Steps To Starting Your Own Housekeeping Business
By 2005, I was tired of working my tail off for other cleaning companies just to make only 20% of what the actual company profited. I began researching how to start my own business and vuala! I did it. By the middle of 2005, I was approved to work in the cities of Liberty, Independence, and Blue Springs.
1. What's Your Name?
I chose Morning Star Cleaning Service. You can use a name combined with any typical phrase to explain what you do. Housecleaning, housekeeping, maid, house care provider, and the list goes on. It's necessary to a name and type of profession to avoid confusion or a potential client over-looking your ad.
2. Commercial or Residential?
Decide whether you desire to clean commercial businesses, residential homes, or both. You may want to consider what hours you want to work before you choose. Most commercial businesses have you clean evenings, after-hours, or late into the night. Generally, residential cleaning is done during the day when the homeowner is away or working.
3. Location, Location, Location
In which cities would you like to work? You must apply for an individual license for each city you choose to operate your business in. Ignoring this step may result in auditing and fraud.
Go to the City Office Building of your choice (i.e. City of Liberty) and request to apply for a city license. You will be directed either to a computer or given a form to fill out inquiring about the business you are choosing to begin. Note: Prices for applying for city business licenses' may vary. The city worker or computer should aware you of the length of time it takes to get an acceptance or refusal letter. You should not begin working until you receive an acceptance letter and follow specific steps before you begin working.
Speak to your current insurance agent about pricing and plans to get insurance on your company. This is extremely important. Your customers will have different lifestyles when it come to clutter, cleanliness, projects, and possessions that may hinder your ability to clean certain things. Anything can happen, you never know what you might accidentally bump.
In a house I once cleaned, the homeowners were painting their basement, so they had piled everything from their basement that they could into their tiny bathroom - the one they asked me to carefully clean. They sat a television on the toilet and as I was turning around, it slipped off the toilet and shattered the entire inside components. Mistakes are bound to happen when you are cleaning and without that insurance to cover the cost of something you may accidentally break, you will be paying out of pocket costs to replace that item which can get pretty pricey.
5. Natural or Chemical?
You will need to decide what type of cleaning products you will use and what type of towels. You may consider a more 'earth friendly' approach in houses with small children and animals, but you can also leave the decision entirely up to your client. Also, what type of vacuum will you use? Several of my former clients allowed me to use their household vacuum, but others may request you bring your own. Having a small handheld vacuum in your inventory is especially handy for those hard-to-reach areas or small messes. Many customers I came across requested that I use majority of my own basic cleaning supplies, but on something they valued, they would give me detailed cleaning instructions and products. The more flexible you are, the more customers will hire you.
6. Cleaning Depth
What type of cleaning will you do? Will you just surface cleaning or deep cleaning? Deep cleaning can consist of cleaning out refridgerators, cabinets, ovens, and so forth. You will be at the mercy of your client to clean whatever they request if you offer deep cleaning.
Many of your clients will also have animals. Are you willing to clean that dog poop off the floor? Or will you vacuum around it? It's important to know what you will accept to do, as some clients may not clean a thing once they hire a housecleaner.
There are many methods for rates, you just need to figure out which is best for you. You can charge by the hour, but make sure you are continually working and not milking the clock by being on the phone or taking frequent breaks. You never know where there is a nanny cam.
Charging by the room or square footage is another option. Make sure you remember your tape measure if you use this method. And finally, you can charge by the overall size of the house. You may see a 3 bedroom, one basement, 2 bathroom house, and shoot a basic price. Just keep in mind, no matter how dirty that house is, that's the rate you gave and you will have to stick by it, even if they just had a party the night before and it's trashed. If you choose to offer deep cleaning and animal clean-up, decide if the price will be all-inclusive, or if you will charge a difference.
I would advise that you ask your potential client if they have recently had a house keeper (which will tell you if cleaning is up-to-date, or if you have your work cut out for you). If they have not, I recommend charging extra for the first-time initial cleaning, and then offer them a lowered rate every visit after.
