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How to Start a Janitorial Business

Are you interested in starting a janitorial business from home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a janitorial business with little money and no experience plus a sample janitorial business plan template.

By definition, a janitor is someone employed to clean and maintain a building. Janitors’ primary responsibility is as a cleaner. In some cases they will also carry out maintenance and security duties. A similar position, but usually with more managerial duties and not including cleaning, is occupied by building superintendents in the united states.

A janitorial business is a good choice for someone who enjoys cleaning and can work independently. With a janitorial service, you will clean business facilities rather than residences. For example, you may find your cleaning services are needed by doctor’s offices, schools, community centers, stores and a range of other businesses.

You can run this business from your home or a commercial location, starting with only a minimal investment. Your highest startup expenses may be for things that include carpet cleaners and floor buffers. Learn how to clean efficiently and quickly.

You may do this by perfecting your techniques when you clean your own home, offering to clean friends’ and family members’ places of business for free or working for a janitorial company before starting your business.

Understanding the business fundamentals of the commercial cleaning services industry and what the future might holds will make you stand out as an informed and serious entrepreneur. Commercial cleaning has built-in job security. Each day the same routine repeats in producing a clean facility.

In fact, every occupied building in every city has to be cleaned by someone. Why can’t that someone be you? Even though large national and franchise operations are definite competitors, they represent only 30% of the market. Small, independent janitorial companies account for 70% of the cleaning contractors.

When starting a cleaning business, you can begin part time, working from home with a fairly small investment. Once you have your own contracts, the income is steady and the profits can be substantial. According to the Bureau of Labor Standards janitorial services is one of the fastest growing segments of the commercial market.

Steps to Starting a Janitorial Business

1. Understand the Industry

Commercial and residential cleaning is a $78 billion industry, according to a 2012 market research study by Market data Enterprises Inc. And commercial cleaning has fared relatively well in a down economy, considering that some 90% of contract cleaners service office buildings.

Interesting Statistics About the Industry

The typical contract cleaner including many small operators and franchised outlets—grossed $643,000 in 2011, up just slightly from 2007. Office vacancy rates and lulls in commercial construction are slowing growth of cleaning businesses.

Labor is inexpensive and expected to expand. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median hourly wage for janitors and building cleaners was $10.68 in May 2010, and employment is projected to grow 11% from 2010 to 2022.

Moreover, industry receipts are expected to reach $93.7 billion by 2016. People who can handle building-maintenance tasks will have the most opportunity. Some cleaners are trained in niche areas like schools and medical buildings. More buildings means more places to clean, so look for opportunities in healthcare construction, one of the few bright spots in commercial building.

Regarding the products used to carry out tasks in the commercial cleaning industry, a third of cleaning operations managers cited product versatility as an indicator of good value.

In 2013, sales of the leading ten all-purpose cleaning brands totaled more than 700 million U.S. dollars, with brands such as Pine Sol, Fabuloso and Clorox Clean Up selling the most. Other important value factors for cleaning managers were high quality and effectiveness in products and a low price point.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic component of those who need the services of a janitorial spreads across the public sector, the organized private sector, and individuals from different strata of the society and from all walks of life but most importantly every one need to clean up their offices and apartments no matter their income level.

Residential and public places need it more often than the others though. Below is a list of the people and organizations that will need a carpet cleaning firm;

  1. The public sector; government ministries, agencies and parastatals.
  2. Organized private sector
  3. Restaurants
  4. Hotels and Motels
  5. Residential areas
  6. Religious Centers
  7. Warehouses
  8. Retail locations
  9. Educational Facilities
  10. Lounges
  11. Casinos
  12. Medical facility
  13. Bars

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

These specialty services require varying levels of training, skill and equipment, and you’ll need to do additional research on the areas that interest you.

  • Window cleaning
  • Disaster cleaning and restoration
  • Blind cleaning
  • Pressure washing
  • Restroom cleaning
  • Chimney sweeping
  • Ceiling and wall cleaning
  • Post death and trauma cleaning
The Level of Competition in the Industry

There’s always going to be competition. Some of it will be good for you, and some of it will be bad for you. Accept it as part of life.

