Get your local cleaning business off the ground with these six tips that will help you stand out, satisfy customers, and make money.
Starting a local cleaning business is no easy feat. You’ll need to put together a staff, organize supplies, and build up a company image, and that’s all before you even worry about setting pricing models, obtaining clients, and supporting employees. Like any other small business, though, the best way to get started is by addressing the basics. So, while each individual company will undoubtedly encounter its own unique challenges, here are our six tips for how to get your local cleaning business off the ground.
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1. Determine What Will Make You Different
When starting any business, one of the most important things to determine is what makes you special. There needs to be something that differentiates you from your competitors that you can talk about when you’re trying to acquire new customers. And while coming up with this sort of defining, special quality may seem difficult with something like a local cleaning business, there are plenty of possibilities.
Maybe you can convey your expertise in a way that customers aren’t used to. For instance, maybe you can guarantee quick jobs or unparalleled customer service. Or perhaps, you can even use the cleaning products you apply as selling points, for example, by pitching a “greener” commercial cleaning option. Ultimately it doesn’t have to be anything particularly huge. But it does need to make your business appear unique from the beginning.
2. Launch Your Site & Social
As you probably know, launching a business without a website today—even for something relatively local like commercial cleaning—is essentially a non-starter. If a prospective customer can’t find you online, he or she is likely to dismiss you outright. And for that matter, if your website isn’t appealing and up-to-date, said prospective customer may still move on to the next option.
Beyond a good website though, a new business today also requires a social media presence. Facebook and Twitter remain perhaps the most popular options, but there are quite literally dozens of social media sites that small businesses can take advantage of for local marketing purposes, from Yelp to Foursquare and so on. Generally, these will help you to get the word out about your launch, appear on local searches, and ultimately engage with customers and the general community around you. Getting active on some of these sites and shoring up your website are absolute musts before you launch your local cleaning business.
3. Seek Financing
When you’re starting your business, you’re likely to need funding beyond your own means. It may be that you have a few partners who are willing to invest as well and that you can get the money together to get started on your own. More commonly though, you’ll need to look into how to obtain a loan in order to get started. You’ll likely have a variety of options on offer, such as secured personal loans (for which you put up something like a car or personal property as collateral) or potentially unsecured loans from banks.
In some cases, you may also be able to apply for a small business loan. Whatever the case though, you’ll likely need to have your credit score and information about your assets and income on hand. From there, you can approach lenders and obtain a lump sum with which to get your business off the ground (paying the loan back in installments over time).
4. Address Staffing & Supplies
Once you have a clear idea of where you stand with funding, you can begin to address your staffing and supply needs. Naturally, you’ll probably need to start out small with only the bare minimum of employees you need to do your work, and with conveniently sourced supplies that won’t cost you too much. Nevertheless, these are things that need to be worked out before you actually start the business. Just remember that you won’t be locked into the scenario you start with. If things go well, you can always look into different supplies or add employees. For now, do only what you need to get started and do the job well.
5. Satisfy Early Customers
In one interesting set of tips for getting a business started, the idea of focusing on “customer delight” came up. This is a suggestion you don’t hear specifically all too often, but it’s a good one to take to heart. It was suggested that a business owner is ultimately competing against “customer apathy” as much as any specific competitor, which is to say you need to make your customers care about the service you’re providing.
This is particularly important in the beginning with something like a cleaning business. If you’re generally easy to deal with, do an adequate job, and offer a fair price, an early customer may well be satisfied. But if you’re a pleasure to work with and you do a noticeably exceptional job, that same customer might be particularly pleased—and thus more likely to recommend you to others.
6. Start Marketing
Once you’re up and running and you’ve got a few satisfied customers under your belt, it’s time to ramp up your marketing. We’ve written about how to develop a marketing campaign for a local cleaning business before, discussing how to brand your business and explain its advantages, as well as why to build out an online presence and even establish a blog.
Ideally, you’ll actually start this process early when you’re setting up your website and social media profiles. However, ramping up your marketing effort once you have a few happy customers is also a good idea. At the very least they may be willing to provide some testimonials with which you can pitch your business; at most, they might even help spread the word themselves online.
With these tips in mind, you ought to be able to get your local cleaning business off the ground. That doesn’t mean it’s a simple process. Any one of these steps can involve a great deal of effort, and there will always be unforeseen challenges. Nevertheless, checking these boxes will likely put you in a good position to sustain your own business.
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Risa James is a part-time management consultant and a full-time mom to three beautiful kids. When she’s not working, braiding hair, packing lunches, or tying shoelaces, Risa enjoys writing and yoga.