How to Start a $2M/Year Remote Cleaning Business

by Brandon Boushy
How to Start a $2M/Year Remote Cleaning Business

Have you ever wondered how to start a cleaning company? Cleaning businesses are some of the easiest businesses to start, but some people would prefer to just manage the business, not do the actual cleaning. Here, we explain how to start a remote house cleaning business without needing to do any cleaning yourself.

We talked to Neel Parekh, who started MaidThis in 2013. He built his remote cleaning concept into a company that makes over $166K per month and offers franchises to help small business owners do the same. The best part? He did this while traveling for 5+ years and to over 50 countries.

We’ll share his story about how to start a remote cleaning company, plus tons of great marketing tips and systems advice.

Get ready to learn how to start a remote cleaning business.

What is a remote cleaning business?

A remote cleaning business is a cleaning company where the owner performs marketing, human resources, and administrative functions of the business from anywhere in the world while outsourcing or hiring local workers to perform the cleaning for customers.

Effectively, you’ll start a cleaning business without cleaning.

What businesses can be remote?

Three criteria have to be met for any business to be run remotely:

  1. The staff have to go to a service location. For example, gyms won’t work, but cleaning companies do.
  2. The small business should have low overhead. You can’t hold a lot of supplies or inventory.
  3. Management tasks need to be done remotely.

Neel told us:

This makes service businesses ideal for remote jobs.

Check out our interview with Neel to learn about remote business success stories.

He has a special offer for UpFlip members to get $6,000 in credit when they start a MaidThis franchise.

Keep reading to get great remote business ideas.

Remote business ideas

Remote businesses normally fall into two categories:

  1. Online businesses
  2. Local service businesses

Best online business ideas

UpFlip best online business ideas blog on a tablet

A successful online business can be created using online business ideas like an:

  • Online store: Sell online using dropshipping or Fulfillment by Amazon to make money from people who are online shopping.
  • Podcast: Talk about subjects that interest you and earn a living from ads and sponsorships with this online business idea. Learn more about podcasting.
  • YouTube creator: Learn how to start an online business by creating YouTube videos.
  • Online tutoring business: Start your own online tutoring business or use a tutoring and test prep platform like TutorMe, Skooli, or Wyzant.
  • Freelancing: Most freelancers work remotely using platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.
  • Online courses: Course creation is a great option for remote businesses because you create the course and can consult from anywhere in the world.

In addition to a remote cleaning business, you might consider other popular remote businesses like eCommerce, human resources, and accounting.

Check out our blog about online businesses for more remote business ideas.

Local service businesses can be remote businesses

You can use Neel’s strategies for service businesses like:

  • Cleaning: Neel chose a cleaning business because it is the easiest of the service businesses to apply his techniques. There’s a large pool of qualified employees and lots of places that need cleaning. Plus, everyone has the supplies they need.
  • Locksmith: Most of the parts in locks are interchangeable, which means these same strategies could be applied to create a remote locksmith business.
  • Painting: A small business painting homes and businesses could be run remotely. You might need AI that pulls up the design documents and calculates the total square feet that need painting, but it can also be calculated using other means.
  • Pressure washing: The challenge with pressure washing may be the equipment. You would probably want your remote business to focus on providing referrals to other businesses to remove this challenge.
  • HVAC: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning companies can provide services like preventive maintenance, fan repairs, and filter changes without needing a lot of inventory. You’ll probably want a referral partner for larger fixes, though.

Learn about other service business ideas.

How to start a remote cleaning business

Woman using WiFi internet connection to run a business while traveling

Starting remote businesses is all about creating systems that make it easier for you to run your own business from anywhere in the world. The process of starting a remote cleaning business will include:

  1. Perform market research.
  2. Write a business plan.
  3. Create a website and CRM.
  4. Set up a payment processor.
  5. Create your business structure.
  6. Get remote cleaning business insurance.
  7. Create cleaning contracts.
  8. Find cleaners.
  9. Market your remote business.

Neel told us:

I didn’t have a mentor, so I was scared to quit my day job when I hit my freedom number. I cushioned my bank account and wish I had just dove in faster.

