How to run a successful janitorial business

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PublishedMarch 10, 2023

How to run a successful janitorial business

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Transforming your start-up janitorial company from a one-person army into a well-oiled commercial cleaning machine can seem out of reach in the early stages. Just getting that first van and equipment must’ve felt like an unachievable feat.

Growing your cleaning services from those first clients into a fully staffed organization was even more impossible. Yet here you are.

Running a local small business and a growing regional cleaning company are two different journeys, each filled with its own set of obstacles. 

Turning your start-up into a successful cleaning business

So how do you keep the growth machine running? A growing janitorial company requires new kinds of business savvy and decision-making. Instead of navigating that path through trials by fire and learning as you go, you can prepare for upcoming challenges before you face them.

From getting your business off the ground to the next growth stage, there are a few requirements to ensure your janitorial services company is set up for success.

5 steps to running a successful janitorial business

  1. Create a business plan

  2. Secure the right equipment

  3. Hire the best employees

  4. Let people know about your business

  5. Utilize business management tools

Let’s start from the top.

Create a business plan 

As with anything, a solid plan is critical to building a good business. When it comes to your business goals, you can’t risk winging things or making decisions on the fly.

→ Your plan is a set of guidelines to steer decision-making and keep your business from falling into disarray. 

Think of your business plan as a checklist. You can review and check off completed tasks and items, just like a grocery list, ensuring you have all the ingredients for success. This list should cover each layer of your business from top to bottom and keep every layer aligned. 

How do you create a janitorial business plan?

Creating a plan for success requires more than just choosing a catchy business name. It requires research, planning, and dedication. You should start by researching the industry and local markets to select services to offer, learn about typical operational costs, and discover potential customers.

Next, outline your goals, strategies for achieving them, and financial projections. Finally, secure funding for your business and create a marketing strategy.

The plan itself should include the following:

  • An executive summary

  • General company description

  • Products and services

  • Marketing plan

  • Operational plan

  • Management and leadership organization

  • Personal financial statement

  • Start-up costs and capitalization

  • Financial plan

Even if you already have a robust residential cleaning company, start from scratch by creating a new business plan for taking on commercial cleaning jobs. While the goals of the work may seem similar—getting properties clean—the types of contracts, range of services, and frequency of maintenance will differ.

Establishing a business structure: the executive summary and company description

Building an executive summary and company description is vital for establishing company values. These aspects of the plan will work as a compass to navigate what your business will stand for and how you plan to serve your customers.

In commercial cleaning, company goals and values play a significant role in how you’re able to:

  • Achieve customer satisfaction

  • Plan your offerings

  • Build your company internally

It’s normal for small-business owners who start with a single van and small crew not to spend time outlining a business structure. However, as your organization grows, early planning will make it easier to navigate challenges and choose where to re-invest in the company.

As you grow, it may be necessary to restructure your company from a sole proprietorship into a limited liability company or eventually into a corporation. You’ll need to continue to revise your plan as your customer base grows, you expand into new markets, and you get ready to pursue new opportunities.

Creating operational and marketing plans

Operational and marketing plans will ensure you make strategic decisions with an aligned vision.

A comprehensive marketing strategy is integral to growing your business with new clients. Most cleaning business owners don’t love learning about digital marketing, but it’s crucial that you don’t neglect this aspect of your plan.

Operational optimization keeps costs low by ensuring jobs are performed efficiently. The decisions you put into these plans should carry over into your management and organizational planning.

Understanding how your leaders and organization keep everyone accountable and your ship running tight is another important element.

Developing a financial plan

Finally, you can’t have a plan for a successful business without planning financially.

You need to understand how your business accounts for finances, your budget for the daily costs, what you need to earn to break even, and how to prepare for potential curveballs. 

Financial planning should cover the following:

  • Optimal profit margins before investing in expansions

  • Necessary upkeep costs for workforce and equipment 

  • Initial funding and debts owed 

  • Pricing of services 

Your plan should make you confident in your business and fellow leadership team as you plan for the future. 

Secure the right equipment for the job

Once you get your business plan sorted and finances established, you must start budgeting for the right tools.

Equipment is a considerable investment, but the right tools, materials, and cleaning products help to:

  • Expand your offerings

  • Finish jobs faster

  • Supplement labor deficits

  • Establish a niche—such as environmentally friendly green cleaning services—to stand out in your market

The range of equipment necessary to run a high-functioning janitorial business can be expansive due to the vast nature of services offered in the industry.

Standard tools and equipment required for cleaning commercial properties and office buildings can include the following:

  • Transport vans

  • Cleaning equipment carts with mops, brooms, buckets, and dusters

  • Restroom cleaning solutions, tools, and disinfectant chemicals

  • Cleaning supplies such as spray bottles and squeegees

  • Latex and neoprene gloves and garbage bags

  • Interior and exterior window cleaning systems

  • Industrial-grade vacuums for carpet cleaning

Cleaning tools and equipment can be a hefty investment. You can’t splurge recklessly on the newest vacuum cleaners to hit the market. You have to be strategic and consider the following:

  • Your needs for your current schedule and as you grow

  • Upkeep and repair costs for equipment

  • Your quarterly budget for new tools

Consider these variables when browsing equipment:

  • How will this equipment serve your current services? Or will this investment be used to expand your services, potentially into residential cleaning services?

