Between 2015 and 2018, the UK’s cleaning services industry grew by 5% - that’s including both domestic cleaners and commercial. If you’re thinking of venturing into this growing market but you’re not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to help you set up your own cleaning business in the UK.
Step 1: Market Research
The first essential step to starting any business, including a housecleaning business, is to complete thorough research into the current market. This will help you decide what kind of cleaning business you’ll want to set up and what kind of customers you’re going to target.
There are three main cleaning markets:
- Domestic – general cleaning as part of the day-to-day running of someone’s home
- Commercial – providing cleaning services to businesses, shops, factories, bars, restaurants etc.
- Specialist – for instances that require deeper cleaning with specialist equipment/training such as carpets & upholstery, fire and flood restoration, hoarder cleaning and deep cleaning in medical settings
The kind of cleaning business you set up will largely depend on your experience and demand in the local area. Check out this guide to finding your target audience for more advice on conducting market research.
Step 2: Qualifications
UK cleaners usually don’t need any specific training or qualifications. The only area where this might not be true is if you’re planning on setting up a specialist cleaning business.
You can explore the different training options available to cleaning professionals here.
If you’re planning on starting your own domestic cleaning service during the coronavirus pandemic, we recommend familiarising yourself with the government’s safety guidelines to help keep yourself, your clients and any staff you hire as safe as possible.
Step 3: Budgeting
Before you start offering your services, there are a few essential investments you’ll need to make – namely, your cleaning equipment. For domestic cleaning businesses, this will be a new set of mops, microfibre cloths, cleaning chemicals and a vacuum cleaner.
For more specialist cleaning services, you might need to invest in a variety of different tools such as professional carpet cleaners, which will be a bigger initial investment.
Step 4: Set Your Prices
Deciding how much you’re going to charge your customers can be one of the most difficult ones to make. You need to charge enough to cover your expenses and the time it takes you to complete the job as well as make a profit. However, you also need to make sure you’re competitive with your prices or customers could be more likely to side with your competitors over you.
Get a better idea of the price you should charge by researching your competitors and seeing what kinds of prices and plans they offer.
The next question is are you going to charge hourly or a set price? The main benefit of charging hourly is that if the job takes longer than you anticipated, you’ll still be paid for your time. However, business owners and homeowners are more likely to prefer a set price as they’ll be able to pay you upfront and will know the full cost before they set you on.
Step 5: Start Marketing
Now you’ve got everything you need for your cleaning business, it’s time to find some customers! If you’re a domestic cleaner, this might be as simple as going door-to-door posting flyers advertising your services, or setting up a Facebook business page and getting friends and family to share your posts.
For a specialist service, you’ll want to stand out online with your own website and target those searching questions related to your service with helpful blog content – e.g. How to deep clean a carpet.
Cleaning Business Requirements & Legal Obligations
If you’re setting up as a self-employed cleaner, there are a few legal requirements you’ll need to keep in mind and adhere to.
As with any other self-employed profession, you’ll need to register as self-employed with HMRC and complete a Self Assessment tax return. Learn more about this and how to register here. Planning on employing a team to manage? You’ll need to register as a limited company here.
It’s also recommended that you take out the right kind of insurance. Public liability insurance protects you from public claims of injury or loss as a result of your work – e.g. someone slipping on a wet floor that you’ve recently cleaned. If you’re employing others, you’ll be legally obliged to take out employers’ liability insurance.
Creating a solid foundation for your cleaning business will make it easier to grow and run in the long term. Once you’ve established your brand and completed a few jobs, word of mouth marketing and reviews will give you another boost – but be sure to keep a few business cards on you to hand out wherever you go!