Keep reading for more information about creating a remote business model.

Perform market research

There are plenty of people who have business ideas but never turn them into a profitable business. Your chances of success are much higher if you research what other businesses in the industry do and where there are gaps in the industry.

A remote cleaning business might want to use social media and Google to find locations that have higher population-to-cleaning business ratios.

In our research about the best small-town businesses, we found that locations with more than 416 people per cleaning business tend to be the best places to open a cleaning company.

You also want to understand what marketing strategy, pricing, and services competitors offer. Learn more about market research.

Write a business plan

Full-time business brainstorming with a sketchpad at a desk with a potted plant, laptop, and glasses

Every successful business idea needs a business plan. Given we’re talking about a business model that can be run from anywhere in the world, you need to focus on systems.

You’ll want to include the answers to questions like:

What is the cost of starting a remote cleaning business?

Neel told us a remote cleaning business has low startup costs.

I probably spent under $1,000. You just need internet connection, a WordPress website, and a computer. You can grow from there.

Pro Tip: If you want to grow faster, consider joining a system where a lot of the work is already done for you, like MaidThis Franchise.

What systems do I need for a fully remote business?

MaidThis website screenshot

You’ll need some systems to run a successful remote business including a(n):

  • 24/7 remote call service or VoIP provider (Neel uses DialPad)
  • SMS + email automation system (at UpFlip we use MailChimp)
  • Online booking system like Launch27 or Booking Koala
  • Human resources for your remote business
  • Slack

Neel told us:

Basically anything you don’t want to do, or don’t know how to, outsource it.

You might need translation services if your internet business idea involves providing services in a foreign country or contracting or hiring cleaners whose first language is different than yours.

The best thing about a MaidThis franchise is that they provide aspiring entrepreneurs with everything they need to run a fully remote business.

Create a website and CRM

You’ll need a website and customer relationship management system to operate any remote business. Neel told us:

Just get a $100 WordPress template and then build from there when you first start.

Website

Remote business founder Neel Parekh cleaning a laptop

At a minimum, your remote cleaning business website will need to include:

  1. Home page
  2. Booking page
  3. Services page (include pricing)
  4. About us page
  5. Locations page

Check out the MaidThis website for more information on how they approach each of these.

Website building resources

Some useful resources for building a remote cleaning business website include:

  • GoDaddy: Get website hosting, domain names, and email marketing automation through GoDaddy.
  • NameCheap: Get domains, email accounts, WordPress hosting, and other services from NameCheap.
  • Build a website: Learn how to build a website.
  • Creating a brand: Get tips on building a brand.

CRM

Your customer relationship management system is a database and interface that helps you easily manage everything going on with your company. Each CRM works slightly differently, but you’ll need a CRM that either includes or connects to your:

  • Online booking system
  • Call support system
  • SMS and email marketing systems
  • Payroll and accounting system
  • Dispatch system
  • Invoicing and payment processing

Many systems include easy integrations with commonly used providers.

CRM resources
  • GBG Marketing: Neel and his franchise use a CRM created by GBG Marketing that automates follow-ups and puts booking on autopilot.
  • Housecall Pro: Simplify your workflows and grow your business with the easiest-to-use CRM. Get a 14-day trial from Housecall Pro.
  • monday.com: One of the most commonly used CRM and project management tools is monday.com. Check out our monday.com review.
  • Jobber: This CRM focuses on making service businesses easier to run. It’s fairly intuitive to use. Check out Jobber.
  • ClickUp: We use ClickUp at UpFlip. It’s a great system that lets you monitor and control your workflows at a reasonable cost.
  • HubSpot: HubSpot is one of the most amazing programs I have ever seen, but the coolest features are complex. Compare HubSpot’s pricing options. I’d suggest starting with the Starter CRM.

Any of these should provide the functionality you need, but each works differently, so check out the demos to decide which you like best.

Set up a payment processor

Remote business payment options including cash, credit card, QR code, and POS machine

You’ll need a payment processor to charge your cleaning customers and pay cleaners. Most businesses use Stripe because it is easy to use and integrations are normally built into other software.

