While a cleaning business may not sound all that glamorous, there is certainly a lot of money to be made in the cleaning industry. There will always be a demand for professional cleaners, and in the age of a pandemic, sanitising and cleaning have greater importance than ever before.
Have you been thinking of starting up a cleaning business but have had no idea how to start one? In this article, we look at some of the steps that you will need to take in order to start a cleaning business in the UK.
What type of cleaning business do you want to start?
While you could start a general cleaning business, it is always a good idea to fulfil a particular niche. The options that you have available to you include:
- Domestic cleaning business – A business that focuses on cleaning people’s homes
- Commercial cleaning business – A business that focuses on cleaning shops, restaurants, hotels, etc.
- Specialised cleaning services – A business that specialises in a particular cleaning niche such as carpet cleaning, window cleaning, car washing, etc.
What type of skills/ training will you need to start your business?
If you are a first time business owner, you may want to look into enhancing your overall business knowledge and the skills that are needed to run a business effectively, such as organisation, time management, leadership, networking, problem-solving, communication, negotiation, etc.
When it comes to cleaning, you may want to improve your own cleaning skills by researching different methods used by other cleaning professionals.
What does the current cleaning market look like in your area?
Before you start your cleaning business, you may want to do some market research and find out what it is that people are looking for and what they value when it comes to a cleaning service. You’ll also need to look at your options for cleaning product suppliers, as well as the demand for cleaning services in your area.
How much money will you need to start your cleaning business?
One of the first things that you should determine is how much money you will need to start up your cleaning business. Remember that you don’t need the best of the best right away, but you should still invest in quality if you want longevity and not have to replace things, like your cleaning machines, in a year’s time. Some of the expenses that you should consider include the following:
- Registration fees – There are certain registration fees that are involved with starting up a business.
- Equipment – Are you planning on buying equipment or using equipment provided by your clients? Look into the cleaning equipment that will make your work easier.
- Premises – A cleaning business can definitely be run from your home or without specific premises, but in some cases, you may want to look at getting a brick-and-mortar premises from which to run your cleaning business.
- Miscellaneous – Think of all the small things that you may need to start your business, such as stationery, uniforms, marketing, etc.
- Vehicle – A reliable vehicle would really be a benefit in running a cleaning business as you can make your way from client to client. You may even need a more spacious vehicle to accommodate transporting all your equipment.
Prepare yourself for some of the challenges involved in owning a cleaning business
If you are personally going to be handling the cleaning services yourself, you should prepare yourself for the worst. Most people hire professional cleaners to take care of messes that they simply cannot handle themselves or do not want to go near.
Another challenge you are likely to encounter is difficult clients. Customers can be very hard on cleaners, demanding excellence and for things to be all cleaned in a timely manner. While you should always do your very best, you should also manage your clients’ expectations to make sure that they are realistic.
Cleaning, and lugging around cleaning equipment, is considered to be physical work and can take a toll on your physical health. Ensure that you stretch before and after jobs and give your body the rest it deserves.
Create a business plan
One of the most important steps in starting any sort of business is to build a solid business plan. This plan will be incredibly important as you will use it to present to lenders should you require funding, as well as investors. But more than this, your business plan will act as a reference point that you can always refer back to should you feel that you are going off track.
Your business plan should include:
- The name of your business
- The area that you plan to operate in
- Your suppliers
- The rates for your cleaning services
- The cleaning options that you plan to offer
- Plans for growth
- Start-up expenses
- What you need to get started
- How much capital you’ll need
- Your brand identity and values
- What you hope to achieve with your business
Your business plan should follow a structured format and should be easy to find what you’re looking for.
Once your business plan is in place, you can start looking at accessing the funding that you need to get your business off the ground. Most cleaning businesses should not require too much funding to get started; nevertheless, there are always costs involved with starting up a business. You could access funding from the following sources:
- Your savings – There is always the option of using your personal savings as capital for your business.
- Banks – Most banks will offer business loans. Go to your bank and find out about the business loan options that they offer. Keep in mind that when taking out a loan, taking out too big a loan can make it very difficult and tedious to pay back, so only look at accessing how much you need.
- Private lenders – Private lenders will also provide business loans so long as you meet certain criteria.
