Cleaning services and mobile business go hand in hand, but starting a successful mobile cleaning business involves more than simply loading up supplies and traveling from job to job. The Intuit Small Business Blog recently asked Naomi Clarke, owner and operator of Quicksilver Housekeeping in Portland, Ore., to walk us through the steps of starting a mobile cleaning business. Here’s what she advises.
- Get licensed and bonded. At minimum, you’ll need to register your business name with your county. Some cities also require a business license — especially if you’re a commercial cleaner — so check with local authorities. Even if you aren’t required to get bonded, it’s a good idea, Clarke says, because “it lets potential clients know that you’re a serious and professional business.” In the event of employee theft on a job, a fidelity bond ensures that your client is compensated financially. A surety bond, used mostly for large commercial jobs, guarantees that if for some reason you can’t complete the work, your customer will receive the resources to get it done.
- Find a supply source. You’ll likely bring your own cleaning supplies, so purchase them for as reasonable a price as possible. Clarke buys hers from a local commercial cleaning supply store, where she receives a wholesale discount because she’s registered there as a business. You can also find wholesalers online, but remember to include the cost of shipping in your price comparisons, she says. In addition, the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International offers discounts from select cleaning supply and equipment manufacturers to its members.
- Choose a target market. Many people who own house-cleaning businesses decide to branch out and take on commercial jobs, too. For instance, Clarke has both residential and corporate customers, and she’s working toward a commercial-only business. She says that although she adores her household clients, she has to work around their vacations, illnesses, and other personal issues — and on days when jobs are canceled, she doesn’t get paid. Commercial clients, on the other hand, never go on holiday, always pay on time, and often pay more. Bonus: The work is less detail-oriented.
- Buy your equipment and vehicle. Clarke stresses that you’ll need a good upright vacuum for carpets and a canister vacuum for floors. In addition, you’ll need chemical cleaning products, such as detergents and disinfectants, as well as a cleaning kit that contains gloves, brushes, and durable rags. You’ll also need a reliable vehicle that can accommodate your equipment and supplies.
- Market your services. You’ll need to get the word out about your cleaning business, and according to Clarke, the two best ways to do that are via the internet and word of mouth. You would be surprised how many people contact you online, she says. Clarke maintains a website and a Facebook page, and she posts her business information (including an email address) on all of the free local websites she can find. She recommends telling everyone you see about your business. Her approach works: Clarke says she’s so booked that she’s currently not accepting new clients.