How to Start a $125K/Month Cleaning Business

  • Brandon Boushy by Brandon Boushy
  • 3 months ago
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Chris Mondragon pointing to cleaning products while introducing UpFlip’s how to start a cleaning business guide with text that reads "How to start a $125K/month cleaning business" hovering overhead

Did you know that it costs less than $5K to start a cleaning business, but with the right strategies you can make more than $1.5M per year?

Join us as we discuss how to start a cleaning business from scratch. We’ll explore Cristobal Mondragon’s remarkable journey from starting Queen Bee Cleaning Services in 2015 to becoming a featured speaker at cleaning conventions.

We’ll share his story, the strategies and lessons Chris learned from starting a cleaning business from home, general information about the cleaning industry, and how you can start one of your own. Chris told us:

This is the best time to start a cleaning business.

This guide will show you exactly how to start a cleaning service. Let’s start by discussing the Queen Bee Cleaning Services:

Case Study: Queen Bee Cleaning Services

Cristobal Mondragon and his wife started Queen Bee Cleaning Services in 2015. Today, he makes over $1.5M annually and has opened a second location. He’s been recognized by industry organizations for his excellence, and he’s used his success to expand into courses, customer relationship management, and coaching.

But it hasn’t been without challenges. Chris made the costly mistake of misclassifying employees as subcontractors, leading to a hefty fine.

That might stop many business owners, but he overcame the $10K hit and is passing his knowledge on to you.

Check out our interview with him below.

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Now, let’s look at what you need to know about the industry before starting a cleaning business.

Cleaning Industry Outlook

Janitorial workers cleaning an office space

According to IBIS World, the contract cleaning industry made over $90B in revenue in 2022 and will grow to nearly $100B by 2027.

There are 1,163,718 cleaning companies in the U.S., so considering the revenue figure above, that means they average $77,122.63 in annual revenue each. With wages being approximately 38.4% of revenue, that means it’s pretty easy for cleaners who want to start their own business to take home around $45K after expenses.

Chris provided a spreadsheet of his accounts, which I modified to make his accounting match IBIS World’s database for an easy comparison. His strategies help him earn nearly double the after-tax profit and nearly four times the take-home pay of the average cleaning business owner.

Year Converting Industry To Average Business QueenBee (Using Numbers Adjusted For Income Privacy)
2022 Ind Revenue in Millions $89,749.00
Industry Revenue $89,749,000,000.00
Number of Businesses 1,163,718
Rev/Est $77,122.64 $1,130,896.00
COGS $30,463.44 $895,841.20
Gross Profit $46,659.19 $235,054.80
Salaries $11,876.89 $80,000.00
Other Expenses (Most likely rent, utilities, etc. that pertain specifically to running a home-based business) $31,157.55 $55,296.00
Net Income $3,624.76 $99,758.80
Approximated Owner’s Earnings $46,659.19 $188,758.80
Net Income Percentage 4.70% 8.82%
Owners Income Percentage 60.50% 16.69%

Get ready to find out the answers to these frequently asked cleaning company questions. We’ll answer questions like:

  • How much can a cleaning company owner make?
  • How much money do I need to start a cleaning company?
  • What is the easiest cleaning company to start?

How profitable is starting a cleaning business?

According to The BBQ Cleaner, cleaning services can earn between $20K and $100K in annual profit. A solopreneur cleaning business normally makes around $50K per year.

The Janitorial Store estimates the average profit margin for commercial cleaning businesses is between 10% and 15%. Profitability will vary based on your location, target market, pricing strategy, and the size of your business.

The factors below could make your cleaning business profitable:

  • High Demand: Most wealthy families and businesses need cleaning professionals.
  • Growth Potential: Cleaning businesses can grow from a one-person operation to cleaning business dynasties with locations across the country or world.
  • Low Overhead: Cleaning businesses have low startup costs and are commonly run from home.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Cleaning Business?

Chris started Queen Bee with less than a $5K budget. He estimates you can start for less than $2.8K if you have a car. You can expect around 50% of earnings to go to payroll, including your wages. Another 30% of revenue will be spent on bookkeeping, advertising, overhead, and taxes.

