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Cleaning services are consistently in high demand, especially following the pandemic, with people becoming increasingly conscious about the need for safety and cleanliness in their homes and workplaces.
Busy lifestyles and hectic schedules mean many prefer to outsource their cleaning requirements. And with low start-up costs, as well as the flexible option to offer your services on either a part or full-time basis, cleaning can prove to be a fulfilling and financially rewarding business move.
So, if you’re thinking about starting a cleaning business, read on to find out everything you need to know about getting set up.
1. Define your focus
The first step in starting your cleaning business is to decide what type of cleaning you want to specialise in.
Generally speaking, there are three main areas to choose from:
This type of service will typically involve going into people’s private homes and living spaces to clean and maintain them. This may be on a regular, routine basis and involve tasks like dusting, vacuuming, and mopping. Or on a one-off basis, for example for a thorough deep clean or to help with moving in or out of a home.
Commercial cleans entail going into businesses such as offices, shops, restaurants, and studio spaces. This service might include wiping down desks, sanitising workstations, clearing canteen areas, and ensuring a generally clean and inviting workplace.
A specialised cleaning service involves unique cleaning that often requires a level of expertise, as well as a specific qualification or licence. This could include biohazard cleanups, for example following a chemical spill, post-construction, upholstery cleaning or window cleaning – to name just a few areas.
You should spend time researching your chosen field of cleaning, and evaluate what the market demand looks like in your local area, to identify any potential gaps and ways to differentiate your service from the current competition.
2. Choose your business structure
Now that you’ve decided on your focus, you’ll need to choose your legal business structure and officially register your new business.
As a cleaning business, your two most suitable options will likely be setting up as either a sole trader or a private company limited by shares.
Many cleaning professionals choose to start out as a sole trader. This is the most straightforward business structure to set up with the fewest administrative responsibilities. It means that you will be self-employed and will need to register for Self Assessment with HMRC.
Each year, you are responsible for completing a tax return and paying any Income Tax and National Insurance you owe to HMRC. However, it’s important to note that you will have unlimited personal liability for business debts and any legal claims, should they be brought against you.
Another popular option for cleaning businesses wanting to gain a more professional image is to register as a limited company. This business structure provides you with greater credibility, as well as limited liability for any debts or legal claims your business may face.
On top of this, you’ll be able to access a range of tax-saving and tax-planning options that could save you money.
On the other hand, limited companies are subject to stricter regulation, and you’d have more filing, reporting, and disclosure obligations. Using a reputable company formations agent like Rapid Formations can help ease this process.
3. Ensure compliance
In most cases, cleaners will not need any specific licencing or qualifications to carry out their work. However, if you plan on offering a specialised service, you may need additional equipment or cleaning supplies that require specific training or a licence.
For example, in Scotland, window cleaners are required to have a licence. While in England and Wales, you may need to register as a waste carrier or contractor.
It is always best to check with your local council to confirm whether or not you will need a licence. Alternatively, you can use GOV.UK’s free ’licence finder’ tool to check the rules in your area.
4. Invest in quality cleaning equipment
The supplies and tools you’ll need to run your business and deliver a quality service may vary depending on what type of cleaning business you’re starting.
In all cases, you should opt for high-quality, reliable equipment that will withstand frequent usage and deliver consistent results.
Some basics to stock up on will include disinfectant, multi-purpose floor cleaner, bleach, polish, cloths, sponges, mops, protective gloves, a high-quality vacuum cleaner – and more.
For commercial cleaners, you may need industrial-grade cleaners and specialised equipment for larger spaces. And specialist cleaners will need specialist tools – for example, a window cleaner will require extension poles and professional squeegees, while a carpet cleaner will need steam cleaners and stain removers.
It is also crucial to prioritise the safety and well-being of yourself, any team members, and the people around you.
Depending on the nature of your cleaning tasks, invest in protective gear such as gloves, masks, goggles, and aprons. This not only ensures a safer work environment, but also demonstrates a professional image to your clients.
Researching recommended supplies and top-rated tools will help you determine the equipment best suited to your service.
5. Understand the health and safety regulations
Running a cleaning business means that you’re responsible for the health and safety of not only yourself, but any employees you hire as well as the public around you.
It’s paramount that you and your employees understand and follow the relevant safety procedures that are applicable to the day-to-day work you’ll be carrying out. This includes familiarising yourself with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational safety in the UK.
Additionally, if your work involves cleaning products that contain hazardous substances, you will need to assess the risks and take appropriate measures to control exposure, following the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations.
You will also need to ensure that any staff you employ are provided with the necessary PPE, such as masks, gloves, or protective clothing so that they can complete their tasks safely, as specified in the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations.
The regulations that apply to you may vary based on the nature of your cleaning business, so it’s recommended to consult the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website to ensure you’re complying with the most up-to-date rules.
6. Set your pricing
One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make when setting up your cleaning business will be deciding where to position yourself in the market and how to price your services.
Set your price too high and you may detract clients; but set it too low and you may risk selling yourself short. To help find the right balance, you should invest time in researching your competition.
Consider any gaps in your local market, and what you can offer that other companies can’t. Find out what your competitors are charging and then price yourself accordingly.
You should also think about how you will accept payments from clients. For example, will you accept advance payments or deposits? Speak with your potential clients to understand their preferred method of payment, and see what you can do to accommodate their preferences.
Offering an incentive can additionally be a great way to generate interest and attract clients, especially during the initial stages of your business, so you might also want to think about ways you can incorporate a discount scheme into your service. For example, a discounted price for the first clean, a free clean after a certain amount of time, or a ‘refer a friend’ discount.
7. Promote your services
As a new business, securing your first contract can be a challenge. You will need a multi-faceted marketing approach to spread the word about your cleaning business and reach your ideal clientele.
Here are some promotional strategies to consider:
Create a professional website
A well-designed website will provide the perfect platform for potential clients to learn more about your business and reach out to you.
Leverage social media
In recent years, social media has seen a rise in influencers who are refashioning cleaning and housework using sites like Instagram and TikTok, to generate interest and create engagement around their services and techniques.
These platforms can be powerful tools for showcasing your cleaning skills, sharing before-and-after photos, and attracting potential clients.
Design business cards or flyers
Having a branded business card or flyer, with an overview of your services and contact information to hand, can prove especially useful if you happen to meet someone interested in your cleaning services. You can also consider posting your card or flyer to community notice boards or within local businesses.
8. Hire a team
Many cleaners choose to go into business alone, but if you’re planning on taking on commercial clients or multiple clients at once, then you may need to consider recruiting some staff so there are some extra hands on deck.
Taking on employees for the first time can be a daunting task. To ease you into your expansion, you might consider taking on an apprentice or a part-time employee to gradually build your team and management skills.
Remember, when taking on staff members, you must comply with the relevant employment laws.
9. Get insured
Lastly on our list, but by no means least, you will need to ensure your cleaning business is fully protected with the right insurance, in case of unforeseen circumstances.
Public Liability Insurance is an important consideration for any company, but especially for cleaning services, which can pose risks of injuries, such as slips or falls to clients and the general public. This type of insurance will provide cover should any legal claims be brought against you or your business.
In addition, if you hire staff, it is a legal requirement for you to have Employer’s Liability Insurance. This will protect you and your business if employees become seriously ill while on the job.
So, there you have it, how to start your own cleaning business. We hope you’ve found this guide useful, and that it’s provided enough information to get your business off to a successful start.
We understand that getting your company up and running can be a daunting process, especially if it’s your first time. So, if you have any questions or would like a helping hand, our knowledgeable team members are always on standby to offer their assistance. Contact us today to get started.