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How to start a home cleaning company

Congratulations! If you have landed on this site, it’s likely you are already considering the idea of starting your own cleaning company. This site will help you consider your options for starting a professional, staffed cleaning company. It will help you decide whether you want to go into business alone or join a franchise, and provide a list of a few franchises you could consider.

If you’re looking to start a cleaning company with yourself as the sole employee and cleaner, then you won’t need to worry too much about the topics covered on this site unless you have plans to grow in the future.

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Going it alone

Going it alone

There are plenty of reasons why some want to go independent. First and foremost, independents have 100% of the control over all of their business decisions, but they don’t get the benefit of time-tested systems and experienced guidance on operations, marketing and other critical business functions.

If you’re considering building your business independently, there’s a lot that you need to think about. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I possess solid business skills such as marketing, selling, accounting, operations or human resource management (or am I eager to acquire them)?
  • Do I have specific knowledge or experience in the cleaning industry? (Do I know the best products and practices for a safe and clean home?)
  • Have I thought through all the operational issues such as scheduling and billing systems?
  • Am I skilled at developing and drafting policies and procedures?
  • Do I know what I DON’T know?


As an independent, you will have complete control over your cost structure, operating parameters and pricing. For example, you may choose to purchase less expensive supplies than a franchise system might permit. It’s a huge benefit to make any decision you want. But what if a franchisee system has calculated that a more expensive supplies is even more profitable as it saves their home cleaners time and client satisfaction is higher. Complete control is important for some but make sure you know what you’re giving up.

Going it alone you will avoid prescriptive standards of all kinds in the residential cleaning business, although you won’t get the benefit of time-tested, proven practices. Franchise companies are all about delivering consistent customer experiences and may issue standards for everything from how your employees dress to how and when you respond to negative customer feedback. For example, if you go independent, you'll have the freedom to use any software that's available in the cleaning industry, but you won't have the leverage that comes from many users comparing data or the technology departments that many franchisors have.

Don’t forget, you will most likely have to spend your valuable time as well as pay for things like building a website, managing your company trademark, purchasing software and designing marketing, just to name a few.

There are many PROs to going it alone, but there are also many down sides. Only you will know what’s right for you. 

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Joining a Franchise

Joining a Franchise

Many entrepreneurs decide to join a franchise because of the support, experience and brand reputation they have. If you’re wondering whether or not a franchise is right for you, consider the following questions:

  • Should my employees clean alone or in crews?
  • How should I price my service offers?
  • What’s an acceptable profit margin for the industry?
  • Should I charge more if people have pets?
  • How will I protect customers’ credit card data and secure their keys?
  • What policies will protect my profitability?
  • What is my exposure to liability and how can I reduce it?
  • What are best practices for scheduling jobs and coping with cancellations, employee sick days and vacations?
  • What combination of marketing techniques works best for cleaning businesses in my local market?
  • What software will I use to manage my business?
  • And, how will I identify, train and retain the best employees?


It’s a long list and only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the hundreds of questions and operating decisions you will face before you ever send out your first cleaning crew. Unless you have spent time working in a number of professional capacities – accounting, HR, marketing, operations, technology and so forth – there is a very good chance you don’t have ALL the skills you need to run and grow a business of any kind, never mind possessing the specialized knowledge you will need to compete successfully with already-established home cleaning competitors.

What’s more, the demands of your business will change as it grows and gains in complexity. While you may eventually learn everything there is to know about operating a big, successful home cleaning business, going it alone means you will get there largely by trial and error and may sacrifice growth, profits and plenty of free time in the process.

Good franchise systems offer specific cleaning expertise and walk you through important operating decisions so you can go out and start earning revenue and profits fast. The best franchises even have a dedicated support person to coach offices individually. Some franchise systems will even take selling off your hands, offering national call centers that will cold call and pitch on your behalf. Since the royalties you pay are generally based on revenues, franchise companies are highly motivated to help you succeed in business.

