Getting into the commercial cleaning business? Here’s what to look for in deciding between a janitorial franchise or starting your own company.
Starting your own cleaning business is an investment, no matter how you approach it. This is true whether you’re looking into a janitorial franchise or thinking about starting your own company. You’re going to invest some version of time, money, and energy. The question is in deciding which one is right for you and how to balance the equation in your favor.
To be clear, it’s not that one approach is better than another. Like anything else, it’s about what works best for you in your specific circumstances. To figure that out, however, it’s important to understand what the differences are.
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DIY or janitorial franchise? Here’s what you need to know to make the right decision
As you’re thinking about running a janitorial franchise vs. an independent operation, it’s essential to consider that there is more than one franchise business model. For example, in the commercial cleaning world, many of the big names sell both individual franchises, which is closer to the experience of running your own single or multi-location business, and master franchise licenses. These master franchise licenses give you exclusive rights to a predetermined geographical area in which you can sell individual franchises.
In many cases, these regional offices do much of the administrative legwork, from securing contracts to billing to helping individual franchisees streamline operations.
With either operation, your franchise gets the support of a national team. So many of your typical business administrative tasks are taken care of for you. That includes everything from marketing to training systems to uniforms.
That said, it should come as no surprise that the expenses can range quite a bit depending on the location and your desired reach. Of course, running an independent operation includes expenses, too. You still need to invest in a website, cleaning supplies and equipment, business insurance, and so on.
Start-up expenses aside, you need to consider ongoing costs, as well. With a janitorial franchise, you may have to pay ongoing royalties and contract fees to cover all those administrative tasks that are taken care of for you. Yes, it’s nice that someone else takes care of account acquisition and billing for you, but you pay for that. With an independent operation, you could take care of these tasks yourself if you have the time and skill.
All of these factors equal out somewhat. You’re either spending the time to do them yourself, or you’re paying a franchisor to do it for you. But one area where a janitorial franchise has a potentially significant advantage is in marketing and name recognition. Some of these companies have been around for decades. They’re at the top of your local Google search and have plenty of cash to sink into social media ads, newspaper ads, and mailers.
And from a business perspective, they have systems in place that work. You don’t have to go through the trial and error stages of figuring out how to train new employees or what the best cleaning solutions are. The other side of that coin is that not everyone wants to do things the franchise way. You may have your own ideas about what cleaning solutions you want to use or what certifications are most important, or how you want to specialize.
Breaking it down to the basics
What this ultimately comes down to is how you want to balance your business life. With a janitorial franchise, you get a lot of help in running your commercial cleaning business. The business plan is done for you. The supply chain is already in place. You’ll have an entire team supporting you as you get your business up and running. As a result, the whole start-up process is streamlined, efficient, and effective.
If you opt for running an independent commercial cleaning service, everything is your responsibility. You need to determine who you want to contract with for supplies, how you plan to sign on new accounts, and even the less obvious things like what you want to do about uniforms or your website.
However, once the benefits begin rolling in, those are all yours. You don’t need to pay royalties to anyone. You don’t need to share a percentage of each account with a regional or national corporate headquarters. You can decide what kind of commercial cleaning niche you want to specialize in. And it’s totally up to you if you’re going to take two weeks off every summer to go to the beach.
That’s really where the decision lies for most people. Do you want to get up and running as quickly as possible, or do you want to open a business so you can do things your way? Both approaches have advantages.
One word of caution. Before you sign a franchise agreement or a lease on your independent business office, be sure to consult with a business lawyer. It’s always helpful to know precisely what you’re getting into.
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