Natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes leave behind tons of wreckage. Man-made disasters, such as arson and vandalism, can leave seemingly irreparable damage as well. The mess caused by fire damage and flood damage can’t be scrubbed away with a mop or swept away with a broom. Crime scenes are too horrifying for the average cleaning business. Residents, businesses, insurance companies and local authorities call in specialists to restore properties that suffer extensive damage. Start a restoration clean-up company to snag this business.
Start a Restoration Clean-Up Company
Create an action plan for the business. Determine procedures for handling cleaning jobs. Calculate your rates by the hour or by the job. Factor in labor and materials.
Seek lenders for investing in your business. Prepare a business presentation to show lenders why you think the business model would be profitable. Gather statistics from research reports published by universities and police departments. Apply for a bank loan. If denied, ask the loan officer to recommend venture capital firms.
Get licensed and bonded. First, register your business with the state’s department of revenue. Pick up the applications from city hall, the chamber of commerce or county clerk’s office. Complete the application forms.
Get licensed as a cleaning professional for handling hazardous materials. Review the requirements online at the state’s licensing department or call a state representative. Take the required courses. Water damage clean-up or crime scene clean-up may require completely different course outlines and licensing procedures, such as health risks of mold versus procedures for handling blood.
Get certification through the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Download the registration application. Complete the recommended classes. The Attorney General of Maryland says, “An IICRC certified firm must demonstrate proof of insurance, maintain a written customer complaint policy with follow-up on complaints and provide education and training, leading to certification, for technicians.”
Contact a state licensed insurer. Purchase a surety bond. A surety bond is a method of storing money set aside for damages by leaving it in the hands of a third party. Check with the state for minimum bond requirements. Surety bond requirements can be as low as $5,000.
Request a worker’s compensation policy if you plan to hire employees. Even if you don’t plan to hire additional help, secure a policy for yourself just in case you inhale too many cleaning products or get hurt on broken items during a clean-up.
Buy a van or a transport vehicle big enough to carry cleaning supplies and haul trash to the county or city dump. Look in newspapers and stop in at used car lots. Bring a mechanic along to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
Load up on cleaning supplies. Buy wholesale instead of from a retail store to get a bulk discount. Find wholesalers by asking supply store managers for the information on their distributors or search online. Buy software to help you manage the billing and invoicing.
Create a brochure to send to insurance adjusters. Hire a professional copywriter or graphic designer from an online job board to create the brochure for you. Don’t try to create it yourself if you have no experience. In “Entrepreneur Magazine” the editors suggest, “One of your most important marketing tools is the image you project.”
Send the brochure to all the insurance adjusters and insurance companies. If you are in a specialized field of restoration clean-up, such as crime scenes, send your brochure to police captains in all the nearby precincts and sub-stations.
Start small. Work on jobs with one or two people until your client roster grows. Then, hire additional help. Post “help wanted” ads in online and print classifieds.
Sam Williams has been a marketing specialist and ad writer since 1995. He has been published in magazines such as "Reaching Out" and "Spa Search." He served in various sales and marketing positions with major corporations such as American Express, Home Depot and Wells Fargo. Williams studied English at Morehouse College.