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Hi Brian

I just found this forum, and your thread while on a Google search. All the advice given by the other members are spot on and wished I had a forum like this when I started my cleaning business in early 2002.

I also was concerned about what to charge and how much staff I would need. So i basically started of very small targeting small offices and retail outlets etc, by both letterbox drops and just personally canvassing the business during the day and leaving my details. i approached it like you would when you’re searching for a job, which you essentially are.

I was only a one man operation, with the occasional family member or friend to handle the extras such as stripping/sealing and periodical cleaning (usually around Christmas/New Year closures).

I did however make the mistake of relying heavily on my existing contracts and not sourcing more work, as I had other priorities in life (building my home etc) and that mistake was fatal, when a major contract, the bulk of my business income, did not renew after 4 years, and then like a domino effect, the other smaller contracts began to disappear and in 2008 I found myself with no contracts, and a mortgage (oh and the violins in the background, I’m pretty sure it sounded like Requiem).

I had some savings which sustained me (the loan repayments) for a while, and some part-time cleaning.

I did try to find full time employment, within various fields, including the cleaning industry, and thought that my business experience, which not only included cleaning, but encompassed accounting, client liaison, customer service, sales/marketing…but to no avail. The excuses were consistent from the interviewers, ‘As you were self employed, would you “really” be able to take direction from superiors?”, and “How reliable are your current business references?” etc. The questions were valid, however, somewhat ridiculous, as I wouldn’t be wasting “my” time applying if I wasn’t committed.

Ideally I would love a full time job, knowing I’d have the admin and team support that comes with any position, but as this is apparently out of my reach, I find myself seriously considering starting a new cleaning business, touching base with previous clients and this time constantly sourcing new contracts, learning from my mistakes and lack of vigilance and hopefully moving forward.

I didn’t mean to hijack the thread, but maybe my experience might help you avoid a similar situation. As others have said, constant planning and reevaluating is key.

Definitely never disregard insurance, as you are responsible for your cliients premises, regardless if you are there or not when an actual event happens, unless it is possible to prove someone elses negligence, its almost always “The Cleaner did it!!”, unless they have a Butler.

As for equipment, its dependent on the contract, but basically, a good quality vacuum cleaner (back pack is easier to maneuver around desks and chairs, but that’s up to personal preference), a couple of mops/buckets (one for toilet other for kitchen areas), a floor polisher (office lunch rooms usually have vinyl or for wet scrubbing of toilet areas) and then the usual materials/equipment, good quality chemicals and sundries. This should be your basic kit and your initial equipment financial outlay really is minimal. Oh and a large car if you cant store your large equipment on site.

I hope I’ve helped and am glad to have found this forum.

All the best and Good Luck.