Is cleaning your thing? Do you enjoy organizing and helping to make sure an area is spotless? If so, you may be considering starting your very own house cleaning business. There is a lot that will go into turning you’re house cleaning business is a success, and you’ll want to make sure you check off all the necessary steps.
So, you’re reading this for a reason. You want to know how to start a house cleaning business. No more wasting time. Let’s dive in!
Phase I: Planning Your House Cleaning Business
Why Start A House Cleaning Business
What is the purpose of this side hustle? Do you want to make some extra money for a few weeks? Will this be your full-time job going forward? Do you have a dream to start a house cleaning empire? Are you trying to clean houses, apartments, or hotels?
Examine your goals and align on the purpose of this effort. It’s not hard but it’s not easy either. Cleaning houses can be a dirty job but can also be very lucrative and flexible, if structured correctly. Once you hone in on your goal, it’s time to start diving into the details to ensure this becomes a success.
Research The Cleaning Industry
Have you ever cleaned a house before? Do you know how to clean a bathtub with bleach? What about mopping a floor? Do you know how to get stains out of a rug? If not, go online and learn. There are YouTube videos, articles, or even friends out there that know what they’re doing. Learn in the beginning, not the end. You can start a house cleaning business with just the basics like wiping surfaces and cleaning floors. Learn the basics and grow from there.
House Cleaning Expenses And Pricing Models
This is the part of the planning phase that everyone hates but is, BY FAR, the most important to nail. The goals of this section are to figure out:
Up Front Costs
What amount of money do you need to get started? Do you have cleaning materials? Gloves? Bleach? Windex? Cloths for wiping down surfaces? These are the items that you need before you even think of getting your first customer and some of these things can be pricey.
Make a list of all the equipment you need to get started. This includes an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) and legal documentation, cleaning solutions, rags, gloves, sponges, etc. When it comes to things like vacuums and other cleaning appliances, see when the best time to buy appliances is to try and save some cash. Estimate the cost of these items and total them up. That is your immediate up-front cost to start a cleaning business.
Tip – You don’t need eight different kinds of cleaning liquid. Get two or three different kinds and get started!
A large majority of cleaning expenses will be ongoing. This means that you’ll constantly have to be replenishing your supplies. This makes it easy to get started but means you’ll have smaller profits per job. Cleaning solutions will be your biggest ongoing expense. Like the up-front costs, list your ongoing expenses and how much they cost and total them up. Make sure to buy enough to last at least a few jobs.
Tip – Try and estimate how much you’ll use per job.
Tip – Buy in bulk if you’re in this for the long-haul. It’ll cost more up front but price per ounce/pound will drop considerably saving you money in the long run.
Cost Of Each Job
Once you have your ongoing expenses, take that number, and divide it by the number of houses you can clean with those goods. This is the cost of each job or how much you must pay in expenses to clean a single house (pending size).
For example, let’s say you clean a house and for every job, you use Windex, bleach, and general soap. Paper towels and non-replaceable wipes or rags are also used per job as well as the gas to drive to the location. Pretend that gas for 5 trips there and back is $30, liquid soaps cost you $40, and you buy $30 in paper goods and rags. Your ongoing expenses add up to $100. Let’s say you estimate that you can do 5 house cleaning jobs with this amount of materials. $100 / 5 jobs = $20 per job. This means that is costs you $20 every time you clean an average-sized house.
Pricing And Margins
Once you know what it will cost you to clean one house, you need to figure out what to charge! This largely depends on the size of the house including number of rooms, bathrooms, and square footage. On average, a job can be $90-$150 a visit. Because you’re on your own and not a reputable company, I’d start with $80 for basic cleaning services and work your way up. This will give you a competitive advantage over other cleaning companies.
When creating a pricing structure, you want to make sure 1. It’s fair to the customer and 2. It creates margins that you’re happy with. Undercharging won’t make you any money. Overcharging won’t bring you many customers. The combination of these will help drive your pricing model.
A margin is simply the difference between what you charge and what it costs you to clean a house. If we take the previous example of ongoing expenses being $20 per job and you charge the customer $80, your margin is $80 – $20 = $60! This means for every house you clean, you make a profit of $60! Now you can play with the math and get you excited for the possibilities, right?
Tip – Remember, pricing is never forever. You can always change pricing as you see fit.
Tip – Take the profit margin and divide it by the number of hours you expect each job to take. If you spend three hours on a house, you’re making the equivalent to $20 an hour. Not too shabby for a side business with a low up-front cost!
Once you have the cost of each job, calculating the breakeven is simple. Breakeven happens when you make back the initial up-front costs. You take the up-front costs and divide the margin per job which gets you the number of jobs you need to complete to breakeven.
