Starting a Cleaning Business: The Ultimate Checklist
Starting a cleaning business is no easy task, but a cleaning business checklist can help. Use this resource to ensure your business plan is spick and span.
Checklists are everyone’s best friend. That’s why we designed eight different lists to help you start and organize your cleaning business. In this resource you’ll find checklists regarding:
- Core Services
- Starting Your Business
- Targeting Your Clients
- Marketing Your Cleaning Business
- Protocol Procedures
These checklists are designed to help you get off the ground. Don’t worry if you can’t complete all of them at once. Starting and building a cleaning business is a work in progress!
Don’t forget to download the PDF workbook using the form above. It contains links to additional resources we recommend to help you along the way. Plus, it’s complete with checkboxes and room for your own personal notes to help you stay on track.
Let’s dive in!
1. Core Services
It’s very important to start with your core services. Don’t jump the gun on your marketing and equipment just yet.
Starting here will help you focus your service offerings, which trickles down into everything else like your business name, legal matters, pricing and packages, and branding.
Here’s what you should focus on so you can get started:
- List what you’re good at that you can make money doing.
- Decide on what clients and spaces you would like to service (i.e, residential or commercial: apartments, mansions, or offices).
- List what types of services these clients might want (deep clean, dishwashing included, regular maintenance, etc.).
- Add or remove items based on what services they might need versus what you’re capable or good at doing.
- Create a list of service categories that these service offerings will fall under (i.e. carpet cleaning, bathrooms).
- Organize the smaller services under these categories.
- Consider the types of equipment and supplies needed to complete each service.
- Estimate time allotments for each service.
- Price these services based on labor, time, supplies, and employee projections.
- Create cleaning service packages based on the services that should be grouped together and price your house cleaning services. Be careful not to undercut yourself on your pricing!
- Choose a few core services and packages to start out with. Think short and long term: what can you do right now, and what will you eventually do once you make enough money?
You don’t need to go out and buy all your equipment right off the bat. You can start with a few supplies and tools and work your way up as you discover what you’re missing.
The best way to approach equipment is by understanding your core services and what tools you need to do them. Decide how to build your equipment inventory by examining your budget and work your way up. We’ve outlined how to start, and what tools and equipment you can build your business off of.
- Establish a budget.
- Look at the services you listed and write down all the equipment and supplies needed to complete service.
- List all the tools you need to complete that service (i.e. scraper, extendable pole).
- List all the equipment you need to complete that service (i.e. sponges, microfiber towels, gloves).
- List all the chemicals you need to complete that service (i.e. bleach, dish soap, glass cleaner).
- Document how many of each item you will need for each job.
- Write down the costs of all of these items next to each item (including the price total).
- Prioritize which items you need right now. Make decisions based on importance, price, and budget.
- Make arrangements for a company vehicle that can accommodate you and your supplies.
Here’s an equipment sample checklist:
- Face mask
- Rubber gloves
- Garbage bags
- Paper towel
- Cleaning towels
- Microfiber towels
- Scrubbing brushes
- Extendable pole
- Broom and dustpan
- All-purpose surface cleaner
- Soap scum removal cleaner
- Glass cleaner
3. Start Your Business
There are a few technical details you’ll need to iron out before getting to work. Taking care of them will help you establish a legal, reputable, and trustworthy cleaning business that your clients will want to work with.
Here’s the best plan of attack to get you started:
- Create a business name.
- Learn about your local laws around started a legal business (Simply Google “your city” + business laws).
- Register your business if you need to in your city or state.
- Get a tax number for employers if you need to in your city or state.
- Explore business insurance options and the best insurance providers locally. Liability, vehicle, business disruption, or health insurance are all great options.
- Consider becoming a Limited Liability Company (LLC).
- Open a small business bank account that meets your business needs. You’ll be able to accept payments, create savings account, and monitor cash-flow easily.
- Create an expense budget for purchases, equipment, gas, marketing, and any additional overhead.
- Set up an automatic bi-weekly withdrawal so you can pay yourself (or your employees if you have them).
If you’re going to run a smooth cleaning business then you should try to work out some logistics beforehand. You can adjust them as you start taking on clients and learning what works and what doesn’t. The best things to consider as you work out the details are as follows:
- Decide if you’re working full-time or part-time.
- Choose your labor hours and days (i.e. weekdays or weekends, and when you are willing to start and finish working).
- Decide on your work location (by city, mile radius, etc.).
- Decide on your transportation and where you will store your materials and equipment (public transit with equipment at your clients’ homes, your own van, a truck and a trailer, etc.).
- Get your quote template and invoice template ready.
- Prepare your cleaning checklist template using the right software so you can bring it with you to all your jobs.
- Create a system for how you will handle new work requests using online booking. For example, request comes in, document client information, look at schedule, book appointment, proceed with follow-up confirmation email.
Part of being a professional cleaning business is looking the part. Your brand will help you do that. A brand is what attaches a personality and distinguishable characteristic to your company. It’s what sets you apart from your competitors.
Your brand doesn’t have to be designed by a branding agency, you can easily work on your own brand using our branding toolkit! Consistency will help you look and feel professional.
Here’s how to start:
- Think of what features or services distinguish your company from the rest (price point, training, vetted and certified staff, cleaning supplies used, time guarantee etc.). Write out what makes you special. This is called your value proposition!
- Turn your value proposition into a short sentence you can use for marketing down the line. Use this on your social media accounts and websites.
- Pick your company colours that you can use across your website, logo, uniforms, and marketing materials.
- Get or create a company logo.
