Starting a business often requires a lot of money to get the business going. However – service related startups can often be started for less money than most people would expect. A house cleaning business is one of those businesses. With just a few hundred dollars you can be up and on your way to entrepreneurial success.
To be able to clean houses you will need a few supplies. Wal-Mart, Costco and Sam’s Club (or any other club membership warehouses) are great places to buy your supplies for less money. A good business rule to go with is that most customers expect you to bring your own tools and supplies. They do not want to go to the store and stock up on cleaning supplies before you come. What will you need? A step stool or small ladder (2 step ladder or 4 step ladder), industrial-grade bath cleaner and toilet bowl cleaner, an all purpose cleaner, high-grade window cleaner, soft scrub cleanser, carpet cleaner, furniture polish, wood floor cleaner, a set of buckets, a cleaning carrier and a bag of cleaning cloths and your ready to go. The initial set of supplies will probably set you back about $100.00 to $200.00. Try to buy wholesale sizes as it will save you money in the long run. Avoid being the cheapest stuff because often you just get what you pay for – cheap stuff. You want quality to be able to do a quality cleaning job. Quality work will impress your customers and make them to have you come back.
Some customers prefer certain name brands to be used in their house. This could have several reasons. Talk to each client if they have any concerns or preferences. Some people have health concerns and prefer to only use brand X as an example. Ask them to have sufficient supplies at hand if they want you to use their supplies. Important Marketing Tip: A special sales pitch could be to advertise that your service options include environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.
In most cases you will be able to use a customer’s vacuum cleaner. Find out in your pre-screening process if that will work with each particular customer or if they expect you to bring a vacuum cleaner. To keep your startup cost low you can make it a requirement that customers have to supply a vacuum cleaner.
Important: Do not use the same cleaning tools on different surfaces. As an example – it is highly recommended to use one mop for tile floors and a second one for wood floors. Different cleaners used on the same mop can have severe effects to surfaces they were not developed to be used for.
Fees & Prices
Pricing and fees you will be able to charge have several dependencies. The most critical dependency is your geographical location. An area with high incomes among a broad part of the population will allow you to ask for higher prices. You will also find more customers in such areas as low-income households are not really your preferred target group.
Important: Cleaning jobs should be priced by the project/job and not by the hour. There is a little psychology going on when looking at it from a customer point of view. The customer knows that he has to pay $75.00 to get the house cleaned it does not really matter to them if it takes you 3 hours or 5 hours. If the same job would be priced by the hour the customer might look more detailed at how long it takes you to get the house cleaned and eventually questions why it took you an hour alone for the 2 bathrooms in his house. Your customer as well as you will know in advance what the price for the house cleaning is. Customers will like the fact they do not have to expect any surprises if it takes you 2 hours more to do the job.
Pricing strategies: Cleaning a house is not always the same. You should differ between the initial cleaning of a place and maintenance cleaning. Imagine a rundown house – it will take you much longer to clean a really messy place compared to one that is cleaned on a regular base. If customers want to hire you on a recurring base the job should start with an “initial cleaning”. The initial cleaning should come at a price of about 50% above your normal rate for the same job. If you charge $75.00 for a 1,500 SQFT. home with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths the initial cleaning should cost the customer between $100.00 and $125.00. The initial cleaning protects both sides from disappointments and also assures that you are in a position to deliver quality work.
To find out what the going rate for house cleaning in your area is you should check out your competition. Get price information from established companies like “Molly Maid” as well as from the sole proprietor that works alone or only with a small crew. You also have to put a fair value at your own time and put that into consideration. Setup your own price list for houses of different sizes. Base your initial pricing on a standard house of 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and approx. 1,500 SQFT. of space. A 4 bedroom/3 bathroom house with approx. 2,200 SQFT. should drive up your price by $15.00 to $25.00. As a rule of thumb you can add $10.00 or $20.00 per 1,000 SQFT. of space of the house to cover your time and your expenses (instead of working with the number of bedrooms/baths).
Exclusions: Window cleaning, oven cleaning, and refrigerator cleaning are not included in standard house cleaning jobs. You should charge between $15.00 and $25.00 for ovens and refrigerators and about $5.00 per interior (normal sized / easy to access) window.
Important: Don’t work the market with prices too low. It will be difficult to raise prices later on when you are more established. Getting customers is not just a matter of pricing. Put into consideration how much it would cost you to hire somebody to do the same job and still make some money from the job for yourself after having to pay salary to your employee. Do put a fair value at your own work. Home cleaning is hard work.