A cleaning business is an exciting opportunity without a lot of investment. But do you find yourself consistently losing bids to your competitors? Have you tried to become more competitive only to find that you can't cover the costs of running your business? If so, it is time to lower your operating costs so you can win more bids and still make your desired profit.
Here are some of the biggest operating mistakes you might be making as a new cleaning business owner:
1) You use RTU (ready to use) chemicals.
Ready to use chemicals are very convenient. They come in a case of 12 quarts that you can unpack, attach a spray nozzle, and be ready to clean. The only problem is you'll be paying $3, $4, or even higher per quart just to have someone else add water. The solution? Buy concentrated. Every chemical I have ever needed to order came in concentrated form and the savings are significant. One of my favorite restroom cleaners cost approximately $3.40 a quart RTU. Concentrated price? Less than $0.30. It may cost a little more upfront, but you will get a lot more chemical per quart for much less.
2) You're offering too many services.
Just because your competitors offer every janitorial service imaginable doesn't mean you have to. Start with what you can afford and build your business gradually. Office cleaning alone requires only basic supplies and can be very profitable. Seek out the smaller jobs, and use that money to buy a carpet extractor or a floor buffer to offer additional services later on.
3) You're buying equipment you don't yet need.
It is only natural to want to be prepared to do any job that comes your way, but you may not need specialty equipment for several months after getting your first account. Hold off on buying a van and truck mounted carpet cleaning system until you truly need it. And hold off on buying an expensive burnisher until you're regularly called for stone floor refinishing projects. Start small and simple such as VCT stripping and waxing; you'll be able to provide beautiful, shiny floors for little cost and great profit.
4) You're not measuring during walkthroughs.
Many cleaners smile and nod during a walkthrough and end up guessing how much time is needed to clean a facility. Don't make this mistake. If you want to be competitive you must measure the facility you're bidding on. Not only does it make you look good to the prospect, but it allows you to bid accurately. Accurate bids win profitable accounts.
5) Leasing an office before you need one.
An office lease is the biggest overhead nightmare I can think of for new cleaning businesses. Unless you offer janitorial inventory in a storefront there is absolutely no reason to lease office space. Yes, it makes you look professional. Yes, it makes you feel important. But when it comes down to profit margins and keeping overhead in check, you need to leave it out of your expenses.
When you're trying to win bids, your expenses count. They really do. When you're competing with other companies who are adding the high cost of their RTU products and lease payments into every bid, it becomes much easier to beat them. Start small, and build your business over time. You'll be glad you did.