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Becoming a cleaning contractor is a way to start your own small business with very little upfront money, less than $100. Cleaning businesses can concentrate on cleaning residential homes, office buildings or industrial factories but residential and office buildings are the simplest forms of the business to set up. You can start a cleaning contractor business with a few simple steps, combined with the dedication of running your own company.
Acquire business license and insurance. Whether you choose to run a small cleaning contractor business or a larger janitorial service, you need to be licensed and bonded. You can apply for a business license through your state. Bonding, is like personal insurance, cleaning contractors who are bonded make the clients feel more at ease having them in their homes. For example, if you accidentally broke a lamp, you would be responsible for fixing it unless you had insurance to cover the cost. A local insurance representative can give you a quote for bonding yourself or your entire business.
Set your prices. This is the difficult part. You want your service prices to be competitive with other cleaning contractors, but you also want to win some contracts in the beginning to get your company started. Call cleaning services in your area and ask for quotes to clean your home, to get a good understanding of their pricing system. Two common types of quotes for cleaning a home are by the hour or by the home. Bidding by the hour is useful for smaller homes where you can easily estimate time. For larger homes, a project bid may be more useful as you can choose to hire more staff to complete the project faster.
Re-evaluate pricing as necessary. After the first month, balance your books and see how much your services actually cost compared to how much money the company brought in. If necessary, adjust your prices to make a profit. On the cost side of the business, remember to include mileage to and from the cleaning locations, all cleaning supplies, business cards, uniforms and any laundry service used for cleaning rags.
Advertise your business. You do not have to pay to advertise your cleaning business. Consider offering to clean a local church for free in exchange for a mention in the bulletin. Word of mouth advertising is one of the best ways to promote your business. Offer existing customers a $5 discount if someone they refer hires your company. If using traditional advertising such as newspapers, television or radio, consider offering discounts to first-time customers. Home and business owners are more willing to try a cleaning contractor if the prices are appealing and within their budgets.
Establish an Internet presence. A company website can be made for a relatively low cost. Use the site to advertise monthly specials, before and after pictures, services and your contact information. Many companies choose Facebook, Twitter and other online free accounts to advertise. Other information on your website could include an "About Us" section, where you share how you decided to start a cleaning service, or your experience in the business. You could add pictures of your staff as well. Having pictures of the people who will come into a person's home or business could help the potential customer feel more at ease about hiring your company.
Lindsay Zortman has worked as a writer since 2001. Her work focuses on topics about cancer, children, chemical dependency, real estate, finance, family issues and other health-related topics. She is a featured writer with the National Brain Tumor Foundation. Zortman is a nationally certified counselor and holds a Master of Arts in counseling from the University of South Dakota.