Udemy offers inexpensive courses on budgeting that are worth checking out. Many cleaning companies love using Jobber as their cleaning business software to help lower costs.

What is the best type of cleaning business to start?

Residential cleaning is the easiest type of cleaning business to start because it requires less initial investment than business cleaning services or specialized cleaning services.

You might also consider starting the following:

  • Commercial Cleaning Company: Cleaning services for offices, manufacturing spaces, and commercial spaces make higher profits but have higher startup costs.
  • Specialized Cleaning: Upholstery cleaning, vehicle detailing, closet organization, mattress cleaning, and clothing cleaning services require additional knowledge to provide proper cleaning techniques, but they have less competition and a narrower target market.
  • Other cleaning services: Carpet cleaning, chimney cleaning, window cleaning, and crime scene cleaning are all high demand cleaning solutions in local markets.

Consider Cleaning Certifications

Completing International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) certifications will land you on their database of certified professional cleaners. That’s a high-authority link to your website!

Queen Bee has a certification from the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International (ARCSI) as well as the Institute of Inspection and Restoration Certification (IIRC). He told us:

ARCSI certification teaches you how to use chemicals properly and avoid creating toxic fumes. It basically comes down to teaching you the chemistry behind each product and how to clean each [surface] … and avoid damaging them. [An] IIRC certification is similar to the ARCSI certificate but focuses on carpet cleaning and tile cleaning.

Find out about more than 45 cleaning certifications.

Learn to Run a New Cleaning Company Successfully

Get FREE training for building your cleaning business with Chris Mondragon’s webinar, “How to Start a $125K Per Month Cleaning Business From Scratch.”

During this FREE training, Chris will share his proven secrets for starting your own 7-figure cleaning business in just one week. You don’t want to miss this rare opportunity to learn from this multi-million-dollar cleaning business entrepreneur for free!

How to Start a Cleaning Business

Home cleaner carrying a bucket of supplies

Starting a cleaning service company doesn’t have to be hard. We’ve outlined the process for starting a successful cleaning business in nine steps:

  1. Choose a target market.
  2. Choose your specialty.
  3. Create a cleaning business plan.
  4. Fund your business.
  5. Register your business.
  6. Price your services.
  7. Find clients.
  8. Invest in advertising.
  9. Hire a cleaning crew.

Let’s start by discussing what cleaning company customers to serve.

Step #1. Choose Your Target Market

You need to understand who your target clients are to run the business successfully. Do some market research to find out where they are located.

A house cleaning business will normally do cleaning jobs for more affluent homeowners, while an office cleaning company will be looking for new business owners. Both groups can benefit from finding prospective clients who are unhappy with their current provider.

Take some time to do market research about how to align your brand and company values with the target market. Then choose a cleaning business name.

Next, you’ll learn what cleaning company services to provide.

Screenshot of UpFlip’s National Business Capital & Services partner page

Step #2. Choose the Type of Cleaning Business to Start

Research different types of cleaners and establish what is right for you. Specialized services tend to do particularly well. We created a list of cleaning company types and what they offer. Consider starting some of these cleaning businesses:

Offering a variety of services can help you reach more clients. Queen Bee Cleaning Services provides house cleaning (including Airbnb and move-out cleaning), janitorial services, carpet cleaning, and hospital-grade disinfectant services. Chris told us:

Recurring house cleaning is our bread and butter. Move-in and move-out services can have some surprises. Airbnb can be really profitable when you get it right.

Next, you’ll learn what goes into a business and marketing plan for a local cleaning company.

Step #3. Create a Cleaning Business Plan

You need a business plan to help guide your decision-making. It keeps you focused. The plan will help define your vision, target market, objectives, startup costs, and strategy to get potential clients.

A business plan is a living document that will help you secure financing and help you manage logistics better than other small business owners. Make sure you write one!

Try out our business plan templates and resources below as you learn how to start a cleaning business.

Establish a Location

Most cleaning businesses operate from home for the following reasons:

  • Home-based businesses have lower startup costs.
  • Equipment and supplies can be stored at home.
  • A room in the home can be converted into an office.
  • Work is performed on an external job site.

