Founder Angela Finley was already running a home health business when she decided to start a cleaning company. Working inside people’s homes who needed at-home care, she saw an additional need that wasn’t being met in her local area of San Leandro, California.
Angela couldn’t officially offer residential cleaning services through her existing business. There are strict industry regulations about what healthcare professionals are allowed to do. So Angela decided to form a sister company that would do strictly cleaning, and not just for her existing clients.
About starting a second business, Angela explained, “It gives me an opportunity to not just provide quality care, but quality cleaning services as well.”Starting a business the second time around, Angela knew what to do to ensure quick success. And weeks before the official launch of Superior Cleaning, the business already had repeat customers and was employing 15 cleaners.
How to get customers before you start your business
Housecall Pro sponsors virtual and local meetups around the U.S. that offer trade professionals the chance to network with each other and share resources. When Angela was still in her 14-day trial of Housecall Pro, she found out about a meetup in Oakland, California.
“It was one of the best things I could have ever done. I enjoyed the interactions with everyone there from beginning to end and connected with a lot of individuals. People were so open and willing to share their experiences.”
One person Angela talked to was Lora Messeret, owner of HSR Air Duct and Gutter Cleaning. Lora gave Angela her business card and told her to reach out if she needed anything.
“She actually took time after the meeting. We sat down, and she gave me a lot of information, wrote her phone number and email down … and maybe a week or two later, Lora sent me a client through Housecall Pro.” That person, in turn, referred more friends to Angela’s service, again, well before her official opening.
Reach out to people you know
Many business owners shy away from involving their personal network, which includes not only friends and family but also other business contacts you have. But the people who know us personally are usually very ready to help.
One of Angela’s best friends is a property manager. Right away, she asked to become the official cleaning service for his properties.
She also sent emails to people in her network asking them to recommend her company to others. Referrals can have a ripple effect, extending well beyond the people you know personally. Angela explained that sometimes it’s not about who you know; it’s about who they know.
Get on the map
Google Maps and Yelp are useful tools to help any home cleaning business get noticed and are often overlooked by business owners. To make the most of Google Maps, ensure the business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are accurate and consistent across all platforms. Accurate NAP information helps Google recognize the business as legitimate, ranking it higher.
Encouraging customers to leave reviews on Google Maps and Yelp is also a significant benefit. Positive reviews can help boost visibility and credibility. Then, remember to use relevant keywords in the business description to help Google understand what the business does and improve the chances of appearing in search results. Doing all three of these will get the phone ringing quicker than most business owners assume.
Start promoting your business
“In business, you advertise before you open your door,” Angela explained. “You need to be out there!”
A lot of owners can be timid about promoting their new business until they have everything figured out. But a slow launch can help you work out the kinks before you get busy. One of the perks of starting a cleaning business is that the tools to get started aren’t that expensive, so you can start seeing customers immediately. Promoting early also helps you build buzz around your business.
Before her grand opening, Angela began advertising on Facebook and Instagram. She talked to real estate agencies, visited job fairs, and even a commissioner’s meeting to hand out flyers. She offered folks a discounted trial cleaning. People who called to set up a trial service earned anywhere from 30% off to a completely free trial cleaning.
Not only did people sign up, but they began referring their friends. “I’ve gotten a lot of feedback in regards to people who knew people, who needed the service,” Angela said. “One lady said, ‘I currently have a cleaning service that comes in, but I want to give you guys a try.’ So she gave us a try, and then she referred one of her friends after that.”
Offer a first-time discount
People love a good deal, and offering discounts for new customers can be a great way to get people interested in home cleaning services. Consider offering first-time customers a $15-20 discount to incentivize them to try your new business. According to CONQUER coach Ryan Knoll, “This works exceptionally well with a solid campaign to turn those customers into recurring businesses. Remember, a home cleaning business only needs 250 regular customers to hit $1M gross annual revenue.”
Keep your new customers
Simply putting your name out there isn’t enough to attract and keep customers. Much of Angela’s initial success is built on networking and referrals. But she built her brand and services around techniques she learned from running her home care business.
For Angela, potential clients interested in either home healthcare or residential cleaning can get in touch with a customer service representative at any time—day or night. She employs several specialists that work from home, answering phone calls and emails around the clock.
