If you’re looking for a low-cost business idea that you can get off the ground quickly, with minimal outlays, then starting a cleaning business could be the perfect option for you.
Our blog this week is about a small company called Mrs Mopit, Mrs Mopit is a cleaning business located in south London. Read how Fay started her own cleaning business with a simple logo and Facebook business page.
When I decided to start a cleaning business, I was a single mum with 3 children. I knew I had to always find work that fitted around them and cleaning was an easy option. I didn't have any type of education and all of my work experience was the low-paying kind. I was working with a couple of private clients, when my back started playing up. I could no longer clean myself so I had to organise people to fill in for me. Then I had an idea, organising cleaning is a lot easier than cleaning myself. So I decided to start my own business.
The first thing I did was come up with a relevant name for my business. I spoke to my friends and did a bit of research. All the cleaning companies out there seemed to have really boring professional names. I wanted something different, fun and upbeat. Then it hit me one day, “Mrs Mopit”. I loved it, so did everyone else. So then, I designed a logo on my computer using simple software that utilised templates and pictures. It was called Canva. I created my logo and set-up a business Facebook page, and other social media accounts. I researched prices and services from other cleaning sites, and refined it for my own purpose. Now I was ready to get my services up and running.
Next, I considered several things: Who were my target client? How would I find clients? What would I charge? How would I keep records and what records did I need to keep? Did I need insurance?
Who is my target?
I wanted to clean homes. So that decision was easy enough. I tried to make my business appeal to higher end houses, I would be affordable but also offer excellent service. I also wanted to get even more niche so decided to offer chemical free cleaning, which has been both good for business and my employees. People are much more aware of the harmful chemicals in cleaning products.
How would I find clients?
I actually thought this would be hardest part of setting up my business, but in fact it was easy. I started joining local groups on Facebook. I posted about my services, using my logo and link to my facebook page. When anybody posted requesting cleaning services, I would answer straight away promoting my own business. I made friends comment too, recommending our services and the request for quotes started rolling in.
What will I charge?
The first thing I did to decide how much I would charge, was to call my competitors and see what they were charging. Once I had my hourly rate set, I would need to review any house/flat/property and quote for them on an individual basis. When I did the walk-through I made sure I took very good notes on the size and requirements for each room. How big were the rooms? How many surfaces would need to be dusted and wiped? How much clutter was on surfaces and was it ok to move stuff when cleaning or did they want it left alone and cleaned around? For example. When I got back home, I considered each room. I tried to use common sense when quoting jobs, and when I was finished I’d ask myself: "Does this amount seem reasonable for them to pay for the work involved?”
Another strategy I used that really seemed to work for me was instead of submitting one price with one set of services, I submitted 3 possible packages: Package A (the deluxe) which included extra cleaning; I would space it out-doing a little bit of the extras each week which would amount to keeping the place spring cleaned (cooker cleaning, books out of bookcases, windows, etc.). This package of course would cost the most but I still kept it reasonable. If this package was chosen, I would determine a schedule for the extra cleaning and kept to it. Package C was the basics: vacuum, dust, empty rubbish, clean toilets, sweep and mop. No extras. This was the least expensive. Package B was somewhere in the middle.This strategy proved very effective for me because instead of the customer just considering yes I want this service or no I don't, it was more like "which package do I want"?
I presented the completed proposal including all three packages to the person that needed to see it and answered any questions they may have had. If they hadn't contacted me in a week, I called/messaged them back and just politely asked if they had any further questions or concerns or if they had chosen the package they would like to get started with.
How would I keep records, and what records should I keep
I just used a piece of paper for invoicing and payment statements and proposals. I created my document in word by adding my business logo, name, address, and phone number at the top for my letterhead. At the left margin about 4 lines down I put the client's name that I was invoicing and on then their address. Then below that I started listing date of service, description of services, and unit price in columns. I put the total at the bottom under the price column with the word Total to the left of the actual total of the invoice. I sent them a copy and kept a copy for my files.
I made sure I kept my files in order for each account, knowing I would need them when it was time to submit my accounts.
For a payment statement for my employees, I simply created a copy of my invoice template. Then a couple of lines down I listed the accounts they cleaned, dates they serviced those accounts. I listed one date per line so there was no confusion as to how many times each account was cleaned. I also created a separate pay statement for each account to avoid confusion. I made sure I gave them a copy (this served as a pay slip for them) and I kept a copy for my records which I would need at tax time. All my employees are self employed contractors. This way I didn’t have the additional costs that comes with having employees like pensions and holiday pay. I just guarantee them a certain amount of hours a week.
I also kept any receipts of cleaning supplies purchased, mileage between jobs, and any other expenses incurred from running the business. These provided me with deductions at accounts time.
In the first year I traded I used an accountant to do all my accounts for me. I paid very minimal tax but I did have to pay my accountant. I now do my accounts myself using The Smarta Business Builder accounting app. It saves me time and money by doing it online myself with reminder prompts making it very easy to use and understand, sending my paperwork in on time.
When I first started my business, I didn’t have insurance. Personally if you have the money I would definitely get some insurance. It gives you peace of mind. Theses are 2 types of insurance that are standard for cleaning businesses.
Professional indemnity insurance. This protects the company against claims made by dissatisfied clients and employees of your cleaning business. It protects my financial interests and helps minimise day to day disruption to your business. This insurance could pay invoices if one of my customer refuses to pay for example. Professional indemnity insurance also covers me for the dishonesty of any employees, partners or directors. The policy also covers defamation, infringement of intellectual property rights, negligent misstatement or misrepresentation and loss of documents or data.
The other type is public liability insurance, this covers you for claims made against me from third parties for personal injury, or property damage. Claims for damages these days could reach hundreds of thousands in public liability insurance cases, and insurers sell cover based on the limit of liability the business needs.
That pretty much describes how I started my cleaning business. I have acquired enough jobs to subcontract all the manual cleaning work, with my 2 and a half employees (one is part time) So I can stay at home with my kids. So for about 2-3 hours a week between phone calls and paperwork, I am making a living by working at home. I still push my cleaning business on facebook groups, and actively seek new clients to ensure we grow.
I had to put the time and effort in at first but now I am reaping the rewards of being my own boss. I spent a lot of the time with my babies in the car, seeing clients, doing quotes, making sure they were happy with the services they were receiving. I am now benefiting as a large customer base are referrals.
I am proud to say I have five star reviews on Facebook and am actively contacted frequently for quotes. My hourly rate is higher than many others but people are willing to pay for a reliable efficient high quality service.
So if I was able to do it, so can you.