Chris runs his small business from home, and when we interviewed him two years ago, his business expenses for rent and utilities were only $750 per month. He even told us most of those expenses actually helped the business from an accounting standpoint.

However you plan to do your bookkeeping, don’t forget to check the Municode Library to find the local ordinances about starting a home-based cleaning business.

Keep in mind that running a cleaning business where children and pets live can be dangerous. Cleaning materials can be toxic, and some are explosive if combined. The EPA offers guidance on handling household hazardous waste.

Templates and Resources

These business plan templates and resources will help you prepare to get residential and commercial cleaning jobs. Want to know the best part? They’re all free!

Also, check out our interview with Mike regarding business plans. Mike offers lawn care services, but his advice applies to commercial cleaning services. Plus, his small business is one of the fastest-growing franchises in the country.

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Create Standard Workflows

Chris has tons of resources to help you start your own cleaning business. Check them out in his free training course.

He emphasizes the importance of getting every facet of your process documented to create workflows. His clients appreciate the transparency he provides with his pricing. You can be confident in your endeavors if you seek to model your business after Queen Bee.

Get Cleaning Supplies and Equipment

Your cleaning supplies depend on the services you provide, but you can start by purchasing equipment like a vacuum cleaner, window cleaner, and a few microfiber towels.

For more information about what cleaning equipment you’ll need for a maid service, check out our guide. It’s effectively a cleaning business starter kit!

Chris even offers a hospital-grade disinfecting service, which requires specific supplies. He told us:

We use an electrostatic sprayer to apply the disinfectant. The sprayer ‘loads’ the mist with a positive charge, making the disinfectant stick to all surfaces, killing 99% of the pathogens. Our hospital-grade disinfectant is an EPA-certified product safe to use around children and pets and safe on all surfaces.

Next, we’ll discuss whether you need a business loan when you start your local cleaning company.

Step #4. Get Funding

Ever wonder why so many people get into the cleaning business? It has a low barrier to entry. The initial investment to start a home cleaning business can be one shopping trip to a home improvement store.

Funds to start your cleaning service can come from:

  • Personal funds: People commonly pull from their savings and paychecks.
  • Loan from family or friends: Sometimes friends and family are willing to help people start a business. At the very least, they might hire you to clean their homes.
  • Business partners: It’s easier to get twice as much done if you have a business partner. They can be an active or a silent investor.
  • Government programs: Some people will qualify for Small Business Administration loans or other government grants.
  • Crowdfunding: If your business idea is something that can be scaled to sell all over the country, crowdfunding is an option.
  • Credit cards: Your business may need credit cards to pay for expenses. Each business purchase could earn some cash back and help build business credit. Like personal credit scores, business credit scores impact loan rates.
  • Home equity loan: Refinancing your home loan is a great way to get startup cash.
  • Rollover for business startups (ROBS): If you start an S-Corp or C-Corp, you can move your 401(k) from your employer to your new corporation and buy the company stock with the 401(k), giving your business an influx of cash. During operations, you can reinvest dividends into the 401(k) to increase the funds in it.

Check out our article about business funding. We cover 17 ways of funding a business to help you decide which practices are best for you.

Alternatively, the SBA offers free courses on financing options and funding programs. The Hartford published the pros and cons of using personal funds to start a business.

Don’t forget to check out our lending partners.

Once you’ve got the money, it’s time to register your business and get your cleaning business license.

Step #5. Register the Cleaning Business

Once you have a business plan, you’ll want to come up with a memorable name. Considering each of these aspects will help you beat out your competition:

  • Does it state what you do? If you wash windows, does the name or logo indicate you perform window washing? Don’t be too specific, though, because businesses evolve.
  • Is it easy to remember? Potential customers will need to search your business name.
  • Does it indicate the location you serve? Major cities can be too big to serve in their entirety. Using local terms can narrow the audience and improve ranks on Google.
  • Does it communicate the brand message? Queen Bee Cleaning Services’ company logo is a picture of a bee along with the name of the company. Simple, right?

Queen Bee does a great job as a brand because it is the hive leader (best of the local residential cleaning businesses), but it doesn’t clarify for potential customers where the service is, widening its potential customers.

