Looking for an inexpensive business idea? The cleaning business is in demand and allows you to get started quickly with minimal cost. Choose a niche, build a customer base, build your reputation and promote your services. In this article we will tell you how to start a cleaning business, entailing it as a step-by-step guide.
What is the cleaning business and why is it profitable?
The cleaning business in Nigeria is divided into two main types: residential and commercial (for companies). The threshold to enter the commercial market is high: it is dominated by big players; considerable financial costs are required for equipment and equipment. As for the residential type, you can get started much faster and cheaper, so we will focus on it in the article.
Let’s start with the five benefits of a cleaning business:
- Stable demand – Cleaning closes one of the basic needs of people and saves time, so clean rooms are always needed.
- Minimum initial capital – All you need are cleaning products and equipment.
- Simple business model – You do not depend on a long chain of production and sales.
- Savings on rent – You don’t need an office: you visit clients, not the other way around.
- Flexibility – You work all day or combine it with another business, serve people independently or with a team.
Five steps to start the business
1. Choose a niche
There is a lot of competition in the cleaning market. How to guarantee the demand for your services? It starts with a thorough analysis: your task is to formulate a unique offer and differentiate yourself from similar companies:
- Analyze your competitors: a list of their services, advantages and disadvantages.
- Think about the niche you will work in: apartment or house service, carpet cleaning, curtain cleaning, etc. Choose what will distinguish you in the market.
- Formulate a unique selling proposition that reflects your values or the details of your services. For example, you can deal with complex pollution, use only green products, or never be late.
2. Think about the geography of your business
As you will have to visit clients regularly, select the area in which you are going to work:
- Make sure that there are enough potential clients who need your services.
- Calculate how much time you have to spend on the road. Choose densely populated areas, so the time spent moving from one place to another will be minimal.
- Check the competitors serving the selected area: is their service in demand? What niches are filled? What services are missing?
3. Plan your logistics
Determine the best way to get around: public transportation or car. To work in the consumer market, it is best to have a car: it has room to carry small equipment and supplies. If you provide more complex services that require large equipment, you will need a van or small truck.
4. Determine the number of employees
Depending on the budget and scale of the company, you will initially have three options: go it alone, hire one or two employees, or immediately organize a large team. Often the cleaning business in the consumer market starts on its own and scales as it grows, hiring housekeepers and administrative staff.
5. Make a supply list
Think about what cleaning products, equipment and other materials you need. The amount of the initial investment depends on this. We will describe the expense calculation in detail in the next section.
Budget: what to consider
This figure depends on the chosen niche and the details of the business:
- Decide what consumables you will need. Check with customers: do they agree with your detergents or do they offer their own? Discuss all the details beforehand: People may be interested in how safe the chemicals you use are, are allergic to certain components, or prefer organic products.
- When buying materials, think about how to save: for example, you can buy in bulk
- If you offer complex services (such as carpet cleaning), keep in mind that you will need more money for special equipment.
To form the price of your services:
- Examine the prices of the competition in your niche. Do not lower them too much, but also do not put numbers too high, this can scare customers. Start with competitive prices: you can increase them as time goes on.
- Consider a pricing model: hourly rate, price per square meter, or flat rate (for a particular service or cleaning area).
- Consider the cost of materials, transportation, and employee wages (if hiring a team).
Three marketing tools for business development.
In the service industry, word of mouth remains a powerful tool for generating customers. Customers who are satisfied with the service usually advise their friends and acquaintances.
Your first customers and recommendations will most likely come from your inner circle comprising of relatives, friends, neighbors, as well as other acquaintances. Offer to get services done for them, even if it doesn’t come with a pay. From there, you could I form the about needing new clients. Enhance the full power of the word of mouth:
- Improve the individual customer experience: ask what exactly they expect from the cleaning and, if possible, adapt the service to their needs. For some, it is important to clean the furniture of dog hair, and for others it is important to put things in order.
- Make an effort not only to do a perfect cleaning, but also to have good communication: you will strengthen the emotional connection with consumers. People are more likely to recommend friendly and polite service providers.
- Consider a loyalty program: for example, a discount or bonus service for a referral to another customer
2. Corporate identity
For a successful business, image and reputation are important to gain consumer trust. External and behavioral factors play an important role in this process.
- Name and logo – They are the main elements without which branding is impossible. The name should reflect the services or values of the company, and the logo should visually incorporate them. Create a logo in a couple of minutes using online services (e.g Nairatalktoday). Then put your logo, company name and phone numbers on your car (it’s effective mobile advertising), employee uniforms and invoices.
- Physical appearance – All employees must appear neat and clean. It doesn’t matter if at the beginning of the business you don’t have money to make a uniform: just try to keep the team in the same style; For example, wear dark pants and yellow shirts. Keep the teams and cars clean: all this contributes to the image of the brand.
- Reputation – People want to be sure who they let into their home, so punctuality, honesty, and decency should be your core values. Don’t be late, keep a distance in communication, gain confidence and strengthen your business.
Depending on the characteristics of the target audience, use online promotion, offline promotion or combine both methods:
- The main tool for free online promotion is social media. Create a business account on those resources where there are more customers (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or others). Design a corporate style (logo as a profile picture, cover in corporate colors) and keep it active: create useful content, ask users to leave comments, post relevant information.
- If your budget allows, start online advertising: contextual, targeted, banner or other. The choice depends on the specifics of the niche and the interests of the target audience.
- Another option is traditional advertising: place flyers in mailboxes, hand out business cards with your contact details to customers, or put up advertising banners in your area.
What if you want to dedicate yourself to commercial or specialized cleaning? The most obvious thing is that you do not have enough space for the machines you are going to use.
So think carefully if you will need a place to establish your office and your warehouse there, or if with a small furniture storage you will be able to manage at first until your clientele grows.
Finally, keep in mind if there are health or safety regulations related to this business in your country or city, since cleaning involves handling chemical products that are sometimes very dangerous.