Everyone loves walking into a sparkling clean and tidy house, but only a few would be willing to do the work themselves. Most home and business owners would much rather hire someone to do the cleaning for them.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor had reported that, back in 2016, there were a total of 2.3 million jobs in the cleaning sector. This number is estimated to grow by 10% by 2026. When you add up the demand and the available opportunities, you’ll realize how this is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to provide cleaning services.
Whether you’re considering the idea of starting a cleaning business or you want to scale up your current business, we’ve compiled a few expert tips to help you transform your cleaning service into long-term success. Here’s what you can do:
Craft a Business Plan
Putting an idea into action is easy. However, pursuing this idea regardless of the obstacles and turning it into a successful business is not easy. To avoid losing track of your original goals as you go about the daily operations, it’s important to put everything into writing at first. You don’t have to create a 100-page business plan; just start with the essential planning. You can adopt a lean startup model and use the Business Model Canvas (BMC) to identify the main points in the plan. The BMC covers the following 9 points:
- Value proposition; the value your business provides
- Key Partners
- Key Activities
- Customer Relationship
- Customer Segment
- Key Resources
- Distribution Channel
- Cost Structure
- Revenue Streams
Identify Your Edge
Most likely, you won’t be the only cleaning business operating in your area. You’ll have a lot of competitors, so why would the potential customers choose your business over your competitors’? They’ll do so because you have an edge that others don’t have. You may offer competitive prices, better services, unique services, unparalleled customer service, or anything that sets you apart from the competition. To do that, you’ll first need to study your competition and analyze their edge and weaknesses. Look up what customers are saying about your competition and come up with a strategy that beats theirs. Once you start your business, make it a point to offer cleaning services as if you were cleaning your own home or office.
Identify Your Target Customers
You can start by listing down the services you can offer, but that won’t be enough to succeed. The heart of any business is its customers; the better a business can bridge the gap between them and its prospects, the more loyal they’ll become. That means you can’t just start a business without tailoring your services around your target customers, or after merely assuming that your services will be used by everyone. You’ll need to identify your target customer - they can be more than one segment - and divide them into customer personas. Each persona should represent a group of customers who share similar traits, including, but not limited to, their age, occupation, interests, behavior, and demographics.
Pick the Right Niche
While you’re looking into the kind of customers you’ll target, you should also analyze the market and consider the niche you’ll be operating in. If you want to provide your services to other business establishments, your approach will be completely different than offering your services to homeowners, which will vary even more if you’re targeting industrial buildings. You can’t rush this step or pick one niche blindly; you’ll need to take your time studying each niche and strategizing your entry point.
The niche you choose should be one where you can offer remarkable services while being able to profit all at once, which means you’ll also need to analyze the maturity and growth state of the market. Once you start operating in the right niche, you’ll get the chance to expand your services down the line - but your focus should remain on this niche for now.
The world of business is ever-evolving. It seems like there are newer and more efficient technologies, strategies, and methodologies applied every day. No matter how well you’ve done your research for your business plan, and regardless of how well you’re operating right now, you’ll risk being left behind if you’re not continually expanding your knowledge and challenging your limits. One of the most effective ways to build comprehensive knowledge is to receive cleaning business coaching from a renowned field expert. This coaching will help aspiring entrepreneurs build their startups while making profits, developing systems, and learning how to scale up. Better yet, look for ways to receive proper business licenses and certifications; that will greatly enhance your business qualifications and credibility.
Digital marketing is a skill that every business owner should learn. Although cleaning services usually get clients through word-of-mouth or offline activities, establishing an online presence is just as important in today’s world. Most of your potential clients are using the search engines to look for services similar to yours around them - and guess what? Your competitors are well aware of this. To avoid being left behind, you’ll need to create a website showcasing your credentials and services, establish social media profiles, and reach out to your prospects where they’re located. You’ll have to learn the digital marketing basics of SEO, E-mail marketing, and social media marketing. Doing so will help you reach more people and introduce to them the services you’re offering.
Tailor Your Marketing to Your Customers
Many business owners make the mistake of leaving their marketing strategies as they are after establishing the basics. However, just because you’ve created a website and a few social media accounts doesn’t guarantee your potential customers will find you. Furthermore, even if they do find you, that doesn’t mean they’ll become your customers.
You’ll need to focus on tailoring your marketing efforts to your customers according to their journey throughout your website and social media platforms. Your marketing funnel should take your prospects, step by step, from a visitor to a lead and all the way into a loyal customer.
