Do you want to start a crime scene cleanup company? If YES, here is a 24-step guide on how to start a crime scene cleanup business with no money or experience. A crime scene cleanup business is one where bodily remains are usually removed after a natural or violent death via drug busts, suicides, decaying bodies, other violent crimes as well as methamphetamine labs, and in which the scene has to be thoroughly cleaned to remove all traces of the death that occurred.
Also, during the course of cleaning up the scene, hazardous materials might be handled. This is a business that could be started by anyone that can handle such scenes without being squeamish.
Table of Content
- What It Takes to Start a Crime Scene Cleanup Business?
- 1. Understand the Industry
- Interesting Statistics About the Industry
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
- 7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
- 8. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below
- 9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Write a Business Plan
- 14. Do a Detailed Cost Analysis
- 15. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 16. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 17. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- The Service Delivery Process Involved in the Business
- 18. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
- 19. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
- 20. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 21. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 22. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
- 23. Create a Suppliers/Distribution Network
- 24. Tips for Running the Business Successfully
What It Takes to Start a Crime Scene Cleanup Business?
Also, you do not need to have educational experience to be able to handle this kind of business; however, having a certification that allows you handle hazardous materials from OSHA, as well as experience in either law enforcement or emergency medical services might be advantageous, as well as better help you prepare in starting your own crime scene cleanup business in the united states of America.
One of the first things to be done in starting your own business is to contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) so as to learn about what courses and seminars you would need to attend in order to be able to be certified in handling and disposing hazardous waste, properly use safety equipment and also protect yourself and employees against blood borne and other types of diseases likely to be encountered in the course of business.
The next step in starting your crime scene cleanup business is to apply for a business license as well as an employer identification number that would be provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You will need to purchase safety equipment which includes protective boots, hazmat suits, dust masks, respirators, safety glasses as well as heavy plastic gloves.
24 Steps on How to Start a Crime Scene Cleanup Business
1. Understand the Industry
The crime scene cleanup business is in an industry that provides cleaning services as regards trauma and crime scenes, and other forms of cleaning which includes cleanup of homicides, suicides as well as other accidents or incidents where bodily fluids and blood is present.
Businesses in this industry also clean as well as decontaminates sites that are chemically contaminated such as methamphetamine laboratories. Most of those who run this kind of business are usually hired by the property owner of the site where the crime or incident occurred.
Interesting Statistics About the Industry
There is a low level of concentration as there is no significant player in the industry. This means that there are no businesses that have a dominant market share in the industry as it is highly fragmented. Most of the players in this industry are small and independent players. Also, there is a high level of competition in this industry, which accounts for the moderate entry barriers.
Even though education is not a requirement to become an operator in this industry, it is expected that certification is completed before one can be allowed to successfully run the business. Certification is however not a means to become a success as new businesses would need to labour vigorously in order to become a recognized brand as well as compete effectively with established competitors.
This industry thrives on increased crime rate and so the declining crime rate has caused a fall in revenue for the industry especially as businesses compete for already decreasing jobs; with most competing in terms of price rates.
However, since crime can never end, businesses will be expected to evolve by applying strategies to make them gain a foothold in the industry. The revenue for this industry was rated at $358m annually, with a declining rate of -1.1% in annual growth between the periods. There are also approximately 612 businesses that have employed about 1,296.
Most states do not usually have laws that regulate the crime scene cleanup business but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures that strict laws which governs how businesses and employees handle respiratory risks, blood-borne pathogens as well as working in confined spaces all adhere to industry best and standard practices; even though the OSHA governing laws weren’t written specifically for crime scene businesses in this industry. This helps reduce accident risks, potential lawsuits as well as the businesses’ insurance cost.
This industry is largely regulated by the state and federal authorities who usually require owners and employees to be highly certified and so an extra permit is usually not required in state of operations except in California and Florida where crime scene business owners are expected to obtain a Trauma Waste Practitioner permit before sourcing for work.
Even though private crime scene businesses were almost nonexistent a couple of decades back, there are a hundreds of such companies around the country where trained technicians are employed to help decontaminate as well as sanitize locations where trauma or a terrible crime has occurred. Most of these companies don’t limit their services to crime scenes but also provide cleanup assistance to hoarders and decomposing bodies.
