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START AND RUN A HOME CLEANING BUSINESS Susan Bewsey Self-Counsel Press (a division of) International Self-Counsel Press

Ltd. Canada USA

CONTENTS 1 INTRODUCTION SHINING IN THE SPOTLIGHT 1. Before you get started 2. Is this the business for you? 3. Filling in the vacuum 4. Youre on your way SWEEPING THE NAT ION: GETTING STARTED 1. Targeting your market 1.1 Assess your market potential 1 .2 Identify your customers 2. Assessing the competition 3. Legal requirements 3. 1 Zoning 3.2 Insurance 3.3 Licenses 3.4 Business taxes 4. Choosing a business na me 5. Choosing a business structure 5.1 Sole proprietorship 5.2 Partnership 5.3 Corporation 6. Professional services: your lawyer and your accountant 7. Purchas ing an existing business or franchise? 8. Leasing versus purchasing SETTING GOAL S AND FINANCING 1. Your mission statement 2. Forecasting your needs 2.1 Analyzin g your costs 2.2 Your cash flow projection 2.3 Calculating your break-even point 3. How much should you charge? 4. Keep your forecast up-to-date 5. Raising the money 6. Your business plan POLISHING YOUR TECHNIQUE: GETTING ORGANIZED 1. Knowi ng your business 1.1 A little clean fun 1.2 What youll need on the job 2. Organiz ing your headquarters xi 1 1 2 2 4 8 8 8 8 9 9 9 11 11 11 12 12 12 12 13 13 14 1 5 16 16 17 17 17 18 18 19 19 20 28 28 28 29 31 2 3 4 v

2.1 The home office 2.2 Locating away from home 2.3 Arranging your office 2.4 Si te security 2.5 Vehicle 2.6 Telephone and answering machine 3. Organizing your b anking and business records 3.1 Your billing/payroll system 3.2 Your bank statem ent 3.3 Your B/F (bring forward) system 4. Working with suppliers 4.1 Making con tact 4.2 Getting the best price 5 MARKETING 1. Visibility: Let people know you a re here 2. Creating your image 3. Advertising strategy 4. Yellow pages 5. Promot ing your business at trade shows 6. Direct-mail marketing 7. Cross promotions 8. Timing 9. Gain maximum interest 10. Using color in your promotional materials R AGS TO RICHES: PRICING YOUR WORK 1. Your goals 2. Estimating and quoting techniq ues 3. Markup procedure 4. Tenders and bidding on contracts 5. Save money for yo ur client; save time for you 6. Quoting basics 6.1 Always visit the premises 6.2 Have information ready for the client 6.3 Always visit the client in person 7. Forms of payment GOING SOLO 1. Do you want to go solo? 2. Research, research, re search 2.1 Know yourself! 3. Strategic planning 31 31 31 31 31 32 33 33 33 34 34 34 34 36 36 36 37 37 37 40 40 40 41 42 43 43 43 45 45 46 46 46 46 46 47 54 54 55 55 55 6 7 vi

3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 8 Marketing plan: What advertising will you need to do? Production Plan: What tool s of the trade will you need to be ready to spring into action? Cash/Profit Plan F inancial Plan: How much money do you want to make? Time Plan: What amount of tim e are you going to use to generate income? Human Resources Plan: What will you d o if you get sick or injured? Succession Plan: What to do when its time to leave the business? 56 56 58 59 60 61 61 63 63 64 64 64 64 64 64 67 67 70 70 71 71 76 76 76 76 76 77 77 80 80 80 82 82 82 83 85 85 85 85 85 86 GOING INTO LABOR: YOUR HIRING AND STAFFING NEEDS 1. Your goals for hiring 2. Ana lyze your staffing needs 2.1 Who is your ideal worker? 2.2 Attracting your staff 3. Break down what the employee must do 4. Interviewing 4.1 Where 4.2 The appli cation form 4.3 What you need to know 4.4 Designing your interview questions 4.5 The interview 5. The trial period 6. Uniforms 7. Legal requirements 7.1 Know wh ats required 7.2 Notify the tax department 7.3 Other requirements 7.4 Additional steps to take 8. Benefits and incentives 9. Termination of staff TRAINING 1. Fun damentals 2. Setting up a training facility 3. Meeting company standards 3.1 Enc ourage employees to learn by doing 3.2 Try to keep it simple 4. Tips for the tra iner 4.1 Tell or describe the task in detail 4.2 Show or demonstrate how the tas k is done 4.3 Have each employee try the task 4.4 Observe the trainees performanc e 4.5 Praise the employee or offer redirection 5. Incentives 9 vii

