There’s more to janitorial services than mops and rags. Learn how to run a successful cleaning business and it will last you even longer than the shine you leave behind on the job.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about our businesses in terms of our output: how many clients, how well was the job done, which employees are going the extra mile and which are not. But output is only part of the picture. If you want to get a better idea of how to run a successful cleaning business, you’ll want to remember that even before numbers, business is about relationships.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t pay attention to output. In addition to relationships, you need a strategy, inventory, staff, overhead, and a number of other things. The following are some of the most important items to check off your list in understanding how to run a successful cleaning business.

How To Run A Successful Cleaning Business

Relationships, retention, reward will stand the test of time

Relationships are the core of any business. Forge quality ties with your customers and employees, and you’ll breed loyalty that will be hard for them to walk away from. But how do you do it?

On the customer side, start with being transparent. If they want something done you don’t think your service can do, be upfront instead of cutting corners. Overestimate the amount of time you think a job will take. Show them your human side and they’ll see you that way, which breeds cohesion and builds bridges between customer and cleaning service.

On the employee side, it’s about taking care of them financially and otherwise. Pay them a fair market rate for the work they perform. Offer bonuses or other incentives to get them to go above and beyond the call of duty. Don’t overwork them, even if you’re paying overtime. Don’t micromanage or talk at them if something needs improvement, but take the time to train and coach instead. Show them respect. In other words, follow the golden rule: treat people the way you want them to treat you.

With loyal customers and loyal employees, you’ll reap more than financial rewards, but personal and professional ones as well, which is why this is such an important step in how to run a successful cleaning business.

How To Run A Successful Cleaning Business

Clean like your customers will be with you their entire lives

Some might say that you should clean your client’s spaces the same way you’d clean your home. Up that ante: clean those spaces better than you would clean your home. Leave no detail untouched. Dust vents and the tops of cabinets, wipe down desk phones, and if you move something, put it back where you found it. A client probably won’t notice these details, but that’s okay. If they notice nothing, you’ve done your job. If they see dust bunnies and dirt buildup, that’s when problems start.

How To Run A Successful Cleaning Business

Go in with a strategy and map out long-term goals

An often-overlooked step in how to run a successful cleaning business is to go into each job with a firm strategy. Don’t just know what you’re going to clean, but understand how you’re going to do it and in what order. Take the time to develop an approach that makes sense. A simple example is something like high-dusting before you dust table surfaces and vacuum the floor. Know which areas are going to be quick jobs and which areas will take more time and plan for that. Having plans and processes in place will make you more efficient, which is bound to make the client happy.

How To Run A Successful Cleaning Business

Read, study and learn so that you will always be at the top of your game today, tomorrow, and years from now

No matter the industry you’re in, never stop learning. There are always new trends, new products, and new ideas popping up that industry leaders should be aware of. Subscribe to publications relevant to your business and do your best to read through them. Attend industry events. Talk to others who work in your field. Soak up all the knowledge that you can so you won’t have to think about how to run a successful cleaning business—it will just be second-nature.

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Embrace technology and ditch old habits that don’t stand the test of time

Like it or not, technology is embedded in about everything we do today. That can be tough for those of us who grew up without it, but if you want to keep up with the current industry, it’s important to embrace the technology rather than shun it for outdated practices. Invest in janitorial management software. Use some of the hi-tech cleaning products and services out there. At the very least, automate your administrative functions, like payroll, inventory, and billing. We’re not all computer geniuses, but with a little time and effort, anyone can learn the essentials for how to run a successful cleaning business with technology.

How To Run A Successful Cleaning Business

Make perfectionism part of your culture, so that it’s instilled in in current teams and future teams

At the end of the day, there’s no better way to establish your cleaning business than to do a great job. Show the clients you’re capable, show your employees you’re compassionate, and you’ll have a service that goes on for a long, long time.