Cleanup fees which usually vary are always paid depending on the circumstances surrounding the cleanup. Most times, the homeowners insurance usually covers costs; however, some states and cities usually have administrative codes and statutes that mandate the local police and fire departments to cover up the cleaning services cost.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those that require the services of a crime scene cleanup business. It is obviously;
- property owners
- local police departments
- insurance companies
- As well as fire departments.
Since crime or incidents usually involve just about any age group or class range, it could be definitely anyone.
3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On
Regarding the niches in the crime scene cleanup business industry, even though there might be few niches here and there, most of the services in this industry are usually uniform in nature, with companies offering additional services that are related in nature. Some of the areas of specialization in the crime scene cleanup business industry usually include;
- crime scene cleanups
- blood cleanup
- death cleanup
- tear gas cleanup
- trauma scene cleanup,
- unattended death cleanup
- suicide cleanup
- gross filth and hoarding cleanup
- decontaminating illicit drug laboratories
- property restoration and fire and water damage
As regards these areas of specialization, it might be easy enough for a large crime scene cleanup business to partake in more than five areas, however, a small crime scene cleanup business might not be able to handle mush of these niches and so would need to settle for what they can handle.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
Starting a crime scene cleanup business is not an easy business, not only does it not require enough financial resources it also requires that you are not squeamish at the sight of blood or other bodily fluids that might need to be cleaned up at the crime scene site.
Even though any serious entrepreneur can effectively start up this business, they will still need to worry about getting certified as well as building the business brand to become recognized. Breaking into the industry is not easy as you would need to compete with already established competitors; which would mean you gaining the trust of consumers by showing how reliable you are and how quality your work is.
This shows how high competition in this industry is. This means that it is usually easier for already established companies to get jobs than it is for new companies to do so. Most times, the smaller companies often partner with the larger ones who usually have more equipment. New companies might do well to start small in their local areas so as to build trust and gain business relationships that would lead to more referrals.
4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry
In every industry and for every kind of service offered there are always companies those stands apart from others and become well known, either due to the services offered or some other circumstances. Becoming a well known crime scene cleanup company will require that you have a leverage over your competitors in the same industry.
Listed below are some of the well known crime scene cleanup companies in the United States of America;
- Crime Scene Cleaners
- Aftermath Services LLC
- Bio-Recovery Corp.
- Steri-Clean Crime Scene Cleanup
- Amdecon Crime Scene Cleanup
- Trauma Scene Clean-Up of Florida
- Crime Scene Intervention, Inc.
- Accident Cleaners and Restoration, LLC
Setting up a crime scene cleanup business might sound easy but it is definitely not for the faint of heart, emotionally, mentally and financially. Therefore, any entrepreneur who is determined to go into this business needs to ensure that all the areas have been thoroughly researched and investigated on.
First thing to note for any upcoming entrepreneur is that the industry is a regulated one both federally and state wise, so it would be wise for the entrepreneur to fulfill all necessary obligations before starting this business. While the business can be started by anyone whether they have got an education or not, it requires certification from a standard body OSHA.
Although the certification is not regarded as a national one, yet it is still necessary for any start-up to own one. Also, this is a business that thrives as the crime rate increases, and decreases when it ebbs. This means that even though the economic growth of your crime scene cleanup company might depend on an increase in crime rate, you might need to come up with other services to complement your business.
The location of your business is also very vital to the growth and success of the business. Crime does not thrive in small towns as it does in big cities; also, there are less crimes in the suburbs. This means that you would need to ensure that your company is located in a convenient location that will not enable you commuting a long distance to be able to clean up a crime scene as this will cost you more in operating expense.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
Starting a business from scratch depends totally on the prerogative of the entrepreneur. Most entrepreneurs want to start their crime scene cleanup business from scratch because it affords them the opportunity of having to learn about the business and putting up strategies that will ensure that they determine how they get their customers. Also, starting from scratch is beneficial in the sense that you determine the pace in which your business would grow.
