Cleaning companies often require low initial start-up costs making them very attractive to first-time entrepreneurs. The £10bn UK cleaning market is dominated by smaller players, making cleaning an attractive choice for entrepreneurs looking to build a successful firm.
Why start a cleaning company?
Compared to other businesses, the start-up costs of cleaning businesses are low. This is particularly true of domestic rather than commercial cleaning companies where the equipment needed is far cheaper and more widely available. A significant 72% of the cleaning industry is made up of smaller players, making it particularly friendly to entrepreneurs and first-time business owners.
Why skills will I need?
An eye for detail is essential as presentation is very important. Administrative skills are also important; even running a small cleaning business requires you to work with many clients profitably whilst at the same time trying to drum up new business. Unless you can keep on top of all activity, you’ll quickly get overwhelmed and lose track of what’s going on in your business. Motivation skills are also important; your workers represent your company at all times and must appear professional and achieve great results. If the cleaning work they do is shoddy, it’s unlikely your customers will become loyal.
Cleaning businesses typically offer low start-up costs. Aside from equipment – use household supplies to save money – you’ll need to employ a few staff members. The majority of your budget will go on marketing, as you’ll need to make use of flyers and local advertisements to drum up leads. Insurance is also essential to protect against accidents and equipment malfunction. For a commercial cleaning company, the start-up costs are far higher because the tools required are more expensive. You’ll need equipment trolleys, sweeping machines, a robust industrial vacuum cleaner and a van to transport all materials. This could set you back around £4000-£5000.
Should I consider a franchise?
Cleaning franchises are very popular for a variety of reasons; it’s easier to establish goodwill, equipment is often provided and you may get guarantee earnings. However, the start-up costs can often be considerable and the terms are much more restrictive than if you were starting up on your own. Franchises are not for everyone, but for the right people they can work extremely well. If you do consider a franchise, make sure you do plenty of research before deciding on a company and model. You need to know precisely what the franchise provides in terms of lead generation and marketing.
Insurance is essential when setting up a cleaning business – you’ll need public liability insurance immediately to cover you in the event of accidents or damages caused to third party properties. You’ll also need professional indemnity insurance to protect your financial interests; this covers you, for example, if invoices are not paid or employees act dishonestly. Please see our guide to public liability insurance and guide to professional indemnity insurance for more information. If you take on staff you’ll need employer’s liability insurance.
If cleaning near schools consider getting all staff CRB checked to raise the reputation and reach of your business. Bear in mind that if you pay minimum wage you’ll need to remain abreast of legislative progress in this area to ensure you raise the wage where required by law. Additionally, make sure your equipment and procedures comply with legislation covering hazardous chemicals, such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations and the Dangerous Substances and Preparations Regulations.
Your first step
Market research is the first step you’ll need to take. Find out if there are cleaning companies operating in your target area and how big their reach is. You may also wish to contact potential clients and assess interest; if there’s no potential for serious uptake then it’s worth considering a different demographic or geographic location.