All About the Floor Cleaning Service
If you advertise yourself as a floor cleaning business only, people won't be hiring you to clean upholstery or windows. It can also be rewarding to narrow your focus, however, as it demonstrates to potential customers that you have a specialty in this area of cleaning and have dedicated your time to perfecting the process, rather than dividing up your time to a variety of different services.
What are the Qualifications?
- Floor care experience is necessary for anyone who will be doing the actual cleaning. If you will be doing the cleaning, and have never had actual floor care experience apart from cleaning your own home, then you should learn before starting your business. You can't start off a business with less-than-satisfactory services, since you won't make it far with that reputation. In order to make it far as a business, you need to impress those first few customers with your high quality and professional cleaning services.
What does this mean for you? Perhaps it means that you should look into working for another floor care service until you learn the tricks of the trade, and know what needs to be improved to succeed. This could be anywhere for a few months to a year even, until you feel prepared to work in this industry on the same.
If you already have floor care experience, or you won't be doing the actual cleaning, then the next step is to ensure the quality of work from your employees. You can do this by asking about their years of experience, asking for recommendations from former clients, or accompanying them on their first few cleanings to oversee and provide tips. Make sure that you trust your employees to put full effort into each cleaning, even when you are not present, so that the reputation of your business is not diminished by low quality cleanings.
- Seek a business license from the department of licensing and inspections, or a similar agency depending on your location. The specifics of this will vary depending on your local and state government's requirements. This is a step you need to take before marketing or contacting any customers, so that you have the proper licensing before starting the business in order to prevent any potential problems.
- Acquire the proper insurance from a business insurance agency. This is particularly important for floor cleaning services, since residential cleaning services don't always require insurance, though it might be in your interest to obtain it anyways. When there is the possibility that you will be working in office spaces and commercial buildings, however, as you will with a floor cleaning service, then most commercial clients require that you have insurance. In the event that you or your employees damage the floor or property, this type of insurance will cover the cost. It will also cover personal injury claims, so it is in the best interest of both you and your commercial clients. If you are starting out with a residential cleaning service, then you can also obtain insurance, but it is especially important if you will be working in commercial spaces.
- You can't leave out the business skills when it comes to starting your own business. Customer relations, time management, financing, and all other business matters are a critical factor to the success of your business.
What Are Your Customers Looking For?
The first question to ask is who are your customers? As you start your business, you can shape the direction of your marketing and where you choose to send information about your service. In comparison to residential cleaning services, homeowners will only make up a very small portion of your client-base. You may have a handful of homeowners who request a thorough floor cleaning annually or bi-annually, but you will actually find a majority of your customers are commercial clients.
These clients could be businesses, schools, hospitals, churches, stores, or any office building. The reason that such clients are much more frequent is because their own success depends on the cleanliness of their site, and there is a standard of cleanliness that their customers will expect. A dirty floor in a restaurant or store can turn away customers, so such clients will be looking for a quality floor cleaning service to ensure that their workspace is spotless.
Your customers are looking for your business to help maintain the reputation of their business. They will be looking for consistent, thorough service, and if they are unsatisfied at all then they may look for an alternative cleaning service.
Who is Your Competition?
Your competition is going to be the floor cleaning business that have been around longer and have proved their reputation in your local area. They may have larger teams of employees and more expensive equipment, as they have been around longer and raised the finances. You may be just starting out with a team of two or three people, and the bare essentials for equipment. You can still make your business a success, though, if you learn to highlight your strengths to potential clients.
Spread the word about your business with flyers or business cards that you can pass out to offices. Ask whoever is in charge if they are satisfied with the rate and quality of their current company, and if there is a specific issue they have with their current floor cleaning service, you can explain how your team can work to improve that. You can offer a great deal for the first cleaning so they can see how your services hold up in terms of quality, and use this time to build a professional relationship with the clients so that they are more likely to use the contact information you have provided them. You can create on online presence as well, to strengthen your marketing approach.Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Starting Your Own Cleaning Business course?
What Equipment Will Your Business Need?
When you choose to specialize with floor cleaning, you are committing to a variety of services in this one area. Starting off, however, your business may not have the finances available to afford all the heavy-duty equipment such as pressure washers and refinishing machines. Start off with the basics, a broom and a mop, and work your way up from there. Commercial-sized buckets for mopping large workspaces will save you a lot of time and energy, and make your cleaning process much more professional. Another item you will need is an industrial vacuum that is easy to transport but also heavy-duty to provide the best performance. You can't provide that quality shine without polishing equipment, so be sure to look into what's available and produces the best results.
