Our goal with our clients is to aim for them to make $100k per year with their residential cleaning business. Most of these clients are running 1 – 2 crews and started out solo and built it up over time. As a reference point, it would require 31 cleanings per day, five days per week for 52 weeks. That is a massive house cleaning operation, but in commercial cleaning, you could do it with 12 total contracts. This is why so many residential cleaning services gradually switch over to commercial cleaning.
The sky is the limit with commercial cleaning if you are in the right location and have the correct work ethic. It is a lifelong pursuit. Commercial cleaning is harder to break into as a startup than residential. The most typical trajectory for a cleaning service start-up is to start out solo in home cleaning. It is a very affordable and fast business to start and it can be scaled up as big as you want. That is one unique aspect of this small business start-up niche, there are not too many start-ups that can be started with practically no money and be scaled up so large. It is one of the easiest business to predict because cleaning is so necessary and so low-tech.
There are all kinds of start-up situations. Some of our clients have investment money and start out with crews and are up to $100k within two years. But most start out as solo or duo and build from there.
A typical trajectory looks like this:
According to Glassdoor, the average is $36K. That is an average, but you do not want to be average right? Some cleaners make $8 per hour and some (I was one of them) make $60 per hour. I averaged $45 per hour. That is $67,500 per year. I did that solo! With a team, you can easily double that. I have worked with dozens of cleaning professionals making over $150k. So when I say $100k I am talking a reasonably achievable goal.
So why do so many cleaning services fall short?
There are many reasons and I am going to be politically incorrect and tell you exactly what they are. I have literally helped thousands of regular folk with their cleaning business. I have built over 450 websites for cleaning services since 2007.
Reason #1. Laziness
Don't be lazy, there is no real payoff in being so. Get out there and grow, learn, succeed! Put in 8 hours every day, it is your business, it is your life. Put in 12 hours the first two years. Make it your life. But I have a family you declare, make it part of their life too! If you can learn anything from immigrants, make your cleaning business about your family.
Reason #2. Lack of confidence
People get scared and don't want to look foolish, we all feel this way. Ignore it! Do it anyway. If Elon Musk can make a fool of himself publicly while landing re-usable rockets right side up on a small target in the ocean well.... Get out there and make a fool of yourself. Guess what? You will become wise!
Reason #3. Distractions
Get rid of the T.V. - cancel the cable. Nothing is worse for your small cleaning business start-up than your T.V. Replace it with a computer and Youtube. There are hundreds of entertaining Youtube channels that will teach you about business. It truly is amazing. At least get rid of it your first year in business. If you want to treat yourself once in awhile, fine, but that is much different from distraction. Americans are addicted to distraction in the form of entertainment. You will wake up one day and it will be too late! Stay off Facebook from 9 – 5 pm unless it is for work marketing. Focus on the next task at hand and keep going.
Blaming others/ systems
As the song says, it's so easy to blame others. It's hard to get real about yourself. We all get screwed over by others. Move ahead, go forward, it's not too late to whip it, whip it good! Like a martial artist, pick yourself up, brush yourself off and get back at it. Picture yourself as Jackie Chan and you just fell onto your neck from 50 feet up after busting through some clay ceiling tiles. Anytime you get down and depressed Google Jackie Chan stunt and choreography videos. If he can do that, you can do this!
Because those are not reasons, those are excuses!
You don't think every other small business has the same challenges? According to the Census Bureau, Firms with fewer than 20 workers made up 89.0 percent of all businesses. Small business is growing every year, not disappearing. They all face those issues and solve them. Those are excuses, not reasons. If you set your price correctly and get enough work then those are not issues. Focus on your process and how to improve it, do not focus on external forces to assign blame to. Move forward, it's not too late.
What are the keys to making $100k with your cleaning business?
Keep the business small! That's right, you may think you need 3 cleaners per house and do volume work for the best price, undermining the competition. That is typical and many cleaning services fall prey to this difficult path. That is a race to the bottom and a hell realm as well. The complexity and chaos that comes with running a volume cleaning service with 100 plus contracts it is not worth the stress in my experience. With residential cleaning all you need is yourself and two helpers to make the maximum profit for the minimum effort. See the Clean Up Now System to learn how.
Network, network, network.
Never rest. Don't make the mistake of thinking once you have 30 steady clients you are all set. No! Now you want to inch up that price for all current clients and future clients. You do this by always keeping your pipeline full. High demand, high price. Always be marketing and networking your business even if you are booked up, especially if you are booked up.
Maximize profits on each client
This is simple and should be an obvious tactic, but hardly anyone does it. Offer other related services to your clients. They are already attached to you and need you on a regular basis. You do not have to find them, they are yours. It greatly simplifies their lives if there are other services you and your team can do for them during the same visit. See Clean Up Now System.
This is obvious but it is amazing how bad most cleaning services are with it. Get organized with it, develop sophisticated systems that are always reminding your clients to refer you. Give discounts for referrals. And be fun and creative with it, make them want to participate.
Reputation is everything. Do an amazing job and the word spreads, do a terrible job and the word spreads faster and farther! Especially in the era of social media. Every job, every time, do 1 extra task that is above and beyond, turn it into a ritual. It is a fun and healthy ritual and it will pay dividends for years to come. Way too many cleaning service pros are bitter and resentful of their clients. It is not as bad as with plumbers, but it is close! Yes, clients can be annoying and difficult, but if you can be Zen about it, you can turn that dynamic into something positive.
Create an elite brand
My friend is a real estate broker and her business thrives on referrals. But she had to upscale her referrals as fast as she could. Why? Because you want referrals from rich people, not middle-class people. If you get a referral for a house for $200,000 it is the same amount of work as if you get a referral for a $750,000 house. It is the same amount of work! It is true with house cleaning as well. In fact, it is even more dynamic, because with house cleaning, the wealthier the client the easier it is to clean the space because they spend more on cleaning and have it done more frequently. The more you charge, the easier your job gets, this was a revelation to me when I first discovered it.
Your business is an art-science
Turn your business into a work of art, be creative and engaged. Pretend you are your favorite celebrity or performer and you are performing an amazing business for all to envy. Do it with flair and do it with scientific accuracy. Use systems and test your business and optimize it. Be an artist, be a scientist. Get into it!
In closing, it does not matter what the typical cleaning service business makes per year, all that matters is that you be the best professional cleaner you can and make way above the average – make the maximum!