How I started my janitorial cleaning service was just one of the many ways that you can begin any business. I will share with you the two reasons why I chose this avenue and no other.
Let me first explain when I started my janitorial cleaning service. I was 20 years old. It was long before marriage and children.
I had a desire to have something for myself. Something to call my own and have ownership of my future. Cleaning was the “one thing” that I loved to do. Some people like baking, some like gardening. I simply liked cleaning. I just didn’t know how to clean on a professional level. Since I didn’t know, and I had no money to invest in a class, I had to think outside of the box.
The strategy I used to get a good start with my cleaning service.
At that time, I had a small office job doing administrative stuff for a doctor. I asked him if I could practice with cleaning products in his office. You know, using different floor waxes, degreasers and disinfectants. After 30 days, I asked him if he was satisfied with the cleaning (as I was practicing). He said YES! Then I asked if he would be willing to pay me to clean his office twice a week. He said yes to that!
So, can you guess what I did next? I went to every physician that I could think of. His colleagues, who knew me from working in the office, and my personal physicians.
I got my business license, general liability insurance, and purchased business cards and flyers. As far as I was concerned, I was in BUSINESS!!
Well, I used this method to secure my very first client. In fact, I secured my first 5 clients by giving free cleanings with a verbal promise that if they were satisfied, they would sign a contract with me.
I know what you’re thinking. Risky right?!?! It was, but I was young, determined and driven! Let me also add that I had nothing to lose. Besides I needed clients somehow if I was going to be in business… right?
There were 2 main reasons I choose to start my professional cleaning service this way.
I needed to learn how to clean professionally. I really needed the practice.
When cleaning like a pro, there are certain procedures to adhere to. Well, you guys know. Like how to fold your towel when wiping surfaces so that you have a clean side to flip to for continuous cleaning. Or like to mop the perimeter of a room first then shade it in as you mop your way out. Stuff like that. I didn’t know these things at first. All I knew was that I liked cleaning and was fascinated at the thought of starting a company of my own.
By the way, I learned quickly that I needed to make a Customer Profile Worksheet. By creating a form such as this, I was able to take thorough notes when I performed a walk-through.
These sheets were also handy, when I wanted to provide additional services such as window cleaning, or wipe down large office equipment, or clean trash cans and recycling bins. After all, I already knew my customer and all their needs.
The second reason, and the most important, I had to figure out a realistic pricing scale.
I had to learn how to connect money with my time. I know that you guys get this, but please just indulge me for a moment.
This is an example of how I was thinking.
- If it took me 3 hours to clean an office by myself then how much per hour should I charge?
- What would I charge the client when I started to hire employees and factor in the total costs I incurred for the new team members?
- Then I had to factor in a percentage for my liability insurance, car insurance and maintenance, cleaning material and equipment. And most importantly… A PROFIT MARGIN!
Remember, this was the pre-Google age and information was not at my fingertips. But with some help from a numbers-crunching mother, common sense, and how the construction industry, (the standard at the time), I came up with a simple pricing formula.
You might be thinking, but why not just give 1 or 2 cleanings for free. Well that could have happened, but I was learning. I knew nothing. All I had were facts and figures from books or VHS tapes. Yeah, VHS cassettes! One or two real time cleanings would not have helped me that much. I mean it takes that many cleanings just to learn the layout of any new office. Besides I wasn’t cleaning Monday through Friday. These doctors’ offices were small and only required once maybe twice a week cleanings. So, I really wasn’t giving that much away.
During this time I had to prove to myself WHAT I could actually do, HOW to price, how to develop my OWN system of cleaning. I sincerely felt that 30 days, 4-8 cleanings, would effectively show me just how to handle a professional cleaning job.
And it did!
After about 4 weeks, I had my proposal in hand, confident of my abilities and certain of my price. I contacted each office manager/ physician. They were all not just impressed with the cleanings, but as equally impressed with my approach. Remember you guys, I was only 20 years old!
If you want this Simple Pricing Formula I learned to use, fill out the form below. This pricing strategy is a foul proof method that most service related industries use to price jobs. And, well, 26 years later as I write this post, my company still refers to it when bidding jobs.
Let me also add, when I say that I had nothing to lose, I’m saying that I had a full-time job during the day which was sufficient to pay my bills. I could afford to give “my time” at night and on the weekends to learn this new trade. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t married at the time and I didn’t have children. In fact, my only responsibility was paying rent on my apartment and keeping my car maintained.
My daytime job of being an office assistant was how I funded my new passion. I would use my paycheck to purchase the supplies I needed for my clients.
To keep things simple I only purchased what I needed and nothing more from a janitorial product supplier. I only performed general cleaning in the beginning and didn’t bite off more than I could chew.
Haha, with those first several office clients, I can’t tell you all of the lessons I learned – the lessons were more of what not to clean than the reverse. 🤦🏾♀️
I learned the importance of communication with your clients. Which was invaluable!
But my biggest take away from starting my janitorial cleaning service was how to manage my own money.
So, how did you get your start in this business? Was it anything like this? Feel free to share. I would love to hear your story as well.
“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession, and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.” Eric Reis, The Lean Start-up
Until Next Time,
If you liked this post, subscribe to our weekly newsletter by clicking here. We share all kinds of personal stories of the past 25 years in the professional cleaning service industry. They’ve got just the right spice and juice, like an Italian Beef, with sweet peppers, dipped from Buona Beef here in Chi-Town. 😉
One other thing we talk a lot about other than our 3 boys, love of traveling, eating good/ greasy food, and using ketchup to clean copper kitchen sinks is our love for not wasting your precious freaking time! Seriously, we’re not about that!
In fact, enter the FREE Deep Cleaning Challenge so that you won’t waste your precious freaking time only performing basic cleaning. Level up! Your customers will love you for it – so will your pockets!
So good to meet you. We’re glad you stopped by!