Everyone's idea of big, average, and small will vary. I always requested a walk-through of my potential clients house before I gave a cleaning rate, so that I could personally view what I was getting myself into. In addition, don't short-change yourself, which I have done before when charging a specific price for a house. You will be the only one cleaning their house (at least until you get big enough to hire other's, should you decide to take that route) which gives you the upper hand on basic cleaning services that have a high turn over. Walking into one's home is a type of personal invasion and generally clients like to be able to stick with a single housekeeper rather than having to allow various strangers into their homes. Be firm, but don't be afraid to compromise with pricing. Even if you charge a little less than you would like, if you do your best, and are hired by other clients, you will still be making great money. Charging a smaller amount for several homes will bring more income than charging a boat-load for one or two. Don't rob people, just be fair and competitive. And keep in mind, your not the only one struggling in this rough economy, many of these clients need you because they are so busy trying to make ends meet, they have no time to clean themselves.
8. Cash, Check, or Charge?
Decide what payment method you will accept. Remember, personal checks bouncing may result in you getting fined by your financial institution. Accepting cash and purchasing a mobile credit card machine - in my opinion - would be the safest option. It is smart to also purchase a receipt book and give your client a receipt for every monetary transaction to avoid any possible future disputes by either party.
Advertise!!! Word of mouth is ALWAYS the best way to advertise. Women talk, and will jump on hiring someone for a job that their best friend or neighbor recommends. So once you have a couple customers, make sure you do your very best. If your a great cleaner or awful one, you bet your britches the whole world will know about it by the end of the day. Give yourself a good reputation - it could potentially make or break your business.
Another method I used is colorful, bright, organized fliers. Adding pictures (as long as they are not too juvenile) attracts more attention to your fliers than just plain text. Consider at least one to two picture for your fliers, but don't go crazy or it will make them look cluttered, giving your potential clients a negative idea of how you clean. This method may cost some money in the beginning, but once you have just one house, it will reimburse you quickly. I used the flier method initially by handing them out door-to-door, and moved on to making special fliers for any business that would allow me to place it on their customer bulletin board. Laundromats, grocery stores and small businesses are where I had the greatest success with business fliers. Note: You may only get 1 house out of 100 fliers. Do not be discouraged. It will pay off.
Advertising is on Craigslist. In a world where everything costs money, it's nice to be able to do it for free on a site so widely known. If your fliers and ad's for housekeeping look sloppy, disorganized, misspelled, and are grammatically flawed, your potential customers will see that as how you will clean as well. Be sure to review and revise them before making copies of the origional.
City newspapers such as the one for the city you live in (or any other cities you are licensed to operate in) and The Examiner are great ways to advertise but may cost a little more. You would just need to call your local newspaper and speak with them for directions, or go to their website and follow them there.
Though basically everything is going paperless in our society today, there are people who still request phone books. Whitepages is an online phonebook and you may choose to add your contact information to those options as well.
Business cards are great for slipping in with a dinner receipt, handing one to a cashier as you pay, or placing a small amount onto a corkboard. They are small and fit into ones wallet, which better insures they don't just get tossed out with the rest of the trash laying around.
10. Who Recommends You For The Job?
Have references ready. If you have prior experience in housekeeping, use a couple of your former clients. If not, give other people you have know for a while, close friends or relatives, possibly even former bosses from different industries. Either way, you always want references as - again - word of mouth from someone elses' experience is quite convincing.
11. Your Now A Business Owner!
When you get your first call, be very professional on the phone. If they have left a message, call back when you have complete focus and attention to give to them, as they may have questions about your company. Whether your at home or at the store, you are a mobile business and clients will expect nothing less than you behaving as such.
12. Federal And State Taxes
Set aside about 15% each day of income you receive. Because you are an individually owned company, depending on how much you end up earning a year, and due to the fact that you the state and government are not going to be pulling taxes out of every payment you receive, it will be your responsibility to raise enough money to cover the taxes you will owe at the end of the year if you incur any at all.
Your Ready To Begin!
As I said before, with today's technology, some people may have cameras watching you and because it is their home, they are not required by law to aware you of such. Be on your best behavior, work diligently, touch nothing of great value such as jewelery or money, and care for another's home as you would your own, taking special care to fulfill every request your client has made, and you will be a great success! Good luck on your endeavors.