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Starting a Janitorial Business

Overview:

Image of a vacuum sucking up moneyA janitorial job lacks glamour and may seem "mundane," but it has proven to be lucrative, for those who start out with the will to work hard.

There is a good market for cleaning services, in both residential and commercial sectors. As the owner, you'll be cleaning offices, stores, schools, hospitals, stores, and more.

More and more companies outsource these services, so the potential client base is quite large. As you grow, you can always add more employees and specialize in certain areas, like carpet, tile, window cleaning, or pest control.

A janitorial service is a well paying, and steady, that involves mostly night work on a contract basis. You agree (contract) to perform certain scheduled tasks and the client pays you on a monthly basis.

Image of spary cleanerNormal services include sweeping, dusting, emptying receptacles like ashtrays and wastebaskets, refilling soap and paper dispensers and buffing or vacuuming floors. Waxing might be done every third night; stripping once a month.

A beginner can start with ordinary household tools (and buy more as they are needed), plus some cleaning supplies. To start, find a small store or office building that needs cleaning at night and offer your services. Do all the work yourself for a while. Learn firsthand how long it takes to do each job, which techniques work best, and the type and amount of supplies that are needed.

If you love cleaning and keeping things spic and span, this is an excellent service you can start from home.

Skill Set:

  • Image of a Man Cleaning a carpetCommercial/office cleaning
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Drapery, window, shade cleaning
  • Calculate estimates
  • Ecological knowledge, reducing waste
  • How to use the proper products to match the chores
  • Ability to work equipment like floor waxing machines if necessary
  • Dispose of garbage and other waste lawfully
  • You must be able to lift heavy items
  • Click Here For A List Of Common Skills

Employee & Job Consideration During The Start-Up Phase Or In The Future:

Approximate Daily Hours Needed:

These services are normally performed at night when the everything is closed, which gives the janitorial crew a time span of 12 to 14 hours. If the jobs are relatively small, one crew might do several locations night.

Equipment, Supplies, & Services During Start-up OR In The Future:

Monthly Expenses To Consider:

Licenses:

Approximate Minimum Startup Cost:

Bare essential - You can get started for a few hundred dollars, if you already have a vehicle. To get started with heavy-duty equipment may mean that you have to spend upwards of $40,000. If you are on the lower starting end, you can always build as you go.

Tips & Considerations:

  • Consider getting both insured and bonded. Being bonded is one of the measures that will help clients feel more at ease—it guarantees payment for or replacement of items that you or your workers accidentally or intentionally damage. A bonding service also helps protect you: if there is a question, the bonding agent arbitrates.
  • Image of a man holding a dust mop and a woman holding a dusterWhen hiring help, you will probably need to bond them (as well as yourself. Many clients will not deal with janitorial companies unless they are bonded, because they have access (often, a set of keys) to their buildings and offices when no one else is there.
  • Since most of the work is done after normal working hours, it is not difficult to find helpers. Many students and day workers are happy to "moonlight" to make a few extra dollars.
  • You may decide to obtain additional certification in proper disposal of garbage and use of chemicals.
  • Keep in touch with your clients. Give them many opportunities to rate and comment on your services. This will help you learn which services your clients value most, and you can adjust your service packages accordingly. Flexibility and adaptability are key when starting.
  • On your first few jobs, take note of the workload and time it takes for each operation, so you will know what to consider when bidding on future jobs, and how long it should take your helpers.
  • Image of a variety of cleaning productsMost cleaning contractors have checklists that they use when walking through the job with the prospective client, so they can find out and record exactly what is wanted, and bid accordingly. The objective is to bid the amount that will satisfy both you, and the client.
  • Before making your final bid, check the outside of the building to see if there are additional tasks that could or should be included, such as sweeping a parking lot, straightening the trash bin or washing the outside windows. Also check the general appearance (which will tell you the quality of work they expect), and be aware if they may be hard to please.
  • You'll need to be in good shape because cleaning is physical work. Keep in mind that working indoors and outdoors, you're exposed to dust, noise, pests, and weather.
  • When you are just starting, it is a good idea to tell the client that you are learning, that you want to do a professional job, and that you might have to adjust your rates when you learn how much work and supplies are required. Be sure to ask them to advise you of anything they think you can do better—and thank them when they do.
  • A beginner can start with ordinary household tools (and buy more as they are needed), plus some cleaning supplies. To start, find a small store that needs cleaning at night and offer your services. Do all the work yourself for a while. Learn firsthand how long it takes to do each job, which techniques work best, and the type and amount of supplies that are needed.
  • If operating from home is not an option, choose a location that allows your customers to visit you easily. Rent or lease a space with adequate parking and with enough space to allow you to efficiently and safely store your equipment and supplies. Your office need not be extravagant or lavishly furnished; the main consideration should be to have a space that will allow you to operate cost-effectively. You may also want to think about the potential of office space.