Just keep in mind that you’re in business because you feel you can do a better job; you can do it more efficiently; and you can do it with greater satisfaction to your customers than anyone else. Be aware of the competition, but don’t worry about it. Just stick to your own business plan and you’ll be okay.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

There are various well-known brands in the United States of America. Here are some of them;

  1. ABM Industries
  2. Anago Cleaning Systems
  3. Bonus Building Care
  4. Clean Net USA
  5. Coverall North America
  6. Jan-Pro Intl.
  7. Pritchard Industries
  8. Red Costs
  9. Service Master (incl. Service Master Clean)
  10. Stratus Building Solutions
  11. UGL UNICCO Services
  12. Vanguard Cleaning Systems
  13. System 4
  14. BuildingStars Inc.
  15. Steamatic Inc.
Economic Analysis

The janitorial business is not that terribly expensive to get into. Once you have the necessary equipment, insurance and supplies, you’re ready to roll. The hard part is going to be drumming up business.

Now days, just about any small business is going to be very competitive, due to the fact that so many people have lost their jobs over the last few years and many of them are going into business themselves. If you work hard and do a good job, then business will come your way.

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

There’s just too much real help available for the “independent” to go to the considerable expense and obligation of a franchise. Starting from scratch, and as an independent, this is most assuredly a low-investment, low-overhead type business the kind we recommend for anyone and everyone who’s determined to make it on his own.

A janitorial business of your own is one of the easiest of all small businesses to start. You’ll find the initial start-up costs well within your reach and the margin of profit most astounding. It’s an easy business to operate, and yet one that can be called necessary to today’s standard of living.

It carries a very high rating on all business evaluation stability charts, and it’s a business that will grow rapidly to bring you the monetary rewards you desire.

That franchises will work closely with you as you start your business and take it to the point where it is running smoothly and profitability is an advantage, especially in the beginning. But you may find that once you become established and are financially secure, a franchise agreement is a decided disadvantage.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

According to reports from Tornado, manufacturer of professional cleaning equipment, the top five challenges cleaning contractors may grapple with are:

  • Marketing changes
  • Online changes
  • Hiring Challenges
  • Government uncertainty
  • Wages

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

choosing a legal entity for a business is a huge determinant of the size the business will grow into, so choosing the right entity is very straightforward especially if you decided to grow the business big in the long term. While many business owners remain as a sole proprietor, there are others who form a corporation or a Limited Liability Company (LLC).

There are a number of tax and legal protections that you are afforded when you do so. Therefore, check with a tax or legal professional on the benefits of the different types of business entities and whether you should consider having your business become such an entity.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

Your janitorial business name will be the first impression for your cleaning business. Whatever the name is, it must stick and be memorable. Consider the following names for your start-up;

  1. Always Sparkling
  2. All Seasons Cleaning
  3. Angels Cleaning Service
  4. April Fresh Cleaning Service
  5. Bright and Beautiful Cleaning
  6. Bonded Building Cleaning
  7. Broom With A Clue
  8. Classic Cleaning
  9. Clean 4 U
  10. Clean and Bright Cleaning Service
  11. Clean and Clear Cleaning Service
  12. Clean Break
  13. Cleaning by Design
  14. Clean Club

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

Purchase business insurance such as general liability, workers’ compensation if hiring employees, product insurance or home-based business insurance to protect business assets in the event of a lawsuit or settlement. Worker’s compensation insurance covers employee accident or injury while on the job.

You may also need to purchase a surety bond. A surety bond helps promote an honest relationship between business owner and customer. In the event of a lawsuit or settlement, the state may use the bond to pay for legal expenses.

It is time to get liability insurance. Liability insurance will be a requirement for commercial cleaning. They will want to see your insurance certificate and some businesses may even want you to carry a certain limit on your insurance policy. The most any business should need would be a $1Million policy, but usually $500k would suffice.

This can be costly depending on where you live, but the average is around $500/year. If you are going to hire employees or you have a partner, it would be a good idea to get a bond. A bond will protect your business against employee theft. Bonds are not expensive and most of your clients will want you to have one as well.

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you are considering starting your own janitorial firm, then you should consider filing for intellectual property protection. Filing for intellectual property protection for your firm is not only limited to your company’s logo and other documents, and but also protecting of course the name of your company.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Even though to operate legally, you must obtain a business license to operate the business, it is not technically required by law to employ licensed and certified cleaners. However, there is a nationally accredited licensing and certification for cleaners that would increase the overall marketability of the business itself and provide an advantage over the unlicensed competition.

