The cleaning industry is by far one of the most difficult and saturated industries for a business owner to operate in. Like most other industries, business owners need to be wary of a number of external and internal mitigating factors that can be the key to the success or failure of a business in the residential cleaning or commercial cleaning market.
We spoke to Delah Gomasi, the owner of MaidForYou, a cleaning agency based in Sydney, Australia. He provided us with an extensive guide on starting a cleaning business.
I started my cleaning business in 2014 after searching entrepreneur and small business forums while looking to add an extra stream of income for my family.
I came across a post by Rohan Gilkes an American entrepreneur who was based in Washington DC.
His post went in-depth on the best way to start a local service business from scratch. He went over all the nitty-gritty details, in an easy to understand, step by step guide.
After reading his guide, I jumped right in.
6 years, and over 40,000 successful residential cleaning jobs and 1000s of commercial cleans my company is amongst the highest-rated cleaning companies in Sydney.
Here’s the best way to start a successful cleaning business from scratch and the marketing methods that bring the highest return on investment, without the need for an in-depth business plan
The Starting Point
Any good business owner knows that it’s best to focus on markets that are not too saturated, however, you won’t find this to be the case with a residential cleaning business. Due to the extremely low barrier to entry, new cleaning businesses are popping up every, single, day.
To be assured that your venture will be successful you will need the following:
- A catchy domain name (this can be purchased from any domain registrar).
- Determine your business structure (corp, LLC, or sole proprietorship)
- The type of cleaning you want to provide (commercial, residential or both)
- A rudimentary understanding of cleaning products, cleaning equipment and the best method to clean a house.
- A smartphone
- A professional business email
- Liability insurance
- Relevant business license in your jurisdiction
- A business phone number
Once you’ve obtained the above, it’s time to get started.
When thinking of a domain or business name to use, it’s always good to make sure that it’s not too long, easy to remember and appeals to the imagination of your potential target market.
After you’ve come up with a catchy name, it’s time to purchase your hosting. Hosting is essentially a service that allows your website to be accessible to visitors.
So, you’ve come up with a catchy domain name, you’ve purchased hosting and you have a rudimentary understanding of cleaning products, cleaning equipment, and the best methods to clean a house.
It’s now time to create a website that instills trust in visitors, creates social media profiles, and a logo that represents your brand identity.
MaidForYou was initially built strictly using HTML, the problem that I found was that it was too difficult to edit, especially considering I don’t come from a tech background at all.
We migrated to a WordPress platform in the last 36 months and have been extremely happy with the ease in which you are able to edit, create content and the user-friendliness of the content management system in general.
Your website should instill trust, the fundamental goal of your website should explain the services your provide to potential customers and compel them to take out their credit card and book a service without having to call you, ideally you will need the following elements on your website
- A strong call to action above the fold
- A lead form above the fold
- A minimum of 5 human faces
- Individual service pages
- Links to your social media pages
- A regularly updated blog
- An SSL certificate
- A booking form
- A page that answers frequently asked questions
A custom website built on the WordPress content management system can set you back anywhere from $200 USD – $8000 USD. I highly recommended you purchase something somewhere in between. For our initial build, we used 99designs and an agency but you could find high-quality designers and developers on a platform like Upwork.
So, if you’ve followed the above steps, your website should be on the road to being completed. Now it’s time to organize the hiring of your superstar cleaning teams.
You’ve created your brand, your website, your logo and you’re on the way to being able to start marketing, but, what’s the use in marketing if you have no cleaning staff.
After completing so many jobs, we’ve got our hiring process down to an exact science.
Before hiring you’re going to need to have the mindset that the cleaning industry is extremely difficult, working as a cleaner is a very hard work. It’s physically demanding, it’s low pay and I’ve not come across one cleaner who it was their dream to become a house or commercial cleaner.
So, with that in mind, here’s our exact hiring process.
Where To Find Applicants
We utilize job posting platforms like Indeed to find people who may express interest in receiving work from our agency.
In the initial stage of the hiring process, we utilize three strict vetting questions. These questions are qualifiers, which means if they aren’t answered correctly, that disqualifies the potential applicant from work, and really just makes the hiring process all that easier for us.
Our vetting questions ask the potential applicant if they have more than 1 year of paid cleaning experience, if they have their own private transport and if they have a partner to work with.
From there we export all applicants that meet this initial criterion and then go over a strict phone interview with them where we ask specific questions relating to the cleaning industry i.e. ‘Where would you put oven racks after cleaning an oven’. These questions aim to further disqualify any potential candidate that would not meet our strict quality guidelines.
The Final Stage
Once we’ve conducted these phone interviews, we then get a minimum of two references of customers they’ve actually cleaned for, book a test clean and if they pass this step, they’re then sent all relevant onboarding documentation and we’ll add them onto our booking and scheduling system.
