Starting a house cleaning service is pretty simple. You don’t need fancy office space or a huge bankroll or any special licenses. But cleaning houses for a living isn’t for just anyone. You need to have some specific qualifications and qualities as well as the drive to succeed and a willingness to work.
I’ve been a house cleaner for many years, and I’ve seen a lot of people jump into professional house cleaning without really understanding what the job entails. I’ve also heard from my customers about other house cleaners who didn’t know how to clean, didn’t have good customer service skills, or who just didn’t like to clean.
So if you’re toying with the idea of starting your own house cleaning service, I recommend that you spend a little time doing a self-assessment to determine if you really have what it takes to succeed. Based on my experience in the field, I offer the following tips to assist you in this endeavor.
Do You Know How to Clean a House? Are You Interested in Cleaning?
The first thing you should ask yourself is whether you really know how to clean a house. As long as you have basic house cleaning skills, you can improve upon them as you go. However, if you’re a terrible housekeeper and/or you hate cleaning, there’s no cure for that. A successful house cleaner doesn’t mind cleaning, is interested in learning more about cleaning, and is proficient at cleaning on a basic level at the very least.
Do You Have an Eye for Detail?
House cleaning is a lot more involved than just sweeping floors and cleaning toilets. A good house cleaner knows what a cobweb is and understands that dust settles on the top of the refrigerator even though you can’t see it. A good house cleaner pays attention to little details like dust on lamp finials and fingerprints on switch plates.
Cleaning a house means scrubbing dirty showers into submission and taking the time to buff ceramic floors to a brilliant shine. Cleaning professionally involves paying attention to hundreds of little specifics and making quick decisions about what details are important today and which will wait until next time. A good house cleaner makes sure freshly-cleaned areas look and smell freshly cleaned.
If you understand cleaning basics, have an eye for detail, and are willing to learn, that’s enough to get you going. Your skills will improve over time. Mine did.
Do You Have Good Communication Skills?
When I started out I had a good idea how to clean a house, so I thought I was some kind of expert. I wasn’t. Fortunately, I had good listening skills and was receptive and responsive to the instructions given to me by my new clients. I soon figured out that cleaning for other people is not the same as cleaning your own house.
Everybody has their own idea about what constitutes a clean house. Cleaning for other people requires that you ask questions and pay attention to the feedback you receive from clients. Your success as a professional house cleaner will require good communication skills so you are able to extract specific information from folks regarding their expectations of you and then find out how they think you’re doing as you go along.
You’ll also need to be thick skinned if the feedback you receive isn’t always positive, and you’ll have to be flexible in response to people’s expectations. When a client lets you know she wasn’t happy with something, you can’t take it personally because it’s the client’s satisfaction that defines a job well done.
When you’re starting out as a cleaning pro, there’s bound to be a learning curve. It’s important to maintain a good attitude and act professionally as you become familiar with the job. The only way you can figure out what the clients want is if they tell you.
Cleaning for other people tends to be very subjective. What I think is clean and what you think is clean might be different. And what the client thinks is clean is all that really matters.
Each cleaning job is different; some clients are fussier than others, all have differing expectations, and the makeup of homes one to the next varies.
Are You in Good Physical Condition?
Some homes are much more difficult to clean than others. House cleaning in general requires the stamina to stand and move for long stretches of time. Some houses have lots of stairs. Some homes have lots of low-placed objects that require bending or squatting to reach. Cleaning for a living is a physically demanding job.
A strong back and general good physical condition are non-negotiable unless you want to be in constant pain. The movements a house cleaner performs again and again all day long use muscles in the neck and the entire back, plus arms, wrists, and legs. You’ll also need to have feet strong enough to carry you through the days. If you’re starting out with any type of severe back, knee, hip, or foot injuries, your house cleaning career won’t last long.
Do You Have Business Sense and Organizational Skills?
Other key elements to successfully running a cleaning service include having at least a bit of business sense and good organizational skills. To operate a business you must be able to keep track of income and expenses and deal with customers in a professional manner.
Organizational skills are important, because you will have to be able to keep track of where you’re supposed to be each day and you’ll need a system to keep records of clients’ names, addresses, phone numbers, security information, door keys, and special instructions for each job.
Do You Have Reliable Transportation?
Reliable transportation is another essential element to operating a cleaning service. Clients will expect you to consistently arrive at the agreed-upon time. It’s up to you to make sure that’s possible. You will not be successful if you’re unable to guarantee that you will show up on time consistently.
Do You Have Integrity and a Strong Work Ethic?
Finally, integrity and a strong work ethic are absolutely necessary for you to succeed as a self-employed house cleaner. You’ve got to have the drive and determination to show up every day and do the work that you promised to do to the best of your ability. You may often work unsupervised, which means you’ll have to be self-motivated.
Successful house cleaners aren’t lazy. They don’t cancel jobs simply because they don’t feel like working that day. A strong work ethic means having the self-discipline and maturity to police yourself into showing up every day, on time, leaving personal problems at the door.
Integrity is necessary because people trust house cleaners to enter their personal space, handle their possessions, and become part of their private lives. House cleaners are privy to clients’ secrets. We see things no one else outside the family sees. House cleaners have to be honest and must be able to treat clients respectfully, which includes respecting their right to privacy.
From reading this post, you should now have a good idea of whether you have what it takes to successfully operate a house cleaning business.
~Do you know how to clean a house?
~Do you have an eye for detail?
~Are you interested in cleaning and willing to continually work to improve your cleaning skills?
~Do you have good listening and communication skills?
~Are you in physically good shape?
~Do you have business sense and organizational skills?
~Do you have a means of reliable transportation?
~Do you possess integrity and a strong work ethic?
Cleaning houses every day is hard work, but it is also very rewarding. It’s a good way to make a decent living, and clients are grateful for a job well done. The “well done” part of that statement is the most important part. Clients aren’t interested in paying top dollar for bad or unreliable service.
If you possess the qualities outlined above and are willing to work hard and act like a mature professional, congratulations! You have what it takes to successfully operate your own house cleaning service!
For more tips about starting or running a house cleaning service, check out my book How To Become a Cleaning Pro: The Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service, available on Amazon.