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How To Start A Cleaning Business -- The Facts

"Mr. Shulte, I have a story that is a lot like yours, I did not go to college and I have a job that does not pay enough for me to have a life. My goal was to make an extra $1000 a month to help pay bills and save some money, and your business looked like the best way to go. My business is only 6 months old and I am making more money in my part time cleaning business than I am in my full time job, so right now I am making more than double total what I was making before I started my business. I have 4 buildings for $2755 a month, and I am now turning down some places that call me because they are ether too small or they are not the right kinds of buildings that I want to clean. My goal is to be able to quit my job on my birthday in July and go into my janitor business full time, because soon my job will just be a waste of my time and holding me back. I am also only 22 like you were when you started your business. People don't care that I am young, all they care about is that I do a great job!"  D. E., Manassas, VA*  

 


 

< The Facts

 

 

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What does it cost to start a cleaning business?
It's
usually about $20 for a simple business license, and you probably have most of the cleaning supplies you'll need under your kitchen sink, such as sponges, cleaning cloths and spray-cleaners, and your household vacuum will work just fine in the beginning. You would probably want to buy a large trashcan on wheels, and a mop, mop bucket and wringer for tile floors, all of which you can usually get new, or used on Craigslist for about 1/3 of the retail price (as I was writing this I went to the Seattle Craigslist and found all of these items for a total price of $70 - the average retail price is about $250). Of course as your business grows you'll easily be able to afford whatever tools and supplies you need and put your sponges back under your sink :)


How can I compete against the big cleaning companies?
You can easily compete with the big companies because you can be much more responsive to your customer's needs. The huge skyscrapers have to hire big cleaning companies, but for every one skyscraper out there, there are a thousand smaller buildings that also need cleaning.

You can do a better job of hiring the right people, you can train them better, you can supervise them better, and you can actually make much more money "per square foot" in smaller buildings than in the skyscrapers.

Don't worry about the big companies -- you're the fast little sports car, they're the big, slow semi-trucks, and the vast majority of customers don't care about the size of your business.

Is it really as easy to start my business as you say it is?
Yes, and
to prove it, I sat down at 9am one Saturday morning and started to put together a new business. Here’s what I got done by 4pm:

In one day I had my new cleaning business established -- and I was ready to start distributing my new sales materials to prospective customers.

I'm not very "high-tech" - will I be able to customize the website?
The best kind of technology actually makes everything easier. For instance, you don't need to know anything about building a website because it's already done for you -- and every step is spelled out very clearly with short 5-minute videos and instructions. Then you just click on the "Publish" button and the free software takes you through the rest of the process. Since the design software and the internet hosting service are owned by the same company, it's very simple.

I don't know of any of our customers who have taken more than 8 hours from start-to-finish to get their entire website customized and published, and one woman I spoke to recently said it took her under 3 hours.

And the best thing about the website -- it already says all the right things.


How did you get into the janitorial business?
It was 1977, I was 22 and already married. "Real" college didn't happen for me, so I had been going to a trade school to be a machinist. I had an internship set up with Boeing upon graduating, but a year before I graduated, Boeing laid off 30,000 machinists -- and that meant no internship, no machinist jobs anywhere, and I was stuck, not knowing what to do. I found a little office job but it had no real future.

We had an old Toyota that kept breaking down, we used firewood to heat the house, and I took 3-minute showers to save on electricity. My wife couldn't work because she was permanently disabled, and we were right in the middle of two of the worst recessions of the 20th century -- rent, gas, utilities, food, insurance, everything was going up.

I knew I couldn't keep doing what I was doing, because life was getting more expensive every day, so I had been looking at dozens of businesses. But they all cost too much and they all interfered with my day job; I couldn't afford to just quit my job and start a "day" business.

Then one morning my boss came into the office, took his finger and swiped a bunch of dust off of a filing cabinet and said, "You know, a guy could start a cleaning business for almost nothing, and if he would just do what he says he'd do, no one would ever fire him. I've been through 3 different cleaning companies in 2 years."

And a big loud bell went off in my head. I got a business license and a box of business cards, I worked at it for a year, and after that year I was making 50% more in my business than I was making at my day-job. One morning I thanked my boss for giving me the janitorial idea, and on that day I quit my job and went full-time into my own business. By then my wife and I were debt-free, we were putting money in the bank, and we've never looked back.

You do not want to go through what I went through when I started my business. I underbid (and got contracts but made no profit), I overbid (and didn't get contracts), and I hired a lot of the "wrong" people (and I lost accounts because of it).

But I learned from my mistakes -- and that's what this System is all about -- skip the mistakes that cost you time and money -- and go straight to what really works.

If I could do it knowing nothing about how to build a cleaning business when I started, you can do it too, with my help, in a tiny fraction of the time that it took me.

What is the Training Video like?
The training video is based on my own company's video that we give to our new employees, and it gives them a huge head-start on their actual "hands-on" training in a building. The camera follows me through all the basic steps - calling in to their supervisor, keys, alarm systems, building security, collecting trash and recycling, dusting, vacuuming, restroom maintenance and more. Along the way I give dozens of examples and tips on what is (and is not) acceptable, staying organized, getting the work done in an acceptable timeframe, what to do if there's a problem, etc. It's a great way for a new employee to learn 90% of what he needs to know before he even shows up for his first night of training.

           

We host this video on our private YouTube channel -- just give the link to your new employees and they can watch it on the Web.

There's also another 30-minute video that shows you how to maintain floors, in which I scrub, refinish and high-speed buff a tile floor, explaining every step along the way. This video is also hosted online and you get that link, too.

 

I have enough money to buy a franchise -- why shouldn't I buy one?
Several reasons - the first one being that you have someone sharing your profits from the very beginning. Add up the startup fees and the various ongoing fees that all franchises charge, and you have to work like crazy to make any money. Many franchises don't even allow you to bid on accounts - you have to choose from accounts that their salespeople have signed up. The fact is that you don't need a partner - which is what a franchise really is. Be sure to see the page called "Not a Franchise" listed at the bottom of this page.


Why should I clean office buildings and not homes?
In the beginning of my business I tried cleaning homes (exactly two homes, and I said "never again!") Office workers have a structured environment in the workplace -- but in homes, teenagers and pets don't! Office workers have to stick with a certain code of ethics in the workplace (be clean, be professional, etc) -- home-owners don't! There are very few cleaning "surprises" in office buildings -- but there are definitely cleaning surprises in homes. Office people and building managers are much easier to work for than homeowners, and you don't have to worry about scheduling office cleaning, whereas trying to schedule house-cleaning is a huge daily task.

 

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Note: If you live in Western Washington State, or own a janitorial service in Western Washington State,
or if you plan to establish a janitorial business in Western Washington State, or if you are a franchisor
or franchisee doing business anywhere in North America, or if you operate or plan to operate a business
that sells business products or services such as my company does, no matter where that business may
be located, I'm sorry, but this package is not available to you. I tell so much about my own cleaning
business in this package that I would be creating my own competition if I let you use this information.
The purchase agreement spells this out very clearly, and violating that agreement will result in legal actions.


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