

01
Incorporate Your Cleaning Business

This step is essential for your personal liability protection, legal benefits, and tax benefits.

Those of you in the Unite States, the U.S. Small Business Administration is an all-encompassing, detailed resource to help you complete the paperwork you need to be in compliance with your state.

Follow each step in the Launch your Business guide as this will hold your hand through every step of the sometimes confusing process.

Pro-Tip: If you don't already have a name picked out for your cleaning business, then skip ahead to the Naming Your Cleaning Company before proceeding with this section.

02
Bank Account

Mixing your business and personal finances is like cleaning the kitchen counter with the same rag you used on the toilet. It's easy to do, but impossible to justify. Always keep your business and personal financials separate.

This will help you track and manage all your income, expenses, and easily report your taxes at the end of the year.

Oftentimes your personal bank will offer small business banking solutions - keepin all your finances in one place. While this may be convenient, it also might not be the most cost-effective option.

Check out the Top 10 Small Business Bank Accounts to help you decide a good fit for you.

03
Accepting Payment

Once your bank account is up and running, it's a good idea to start thinking about how you're going to accept payment for your services.

Cash, Check, PayPal, Venmo, Cash App, and the list goes on and on. Accepting all these forms of payment is a quick way to confuse your customers and lose money.

Remembering to write a check or leave cash every time you come clean is extremely inconvenient for your customers. Even pulling out a phone, opening a payment app, finding your business' name, and thinking "how much do I owe?" is too time-consuming.

These barriers will delay your well-earned payment.

Our recommendation is to collect your customer's billing information one time - before the cleaning - and then charge them after you complete their service.

04
Introducing Stripe

Stripe is the best platform for accepting credit/debit card payments. You can create your account today and even link it to a booking software, like Cleanetto, to charge customers with one click.

The small processing fees are an insignificant business expense to ensure payments are received on time and in full.

05
Insurance

A broad insurance policy is essential in the cleaning industry where accidents always happen. It's a small price to pay in order to mitigate yourself against things like...

Dusting a mantel and knocking over a priceless knick-knack
Placing a bottle of bleach on a countertop or hardwood surface only to pick it up and find a bleach ring
Using steel wool on stainless steel and scratching off the finish
Opening a glass shower door and it coming off its hinges and shattering into a million pieces (at least you didn't have to clean off the hard water stains)
Customer's targeting you as a scapegoat for property owner mistakes

An insurance policy is also a great sales tactic. Right after a customer asks, "how much does it cost?" they typically follow up with, "are you insured?"

Answering "no" to the latter question is the quickest way to lose business, especially for commercial properties.

Being fully insured will solidify yourself as a credible business owner and build trust with your customers.

Always be sure to price shop to determine the best insurance solution for your cleaning business. You can typically receive estimates online, but speaking directly with an agent will help you navigate some of the confusing terminology.

General Liability Insurance

Protects you against the 3 P's: Physical injury, Personal injury, and Property damage.

Worker's Compensation

Covers medical bills and lost wages for employees who get sick or injured on the job. This is essential for commercial and residential owner's operating with employees.

Additional Insured

This is an individual or business you can add to your insurance policy that will not be responsible for paying any premium. When you operate with independent contractors it's beneficial to have them add your business as an additional insured. Commercial properties will likely ask to be added to your policy as an "additional insured" before you complete any work on their property.

Bonded

An added level of insurance on your plan to guarantee payment to your customer if certain conditions aren't met. This is not always necessary, so be sure to ask your insurance agent if it would make sense to be bonded.

Commercial Auto

The same thing as personal auto except it specifically covers your business use vehicles.

06
Accounting and Taxes

STEP 3: Branding

A person's gut feeling about a product, service, or company. You can't control the process but you can influence it.

- Marty N | The Brand Gap

It's always good to get some early victories to boost your confidence and get you excited for the road ahead. Branding is a fun process that brings your cleaning business to life.

01
Naming Your Cleaning Company

Brand Guidelines

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02
The complete Guide to Websites for Cleaning Companies

Resources

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Chapter two

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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