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Are you ready to start and run your own house cleaning business?

If you’re reading this, it’s probably a sign that you’ve already decided to start a residential cleaning business. You’ve got your mind made up. You know this is what you want to spend your time and energy on for several years.
 
Starting a business and getting it off the ground is difficult and painstaking work, and shouldn't be taken lightly. So, make sure you’re committed to your chosen path.
At the start line for the residential cleaning race
Some people think that to start a house cleaning business does not require a great deal of skill and/or organization. Everyone knows how to clean, right? So how difficult can it be to run a business based on house cleaning? This would be a dangerous state of mind to adopt before entering the fast-growing (and increasingly competitive) residential cleaning industry. You should acquire all the management skills and tools you can before launching your cleaning business.
 
If you haven’t done so already, you might want to spend some time considering various different alternatives. Ask yourself some questions:
do you have enough capital for your cleaning business? Do you have enough capital to launch your new house cleaning business, and keep it running and growing during its initial start-up years?
do you have house cleaning business skills? Do you have the skills necessary to run and manage an office? Although it’s important that you know a thing or two about cleaning, remember that running a house cleaning business is very different from knowing how to clean a residence effectively. (See the book “E-Myth Revisited” for an interesting analysis of the differences between making the best apple pies in town and running a successful chain of apple pie shops.)
do you have people skills for a cleaning business?

A house cleaning business requires ongoing contacts with customers. For a start, you need to interact with prospects when they call you. I have been surprised when calling certain businesses (house cleaning businesses as well as businesses in other industries) to hear the phone answered unprofessionally, in some cases even by a child. Do all you can to maintain a professional and friendly demeanor. Your prospective clients want to hire a company to clean their houses who are trustworthy, personable and are responsive to their needs.

As day-to-day operations of your house cleaning business progresses, there will be daily interactions with clients. Some will be calling with complaints and some will be calling to inquire about additional service. It is important that you handle such queries in a professional manner, and you're responsive to the clients' needs.

In short, your "people skills" will be a critical factor in your success. If you don;t like working with people, or you feel that this is not your strong point, then you may want to reconsider the idea of starting a house cleaning business. Alternatively, you could hires someone or take on a partner who des have the people skills required. In any service business, dealing effectively with clients is an important skill to have.

 

The Burgeoning House Cleaning Industry: Changing Demographics

To understand this new rapidly growing industry, and why it will continue to grow, we need to consider how the average family has changed in the last few decades.
 
Gone are the days where one spouse (usually the wife!) would stay at home, while the other worked. There wasn't a high demand for maids in those days.
 
The only households who employed maids employed them full-time and most average families could not afford this.
These days it seems that to stay securely middle-class both spouses need to work. So this is what we have today. A family where both mom and dad are working (often both full-time) and with the kids and school and shopping and holidays and home improvements there just isn't time for cleaning!
 
young working couple ideal candidates for maid service
It used to be that young people would stay at home also, but these days many young professionals are moving out of home into their own apartments and the last thing they want to spend their weekends doing is cleaning!
 

Writing Your Business Plan for Your House Cleaning Business

The first thing you should do is to write a business plan, which will be your road map for your business over the first few years. As you progress in the business, you should revisit your business plan from time to time, and evaluate how well you have kept to your plan. You will also want to think about where you have deviated from the plan, and ask yourself why.
 
writing a business plan for your cleaning business
However, don't feel that that you must stick to the plan. It's quite possible — inevitable even — that you will find that circumstances change as you progress, and you'll need to adjust your plans accordingly. In fact this is one of the important things you'll find about being a small business owner, being flexible and re-examining your business. But having planned the business from the start, you will be able to be more aware of the changes you make from the original "master plan" and this will help keep you organized and disciplined as you progress in building your house cleaning business.
 
The business plan for your new house cleaning business should cover the following areas:
1) Your company name.
2) The legal structure of your company.
3) The names and role definitions of your management team.
4)
The budget, including:
a) Start-up costs.
b) Ongoing projected monthly costs
5) Projections of income over time. Also: When will your house cleaning business begin to be profitable?
6) Marketing plan.
7) If you’re going to be operating with others (as a corporation or LLC, for example), you'll need to specify the share allocations of each of the owners/partners.
8) A financial plan, showing where you will raise the necessary capital you’ll require to get the business off the ground.
 

