July 26, 2014

How to start a small cleaning business: 3 tips.

When we googled, “house cleaning Portland”, this is the map that came up beside the search results.

Intimidating. Looks like just about every tidy person in Portland has already set up some kind of maid service business. Just under the surface of the grim picture google offers to the aspiring self-employed maid is a more complicated, but hopeful picture. We studied cleaning businesses advertisements, customer feedback, and home cleaning business models, and found a few things you should know about before you start a cleaning service. Here are three tips that will greatly help you set up a cleaning business that pays.

1. Make a marketing plan and stick to it.

There are a myriad of ways you could get your name out there, and all of them have competition. Short of writing your name in the sky with a hired airplane, there will always be the name of somebo
dy else’s house cleaning business beside yours. One solid tactic is direct marketing. Spend five bucks on fliers and a couple eight hour days dropping them at doorsteps near where you live. When you go into business for

yourself, treat every day like you were in a normal workplace. It takes major, disciplined time commitment to make it work, especially when it comes to marketing. Your flier should look good and must contain the human element (see the next section). The flier should mention that you’re a LOCAL cleaning business, and, depending on your neighborhood, it should have “printed on recycled paper” on the bottom or have a “support our troops” flag in one of the corners. Know who you’re trying to clean for, and target them. Cleaning flyers are perhaps the best way to get clean up work when you’re just beginning. This marketing method can be tailored to the aspiring maid who wants to get work doing business cleaning or foreclosure cleanup. All it takes is creative thinking and a willingness to experiment. When you make the shift to advertising your business on the internet, remember that you’re entering a much more competitive arena than the in door-to-door method. This can certainly help you get cleaning contracts, however, and becomes a necessity as your business grows. Our advice: take time to look better than the competition. Register on Yelp and similar sites, and ask your clients to give you feedback. As a matter of fact, take the time to read through all the feedback you can find on Yelp or Google Reviews before you start flyering. This will help you know what to avoid. Craigslist works if you play it right. Here are two Craigslist ads. Make yours look like the better one. It’s worth the time it takes.

 2. Sell yourself.

Among the top three highest ranked cleaning services in all the major cities we studied was at least one cleaning business that had someone’s name in the title. What this tells us is that the client really cares about who it is that’s doing the work. To succeed once you’re at the jobsite, you need to have an excellent personality. Be ready to smile through it all – whether it’s a yap dog, a toddler who insists on investigating the contents of your cleaning bucket, or an evil stepmother impersonator who follows your every step. Online feedback and solid references are what will make or break your residential house cleaning business. Before you even get to the jobsite, you’ll have to use this personality to get calls requesting work. Your flyer should contain your picture. It doesn’t have to be a picture of you cleaning. The picture should evoke trust in the person who sees it. Why not be humorous? Take a picture of yourself smiling, wearing rubber gloves, and photoshop it into an image of the dirtiest looking place you can find on the internet. Write a little bit about yourself into the flyer. House cleaning ads without the human element are doomed to the recycle bin.

3. Find a niche and make an offer.

If you’re interested in specializing, it’s critical that you make a concrete offer. If you want to start a window cleaning business, include an average price per square foot of window in the advertisement, and advertise a special discount if someone has more than x number of windows or if they call in the springtime. If you want to start an office cleaning service, try making an offer like, “bonus upholstery deep clean” for contracts from offices over x square feet or offices that contact you in the next two weeks. Offers and promotions get people “off the fence” and make them feel like they’re getting a really good deal, whether or not you’re taking less money than you want for the work you do.

Once you’re in the door, it’s time to really turn it on. Once you know how to get cleaning contracts, you’ll have to learn how to keep them. You’ll have to learn how to turn one happy customer into two new ones. We can’t overstress the value of carefully reading customer feedback on the internet. This will give you tons of training in what is and isn’t a good way to create a satisfied customer. Bottom line: you’ve got to love what you do, and show it.

Launch a Cleaning Business in 24 hours. Guaranteed.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything you need to start your cleaning business–instructions on how to clean ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, a complete list of supplies, accounting tips, a website, a flyer template, advice from real home cleaners–were all assembled in one place? Have a look at my 24 hour crash course on how to start a home cleaning business. 100s of successful home cleaners worldwide got their start with this very course!


Bob Keppel: Best Selling Small Business Author

Robert Keppel
The Housekeeping Blueprint