How to Start a Cleaning Business… in 6 Steps

The Polished Clean guide to how to start a cleaning business... in 6 steps

At Polished Clean we’re all about empowering you to get your cleaning business up and running by providing as much help as we possibly can. However, it is possible to do it yourself… but where do you start? To help you, we’ve put together a guide on how to start a cleaning business if going it alone is the way you want to go.

Firstly though, why would you want to start a local cleaning business? What’s the benefits of starting out on your own as opposed to getting a job and the (relative) security of working for an employer?

  • Flexibility: You’re in control & you set the schedule so you can have a better work / life balance
  • No Age Restrictions: As long as your healthy, it doesn’t matter what age you are – in fact, cleaning is a great way to keep fit!
  • Demand: There’s always a demand for cleaners
  • Low Startup Costs: Compared to other businesses, a cleaning business can be up and running for less than £500 depending on the business model you choose to follow
  • Low Overheads: You business can be run from home meaning no costly office or shopfront overheads & cleaning supplies are also relatively cheap.
  • Repeat Customers: Often you’ll be able to get customers who want to use your service over & over again giving you the ability to cut back on marketing or keep taking on new customers and expand your business
  • Cash: You’ll find the majority of customers may pay you in cash after you’ve completed a job meaning no waiting to be paid

A recent report by the British Cleaning Council shows that the cleaning industry accounts for around 5% of the total UK workforce, making it one of the top ten industries for employment in the UK.

It also shows that in 2018 the cleaning industry contributed over £54 billion to the economy. Overall turnover increased by 28 per cent since 2013, which is double the 14 per cent turnover of the economy overall. What we’re saying is that there is money in cleaning!

How to Start a Cleaning Business in 6 Steps

Step 1 – Research

Step one of how to start a cleaning business is research… and lot’s of it! Doing thorough research is vitally important in determining if there’s even a market for what you’re looking to offer. It doesn’t matter what new business you’re looking to start, fail to research properly and you’ll be setting yourself up to fail before you even start.

For example, if you plan to offer a domestic cleaning service are there enough residential properties in the area you’re looking to service? If there are, will they be able to afford you?

Looking to offer commercial cleaning services such as cleaning offices, shops, landlords, etc.? Are there enough of those businesses in the area who outsource their cleaning requirements to outside companies such as yours?

You could also decide to provide a more specialist form of cleaning service. Anything from window cleaning to wheelie bin cleaning to patio & deck cleaning but some of these areas will require a larger upfront investment for equipment than others.

If you’re going to be needing finance for your business then you’ll have to create a business plan. Even if you’re not needing finance, having a business plan can help provide a clarity about how things may progress.

Your main analysis when completing your business plan should be on sales (including comparing pricing of local competitors), financing, marketing and how your business will operate on a practical level.

Growth Hubs, provided by The LEP Network (Local Enterprise Partnerships), provide business support and guidance throughout England. If you live in Scotland, Business Gateway provide a similar service, one being market research which can help you establish if there’s a market for your new cleaning business.

Step 2 – Business Model

So you’ve established there’s a market for your cleaning business. Now you have to decide if you’re definitely going it alone and starting from scratch or perhaps invest a few thousand pounds upfront in a cleaning franchise.

If you’re OK with building your business slowly, keeping control and handling every aspect of your business by yourself then starting by yourself is the way to go. Remember though you’ll not only be doing the cleaning but you’ll have to come up with all your own marketing in order to generate customers.

There’s also dealing with accounting, getting paid and administration work which will cut down significantly on the time you have available for cleaning and actually making money.

So maybe you’re better investing in a franchise? You’ll get more systems in place, no need for building your own website, setting up social media, coming up with your own marketing ideas. They may even guarantee you customers initially.

But, remember there’s a significant investment to pay upfront. Do you have the money to pay upfront? Cleaning franchises can run from a couple of thousand upfront to in excess of £20,000. That’s a lot of money for most people and as such comes with an inherent risk if your business doesn’t succeed.

Will you be getting good value for your money? It’s not only the amount that you’ll pay for your franchise that varies. The level of advice, help and service you get also varies tremendously from franchise company to franchise company.

Step 3 – Finances

Depending on which business model you’ve chosen you’re going to need money for equipment, vehicle(s), insurance, marketing, premises, franchise fees and possibly even legal fees.

A proper business plan, compiled after doing your market research, will help you budget for all these expenses.

If you’re going it alone or choosing a Polished Clean franchise and already have your own transport, you should be able to start a domestic cleaning business for less than £500. This means you may not have to take on any finance at all if you have even a modest amount of savings to invest.

Of course if you’ve chosen a more expensive franchise then you may need to secure a significant amount of financing before you can proceed any further. Normally the franchise operator will be able to help you secure this additional funding.

Step 4 – Training

Whilst you don’t need any specific qualifications in order to operate a cleaning business or provide a cleaning service, if you’re totally new to the industry it would be advisable to get some training.

A franchise operator may provide hands-on training at their head office, whilst if you’re going it alone you could seek out local training. There are many online courses available too which allow you to learn everything you need to know at your own pace.

You can look for online training courses at New Skills Academy, Cleaning Masterclass or for more in-depth training The British Institute of Cleaning Science offers training at their centres, including The Cleaning Professionals Skill Suite.

Practising at home will give you the confidence you need to get started… and has the added bonus of leaving your home sparkling!

Having a qualification will give you, and you business, credibility. In the same way, having a Disclosure will give your clients peace of mind that they are safe giving you responsibility for their property.

Step 5 – Systems & Equipment

Before you start taking on clients there are a few systems you’ll need to put in place. Again, these will depend on whether you’re setting up by yourself or paying for a franchise – and what that franchise offers you.

As a basic you’ll need some way of recording customers, billing them and providing them with a receipt. One way of combing all of this is with accounting software such as Quickbooks.

You should always open a new business bank account to keep your business finances separate from your personal finances. Setting up a PayPal business account is also a quick & easy way to accept payments for your services online. With recent advances in technology, it’s now also relatively cheap to obtain a card reader to accept card payments whilst “on the job”.

You’ll also need to obtain the relevant equipment. This will vary on what kind of cleaning you intend on doing, e.g. domestic cleaning, window cleaning, wheelie bin cleaning, more commercial based cleaning, etc.

If you’re going in to the domestic cleaning market we’ve put together a quick checklist of equipment you’ll need to get started in your new cleaning business.

Step 6 – Marketing

So now you’ve done your research, chosen your business model and have financing in place to start your business. What next? Well the final item in our how to start a cleaning business guide marketing.

No matter what type of business you have, marketing is essential. Without customers you have no business.

A costly franchise should include some form of marketing for your business. This may be national advertising of some kind or providing you with leaflets to deliver to people in your area.

If you go it alone you’ll need to come up with some ideas of how to reach potential clients.

Make sure to add your new cleaning business to the Polished Clean cleaning directory!

You may feel at times that you’re spending more time marketing your business than actually cleaning. That’s OK. When you run any small business the more marketing you do the more you’re increasing your chances of your business succeeding.

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