Starting my own cleaning business

(32 Posts)
ItsCarnage Mon 16-Feb-15 21:30:32

As the title says I'm hoping to set myself up with cleaning peoples homes and have my 1st interview/chat this week to clean someone's house once a week for a few hrs (good start)

I have an hourly rate in mind but don't want to sell myself short either and we will probably negotiate the rate when I see them.
Does anyone have any advice or can tell me their experience of having a independent cleaner compared to agency one.

OP’s posts: |
LinaDee Mon 16-Feb-15 21:59:17

I have an independent cleaner who comes every two weeks - she charges £20 for each visit and it's kind of like a 'package' rather than the amount of time she spent on the work.

twentyten Mon 16-Feb-15 22:07:09

7.50-10 an hour here. Quote for the job- do you take your own gear? Good luck!

ItsCarnage Tue 17-Feb-15 09:51:32

I will be using my own cleaning materials need to go shopping they have specified 3-4 hrs once a week for general cleaning inc 2 bathrooms,hoovering 5 rooms,dusting,mopping 2 halls,porch and kitchen,bins and oven cleaning.

They suggested an excellent hourly rate but I might try and let them lead the rate if its better than what I have in mind great! I was thinking minimum £8ph.

I have never cleaned someone's house before but my working standard is good so hopefully it works out and customers are happy.

OP’s posts: |
IDismyname Tue 17-Feb-15 09:55:46

Whereabouts in the UK are you Carnage? Cleaning charges vary hugely from place to place.

ItsCarnage Tue 17-Feb-15 09:58:52

This job is in Edinburgh in an affluent area ishouldcocoa
I have done a bit of googling but everyone advertises without prices or flexible ones.

OP’s posts: |
IDismyname Wed 18-Feb-15 06:42:49

I'd be hopeless at gauging costs up there, sorry!

I live the other end of the country.

Orangedaisy Wed 18-Feb-15 06:58:37

Agency is easier if you have a problem with the job (I.e. Something not done properly) as you don't have to complain direct to the person doing the work. I would try to work out a way to get honest feedback from your clients without making them feel awkward about complaining. Agencies also work out holiday cover for each cleaner-have you worked out how you will handle this?

BictoriaVeckham Wed 18-Feb-15 07:03:33

Don't sell yourself short - a decent cleaner is worth their wait in gold! But with it being you first and only clean l, this one could lead to other cleans.

Our cleaner now cleans for 5 of my friends! This happened over 6 months, me talking about how great she is and then passing on details. I know she doesn't charge me what she does them because I've given her the extra work.

Also sell you as a package - will you iron? Fold / put away laundry? For working households it's a god send. All I do for our cleaner is wash clothes during the week and hang them on airer - she comes on a Friday and irons, folds, puts away in relevant rooms.

We're north west and she charges £9 an hour normally, providing her own materials.

Also, thing of liability insurance - if you damaged something in the house, what would you do?

Good luck

BictoriaVeckham Wed 18-Feb-15 07:04:48

Too many typos to correct blush

BallsforEarrings Wed 18-Feb-15 10:55:18

I am on the panel of a domestic cleaning trade association (if you want details pm me) I also run a private cleaning company which is growing fast, I have been in the industry for 17 years now so this advice I know to be sound.

I have posted on this topic a fair few times because I would hate anyone to become what is known in the trade as a 'busy fool' ie someone who is working all hours but not in actual profit just because some people out there would have you believe £10 per hour is too high a price for cleaning! These clients are NOT your clients, they will become your downfall and your business will stall down the line, if you win them on price you will lose them on price when you find the cost of doing business demands you to raise everyone. start as you mean to go on. Cleaning is not cheap.

If your plan for growth includes employees down the line you will need minimum £15 per hour, once you get a good reputation this price is fairly easy to command as it is a 'sellers' market' out there! You MUST provide quality detailed work, as you need to deliver a premium service to command the amount you will need for growth.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking your hourly rate is your wages, your actual wages will be the last thing you can draw out and will be a percentage of the hourly rate your service is priced at - cost everything out and do not underestimate employees costs, factor in statutory obligations, employees are not easy to come by and good ones will not accept minimum wage then you must add on the holiday and sickness pay plus factor in possible maternity etc you will find it will cost you about £10 to employ a person.

The you have insurance obligations, uniform, supplies and equipment and eventually VAT to factor in - after VAT you will NEED to be chargein £18 per person per hour! My friend has 30 employees (she's adding two more as we speak) she is charging £18 per hour and cannot keep up with demand - her company has a great brand presence in her area you see and that it ultimatly what you will need.

We are much smaller as yet, just 7 employees, we charge flat rate but must bring in at least £15 per hour - we are about to hit VAT so prices must rise but we literally cannot hire and train fast enough to keep up with demand.