As she began advertising her new business, new potential clients told Angela that her fast response time to inquiries set her apart.
“Everybody works differently; everybody’s lives are different,” Angela said. “I’ve even had a lady say, ‘Your prices are really up there, but I can’t believe you’re up and ready to talk to me on the phone at 6:00 AM. That’s hard to find.’”
Even if 24/7 customer service isn’t practical for you, the key takeaway here is to be accessible to potential customers. Be ready to respond to inquiries quickly. Angela also utilizes HouseCall Pro’s online booking feature, so customers don’t need to speak to anyone to sign up for a cleaning.
Hire employees that share your values
Customers referred their friends to Superior Cleaning because they were satisfied with their cleaning service. And that is because Angela’s 15 cleaners are good at what they do.
Finding quality employees is a big problem, and at the beginning of the business, everyone is new and unvetted. So how does she find the right hires? It’s all about the conversation.
When Angela’s interviewing a new employee, she asks them to read the company’s mission statement, and then she discusses their values.
“It’s important that they mesh with me and share the same values,” Angela said. She explained that she holds her cleaning crew to the same standards as she holds her care team to and believes this makes all the difference.
Happy customers will want the business to succeed and will become your best marketers. Build systems to encourage those customers to leave reviews on sites like Yelp and Google and offer referral discounts to customers who bring in new business.
Don’t assume customers need you
This solid mindset will help you run your businesses successfully—don’t assume customers need you. “We get into a frame-of-mind where we feel that people need us, so they’re gonna do business with us. People don’t need you. They have other options out there. You’re good, but there may be someone who’s great, and don’t forget that,” Angela said.
When someone gives her four stars, Angela asks what she can do to earn five the next time. She strives to always do better.
Don’t ignore the competition
You might wonder what your competition has to do with getting clients for your own business. And the answer is—everything. Forming partnerships with other businesses is a great way to expand the company’s reach.
You can get more great ideas for hiring, marketing, and recruiting from having dinner with direct competitors than anywhere else.
Partner with local businesses
Consider reaching out to owners in adjacent businesses like real estate agents, carpet cleaners, property management companies, moving companies, landscaping businesses, or other businesses that work with homeowners to see if they’d be interested in trading referrals.
Always send referrals for free and never ask for money for a referral with another business. Most of the time, you’ll get more referrals than you give as long as your new company does an excellent job.
Attend local networking events and business meet-ups
Involvement with the local entrepreneur community will build relationships and establish the business as a trusted local resource. Great groups to start include the local chamber of commerce, Business Network International (BNI), or invite other entrepreneurs to create a new group. Entrepreneurs love to network and connect with other entrepreneurs, so this is one of those rare cases where it will be 1000 times easier than it appears on paper. The goal of all these groups is to be consistent and attend regularly.
Get to know the competition
This is the most controversial suggestion, but please, get to know the competition. Just like with giving referrals to other companies and not asking for anything back in return, you’ll get more than you give making friends with the competition.
Customers are easy to get in the cleaning industry, and cleaners are hard to find. This creates a natural bottleneck where customers call and can’t be served. Referring them to the competition and not asking for anything in return will create tremendous goodwill, pushing the business forward in ways that aren’t always obvious in the beginning.
Learn what works for you
These are just a few ideas to start, but there are many ways to market a new home cleaning business.
The key is to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) and double down on the strategies getting the highest return for the business. Keep doing this until, eventually, that marketing channel hits a ceiling. Then, implement an additional marketing strategy with the same goal. Rise and repeat until at least five different marketing channels feed the business leads.
There’s not one right way to start a cleaning business, and you’ll learn what works for you. But the great news is that you don’t have to figure it out on your own. With networks in your local community and the more than 18,000 Pros in our highly supportive online Facebook group, you never have to go it alone with Housecall Pro.
Housecall Pro’s illustrated guide to starting a cleaning business
Whether you’re considering a new career path or growing your career into your own business, you may be wondering what the best way to start a cleaning company is. If you’re thinking about starting a residential or commercial cleaning business, we’ve got 10 critical things for you to think through to get started on the right foot.