Commercial Cleaning

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? Yes
Online Operation? No

A dirty establishment is a sure way to lose customers. But who in an office or store has the time--or the inclination--to get in there with the cleanser and scrubby sponge? The answer is nobody. But if you like making the world sparkle and you're not afraid of elbow or any other kind of grease, then you can lather up a good living with a commercial cleaning service. You can take the usual route to squeaky-cleanness with familiar products, or you can go green and use only environmentally healthy products. The advantages to this business are that you can start on a shoestring and, provided you're not one of those rare cleaning-challenged people who leave things more streaked after a good mop-up than before, you don't need any special skills, background or experience. Another plus is that this is an ideal part-time startup business because offices and stores want you to work after hours, leaving you plenty of time to maintain your present job until you get established. To shine at commercial cleaning, all you need is a steady supply of good old-fashioned elbow grease coupled with a knowledge of cleaning products and how to use them--especially if you're going green. (Janitorial supply houses are good sources for both materials and advice.)

The Market

Your clients can be small businesses--everything from doctors' offices to insurance agencies to companies in strip centers and office parks--as well as retail shops. Large corporations are not your best bet because you'll need several crews to cover the whole place every night or so, but with smaller firms, you can contract to do one or more a night over the course of a week. Visit prospective clients and give them your fliers and business cards or start a direct-mail campaign, perhaps offering an introductory discount. If you're cleaning green, be sure to stress the benefits of your service and products over your competitors'.

Needed Equipment

Your tools will include a good commercial-grade vacuum cleaner (for shoestring startups you can use your home model, but it probably won't hold up for long), a floor buffer, rubber gloves, a mop, a bucket, sponges and rags, a squeegee, a supply of garbage bags and your cleaning products. You'll need a reliable vehicle to cart everything around in, and you should be bonded because companies will entrust the keys to their kingdoms to you.

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