The best thing about starting a cleaning business is the built-in job security that comes with the business. In every city and every town, there are houses, offices, large buildings, and factories that need cleaning on a regular basis. Professional cleaning services extend the life of buildings and their furnishings, making your cleaning business even more valuable to the customer. Plus, large cleaning business chains like Service Master and Merry Maids only account for 30% of the market, leaving a whopping 70% open to small businesses and entrepreneurs like yourself.
Write a Business Plan
Every successful business starts by creating a business plan that will:
- State the name of your cleaning business
- Identify the goals of your business
- List the marketing strategies you plan to utilize
- Project the earnings you expect to make from your cleaning business
A business plan doesn’t have to be anything complicated or confusing. It is more of a guideline you create to ensure your cleaning business is on track for being a success. Successful business owners reassess their business plans every 3-6 months and make any adjustments to the plan to reflect the direction the business is going.
Another reason for having a well-written business plan in place is if you ever need to get financing for your business. Once you begin to grow your business, you may find a need to expand and branch out. This may require you to purchase an office building, more equipment, hire employees, buy company vehicles for employees to drive, or buyout a competitor in the cleaning market.
A bank will be more likely to loan you money if you have a clear plan of action with detailed steps you have taken and plan to take in order to succeed. They want to have some reassurance that your business will be capable of paying back the loan and a well-organized business plan is one way to do that.
Register Your Business
The state of Florida requires all businesses to register with the state through the Department of Revenue. While there is not a specific license needed to run a cleaning business, you will need to obtain a business license from the state. In addition, you’ll need to check with your city and county governments to see if there are any additional permits needed where you plan to do business.
When you register your cleaning business, you will need to decide whether you will operate as a corporation, a limited liability company (LLC), a partnership, or as a sole proprietor. Corporations involve shareholders and LLCs are made up of members. Unless you’re creating a cleaning business with another owner, a partnership, then you should register your business as a sole proprietor.
The Internal Revenue Service will require your business to obtain an Employer Identification Number, (EIN). This nine-digit number is used to identify your business, similar to how your Social Security Number is attached to your personal identity. It is very simple to obtain by filling out an application on the IRS’s website and is used when filing your business taxes and opening your business bank accounts.
In the state of Florida, you are required to register for sales tax if your cleaning business will be servicing non-residential buildings. This is necessary in order for you to be able to charge your customers a sales tax on your cleaning services. Customers of residential cleaning services are exempt from paying sales tax.
Once you have registered your business and obtained your EIN, you will be able to open a business bank account. I recommend shopping around at your local banks to see what each bank offers in the way of service.
For example, SunTrust offers a small business account with no minimum balance required and options available to waive the monthly maintenance fee, saving your business money from the start. Some banks, like TD Bank, charge a monthly service fee that can be waived on certain accounts upon meeting the daily balance minimum. Totally free business banking options can be found online like Azlo.com, that offer great services geared for small business.
Get Insured and Bonded
The next step required to start a cleaning business is to obtain insurance and become bonded. There are several types of insurance policies for you to consider for your cleaning business needs.
- Commercial Liability Insurance: protects your business in the event a customer sues your company for damages and/or bodily harm.
- Property Insurance: protects your office, your property, and equipment, as well as your customer’s property. Property insurance also compensates your business in the event of lost or stolen equipment.
- Business Owners Policy for Cleaning Professionals: Some insurance companies offer a bundled package that combines liability insurance and property insurance into one policy, often at a lower rate.
- Worker’s Compensation Insurance: If you plan on hiring employees to work for your business, you will be required to carry worker’s compensation insurance in the event they are injured on the job.
- Commercial Auto Insurance: This type of insurance policy covers vehicles being used to travel to and from cleaning jobs. Many insurances require a policy of this nature due to non-coverage from using your personal vehicle for work. This policy is definitely needed if you have employees who are driving company vehicles to their jobs.
