How to Start an Office and Commercial Cleaning Business

Be it our home or office, a clean place is well known for its positive aura. In terms of workspace, the matter becomes even more crucial. A study by Staples Corporation shows that a clean workspace boosts the productivity of employees by 94%.

Commercial cleaning services come in handy for company owners don’t want to hire in-house cleaning staff for their business. The service generally includes cleaning, vacuuming, and dusting work stations, surface, windows, & restrooms typically after hours. However, there are some specialized commercial cleaning services in demand, i.e. commercial kitchen cleaning, building or facility sanitization, HVAC duct cleaning, carpet cleaning, deep cleaning of drapery & blinds and tiles & grout etc.  

In terms of low to moderate investment, commercial cleaning service is the best business for the urban market. If you are looking to start a high yielding micro business in a big city with a moderate investment, here are the actionable steps for you to get started with your commercial cleaning business.

1- Do the Market Research

Market research is crucial for starting any business and so it is in the case of office and commercial cleaning business. There can be hundreds of potential clients, i.e. hotels, apartment complexes, business centers, storefronts, warehouses, entertainment centers and other buildings where the property management is looking for outsourced cleaning services. Starting a business just on the basis of this demand doesn’t make sense. 

You need to spend some time investigating competition, i.e. who is offering what and whether or not you can offer something better than them. If the answer is yes, move to the next step. If the answer is no, rethink the step again. 

Cleaning services business is a highly competitive niche in some cities, and you might not actually beat the competition with a low to moderate investment. Considering relocating to another city where the market is untapped or relatively less competitive is never a bad idea.

2- Create a Business Plan for Your Commercial Cleaning Service

Support your business idea with a proper plan. Not just for your commercial cleaning business, but before starting any business a business plan is necessary. A business plan is a complete roadmap for your business and it guides you through several stages of business and ensures you are on the right track.

A business plan should not necessarily be a 50 pages long document, and you can always start with a one or two pages business plan that lists:

  • A brief about your company and your competitive advantage.
  • List of services you will be offering along with pricing of each.
  • Target audience / Potential Clients.
  • Marketing Strategy to reach out to the target audience.
  • Sales strategy to turn the audience into clients and how to retain them.
  • Financial summary and forecasts, i.e. how much you have, how much will you spend and in what time you will retrieve the investment.
  • Growth plan, i.e. how to plan to grow and where do you see your business in one year, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years.

3- Get Legal

Now you have a good vision about your commercial cleaning business, after all the research and putting everything on paper, you are all set to start this business. 

The first step in starting your business is to register your business with your state. Typically for janitorial services, you need a DBA license to get started. 

Typically, there are three kinds of legal business entities;

  • Partnership
  • Sole proprietorship &
  • LLC(limited liability company)

You can go for an entity according to your business model.

With that, make sure to register for taxes. You will be needing to register for multiple state and sales taxes for your small business. You will get all the information you need about taxes at your state’s office, however, if you feel you cannot process all the documentation on your own, it’s always good to hire a business setup attorney.

NB. If you are hiring workers in your cleaning business, make certain to get your EIN(employer identification number) from the Revenue Office.

4- Obtain Licenses and Permits Required for Cleaning Business

You need a few licenses from your state to run your commercial cleaning business. First comes a permit from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

If possible find yourself a lawyer who will take care of your business bond and service agreements. Before starting any service, consider signing this bond/service agreement to keep down any payment and service deliverables-related controversy.

5- Insurance is a Must

To obtain your business security, you need an insurance policy right from the start, and in the case of cleaning services business, you cannot start operations without some sort of insurance in hand. Suppose there is a loss in your business body due to any personal misdeal or natural cause, insurance will protect you throughout that. 

A commercial cleaning business must have a General Liability insurance, which is the most basic coverage for any business that protects the business in the event of property damage or bodily injury claims.

If your budget allows, you may consider a Business Owners Policy Insurance over the GLI, as it covers not only the general liability protection, but also the property protection, equipment breakdown, storage, business income (in the event of disaster), electronic data and employee dishonesty coverage.

Moreover, as you’ll be operating this business with employees, you must have Workers’ Compensation Insurance that gives your employees benefits if they get a work-related injury or illness.

6- Business Bank Account & Accounting

Now you are done with all legal jazz, sort things at your bank as well. Go to your bank and get yourself a credit card and business account. Here is a glance of why you should separate your personal and business finance –

  • It is more efficient to run a business.
  • It gives you more payment processing options than just a cheque, i.e. POS machines, direct debit, etc.
  • You can document how much sales you are making.
  • It simplifies tax preparation.
  • It builds business bank relationships.
  • A good credit score over time will give your Cleaning business credibility.

With that, keep an eye on your accounting as well. Observing all your expenses once a month will be cool in the long run. Getting accounting software right from the beginning is highly recommended.

7- Invest in a Robust Business Vehicle

You may want to use your personal car to pick and drop cleaners on locations in the beginning, but consider having a proper van for this purpose as the operations go smoothly.

8- Get Vendors on Board

Your commercial cleaning business will require investing in equipment and ongoing cleaning materials that you cannot always buy from the convenience store nearby. 

Buying used heavy equipment can save a lot of startup cost, but if that is not the option, you might want to lease to cut down the initial costs. Further, shortlist and finalize the hypermarkets that offer best quality at best price for materials 

9- Establish a Brand

Remember the business plan we talked about? It is time to implement that, marketing and sales part in particular. See, the number 1 branding hack is to have both offline and online presence for your commercial cleaning business. 

At the start, you can go to your potential firms and directly pitch your services, but having an online presence will give you long-term returns. Here are some tasks for you;

  • Have Business cards handy.
  • Use social media with targeted advertising, i.e. Facebook & Instagram Ads.
  • Build a genuine relationship with people online and offline.
  • Offer time specific special promotional packages to build clientele. Promote these offers online as well as offline through brochures.
  • Reward the loyalty by offering better prices and more perks.

 The Bottom Line

Commercial cleaning is one of the highly yielding small businesses, but it requires parallel effort and investment to get started, and requires more efforts to operate it profitably and grow it to the next level. 

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