Do you want to start a duct cleaning company? If YES, here is a 20-step guide on how to open a duct cleaning business with no money or experience. Air duct cleaning business is part of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry and the industry that deals in heating system, ventilation, and air – conditioning of a facility or a space (automobile, plane, ships, trains et al).

Please note that if you intend to start this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the country or state you reside in to know what is expected of you.

You also need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your country to know what you need to do before you can legally open a duct cleaning business in your city in the United States of America. You can start your duct cleaning business from a small town in the United States of America and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand especially if you go into franchising.

20 Steps to Starting a Duct cleaning business

  1. Understand the Industry

The truth is that, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning are interconnected especially when it comes to providing conducive temperature in an indoor facility. Basically, HVAC systems is designed to provide ventilation, reduce air infiltration, and maintain pressure relationships between spaces.

The Heating and Air-Conditioning Contractors industry is not dominated by any company. As a matter of fact, no company can boast of having more than 5.0% of the total annual revenue in the industry. The major players in the industry are smaller firms that specialize in all kinds of HVAC systems or dominates a certain location.

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry is indeed a very large industry and pretty much thriving in all the parts of the world especially in developed countries such as United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and Italy et al.

Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 105,598 licensed and registered heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) related businesses responsible for employing about 437,894 employees and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $82 billion annually with an annual growth rate projected at 4.0 percent

Over and above, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) related businesses are still enjoying good patronage particularly if they are well positioned and if they know how to reach out to their target market (businesses, government and households).

  1. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who need the services of air duct cleaning companies cut across owner of houses or offices or any facility with heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). In essence, your target market can’t be restricted to just a group of people, but all the facilities and those that resides around your business location and who have the purchasing power.

So, if you are thinking of opening your own air duct cleaning business then you should make target demographics all encompassing. It should include households, hospitals, hotels, hostels, public building and every facility in the neighborhood where your business will be located.

  1. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

It is important to state that there is no known niche area when it comes to air duct cleaning services business because air duct cleaning is a niche idea in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry.

Usually, the average air duct cleaning services business would offer all or most services such as Air vent cleaning, Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) cleaning, Furnace humidifier cleaning, Duct work (e.g., cooling, dust collection, exhaust, heating and ventilation) cleaning, Heating and ventilation system component (e.g. air registers, diffusers, and filters) maintenance and cleaning and other related cleaning service.

The Level of Competition in the Industry

The fact that the entry level for an air duct cleaning business is low coupled with the fact that it is a profitable business means that loads of people would want to engage in the business. Besides, there are no major players in the industry which is why the business is highly competitive in the United States of America.

As an air duct cleaning services business owner, it is important to note that gaining a competitive edge requires a detailed analysis of the demographics of the surrounding area and the nature of existing competitors. And even if you are successful at first, new competitors could enter your market at any time to steal your regular customers.

Don’t hesitate to adopt successful strategies from your competitors, but understand that directly competing with an entrenched rival is a bad idea for a new air duct cleaning services business owner; creativity and diversification is the key in this regard.

  1. Know Your Major Competitors in the industry

Here are some of the most popular air duct cleaning companies in the United States of America;

  • Duct & Vent Cleaning of America, Inc.
  • ServiceMaster Clean
  • USA Clean Master
  • In Duct Clean
  • AdvantaClean
  • Service-Tech Corporation
  • Heinen & Hopman – HVAC Duct Cleaning Service for Ships.
Economic Analysis

If you are looking towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.

Air duct cleaning services business is not a green business, as a matter of fact, you will come across several such businesses when you go shopping for an air duct cleaning company.

So, if you are mapping out your economic and cost analysis for your business, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing so as to know the amount required to rent a space where you are expected to open your business and the amount required to purchase your work tools and equipment such as stepladders, dusters, disinfectant cleaner, cleaning chemicals, detergents and soaps, truck and also the cost to successfully run the business.

Interestingly, startup costs are low. For example, in the US, a pressure cleaner can be purchased for as little as $2,000. So also, cleaning supplies can cost as little as $300 per month. While these costs are small, you’ll still need liability insurance and other forms of insurance.