While not required for most cleaning services, obtaining a surety bond, also known as a contract bond, gives clients a sense of security that you’re a trustworthy business and it boosts your credibility as a business owner. A surety bond protects the customer through an agreement made between your business, the customer, and your insurance agency.
Here’s an example of how a surety bond works.
- Your cleaning company is unable to complete a job and you do not have the money to refund the customer
- Customer files a claim on the bond through your insurance company
- The insurance company reimburses the customer the amount they lost
- Your cleaning business repays the money to the insurance company
Since not every cleaning business qualifies for bonding, becoming bonded will make you more marketable and give you a better chance of obtaining customers. Being bonded gives new customers the incentive to hire you because they know they are covered if you fail to do your job. Additionally, large cleaning contracts will require you to be bonded, so it’s best to cover all your bases by getting bonded and properly insured.
Buy Equipment and Supplies
The tasks involved in a cleaning business are nearly identical to those used when cleaning your own home. Dusting surfaces, sweeping and mopping floors, vacuuming carpets, emptying trash cans, and cleaning bathrooms are all duties you will perform as a professional cleaner.
When cleaning people’s homes, you may find that they prefer for you to use their tools and cleaning supplies. Some people may have allergies or sensitivity to chemicals or perfumes common in cleaning products and will request that you don’t use your own cleaning supplies.
For most jobs, however, you will be expected to supply all the equipment and cleaning supplies needed to perform the job. The following list is what your cleaning business should have in order to meet any cleaning needs.
- Vacuum cleaner
- Broom and dustpan
- Dust mop
- Wet mop and bucket with press
- Trash collecting receptacle
- Trash bags
- Dusting rags
- Paper towels
- Microfiber cloths
- Cleaning sponges
- Multi-purpose cleaner
- Window cleaner
- Spray bottles
- Toilet bowl brush
- Dust mask
- Cleaning cart
Choosing organic cleaning products may be a worthy investment if you’re considering cleaning homes, daycares, schools, or other family-oriented businesses where there could be children who may have allergies or sensitivities to chemicals. Using natural products may be the key to acquiring a new customer contract. There are a number of high-quality organic cleaning product companies to choose from with many offering online ordering and discounts on your first purchase.
Deep cleaning of carpets, floor care, and external window washing will require specialized equipment and in some cases, additional training. These are services you could offer customers in addition to your regular cleaning services.
Modest jobs, like homes and small offices, may only require services once or twice a week while large buildings, like schools and factories, will require daily cleanings, often performed after regular business hours.
In addition to cleaning supplies and equipment, your cleaning business will need an office where you’ll manage accounts, create invoices, and market your services, A good home office has internet access, a computer, and printer, as well as a filing system to keep you organized for tax time. Some home offices have a phone-line and voicemail service to catch all those calls that come in during your busy hours of cleaning.
Market Your Business
Once you have completed the steps above, you’re now ready to start marketing your cleaning business to get customers. It’s not necessary to spend a small fortune on marketing materials and advertising of your cleaning business.
Now that your business has a name, you need a logo or slogan for your business cards, shirts, and any marketing materials or signs you create to drum up customers. You can create your own image or if you’re artistically challenged like me, professional graphic designers and web designers can be hired through online platforms.
From the comfort of your new cleaning business office you can:
- Create and print professional business cards, colorful fliers, informative brochures and business address mailing labels with the help of online services and products from Avery.com.
- Design a user-friendly website featuring the services your cleaning business offers and easy to find contact information to make an appointment or an inquiry to your business email address
- Build a social media presence to reach people in your area and keep in touch with the cleaning needs of your local community
- Advertise with local papers or community newsletters to let people know who you are and the cleaning services you offer
- Contact businesses in your area that would benefit from your cleaning services and propose to them an introductory offer for new customers
The best marketing tool you can put together for your new cleaning business is known as a professional bid proposal kit and within it, you’ll find:
- Flyer or brochure describing your company’s cleaning services
- List of complete cleaning specifications
- Clearly written service contract
- Details about your cleaning services
- Business card (magnetized are great for homes)
This well-prepared kit can be given to prospective customers who have shown interest in hiring your cleaning company and will provide them with all the answers to any questions they may have about your services. A great cleaning proposal offers an annually renewable contract with an affordable monthly fee.