Payment processors normally charge a fee based on the value of the transaction PLUS a per-transaction fee. In addition, they may also charge a monthly fee.

You might also consider options like:

  • Helcim
  • Square
  • Stax by Fattmerchant

View the table below for a quick overview of the differences between each.

 Company Name Percentage Per-Transaction Fee Other Fees
    Stripe    2.9%    30 cents Additional fees depending on services
   Helcim Interchange Plus (Normally 1.94% to 2.51%) Interchange Plus (Normally 8 to 25 cents) Each card provider has their own fees they charge for in-person or keyed payments.
    Square 2.9% (2.6% with higher plans) 30 cents online or 10 cents in person The $79 monthly plan will save your online business money if you make over $27K per month, but Helcim and Stax are still less expensive.
   Stax    Interchange    Interchange    $99 a month

As you can see, there are some details that make it harder to compare payment processors than some other systems, but in most scenarios, Helcim will save you money.

Pro Tip: One money-saving trick is to make sure that your online business uses technologies to qualify for lower “card-present” fees.

You’ll need to create a business structure, get any business licenses you need, and get a business bank account to run a remote business idea legally. Let’s look at how to accomplish each of these.

Choose a business structure

UpFlip business types blog on a laptop

Small business ideas can make up to $600 before you need to start reporting the income on your taxes. Most business owners start a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and file taxes as an S-Corp.

First, you’ll need to check the USPTO and the Secretary of State website in the location you want to register to make sure the name for your remote business is available. If the name is available, apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and save it somewhere safe.

Then apply for an LLC on your Secretary of State website. We walk you through an example of what the application looks like in this blog.

Next you’ll need to fill out Form 8832 and Form 2553 with the IRS to opt into the S-Corp tax structure, which provides benefits to LLCs like:

  • Potentially reduced taxes
  • No double taxation
  • Wages paid to owners
  • Dividends paid with profits

There are plenty of other business structures for online business ideas, but this is one of the best.

Get business licenses and permits for your remote business

You will probably need business licenses in the location(s) where you operate your remote business. This could include tax permits, local business licenses, and other requirements.

Make sure to check with your local authorities or a business law attorney to ensure you comply with all local laws. Each location is different, so you may need someone who has familiarity with multiple locations or specializes in helping unique online businesses.

Don’t forget a business bank account

You’ll need a business bank account to make your remote business easier to manage. In addition, a business bank account protects the limited liability status of a company because it keeps personal and business finances separate.

There are many available business bank accounts, and which one you choose will depend on your small business needs and structure. At the time of writing, I recommend Live Oak Bank because it

  • Uses IntraFi Cash Service to provide FDIC insurance up to $10 million
  • Was the 2022 leader in SBA loans
  • Offers 4.0% interest on its savings accounts

Learn more about opening a business bank account.

Get remote cleaning business insurance

Using consulting services from an insurance broker who’s showing a certificate of liability insurance on a clipboard

You’ll need small business insurance coverage in case anything goes wrong on the job. You’ll want to consider getting a Business Owners Policy (BOP) that covers:

  • General Liability Insurance: Covers liability claims and lawsuits
  • Commercial Property Insurance: Protects buildings, inventory, and equipment
  • Additional Riders: Covers other business scenarios like shutdowns, errors and omissions (E&O), workers’ compensation, and commercial automobile insurance

Check out Simply Business to get quotes from 16 of America’s best business insurance companies.

Create cleaning contracts

You’ll need to have some contracts prepared before you hire cleaners to work for your remote cleaning business. You’ll need an employment agreement that covers:

  • The relationship between your company and the cleaner
  • Noncompete terms
  • Payment structure
  • Property damages

Let’s look at each of these in more detail to help you understand how to manage employee or contractor relationships.

Company and cleaner relationship

Cleaner wearing orange rubber glove shaking hands with business owner

You’ll want to define whether the cleaners you hire are employees or subcontractors. Many remote businesses will consider all people who work with them as subcontractors, but you have to be careful.

