Many people start a cleaning business only to end up “a small fish in a big pond”. The cleaning industry is highly competitive, so it pays to target a small, yet profitable niche. Here’s how…
- 1 Understand your strengths and tendencies. The cleaning market is made up of a many niches, each with its own merits and styles. Cleaning your home is not the same as doing it for somebody else and, of course, cleaning an office may require a small team of cleaners. Window cleaning of a high rise building requires specialist skills and equipment. Where do you see yourself fitting in? What are you good at? Do you need any specialist skills or training? Can you be a leader? These are all questions that you need to ask yourself before making the first move.
- 2 Research your market and your competition. The cleaning industry is very competitive. Before you decide which sector you want to focus on, you should to check your competition in the local paper, yellow pages and the internet. If you face a lot of competition then don’t be too dismayed as there are lots of smaller niches within the cleaning industry to focus your talents upon. Some people specialize in carpet cleaning, window cleaning or even BBQ Grill Cleaning. The more niche your market is then obviously there will be less demand for your services but on the other hand the more specialist your services become those skills are harder to obtain and can attract higher prices.
Decide whether to franchise or go it alone. Many people choose to buy into a franchise scheme when they first start out. This has many benefits in that franchises will work closely with you as you start your business and take it to the point where it is running smoothly and profitably. You will have support when you need it and you will also be part of a network of other franchisees just like you who can offer their own advice and support. The public are more likely to trust a franchised brand as it represents trust in an already tried and tested successful business.
- People choosing the franchise route take less of a gamble than people opting to start a new business from the ground up, the downside to any franchise operation is the cost involved.
- Going it alone gives you the freedom to do things your way but it also means that quite often the tasks you undertake will be trial and error and you will be expected to pick up all of the pieces yourself when it goes wrong.
- 4 Maybe you don’t want the trappings of a franchise? Another option is to buy into an already successful brand that gives you all of the benefits of a franchise without any of the trappings such as contracts tie ins etc. There are many companies that offer this type of service who operate in different niches and have tried and tested methods that you can buy into plus receive all necessary training and equipment.
Decide whether you will need to employ people. You may be able to start a business on your own or you may be required to take employees on to enable your business to operate successfully.
- Offering a Maid service. Starting a maid service type of business will depend on how large a business you want to have and the volume of customers you anticipate. Many main type services operate as just the owner and if you choose this route remember that you will be required to take on all of the other roles too such as the administration and marketing.
- Offer Janitorial services. Again you may be able to start this business on your own with no employees or even just one or two part time staff but it is more likely that in order to be successful and attract clients looking for a less risky approach to having their own in house Janitor or signing up to a one person band. Quite often janitorial services operate throughout the day and night so you will need to schedule time to carry out your marketing and administration.
- Offer a niche service. By offering a service that is in less demand but is more specialized you can increase the chances of calling the shots yourself. People who operate in this field also tend to have more flexibility to set their own work hours as clients are more likely to wait for the service. With less competition to choose from you can also set your prices to your liking too. Choosing a niche service will also increase the likelihood that you could start your business on your own and grow it at a rate that you are comfortable with.
Investigate the different types of niche open to you. You need to consider your market opportunities and investigate which services may be needed in your local area. For example where do your clients live and work?
- If you are lucky enough to live in the sunshine states then starting a BBQ cleaning service may be the way to go or swimming pool cleaning.
- Perhaps your clients live in a city. You may then want to investigate how you can clean windows in business blocks using specialist equipment that you can receive training for and offer this as a niche service.
- Perhaps you would like to investigate “Sonic Cleaning” which is a process using sound to remove stains and debris from objects such as jewelry.
- 7 Decide whether to buy into an existing business or not. This is another option to explore. To find a business that may suit your needs simply carry out a Google search such as ‘your niche’ cleaning business, (e.g BBQ cleaning business) and research your possibilities. Again, this is similar to buying a franchise but you have the benefits of truly working for yourself and none of the trappings of a franchise whilst knowing you are buying into a business model that works.
- 8 Consider transport, insurances and licenses. Once you have decided which type of cleaning business you want to start up and you know if you need additional members of your work force to operate you need to look at additional factors such as the logistics and insurances you may require. Do you need a car or van to operate? You will undoubtedly need public liability insurance but check with your local authority if you need any special permits to dispose of your waste etc.
- 9 Be prepared for success. This is a point that is often overlooked when starting out a new business – how do you handle success? A successful business on a small scale often does not transfer well into a larger model unless it is handled correctly and scalability is something that you need to consider. Taking on larger contracts means additional staff and with this comes training and uniforms and more administration.
- 10 Construct your business plan and follow it. A good business plan will not only help you run your business well but also help you prepare for failure and success. Any business is built on a solid foundation and that foundation is built on good research and good execution. Research your market well, know your business and know your clients. Prepare for when things go right and wrong and investigate your competition.
- The cleaning business can be tough. There are a lot of people operating in this industry and there are lots of different routes open to you. You can choose to go it alone, call the shots yourself and learn as you go. Doing it this way does not require much up front investment. You can also buy into a franchise. Buying into a franchise will give you confidence knowing you are a link in a very strong supported chain of successful businesses, the downside being the cost to buy into this type of model. The third option is to operate a niche cleaning business. With this third option you can also choose to go it alone or to buy into a business that already works well.
- Investigate the best opportunities that suit both your own skills and interests and also your client base. Consider the things you would need to get going such as uniforms and insurance, cleaning materials and training. Also consider what do when things go wrong or are more successful than you hoped.
- Lastly but most importantly, look after yourself! It is important to manage your time well and with this take time just for yourself. After all, if you work yourself into ill health your business may very well fail. With a well thought out plan and good time management you have should have the recipe for a great cleaning business.