As you work your way up, the equipment gets more intensive and thorough, so you will be able to expand your client-base to include customers who request cleaning with items such as auto floor scrubbers and other floor machines. These machines can be expensive and you have to keep future maintenance in mind when budgeting such equipment into your operations. Once you start offering a service that includes heavy-duty equipment, you need to be able to follow through with your customers. This means that if the equipment you need breaks or malfunctions, you need some money set aside to fix it or buy a new one, especially if you have several customers relying on your service.
Don't forget that this equipment needs transportation as well, and it's likely not all going to fit in your own personal car, nor is this an extremely professional way to advertise your business. If you or your employees have larger vehicles, you can always make them look more professional by purchasing magnetic logos that can transform it from a personal car to a company vehicle. Otherwise, you may be interested down the road in purchasing a van or other company car to transport the heavy duty cleaning equipment.
What are the Standard Operations You Can Expect?
As owner and entrepreneur of your new business, you get to set the standard operations for how your business runs. Perhaps, however, you aren't quite sure what the most efficient method of going about that would be.
- Franchise or Independent? - This is one of the first questions you will need to address as you begin your own floor cleaning company. Do you choose to franchise, and pay a fee to a larger company so that you can have their brand on your work, or do you start fresh with your own brand and name? This could have a major impact on your order of operations, as working under a franchise could mean following their specific way of operating so as to ensure consistency. This can be a help or a hindrance, depending on whether you have preferences of yours own or if it is helping you learn the trade.
If you choose not to franchise, you will instead work as an independent contractor. You are basically starting from scratch with your business, from the name to the order of operations. Financially, this is the cheaper option of the two, as fewer supplies are required and you don't have to pay the franchising fee.
- Cleaning Operations - At the basis of your cleaning operations should be the driving force that every customer and cleaning job matters, and deserves the highest quality service. Make sure that your employees know that unsatisfactory cleanings can have a negative impact on your company's name, and that can be extremely damaging to an independent contractor. With a floor cleaning service, you will be working in the corporate world often, and high-status clients can make a huge difference in the success of your business.
Depending on the size of the room and the demands of the client, the teams that you send to clean may vary for each client. From simple cleanings to full-on buffing and polishing, you will need to figure out how a team can work most efficiently with the equipment and space provided. If you only have one carpet-cleaning machine, then there may be no point in sending more than one employee. As you expand and take in more customers, it may be critical to invest in multiple machines so that you can take on larger tasks and send more employees as necessary.
- Scheduling - Unlike with residential clients, your employees will not always build a professional relationship with the customers. Most likely, the primary communication will be between the commercial client and the contractor, which is you. In spaces such as offices, stores, and restaurants, your teams will be working after hours and at nights while the workplaces are closed. Because of this disconnect from the actual customers, it is not always necessary to schedule the same employees for the same clients. The primary reason you might want to do so is in order for your employees to familiarize themselves with the workspace so that they can become more efficient at cleaning it.
When you make a contract with a new commercial customer, you will need to determine how frequently they want their cleaning, and what type of cleaning they need. This can vary greatly for each client. One client may want a basic weekly cleaning of their store, while another client may want a monthly deep cleaning of their carpets. Perhaps yet another wants a regular weekly cleaning, but also requests a bi-annual polishing. All of these specifications and scheduling requests can become confusing to keep up with, as they all are so different and specific.
It is important that you develop a reliable system for scheduling and organizing customer requests, since you will often make appointments a long time in advance. If they schedule a follow-up appointment for their polished floors three months from now, you want to make sure that you have that in your schedule so that you don't forget about it. Three months from now you won't remember on your own that they requested that follow-up, so make yourself a notice a week prior to their scheduled appointment so you can email or call them to verify the appointment.
How Should You Approach Safety Concerns?
In an industry that involves operating heavy-duty machinery often, you need to understand potential safety concerns and relay these to your employees as well. Work-related accidents are one of the reasons you should procure insurance before starting out, but you should also take steps towards preventing any accidents from happening.
You might consider having your employees work in non-stick shoes, because when polished floors get wet and soapy it can be extremely easy to slip and hurt yourself. When riding on a scrubber or pushing equipment from behind that could present potential harm, make sure that your employees have proper safety goggles on. Employees who operate the ride-on scrubbers should be reminded to wear seatbelts to prevent them from falling off the machinery.
Whatever the risks are for the specific tasks that you or your employees are carrying out, use the appropriate time and money to invest in the proper protective gear. Not only does this increase your professionalism and efficiency, but also most importantly, it keeps you from harm.
What Are Your Next Steps?
Are you interested in focusing your cleaning business specifically on floor cleaning? Then your next steps would be as follows:
1- Choose whether you will franchise or be an independent contractor.
2- Look into equipment and supplies that you will start off with.
3- Start seeking trustworthy and hardworking employees.
4- Begin developing an organizational system for keeping up with records and scheduling.
5- Read the following chapters to learn about marketing, financing, and other major factors to the success of your business.