6. Scheduling 6.1 Balancing different needs 7. Injury and first aid 8. Breakage 10 CLIENTS AND HOW TO KEEP THEM 1. Meeting with the client 1.1 Appearance and gr ooming 1.2 Turn on the charm 2. Good clients and bad clients 3. Saying goodbye o r withdrawing services from a client 4. New clients: when to say no 5. Special c oncerns 5.1 Children 5.3 Tradespeople 5.4 Damages 5.5 Valuables 5.6 Breakage 5.7 Running out of product 5.8 Inadequate client equipment 6. Security 7. Special s ervices 7.1 One-time or seasonal jobs 7.2 Assisting personal domestics 7.3 Pet w atching 11 THE DAILY RUN 1. How it all comes together 2. Keep your staff up-to-d ate 3. Handling complaints 12 CLEANING FUNDAMENTALS 1. Cleaning tips 2. Time-savin g cleaning tips 3. Tips for home cleaning teams 4. Tips for window washing 5. Ti ps for wall washing 6. Tips for cleaning new building projects 7. Tips for clean ing offices 8. Know your products 9. Inventory control 9.1 JIT inventory 9.2 Lab eling your bottles 10. Product safety 89 89 91 91 92 92 92 93 93 94 96 96 96 96 96 97 97 97 97 97 98 98 98 98 101 101 102 103 105 105 107 108 110 110 110 111 111 113 113 113 114 viii

13 QUALITY CONTROL 1. Make one staff member responsible for each job 2. Adjust w ork and team schedules 3. Your collections policy 4. Client problems 5. Employee theft 6. Be available for clients 14 YOURE ON YOUR WAY CHECKLISTS 1 2 3 Pricing: Residential Pricing: Commercial Final walk-through WORKSHEETS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Det ermine your goals and needs Characteristics of success What type of service shou ld I offer? Your competition My goals for my business Steps to achieve my goals Timing your cleaning tasks 115 115 115 119 119 119 120 121 49 52 116 3 5 6 10 21 22 30 ix

SAMPLES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 Start-up costs Cash flow forecast Receipts and disbursements journal Your advert ising message Trade show contest ballot Invoice Bulletin board advertisement for employees Job description Employee application form Suggestions for interview q uestions Suggestions for troubleshooting sessions Employment agreement Terminati on letter Training agenda and memo The lighter side of training Training program guideline Training certificate Availability list Calendar/schedule Introductory letter to clients Pet-watch estimate and waiver Daily run sheet Client record s ystem Clean your way from top to bottom Office floor plan Quality control card Q uality control diary 24 26 35 38 39 48 65 66 68 72 73 74 79 81 84 87 88 89 90 95 100 102 104 106 112 117 118 x

CHAPTER 1 SHINING IN THE SPOTLIGHT 1. BEFORE YOU GET STARTED Starting a home cleaning business is an attractive idea, but before you plunge a head, consider carefully whether you have the proper skills and attitude. Being your own boss and setting your own hours sounds fun, but the reality is that whe n things go wrong, you are responsible for putting things right. The early stage s of a business venture always require long hours from the boss. Depending on yo ur financial goals for your business, other personal goals may never be realized because you may have to commit so much time to running the business. To find ou t if you have the right attitude, examine your reasons for wanting to get into b usiness for yourself. I want to start a home cleaning business because: I just w ant to make money. I need to have more time with my family. I just got fired. I need more personal achievement. I hate my boss. I just think it would be fun. I need a more fulfilling lifestyle. I need a challenge. I just want to work alone. I believe I can provide excellent service. I need to control as much of my life as possible. I believe I can better use my skills on my own. If you picked reas ons that started with I just, you are headed in the wrong direction. However, if y ou were attracted to reasons that started with I believe and I need, you are on the right track. These are the reasons to get into this business: to challenge yours elf, to provide the best service, to improve your personal and working life. If you start out 1

