Starting a cleaning business can be a great way to be your own boss in Michigan. But turning your dream into a successful company takes strategy and grit.
In this step-by-step guide, I’ll demonstrate how to start cleaning business in Michigan based on best practices and hard-won lessons from other local cleaning entrepreneurs. From choosing your business structure to winning clients, let’s get the inside scoop!
Pick Your Business Structure
As a sole proprietorship, it’s just you owning the business. Easy to set up but no liability protection. Partnerships split ownership between multiple people. More resources but you share decisions.
Also Read: 15 Easy to Start Chat GPT Business Ideas
For corporations and LLCs, you create a separate legal entity from yourself. More protection but more paperwork. I went the LLC route for the liability shield without the fuss of a corporation.
Talk to a business lawyer or accountant about the ideal structure for your goals.
But LLCs are often best for small cleaning companies in Michigan.
Register Your Business
Once you pick a structure, it’s time to make it official with registering your business.
Here are key steps:
First, come up with a unique but memorable business name – Clean Machines Inc or whatever fits your brand. Check the Michigan database to ensure it’s not taken.
Next, reserve your business name by registering with the state through the Bureau of Commercial Services. This protects your name.
Depending on your city, you may need a business license to operate legally as well. Research local license rules for cleaning services.
Time to start hustling.
Craft Your Brand Messaging
What will make your cleaning business stand out in Michigan? Lean into your unique origin story, values, and specialties.
Build a brand identity that resonates with your ideal clients. For me, highlighting my deep Michigan roots plus eco-friendly products attracted local families.
Create logos, taglines, messaging around your positioning. Register a domain, launch social media, and build a website to establish your brand digitally.
First impressions matter!
Choose Your Business Model
Will you be residential cleaners, commercial cleaners, crime scene cleaners, Janitorial service, Airbnb cleaners?
Specialize based on your expertise and goals.
Many cleaning pros start with homes then expand to offices, medical facilities, construction cleanup, and more. I stuck with residential so I could personally quality-check every home.
Despite the simplicity of cleaning, customers have extremely varied needs. Know your niche so you can tailor operations and marketing.
A focused brand attracts the right clients.
Assemble Your Cleaning Toolkit
A key startup task – stock your cleaning arsenal! Evaluate products, tools, equipment across:
- Surface cleaners – solutions, wipes, soaps for every surface
- Floor care – vacuums, mops, buffers, steamers
- Cloths, towels, scrub brushes, sponges
- Gloves, masks, glasses for safety
- Carts, buckets, bags and containers for organization
Select commercial-grade supplies designed for heavy daily use. And ergonomic tools will save your body. Investing in pro gear improves results and longevity.
Set Competitive Rates
Now it’s time to define your fee structure. Research competitors’ rates in your area for similar services to find price benchmarks.
HomeAdvisor has great data.
Factors that influence pricing:
- Overhead costs – supplies, equipment, insurance, advertising etc.
- Square footage for homes or offices
- Frequency of cleaning services
- Number of staff required per job
- Types of cleaning tasks included – scrubbing, dusting, sanitizing etc.
- Average hourly rates for cleaning staff in your state
Set rates high enough to be profitable after costs but still competitive. Don’t undervalue your offering! Consider bundled packages for recurring services too.
Define Your Service Offerings
Exactly what cleaning tasks will you offer? Typical options include:
- Tidying clutter, trash removal
- Dusting surfaces
- Scrubbing floors, vacuuming carpets
- Cleaning kitchens and bathrooms
- Washing windows
- Baseboard, ceiling or vent cleaning
- Allergy help like air filters
- Eco-friendly cleaning solutions
The more diverse services you provide, the more potential clients you attract. But start with core competencies, then expand into specialty offerings once established.
Figure Out Your Costs
Crunching numbers time!
