This excerpt is part of Entrepreneur.com’s Second-Quarter Startup Kit which explores the fundamentals of starting up in a wide range of industries.
In Start Your Own Cleaning Service, the staff at Entrepreneur Press and writer Jacquelyn Lynn explain how you can launch a profitable cleaning service, whether you want to offer maid services, janitorial services, carpet and upholstery cleaning, and more. In this edited excerpt, the authors describe eight cleaning services you can either run as an independent business or add to your existing cleaning service.
In addition to the more common cleaning services, there are niche cleaning businesses to consider, either as stand-alone operations or as companion businesses to your primary cleaning company. These specialty services require varying levels of training, skill and equipment, and you’ll need to do additional research on the areas that interest you.
1. Window cleaning. While some residential cleaning and janitorial services clean windows as part of their service, windows are a cleaning industry specialty. If you like working outside and don’t mind heights, window cleaning could be the perfect opportunity.
It’s a good idea to start your window cleaning service by targeting one- and two-story office buildings, storefronts and homes. As you become established and your skill level increases, you can expand to taller buildings. High-rise window cleaning requires an extra level of skill to ensure the health and safety of above-ground workers. You’ll need a controlled descent system for access to exterior high-rise windows.
2. Disaster cleaning and restoration. Many carpet cleaning and janitorial service companies do disaster cleaning and restoration for their customers, but this is a specialty area in its own right. You’ll need special knowledge in fire, water and smoke damage cleaning and restoration.
Once you’re trained, you can work with insurance adjusters and other contractors to provide all or part of the services needed. The Restoration Industry Association [ENT.COM: PLEASE LINK TO www.restorationindustry.org] offers training programs to help you develop the expertise necessary to provide this service.
3. Blind cleaning. Mini-blinds and Venetian blinds are common fixtures in homes and offices, and many consumers are choosing interior shutters as window treatments. Along with vertical blinds and pleated shades, all these window coverings attract dust and need frequent cleaning–the occasional pass with a feather duster isn’t enough to keep them looking their best.
Without the proper equipment, cleaning blinds can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. Special blind-cleaning equipment can speed up the labor process and allow you to offer this service at an affordable price. You’ll need to learn how to quickly and efficiently take down and rehang blinds, as well as operate your equipment.
4. Pressure washing. Pressure washing can be added to an existing cleaning business or operated as an independent company for a modest initial investment. Some of the more common uses of pressure washing equipment include cleaning and maintenance of residential and commercial buildings, walkways, parking lots, heavy equipment and vehicles, truck and automobile fleets, trailers, engines, warehouse floors, machinery, kitchen areas and sanitary areas.
5. Restroom cleaning. There’s a tremendous need for restroom cleaning, particularly in large public buildings, sports stadiums and arenas, and schools, and companies that specialize in this work are busy and profitable. Businesses want to provide clean, pleasant, fresh-smelling restrooms for their employees and customers, and they’re willing to hire specialists to get the results they need.
You’ll clean and sanitize restrooms on a regular schedule and stock the facilities with soap and paper supplies as requested by your customers. You may work directly for the property owner or manager, or you may subcontract through a janitorial service.
6. Chimney sweeping. The demand for chimney sweeping goes beyond residential fireplaces. The chimney sweep–or chimney service professional–aids in the prevention of fires, carbon monoxide intrusion and other chimney-related hazards that can be caused by fireplaces; wood stoves; gas, oil and coal heating systems; and the chimneys that serve them.
The basic task of a chimney sweep includes removing the accumulated and highly combustible creosote produced by burning wood and wood products, eliminating the buildup of soot in coal- and oil-fired systems, and getting rid of bird and animal nests, leaves and other debris that may create a hazard by blocking the flow of emissions from a home-heating appliance. Though the highest demand for chimney sweeps is in cold-climate regions, this is a service that’s needed throughout the country. In addition to cleaning, chimney sweep services may also offer repairs and parts such as chimney caps that protect the chimney from water, leaves, debris and animal intrusion..
7. Ceiling and wall cleaning. Ceilings and walls trap odors, smoke, oils, cooking grease, films, nicotine, dust mites and other unsanitary pollutants. These contaminants can reduce light by as much as 60 percent, dull the appearance of a facility and contribute to an unhealthy environment. Cleaning ceilings and walls is far more cost-effective than painting or replacing them. In fact, replacing a ceiling can cost up to 100 times more than cleaning it. Besides being part of standard building maintenance, various ceiling and wall cleaning techniques may also be used in disaster restoration work.
8. Post death and trauma cleaning. Post death and trauma cleaning services are usually called in after a homicide, suicide, unattended death or a non-fatal trauma where property has been contaminated by blood or other bodily fluids and tissue. Because of the potential health risks, it’s critical the job be done properly and thoroughly. In most cases, your clients will be the family of the deceased and you’ll be paid by an insurance company. You may also be called to clean up commercial facilities after an accident or crime that has contaminated a property.
You’ll need to make a substantial investment in training, equipment and supplies. OSHA requires that all workers performing this type of remediation receive the proper training and vaccinations, and be properly equipped with protective gear and cleanup tools. EPA regulations dictate the disposition of hazardous wastes, so you’ll need the proper tools and procedures to be in compliance. In addition to cleaning, you may also want to offer repair or replacement of structural components, such as carpet, flooring, cabinets, doors and walls.