You might think that starting a house cleaning business is as easy as tossing a bunch of cleaning supplies into the trunk of your car and finding a few clients — probably people you know — from whom you can build a base of clients through referrals. When the business gets too big for you to handle alone, you can hire help and transition into more of a business management role.
That’s a fine strategy IF you only care about being able to pay your bills from month to month; you really like to clean houses (because that’s never going to change in this model), and you want to be able to make your own hours (sort of). If, however, your entrepreneurial vision is something more grand, you need to approach the task of starting your house cleaning business with an idea of never actually cleaning a house yourself. To do that successfully, you need to either possess — or be able to source — the following key business skill sets at a minimum:
Branding and marketing. The branding part includes creative design - a brand color palette, logo, well-chosen fonts, an understanding of basic design principles, design software and the know-how to use it, web site design and hosting, and an ability to define a brand message and style of speaking/writing that defines your business. On the marketing side, you’ll need to create collateral such as flyers, direct mailers, ads, and so forth. You’ll also need to know about different ways to get your message out, how to measure performance of various marketing channels, and to evaluate return on marketing investments.
Social media and online reputation management. While this is really a subset of branding and marketing, it’s a big new area that — in an era of Yelp, Google+, Angie’s List, and other online review vehicles — requires acute and consistent attention.
Customer service. Speaking of Yelp and other small business online review sites, a common theme in negative reviews is poor treatment of people who first attempt to interact with a business and either provide feedback or have their complaints heard. Do an outstanding job here and the need for online reputation management diminishes greatly.
Tele-sales. While it’s true that customer referrals form a big part of the new client acquisition process, a dedicated tele-sales effort — one that is fed a consistent supply of leads from marketing — is the only way anyone ever gets rich in the house cleaning business.
Recruiting and human resource management. The people you send out to clean customers’ homes form the lifeblood and will make or break your business. There is a particular set of personality traits that makes a person perfect for house cleaning. You need to know what those traits are, how to spot them in interviews, and how to win over and retain those people once your customers start becoming attached. You also need to know how to handle disciplining and firing nonperforming employees without exposing yourself to lawsuits.
Risk management. This includes data and physical security, PCI compliance, as well as liability protection for yourself. People will be allowing your employees into their homes, sometimes when they’re not there. They’ll be giving you credit card and other personal data. You need to know best practices for keeping keys, homes, and personal data secure. You also need to know how to protect your business from liability via employee criminal background checks, bonding, insurance, and policies to address things like damage and breakage that occurs on cleaning jobs.
Accounting and finance. If you don’t know a thing or two about managing and optimizing business cash flow, financing, calculating net present value of investments, and so forth, you might find it very difficult and stressful to hire people and to make all the right moves at the right times to expand your house cleaning business into something that delivers more than just a basic standard of living.
Cleaning operations know-how. Do you know how long it should take for one person to effectively clean a four-bedroom, two-story house with two pets? Do you know how to guard against cross-contamination of rooms in customers’ homes? What cleaning solutions and tools work best at lowest costs? If you expect to turn a profit in your business, this is all information you’ll need to have in order to price jobs and to train and equip your employees correctly.
Technology. Don’t expect to be able to accomplish any of the above without a better-than-average understanding of how to use a big variety of contemporary desktop and mobile technology.
Feeling overwhelmed? This is the reality of what it takes to build a successful house cleaning business. It also happens to be a description of the kinds of skills and support you can acquire automatically by partnering with the right house cleaning franchise company. To learn more about franchising visit maidprofranchise.com.