Register a Dot Com

Top-down shot of a woman using a tablet to search for available domain names

Once you have a name idea, run it by your friends and family. Test it on Google Trends. Our business name generator connects you directly to NameCheap when you click on one of the business names. There, you can buy the domain name and other services.

Pro Tip: Aid your brainstorming even more with our ultimate list of cleaning business names.

Establish a Legal Structure and Register With the State

When you have your name, you’ll want to choose a legal structure. Legal structures include sole proprietorships, limited liability companies, and corporations.

To establish a legal business structure, work with an attorney, accountant, tax specialist, or government official for the best results. Then you can register your business with the necessary state and local agencies.

Next, you’ll want to get your business licenses.

Licenses, Permits, and Tax Forms

Regardless of the business structure, determine if your cleaning company requires a business license, permit, or a specific set of tax forms to operate legally. We researched each state to create our guide to cleaning business licenses. Alternatively, you can use the SBA tool to find out which business licenses you need.

Get Cleaning Services Insurance

A local business owner should purchase general liability insurance, especially if they serve commercial clients, which require it. General liability insurance covers property damage and bodily injury.

Check out our blog about how to get business insurance for more information. We recommend using Simply Business to find the best business insurance rates.

How to Start a Cleaning Business Franchise

A franchise consists of a franchisor company and a franchisee in a joint venture to sell the franchisor’s products and services. In essence, a franchise enables you to enter the market with a ready-made cleaning company.

Many franchise opportunities exist in the cleaning industry. Well-known franchises are The Maids, ChemDry, and PuroClean. Learn more about buying a franchise.

At this point, you know how to set up proper licensing, but a successful business needs to provide consistent services and pricing.

Step #6. Price Your Services

Cleaners meeting with a new client in her home

A small business owner will need to establish how much to charge for cleaning services. Research reasonable prices to stay competitive while still making a profit.

There are three typical ways house cleaning prices are calculated by a house cleaner:

  • Hourly: $25 to $90 per hour, per cleaner
  • Flat fee: $100 to $800 weekly or biweekly for standard cleaning of a single-family home
  • Room rate: $100 for 1 bed/1 bath + $10 to $20 for each additional bedroom and bathroom
  • Per square foot: $0.05 to $0.10 per square foot

Learn more in our house cleaning pricing guide.

Next we’ll discuss how to get commercial cleaning contracts.

Step #7. Get Cleaning Clients

Building customer relationships is crucial for starting a cleaning business. Some of the best digital and traditional marketing techniques when you start a cleaning business include:

  • Market your business: Identify your target audience and the cleaning services they need. Then use social media, flyers, and local associations to promote your brand. You’ll also want a website to show potential customers the services you offer.
  • Get reviews: Client testimonials on social media or Google Business Profile help attract new customers. Make sure to ask for them and make them easy to provide.
  • Build a network: Local business and trade associations are great places for business networking and referral groups.
  • Use online marketplaces: Let people know about your services on marketplaces to help get low-cost leads.
  • Get referrals: Ask clients to refer their friends. Starting a cleaning company is easier when satisfied customers, friends, and family recommend your business to other people.
  • Offer discounts: First-time customer discounts often attract new clients. You can also provide subscription-based discounts for routine cleaning.
  • Optimize your website: Make sure your website directly answers customer searches.

Learn more about how to get clients for your cleaning business.

Chris reveals all these incredible tactics, plus his pricing structure, in his 7-Figure Cleaning Business Blueprint course. You get to see how Chris executes all the most important techniques from the course live.

It’s time to implement your marketing plan next.

Step #8. Invest in Advertising

Advertising and promotion marketing are important for starting any business, especially a cleaning service. In fact, marketing is one of Chris’s biggest expenses in his budget.

His marketing budget is an average of $4,212.50 per month. He spends primarily on Google Local Ads, but he also spends a portion on Yelp, Craigslist, and Facebook. He told us:

Craigslist ads are low-cost and have done really well. You should definitely include them [in the list of places you run ads].

Chris has become highly ranked on Google, Yelp, Nextdoor, Houzz, Thumbtack, HomeAdvisor, and Porch. Focusing on building your business presence on highly ranked websites helps increase your site’s authority.