What About Consulting For Your New Cleaning Business?

house cleaning business owners
If you’ve run one or more businesses before, then you probably have learned through experience about the many do’s and don'ts of starting and running a business. If you don’t have experience in running a business, whether a house cleaning business or any other kind of business, then you should probably get some sort of training and help, so that you don’t have to learn everything through experience.
 
I started my first business when I was about 18 years old, and being arrogant and consumed with an unrealistic sense of my own skills in almost any endeavor I chose to undertake, I
launched into the business without much forethought. I was studying business at university, and had done very well in all the business courses I took at university and high school. The business started off well enough, and soon I had the main newspaper in town giving me free publicity – something I took somewhat for granted at the time. When I look back on these events, I’m personally amazed at my own naïveté. I was so good at promoting and selling water beds, the first in this large city to do so, that I actually educated a lot of other people about the beauty and advantages of water beds. Soon, some businessmen with a lot more experience than I had set up a shop with elegant displays, were purchasing expensive, sexy ads in the press, and were promoting water beds as the latest thing in luxury furniture that you must have of you are to be fashionable.
 
I had a great idea, but didn’t execute it well. I was under-capitalized and lacked a coherent business and marketing plan. Others with less imagination then me, but with better organizational skills managed to outdo this 18-year old.
 
I look back at this with some amusement. I invested only a few dollars in the enterprise and actually sold enough water beds over a three-year period to give me a reasonable income. But I missed out on the opportunity of becoming the waterbed king of the city! No worries. That was a long time ago, and money wasn’t the most important thing on my mind back then.
 
You’re probably going into your new residential cleaning business with the object of making a good profit, and having a good living come out of the business. You will be putting a certain amount of capital at stake, and spending a considerable amount of time, so the fewer mistakes you make the better. If you are planning to become part of a national franchise, you’ll receive a lot oft training from the franchise organization. If the franchiser has done their job well, they will provide you with a lengthy and detailed list of things to do, and not to do. For this you’ll pay an up front franchise fee, and you’ll also be paying the franchiser a percentage of your monthly sales every month, for as long as you continue to be a member of the franchise organization.
 
Statistics show that a large percentage of new businesses fail within the first year of starting. Many more fail in years 2 and 3. There is a very small percentage of small businesses still in business after five years. However, the figures for members of franchises are much better.
 
Why is this? A lot of it has to do with the fact that a good and competent franchise organization has thought through all the aspects of what it takes to run a successful house cleaning business. They’ve thought about how to select and train the employees; the design of uniforms, the company logo, where you should spend your marketing dollars, and more. Some franchisers also provide you with computer software, which you can use to help manage your franchise (and which will be used to keep track of your monthly sales, so that the franchiser and you will know exactly how much you owe the franchiser from month to month.)
 
Note that some franchisers will allow you to choose your won software. This is not a bad idea, in my opinion. Consider what could happen of you’re locked in to using a particular piece of software. One very large national franchise chain nearly had a resolution on its hands a few years ago, because the franchisees found the software they were provided to be inadequate and slow, and lacking in flexibility.
 
Another alternative is to find a different way of educating yourself about running a home cleaning business. These days, there are other alternatives. Some other options include:
Books
CD’s
Internet Sites (such as this one)
Consultants and Coaches
 
 

Where In The World Should You Start Your New Residential Cleaning Business?

No matter where you are in the world, the residential cleaning industry, or maid service industry, can be a very lucrative business.
 
Many people of course open for business in whichever area they happen to be situated.
 
Others, however, who have the capital to invest in moving, or who have several areas nearby that they could concentrate on may want to consider a few things.
 
1) Average Income
You definitely want to find out what the average income of your area is. House cleaning is not for everyone. Typically the types of people who hire house cleaners are families where both spouses. Not only do they not have the time to clean, but of course they are more likely to be able to afford to pay for a cleaner.
 
You want to focus on middle class areas. Of course if the residents are too wealthy they are likely to have their own live-in cleaner.
 