- Choose your uniform (make sure it looks consistent throughout the week and across your team
- if you have one). For example:
- Solid t-shirts and pants (perhaps with your company name and logo)
- Hair ties
- Hats or headbands
- Face masks
- Create or refresh your cleaning website.
- Create your Google MyBusiness listing.
- Get a professional email address (such as [email protected]). You can create a branded or free email address.
- Get a phone number.
- Get some decals that you can place on your car or van (they should include your logo, company name, phone number, website, and email).
- Make some eye-catching business cards that look on-brand and include all your company information.
6. Target Your Clients
Your clients aren’t just going to call you up and hire you. You’re going to have to go out in the field, find them, and introduce your business to them.
Here’s how you can start getting clients:
- Tell family and friends about your business to get them in as your first clients.
- Ask family and friends to spread the word about your business for you.
- Go door-knocking in your community and introduce yourself to your prospects.
- Print some tear-away flyers and place them in community centres and local businesses.
- Start networking to find new clients everywhere you go.
- Consider offering a referral discount to clients who pass your information on to their friends, or who book multiple services with you.
- Get in touch with local businesses who could be good partners and refer clients to you (i.e. pet stores, caterers, event planners, realtors).
Marketing is going to help you break out of your existing client community that has come to you through friends and family and really grow your business. You’ll be able to get the word out for your business in a long term and consistent way. You’ll be able to use basic marketing tricks to help you grow your cleaning business.
- Set up social media accounts on your favorite networks (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest)
- Create social media content to post online (i.e. how to videos, before and after photos, business growth tips)
- Post regularly (a few times a week)
- Scour social media networks, like Facebook, for local groups and chats that you can participate in and plug your business information into at the right time.
- Set up digital ads (on Instagram, Facebook, or Google Ads) for services in your city.
- Develop a referral program (i.e. 50% off your second service for new clients, referrals get a free service, etc.).
- Print out some flyers to hand out when you’re canvassing your neighborhood.
- Park your branded company vehicle in public spaces regularly.
Check out our comprehensive guide on
Track and save client information. Text and email invoices and quotes to clients.Learn more
You’re getting ready to take on clients, but before you thrust yourself into the job, make sure you have some protocols and templates in place to make sure that accidents, mistakes, and follow-ups are easy to manage while you’re on the job.
There are a lot of protocols to consider. We recommend you to focus on the following five points:
1. Follow-up Protocol
Following up is essential for building a strong business. If you’re able to build a solid follow-up process, then you can easily remind clients about upcoming appointments, invoice deadlines, and booking future appointments too.
Following up affects your customer satisfaction, business efficiency, and cash flow. Here’s how to start:
- Get your quote template in order and set reminders to send your clients follow-up emails.
- Strategize how you will send your clients appointment reminder text messages or emails.
- Create an invoice template that you can quickly send off to clients the moment you complete a job.
- Set reminders to send your clients thank-you emails after they pay. You can also use tech that automates these client notifications processes for you.
- Email your clients a reminder for booking their next service.
2. Taking on New Clients
You need to take on new clients if you’re going to grow. If you don’t have a process in place to onboard the client, take their information in, organize their account in your system, and easily search for them in your computer in the future, then things will get disorganized. This could get out of hand as you grow and take on more clientele.
Here’s how to start:
- Get your client information storing process in order (i.e. adding client details to a spreadsheet, their contact information in your email software, or use a client relationship management tool to automate everything for you).
- Write down each client’s unique needs and requests so you can maintain consistency
- Track all property details for future reference in your client account profiles.
- Keep a list of each service you’ve offered your clients, a list of every service you’ve completed during each visit, any special offers you’ve given them in the past, and the price points you’ve offered them.
3. Breaks and Damages
Breaking and damaging your clients’ property is something you never want to have to do, or deal with. However, mistakes happen, so you need to be prepared. If you’re not, then you might come off as unprofessional and careless. Get started with the following:
- Figure out how you will address breaks and damages with clients by designing a breaks and damages protocol.
- Decide on your protocol for paying for breaks and damages (payment, compensation, etc.).
- Finalize how you will move forward with unhappy clients if you break or damage their property.
- Consider buying insurance to help you cover breaks and damages that exceed a certain amount of money.
4. Payment and Payment Failures
Not getting paid is a big deal. If you don’t get paid, you can’t run your business. Period. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of reminding clients who forgot to pay their invoice. However, you need to be prepared to let go of clients who consistently fail to pay you. Here’s how to start:
- Decide on the best payment system to collect client payments (for deposits and full payments) before or after service.
- Research secure and sustainable payment methods that can help you avoid payment failures by offering ePayment solutions, or client credit card vaulting.
- Figure out a plant of attack how to address failed or missed payments with clients either with invoice and payment reminders, or with a simple follow-up after a certain time threshold.
- Plan out appropriate next steps to release clients who are not paying their bills.
5. Service Checklist
You need to sort out how you’ll take a brand new client in your system and turn that opportunity into a site visit. This might take some time to figure out, and you might have to work out some kinks, but creating a smooth workflow is the key to having a sustainable cleaning business. Here’s how to start:
- Use your quote or a work request feature as a way to collect details about what services your clients want.
- Convert your quote or work request into a to-do checklist that you can bring with you to the jobsite.
- Include all your client information and details on your cleaning to-do list so you don’t miss anything (i.e. building codes, special cleaning chemical requests, hours of operation, etc.).
- Track time during cleaning jobs so you can know your billable hours, and understand how long it takes to complete work. Use this information to accurately plan and schedule your day to day moving forward.
- Share the completed checklist with your clients after every service via email, or by leaving it behind at the jobsite.