The main body that oversees this industry is the Institution of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, or the IICRC. It’s got a long name, but when looking for a group of specialists with cleaning certification, the IICRC seal of approval is shorthand for “expert”, so to say.

This institute is the one to go to when trying to track down the most reputable businesses, and represents the main body of knowledge in the country.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

Register your business with the government. Laws vary by state. Talk to your local Department of Commerce and Department of Licensing to receive the forms that you need to establish your business and to learn if you need a license to do bookkeeping.

You can notify the federal government of your business by applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can also create a business name for yourself and file a “Doing Business As” or “DBA” notice. These are some of the basic legal document that you are expected to have in place if you want to start a cleaning business in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Non – disclosure Agreement
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • Apostille
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement
  • Company By laws
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy

13. Write a Business Plan

You’ve probably heard quite a lot of humdrum involving business plans. The reason for that is that they are extremely important especially in a janitorial business. Consider it a roadmap for your business, one that will show you where to go during which stages. For now, however, we’ll have a look at those initial figures you’ll need to get yourself going.

Now, setting up a business plan to help start a cleaning business isn’t rocket science and does not necessarily involve a business consultant’s input. The key to any business plan is to make a list of those things you will be spending money on and how much you will be getting in.

You might wonder why you need to have a business plan. You already know what kind of services you could offer. All you need is to find a client to start your bookkeeping business. If you need to do some marketing, you might say “I will think about it along the way”.

However, one of the most important management functions is planning. Without planning, you don’t know which way your business is going and you cannot measure your progress. A lot of small businesses fail because of poor planning.

Here is a list of items in your business plan to consider:

  1. Summary of Business Plan
  2. Management and Operating Plan
  3. Competitive Analysis
  4. Market Analysis and Marketing Plan
  5. Financial Plan
  6. Summary of Business Plan

14. Prepare a Detailed Cost Analysis

Despite the nature of the business, you will still need a small nest egg to start your office cleaning service. Here are some general cost projections:

  • Startup Training Manuals – $379
  • Basic set of janitorial equipment and supplies – $500
  • Business license and commercial checking account – $70 – $150
  • General Liability Insurance and fidelity bond – 0 – 00
  • Office supplies (computer and printer) – $150 – $3,000
  • Monogrammed shirts, business cards, literature – $200 – $300

Subtotal – $1749 – $5529

  • Optional – accounting software, CPA or legal counsel $500- $2000

One other great thing about starting your own janitorial service is that you don’t need all the funds up front. You can purchase a Startup Program to learn all the ropes, get your cards printed, obtain licensing, and then start marketing. Once you land a contract, you can purchase insurance, office supplies, and cleaning equipment.

As the business grows, it is beneficial to expand your service to include floor and carpet care. These services require additional training and equipment, but can earn double or triple the amount charged for basic janitorial services. Carpet cleaning training procedures can be learned online.

15. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Beyond traditional financing, you have a range of options when it comes to raising money. Some suggestions:

  • Your own resources
  • Friends and Friends
  • Partners
  • Government programs

16. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

One of the hottest business trends today is to be home-based, and cleaning services are excellent candidates for this type of setup. After all, your customers will likely never come to your facility since all your work is done on their premises. But that’s not the only issue influencing your decision to operate from a home-based office or a commercial location.

Many municipalities have ordinances that limit the nature and volume of commercial activities that can occur in residential areas. Some outright prohibit the establishment of home based businesses. Others may allow such enterprises but place restrictions regarding issues such as signage, traffic, employees, commercially marked vehicles and noise.

Before you apply for your business license, find out what ordinances govern home-based businesses; you may need to adjust your plan to be in compliance.

17. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

Your manpower as a janitorial firm depends on the scale at which you operate, if you operate on a small scale, you will only be the one running the business but if you choose to expand and go medium then you will need at least 4 more workers, anything above 4 employees means you are operating on a large scale.

Whichever scale you wish to operate will determine your manpower need and it is important for you to know that the industry is not labor intensive which only need people to man the equipment.

18. Equipment Needed to Start a Janitorial Business

  1. Microfiber cloth Extendible duster
  2. Scrubby sponges
  3. Toilet brush
  4. Vacuum
  5. Bucket
  6. Microfiber mop
  7. Grout brush
  8. Rubber gloves

Other specialty cleaning products and tools you might need:

  1. Hard-water cleaner
  2. Squeegee
  3. Glass stovetop scraper

19. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

Even before the acquisition of equipment, you need customers. Your prospects are all the businesses and homes with carpets in your area.

