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Boom Times for Cleaning Industry Franchises The factors wreaking havoc everywhere--the real estate boom, outsourcing and swine flu--are fueling a boom in the cleaning business.

By Jason Daley

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's become cliché over the last few months to label a business that has eked out even a tiny bit of growth as recession-proof or recession-resistant. But consider this--of the 10 fastest-growing franchises measured by Entrepreneur's Franchise 500®, six were commercial cleaning companies. That's downright recession-defiant. How can one sector expand so confidently when even traditionally aggressive franchisors have slowed?

Commercial cleaning franchises were primed for growth even before the market collapse. According to a 2006 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the industry was expected to expand its workforce 14 percent by 2016, and according to industry insiders, there's no reason to think that number won't be easily met. That's because commercial cleaning has ridden two opposing trends--the massive expansion of office space throughout the earlier part of the decade and the need to eliminate employees and cut costs during the recession.

Steve Tessier, senior vice president with CleanNet USA, No. 7 on our ranking, says the expansion in commercial real estate over the past decades is the main engine behind his company's 20 percent annual growth. "We're growing just as much as before the recession, he says. "If you look at the building cycle as a whole, we're still seeing expansion and not seeing a tremendous loss of business. Buildings and facilities still need to be cleaned in some fashion to make buildings presentable for clients, guests and commercial real estate firms. It's a service they can't do without.

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