Operational efficiency is crucial to profitability, and the software you use to run your business is critical to maintaining efficiency across scheduling, dispatching, billing, and more. Make sure you ask a franchise if their software is proprietary or third party. If they use a third party software, that will mean going through another company, holding on the phone with their support, and possibly getting the help you need. With proprietary software that is designed specifically for the franchise system, you would be able to go through your normal support contact through your franchise to get help.

If you choose to go with a franchise, you don’t have to give up all of the control over your business. Some franchises are a lot more flexible than others. For example, make sure you don’t go with a franchise that requires a minimum marketing spend, or that you go through the franchisor to purchase all of your marketing. Also, some franchisors will require you to send out a certain number of service providers in a cleaning crew, while others will allow you the flexibility to decide. The best franchisors will have only proven standards in place, and will allow you some flexibility to make your own choices as well.

The best cleaning franchise companies have these standards in place because they are focused on building strong, consistent and trusted brands. Brand building is a huge factor to consider in the franchise versus independent decision. It means investing in logos, signage, brochures, direct mailers, ads, business cards, stationery, customer feedback cards, employee uniforms, web sites, online search and directory listings, social media presence and so much more. When you join a franchise, all of these pieces have already been put together for you.

Cleaning franchises may also offer group buying leverage and better-than-market pricing for supplies, tools, equipment, insurance and other big operating expenses, leading to greater profitability and easily offsetting any royalties you might pay.

You should definitely price shop your franchises as well. Some have initial franchise fees and royalty fees much higher than others, and you’ll also find that some require less capital than others to get started. It could mean the difference of having $30,000 or over $100,000 just to get started!

Perhaps the greatest benefit of joining the right cleaning franchise is all the love and support you can get from other owners in your system – people just like you who are experiencing exactly the same challenges and triumphs. Through physical conferences, periodic conference calls, webinars and digital community forums, franchise owners share knowledge and support each other without being in direct competition. The right franchising decision can put you in touch with a huge network of likeminded entrepreneurs and a wealth of day-to-day help as you learn and build your own home cleaning business.

To figure out whether you might be better suited for a franchise versus independent staffed cleaning business, take the following simple personality test.

Assign 1 point

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People I know would be more likely to describe me as a... Band member Rock star
My professional business experience and skill set is... Narrow / focused in just one or a few areas Broad / deep / diverse
People I work with would describe me as a... Collaborator Lone wolf
My school teachers would be more likely to classify me as... Rule follower

Rebel

When faced with problems, I am more likely to... Ask for help Solve them myself. I love challenges!
On a scale of 1 - 10, my direct experience in the residential cleaning business is... Between 0 and 5 Between 5 and 10

The higher your score in the quiz, the more likely you are to do well in a cleaning franchise system and vice versa.

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Additional Resources

Additional Resources

Thank you for taking the time to visit this site. We hope you have found it to be both informative and balanced in presenting alternative models, and what to consider for starting a staffed home-cleaning business.

This site is brought to you by MaidPro franchise. If you do decide to go the franchising route, we'll give you our pitch. We have also provided a few additional resources below where you can learn more about us, as well as our competitors, or even go into business alone.

MaidPro has been named recently by MSN Money as one of the fastest-growing franchise companies and is the top-rated among home-cleaning franchises in terms of owner satisfaction (Franchise Business Review). Featured recently on the cover of FranchisingUSA magazine , MaidPro is also among the lowest-cost franchising options in the home cleaning market and differentiates itself by offering flexible, individualized support and state-of-the-art cloud operating software to each new franchise owner. MaidPro currently has 170 locations across the U.S. and Canada and has plans for extensive growth in the future.

If you see yourself as an ambitious, collaborative and coachable individual and are interested in learning more about your franchising options, be sure to contact MaidPro at: www.maidprofranchise.com/download

You should also check out the following additional resources:

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