Start a new business – Industry start-up guides – Cleaning Services – Small Business
What is involved in running a cleaning services business?
Cleaning service business operators provide a wide range of domestic and commercial cleaning services. This may include working in homes, businesses, schools, shopping centres, public spaces and other buildings and facilities.
As a cleaner, your role will involve the following activities and tasks:
- cleaning and sanitising kitchen areas
- cleaning and sanitising bathrooms and toilets
- vacuuming and cleaning carpets
- cleaning upholstery and drapery
- mopping, polishing and waxing floors
- dusting high and low surfaces
- swimming pool maintenance
- making beds and changing bed linen
- performing home duties such as loading dishwashers, doing laundry and ironing
- polishing furniture and fittings
- cleaning windows, mirrors and light fixtures
- cleaning corridors and entrance ways, stairs, lifts and foyers
- emptying rubbish bins
- moving furniture
- r eporting faulty plumbing or other problems
Running a cleaning services business will also involve some tasks in addition to cleaning duties, such as finding new clients, managing your existing client accounts, creating invoices and completing some bookkeeping tasks. You will also need to maintain your equipment and manage your inventory and supplies.
Do I need any qualifications, licences or permits to work as a cleaner?
It is possible to work within the personal and home services industry as a cleaner without formal qualifications; however, there are various courses that can assist in developing customer service skills and personal and home services industry knowledge, such as a Certificate III in Cleaning Operations. For further information about undertaking an accredited course, please contact your nearest TAFE or Registered Training Organisation.
You should also check the relevant business licensing authority in your state and see if you are required to obtain any permits and/or licences prior to setting up your cleaning business.
You need to be aware that there may be some licensing and registration regulations in your state that govern water use for business, and storing bulk cleaning chemicals. As a business owner, you are responsible for the handling, labelling and storage of hazardous chemicals used in your business. If you plan to discharge trade waste into the sewerage system, you may need to check with your local council to see if a permit is required.
What facilities and equipment will I need to run my business?
Generally, cleaners don t need an office space or other facilities. As long as you have the essentials such as access to a mobile phone, fax, computer and internet access you should be able to effectively operate your business. It is important to ensure that it is easy for potential clients to contact you for quotes and enquiries.
A cleaning business will need to have a vehicle in order to provide a mobile service for the transportation of the required equipment (vacuum cleaner, mop and bucket, etc.). Reliable transport is very important for cleaners who are travelling outside their local areas. A vehicle such as a mini-van is useful for this type of business as it has the necessary storage space.
Depending on the type of services you plan to include, some of the equipment you may require include;
- back pack vacuum cleaners
- window squeegee
- cleaning chemicals (for windows, tables, and tiles, etc.)
- blade scrapers
- safety equipment such as uniforms, goggles, boots and gloves etc.
- garbage bags
- polishing pads
What about the costs and how much can I charge?
Often new cleaning businesses will utilise their own equipment from home, and then purchase professional gear as they build the business. This makes for a smaller initial outlay and less financial risk if the business is slow to get going at the beginning.
If your start up capital permits, look at buying cleaning chemicals in bulk and try to get concentrates as this will save you a significant amount in the long run. Remember to keep in mind the storage requirements and regulations that might apply to bulk chemical purchases.
A cleaning business normally charges by the hour. Some may require a service to be undertaken for a minimum number of hours, e.g. minimum charge two hours. This means clients pay for two hours for any service equal to or under two hours, and extra payment is required on a hourly base for any time over two hours. Alternatively, some businesses charge by the size of facility to be serviced, e.g. number of rooms.
Customer service is crucial to the success of your business. If you are taking on domestic cleaning jobs you need to be mindful that are you entering a client s home, which is their personal space. You need to be dressed appropriately, not only to do your job but so that you look professional and presentable. You need to have good communication skills and know how to deal with customer complaints and dissatisfaction. A cleaning business heavily relies on word of mouth for advertising and reputation, so you must ensure that every customer is satisfied with the product or level of service you are providing.
Do I need insurance?
Before you start taking on any jobs, make sure you have adequate insurance coverage in place for damage and liability. Things may happen unexpectedly while on the job and you need to be in a position where you are sufficiently covered for any accidents or claims against you and your business. You also need to check your insurer s policy to see if they will cover you for both domestic and commercial cleaning or if you have to pay an additional premium to be insured for commercial jobs.
What if I want to employ staff or use contractors?
If you plan on employing staff for your business, you will need to be aware and up to date on issues such as:
- Pay rates and allowances
- Annual leave calculations
- National employment standards
- Industrial relations news
Where can I find more help and assistance?
Below is a list of industry associations that can further assist you in starting up a cleaning business and providing industry specific information:
The first step is to talk to your local business advisor about starting up your new venture. You can also call the Small Business Support Line on 1800 777 275 for more information.