There are several places where you can check out maps that detail household income levels throughout the United States, as below:
united states income map for where to start a cleaning business
Just try Googling"United States income map". You should definitely check out the specific income levels in your local area also.
 
2) Competition
There are some very "hot" residential cleaning areas, but often these have already been discovered by other cleaning companies. This doesn't mean that there is necessarily no room for any more, but you do want to carefully consider how you will fit in with your competition.
 
It may be more wise to pick an area that is less-competitive.
 
Overseas Opportunities
House cleaning is a booming industry in many places in the world. As countries develop and change it is becoming more common throughout the world for more than one family member to work and this appears to be a key in determining which households hire a maid.
 

The Structure Of Your Maid Service Business

Now that you’ve decided to start a maid service business, and you’ve picked a launch date, and decided on a location for your offices, you are ready to decide upon the legal structure of your business. You may want to consider:
a) A Sole Proprietorship
In this form of legal structure, the owner of the business simply applies to do business under a trade name from the appropriate
the structure of your house cleaning business
authorities. You can choose a fictitious name and register it, so you’ll now be Mary Smith d/b/a (doing business as) Miracle Maid cleaning (or whatever name you choose).
 
The advantage of doing business as a sole proprietor is that it’s easy and inexpensive to set up. The disadvantage is that the business is inseparable from you, legally, so that if there is ever a problem with the business (and problems do happen unexpectedly from time to time – ask me about some stories some time) you will be held personally responsible for all the debts of your business. If you’re sued, for example, people may go after all your assets, including your bank account, your house, your car, and any other assets you might have.
 
b) A Partnership
A partnership is where two or more people decide together to start and operate a business. It is more complicated to set up than a sole proprietorship (all partners must jointly sign a partnership agreement), and it has the same disadvantages.
 
c) A Corporate Structure
Forming a corporation is the most popular method of creating a business structure within which you will run your business. You will need a lawyer to help get the necessary documents in order. Requirements differ from state to state. The advantage of a corporation is that it is a limited liability entity. The assets and profits belong to the business, and if the business is ever sued, or goes bankrupt, your personal assets are not at risk. (No one thinks it will happen to them, but unexpected problems sometimes arise, and these things can and do happen sometimes.)
 
There are various different types of corporations, such as a “C Corporation”, or an "S Corporation”. Your accountant or lawyer can help advise you in which type of corporation will work best for you.
 
If you form a corporation, your business will be officially known as “Maine’s Maid Service, Inc.”, for example.
 
d) A Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
This is essentially another form of legal entity which you can create. If you form an LLC, your business will be known as “ABC Residential Cleaning, LLC”, for example.
 
Note: You should consult a lawyer and an accountant before deciding on what legal business structure to use for your house cleaning business. The information presented here is for advisory purposes only, and should not be a substitute for professional legal advice. A trusted lawyer should be able to help you select a structure for your residential cleaning business, based upon your needs, your tax status, your marital status and other factors.
 

Naming Your House Cleaning Company

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
- William Shakespeare
A rose is a rose, even when starting out cleaning
It’s important to invent a good name for your new house cleaning business. You’re going to be putting a lot of time and energy into providing excellent service for your clients, and building up a good name for your company. You’re going to be marketing the business, using a variety of methods. If you want to change your name at some point in the future, you can do that, but it can be very time-consuming and costly. And, importantly, you’re going to have to start developing brand recognition for your new house cleaning company name from the start. So, try your best to get it right from the beginning. As you’re going to be living with the name for a long time, choose carefully.
 
Some points to keep in mind when naming your house cleaning business:
don't use a popular cleaning business name

Don’t use a name that is already in use by another company providing the same service as you. Any large house cleaning or maid service company will have trademarked their name, meaning that no one else can legally use it. If you choose a name that is already trademarked, you’ll most likely get a call, sooner or later, from the trademark holder (or their lawyers) demanding you change your name. Not something you want to have to spend your time doing. If you get it right when starting, you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble later on.

You can do a check on your proposed name on the internet. Go to the Government Trademark and Patent office (http://www.uspto.gov) , and check to see if your proposed name is trademarked.

You should also do a search of the internet to see if the name you’re thinking of for your residential cleaning business is already in use by someone else in your country.