    If you plan to start small, consider the following factors:

    • Keep things as simple as possible.
    • Know your limits (what services you want to offer), and how you will go about getting and keeping accounts.
    • Understand the requirements and capital necessary to succeed in the industry, and be prepared to expand with more expensive equipment as the need arises.
    • You must have working capital to give yourself a realistic chance at surviving in this industry.

Pros and Cons:

The Pros:
  • Good market for services
  • A wide range of facilities that need cleaning services
  • Good pay
  • Not dominated by one big company—small janitorial services have every chance to succeed
  • You can work in solitude
  • You set your daily, weekly, and monthly work schedule
  • You can offer additional services such as before- and after-party clean-up
  • Low start-up cost
  • Completely Expandable

The Cons:

  • Long hours
  • May have to work weekends, night hours
  • Work may be monotonous
  • Physical exertion
  • High turnover rate for employees
  • Clients can hover over you as you work
  • You can be held liable for stolen or broken items (hence being bonded and insured)
  • Some cleaning jobs are unpleasant to deal with

Type of Customers:

Banks and schools are great customers. An abundance of customers exist in this industry: apartment buildings, restaurants, corporate buildings, and more.

The cleaning industry consists of approximately 17,000 commercial cleaning franchises but there is plenty of room for your company. Before starting, survey your market.

  • How many cleaning services are there and what size are they?
  • How many potential customers are in your target area?
  • What type of cleints are being undeserved?
Statistics:

See Valuation Resources for current statistics, trends and outlooks.

Image of a dyson vacuum cleanerThis industry has shown remarkable growth in the last few years. It has benefited from corporate downsizing and increased reliance of outsourcing cleaning services. Contracting private firms to perform this service has also become the best option for many companies.

According to the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI), cleaning and maintaining America's office buildings, retail, commercial, industrial, educational, and healthcare facilities is huge, estimated at $94.5 billion in 2003.

BSCAI provides below other characteristics of this growing industry:

  • No companies truly dominate the industry. Rather, it is populated by more than 56,000 cleaning contractors, mostly small "mom and pop" operations. This figure includes roughly 16,800 commercial cleaning franchises and 2,100 residential cleaning franchises.
  • In 2002, non-employer establishments—small sole proprietorships without payroll or employees—according the US Census Bureau and the IRS, numbered 427,553 and represented receipts of over $5.9 billion.

Revenue:

According to the book "101 Best Businesses to Start", first year potential earnings for can be $40,000. Break even time in can be rapid, and you may be able to achieve profitability within three to six months of operations.

Resources:

Related Sites:

Cleaning-Tips

Valuation Services: Janitorial and Cleaning Service Websites

IbisWorld

Equipment and Supplies:

Clean Freak

Janitorial Supplies Co., Inc.

Monster Janitorial

Forums:

Global Cleaning Association

Franchises:

Franchise Gator

Related:

See Also:

22 Steps To Consider Before Starting Your Business

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