Foreclosure Clean Up: 3 Common FAQs about Cleaning Foreclosures a Living
Get answers to the most commonly asked foreclosure cleaning business questions
Foreclosure cleaning is a sizzling business to start right now. In fact, did you know that 4 of the Top 10 Fastest Growing franchise opportunities in 2009 were some type of cleaning company?
This is according to Enttrepreneur.com, a leading online site for entrepreneurs. These companies occupied the number 1, 4, 8 and 10 spots. They are:
#1. Jan-Pro Franchising International: Commercial Cleaning Co;
#4. Stratus Building Solutions: Commercial Cleaning;
#8. Bonus Building Care: Commercial Cleaning; and
#10. Vanguard Cleaning Systems: Commercial Cleaning.
FYI, the No. 11 spot was occupied by yet another cleaning company -- Jani-King, which is a commercial cleaning enterprise.
The Best Thing about Foreclosure Cleaning
And the best thing about this type of business is that it’s evergreen because as long as real estate is bought and sold, the services of foreclosure cleanup companies will be needed.
As there are a lot of newbies entering the field, following are three frequently asked questions about starting and operating a foreclosure cleaning business. Answers were provided by the owner of a leading foreclosure cleaning business in Atlanta, GA.
1. How Do I Get Started in the Foreclosure Cleaning Business? This business owner, who asked not to be named, says that this is the question she (yes, it’s a “she” that owns this business), gets asked the most.
And, she goes on to say, it’s impossible to answer in detail because so many intangibles apply and everybody is different.
As an example, she states, let’s say you want to clean foreclosed properties and already have a junk hauling business. Right there, you have a lot of the equipment you need when compared to someone who doesn’t own this type of business.
Get Licensed and Insured If You Want to Start a Foreclosure Cleaning Company
However, she does say that two pieces of advice she always gives is to get properly licensed and insured. This is crucial because most of your business as a foreclosure cleanup company is going to come from realtors, banks and mortgage companies. And, they simply don’t hire companies who aren’t licensed and insured because many of them are dealing with government regulations.
If someone is hurt on the job, or a job is not completed to code, it could come back to haunt them. So, one of the first things she says you’re going to be asked for is proof of license and insurance.
2. How Much Do I Charge to Clean Foreclosed Properties? This is another very difficult question to answer because every job is very different. But, following are some guidelines to keep in mind when trying to figure out how much to charge for a foreclosure cleaning job:
Square footage of property,
Length of time property has been vacant,
Type of repairs needed,
Contractors/subcontractors you may have to hire;
Cost of materials;
Cost of equipment rental (if necessary);
Hauling and dumping fees (if necessary);
Turnaround time (eg, is it a rush job; many are!);
All of these – and so many more factors -- determine how much you will ultimately charge for a particular foreclosure cleaning job.
Foreclosure Cleaning Pricing Tip: One thing this business owner said is that it is practically impossible to price a job correctly without seeing it. In fact, her company doesn’t price jobs without seeing them. She says many realtors, bankers, etc., will want you to give them a quote over the phone.
But she warns against doing it because she says, you are either likely to under price it, or over price it. Either way, you come out the loser – because you’ll either be working for peanuts, or faced with a client who thinks you’re gouging them if you show up and have to charge more.
The simple reason is, most people underestimate exactly what a foreclosure cleaning job will entail – whether it’s the fact that you have to rent a dumpster, or there’s more stuff than they said, or you have to bring on more workers – etc.
Just like any professional, unless the person hiring you has actually done foreclosure cleaning work, they likely have no idea what it takes (or how much it costs) to accomplish a task.
3. How Do I Find Clients That Want Me to Clean Foreclosed Properties? As previously mentioned, banks and realtors will be among your biggest clients. But, there are a slew of others who need foreclosure cleaning services, eg, individual homeowners, real estate investors, homeowners associations, etc.
You can market via postcards, email (lots of realtors, mortgage brokers and bankers are online), e-newsletters, flyers, cold calling, networking at your local Chamber of Commerce, etc.
Just think, “Where are the people who need my services; where do they hang out at professionally?” And, how do I make a good impression. It’s really as simple as that.
Remember to point out the benefits of your service (ie, we can help you get a home back on the market and ready for sale faster); NOT the features (eg, we’re the cheapest in town).
Businesses don’t care about what you do; they care about what you can do for them (how you can help them achieve their goals).
To whom you should be marketing is only part of the foreclosure cleaning marketing puzzle. The other part is how to market to them. Going about it the wrong way can brand you as a novice and kill your chances of getting work before you even get started.
With any group you market to, you have to know their lingo to make a connection and for them to have confidence that you know what you’re doing.
This means knowing what an REO realtor is, the ins and out of a basic contract (mortgage and banking professionals use contracts all the time); knowing how to take digital photos and upload them; etc.
The beauty of foreclosure cleaning is that once you get a client, they usually use you on an ongoing basis – for years. As long as your customer service is good and your price is right, you will usually have a customer for life – and they will happily refer you as well.
But, you must hook them the first time.