He shares his Facebook ad strategy in our master course. It’s surprisingly simple but gets a return on ad spend of 16-41X.

You’ll want to use a combination of:

  • Digital marketing: This includes email newsletters, social media, and search engine optimization. Neil Patel is a renowned authority in this area. Check out his website.
  • Printed materials: This includes business cards, flyers, brochures, T-shirts, and even car magnets. Canva is an excellent tool for designing your own business cards. And here’s our guide for getting them cheap.
  • SMS marketing: Sending text messages is a highly successful digital marketing strategy.
  • Branding: Uniforms, vehicles, and customer service are all crucial aspects of marketing for residential cleaning businesses.

One of Chris’s marketing strategies is putting door hangers on three houses in each direction after each cleaning. These fliers give first-time customers discounts. Many customers who took advantage of this sale were so impressed with the service they happily joined his subscription plans.

Pro Tip: Check out our article on how to get cleaning contracts.

As a business owner, you might have a goal for your house cleaning services to create jobs and make more profit. If you do, check out this next section.

Step #9. Hire a Cleaning Crew

Imagine what it would be like to have so many referrals and so much business that you can’t handle it all yourself!

While many cleaning businesses are one-person operations, owners often find that it helps to have employees for practical and profit-based reasons. After all, you might want to take a vacation!

Before you hire employees, you must address the following:

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): Get your business an EIN from the IRS. Apply for one online or call 800-829-4933.
  • Tax Filing and Withholding: The IRS publishes a handy guide for employers that is available here
  • Unemployment Insurance Tax: You will need to pay Unemployment Insurance Tax through the UI Program under the Social Security Tax for employers.
  • Federal Employment and Labor Laws: All employers must display workplace posters that are downloadable on the U.S. Department of Labor website.

Other requirements include:

  • Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9)
  • Reporting to your state’s new hire program
  • Worker’s compensation insurance
  • Disability insurance, as required by some states
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training

Compensating employees is probably going to be your most significant expense. It is for Chris. You can either pay employees an hourly rate or per task. Chris pays an hourly rate of about $19, but local businesses can choose which works best.

If you’re a busy house cleaning company with lots of customers near each other, both you and the employees can benefit from performance-based pay.

Ready to Start Your Own Cleaning Business?

Now you have the tools and knowledge to embark on your path to success in the cleaning industry.

Remember, it’s crucial to understand your target audience, choose the right type of cleaning services, and create a solid business plan. Proper funding, registration, and pricing strategies will lay a strong foundation for your business.

Once your business formation is complete, build a loyal client base through effective marketing and excellent service. Don’t forget to ask for reviews to ensure long-term success.

As your business grows, don’t forget the importance of hiring and managing a reliable cleaning crew.

Whether you’re dreaming of starting a small residential cleaning service or building a multi-million-dollar empire like Queen Bee Cleaning Services, the journey begins with a single step. Take the knowledge and insights gained from this guide and start your journey to entrepreneurial success in the cleaning industry today.

What’s stopping you from starting a cleaning business?

Join The Discussion

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10 thoughts on “How to Start a $125K/Month Cleaning Business”

  • Bill

    Thanks !!!

    Reply
  • Michael Moore

    What software does he use for his cleaning business?

    Reply
    • Brandon Boushy

      Christ Mondragon uses the following software at Queen Bee Cleaning Service:
      Booking Koala
      HighLevel
      Google Business Profile with Google Guaranteed Service
      WooCommerce
      And many more. I believe he said he spends nearly $1,000 per month on his technology services. You can find a full list in our Airbnb blog where I gathered them all: https://www.upflip.com/blog/how-to-become-an-airbnb-cleaner

      Reply
  • Paul Kim

    how much do i need?

    Reply
    • Brandon Boushy

      You can get started cleaning with just the normal cleaning items you have at home, but to get the business licenses and run it like Chris does, you’ll need a couple thousand.

      Reply
  • Kawana aJones

    I am trying to grow my business

    Reply
  • rachel

    This was quality information I will take it into account.

    Reply
    • Brandon Boushy

      I’m glad it helped.

      Reply
  • Scott Adams

    jllj

    Reply

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