Over and above, if you are considering starting an air duct cleaning company, then your concern should not be limited to the expenditure you have to make but also on branding and on how to build a robust clientele base. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust clientele base, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.

  1. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

If you are looking towards starting an air duct cleaning services business in the United States of America, you have the option of buying a franchise or to starting from the very scratch. If indeed you want to become your own boss, we will advise you start from the scratch.

Besides starting an air duct cleaning services business from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other small-scale businesses which usually requires detailed groundwork before launching the business. With air duct cleaning services business, you should just try as much as possible to establish relationship with cleaning chemical supplies distributors and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet when it comes to marketing your air duct cleaning service.

Please note that most of the big and successful air duct cleaning businesses in the United States of America started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success and of course you can build your own air duct cleaning services business brand to become a successful brand with loads of clients patronizing your services.

  1. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

If you decide to start your own air duct cleaning services business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established air duct cleaning services businesses and even general cleaning services companies who are also into air duct cleaning. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.

Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face is economic downturn and unfavorable government policies. There is nothing you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to stay positive that things will work well for you.

  1. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity

If you decide to start a air duct cleaning services business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow; some air duct cleaning companies design their business for neighborhood market, some for city wide market, while others for national market via franchising.

Good enough, you can either choose a general partnership, limited liability Company which is commonly called an LLC, or even a sole proprietorship for your air duct cleaning business. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale air duct cleaning business especially if you are just starting out with moderate start-up capital in a small neighborhood.

But if your intention is to grow the business and have offices and corporate clients all across key cities in the United States of America and other countries of the world via franchising, then choosing sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.

Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities.

These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your air duct cleaning business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes.

If you take your time to study the various legal entities to use for your air duct cleaning business with the ability to sell franchise, you will agree that limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.

Interestingly, you can also upgrade to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation and when you do this, it will give you the opportunity to grow your air duct cleaning services business so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company.

  1. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the Ideas Below

Normally, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. If you are considering starting your own air duct cleaning services business in the United States of America, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Fresh Air® Duct Cleaning Services, LLC
  • Jake Williams® Air Duct Cleaning Services, LLC
  • Billiard Jones® HVAC Cleanings Services, Inc.
  • Perfect Flow® Air Duct Cleaning Services Company, Inc.
  • Free Flo™ HVAC Cleaning Services, LLC.
  • Kelly Francis™ Air Duct Cleaning Services, LLC.
  • Hope Denis© Air Duct Cleaning Services, Inc.
  • Iverson Jimmy® Air Duct Cleaning Services Company, LLC
  • Total Clean© HVAC Cleaning Services, Inc.
  • Sally Jones© Air Duct Cleaning Services Company.
  1. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

In the United States of America, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.

Here are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own air duct cleaning services business in the United States of America;

You can contact the following leading insurance companies in the United States of America to purchase the needed insurance policies for your air duct cleaning services business;

  • Allstate Insurance Group
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Progressive Insurance Group (PGR)
  • Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC)
  • New York Life Insurance Company
  • Lincoln National Life Insurance Company
  • MassMutual (Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company)
  • Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
  1. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you are considering starting your own air duct cleaning service, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

On the other hand, if you want to leverage on the business opportunities within the industry and also to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even operation concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection.

If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.

  1. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Away from the results you produce as it relates to providing professional air duct cleaning services, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some air duct cleaning services stand out. You are strongly encouraged to pursue professional certifications; it will go a long way to show your commitment towards the business.

Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career and up-to-date in this competitive market. These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own air duct cleaning services company;

  • EPA Type I Certification – For Servicing Small Appliances.
  • EPA Type II Certification – For Servicing High Pressure Systems.
  • EPA Type III Certification – For Servicing Low Pressure Systems.
  • Universal EPA Certificate.
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE) Cleaning business owner certificate – CBO

Please note that you can successfully run an air duct cleaning services company in the United States of America without necessarily acquiring professional certifications as long as you have adequate experience cum background in the commercial cleaning services industry.

  1. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States of America without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catch up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own air duct cleaning services business in the United States of America;

  1. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Starting an air duct cleaning business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale. Securing a standard and well – positioned office facility and acquiring the needed working tools and materials are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital.