Price-shoppers are NOT your clients people willing to pay what it takes to deliver fully manages premium cleaning and a high level of customer service are your clients.

Alternatively, if you wish to run an agency instead of employing your cleaners you can charge less as you will be sending self-employed cleaners to homeowners, this cannot be a fully-managed service by law as you cannot train or equip self-employed cleaners so you will not have the level of control over the service but it is cheaper to run and therefore your prices CAN then be as cheap as £10 per hour.

Your business model is up to you - we went high-end and never looked back but either model can work it depends on which you adopt, there are different clients for each type of cleaning business model.

Phew anyway - wishing you well, if you need support pm me!

ItsCarnage Wed 18-Feb-15 11:23:25

Thanks everyone for your input and ballsforearings thanks for the great advice I will certainly pm if I need to thank you.
To answer some questions I don't intend to offer ironing services but would consider if needed hate ironing and probably not that good
I have quote for liability insurance and will set it up as soon as I have at least the one job which will be confirmed tomorrow.
I still need a business name too but not on the top of the list of to do's
I haven't thought too much for when/if the time comes for hiring but have briefly looked at info.
Next week I should have a referral to a company that will support me in this venture (not financially).

At the moment I won't be earning anything as I am on benefits they will just take what I earn from my benefits.
Until I get 16hrs of paid work then I would get wtc and classed as working fulltime/self employed.
I have until May time to make this work to a minimum point or I will have just go for employed work not long after as job centre support will be limited from then.
I'm hopefull this will work.

OP’s posts: |
BallsforEarrings Wed 18-Feb-15 11:57:25

The quickest way to get new clients is to impress your current ones and ask for referrals, something should come back to you within a few weeks of doing this and then, as it gains momentum, you have more clients to ask etc!

If you do not hire, you will be fully booked within a year (maybe sooner) just through referrals - given that your standards are reasonable of course. After this you will need to run a waiting list, at this point you will be always so tempted to hire help so you can meet the demand so bear in mind what I said above!) grin

Start as you mean to go on with price - a lot of the time you will be perceived as more valuable if you price yourself higher, it shows a customer that you believe yourself to be worth it - look at Molly Maids, their flat rate is based around income of above £20 per person per hour and they only deliver so-so cleaning but they are a huge brand and reliable.

The rest of us smaller services are not huge in brand but we can be all the things Molly Maids and other franchises are not - ie we are detailed in our cleaning, our customer service is so much more personal, we remember things our clients like and dislike and we care about their happiness. These things are what set us apart from the global franchises and, even without a huge branding machine behind us, we can still charge a premium if we believe in our worth and live up to it.

Provide a service list outlining all the items you will include (look at other cleaning business websites for ideas)

More importantly put down what is not included and will be charged out as additional ie Oven cleaning we charge at £30 extra.

We do not offer ironing or laundry at all but other services do - this is you business so it's whatever you want to be messing with at the end of the day!

Always remember although you are your own boss and not your clients employee, you have to show them that the service you have decided to offer is the best they will find, then they will keep you forever and recommend you all over.

Ring-fence your boundaries but whatever you do include make it the best they can buy!

Good luck!

NoStrange Wed 18-Feb-15 12:08:23

Hmmm.

On price, I would say it depends on how 'high end' you are reaching.

I live in an affluent area of London. £10 per hour is the going rate for a cleaner around here. There is no way in hell I would pay £15 or £20 per hour, neither would any of my friends (and we are talking households with 100k average income...so not millionaires, but well-off middle class families).

I have had five cleaners and used one agency in the last 12 years or so, and none have ever charged extra for ironing or oven cleaning. The agency cleaner was the poorest (turned up late, was slow and not very thorough). The others have all been brilliant, and two of them have gone on to build up successful cleaning businesses and no longer clean houses themselves.

My advice would be to agree upfront on what the person wants doing, an hourly rate, and what happens if you're not well/unable to come (will you make the time up or just miss a week, iyswim?).

BallsforEarrings Wed 18-Feb-15 12:20:04

NoStrange - no offence to you personally of course, but considering we cannot hire and train fast enough to meet with demand for our services, in our industry the people who don't want to pay our price (that we need not want) are simply not our clients, they are better off with cleaning ladies. We have enough of our own clients to worry about people who want it for cheaper.

Finding the right calibre of staff is the sticking point throughout the industry, not clients thinking it should be cheap, we just decline those one and sell to those who take our price. THEY are our clients, they want what we offer not the 'other kind' of service out there.

The OP wants to start a business not earn extra pocket money under the table she is trying to do things legitimately and needs to price accordingly or she will be working for nothing at the end of it all.

BallsforEarrings Wed 18-Feb-15 12:23:20

Also in London it is my understanding that the price is driven down by the number of illegals trading in that area.