thinking negatively, you wont have the proper motivation to make things happen. B e realistic and do it because its what you want to do. In Worksheet 1, write down your wants and needs for starting your business. Its okay to have wants; they are the fuel that sustains you on your journey. that can support a home cleaning business. Is there any competition? For more ab out assessing market possibilities, see chapter 5 on marketing. Have you got wha t it takes to get your cleaning business up and running? Worksheet 2 will help y ou decide. 3. FILLING IN THE VACUUM 2. IS THIS THE BUSINESS FOR YOU? You dont have to love housework and cleaning to start up in this business, but if you do, thats an added bonus. What you do need are top-notch cleaning skills and the will to do the job well. The ability to be an efficient organizer is also a plus. You dont have to be a neat freak, but you do have to have the energy and the desire to make order out of other peoples chaos. Its a hard job, but it is one th at people appreciate and will pay for. If youre going to be successful at providi ng a cleaning service for peoples homes, youve got to be able to deal with your cl ients. This is a demanding service that depends on repeat customers. If your cus tomers dont like what you do, theyll let you know. If you cant provide what they wa nt, they will go elsewhere. Sometimes, wearing more than one hat in a business i s extremely difficult, especially when youre starting out. Can you be the person who cleans and the person who handles customers complaints and concerns, as well as the person who follows up and makes sure the bills get paid? Being your own b oss is great, but your cleaning skills and experience only get you so far. If yo ure really determined to go ahead, consider getting further training to help beef up your entrepreneurial side, or find a partner who can handle the customer-rel ations side of things. Community colleges and small business centers often have courses and seminars on customer service and bookkeeping. Starting a home cleani ng business requires an investment of both your time and your money. Youll need t o assess the potential market, purchase equipment, and advertise. Consider wheth er your location is one Cleaning services come in all sizes: there are independe nts, agencies, franchises, and corporations. There are those who dabble and thos e who devote their lives to this market. How far you want to go in this industry depends on your ambition. Remember, demand is high due to overworked, dual-inco me couples, homes being built, and an aging population in search of less work an d more leisure time. American figures compiled in 1991 indicate there are over 1 02 million homes and 476,349 cleaning services registered with the census bureau . For Canada, there were over ten million dwellings and 6,312 cleaning services. Not included in these figures are the countless people in hotels and motels per forming cleaning functions. Also missing from the above figures is the undergrou nd economy servicing homes and offices throughout North America. Many services a re included in the home-care cleaning industry and new ones are added all the ti me. The following is a general list of services offered: General house cleaning Spring cleaning Window cleaning Blind cleaning Chimney cleaning Wall and ceiling washing Post-disaster cleaning (fires, floods) Post-construction cleaning Postand pre-party preparation House watch Pet watch 2 Start & run a home cleaning business


Garden and outside patio maintenance Laundry and valet service Party hosting, re ception Office cleaning Estate sale preparation Boat and yacht cleaning Property management Your business can offer many special services besides cleaning. Use the services above as a starting point. Some may be immediately attractive becau se they fit your vision of the business and what you see yourself providing. Use Workshe et 3 to help you pinpoint the services you want to offer. 4. YOURE ON YOUR WAY Many people dream about starting their own business but never go ahead and do it . Faced with the reality of organizing even a simple venture, many people are ov erwhelmed and lose their enthusiasm. However, the key to success is to plan well and break down each goal into accomplishable tasks. If you follow the advice an d steps given in this book, you may realize your dream and launch your own succe ssful cleaning business. 4 Start & run a home cleaning business


WORKSHEET 3 WHAT TYPE OF SERVICE SHOULD I OFFER? 6 Start & run a home cleaning business

WORKSHEET 3 Continued Shining in the spotlight 7