Hence, if you choose to start the business on a large scale, you need to go source for fund to finance the business because it is expensive to start a large scale air duct cleaning business.

No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your air duct cleaning services business;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
  1. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

You can choose to locate this business in any location of your choice especially if you are offering basic air duct cleaning services. Services that do not require your clients to come to you for except for meetings. But over and above, the location you choose to open your company is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people and businesses with the required purchasing power.

If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for your air duct cleaning services business in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business and perhaps giving direction to potential customers. It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing / renting in your budget.

If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your business, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor. Having said that, these are some of the cities in the United States of America where you can locate your air duct cleaning services business;

  • Los Angeles, California
  • New York City, New York
  • Las Vegas, Neveda
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Houston, Texas
  • Miami, Florida
  • Washington, District of Columbia
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  1. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

There are no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for Point of Sales (POS) Machines and relevant software applications. You will also need tools and equipment such as stepladders, pressure cleaning machines, dusters, disinfectant cleaner, cleaning chemical supplies, detergents and soaps, and truck. Computers / laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

As regard leasing or outright purchase of an office facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standings, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short – term rent / lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location / facility for such business.

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard air duct cleaning business with plans to have corporate clients all across major cities in the United States of America, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (you can occupy this role), Admin and Human Resources Manager, Supervisors, Sales and Marketing Officer, Accounting Clerk, Air duct (HVAC) Technicians and Cleaners, and Drivers.

On the average, you will need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff members to run a standard air duct cleaning company.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

The operation process as it relates to air duct cleaning companies depends largely on their area of operation and their organizational structure. Usually, when an air duct cleaning company gets a contract from a client, it could be services such as Air vent cleaning, Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) cleaning, Furnace humidifier cleaning, Duct work (e.g. cooling, dust collection, exhaust, heating and ventilation) cleaning,

Heating and ventilation system component (e.g. air registers, diffusers, and filters) maintenance and cleaning and other related cleaning service for households, residential estates, local government council, construction companies, real estate companies and corporate organization to clean their roof and exterior of their facility (either one – off or long – term cleaning), they will first conduct cost analysis in order for them to know the manpower and resources needed to carry out the job.

Once they conclude their cost analysis, then they will deploy the required manpower, materials and equipment to execute the job and then they will get paid after successfully carrying out their job. It is important to state that an air duct cleaning company may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility.

  1. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies

Marketing ideas and business strategies are key aspects of a business that must not be neglected when drafting your business plan. As a matter of fact, if you are not certain on the marketing ideas and strategies to deploy before starting your business or if you are not sure of how to generate sales for your business, it is advisable to you go back to the drawing board.

So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market when marketing your business. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your air duct cleaning business;

  • Introduce your air duct cleaning services company by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to households, residential estates, industrial estates, local government councils, corporate organizations, small scale businesses, medium scale businesses and other key stake holders throughout the city where your air duct cleaning services company is located.
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across
  • Create a basic website for your business so as to give your business an online presence
  • Directly market your services
  • Join local commercial cleaning services business associations for industry trends and tips
  • Join local chambers of commerce and industry with the aim of networking and marketing your services
  • Advertise our business in community – based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)
  1. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products

One key factor that will help you offer your air duct cleaning services at rock bottom prices is to purchase your cleaning chemical supplies directly from cleaning chemical wholesalers and importers in pretty large quantities. The truth is the higher the quantities of items that you purchase directly from importers and wholesalers, the cheaper you tend to get them.

Another strategy that will help you offer your air duct cleaning services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products.

You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers, it will help you save cost for paying sales and marketing executives. So also, if you are able to secure business partnership as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.

  1. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

The availability of competent and reliable roof cleaners under your payroll, your business process and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry.

Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to network and build a robust clientele base. Over and above, ensure that your organization is well positioned; key members of your team are highly qualified and can favorably compete with the some of the best in the industry.

  1. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.

If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers coming back to purchase from you. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also to attract new customers.

Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.

With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).

  1. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.

No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your air duct cleaning business;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community – based events
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your air duct cleaning services business
  • Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • List your air duct cleaning services business in local directories/yellow pages
  • Advertise your air duct cleaning services business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
  • Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your business is located.
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles are branded with your company logo.
Joy Nwokoro