For example, if you spent $180 in up-front costs and have a profit margin of $60 per job, you would do $180 / $60 = 3 jobs. This means that once you complete 3 jobs, you’re profitable moving forward!
Tip – You should never start a side hustle without a plan to breakeven. Plan for breaking even being the worst-case scenario.
Expected Range Of Revenue And Profit For A House Cleaning Business
Now that you have the estimated up-front costs, ongoing costs, pricing model, and breakeven points, you can start estimating what your revenue and profit could be! The formula is simple. Revenue – Expenses = Profit.
For example, say you expect to complete 10 jobs and we use all the same information we previously discussed.
Revenue = 10 jobs * $80 per job = $800.
Expenses = $180 for upfront costs + $20 X 10 jobs in ongoing expenses. For 10 jobs, that means, you’d spend $200 in ongoing costs so $180 + $200 = $380.
Profit = $800 – $380 = $420!
Tip – 10 jobs is a lot and you’re going to need help. You may have to investigate hiring employees or expanding. The $420 is the business profit, not necessarily what goes into your pocket.
Tip – Back to hourly rates. If you spend three hours per house, you’d have worked 30 hours. $420/30 hours = $14. Rates improve the further away you get from your initial up-front costs.
Tip – I would create a low estimate and a high estimate for the number of jobs you will get and have a range of revenues and profits. This way, you can expect the worst and hope for the best!
Phase II: Starting A House Cleaning Business
Legal And Incorporate As An LLC
Go to www.Legalzoom.com and start an LLC. It costs around $100. Just bite the bullet and do it. Trust me.
Marketing And Finding New/Repeat Customers For Your House Cleaning Business
Do you live in a neighborhood? Walk door to door. Do you have friends or family friends? Message them. Do you have Facebook? Blast out a message on there, Instagram, and Twitter. The list below are great ways to find customers and you can get as creative as you want!
Flyers Flyers Flyers – One of the most efficient and cost-effective marketing tactics is to distribute flyers. Go online and make a flyer for free with your company name, prices, services, and how you differentiate yourself from other cleaning companies. Print out a ton. The more your printout, the more expensive, but also the better price on each flyer, in most cases.
Once you have the flyers, put them in mailboxes, tape them to front doors, pass them out on the street, throw them in the air a la the movie, “Ten Things I Hate About You”. The idea is to distribute as many of them as possible to potential customers. If your prices are competitive and the flyer looks professional, you’ll get some bites, I promise.
Apartment Complexes – Go to an apartment complex and speak to the manager in the front office. Tell them about your cleaning services and that you’d like to advertise for their tenants. Sometimes they’ll let you leave flyers at the front desk or include it in their welcome package to new tenants. This brings an authenticity to your business as you’re no longer a third-party cleaning service.
Discounts And Customer Referral Services – The best way to get first-time customers is by offering a special discount on your services. Maybe first-time customers get $20 off their first clean or if they buy a bundle of services, it’s cheaper! Utilize Groupon to find customers with good deals or put the first-time discounts on your flyers!
You can also setup a referral system. If anyone refers anyone to you, they get a discount, which incentivizes them to market on your behalf! Utilizing discounts and referrals are a great way to get the word out to new potential customers!
You have a plan, your pricing models & margins, marketing, your equipment, and your LLC setup. Go find some customers, clean some houses, and make some money!
Phase III: Repeat And Expand Your House Cleaning Business
Reflection And Improvement
After a week of cleaning some houses, make sure to take 15 minutes and think about:
- What went right?
- What went wrong?
- Did you use more or less cleaning supplies than you thought?
- How do you clean houses faster?
- Did you have fun?
- Did you make the money you thought?
It’s important to reflect on the day and ensure it’s everything you thought it would be and how you feel about the future. Do you want to do it again? Was it worth it? You worked hard! Make sure it was worth the time and effort to do it again.
Expand Your House Cleaning Business
You did it! You created your business and are profitable. You enjoy running your own business and want to make it bigger! What are the options? How do you do it?
To expand, you must hire more people. These people can help in one of two ways. They can either help you clean houses faster lessening the time for a single job or you can provide them their own equipment and have them do jobs elsewhere creating profits for your company. You could also consider expanding into other types of focused cleaning, such as carpet cleaning. To properly expand, you need more and more customers.
Tip – Expanding a house cleaning business is 100% reliant on getting new and repeat customers. Your success is more dependent on marketing than about the actual cleaning. It’s tough to clean differently than others. It’s easy to market differently. Market effectively and you’ll have to hire more people. That’s a good thing.
Starting a house cleaning business can be a lot of work but is relatively easy to get going with minimal costs. If anything, it’ll help you realize what it takes to start a business and you can parlay that knowledge into something else down the line. Want to learn more about starting a business? You may also enjoy our article on the six best books on starting a business. Get your business up and running, and clean away!