Monday, March 2, 2009
The key to making money in this business is to establish a reliable route. The more tightly you can group your customers together, the more money you're going to make. Ideally, you should stay within one tight geographical area each day.
Getting into this business doesn't require a lot of money or any particular skills. Get some plastic bags, disposable gloves, shovels, and rakes, and you are now an official pooper scooper.
To get your initial supply of customers, you can flyer residential neighborhoods, post your business card in the local pet shop, or simply mention your services to your veterinarian. After you've been doing this for a while, the need to market your services should diminish. Most of your customers are going to be regulars and any new ones you get will likely be word-of-mouth. Alternatively, to jumpstart your business, you can try placing a small classified ad in your local paper.
Even though you may get a few odd looks and snickers from some of your friends and family, they'll be singing a different tune once they see how much money you're making in your little business.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Essentially, you will be using a machine that consists of a boiler unit,hose, and a wand with several different tips depending on what kind of job you're doing. The machine is usually on wheels and is easily transported.
Although there have been many consumer grade steam machines appearing on the market, these are limited to very small jobs due to their steam capacity. Commercial units are able to keep up the amount of steam in order to do larger jobs.
If you've ever seen one of these units work, you'll know that there's not too much that can't be cleaned with a good blast of hot steam. Not only that, but it's entirely chemical free. This can be a big seller when you're out marketing your services.
Besides the numerous hand attachments, there are many commercial attachments for cleaning floors. It all depends on the job and how big it is. As an example, using a floor machine on a greasy restaurant tile floor makes sense. Doing the same job with a handheld unit, is going to cost you a lot more in labor.
Expect to pay at least $1000 for a smaller commercial steam unit and $5,000 or more for a larger machine that has the capacity for commercial jobs.
Marketing your business is going to take a little sales ability for commercial accounts. For residential customers, you can always put a classified ad in the local paper, team up with an established housecleaning service, or try flyering the neighborhood offering deep cleaning of bathroom and kitchen tile. Of course, the advantage to teaming up with the housecleaning service is that they are already in the customer's home and can easily refer your services if there is a job that goes beyond their responsibilities. In some cases, you can offer the housecleaning company a small percentage of your profits for every job referred.
Why would a homeowner hire someone to steam clean their bathroom tile? Well, if you've ever tried to clean shower tile, you know how labor intensive it can be. This is a job that would be handled quite efficiently with the commercial steam cleaning unit, and one that the customer would likely pay to have you do. Again, those household steam cleaners are good for cleaning around fixtures and counters, but they lack the capacity for larger jobs.
As with most service businesses, you'll start off slow and gradually build your clientele and referrals over the years - eventually getting to the point where you don't have to worry about advertising anymore.
Friday, February 13, 2009
If you find yourself with little start-up capital, you can still get into carpet cleaning by leasing your equipment. To get started, check out a carpet cleaner equipment provider in the Yellow Pages. While some may not rent or lease equipment, (many will) you may be able to convince the owner to take a chance on you. After all, if you become a success, you're going to be purchasing a lot of new equipment from them.
Now, the thing about this business is that it's not really a good idea to simply decide you're going to become a carpet cleaner, purchase equipment, and start learning as you go along. You're going to have to have some experience or hire a helper that has that experience. It's actually quite easy to ruin an expensive carpet. The best way to get this experience is to work for a carpet cleaning company for a while. Once you leave, make sure you set up shop in another area so you're not competing with your former employer.
While there are several techniques to cleaning carpet, the one you're going to probably start with is hot water extraction, or steam cleaning. This technique sprays water into the carpet under pressure and extracts it seconds later with a high powered vacuum. The reference to steam is actually the mist created by the hot water spray.
As you are just getting into this business, you will probably be starting with portable hot water extraction units. These are cheaper and much more portable than truck mounted units (though less powerful). When your business starts creating a little profit, you might want to invest in a truck mounted unit simply for its sheer power. Also, any serious carpet cleaner tends to have at least one truck mounted unit.
As a one-man operation, you should be able to make $30,000 to $60,000 per year. From there, you can hire helpers and add more trucks. After that, the sky's the limit as far as this in demand cleaning business goes.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
One of the biggest differences with residential window cleaning is the fact that it will be seasonal depending on where you live. While commercial window cleaning can be done year-round (and must be done year-round) in colder climates during the winter, residential window cleaning generally tapers off just before the first snowfall.
If you want to get into residential window cleaning, you're going to have to put out some money for equipment. As opposed to storefront window cleaning, you're going to need to purchase tall extension ladders for second and third story windows, longer poles, multi-position ladders, and step ladders. Not to mention levellers and other safety gear for your extension ladders.
You're also going to need several different sizes of squeegees and scrubbers.
Another big difference between residential and commercial window cleaning is the customer. Residential customers can be quite picky and will notice things that a commercial customer may not even think twice of. Hence, jobs can go much slower than storefront window cleaning. The good news is that residential customers pay more per square foot of glass cleaned.
