How to Start an Office Cleaning Business

Karen Y. Larkin
Woman Cleaning Office

Look online at your local yellow pages and count all the businesses in a five to ten mile radius of your town. The number of dental offices alone is mind boggling! If you want to start an office cleaning business, this is good news indeed. Each and every business you see represents earning potential for your new company.

Build or Franchise?

One of the first things to decide when you start an office cleaning business is whether to build your business from scratch, or buy into a franchise. Both have their pros and cons. Building your business offers complete freedom and control. You make every decision, whether it's logo design, corporate structure, or which brand of window cleaner to use - and you take responsibility for those decisions. When you buy into a franchise, part of what you are purchasing is the wisdom of those who have gone before you.

Buy a Cleaning Franchise

Commercial cleaning franchises offer entrepreneurs a chance to own their business without having to develop a business model and structure. Advantages of buying into a franchise may include:

  • Ready name recognition and an established brand identity
  • Access to industry trends and ongoing market research
  • Coaching and training
  • Bulk purchasing power for supplies

Each franchise opportunity is different, and you will need to perform a careful cost/benefit analysis to determine whether the benefits of the franchise are worth the cost.

Some of the more popular office cleaning franchises include:

  • 360 Clean supports hospital-grade infection control cleaning practices, allowing franchisees to bid on cleaning contracts for medical facilities.
  • Office Pride is a faith-based privately held office cleaning franchise. The franchise fee is $29,900 and includes equipment and marketing support, in addition to discounts on computer systems and uniforms. Entrepreneur ranked Office Pride among its top 500 franchises for 2013.
  • Buildingstars offers three levels of franchise opportunities and is one of the lowest cost franchises in the nation. They provide accounts to franchise owners and are specifically looking to expand into the Midwest, the Northeast, the South, the Southeast, and the Southwest.

Build a Cleaning Business

In general, starting an independent cleaning business will require much less up-front money than being part of a franchise. You will also enjoy the freedom of selecting the services you offer and establishing a name for your business. However, as an independent business owner, you won't be able to lean on support from a franchise corporate office to guide you in defining your market. However, for those who don't have thousands of dollars to invest in their business at the outset, an independent cleaning business is a viable option.

If you decide to go this route, you have two options:

  1. Start small and do the work yourself, while building your reputation and customer base.
  2. Hire people from the outset to work for you.

5 Tips for Success

Whether you build or buy you your business, the following tips will help you to chart a successful course.

1. Draft a Business Plan

Writing a solid business plan will help you to:

  • Define the parameters of your business
  • Develop a mission statement
  • Determine your company's legal structure
  • Conduct market research
  • Build a customer profile
  • Determine the services you will offer
  • Create your pricing structure
  • Budget and develop financial projections

Be sure to include any necessary provisions for business licensing, bonding, or liability insurance that your state may require. Contact your Secretary of State to learn about these regulations.

2. Acquire Specialized Knowledge

Cleaning offices requires a thorough understanding of commercial cleaning procedures and equipment, including how to care for different types of floor coverings and office equipment. For example:

  • It is important for floors to look good, but care must be taken to use products that assure walkways are not slippery.
  • Understanding the specifics of how to clean various pieces of computer equipment is also important. For instance, some monitors can be damaged if sprayed with glass cleaner or scratched if the wrong type of cloth is used.
  • Disposal of office trash may also require special care to be sure sensitive information is not compromised. This is something that should be discussed with potential clients.

3. Behave Professionally

It's easy to fall into a pattern of behaving as if you are one of the cleaning crew. Remember that your primary role is to secure business and manage the company. You are an entrepreneur, interacting with other business professionals. When you are in the public eye, dress and act the part.

4. Find Your Competitive Edge

Your competitive edge is also known as a value proposition. In Words that Get Meetings, internationally recognized sales strategist Jill Konrath explains that a good value proposition is one that gets your prospect to say, "Come on in. We need to meet." It must show your prospect that you understand and can quickly resolve her problem. It must always be sincere and never self-serving.

5. Get the Word Out!

Once your business is established, you are ready to throw open the doors and begin attracting customers. Several avenues are open to you:

  • Design and print business cards and brochures
  • Build a website and engage in Internet marketing
  • Get involved in your community by attending Chamber of Commerce and other local business meet-up groups
  • Decide whether to purchase print, radio, or cable advertising
  • Mail a letter of introduction to potential clients in your area
  • Follow up with phone calls to schedule meetings

Stay Strong

Starting any business takes a lot of hard work, but cleaning offices requires a particularly stringent time commitment. For the most part, the services you provide will take place in off-peak hours when the business is closed. These hours can have a negative impact on your social life, as well as your body. If you are healthy and strong enough to stick it out until your business is up and rolling, handsome profits may await you.

How to Start an Office Cleaning Business