Knowing what sort of business to start can be difficult,
especially in today’s fluctuating economy. However, one reality that is not going to go away is that Americans are becoming busier and busier. Many individuals set high standards for themselves, both in their personal and professional lives, and do not like to see their living quarters become dirty and cluttered because they have run out of time to devote to cleaning and organizing. This is why starting a maid service is a sound business idea. The demand for this service keeps growing and growing, as people work more and more hours to meet their economic goals.
You may want to initially begin by working as a maid yourself for a while. Not only will this give you some immediate cash flow, but it will introduce you to the business of cleaning and dealing with customers, so that when you are doing business on behalf of future employees and clients, you will know what you are doing. Even if you don’t think you have a natural affinity for cleaning, there are many good books on organizing and cleaning that you can read, and you will also learn new techniques from your clients.
In no time, you can become an expert, even if your own house needs a bulldozer to shovel out the clutter in the living room. Incidentally, when you begin to clean other people’s homes, and pay close attention to detail, the dirt or clutter in your own home begins to become intolerable. This is a side effect of being in the cleaning profession!
After you have been cleaning houses for a period of time, if you have the ability to relate to all sorts of people and can do a decent cleaning job, you will begin to get referrals. You will eventually reach the point where you no longer have any more room in your schedule for any new clients. This is the point where you will need to hire more individuals if your business is to grow. Hiring people can be very tricky, and you will need to make sure that the individuals you hire are reliable and honest.
You also want to hire people who are interested in staying with your company for a while, so that customers do not have to constantly adjust to new cleaners and so that you do not have to repeatedly train new people. When hiring, make sure to get references. Employment references are the best. Also, it doesn’t do any good to get references if you don’t actually check them.
Don’t be charmed by a person’s personality; check them out and make sure that they have a stable job history. You may even want to go so far as to require a background check, depending on what sort of set-up you will have for your business. If you will be sending individuals into clients’ homes alone, you must be able to have absolute trust in them, because your clients trust you.
It is a good idea to get bonded and insured. This looks good in advertising, and it can also protect you from lawsuits. Clients like it, because they may worry about one of your employees slipping and falling in their home and then suing them. If you carry the insurance, then they won’t have to worry about that. Many people are under the erroneous assumption that if you are bonded, they will be reimbursed for anything that is stolen from their property. This is simply not true. In order for the insurance company to reimburse the client for any claims, there must be a conviction.
Given that employees do not usually steal easily missed items, and that theft is not easily proven, this is unlikely. One difficulty you will almost certainly face as a new business owner is that insurers will often not insure you unless you have been in business for over three years, so you may have to wing it for a while. Decide if this is a chance you want to take or not. Be prepared to reimburse clients for any breakage, and hire very careful people!
You may decide that you want to take a team approach, with two or three people cleaning a house at the same time, or you may want to assign individuals to certain geographic areas of your town. Usually, the larger-scale operations have their own cars, and the workers come in the mornings to a central location and then leave to scoot around from house to house. While this is a more secure situation, the overhead can be expensive.
Initially, you may want to pay people a decent wage and pay them to do one job a day. This way, you will be assured that the job will not be done in a haphazard manner because it is being rushed through because your team is expected at another job within another couple of hours. Be sure to follow employment laws in your state, and pay the required taxes for your employees. You will also need familiarity with small business tax laws for yourself as well. You do not want to discover that you owe the government a ton of money at the end of the year because you did not file returns on your profits.
Do keep meticulous receipts of all business expenses, including wages, gas, and mileage, and supplies. When you are running a business for the first time, it is very helpful to hire an accountant to help you learn how to file your taxes as a small business owner or self-employed person.
In order to make yourself competitive alongside the big guys, make sure that you advertise effectively. Being a small business, you will not want to lay out big bucks for a Yellow Page advertisement right away, but you should have a good website, business cards and a small advertising budget so that you can place ads in community papers. You will find that if your employees are doing a good job, that you will gain referrals faster through word of mouth than through any other source. Make sure that your employees know how to promote your business, and that they have good customer service skills.
It is a good idea to provide your employees with cleaning supplies. Make the supplies consistent, as well as your cleaning style and philosophy. That way, if one person refers your business to another person, the person will get a similar type of service, even if a different cleaner comes to their home. Eventually, if you get enough people cleaning for you, you will no longer be cleaning houses yourself. You will have plenty of phone calls to handle, instead. People will want you to give them quotes over the phone.
While this is certainly a time-saver, it can be risky. Someone may misrepresent his or her house as being fairly clean when it is not, and you may underestimate the amount of time. Meanwhile, the client is expecting a perfectly clean house for the price you gave him. On the other hand, it can be expensive and time consuming to drive to every potential client’s house in order to give an estimate. You may want to develop a very detailed questionnaire that you use as a screening tool, and if you decide not to go to the client’s home, it will also serve as a time estimator. Ask very specific questions. Try to ascertain the current state of the client’s house.
Ask about pets, smoking, and children, as all three can add time to a housecleaning. Find out how many square feet the house has, what type of floors there are, and how many bedrooms and bathrooms are in the house. Ask if the bathrooms have separate showers and bathtubs. These details can end up being very important when someone enters the client’s home to clean it. Time is money in the cleaning business, and you don’t want to waste time, but you want to make the client happy and give a fair quote.
Give repeat clients discounts, and also offer discounts for referrals. Keep your clients happy, and hire good people who you can also make happy, and you will have a thriving business. It is not an easy business to get in, but that is the case with any business where the objective is to please people. The success of a maid service is in the details, and if you are a detail person, running this business will be a great experience for you.Give repeat clients discounts