Work Hard to Succeed
Bidding a job requires a bit of research combined with good estimation skills to determine the right amount to charge a customer for a job. If your quote is too high, you’re going to lose the job to a competitor. If you bid the job too low, you may get the job but learn it’s more costly than you quoted them in your bid.. Using a formula to evaluate all the variables of the job will help you decide the ideal bid amount for each proposal.
These variables include:
- Number of hours per visit that are required to complete the job as determined by the size of the building
- Average hourly rate of labor in the area you are bidding the job
- Costs directly involved with the job including payroll, equipment, and supplies used, and travel costs, such as gas, tolls, and vehicle maintenance
- Overhead costs of the home office including rent, utilities, office supplies, and printing supplies
- Net profit paid to you, the owner
There are bidding software programs available that can make this complicated task easier to manage and understand. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to do some research and become knowledgeable about how to properly bid large jobs by first working small jobs.
Your cleaning business has the potential to make you a sizable steady income if you’re up for the challenge. Cleaning homes and offices every day requires you to be physically able to perform strenuously thorough cleaning. Bending, kneeling, reaching, and repetitive actions are a daily part of cleaning on a larger scale.
In addition to knowing how to clean well, you will need to possess basic office, accounting, and organization skills to manage, customers, vendors, and employees. Staying on top of your bookkeeping will aid in managing your budget and preparing taxes. Knowing how much your spending will give you insight into where you can make adjustments and changes to improve your bottom line.
Personality and a trustworthy demeanor are crucial in the cleaning business, especially if you are working inside people’s homes. Being friendly and respectful to the customer’s needs and circumstances will ensure repeat business and new business from recommendations. Word of mouth is still a powerful tool that can make or break any business.
Self-employment through running a cleaning business isn’t for everyone. Beyond the labor-intensive nature of the job, a successful cleaning business owner must have:
- Determination to continue forward in the face of adversity and rejection
- Salesmanship and the mastery of closing the deal with new customers
- Organization both on-site and behind the scenes to ensure everything is getting done
- Performance with consistent results from detailed work and self-discipline
- Astuteness needed to weigh the pros and cons of business decisions
Starting a cleaning business in Florida is a small undertaking with the potential for sizable rewards. The potential to make vast fortunes in the commercial cleaning market is there for the taking. Hard work, dedication to your cleaning business, and smart decision making will lead to a highly profitable occupation and exponential growth of your company.
How much money does a cleaning business make?
In Florida, the average salary for residential cleaning (housekeeper) is $14 per hour, roughly $30,000 a year. With a commercial cleaning business, the sky’s the limit in good locations, easily making $100,000 a year by your fourth year of business as you expand.
What if my business did not qualify for bonding?
You are still able to run a cleaning business without being bonded, but you may be limited to the types and sizes of contracts you get. Over time, your business will build a positive reputation and after a year or more in business, you can apply again.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
No matter where you live, you can start your own business. Take a look at our startup documents here.
Wondering how to start a cleaning business in Florida? It is important to register your new business with the state and take other steps toward legitimacy that protect your personal assets. Although you may feel comfortable cleaning your own home, professional cleaning services require the next level of care. Customers will expect their homes to be neat, spotless, and pleasant-smelling after your visit. But if you are willing to put in the elbow grease and effectively market your services, this can be quite a lucrative career.
Preparing to Start a Cleaning Business
A cleaning business is a good choice for many entrepreneurs because of its low overhead costs, but it is important to make sure you are physically capable of doing the type of strenuous, thorough cleaning your customers will expect. If you have trouble bending, kneeling, reaching, or performing repetitive actions or if you are not in good physical condition, this may not be the business for you.