Cristobal Mondragon classified all his employees as independent contractors and that resulted in a hefty fine.

YouTube player

Ultimately, your remote house cleaning business is a digital marketing business that provides cleaners. That means the maids and housekeepers count as independent contractors, but the IRS suggests requesting a ruling for positions you routinely need to fill to verify if the workers are actually employees or subcontractors.

Try out our cleaning business course
Want to get all the templates, workflows, and systems that Chris uses to make $5,800 per day? Check out our free cleaning business course!

Noncompete term

A remote cleaning business start-up will probably want noncompete clauses when they hire employees or subcontractors. Remote working may need terms like:

“The subcontractor/employee agrees that all clients are clients of [Company Name]. Performing any work for the clients except through [Company Name] is a violation of the services agreement and will result in the termination of the contract and pursuit of loss income at the rate of $[Amount].”

The paragraph above is just an example. Consult with an attorney or human resource specialist to get a noncompete agreement that is legal in each location where your business operates.

Payment structure

Neel holding up a payment agreement document to show how to build remote cleaning business with contracts

You’ll want to specify how you will pay your cleaning people. Many business owners find that pay-for-performance is the best business model to align unique online business ideas with the employees’ interests. This payment model may mean paying them:

  1. A percentage of each job
  2. Incentives for performing certain tasks

Neel told us:

I pay my cleaners $25 for each person who provides a review after they cleaned their house. This encourages them to ask for reviews and helps us build faster business growth.

Property damage

Your virtual business should add terms that protect against items broken or otherwise damaged by your employees. These terms may require subcontractors to carry small business insurance or specify that employees may be responsible for the cost of the replacement up to a certain amount.

Make sure to get legal advice to establish what is legal in the locations you serve.

In addition, you’ll need cleaning contracts for your clients. Many residential home cleaners do not use contracts, but Airbnb cleaners may.

Find cleaners

Remote workers cleaning concept showing janitorial employee popping out of a laptop next to cleaning supplies

Neel explained how he finds remote employees:

I’m looking for three main things when hiring people:

  • Good reliability
  • Good communication
  • Good attitude

He went on to explain that Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are great places to find employees without spending a lot on hiring. Once you have eligible candidates, Neel told us:

We use an automated five-step recruiting process. That includes:

  • Initial screening call that asks questions like do they have business insurance and licenses.
  • Then we conduct a second Zoom call to see if they show up and how they interact.
  • Send them on a test job.
  • Officially onboard.
  • Monitor what they do.

One of the benefits of buying a MaidThis franchise is you get to skip a lot of the mistakes most people experience as they learn how to build a remote cleaning business.

In addition to all the other support and resources, you’ll get access to MaidThis’s detailed standard operating procedures, which are over 1,000 pages long. Find out why in the video below.

Conduct background checks

In-person businesses like cleaning companies rely on customer service from remote teams. You’ll want to make sure every in-person worker has a clean background. That means you’ll need to conduct a background check.

You can consider companies like

  • Crtain: Crtain is used by Tesla, Shopify, and Deloitte to get up to 80% faster criminal background checks.
  • Checkr: One of the biggest background check companies but sometimes the checks take too long. Issues normally arise when people have criminal backgrounds or have lived in multiple jurisdictions in the last seven years.

UpFlip Cautionary Tale

I have a lot of experience with Checkr background checks because they were run on me for multiple employers. I used to move approximately once per year to go experience new places.

My background checks would ALWAYS take at least a week because they had to check seven jurisdictions. Meanwhile, my significant other’s background checks almost always come back instantaneously.

The other scenario that commonly holds up background checks is criminal charges that don’t necessarily convert easily from one state to another. For instance, Nevada gross misdemeanors are often considered felonies because other states don’t have gross misdemeanors, and they are only available as plea bargains in Nevada.

If you need someone fast, ask screening questions like:

  • How many locations have you lived in the last seven years?
  • Have you ever been charged with a felony?

These two questions will let you know if screening the applicant will take longer than normal.