Oh, one more thing; if you're scared of heights, you can forget this business. Most of your time will be spent high atop a ladder. It's very important that you do an estimate before committing yourself. If you're not able to do the job safely (for example: there are four-story windows, there is no shame in turning down work in favor of safety.
Once you have your equipment purchased, head down to your local copy shop and get a few thousand flyers. Distribute them in the better neighborhoods and expect to get a 1-2 percent response. Of the estimates you give, you should land 75% of the jobs.
The actual job consists of soaping down the window with your scrubber, removing the water with your squeegee, and wiping the edges with a dry cloth. Simple - just do that 50 times for your average house, and you're done. Well, actually houses vary considerably in size from a dozen windows to several hundred.
Once you get the routine down, you can easily make $300 per day and more.
Monday, February 9, 2009
You should be aware, however, that storefront window cleaning (for example in a downtown area) is a cut-throat business from a competition standpoint. Even though there are professional firms that do most of the work, you'll find yourself in competition with guys that are just looking for a few dollars of pocket money. For anyone that's trying to build a business, it can be tough competing against these types.
The solution to the problem is to rise above these fly by nighters and start soliciting professionally and offering professional services. This means that you should be well groomed, dressed neatly, and equipped with some sales material, such as a pricelist and business cards.
Keep in mind that in some cases you'll never be able to beat the low-ballers because some businesses don't care much about the quality as long as the price is rock-bottom. Look at it this way; you wouldn't want those customers anyway.
You should be reasonably comfortable talking to people in order to make sales. Ask to speak to the manager of each store and offer him/her an introductory price for your professional services. Ask them if you can leave your card even if they already have a window cleaner. Circumstances can change quickly and they may find a need for your services down the road.
In terms of the actual work, there is nothing wrong with scrubbing the window and doing straight pulls until you get more experience. Don't worry if all the other window cleaners are doing fancy swirls, as long as the end result is as good or better. In fact, there are many experienced window cleaners that still use the basic pull stroke.
When starting out, make it a point to explain to the manager that you expect payment at the completion of the job. Explain to them that you don't invoice because you are a simple one-man operation. This avoids non-payment of large bills at the end of the month.
Eventually, you should wind up with a full-time route. Once you get to this point, it's like money in the bank because you can depend on a certain level of income each month.
If you can get a foothold in the storefront window cleaning business, you can expand your business to include other commercial locations once you get a reliable vehicle and more equipment (not to mention a better reputation). Don't let the competition get you down, simply try to get out of the trenches and offer a more professional service.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
And that's what really makes this business shine – the fact that you can start as small as you want and scale things as time goes on. If you're holding down a full-time job, all you're going to need is one or two clients in order to generate a decent amount of hours per week. As long as you don't mind working after your regular job, a janitorial service is going to put some nice extra money in your pocket.
Of course, competition is stiff in this industry because of the low entrance requirements. For one thing, you don't need any experience; secondly, you can typically start your business for around $100 if you got some form of transportation.
When you're first starting out, you'll most likely be cleaning offices. Many of the larger commercial janitorial contracts require that you have specialized equipment and experience. But that's okay – you can do quite well cleaning an office two or three times per week.
In order to get your first client, you're going to have to try to set up appointments with decision-makers from offices in your area. This is going to require that you be proactive and a little aggressive. You're not going to get anything by simply handing out your business card to a receptionist. The main goal here is to try to get the name of someone who can actually hire your services.
As mentioned, it only takes one client/contract to provide you with a steady part-time income.
Typically, office cleaning involves cleaning washrooms, dusting, sweeping, mopping floors, and emptying trash containers. Depending on the size of the office, you can do the work yourself, or you can hire an assistant. This type of business is going to work well with your full-time job because you won't be able to start cleaning the office until the daytime staff leaves.
Although the entrance requirements are low for office cleaning, you should make sure that you can provide a police record abstract to a potential customer. Given the nature of the job, you can see why most will insist on this.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
However, as easy as it is to start these businesses, not everyone can do it. While starting capital and experience are no barriers, physical ability can play a big role. Cleaning is physical work and simply having the will to succeed is often not enough. Many would-be entrepreneurs would be well served to consider this before diving straight in.
Imagine cleaning three large homes per day as a house cleaner. Imagine cleaning the windows of large, two-story homes for 10 hours per day. This is definitely something that you have to consider before you start putting any effort into getting your cleaning business up and running.
As well is physical ability and health, you've also got to consider your age. How many years do you think you'll be able to do this for? If you're middle-aged, you'd best hurry up and get some workers under you before you become too old to efficiently perform the work.
Now having said all that, there are many house cleaners and window washers that are into their 60s and still doing a great job. The question you should ask yourself is, how long do you plan on doing this?
Knowing your physical limitations and abilities will go a long way towards planning your business for the long term.