Before You Start Your Own House Cleaning Business

You may believe that starting a house cleaning business is as simple as purchasing the supplies and handing out flyers. Or, you may think that buying a cleaning franchise will make the endeavor easy. Either way you choose to start your own cleaning business, you should be prepared to be a small business owner.

Is there a high demand for house cleaning services in your community and surrounding areas? If you live in a small city you may have to market your business to neighboring communities.  You may need to lease space central to your service area to be certain that drive time will not consume an inordinate amount of employee compensation. 
Are there major cleaning service franchises in your area? If so, they have researched the demographics and determined that it is possible to succeed.  It will be your responsibility manage your business efficiently and to hire wisely in order to compete with the franchises.  Remember that franchisees face the same challenges as an independent business in marketing, managing employees and maintaining a steady flow of income; however, they must pay a percentage of their gross profits to the franchisor.
What is the average hourly fee for your competitor’s services?  You must remain within the local standards.  You can undercut your competition slightly, but don’t cut yourself short. 
Investment Capital
The amount of capital you will need is dependent upon whether you start independently or purchase a franchise, your demographics and how large your business is to start.  Consider whether you will lease space or work from home, and how many employees you will hire.  Not only will you be responsible for payroll and taxes, but the cost of insurance, equipment and supplies will increase for each employee you hire.  If you purchase a franchise you will also have royalty payments and extra fees to consider.
Will you need financing and, if so, where will you obtain it? The Small Business Association is a government organization which provides general information on obtaining funds for start-up businesses, and specific information on government loans which you may be eligible for.  They also provide an easy to complete, free template for the business plan you will need for any loan application.  Visit their website at
Do you have savings or additional income to live on for up to 12 months while growing your business? Plan for success, but be prepared to struggle.   
Have you calculated the costs of paying an office associate and cleaners to assist with the business?  If your cleaning business does well you may need to hire a bookkeeper, accountant, or office assistant. Research local wages and include the average compensation in your business plan. 
Do you require a specific level of annual income? You may have to live on less if your cleaning business is not as successful as you anticipate.
How many hours are you willing to work? The hours you put in will be greater than expected – guaranteed.  You will need to become familiar with all aspects running a cleaning business in order to be successful. This may require taking classes on business management or computer training. 
Will you operate the business yourself or hire a manager? Even if you hire a seasoned business manager, you must be familiar with the day-to-day operations and have a presence in the office.  It is not prudent to grant anyone else complete control of your financial responsibilities.
Do you possess computer, bookkeeping, or accounting skills? It is necessary that you have an understanding of these aspects of your business.  Taking a business management course at your local community college will provide you with general knowledge.
Are your sales and people skills top notch? Your business will not thrive if you fall short in this area. Even if you hire a business manager and a sales person, you will find that knowledge of sales and communication is necessary to manage these employees well.  There are many books you can read, and online resources to assist you with learning these skills.
Do you have successful managerial experience? Your management skills will need to be more than competent in order to bring your dreams to fruition. 
Are you able to delegate responsibilities and trust your assistants?  Delegation is a requirement of any management position. Trust is earned.  If you have performed reference checks and hired properly then you should be able trust your assistant’s abilities.  Remember to check their work periodically to assure that personal issues are not interfering with their ability to perform their job functions.
Bonding Insurance
Although bonding insurance is not legally required to start a cleaning business, it is a wise investment which is fairly inexpensive.  Most customers will be more concerned with whether you have bonding insurance than liability or worker’s compensation because it protects them against theft committed by a home service company. 
Since bonding insurance is perceived to have the most importance to customers, and is reasonably inexpensive, it is a wise investment both for your own protection and for providing customers with a feeling of security.  The bonds you can purchase may start as low as $1,000 coverage, but a bond of $10,000 would better protect your company.
Other Considerations
Do you have access to large discount stores for cleaning supplies?  If the demographics are right for establishing a cleaning service in your area, then you should have a discount store within a few miles.   If not, then order online. Prime account holders are offered free shipping.  Many online cleaning supply stores have reduced shipping. 
Is your credit rating favorable? You will need this to set up accounts with vendors for equipment and bulk supplies.
Are you able and willing to work long hours to get your business off the ground? There is a period of learning and adjustment which will be different for each business owner and their employees.  You should expect that the first year will require longer hours than you would like.
Are your spouse and family willing to live with the budget and time restraints a new business venture will incur?  Be certain that your family is aware of the time and budget issues a new business incurs.  You may need to remind yourself and your family often that this will be temporary.
Will you need to invest your life savings to start your own cleaning business?  If so, then you should reconsider your options.  Don’t put your life savings at risk until you have thoroughly researched the market, polished your skills and gained your family’s full support. 
Are you willing to face the consequences if you fail? You are 100% responsible for your business.  If you do not take the necessary steps to assure success, you will fail.  Do not start a cleaning business if you do not have the fortitude and determination required of an entrepreneur.
Websites you should visit:
House Cleaning Business Forms and More: - MaidDocs provides a start up cleaning business package which includes a cleaning fee estimate calculator; lists of resources; a full color tri-fold customizable brochure, and over a dozen customizable forms and customer letters.  When you are ready to grow your business there is a complete Employee Package which includes a guide to hiring and managing cleaning business employees, an employee handbook and cleaning procedures manual; performance reviews and warnings. There is also a payroll template and customer database template.  With MaidDocs you can start a cleaning business without a franchise, and keep it growing. 
Business Law: - Complying with business laws and regulations can be a burden. To help small businesses overcome this, the Small Business Administration in cooperation with multiple Federal agencies developed this site as a free online resource designed to provide legal and regulatory information.  Topics covered on this site range from choosing a business structure to hiring an attorney. The site also provides links to federal, state and local agencies and a free business plan template. 
Employment Law: - This page provides a shortcut to information and services the Department of Labor (DOL) offers employers.   The major laws of DOL page helps you, as an employer, understand which DOL laws apply to your business.

Internal Revenue Service: - Learn everything about your responsibilities to the IRS. 

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