To plan your housecleaning business, it’s not necessary to put together a big official business plan. But it is necessary to think about what you want to achieve with your business and how you plan to go about achieving it. Here are five big questions you should answer, along with some supporting questions to help you flesh out your answers.
Plan Your Business by Answering These 5 Questions
Even if you’re an old pro at running your business, these are good questions to revisit every once in awhile. Thinking them through will help you do a better job of running your business no matter how long you’ve been at it.
How Big Do You Want to Be?
Do you want a to be a one-person part-time business? Do you have ambitions like our industry expert Katie Pearse for a bigger venture that will grow over time? Or would you like to develop a business somewhere in between? What are your business goals?
What Will Your Day-to-Day Operations be Like?
Who’s doing the cleaning? When are they doing it? Will your cleaners work alone or in teams? Who’s scheduling the jobs? How do you want your operations to grow and change over time? (See Chapter 5: Operations for help with these questions.)
What Type of Clients Are You Going to Target?
Who do you want your clients to be? Bachelors? Seniors in upscale condo communities? Moms? (Katie says stay-at-home moms were one of her biggest groups of clientele.) Where do your target clients live? What’s their income level?
How Are You Going to Connect with Your Target Clients?
How will you advertise? (See Chapter 6: Marketing and Promotion for help with this.)
What's Going to Make Your Cleaning Special?
How are you going to be special and different from your competitors? Having a good answer to this question is one of the keys to leaping ahead of your competition.
Katie’s company strived to make its housecleaning special and different in a lot of ways. Here are just a few of them:
- They took time to understand each client’s cleaning needs (for example, a lot of pet hair) and then customized their cleaning for each client.
- They tried to pair up regular clients with the same cleaners as much as possible. This fostered friendly relationships between cleaners and clients and made everyone feel more comfortable. It also improved the performance of the cleaners because they’d be extra familiar with the cleaning tasks for a particular client.
- And because Katie’s company believed in trying to make the whole cleaning experience as hassle-free as possible, they made it easy for their clients to book and pay for their cleaning online.
To sum it up, what makes your cleaning special is the specific things you do to offer excellent service for your clients. It’s who you are and what you believe in as a company—the basis for your philosophy about cleaning, your competitive advantages, and ultimately your brand. Planning to do even just two or three special things is likely to put you ahead of much of your competition.
"Work through what you would want from a cleaning company, and then give that to the world."
How to Run a Cleaning Business
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4 Final Basics to Get Your Business Started
Have you figured out your business goals and envisioned what your business operations will be like? If so, congratulations! It’s time to work through these 4 final basic steps for getting your housecleaning business up and running.
Set Your Business up with the Government
United States: The IRS has a website called Starting a Business that will take you through all the steps for meeting legal and tax requirements.
Canada: The CRA has put together a helpful collection of its information for small businesses and self-employed people. Highlights include a checklist for new small businesses and a Starting Your Business video series.
Choose Software to Help You Run Your Business
You (or your staff) will need to schedule jobs, prepare quotes, drive all over the place from one job to another, invoice clients, collect payments, and keep records. You can try to do it all with a mish-mash of paper files, spreadsheets, Google maps and text docs, but guess what… it’s much easier to use software (like Jobber) that is specifically designed for managing service businesses like housecleaning.
Software puts almost everything you need to do in one easy system. You’ll even be able to get your admin work done with your smartphone.
We’re partial to Jobber, since we are Jobber. For more information, see What Our Customers Think of Jobber.
Create a “Uniform” Based on Dress Code
Don’t waste your money ordering full-on uniforms—instead, come up with a dress code for your cleaning staff. Because cleaning is a job where you work up a sweat, we recommend a dress code of stretchy, athletic clothes, like what you might wear for a yoga class.
Also, choose a color for your dress code. (Katie’s was black.)
With a dress code in effect, the only part of the uniform you’ll need to get for your staff is an apron or a T-shirt with your company name and logo.
Katie likes the apron option best because with T-shirts, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll sweat a lot and otherwise get a T-shirt dirty over the course of one workday. You’ll need a clean shirt for the very next day. If your staff have only one T-shirt, this means they’d have to do laundry every night.
But if you’re really in love with T-shirts, Katie says there is a way to get around the dirty-day dilemma: buy T-shirts in bulk, which can be quite affordable, and give each cleaner five shirts. This way they have enough shirts to get through a week of work without having to do laundry every night.
Make a Simple Website
If people can’t find you on the Internet, they may feel a little suspicious about your credibility. So it’s important to have some sort of online presence. A very simple website will often do the trick, especially when you’re starting out.
Using a free platform like Wix, or a low cost option like Squarespace, you can set up a simple website very quickly and easily. Later, you might want to upgrade to a more sophisticated website, as it can be a powerful marketing tool for your business.