- Investors – By giving investors a share of your business, you could attract their investments into your business.
- Crowdfunding – There are many online crowdfunding options to help get your business off the ground.
If you have a clear business plan and a good credit score, you’ll increase your chances of obtaining the funding that you need.
Register your business
If you are running a cleaning business, you want to ensure that you are 100% compliant, which means registering your business with the HMRC.
You have the choice between registering as a sole trader or as a limited company. Both of these options come with their own pros and cons, and you should do some research before making a decision. Do keep in mind that registering as a limited trader, your personal and business finances will be completely separate. If you register as a sole trader, your finances and the business finances will be seen somewhat as one entity. Your other option is to register as a partnership if you plan on running your business with a partner.
If you decide to register as a limited company, you’ll also need to register with Companies House.
Keep in mind that it is compulsory to register with the HMRC, even if you see your business as ‘informal’ or ‘casual’. There could be fines and penalties involved if you don’t.
Consider insurance for your cleaning business
Insurance should also be a big consideration when it comes to starting up a cleaning business. You want to ensure that your cleaning equipment is covered, as well as ensure that you’ll be covered in the case of any other unfortunate circumstances. The types of insurance that you should look at getting if you are running a cleaning business include the following:
Professional indemnity insurance
This type of insurance is very important to have as it protects your business from any invalid claims made by clients, as well as covers any unpaid client bills. It will also protect you against dishonest staff and defamation of character.
Public liability insurance
This insurance is essential for a cleaning company as it covers the damage made to any property. It also covers death or injury.
Employer’s liability insurance
This type of insurance is compulsory for all employers in the UK. It also covers the compensation that is involved with employees who may become sick or injured.
Employing cleaning staff
Employing staff is a massive responsibility but can be necessary as your cleaning business starts to grow. You should be very particular about who you employ, as once you have employed someone, it can be very difficult to dismiss them if you feel like they aren’t a good fit. Make sure that your employment contracts are detailed and thorough, and you should also think about what type of employment you plan to offer and whether you want to offer casual, part-time or full-time work.
While cleaners do not necessarily need formal training to be good at what they do, you should definitely look out for cleaners that have experience, a good reputation with legitimate references that you can call to ask about their performance, and cleaners that also have good interpersonal skills as they may have to interact with clients. Ultimately, you want cleaners that are a good representation of your business.
When you employ your first staff member, remember that you will need to register as an employer with the HMRC.
Branding and marketing your cleaning business
Branding and marketing should be a priority when starting your cleaning business. You should invest in an identifiable logo and brand name, as well as a website and social media pages where potential customers can easily learn about your services and contact you.
You can’t rely on word of mouth alone. Marketing is especially important in the beginning stages of getting your business out there. Consider hiring the services offered by professional digital marketing agencies to ensure that your business has a strong online presence. You can also look at more traditional forms of marketing, such as posters and handing out flyers.
With a strong marketing strategy in place, you’ll give your business a much better chance at success.
Plan for growth
While you may start your cleaning business as a very small, part-time business, there is a massive opportunity for growth when it comes to a cleaning business. By securing a few big, regular clients, you could change the entire structure of your business. How do you plan to cope with growth should you experience it?
Have plans in order for how you would plan to expand your premises if you need to, employ more staff, and handle more clients.
During periods of rapid growth, many companies deteriorate and get a bad reputation as they cannot keep up with demand and thus let clients down. Don’t let this be you and your business! Preparation is always key.
Cleaning business franchises
Don’t have the inspiration to come up with your own business plan, name and brand identity for your cleaning business? Then a good idea for you may be purchasing a cleaning business franchise. There are many franchise options in the UK that are well worth looking into. When you buy a franchise, you are given clear instructions on how to run your business. Everything from the cleaning products to the uniforms are taken care of. The other major advantage of a franchise is that you will be operating under a brand that people know and trust.
However, there are some downsides. You will be heavily controlled by your franchisor and will have very little freedom. The mistakes of other franchises in the UK could affect your business’s reputation. Also, the suppliers you are required to use may be expensive, and at the end of the day, there may be no ways for you to cut costs, and it may be impossible to turn a profit.
Now, armed with the essentials, good luck with your cleaning business!