Buying a franchise is not totally a bad idea either as there are entrepreneurs who do not want to be bothered with having to go through start-up challenges and so prefer to run the business while someone else handles all the paper works. Whichever method you choose to go through will need to be one where you have weighed the advantages and disadvantages, so you would know which would favour your crime scene cleanup business better.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
Every business carries with it threats and challenges that might either cause the business to fail completely or change its strategies in order to stay alive. Some of the threats and challenges you are likely to experience in your crime scene startup business include, a decrease in crime rate which is likely to lead to less businesses for you, less equipment than a rival company, or the arrival of a bigger competitor.
There isn’t anything that can be done about any threat and challenge that you might face during the course of your business, however, how you handle the threat and challenge goes a long way to determine if your business will survive or not.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
Due to the nature of the crime scene cleanup business, it is usually easier for the business owners to start off as sole proprietors. However, what legal entity is to be chosen for your crime scene cleanup business should be one that has been thoroughly researched and one where you have met with an attorney who would give you an advise that would best guide you on what legal structure would best suit you.
The sole proprietorship might be the easiest legal structure to start up with; however, it doesn’t give you much leeway during operations especially as you are personally liable for anything that goes wrong during the cleanup either with you or with your employees.
Another legal structure to consider is a partnership especially if you decide to pool resources with someone else who is also interested in running the business. The partnership would require that an agreement is drawn up. However, it does not provide much of a cover when things go wrong.
Most new business owners usually prefer to incorporate a Limited Liability Company (LLCs). The LLC is one that will personally protect you from any liability that might likely occur during the course of carrying out your business.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below
- Trauma Cleanup Services
- Thorough Crime Cleanup Services
- Bay Crime Scene Cleanup Inc
- Perfect Crime Scene Cleanup LLC
- Clean and Natural Services Corp
9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
Regardless of what legal structure you might be operating, having insurance is very important especially as the crime scene cleanup business isn’t a business that is to be handled trivially. To ensure that you get only the insurance policies that suit you, there might be need to carry out a research as well as approach professional insurance agents or brokers so as to be guided on the best covers that would protect you and your crime scene cleanup business.
Listed below are some of the basic insurance covers that you would need to consider purchasing if you decide to own and run your own crime scene cleanup business in the United States of America;
- Health Insurance
- Hazard Insurance
- General Insurance
- Liability Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
No, the crime scene cleanup business isn’t one that requires you applying for an intellectual property protection. It is usually not considered a priority for business owners in this industry; however, you might want to secure an intellectual protection for your company logo or slogan if you feel the need to do so, but this is a step you can skip altogether especially if you are running on a constrained budget.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
If you have decided to start the crime scene cleanup business, then you would probably need a certification from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA is not considered as a national certification and there are also no other national certifications, but OSHA’s certification is widely recognized.
The crime scene cleanup industry in the United States of America is highly regulated both at the federal and state level. Some states even require an extra permit before you can start the business. The industry is closely regulated due to the hazardous chemicals that are usually handled during the course of running the business, especially when cleaning and decontaminating a crime scene that has blood or other bodily fluids.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
Some of the documents that you would need to successfully run your crime scene cleanup business in the United States of America include;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Permit
- OSHA Certification
- Business Plan
- Insurance Policy
- Employers Identification Number
- Contract Document
- Non Disclosure Agreement
13. Write a Business Plan
The key components that your business plan should have include strategies on how to attract clients, and how you intend to promote and publicize your business.
Every business plan should have an executive summary where you are expected to state what the whole business plan contains, which includes what your business is bout, what services you intend to be offering, your target market, your marketing goals and strategies. Also, an investor looking through your executive summary is expected to see your company’s vision, mission statement as well as goals and objectives.
Other details that are expected to be in your business plan should include SWOT analysis, costing and financial projection.
14. Do a Detailed Cost Analysis
Due to the fact that most of the equipment that is needed to start a crime scene cleanup business is almost the same regardless of the state, the amount that will be needed to start the business is almost same except for businesses that intend to start on a medium or large scale.