Fill out HR paperwork

UpFlip hiring blog on a laptop

You’ll need to provide new hire paperwork before managing remote employees in the U.S.

  • W-4 Form: This document lets you know how much to deduct for taxes. States that have income tax will also require a state form.
  • I-9 Form: This is a proof of identity form that is required to work in the U.S.
  • Offer of Employment: This document details exactly what you are offering the new hire.
  • Employment Contract: This document details the terms of the employment and goes into more detail than the original offer.
  • Emergency Contact Info: You’ll need this document to contact the next of kin if your employee is injured, gets sick, or dies on the job.
  • Employee Handbook: Let the employee know what is expected of them, including values, policies, dress codes or uniforms, and other behavior. You need a page for them to sign to document receipt of and agreement with the handbook.
  • Payroll and Benefits: Documents like a direct deposit form and any other benefit forms the company offers.

Remote work in other countries may have different requirements. When working remotely, always consult with someone familiar with the laws in the country where the remote team works. Learn more about hiring.

Hiring resources

Some resources that you can use for hiring include:

  • Trello: Neel uses Trello to manage the onboarding of remote employees.
  • QuickBooks Payroll: Handle your payroll and accounting with QuickBooks.

Market your cleaning business

Woman cleaning a bright office space

A remote cleaning business will need to use a combination of digital marketing and “boots-on-the-ground” marketing.

Neel loves talking about marketing. He gave us input on how much you should spend to get unique online business ideas to start making money.

How much is the marketing budget for a startup?

To most effectively start a great online business idea, you’ll want to spend 15 to 20% of your desired revenue on a combination of digital and print marketing. Neel told us:

We spend about 5% of revenue on marketing. When you first start, I recommend 15 to 20% of your spending on marketing because once you get a client, it’s pretty easy to keep them.

As your marketing strategy helps you reach your desired revenue, you can reduce your marketing to maintain revenue and increase profits.

How to offer remote cleaning services

App development allows remote work concept showing Neel holding a globe with social media apps surrounding it in one hand and a Swiffer in the other

The best business ideas can fall flat if you don’t market them right and find the right clients. You’ll want to use digital marketing skills like:

  • Social media
  • Search engine optimization
  • Paid ads

Neel explained how to start a remote house cleaning company and get ahead of the competition fast.

If you answer the call, we close 60% of requests, but if we don’t answer, we only close 16%. So we use a call agency and an automated text messaging system to follow up if we miss the call.

MaidThis also uses an online booking system to provide potential clients another booking option.

In addition, any time they clean a home, they’ll send postcards to the five houses on either side of it. Neel told us:

If someone in a neighborhood is our client, their neighbors are probably our target audience.

Neel explained what to include in your calls:

When someone calls, we ask them something like, ‘Do you want weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly cleanings?’ Note we don’t offer them a one-time cleaning.

Neel also uses automated marketing tools and funnels to help book customers more regularly.

When a client hasn’t requested their home cleaned recently, they’ll send an automated text message. They even have a one-click brownie-sending service (yes, he sends baked goods) to help encourage return customers.

How to get reviews

Customer reviews are crucial to work remotely. You’ll want to provide great customer service. Then you want to encourage the cleaner to ask for a review because in-person meetings tend to create a better relationship than remote interactions. Neel told us:

Make sure your cleaners ask for reviews because the customer is more likely to review when they ask. We give the cleaners a $25 bonus for every review they get.

Neel went on to explain:

After each cleaning, we’ll request an automated review that takes about 10 seconds for the customer to review us.

You can also minimize bad reviews in the business world. Neel shared his secret:

When you get a bad review, call them and offer to send someone over for a complimentary recleaning.

Useful marketing tools

Concept showing how remote workers benefit from marketing tools with smiling woman in a white tee and orange cleaning gloves surrounded by icons for MailChimp, Canva, and Surfer

There are some useful marketing tools that small business owners use to market their companies:

  • Canva: Simplify graphic design with Canva. Get access to thousands of templates for website and social media for as low as $4.99 per month.
  • SurferSEO: Write blog content faster and rank higher on search engines with SurferSEO.
  • MailChimp: Email and SMS marketing automation is one of the keys to success that many small business owners mention. Get started with Mailchimp.