In addition to cleaning skills, you will need to rely on basic office, accounting, and organizational skills. These will help you file your taxes correctly and keep up with customer appointments.
Good interpersonal skills are a must in this business since you will be entering people's homes. If you are friendly, open, and honest, potential customers will likely see you as trustworthy. However, if you have a criminal or legal history that will show up on a background check, clients are unlikely to hire you.
It is also important to be financially prepared to start a cleaning business. If you are leaving a full-time job to go out on your own, make sure you have at least six months' worth of expenses saved before doing so. Many instead decide to start out cleaning part-time while retaining their full-time positions.
Starting a Florida Business
First, you will have to decide what type of legal structure is best for your business. Options include a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company. Except for a sole proprietorship, each of these business entities must register with the Florida Division of Corporations.
To register your business, you will need to have a unique name that is not already registered by another Florida business. It is best to choose a name that is distinctive yet professional so that clients will be able to remember it and see you as a legitimate business. If you are sticking to a specific service area, you may want to include the region in the name.
The next step is applying for a business license and setting up a bank account. Your local business office can let you know what types of permits are required for a cleaning business in your municipality. If you are a sole proprietor, you may need to register a DBA ("doing business as") name for your cleaning business. Your business license will allow you to apply for a business bank account.
Writing a Business Plan
A business plan is a document that guides the direction of your new enterprise. While developing your business plan, consider the following questions:
- What type of cleaning business do you plan to create? Options include a general residential cleaning business, green cleaning, open house cleanings, after-party clean-ups, smoke damage removal, and other specialty areas.
- Will you bring your own products, will your client supply products, or will you do whichever the client prefers?
- Who are your competitors? Is the market for cleaning services already saturated in your area?
- What form of transportation will you use? Will you need a separate vehicle for your business?
- What will you charge for your services? What do competitors charge?
- What type of accounting system and software will you use?
Pricing Your Services
Undercutting the competition is often not the best business model because clients will think the low prices reflect on the quality of your work. Instead, strive to attract clients who can afford your services without charging too much. Considerations include:
- Will you charge by the room, the hour, or square footage? Alternatively, you can charge a flat rate per home depending on the size of the house. Most clients prefer set fees rather than hourly rates.
- Make sure to consider the number of occupants in the home and whether there are pets or other extenuating circumstances when providing a quote.
- How much can you charge to keep your services affordable but still make a profit?
If you need help with starting a cleaning business in Florida, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.
Are you interested in running a cleaning business in the Sunshine state? If so, it's important to set up your company correctly from the get-go. Not following the rules can lead to fines and other penalties.
Obtaining the appropriate Florida cleaning licenses and insurance can help you avoid nasty surprises in the future.
This article will look at some of the most common steps you need to take to set up your business, no matter where you’re located in the state. Plus some city-specific requirements you may need to consider.
Just keep in mind that regulations can change over time. Check with the local and state government for the most up-to-date Florida cleaning business requirements.
5 steps to starting a cleaning business in Florida
Are you ready to launch your cleaning business? Here’s what you need to know to get started the right way.
1. Register your business with the state
Unless you’re a sole proprietor, you need to register your business with the state and pay the appropriate filing fee:
- LLC – $125
- Corporation – $70
- General Partnership – $50
- Limited Partnership – $1,000
If you’re setting up your business as a sole proprietorship, you don't have to register it with the state. Learn more about the difference between independent contractors vs. sole proprietors vs. LLCs here.
2. File a fictitious business statement
If you're a sole proprietor, and you want to operate your business using a name other than your legal name, you must file a fictitious business statement, also known as a "doing business as" (DBA) form with the Florida Department of State.
Not a sole proprietor? Partnerships, corporations and limited liability companies operating under a different name than the entity’s legal name also need to file a DBA form.
The cost to file a Florida fictitious name registration is $50.