  • How much does it cost to purchase? Can you rent it at a better rate?

  • Does this investment come with additional upkeep costs? Fuel or power? Insurance? Is there a warranty?

  • What is the estimated life cycle of the tool before you need to replace it? 

  • Do you currently have any tools that serve a similar purpose? How much manual labor will this investment reduce?

Answering these questions with certainty is the first step to confident business decisions about which tools will be the right investment in building success.

→ Prioritize relevance and necessity instead of desires and future goals.

You can plan, but when it comes to successful business decisions, you must focus on immediate needs. 

Hire the best employees

While the right tools make a world of difference, they mean nothing without the right people behind them.

Hiring isn’t as simple as finding people with perfect resumes. As a business leader, one of the most significant decisions you’ll make is deciding what people make the best fit for your company.

Choosing the right candidates for your commercial cleaning business

When thinking over what makes someone a good fit for your company, consider how they fit:

  • Culturally

  • Your vision

  • The projected growth

Skills are necessary, but you can always train someone if they’re the fit you need. Investing in your employees by paying for industry certifications and training can set your company apart from the competition and help you attract top talent in the job market.

Your team members are the backbone of your business, and the first face customers will identify with your company.

Building a community within your own cleaning business

The commercial cleaning industry is filled with family-owned and -operated companies that naturally cultivate community within their organizations. To compete, new business owners must create environments where employees feel supported and valued beyond their hourly rate instead of being treated like another investment or tool.

Before hiring good culture-fit individuals, fill the following essential roles.

On-site crew

You want to ensure you have fully staffed teams able to handle the weekly schedule with jobs from new and returning customers. These teams should be accountable and communicate well as they will serve as your main point of contact with customers. 

Customer service team

You’ll need a trusted team of professionals to handle customer interactions such as:

  • Inquiries

  • Bookings

  • Complaints

  • Other requests

This team should be friendly, patient, timely, and quick with action. 

Operational team

To keep your operations in order, you need a team of intuitive process thinkers who can problem-solve and optimize your workflows for the best results.

This team should approach challenges systematically, think logically, and always seek innovative solutions. 

HR team

Your workforce is the backbone of your company, and your HR team is the backbone of that workforce. Your HR department should comprise a supportive and resourceful team dedicated to the wellness of your employees and identifying any snags in your environment that can deflate motivation.

Finance department

One thing about a growing business is that growing finances can turn a molehill of paperwork into a mountain of Excel sheets and QuickBooks tracking.

A finance department ensures you have an expert monitoring your financial performance and keeping your business in check as you continue making new investments or adding costs. 

Leadership team

Good leaders are essential to a good team. You can’t have your hands in every pot or your eye on every corner of your organization. You need leaders who uphold your company vision to keep the rest of your workforce aligned and motivated to achieve their goals.

Once you find the right people for every role, ensure they work well together. You want to create a close community led by transparency and encouraged collaboration.

→ Plan for the right culture, and the rest of the pieces will fall into place.

Let people know about your business 

Once you have the tools and people to succeed, it’s time to find opportunities in your target market.

Marketing is a trickier side of janitorial success. It’s not a top-of-mind priority when starting or even in the later stages. But it becomes essential to maintaining success at a particular growth stage. 

Consider low-cost ways to grow a client base

You don't have to be a marketing expert to win over new customers. In fact, you don’t even need to dedicate an entire budget to building a top-of-class marketing team. There are plenty of ways to get your business’s name out in the community to reach potential clients.

Explore these options to grow your community presence before throwing money at an involved marketing strategy.

  • Advertise your services at local business events 

  • Pass out business cards at networking events

  • Solicit Google and Yelp reviews from satisfied customers

  • Promote a special for first-time customers via social media

  • Promote a special for word-of-mouth customer referrals 

  • Offer perks and rewards for longtime customers

When you are ready to invest in advertising, continue to be strategic and precise with your decision-making.

A radio ad may sound like a great idea, but how many potential customers think about their cleaning needs during a morning commute? If nothing else, monitor what your competitors are doing and pinpoint strategies where your company will stand out.

Utilize business management tools 

If it isn’t clear by now, running a successful janitorial business can be overwhelming. There are a lot of layers to navigate and challenges to balance and manage.

Being too hands-on puts business owners at risk of spreading themselves too thin, and hiring too many people to manage the business can dilute the impact of investments. 

The right management tool will help you circumvent many of these risks and obstacles by equipping your entire organization with the capacity for self-sufficiency and continual process improvements. 

A comprehensive platform will also reduce some of the required investments that come with growth by helping you to accomplish these key goals:

  • Aligning your entire company on one system 

  • Optimize workflows and eliminate siloed processes

  • Increase communication, visibility, and collaboration 

  • Enhanced reporting with live data feeds for up-to-date insights  

Implement Aspire to unlock new potential for success in your janitorial business

Aspire’s cloud-based janitorial business software provides a system to achieve the goals that will keep your janitorial business in top shape. We’ve partnered with industry-leading companies to help them accelerate growth in their commercial cleaning services and keep their business at the top of their market. 

The tools Aspire provides keep your business from falling behind the pack:

→ Want to experience software designed to help commercial cleaners achieve growth at twice the industry rate? 

Schedule a commercial cleaning software demonstration with Aspire Software and see how to take your operational efficiencies to the next level.

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