Promote Your Business Offline
Focusing on online marketing has become essential in this age, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect offline marketing at all. Chances are, you’ll get just as many customers and clients from your offline marketing efforts just as much as you get from online marketing - if not even more. That’s because potential customers would most likely ask around their circle of family and close friends for recommendations, so you want to create a positive impression wherever you can reach - even if that means going around giving away flyers of your business. Another good strategy is to pitch your business to real estate agencies and seek out a mutually-beneficial partnership. A lot of real estate agencies provide cleaning services as a part of their deal, so why shouldn’t you be their choice?
Expand Your Network
Whatever you do, make it a point to expand your network. Go into festivals, events, concerts, business gatherings, and any other networking event where you can introduce your business to potential clients. You’ll also find a lot of online gatherings across various social media platforms for businesses similar to yours and customers looking for your services. Be sure to join these groups to engage with the community and exchange benefits.
Invest in Customer Service
Would you say there’s anything that can be more important than the quality of service you provide? There’s one thing actually, and it’s building strong relationships with your customers. The service you provide doesn’t end after leaving the customer’s house; it’s ever-extending long after the service itself has ended. Be sure to follow up after every cleaning session and ask for feedback about the services. Don’t forget to ask them if they need any extra services or if there was something that wasn’t to their liking. While you’re at it, ask them if they can spare a couple of minutes to fill in a survey and share their testimonials. You can use these testimonials on your website and social media platforms to improve your credibility.
You don’t have to be a geek to start a cleaning business. In fact, you can provide most of your services without having to rely on technology. However, knowing the available technologies and leveraging them to your advantage will significantly improve your operations. For instance, your workflow will benefit greatly from applying effective systems that organize your processes, log-in information, and document data. You can create a system for every function and educate your employees about how they can use it. The sooner you start with adopting these technologies, the faster your business will prosper.
In addition to creating systems, you’ll also want to check the latest trends in the cleaning equipment market. There will be new protocols, safety requirements, and technologies that hit the market every now and then. Be sure to update your inventory with the most efficient cleaning equipment so that your employees can keep providing top-notch services.
Don’t Neglect Your Employees
Speaking of employees, they’re the driving force of your business. You can’t expect them to provide premium services if they’re neglected or overworked. You can’t expect them to stick around either if you’re treating them poorly. Be sure to appreciate the efforts of your employees, guide them through the steps of work, and help them develop both their professional and personal skills. If they feel they’re growing in their employment, you’re bound to earn their loyalty.
Track Costs and Minimize Losses
A successful business is as much about making a profit as it is about reducing costs. Making a big sum that’s mostly spent on operating costs is not a very smart strategy, nor does it bode well for the sustainability of the business. Out of all the costs you’re likely to endure, the labor costs will probably be the biggest. Be sure to track all your costs, including labor costs; report them daily, stay on top of your expenses, and look for the most efficient yet cost-effective strategy to implement. Furthermore, be sure to train your employees well to minimize the losses incurred on the job. Any accidents or damage they do will be compensated from your budget, so it’s better to prevent the problem from happening in the first place.
No matter how hard you try to prevent any damage from occurring, accidents are bound to happen. Your employee may get hurt on the job or accidentally damage the property of the customer. It’s best to be insured to minimize the losses you’ll suffer.
However, keep in mind that, as a cleaning business, you may require specific insurance coverage that’s not provided in the insurance policies created for most small businesses, so be sure to understand what your business specifically needs. Basically, you’ll need equipment coverage and general liability insurance, but you may need more coverage depending on your niche and target customers.
Measure Performance, Analyze, and Optimize
Don’t be scared to experiment. If you feel you’ve mastered the technologies you’re using and the processes you’ve created, look for newer ways to implement your business. You’re bound to fail and look for better methodologies, but the most important thing is to keep experimenting and measuring your performance. Over time, you’ll find the most efficient way to operate; the road that leads to the most profits using the least resources. When that happens, it’ll be the time to scale up or start pursuing new ventures!
Stay Updated with the Economic Fluctuations
Finally, be sure to keep an eye on the economy. As a service-providing business, you’ll be one of the first entities to be hit with the economic fluctuations if, and when, they happen. When the economy takes a dive for the worse, you can expect homeowners and business establishments to start cutting down on their expenses; and your cleaning services will probably be on top of their list. It’s worthwhile to have the foresight and a risk plan ready to be implemented if worse comes to worst.
There is a myriad of business ideas you can start and succeed at. While some ideas eventually die out with the changing times, there will always be a need for a business that provides cleaning services. However, just because there’s a need, doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you want to achieve long-term success for your cleaning business, you’ll have to keep researching, experimenting, analyzing performance, and optimizing your operations.