Business OverviewWhen tenants vacate apartments, they usually fail to clean up after themselves. Even the tidiest tenant can leave a trail of normal wear and tear--carpets that need cleaning, nail holes to be filled and walls to be painted. And apartment managers and other assorted landlords rarely have the time or the inclination to handle the tasks. But if you like transforming shabby to shiny and you're not afraid of a little elbow grease, then you can answer an apartment manager's prayers with an apartment prep service. You'll scrub bathrooms, kitchens and baseboards, wax floors and shampoo carpets. You'll toss out junk, patch holes, paint, and replace cracked windows, broken towel bars and off-track closet doors. The advantages to this business are that you can start on a shoestring, you often find interesting treasures among the former tenant's trash, it's recession- and trend-proof, and if you like the glow of accomplishment that comes from putting in a good day's physical labor, then you'll have a long and satisfying career. It's also gratifying--landlords and managers faced with a tenant mess are always appreciative when you come in to save the day. You'll need experience in patching and painting, plus a few other fix-it skills like replacing mirrors or doors, and the ability to do a sparkling cleaning job in a relatively short time. You'll also need a sense of logistics to take you from one job to another efficiently.
The MarketYour clients can be managers or owners of large or small apartment complexes, individual landlords who own rental properties, and real estate agents charged with managing rental properties or selling vacant ones. Send your brochure to apartment managers or owners and realtors, and follow up with a phone call. Or stop in and introduce yourself--this works even better. If you don't get a job immediately, check back. Persistence pays off. You can target individual landlords by calling 'for rent' ads in the newspaper and asking if you can send them a brochure and card for future reference.
Needed EquipmentYou'll need a caddy of cleaning supplies, a vacuum cleaner, carpet shampooer, mop, broom and dustpan, rolls of rags or paper towels, scrub brushes and sponges, rubber gloves, rolls of garbage bags, a stepstool or a small ladder, flea spray, a general-purpose bug spray, and carpet deodorizer. You'll also want paint brushes, rollers and trays, putty knives, spackle, window putty, a glass knife, and a caddy of tools like hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches. And you'll want a cell phone so clients can get in touch with you quickly.