Estimate costs to determine how much revenue you’ll need:
- Insurance – business, liability, workers comp, etc
- Bonding for commercial clients
- Office or storage space (if needed)
- Staff payroll and taxes
- Fuel/transportation expenses
- Equipment costs
- Cleaning supplies
- Marketing – website, ads, materials
- Transaction fees for booking platforms
Calculate your overhead to set profitable rates. Unexpected costs sink many new cleaning businesses – so budget conservatively.
Hire and Train Staff
As demand grows, you’ll need to staff up. Where to find quality cleaners?
- Local vocational schools with custodial programs
- Classifieds and community job boards
- Word-of-mouth hiring within your social networks
- Local workforce development nonprofits
Vet applicants thoroughly then onboard new hires. Shadowing, checklists, video tutorials are great for training best practices before letting them fly solo.
Get Insured and Bonded
Don’t start operations without business insurance! For cleaners, essential policies include:
- General liability – Covers property damage and bodily injuries. Vital for commercial clients.
- Damage/replacement – Reimburses you if your team damages a client’s property. Gives peace of mind.
- Workers’ compensation – Pays for injuries employees sustain on the job. Required in most states.
- Commercial auto – Protects your vehicles used for cleaning work.
- Bonding – Performance bonds reduce risk for commercial contracts. Government agencies often require bonding.
Consult insurance brokers to customize an affordable policy package for your business model and scale.
Create Scheduling Systems
Juggling a growing client base takes organized systems. Options for managing scheduling:
- Paper calendar – Old school but visual
- Spreadsheets – Customizable but clumsy with scale
- CRM software – Automates reminders, confirms bookings
- Online booking platforms – Clients self-schedule 24/7
Email, text, or automated reminders reduce no-shows and keep clients engaged. Test options to find the best scheduling flow.
Market Your New Business
Now for the fun part – getting the word out!
With sharp branding and prices set, its go-time for marketing:
- Launch a professional website highlighting your services and benefits. This is your 24/7 sales hub.
- Create flyers and business cards to distribute in your community.
- Pitch local condo associations, realtors, Airbnb owners on partnering.
- Get listed on Google Maps, Yelp and other directories.
- Run local Facebook and Instagram ads focused on homeowners.
- Sponsor booths at community events to collect leads.
- Send direct mail postcards to households in affluent ZIP codes.
- Partner with complementary businesses like carpet cleaners on co-marketing campaigns.
- Attend local networking events to connect with potential referral sources.
- Arrange discounts for referrals to incentivize word-of-mouth buzz.
Cast a wide net with your marketing so you’re top-of-mind in the community.
The more hooks in the water, the more customers you’ll catch!
Develop Operations Standards
Consistency is critical – establish standard operating procedures for your team:
- Documented cleaning checklists for each type of space
- Expectations for communication and professionalism
- Mandatory safety and security protocols
- Procedures for restocking supplies, fueling vehicles, handling payments etc
- Guidelines for resolving problems or complaints
Solid operations processes keep quality high and maximize efficiency as you scale. Review the standards in training so staff deliver consistent experiences.
Focus on 5-Star Service
Earning rave reviews and referrals accelerates growth for cleaning companies.
To delight clients:
- Have staff introduce themselves by name for a personal touch
- Ask for feedback during the first few cleans to identify improvements
- Follow up with clients’ in-between visits to “check the pulse”
- Maintain consistent assign cleaning duos instead of random staff
- Offer premium touches like air filter replacement or plant watering
- Send holiday cards and occasional thank-you gifts to regulars
- Apologize quickly for any mistakes and make it right fast
- Reach out for reviews on Google and social media
Provide above-and-beyond service that wows rather than just satisfactory cleaning. The extra effort earns lifelong loyal clients.
I hope this info helps you avoid pitfalls I’ve seen sink other cleaning ventures and instead put your company on the path to success. Just take it step-by-step, stick to the fundamentals, and soon you’ll have a thriving homegrown business.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to suit up and meet my crew for this morning’s cleanings.
These Michigan homes aren’t going to de-smudge themselves!