Even though the start-up capital for the crime scene cleanup business cannot be low as it is for some other kind of businesses but any determined entrepreneur can start off this business and make profit in a few years down the line. The items that you would need if you intend to launch your own crime scene cleanup business in the United States of America include;
- Incorporation fees in the United States of America would cost $700
- Fees for Liability insurance and business license would cost $1,000
- Permits and OSHA certification would cost $1,000
- Amount needed to acquire a facility to store equipment and gears would cost $40,000
- Equipping the facility with office supplies would cost $1,500
- Cost of acquiring van would cost $5,000
- Cost of acquiring working equipment and gear would cost $20,000
- Cost of official website $500
- Additional expenditure would cost $1,000
With the above details, if you intend to lunch a small scale crime scene cleanup business in the United States of America, you would need at least $80,000.
For those intending to start their crime scene cleanup business on a medium scale, then you might be looking towards getting $160,000. If you want to start a large scale crime scene cleanup business in the United States of America, then you would need $320,000 and above.
15. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Financing is a very important part of any business as lack of finance could cause your business to fail. It doesn’t matter if your business idea is very fantastic, if as an entrepreneur you cannot source for start-up capital for the business, then you might as well acknowledge that your business will fail woefully.
The most important thing to have when sourcing for finance for your crime scene cleanup business is a comprehensive business plan. No serious investor would listen to you if they do not see a tangible documented plan that shows how you intend to ensure that your crime scene cleanup business becomes a success.
Some of the available options you have when intending to source for capital for your crime scene cleanup business includes;
- Sale of personal stock and properties to raise money
- Getting money from business partners
- Getting loan from banks and financial institutions
- Approaching investors for equity capital
- Sourcing for loan from family members and friends
16. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Choosing the right location for your crime scene cleanup business is very important as it makes the difference between your business becoming successful, stagnant or failing completely. If you aim at becoming a big brand, then you should know that choosing the appropriate location for your business is very vital.
One key factor to look out for when choosing a location is easy accessibility to major parts of the city as there are times you might need to get to a crime scene fast. If you stay on the outskirts of town, it would make it longer for you to reach crime scenes; also the long distance might affect your overhead and operational costs.
When it comes to the facility needed to start your crime scene business, even though it is very essential; it doesn’t mean you should break the bank to lease a very huge facility as you would only need a facility where you can store the necessary equipment and tools and where there is also space for an administrative area.
If however, you intend to start your crime scene cleanup business on a large scale, then you might need to rent a huge facility that would be able to accommodate more equipment and employees.
17. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
Since most of the equipment used in launching a crime scene cleanup business are expected to be gotten for new since they are regarded as biohazard materials. Getting your materials from genuine vendors’ means you would be able to use your tools and equipment for a long time.
Some of the equipment and tools that you would need if you intend to fully launch your crime scene cleanup business are;
- Protective boots
- Hazmat suits
- Dust masks
- Safety glasses
- Heavy plastic gloves
- Ozone machine
- Chemical cleaning products
- Hazardous-waste removal bags
- Industrial vacuum
- Van or large truck
While you can run this business from home, it would be best not to as you might take in harmful micro-organisms into your home. This does not however mean that you should lease a very huge facility to run your business. You can lease a small facility that is large enough to store your equipment as well as cover for an administrative area. Having an office also makes the business more formal and taken seriously.
As regarding the number of employees that you might need to run your crime scene cleanup business, it varies depending on what scale of business you are running. However, one person cannot effectively handle this business. You would need to hire a manager, front desk officer, field workers. This is about 7 to 10 employees.
The Service Delivery Process Involved in the Business
The processes involved in a crime scene clean up business usually follow at least four established processes. The first process involves surveying the situation so as to determine the scope of work needed so as to make the cleanup as efficient as possible. The next step is to control the contamination site by cleaning the zone, ensuring that there is an area for technicians to change into and then ensuring that the contaminated area is cordoned off.
Other processes include a three step cleaning process which ensures that visible dirt, material and filth are removed, and then ensure that the area wiped to eliminate cross contamination. Disinfecting the area to ensure that it is free from harmful micro-organisms and then deodorizing the area to eliminate the possibility of odours. Finally, a test is carried out to ensure that all micro-organisms have been neutralized.
18. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
Any entrepreneur knows the importance of marketing to the business. Marketing is a means of promoting the business while also generating income. In ensuring that you market your crime scene cleanup business well, you would need to ensure that you leverage on all the available sources that is needed to promote your business.