We’ve created our website, hired our superstar teams, now it’s time to market our service, and drive traffic to our website.
How To Get Cleaning Customers
Marketing is the bread and butter of any business, regardless of the industry. When starting your cleaning business you would have already determined the type of business you will be operating as. You should have already done the market research to determine your pricing model (is it a flat rate or a price per hour).
There are various methods in which you can market your cleaning business, their costs, benefits, and ROI will be outlined below.
Online Marketing Methods
Considering you’ve invested a considerable amount of money in creating a website and brand for your cleaning company, online marketing in my experience provides the best return on investment, the best customers who are willing to pay a premium price for high-quality service. There are specifically three types of online marketing methods we use, PPC, social media marketing & search engine optimization.
Pay Per Click
Pay per click marketing is an online marketing method where you bid for specific ad space on Google and pay per click through to your website. I highly recommend hiring someone to assist with this form of marketing as it’s very easy to throw money in a bottomless pit if you don’t know what you’re doing. The good thing is if you’ve created a website with the elements outlined above you will be on the road to completing your first house cleaning job. If you’re in a competitive market, you can expect to pay upwards of $30 per call.
Always remember that this form of marketing method requires strict testing, time and above all a willingness to answer phone calls and engage with leads.
Social Media Marketing
Social media advertising has been the least lucrative marketing for our cleaning business. Like PPC you bid for specific ad space on various social media platforms (Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook), also like PPC it’s extremely easy to throw money in a bottomless pit.
Unlike pay per click marketing through Google wherein leads mostly have buyer intent (they’ve actually searched for the keyword you’re bidding on). Social Media Marketing requires an offer that one can’t refuse, as people aren’t necessarily looking to purchase cleaning services.
We’ve experienced little to no traction with this marketing method and don’t want to engage in loss leading to make it work. It may work for you but it hasn’t for us.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is the bread and butter of our cleaning business, it has the highest return on investment of any marketing method we’ve utilised.
Again, this is a marketing method that without an extensive deep dive into the process you won’t be able to do to a high standard.
SEO focuses on increasing a website’s visibility on Google. Most websites that rank well for any given keyword have great content, great technical structure and equally great user experience.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $500-$3000 per month, however, like most things, cheap isn’t the best and I’d always be making sure to go with the middle quote and also get a list of clients and their results from the prospective company.
There are other online marketing methods but these three are generally the most popular. If I were to rate them in terms of importance for a new cleaning business owner. I’d start with Google Ads (PPC), then move onto
Offline Marketing Methods
There are numerous offline marketing methods that can be utilised to market your services. I’d be lying if I said, I’d have used them. I’m a firm believer of not driving traffic online using offline marketing methods, so, unfortunately, I can’t recommend any particular method. However, I can say that we’ve obtained a lot of bookings from recommendations of friends and family. So, if any offline marketing method has worked for us, it has been word of mouth.
The most important emphasis to place on marketing your cleaning business is to make sure that you’re always keeping track of your cost per customer acquisition, your customer’s lifetime value and each customer’s lifetime value as a profit for your business.
How To Differentiate Yourself In The MarketPlace
Considering how easy it is to start a cleaning business, you want to make sure as a business owner that you, your cleaning and your admin staff are differentiating yourselves within the marketplace.
Here are specific ways MaidForYou aims to differ from our competitors.
Great Customer Service
We aim to provide the best customer service for our customers. That means offering a money-back satisfaction guarantee warranty, KPIs of answering emails within 10 minutes during business hours, offering free re-cleans and following up with each and every customer after their service has been completed.
Online Booking, Scheduling & Payments
When I first started MaidForYou in 2014, we were the only company providing the convenience of online booking, scheduling and payments. This caused a huge disruption in the marketplace, and today every single large company uses a system that is similar to ours to manage their business operations.
Top-Quality Cleaning Teams
Our vetting process is extremely strict, so we only send the absolute best cleaning teams with the highest quality cleaning supplies. Our competitors are really lax with their vetting process, pay their cleaners pennies, and their customer reviews speak for themselves. We have some of the lowest cleaner churn in the industry. On average, cleaning teams working with our business will stay upwards of 4 years.
These ideals and more are the ways in which we use to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.
Is Starting A Cleaning Business Worth It?
A great question, and one I ponder a lot, especially on difficult days.
I’ve learnt so much in the 6 and a half years I’ve spent running a cleaning business. I’ve become extremely proficient in digital marketing, have been able to earn a great living and provide for my family and loved ones but the experience, the feeling of fulfilment and the mental toughness I’ve gained as a result of running a business in one of the most difficult markets is second to none and I would do it all over again.
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