Next we’ll discuss some of the frequently asked questions about remote businesses.

Remote Businesses FAQ

Still considering whether a remote cleaning business is for you? We’ll answer some of the commonly asked questions about companies that work remotely including:

  • What companies are fully remote?
  • What is a remote-first company?
  • Benefits of remote work for companies?
  • Reasons not to allow work from home?

What companies are fully remote?

Young woman wearing over-ear headphones and working on social media management for remote business at her laptop

There are plenty of companies that are fully remote, but some of the best small business ideas that you can operate from your own home (or anywhere in the world, like Neel does) include:

  • Consulting services: You can be your own boss and advise people on your area of expertise as a business consultant.
  • Social media management: Manage other companies’ social media accounts using online communication tools to manage multiple platforms at once.
  • Online courses: Online courses can make millions and can approach 90% profits without the need for a physical office.
  • Affiliate marketing business: Working as an affiliate marketer is another opportunity to create pieces of content once and let them make you money forever.
  • eCommerce business: An eCommerce site that sells print-on-demand products can be a fully remote business.
  • Web development: Creating websites or app development is another great remote business.
  • Graphic design: Designing digital and print materials for companies doesn’t require being in their physical offices. Just grab a computer and get started.
  • Virtual event planning: Start your own business as an event planner. You’ll be working remotely most of the time. When you plan virtual events, it’s 100% remote work.
  • Virtual assistant business: A virtual assistant helps business professionals with work that is time-consuming and has to be done but doesn’t create much business value. You can be a virtual assistant with 100% remote work from your own home.

What is a remote-first company?

“Remote-first” companies prioritize remote work over in-person jobs. These companies are often similar to fully remote businesses, but they still maintain an office for when people need to get together to achieve their organizational goals.

Benefits of remote work for companies?

Internet connection facilitates remote business, shown by woman in dark-framed glasses holding a laptop with a cost meter in one hand and cash in the other

Whether you run online store ideas or want to start a remote business sanitizing company, there are benefits to remote work for many business owners, companies, and remote employees , including:

  • Global talent pool
  • Lower costs
  • Happier employees
  • Freedom to work when and where you want
  • Potential efficiency gains
  • Lower turnover
  • Healthier workforce
  • Green initiative compliance

There are also many reasons why you might not want to run a remote business.

Reasons not to allow work from home?

There are numerous reasons why companies might not want to allow remote work, including:

  • Potential efficiency loss
  • Harder to schedule meetings
  • Buildings and office furniture are being paid for but not utilized
  • Inability to monitor employee behavior
  • Difficult to share knowledge
  • Harder to build corporate culture
  • Lack of control
  • Collaboration may suffer
  • May cause employee isolation issues
  • Difficult to hire efficiently
  • Some people work better in person
  • Cyber security issues

Where can I learn more about Neel and MaidThis?

You can learn more about Neel and MaidThis on the following sites:

Start your own remote business

We’ve explained how to start a remote cleaning company, shared other online business ideas that can be run remotely, and provided advice from a highly successful business owner about how to start a cleaning business without cleaning.

Now it’s up to you. Will you put in the time and energy it takes to create the systems you need to build a business you can run from anywhere in the world?


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Author

Brandon Boushy

Our lead writer, Brandon Boushy, has been a business consultant, business owner, and marketer since 2017. Brandon is committed to the pursuit of knowledge and continuous improvement. He measures his success based on how many business owners he helps succeed. Brandon started Raising Daisy Photography in 2017 with Stephanie MacIver. His role was focused on marketing, estimating, and managing customer interactions. He is also a freelance business researcher and has provided over 3,800 hours of business research for more than 50 clients. His blogs are read by over 2 million people every year. Brandon told us: "My motto is never quit learning. I bring this motto to everything I do, and find writing the best way to help share the data I obtain to assist business professionals pursue their dreams." He empowers companies to improve their communication and brand awareness through creative content strategies and blog writing.

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