Today, we will deal with how to start a professional home cleaning services business right from where you are. This article is not restricted to only home cleaning services. You will find it useful even if you want to focus on other niches like industrial cleaning services, janitorial services, construction cleaning, roof cleaning, etc.
Nigerian cities are developing at an alarming rate. Lagos is already Africa’s fastest developing city; Abuja is Africa’s costliest city. Other cities like Port-Harcourt, Calabar, Owerri, Enugu, Kano, Jos, etc are seeing a rapid rate of development too.
This development opens a lot of doors for many service-oriented businesses which would otherwise not have seen much prospects. Examples are professional home cleaning services, professional car wash services, maid services, and so on.
These services help people do tasks they would ordinarily want to do themselves but couldn’t because of time. As a kid, I washed my father’s car for many years. Car wash services were not so much of a thing then. These days, if you have a lot to do, you may not afford to spend 2 hours washing your car. So a professional car wash service gets your money and does the task for you.
Before, if you built a house you cleaned your own house. But our cities are getting more developed, faster and busier. So if you build a house now, a better time-saving option would be to look for a professional house cleaning services business and leave the cleaning work to them while you attend to other important matters.
The home cleaning/janitorial business is still so much untapped; there’s a lot of room for anyone to cash in on this lucrative business. What’s more, depending on your current job (if you are employed), you can combine this business with your job and make some side income. You choose when you work; you can also get other people to work while you supervise.
Don’t worry about how lucrative this business is. Depending on your location and marketing skills, home cleaning services business will put a lot of money in your pocket.
How to start a professional home cleaning services business
Choose a niche
First thing you want to do is pick an area of specialization. Cleaning services is quite broad as a niche. You can decide to focus on industrial cleaning, regular house cleaning, drainage cleaning, specialized roof cleaning, real estate cleaning, post-building/construction cleaning (cleaning newly built houses), there are quite many. So pick one and stick with it.
You can also combine all the niches under one umbrella but as a beginner, this might not be the best. You need the focus and specialization before you can gather the ability and confidence to launch out into other areas.
Become the expert, not a jack of all trades.
Get the skills
Cleaning your home and professional home cleaning services are quite different things. In fact, the difference is like traveling from Lagos to Abuja on foot.
When you start a cleaning services business, people expect a degree of professionalism from you. When people hire you, they expect to come back and meet the place spotless. This takes more skill than just being able to sweep your house. So take some time and get the skills.
A good way to get the skill is to intern for an existing cleaning services company. If none exists, then you can use your network and offer to work for your family/friends for free or at a substantial discount. They already know you and they know you are just starting out. They will be more willing to review your work and even serve as references for future work.
You need to be physically fit
Cleaning services is a physically demanding job. You will bend this way and that way; you will twist and turn and climb. More importantly, you will be working in dirty, mostly dusty, areas. Ensure you are physically fit for this.
If you have health conditions like allergies, asthma or respiratory disease, this is probably not the best area of work for you.
You will be putting yourself in harm’s way if you start this business without adequate considerations for your health.
Unless you want to focus on your neighbourhood, family and friends, you need to have a registered name/company.
Registering with the CAC will not cost you so much money, but having a registered business name increases your credibility and allows you employ other people when you need to.
Cleaning business carries its own risks, especially home cleaning services. You don’t want to have a legal suit against you for missing property.
If you will be working in an already inhabited home, take inventory. Make sure there’s record of everything before and after your work in that home. If possible, get a police clearance.
Also get some insurance to cover for damages and such.
Buy home cleaning equipment
Since different jobs will need different equipment, it would be difficult to expect and buy everything you will need. But you need some basic home cleaning equipment to start with. You can purchase other things when the needs arise.
Some basic equipment you will need are listed below:
- Water (lots of water)
- Brooms (long, short, hard and soft)
- Buckets of various sizes
- Brushes (same as brooms)
- Window trigger spray mop (For windows where your hands can’t reach)
- Liquid soap and detergent
- Feather duster
- Air freshener
- Cover all, safety boots, nose mask, hand gloves, helmet (if you need to climb)
- Vacuum cleaner, etc
As much as possible, unless where they are not available, use natural cleaning products instead of chemicals. You will get more jobs if people know you use organic products instead of chemicals.
Again, do not use chemicals on your client’s furniture. Only use chemicals for the floor tiles.
Getting your first client
Your first client is always the most difficult. This is because people will want to know your experience and references (to make sure you are not a thief, lol). This makes it harder to land your first job.
As I said before, leverage on people you already know and offer to work for them. Cleaning services business flourishes with word of mouth referrals. So start with people you already know and have them give you reviews and spread word about your service.
Other ways to market your services include:
- Invest in a website (the wisest investment any business could make in this age)
- Use social media to your advantage. Create a Facebook page, complete with your professional brand name, logo and everything.
- Invest in building a reliable brand (professional logo, tagline, business name, etc)
- Produce flyers and posters for offline marketing
- Visit building construction sites and introduce yourself
- Announce yourself in your social and religious gatherings
- Brand your car and invest in branding other public transport vehicles
- Generally, use your marketing creativity.
What to charge
What you charge will vary with different jobs. If you have the chance to meet other home cleaning services, try and find out from them the going rates for different assignments. You will set your own competitive prices, of course, but it helps to have such information.
Never undervalue yourself. Because you are starting out, you might be tempted to charge for only yourself and increase your charges when you hire more staff. This might not be a good idea. Charge as if you are already employing workers.
Also inspect the place before charging for any job. That the degree of dirt will largely influence your pricing especially for a new building.
Expand when business increases
You can start out with outsourcing jobs to freelancers, menial workers, and anyone who would work on a contractual basis. When business increases, you will do well to invest in an office space and employ more regular workers.
Employing regular workers ensures you work with only people you trust.
Like any other business, starting a professional home cleaning services business is mostly common sense. This post will guide you but over 70% of your results will come from employing your personal touch of creativity and marketing ingenuity.
Remember, one of the most important catalysts for this business is TRUST. For anyone to let you into their home, they have to trust you. Promote an aura of trust and credibility around yourself. Be dependable! Also, seek your client’s permission before you rush to take before and after pictures of their home.
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