Regardless of whatever scale of crime scene cleanup business that you might be running – small, medium, large – you should ensure that you partner with your sources in a mutually beneficial manner especially the police and fire department, since they are always in direct contact with crimes. Some of the marketing ideas and strategies needed for your crime scene cleanup business include;
- Ensuring that the necessary contacts – police departments, local funeral homes, health departments’ as well as offices of the district attorneys – know about your business by sending an introductory letter to them informing them of your services
- Advertising your crime scene cleanup business on your website and social media platforms
- Ensuring that your business is listed on online and offline directories
- Directly marketing your crime scene cleanup business
- Attending seminars and expos relating to crime and other such matters
- Using word of mouth marketing
19. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
The factors that will enable you get the right pricing for your crime scene cleanup business should one that doesn’t affect your overhead as well as your operational costs. Your pricing should be determinant on what your competitors are offering but without making you run at a loss. Also, the quality of your work is very important in determining your pricing.
20. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
Due to the declining rate of crime in the economy, more crime scene cleanup businesses have had to compete competitively amongst themselves for jobs and therefore have had to devise strategies by which to stay ahead of competition. This means packaging the business in such as a way as to give you leverage over your competitors.
Part of your competitive strategy would be in having the right equipment necessary to handle any given task at any point in time. This will definitely give you an edge over companies who do not have all the necessary equipment. Lastly, you can ensure that you are located in a place that will be convenient for your customers to get to you as this is also likely to give you more advantage.
21. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
Customer retention is very important for any business but in this case, not many people, especially home owners will want to be retained as customers especially as crime isn’t something people would love happening around them or to their loved ones or in their property.
However, there are still those who would need to be satisfied with your quality of work so as to be able to refer you for more jobs and they are the fire department, police departments, local funeral homes, health departments’ as well as offices of the district attorneys.
In increasing customer retention, you would need to ensure that your work quality is top notch and that you are always on time when called. This would increase the confidence of the customers in you and lead to more referrals.
22. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
The crime scene cleanup business might not need most strategies of regular businesses to boost their brand awareness, but strategies are needed all the same, not only for brand awareness but so as to create a corporate identity for your company as well.
If you feel overwhelmed about creating strategies for your business, you might need to hire a brand expert that might help you handle this aspect of your business. Some of the strategies that you can use to boost the brand awareness of your crime scene cleanup business as well as promote your business include;
- Ensuring that the relevant bodies concerned with referring cleanups to a crime scene know about your business
- Promoting your business vigorously through your official website
- Advertising your crime scene cleanup business in local newspapers, online and offline crime or other related magazines
- Listing your crime scene cleanup business in local directories offline and online directories as well
- Using the social media platforms – Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn – as a leverage to boost your business
- Attending relevant crime seminars to promote your business
- Pasting your fliers on notice boards of police departments as well as fire departments
23. Create a Suppliers/Distribution Network
If you intend to start the crime scene cleanup business, then you should know that you will need to deal with suppliers of protective gear, chemical components as well as the necessary equipment intended to make it easier for you to run your business.
If you intend for your business to grow smoothly and have less hitches, then you would need to be in a good business relationship with suppliers and vendors of the needed materials necessary to run your business.
Being in a good business relationship with your suppliers and vendors mean that you will be able to execute your jobs without delays, as most will give you discounts on some of their products as well as point out new products that you can use in running your business while saving cost. This does not however mean that you cannot get some of the materials for yourself in well known stores.
24. Tips for Running the Business Successfully
In running a crime scene business successfully, you would need to determine that it is the right business for you to go into as not everyone can go into the business. After determining that it is the right business, you would need to ensure that you come up with strategies that would enable you run the business successfully, especially as you would be facing stiff competition from already established crime scene cleanup businesses in the industry.
The first thing you would need to do to ensure that your business becomes successful is to ensure that you build a reputation of carrying out only quality work, as this would ensure that you get more referrals from satisfied clients.
Another tip for success in your crime scene cleanup business is the location where you intend to operate your business from, as this would determine how often you would likely get jobs and referrals. It would be best if you are located close to a police station or fire department that way you can even source for jobs swiftly, making it more convenient for the police and fire departments to easily locate you.
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