Many people dream of one day striking it out alone and being their own boss. The idea of choosing your own hours, answering only to yourself and keeping the profit of your hard work is appealing to many. Starting your own business though is risky, and the prospect of going it alone can be daunting. A cleaning business offers low start up costs, minimal initial outlay and the potential to get up and running nice and quickly. It is a diverse and competitive industry however, dominated by small companies, and the variety of options for those wondering how to set up a cleaning business can be overwhelming. With that in mind we’re going to lay out some of the questions you’ll have to answer and steps you’ll have to take to set your very own cleaning business.
First, let’s take a little look at the industry and what a prospective business owner can expect…
According to the CSSA… (The Cleaning And Support Services Association) the cleaning industry in the UK is worth around £10bn and employs roughly 820,000 people. It is a significant industry but remains one dominated by small businesses: 72% of those working in the cleaning sector do so in a company with no more than nine employees and -importantly for those looking to become their own boss- a third of all cleaning organisations are owned and operated by one person. There clearly are opportunities, and the industry has shown itself to be resilient in the face of the economic turbulence of recent years, but it is a crowded market place. To succeed in starting a cleaning business you’ll need high standards, a clear vision appropriate for your location and, to reduce your direct competition, you’ll almost certainly need to specialise.
Cleaning businesses… are commonly defined as falling into three broad categories: Domestic cleaning, commercial cleaning and specialised cleaning. Before you decide what you will be cleaning however you need to think about the scale and structure of business that you’re looking to run. Are you simply a cleaner who wants to organise their own cleanse and keep the profit? Are you looking to grow a business, employ cleaners, and work on the administrative side? Do you want something in between? There are many things to consider and a few big decisions to make. For instance, if you want to be a business owner in this sector you have to decide if you want to start completely from scratch, find a cleaning business for sale or become a franchisee.
Making this decision starts with self-assessment: What are your goals? How do you like to work? What type of a business owner do you want to be? If you are someone who wants to have a prescribed system with clear instructions, who wants to feel supported and guided in what they have to do to succeed, then franchising potentially offers exactly the business environment you might be looking for.
If you value complete control over all else, then perhaps becoming an independent sole trader is a better option. As an independent sole trader every detail, large and small, is under your control. This brings a different kind of freedom but also means you have to spread yourself far thinner, taking responsibility for every aspect of your business. You have to be able to take control of all your accounting and finance, your public relations, advertising and promotion, your supply line of products and equipment (this also means a lot of research) and a host of other smaller jobs and roles that will pile on top of the actual cleaning work that you set out to do it in the first place. With a franchise, you still have control over your schedule, the culture and values of how you’re going to work, who you are going to hire and fire and responsibility for expanding your business, but you have guidance and assistance in these and all other aspects of running your business. This takes the pressure off and gives you guidelines and support to lean on. It cannot be overstated how helpful that can be in the early stages of running a business.
Franchises offer you the chance to get up and running straight away: it’s a ‘plug in and play’ business model. You don’t have to worry about finding suppliers, choosing equipment or negotiating deals. It is in these areas that big mistakes can be made early on in owning your own business, the kind of mistakes that seriously jeopardise your future as a business owner. Not only will you have the knowledge and supply line of your franchise behind you, but you also can benefit from their increased buying power (franchises can buy materials and equipment in bulk, reducing costs for you) and you will often see your chances of getting credit increase with the reputable name of an already successful franchise behind you.
All businesses need startup capital and the average for a franchise in the cleaning industry in the UK is £12,000. What you’re paying for there is to some extent the security of return on that investment that a functioning and well chosen franchise can offer. When it comes to promoting and marketing, many franchises offer a very complete package that almost entirely takes care of this more specialised area of running a new business. Many franchises will have a website and online marketing template ready for you, with some keeping a PR company on retainer who could get you into your local newspaper or radio. The same benefits apply to your finances, invoicing and general paper work. Also, of course, franchises offer the all important training that will get you ready for your new profession. All this structure and support is the key reason that the failure rate for franchises is far lower than for other small enterprises.
So, what type of Cleaning Business is for you… between Domestic Cleaning, Commercial Cleaning and Specialised Cleaning, you have a wide range of options. Domestic cleaning, as the name suggests, involves cleaning peoples’ houses and requires fairly affordable equipment, some experience, a predisposition for perfectionism and clients! There is, with domestic cleaning, also the potential to eventually bring on more staff. There are some very successful franchises in this area including Molly Maid and Maid2clean.
With Commercial Cleaning you will need to assemble a team from the start as you will be doing larger premises and bigger jobs – your role will more likely be purely administrative and managerial. In the UK, franchises such as Betterclean operate up and down the country. Decisions here have to be based not simply on your own skills and desires, but on the local market, competition and opportunities. Is there space and need for a domestic or commercial cleaning business in your local area? In both domestic and commercial cleaning, the market can be very crowded. It may well be that it is best to look into a more specialised cleaning business…
There are many, many, niches to be explored when setting up a cleaning business and a successful franchise out there for almost all of them. Choosing a franchise means researching your local area and franchises themselves will do the work for you there to a large extent. We know the areas of the country where there is space for a new franchise and we, much like cleaning franchises of other specialities, are always actively looking for potential franchises to start up in these areas.
The world of specialised cleaning franchises in the UK is incredibly diverse, and we have great friends who work in all sorts of areas. In chimney sweeping there’s Wilkins Chimney Sweep, who have been sweeping chimneys since 1895! They are a fast growing team who describe franchising nicely on their site as ‘working for yourself not by yourself’. In window cleaning we have Ezy Clean, an innovative franchise working to make starting a cleaning business even easier with a fully automated system of payment and scheduling, leaving the franchisee to simply clean.
It goes on; in carpet cleaning there’s ServiceMaster, a successful Franchise that operates around the world which has claim to being the first to start cleaning carpets in peoples’ homes (In Chicago in 1929). For cars there are highly successful franchises such as Auto Valet Direct. Then, of course, there are the ovens! We (Ovenu) are the largest network of oven cleaners in the world and bring all that experience and knowledge to bear in how we set up and assist our franchisees in growing their business. In our most recent survey our Ovenu Franchisees told us that the top 3 benefits of working with us were:
1. Excellent Head Office support and back up from a premium brand,
2. Running their own diary; being able to make time for themselves and their families,
3. Providing a quality, sought after service to their highly satisfied customers, with every day being different from the last.
If these are the kind of qualities you are looking for when starting a cleaning business, we could be for you.
Vital to your journey… toward starting a cleaning business is the research you do at this early stage. It is all about choosing the right niche and, if you’re going down that road, the right franchise. Your options will largely be formed by where you are located and how far you are prepared to travel, but with franchising you are far less limited by your own experience in the sense that you will receive full training and guidance. At Ovenu our franchisees have come from all walks of life with all levels of experience, united only by a drive and desire to take control of their lives and become their own boss. If there is one absolutely essential quality you’ll need when starting a cleaning business, that is it. Are you ready to become your own boss?
- Related: Oven Cleaning Business Plan
If you’re convinced about starting your own cleaning business, fill out the form below and we’ll send you more information about the Ovenu oven cleaning franchise opportunity.