How to start a commercial cleaning business

Starting any kind of business can be a bit mind boggling. There’s a whole host of things to consider, but with a little planning and guidance it doesn’t need to be a stressful experience. If you’ve been toying with the idea of starting your own commercial cleaning business, we’ve got some tip and strategies to help you get a start on making it happen.

1. First things first – start with a business plan

Before you launch your cleaning business, you need to have a roadmap, a plan, something in place that will guide your business in the right direction. There are lots of different approaches and styles of business plans, but these are some of the key things you should consider including:

  • Financial information- details about your financial position, where you’re getting your funding from, capital etc
  • Goals, mission statements- these can be your cleaning businesses values that will help keep you motivated and on track
  • Market research- understand your competitors, who your target will be and how you offer something different

Recommended reading: How to create a winning business plan?

2. Official business matters

Hold off printing off those business cards until you have all the official admin stuff sorted first. This can include things like:

  • Registering for an ABN
  • Get your business banking sorted- it’s always a good idea to keep your personal and business banking separate
  • If applicable register for GST
  • Register your business name

3. Choose your business structure and define your cleaning services

For first-time business owners it can be easy to underestimate the importance of choosing the right business structure for your new commercial cleaning business. But choosing the right business structure can be critical for your commercial cleaning business.

The most commonly used business structures in Australia are:

  • Sole trader: Sole traders are legally responsible for every aspect of the business, including any debts and losses, as well as all day-to-day business decisions.
  • Partnership: In a partnership structure, two or more individuals distribute income or losses between themselves.
  • Company: A company is a legal entity that is separate from the business owner as an individual.
  • Trust: A structure where a trustee carries out the business on behalf of the trust’s members (or beneficiaries).

An easy mistake to make for new small business owners can be that they don’t seek professional advice regarding how they should structure their company. While the sole trader structure may seem most appropriate on paper, the reality may be that one of the other business structure mentioned above may be a better fit for your circumstances and may help you reduce the chances of a lawsuit impacting your personal assets.

When deciding how to structure your business, you may benefit from seeking the help of both an accountant and a lawyer. Otherwise you may end up with the default sole trader business structure, which may not be the best fit for your new business.

Once you’ve committed to your preferred business structure, it’s time to decide what cleaning services your new cleaning business will offer to clients. There are many types of cleaning services you may consider offering to your clients – and which cleaning services you ultimately choose to offer can come down to what your ideal clients want and how you want to position your cleaning business in the market.

Will you offer a premium cleaning service with a premium price tag? Or will you target clients who just want their commercial premises cleaned fast and at an economical price point? Or will you offer both depending on the client?

You may group your cleaning services under these nine service categories:

  • basic cleaning
  • deep cleaning
  • spring cleaning
  • sanitisation
  • moving out cleaning
  • new home or construction cleaning
  • dishwashing
  • laundry and
  • regular maintenance

4. Register your cleaning business

As the owner of your own cleaning operation, do you intend to employ staff or operate under a business name (whether immediately or in the future)? If so, you may be required to register your business through the relevant channels and understand your requirements.

The Australian Government’s Business Registration Service website is the place to go to register your business as a company, and also to register for GST and any other tax-related obligations your commercial cleaning business may be required to meet.                  

5. Set goals for your commercial cleaning business

As the proud owner of your own freshly minted commercial cleaning business, it can be easy to put the horse before the cart when it comes to setting goals for your business

Ask yourself right now why you want to start a cleaning business? Are you sick of working for someone else? Do you crave flexible working hours and the chance to set your own hours to help you to better juggle family life? Or are you simply an entrepreneurial spirit, looking for a new opportunity with a relatively low start-up cost?

Whatever your reason, it’s important to identify what it is that will drive you and what will motivate you to keep at it, especially when you are facing the inevitable challenges that will come your way.

6. Cleaning licences

Generally speaking, cleaners and cleaning businesses in Australia are not required to hold any specific cleaning licence in order to offer commercial cleaning services. However, if you want to find out more about licences and commercial cleaning, visit the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website.

7. Training for commercial cleaners

It’s true that there are no mandatory formal training or certification requirements for commercial cleaners in Australia. However, as the hardworking owner and operator of a commercial cleaning business, it goes without saying that your business will benefit if you can cultivate a glowing reputation for delivering great cleaning services, every time. To elevate your commercial cleaning business and the services it provides, you may consider completing a Certificate III in Cleaning Operations.

8. Source quality cleaning supplies and equipment

While starting a commercial cleaning business doesn’t require a large upfront investment, there are certain essentials that you will want to have in your cleaning arsenal from day one. While you don’t necessarily need to purchase everything on the below list immediately, in time your commercial cleaning business will very likely require the following:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Face masks
  • Garbage bags
  • Paper towels
  • Sponges
  • Cleaning towels
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Scrubbing brushes
  • Duster
  • Extendable pole
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Mop and bucket
  • Bleach or disinfectant
  • All-purpose cleaners
  • Soap scum removal cleaner
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Glass cleaner
  • Spray bottles

9. Cashflow and managing your finances

Running a business requires cashflow and a clear understanding of your financial position at all times. Think of cashflow as the essential element that powers your cleaning business.

Carefully track all of your income and expenses so you can accurately report on them at the end of each financial year when you lodge your business taxes with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

10. Marketing your commercial cleaning business

Marketing is an essential activity for growing and sustaining a business, and the old adage is that when business is good you should market your business, and when business is bad you must market your business.

You may well be a commercial cleaning rockstar, but if you are not marketing yourself, how will people know about your peerless commercial cleaning prowess? It’s highly unlikely that you are the only commercial cleaner in your area, so be sure to differentiate your cleaning business and offer your clients something unique. You might travel that little bit further to service a different area or you might be the only business in town with the equipment to clean outdoor windows.

11. Get your commercial cleaning business insurance* sorted with BizCover

One last thing you need to get sorted before you pick up that mop and bucket is to get your business insurance in place. For a commercial cleaning business that may include options like your basic Public Liability, Portable Equipment insurance and Personal Accident and Illness*.

Having these policies in place not only gives you peace of mind as small business owner, but it may also be a requirement that you have certain types of insurances in place before you can take on the job.

Find out more about how you can reduce the risks to your domestic or commercial cleaning business via cleaning business insurance, and enjoy a drama-free business insurance experience.

*This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. © 2023 BizCover Pty Limited, all rights reserved. ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769.

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