Property management companies are often in need of reliable cleaning services to make their rental units habitable for new tenants. Cleaning company owners can earn rental property cleaning business by taking advantage of referrals, targeted online and off-line marketing and direct approaches to property managers and landlords.
Cleaning for Property Management Companies
While property management companies often depend on building janitors or managers to maintain the exteriors and common areas of their buildings, individual units are another matter. Most property management companies ask tenants to clean their apartments before moving out, but this does not always happen. In addition, property management companies often update rental units between tenants, resulting in the spread of dust and debris throughout the living area.
Since building managers or janitors may not have the time to deep-clean individual units, property management companies and landlords turn to third-party cleaning services to make apartments ready for their new tenants. If you own a cleaning service in an area with a lot of rental housing, or are thinking about starting one, it makes sense to try and get some of this business for your company.
Start a Cleaning Business
If you haven't started a cleaning business yet, the process for doing so is usually straightforward. In addition to developing a business plan, legally organizing and registering your business with the state and opening a business checking account, you'll also need to do the following:
Check licensing requirements: Licensing requirements vary by state and municipality. Your local Small Business Administration office can let you know what kinds of licenses and permits you'll need.
Learn about insurance and bonding: Business insurance brokers, as well as bonding companies, can provide you with information about the types of coverage that you will need.
Purchase supplies: Contact cleaning supply companies and open a commercial account so that you can purchase the supplies needed to operate your business.
Hire workers and provide training: When you first begin your business, you may not need any employees. As you build up your clientele, however, you may want to hire others to help you in your cleaning work. There are several companies that provide training materials for cleaning companies, and cleaning industry associations, such as the ISSA, offer certification programs for cleaners, trainers, sales representatives and managers.
Franchising A Cleaning Business
Franchising is an alternative to starting a cleaning business from scratch. While you will be required to pay an initial franchise fee as well as ongoing royalty payments, franchising is often a good option for industry novices. The franchise typically provides training for you and your employees, assistance with finding an office location and marketing support. In addition, you'll be able to operate your business under a well-known established brand, something that can be useful when approaching property managers.
Building Your Business
Business relationships are built on trust. As you grow your business and your reputation, you'll be in a better position to secure contracts with large, well-managed property companies:
Develop Promotional Materials
Promotional material development should be part of your business startup process. Set up a website and social media profiles for your business, get business cards and take out ads in local media outlets. Offer free estimates to qualified prospects; this provides you with the opportunity to meet property managers and landlords in person.
Let friends and family know about your new cleaning business. They can pass on your information to property managers and landlords in their social circles. Members of your personal network who rent their homes or commercial properties may also be willing to pass on your information to their property manager or landlord.
Contractors and handymen can be a good source of leads for your business, as they often do work on rental properties and can let you know if a building has recently been sold, is under new management, has vacant units or has undergone a refurbishment.
Contact Property Managers and Landlords Directly
In addition to searching for property management companies online, you may also find some good leads just by walking around local neighborhoods. Look for signs with the names and contact information of property management companies or landlords on apartment buildings and take a photo with your phone. Contact the companies directly to pitch your services.
Marketing to Commercial Property Managers
Servicing commercial properties, such as office buildings, can be a lucrative alternative to cleaning residential properties. Since some property management companies offer both commercial and residential property management, you may be able to negotiate a contract for a commercial property with one or more current clients.
If you plan to target managers of medical office buildings, be aware that you and your staff will need additional training before being allowed to clean medical or dental offices. This training includes respecting medical privacy laws as well as learning how to clean to meet the high standards of sanitation required in a health care facility.
- Cleaning may be a dirty job, but that doesn't mean you should be. A polished appearance and attitude will provide credibility and show you take the job seriously.
- Some companies may offer to pay you in cash without reporting your employment. Make sure you understand local and federal tax laws before you accept payment that seems suspicious.
Lainie Petersen lives in Chicago and is a full-time freelance writer. She has a long career in business and media, primarily in marketing, online content and regulatory compliance. She holds a master's degree in library and information science from Dominican University.