Note that there is a body of law which provides a common law trademark to business owners who’ve used a business name for a long time. If that business operates in only one city (or one state, or one country) and they don’t have a registered trademark, you could take a chance and use that name in another state (or country). However, I don’t advise this. Rather, try to come up with a wholly unique name that you can trademark yourself if and when you decide to do so. (You can apply for a trademark yourself on the USPTO web site, or you can hire a lawyer to perform the process for you.)

In summary, chose your name carefully – you may want to expand at some point into other cities or states and if your name conflicts with others’, you may have problems keeping your chosen name in all the locations where you wish to do business.

   
don't name your house cleaning business after yourself

Be cautious about naming your new business after yourself. There are many house cleaning businesses with names such as “Mary’s Cleaning”. The advantage of a name like “Mary’s Cleaning” is that it has a personal feel, and people who like Mary would be inclined to retain her for her services. However, although Mary’s Cleaning might grow and prosper in its initial location, problems could arise down the road when Mary wants to sell the business. Unless the new owner’s name is Mary, that personal touch has been lost!

Note also that you can’t, in general, trademark a person’s name. You might be able to trademark Mary’s Cleaning, for example, but it will probably present difficulties.

(Note one important exception to this rule: Wendy’s hamburger restaurants, which were named after the daughter of the founder, who liked to promote his business personally, even after it had become a successful nationwide chain!)

   
choose a name that reflects cleaning service Choose a name that reflects the type of work you do, if possible. It’s a good idea to include some words in the title that tell the public what you do. Think of including one or more of the words: Cleaning, house-cleaning, residential cleaning, maid service, etc. Note that having some descriptive terms in the business name could also help you alter on when you begin to think about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), a skill that is becoming more important day-by-day in today's internet-dominated world. (See more about SEO below.)
   
choose a memorable name for your maid service business If you can, choose a name that will be memorable. Some good names are Maid To Please, Maid For You, etc. (But note that these names are already in use.)
   
articulate cleaning company name It's also a good idea to make sure that the name can be easily understood when spoken over the phone. It sounds silly, but some names may look good on paper but not sound quite so good when spoken out loud.
 

Your Company Image

You’ve already decided what market segment you plan to appeal to, haven’t you? If not, it’s important to decide if you’re going to present your business as one appealing to the wealthy, discriminating consumer, or you might be appealing to the average consumer, or you may be appealing to people to hire your business because you’re the least expensive. You’ll want your web site to reflect the style of your business.
 
house cleaning business woman
I believe a residential cleaning business needs to have a personal touch. If I’m looking for someone to come and clean my house, I want to feel comfortable that the person I hire is reliable, honest and trustworthy, competent, and accessible if and when I need to talk with them, to give them any special instructions on what to clean, how to clean it, etc.
 
You’ll want your business to be able to provide this personalized service, as much as possible, by having friendly, well-spoken, intelligent people answering the phones, and having specialty house-cleaning software that enables you to record the special requests and needs that each individual customer wants. These notes should print out onto the job tickets that are given to the employees when they go out to do their cleaning jobs for the day.
 

Your Company Logo

domestic cleaning logo
If possible you should have your logo created for you early on. This way, you can begin to establish your company presence as you can use your logo on your flyers and other marketing pieces.
 
A well-designed logo, however, can be expensive and if money is an issue you may wish to opt for a plain text logo initially. You can still choose your company colors and incorporate these into your temporary logo.
 

Your Company Web Site

It really is important for your company to have a web site. These days it is a must for any kind of business, but especially yours where prospective clients are likely to visit it to find out more information about your company.
 
In addition to this, many customers these days will search for a cleaning business online, so it is vital that you have some kind of web presence.
 
domestic cleaning web site
Having your own company email address as opposed to an AOL or Hotmail email address will also add to increase your company's professionalism.
 
It can be expensive to have a web site created, but there are several companies around that offer inexpensive web site templates.
 
Thoughtful Systems offers one such template and they will work with you to allow you to customize it somewhat and will assist you with setting up your company email addresses and submitting your site to Google.
 
Click here to find out more about Thoughtful Systems' web design services.
 
 
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