3. Obtain an employer identification number (EIN)
If you’ve got employees, operate a multi-member LLC, are part of a partnership or run a corporation, you must have an EIN for tax purposes.
The IRS doesn't require sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs to have an EIN. However, having one makes it easier to separate your business and personal finances. Plus, it shows you're serious about your company – that it's not just a hobby.
Getting an EIN won't cost you anything. You can apply for one online or by completing form SS-4 and faxing it or mailing it to the IRS.
4. Get a business license
Florida doesn't require residential cleaners to have a business license, but many counties and cities within the state do. Check with the city or county clerk's office where you plan to operate your business to find out whether you need a license to get started.
5. Obtain a sales tax permit
Unless you only plan to include homeowners on your client roster, you'll need a sales tax permit. Residential cleaning customers are exempt from paying sales tax, but commercial clients aren't.
If you register online, there’s no fee, but if you register by mail, there’s a $5 fee.
Local Florida cleaning business license requirements
After meeting the state’s requirements, it’s important to make sure you meet your local regulations as well. Check with the city or county clerk where you're starting your business to find out what local licenses or permits you need.
If you’re setting up shop in Miami-Dade county, you’ll need a local business tax receipt (formerly known as an occupational license).
But that’s not all. If your business is in a municipality within the county, you need a local business tax receipt from that city plus one from the county.
So, depending on where your business is located within the county, you may need two business tax receipts.
Are you planning to serve the Jacksonville area? Before you start taking on clients, you'll need to secure a business tax receipt. This license proves that you paid the taxes necessary to operate a business in Jacksonville.
If you're operating a business in Tampa, you need two business tax receipts — one from the city of Tampa and one from Hillsborough County. This license shows you paid the required taxes to run your business legally in the city and county.
Before launching a business in Orlando, you must pay a tax to operate your company. You'll receive a business tax receipt from the city when you make your payment.
In addition to a local business tax receipt, you'll also need a Certificate of Use permit showing you're allowed to operate where your business is located.
Insurance requirements for Florida cleaning businesses
Having the right types of Florida business insurance and adequate policy limits can help protect your business from a financial loss. Here are some of the most common types of insurance to consider.
- Workers’ compensation. Workers’ comp helps protect you with a work-related injury or illness. If your cleaning company has four or more employees, you must maintain this type of coverage. Otherwise, it’s optional. Even if you’re exempt from purchasing workers’ comp coverage, it may be worth buying. It can help reduce your out-of-pocket expenses if you or an employee gets hurt or sick on the job.
- General liability. One of the most common types of business insurance, general liability covers claims for third-party injuries and property damage.
- Tools and equipment. This is an add-on to a general liability policy that pays to repair or replace your equipment and supplies if they’re damaged or someone steals them.
- Commercial auto. You need a way to get to and from your clients' homes and offices. Your personal auto insurance policy won't cover you if you're in an accident while driving for work, but a commercial auto policy can.
Bond requirements for Florida cleaning businesses
You probably won't be legally required to have a janitorial bond for your cleaning business unless you work with a government agency. However, it can help make you more marketable because some clients will only work with bonded companies.
There are two types of bonds you may want to consider for your business.
- Surety bond. This type of bond helps protect your clients from theft. So, if you or one of your employees steals from a client, the surety (the company that issues the bond) will pay to replace the stolen item.
- License and permit bond. Government organizations often require this type of bond. It lets the client know that you will comply with all applicable laws and regulations during your work.
Be aware, bonds and insurance are not the same things. NEXT offers easy, affordable business insurance, but it's important to note that we don't currently offer bonds.
How NEXT helps cleaning businesses
NEXT makes obtaining cleaning business insurance fast, easy and affordable.
When you answer just a few simple questions through our online application, you can see coverage options, get a quote and purchase insurance in less than 10 minutes.
You'll get immediate access to your certificate of insurance as soon as you make a payment. If you have questions throughout the process, our licensed, U.S.-based insurance professionals are standing by to help.