If you love cleaning and keeping things spic n’ span, an excellent home business you can start is a janitorial service business. While maid services typically clean households, janitorial services clean commercial buildings such as businesses, hospitals, schools, retail stores, warehouses, manufacturing facilities and even parking lots. Your “normal business hours” will begin when the staff and workers in the commercial facility that you will be cleaning have finished their work and gone home.
Many commercial and office cleaning businesses, as their business grow, expand their janitorial cleaning services to other areas. This includes:
- drapery cleaning
- carpet and floor cleaning
- window cleaning
- green plants maintenance
- heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC management)
- parking lot striping
- pest control services, etc.
A janitorial business lacks glamour and may seem “mundane”, but it has proven to be a lucrative business for those who start the business with strong attitude and willingness to work hard.
Industry Outlook for the Janitorial Business
The cleaning and janitorial business has been affected by the recession in 2009, particularly by the real estate bust. With the real estate market in a deep slump, the janitorial business suffered cutbacks in cleaning contracts (both in size and in frequency of cleaning). Furthermore, the increased building vacancies drove down the janitorial business and hurt profits.
Despite the slump, the janitorial and cleaning business is still estimated to be worth about $78 billion in 2012. The demand for janitorial and cleaning services remain strong, as long as commercial spaces continue to exist. Places such as retail shopping centers, medical buildings, industrial complexes and office buildings will continue to need their facilities cleaned and maintained. The janitorial business has benefited from corporate downsizing and increased reliance of businesses to outsource cleaning services. Contracting private firms to perform this service has also become the best option for many businesses given the high turnover rate of employees in this business. After all, it may not be easy to find a person who thinks that pushing a broom for the rest of his or her life is the best career of all.
Below are characteristics of the janitorial and cleaning industry:
- The janitorial business is very competitive. According to MarketData Enterprises, it is populated by more than 906,000 cleaning contractors, mostly small “mom and pop” operations, including 48,400 franchised outlets.
- No companies truly dominate the industry. It is very fragmented, with even the leading businesses with millions in commercial maintenance sales not holding anything more than 6% of the market share.
- This is a “low tech” business characterized by ease of entry. Competition is intense, holding down contract prices and, ultimately, profitability. However, the industry receipts have grown 6-11 percent annually since 1994. Cleaning worker wages are low, contributing to high turnover.
Janitorial Business Start-Up Strategies
According to the book “101 Best Businesses to Start”, first year potential earnings for this business can be $40,000. Breakeven time in the business can be rapid, and you may be able to achieve profitability within three to six months of operations.
The start-up costs of the janitorial business can be as low as $5,000, or even less. It is even possible to start on a part-time basis working from home with just a vehicle and a minimal amount of equipment, assuming that you will do all the cleaning and marketing yourself.
Starting as a home business offers the advantage of allowing you to keep your expenses low until you have established some accounts and attracted a customer base. It allows you to offer lower prices as part of your initial business strategy. Working at home can also allow you to work flexible hours primarily on a part time basis or increase your hours of operation.
If operating from home is not an option, choose a location that that allows your customers to easily visit you. Rent or lease a space with adequate parking space and with enough space to allow you to efficiently and safely store your equipment and supplies. Your office need not be extravagant or lavishly furnished; the main consideration should be to have a space that will allow you to operate your business cost-effectively. You may also want to think about the potential of your office space to accommodate a growing business.
If you plan to start small, consider the following factors:
- Start small and keep things as simple as possible.
- Know your limits (what services you want to offer), and how you will go about getting and keeping accounts.
- Understand what it takes to become a successful service business.
- Understand the requirements and capital necessary to succeed in the industry, and be prepared to expand your business with more expensive equipment as the need arises.
- You must have working capital to give yourself a realistic chance at surviving in this industry.
Experts, however, recommend that you should have at least $50,000 in capital to start this business right. You will need heavy-duty equipment, marketing, and most of all, payroll if you plan to hire employees at the onset. Read the article How to Raise Money to Start a Business to get ideas how and where you are going to get the capital that you need to start your janitorial business.
Cashflow is of paramount importance, so consider that most contractors bill at the end of the month and you would need resources to cover your weekly payroll.
Like any other business, there are various steps to starting a business. You need to decide and register your business name. Get the appropriate business registrations and licenses by visiting your local county or city hall and inquiring on their requirements for starting a business. If you intend to work from home, you need to consult the zoning guidelines governing your residential area to check whether starting this business from home is allowed. Read the article “Most Common Questions Asked When Starting a Business”.
Recommended Books on Starting a Janitorial Business or Cleaning Service:
- Jump Into Janitorial: How to build a cleaning business netting over six figures a year.
- How to Open & Operate a Financially Successful Cleaning Service: With Companion CD – ROM
- How To Start and Operate a Home-Based Janitorial Business
- How to Write Custodial/Janitorial Contract Proposals: Complete Custodial/Janitorial Services Contract Proposals with Federal, State, and Local Government and Private
- How to Start & Manage a Janitorial Service Business: A Practical Way to Start Your Own Business
- How to Market and Run a Janitorial Business or Cleaning Service
- Top 10 Home Businesses with Rapid Break-Even Time (Part 2)
- Evaluating Financing Options for Your Business: Myths and Facts
- Expand a Janitorial Cleaning Business
- How to Grow My Janitorial Service Business
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