So, you’ve decided to start a house cleaning business…
Cleaning is hard work, but it can yield a good income. I have had my own business cleaning private houses for over 20 years. I started when I was a single woman in my mid-twenties. The idea of working alone and having control over my schedule appealed to me. I knew starting out that I could make at least 20 to 30 dollars an hour, and when the job was done, I could go home and not have to think about anything work-related.
In the past 20 plus years I have gotten married, had three children, and fostered and adopted three more children. While I do not have the full cleaning schedule that I had as a single woman, cleaning has afforded me the flexibility of an income while being able to stay at home and take care of my family.
Whether you are looking to make a full-time income, a supplemental income, or simple want some quiet time and a little spending money (yes, when you have six kids, cleaning someone else’s house is considered personal uninterrupted quiet time), cleaning is a great business to choose.
So, how do you get started?
One of the greatest benefits of your cleaning business is that very little is required to start. You will need transportation and a desire to work. I started with a small ad in my local newspaper. Our area has a wonderful little paper called the Penny Power. It is delivered to everyone each Wednesday and is full of ads such as garage sale notices, items for sale and local jobs. An ad cost me about 20 dollars. It was just as few lines such as “No time to clean or simply hate to? Let me do your dirty work for you! Experienced, reliable and reasonable rates. Call for more information”. Nothing major, but if someone needed a cleaning person in our area, they checked the Penny Power. You need to find what works in your area.
Once you get a few people to hire you to clean your home, and you prove that you are trustworthy, you will get jobs through word-of-mouth (free advertising!). I only ever advertised twice and was able to have a full schedule within about six months.
You can also distribute flyers in a target neighborhood. If you have apartment buildings in your area, you could post an ad on the building’s bulletin board. Look around you in the community and find out the best way to get the word out that you are available and looking for houses to clean. It will not take long to get jobs, most people do not have time to clean and would much rather have someone else do the work for them. There are numerous other ways to attract house cleaning customers if you want to be more aggressive.
Getting your first job
So the word is out and the calls start coming in. What do you do now? Have a list of references such as acquaintances who can vouch for your character, previous employers, teachers or anyone who has known you for any length of time. Set up a time to go and meet your potential client and see their house. Be courteous and professional on the phone. This conversation is your first impression.
Next, think about what you are going to charge. This is a little tricky at first. I did not charge by the hour, I charged by the house. I worked fast and did not take breaks, so charging by the hour would not have been a good deal for me. I have also found that most people do not want to pay a person 30 dollars an hour to clean, however when you give a flat rate for their house, that is reasonable for the area in which you live, most people are understanding. A 1200 sq. ft. house with 2 baths and not a lot to dust should take about 2 hours to clean. You want to charge at least 40 dollars. You should be making at 20 dollars per hour minimum.
If you prove that you are reliable, and your work is good, clients will have no problem with your rates once you establish yourself. Don’t sell yourself short, but also remember you are just starting out, and if you are happy with the agreement, then don’t worry about the money. It would also be good to research what the going rate for house cleaning is in your location and go from there.
When you start cleaning, your first priority should be to establish trust. Be on time, don’t cancel unless you absolutely must and do a good job. Be friendly but not invasive of your client’s privacy. Cleaning can actually be enjoyable and when you leave a house in proper order you will have a feeling of satisfaction and a job well done.