What do I need to Start a Cleaning Business?


We are living in a fast pace society where the mantra is “go go go”. In the midst of this chaos, it is hard to take a step back and find time to clean one’s own space- whether it be an office or their home.

This is true of millions of Americans all over U.S.A. There are many looking to outsource their cleaning needs to the hands of trusted cleaning services. It is highly likely that your own state harbors a good chunk of this demographic too.

In fact, the projected revenue growth for the commercial and residential cleaning service industry, for the year 2016, is $68.3 billion.

So you can be rest assured that the demand, an in fact, it is soaring.

This is the perfect time for setting up your very own cleaning business. While it is always exhilarating to start a new business because of the insurmountable potential that lies in front of you, know that a risk of failure is always there. To keep this risk potential to a minimum, it is best to make a strategic plan of action

But to do that, you need to have the knowledge of everything you need to start a cleaning business, and that is exactly the kind of information this article aims to provide you with.

What Do I Need To Start A Cleaning Business?

1. You need a name- Your brand name will be one of the most important representation of your company. While there are many factors to be considered while choosing a name for your brand, remember to go for one that is memorable, distinctive, and easy to both recall and repeat.

2. You need a business model- Unless you plan to limit your business to cleaning your grandmother’s house every weekend, chances are you would need a business structure for your company. There are several different kinds available, and each comes with its own pros and cons. Here are some of the options available:-

a. Sole proprietorship- This is the most basic type of business model apt for you if you alone plan on owning the cleaning company.

b. Partnership- just as the name says, if there is going to be a co-owner, then this business model is perfect for you.

c. Corporation- This is an entity that is owned by a group of shareholders.

There are many more options available, and if you are confused with which one to go with, consult with a lawyer.

Picking a business model for your cleaning business shouldn’t be too hard, but keep your demographic in mind while doing so.

If you plan on offering your service to consumers in residential areas, then a sole proprietorship will suffice, but if you are offering commercial cleaning solutions and your market includes other business owners, they might trust you more if you are a corporation, or an LLC.

Pick a business model that is specific suitable for your needs. You can always start as a sole proprietor, and if or when your business grows, you can choose to switch your business model.

3. Licenses and permits

Every business needs some sort of license and permit to operate legally, and cleaning service is no different. Do note that there might be several requirements specifically pertaining to your area. So please educate yourself about your local regulations.

Going without the necessary license and permit can put you at risk for all sort penalties and fines. Plus, you might not be eligible to buy wholesale cleaning supplies at a discounted price.

That said, there are some general license and permits required by most, if not all, businesses. This is regardless of your business model. So even if you are the sole proprietor of your cleaning business, chances are, you need them. You should contact your secretary of state to confirm what documentations you specifically need.

a. EIN- The Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can apply for one online. It’s very easy. Click here to get one.

b. DBA- If your cleaning company is going to be named something different that your legal name, then you require a DBA(Doing business as) License.

c. Zoning permit

d. Fire department permit

e. Sales tax license

There might be more state licenses you might require. So check in with your government office to see if you’ve got everything that you need. Click here to learn more about your federal and state permit needs.

4. Professional services providers

Owning a business does not necessarily mean you understand everything. There are something that you would have to rely on the experts for. None of them are mandatory, but many do keep them on their side in case of a crisis.

1. Lawyer

2. Accountant

3. Insurance

4. Banker

5. Computer technician

5. Supplies- At the very basic level, you can start offering cleaning service with just a few equipments like vacuum cleaner, mop pads, brooms, toilet brushes, cleaning cloth, cleaning caddy, window cleaning liquid, mold removing product, and floor cleaner. If you don’t have a steam carpet cleaner, you might be able to rent one.

To save capital, you can choose to purchase them in bulk prices from a wholesaler.

Additionally, you will also need an account software that tracks all your sales.

If you have employees, you can choose to require them to wear a uniform representing your company. This way they will look professional, and the customers will be able to easily recognize them. It is great for branding purposes too.

You can purchase a few for them, and then pay them a little extra so they can purchase any additional sets for replacement, when the need be, later down the line. If you are part of a franchise, chances are that you will be able to buy the uniform at a discounted price.

6. Vehicle- Since you will be the one travelling to your customers’ location, you do need a means of transportation for both you and your equipments. Also, do remember that your vehicle can serve as an ad on wheels too. For maids, a car or a wagon should provide more than enough room to store the supplies.

If you do have employees, you can ask them to use their own cars, or if you want to supply them with one as part of the company, make sure the logo and all the contact details is painted on the vehicle. This way they will be able to advertise your service while travelling for work. But do remember to get the vehicles insured, because in case of an accident, you will be covered.

If you provide a commercial janitorial service, the type of transport will depend on if you are cleaning small or large offices. If there is a lot of equipment, a van or truck maybe necessary. For carpet cleaners, there is a need for hauling large pieces of equipments around on a daily basis. So a van or truck is more than necessary.

Do you need to hire employees ?

The answer is that it depends on your goal. Many cleaning services, especially maid services, start with just the owner, who then chooses to expand and starts hiring employees. But if you have a bigger capital and you want to start on a large scale, then employees will be necessary to handle a big volume of customers.

For those providing janitorial service, one or two employees including the owner will suffice at the beginning. You will have to hire an office administrator who can answer the phone along with the doing the administrative tasks, when you and your employees are on site. If you want to grow your business faster, and if your capital allows for it, consider hiring a marketer who can advertise your business, and bring in more leads for you.

For carpet cleaning business, an office admin alone with one or two employees might be necessary. Two employees together will be able to finish each project faster, allowing you to handle more volumes of work per day.

The Issue of Insurance

This is a tricky subject because although insurance is something every business owner should have, many cleaning services that are just starting out, especially if it’s just you alone, might not be able to afford the coverage expenses. Large projects, and corporations also prefer if you have insurance.

Especially if your job holds some kind of risk of injury, your employers will feel more comfortable hiring you if you have proof of insurance. This way, in a case of injury, they won’t be held liable for it.

Also, if someone gets injured because of your work, or if you or your employees break something, or if there is an event of stealing, your insurance should be able to cover those liabilities too.

It is important to sit down with an insurance company to discuss the best course of action for your case.

You can see profits almost instantly when you start your cleaning business. But you have to plan and strategize to grow and leverage from your success. There will be a lot of hard work in the beginning. But as far as demand goes, work will always be there because there is always a place that needs to be cleaned with an owner too busy to do it themselves. But don’t take it for granted, and for the first few months, when you are not working hands on, spend your time advertising for more leads.