The cleaning business has two distinct market segments, namely commercial and consumer. The two groups have distinctly different needs though the approaches to the two may have some overlaps. In order to start a cleaning service business and succeed at it, there are a few key areas you’ll have to excel at. So let’s discuss these and how to start a cleaning service business in Zimbabwe.
General day-to-day may not be a popular area in the country as we have very low-income levels, as such it is easy for those in need of cleaning services to find a cleaner. However, considering the constant escalation of Prices it’s not a segment that should be totally ignored as the rise in employment costs may lead people to outsource cleaning services.
What is in demand are specialist cleaning services for items like carpets, windows and other items that require seasonal cleaning. This works particularly well with commercial clientele. So consider specializing in the cleaning of such items which may be difficult to clean.
Having the right employees both in work ethic and character is absolutely essential. Because the business involves entering into people’s beloved spaces you need a team that is trustworthy. Background checks are absolutely essential and this is one area you will really need to train your eye on. Cleaning is also a service where often is judged on what you don’t do or what you don’t do to a satisfactory standard. Having employees who buy into the vision is essential. Finding the right employees is not the end of it. Significant investment must be made in training employees in order to keep skills at a suitable standard.
Take care of your employees
Having the right employees is one thing. Taking care of these employees is another thing altogether. While your organisation will start very small and possibly with your involvement in the actual cleaning work you can only be in one place at a time. That means a high degree of delegation. While you can never guarantee your employees do the right thing, doing right by them goes a long way. It is said that employees don’t run away from jobs, they run away from bad managers. It’s important to remember this in your management style and performance appraisal.
Know every part of the work
I earlier indicated that you may well be involved in doing some of the actual cleaning work early on. Matter of fact it is advisable to do cleaning work in order to acquaint yourself with the ins and outs of the work. It’s hard to effectively supervise or appraise a job you don’t know. And this goes all the way into your budgeting as well when it comes to issues such as the expected usage rates of cleaning products.
Another key to your business is your customer service. This goes beyond how you communicate with your customers but your overall dealings with. In such businesses, it is standard practice for prospects to require trade references when coming to the decision of whether or not to engage you. For this reason, you must treat every customer as though your business depended on that one customer because it may well do so. Having glowing customer references who you have good relationships with is power that money can’t buy. In order to arrive at this position be prepared to cater your offering to each individual customers needs and circumstances. That said…
Don’t take every job
While the concept of taking on jobs to grow your reputation is a good one it may not always be the best thing for you to take every job that comes your way. If a particular job isn’t financially viable it may be a good idea to respectfully decline and walk away. Taking on jobs you cannot satisfy may also be your undoing. Create a clear decision matrix for jobs that considers all relevant factors. Our economy is hardly a friendly place for profitable companies, the fate of the unprofitable ones is a dreadful thought.
Build a brand
While cleaning is just cleaning building a brand is important. I’ve spoken about the importance of customer referrals and having the right employees. Harnessing these two keys through a brand is important. This should include distinct uniforms, professional documentation of work done and regular communication with the responsible client representative. This brand must be supported with adequate branding efforts.
Suppliers also form a very important part of your critical elements. All the elbow grease in the world does not make up for inferior quality cleaning products. In the same breath, it must be noted that keeping supply costs and terms of payment favourable will also determine your success. You may be engaged in a cleaning arrangement that stipulates you are paid monthly in arrears while you require cleaning chemicals and supplies upfront for the work. Negotiating viable arrangements with your suppliers are critical.
While you may not feel like it is important this one is absolutely necessary. Speak to your insurance provider or a broker about the options available to you for insurance. It is reasonably foreseeable that in the process of doing your work you may cause unintentional harm or loss to clients. If and when this happens your business can completely fall apart.
Your equipment needs will vary with your approach. Matters like carpet cleaning are best done with specialised equipment and this may set you back a bit. Steam cleaners may also be in order if you are dealing with a thorough clean engagement. Frankly, this will be your biggest upfront outlay and it will likely be considerable. This also includes smaller cleaning equipment which is also necessary.
I’ve already mentioned some of the soft skills that will be required to manage the business well. If you are handling sales and negotiations you will need skills in those two areas. You will also find yourself being the bridge between the client and your employees. Advocacy and the ability to communicate effectively become key as a result of this. Networking is another skill to master, it’s absolutely essential to learn how to connect with people and represent your business.
Combining these specific tips with general good business practices will give you the right footing. This is not an overnight business and even those take years to find their footing. You must be prepared to invest for the long haul and patiently build your business.