How To Start A Cleaning Business (With No Money)

February 17, 2021
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As long as you already have reliable transportation and an eye for detail, it's easy to start a house cleaning business with no money. You may need a small amount of funds to round out your cleaning toolkit and apply for your business license, but you can absolutely move forward with this business plan without securing a loan.

Evaluate Your Current Capabilities, Strengths, and Assets

Starting a cleaning business with no money means you cannot immediately hire another employee to do the work. You'll need to do the cleaning yourself until the business profits enough for you to take a supervisory role.

Begin by evaluating everything currently working in your favor, as well as any weaknesses that require immediate attention.

  • What kind of cleaning equipment do you already possess?
  • What kind of training or experience will help you provide cleaning services?
  • Do you have a reliable vehicle that can carry the cleaning equipment?

Perform Market and Competitor Research

Explore the current need for house cleaners in your area by performing market and competitor research. Consider questions like:

  • What kind of cleaning services do people need? You might differentiate your business by promoting a specific service, like mattress and upholstery cleaning.
  • Which neighborhoods have the wealthiest clients? Because many people can clean their own home, hiring a cleaner is often a luxury reserved for households with disposable incomes. Consider focusing your marketing efforts on wealthier neighborhoods.
  • Which populations are most likely to need cleaning services? Perhaps single parents or older adults will make up the bulk of your client base.
  • How many cleaning companies already exist in the area? It will be more difficult to establish a new business with a large amount of competitors in the region.
  • How could you improve on competitors' services, price packages, or values? You might offer one of the area's few all-natural cleaning services, for example, or clean on the weekends.
  • How much do competitors charge? Calculate whether you make a profit by charging a more affordable rate, since lower prices will help you attract customers.

Use your findings to create a business plan. This is your road map for the future.

Get a Business License and Insurance

State and local laws govern business licenses, so requirements vary from one location to the next. Generally speaking, you do not need to register a business when you're the only employee (called a sole proprietorship) unless you give it a name, like "Mary's House Cleaning Service." Naming your business is a good idea for marketing, so you should complete this step eventually.

In addition, some states or municipalities may require all cleaning businesses to have a particular permit or vendor license. Contact your state's Secretary of State or Department of Revenue to file the appropriate paperwork and pay the processing fees.

As part of the registration process, you may need to show proof of business insurance. Your clients will also feel better knowing you're insured. Business insurance protects your personal assets in the event of an accident, like if a client's property is damaged during the cleaning process. Use personal savings to invest in the initial business insurance payments, and then quickly transition to using business profits for these monthly bills.

Obtain Your First Clients

Your first house cleaning clients will typically be friends, family, or friends-of-friends. These people already believe in you and trust that you'll do a good job. Still, it's important to go above and beyond their expectations to ensure they sincerely recommend your business to other people.

You don't have to spend money on a sophisticated advertising campaign to attract more customers. It's crucial to have a web presence, however. Set up a free Google My Business page, a Facebook business page, and a Yelp business profile. Ask clients to leave you a review on one (or more) of these platforms, which will encourage potential customers to contact you.

Deliver Incredible Customer Service

Before you visit your first client, establish your business's values and protocols so that you deliver a consistent experience. For example:

  • Confirm appointments the day before
  • Show up on time
  • Dress professionally
  • Verify all cleaning services the client expects, including preferences for natural products or mild scents
  • Communicate expectations about whether clutter should already be removed by the client before your arrival
  • Do not touch potentially sensitive items -- such as paperwork or medication bottles -- without permission

Of course, don't forget to deliver what your business promises in the first place: a clean home. Have high standards and cut zero corners. It's normal to develop more efficient processes over time, but customer satisfaction should always remain a priority. You need customers to write glowing reviews and to recommend you to their friends to grow your cleaning business. Don't give them any reason to hold back.

Use Profits to Upgrade Equipment and Market the Business

After paying bills and taxes, use leftover money to purchase additional equipment, especially if doing so allows you to offer new services.

For example, if your clients have marble or concrete floors, you might consider purchasing a polisher to clean these surfaces. Or, maybe your current vacuum struggles to handle the dog fur embedded in clients' carpets. Upgrade to a more powerful model for better results (and happier customers).

Plan to invest in marketing materials early on. Put your business name on your car to advertise everywhere you go. Purchase lawn signs and ask your clients for permission to place them in their yards. Mail postcards to the wealthier neighborhoods you identified in your market research.

Continue to Expand Your Cleaning Business

When your schedule remains full and you start to turn away potential clients, it may be time to hire your first employee. Take a close look at your business finances to understand if this is feasible. Or, you might feel comfortable taking out a business loan at that point to fund your employee's first paychecks.

Work side-by-side with your new employee to complete each job faster, freeing up your schedule for more clients. Later, you can send the employee out to work by themselves. By continuously reinvesting in your business, you can eventually take on a more supervisory or managerial role, if that is what you prefer.

Organize Your Business With FieldPulse

You don't have to be an expert in business administration to start a successful cleaning business. Use an app like FieldPulse to organize client information, schedules, invoices, and more. Without a ton of paperwork to juggle, you'll be able to conduct business on the go. Sign up now for a free 7-day trial.

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