Your problem is going to be in reaching these prospects, impressing upon then the benefits of your service, and getting them set up with an appointment for you to do the work. Study the janitorial service ads in your local newspapers, the yellow pages of your telephone directories, and any similar flyers you may have received or seen.

Make a pencil sketch of your own flyer, emphasizing customer benefits and your capabilities of doing the job and take your ideas to the advertising class at a local college. Explain your project and ask for volunteer help.

In most cases, you’ll be favorably impresses with the work, and will only have to pay with a copy of the finished flyer for the student’s portfolio, and a recommendation or testimonial about his work for you. Even if there should be a charge for the work you have done at the college, it will be a reasonable one.

Contracting with an advertising agency will probably take longer and will cost a significant amount of money. However, you might be able to contact a staff member who does freelance work on the side. But you should set a specific date for completion of the project, and agree to pay no more than half the total estimated cost until the job is finished, and meets with your approval.

The next step is to take this original of your flyer to a printer, and have printed whatever number of copies you want to start.

Most quick print shops will be able to print up to 20,000 copies, and deliver in a reasonable time, with nominal costs. If you decide to start with more than 20,000 copies, you will do better by going to a regular commercial printer. Larger quantities that would take a quick print shop all day can be handled by a commercial print shop in a few hours.

While your flyers are being printed, you should be lining up your delivery people -local Brownie or Cub Scout Troops. No big problem here.

Either look up their local headquarters office in your phone book or call a friend or two with children about the right age for the name and phone number of troop leaders. Arrange to pay these scout troops $10 for each thousand circulars they hand out door-to-door.

One other thing before you start handing out your flyers, be sure that you have someone available to answer the phone and set up appointments for you. It’s usually best to have a woman do this; it makes the caller think of your service as an established business.

You can pay an answering service to handle these calls for you, but if your wife or a friend is available that would be even better. It is, however, imperative that a “live voice” answer your phone. People have some strange ideas about answering machines, and most businesses find they do much better not using them.

20. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

Once you have the skills and your equipment ready, it is time to start sourcing for clients. It is important for you to decide the category of Janitorial business you want to opt for.

To create awareness for your business, you can print out flyers describing your services and distribute them. You should also consider opening a website and starting a blog for your business. A business website would make it easier for customers to reach you.

You should also ensure you put your business on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc. As someone who is looking for cleaners may not have heard of your business before, but by searching on the internet, they would be able to reach you and engage your services.

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

As a janitor, you would be required to visit your client’s home and office most of the time. Therefore you have to dress and behave properly at all times. You are a cleaner. You shouldn’t appear scruffy and unkempt.

A good way to boost your corporate reputation and create an impression is to invest in a uniform and dress neatly at all times. You should also have your employees wear uniforms and be of proper conduct. This will ensure that you are properly branded. You must also ensure that you handle your client’s property with care and observe all safety rules.

You should know that most client’s would be observing you while you work and therein lies the success of your business because the probability of a client calling you back for another job or recommending you to other people depends on their first impression of you and the way you handled their job.

22. Create a Suppliers/Distributors Network

As a cleaning firm, be on the lookout for opportunities and referrals from other cleaning firm who are not in your niche, you can also form alliance with general cleaning firms who will need your partnership.

So also, utilize you chances by contacting your banks, worship houses, restaurants you patronize to help them with their janitorial needs. Another means you can exploit is to go on house to house free cleaning for a start so that people can know you and be ready to refer people to you.

23. Tips for Running a Janitorial Business Successfully

Here are a few traits that are required of successful janitorial business owner;

  • Determination

You will need lots of drive to handle business demands including sales rejection, setbacks, and startup obstacles.

  • Salesmanship

You need to master the art of closing deals. Also, be ready to promote your business everywhere you go.

  • Organization

You must plan your work and work your plan. Landing new accounts requires constant attention. You must stay focused on your priorities and avoid distractions.

  • Performance

You must ensure consistent results on a daily basis. You need a team that is detail oriented and disciplined.

  • Astuteness

You must attain the business skills to accurately weigh the pros and cons affecting every decision.

If you are investigating the purchase of a cleaning franchise, make sure you can live with the monthly royalty that is deducted from your income. Check to see if you can terminate relations if you become dissatisfied with the franchise control and rules. Check out litigation filed against the franchise and demand a full disclosure.