I have another industry friend who covers London and charges out £16 per hour thus proving people who want a fully managed quality service will pay the cost for such, I am not sayin people can't use cheaper options (at their own risk of course) I am just stating these clients are not OUR clients.

NoStrange Wed 18-Feb-15 12:25:30

No offence taken.

I'm just thinking that perhaps your clients are very high end? If that is what the OP is aiming for, then you will know much more about it than me and be able to advise.

But if she is looking to clean for regular families in a nice, but not super rich, area...I would worry she might be undercut if she goes in with an hourly rate double what others are offering their services for?

I guess some market research is in order.

NoStrange Wed 18-Feb-15 12:27:52

Also, I dont know of any families who use 'illegals', although I am sure it happens.

Most of the successful independent cleaners (and small-medium sized cleaning business) in our area are Polish, though. Perfectly above board and very, very good. I'd be afraid if they were my competitors grin.

meep Wed 18-Feb-15 12:36:47

I pay an independent cleaner £10 an hour in Edinburgh. She is worth it and my house is spotless (under sofas, tops of fridge etc). Before that I have used agency cleaners and paid around £7.50 an hour plus agency fee. Definitely not as thorough a clean. I think between £8 and £10 an hour in Edinburgh would be reasonable.

BallsforEarrings Wed 18-Feb-15 12:45:34

Oh well i am based up North so I can only go off information provided from the cleaning business owners trading in London, personally I don't know about marketing conditions are except for what I am told by my trade association colleagues so maybe you are right, but my colleagues do just as well as us, we are based up North (I can't say where I think it may break MN rules you see!)

Our clients are a mix of high-end through to working class families we work for millionaires but also some clients who have said they will have to so without other luxuries as they want a quality cleaning service, we come highly recommended! We do not discriminate, as long as they will pay the price we need to deliver a good service we will work for anybody.

I have a friend who refuses to hire staff as he can't cope with the hassle but he is charging a flat rate based around £15/16 per hour and he has people on his waiting list for over two years plus, he has literally stopped taking names now. He mainly works for pensioners and although he has the odd high-end client and is well-equipped to take care of them he prefers the more down-to-earth types who he can chat with. He does not do ovens or ironing.

Within the cleaning community we all provide slightly different services and we get to choose which service model we want to provide. I have turned away clients if they wanted ironing or oven cleaning because we are not a good match for these clients, our staff are not trained to provide these and we are not equipped or insured for these. If other services provide these then that is their choice and they can offer what they want to but in domestic cleaning you do need to focus on what you want to do and train it out to the highest level. Then your business will grow on its own.

Clients lead with their money, they pay for what they want and need and I am in a position to know what the majority will pay good money for - because they do - all over the country!

ItsCarnage Wed 18-Feb-15 13:47:45

I'm so glad I posted it has gave me lots of things to think about.
I don't drive yet, I will hopefully be ready to take tests by April and see that as a potential barrier as although travel isn't an issue I can't exactly strap a hoover to my back.
I assume client's won't mind me using their hoover but I will ask.

OP’s posts: |
BallsforEarrings Wed 18-Feb-15 14:22:04

Carnage - When I first started my first cleaning business back in the 90's I had nobody to advise me and I just used clients products. I learned along the way that clients don't provide much of what we really need to do a great job in the way of chemicals and equipment.

I soon began bringing chemicals and smaller items of equipment but continued to try to use their vacuums. Most of which were poorly maintained and did not work.

After about two years I had the lightbulb moment -ie I though oh ffs just buu a good vac and lug it about and stop trying to flog a dead horse with clients' things grin ! Never looked back, now all our teams carry everything including Meile vacuums - not cheap but by god they last and perform so well they are cost effective.

My point here for you is you don't have to start with EVERYTHING in place, just make a goal to improve when it is possible to do so, when you can drive and finances allow you to invest, you will get your ducks in a row by the time you are so busy you will need them to be, just creep and go and improve your service until then.

Here's a tip - ALWAYS use you own freshly laundered cloths, do not try to use clients they are not usually hygienic and will spread germs in most cases, so if nothing else bring your own cloths and towels for buffing, we have commercial grade ones and microfibres but just some clean dishcloths (not j-cloths you need more scrubbing power) and some microfibres from B&Q will do - always buff dry after washing down a surface! You will need a good bagful per client then hot wash them every evening ready for next day, you can soak them in disinfectant before washing if you choose.

ItsCarnage Wed 18-Feb-15 15:41:05

Thank ballsforearings I will follow your good advice :-) my own hoover at home is destined for the skip so I believe you that clients may not have the best either
I have stack a of new microfibres courtesy of previous employment don't shoot me that I don't use for my own home I will buy many more though plus other materials.

I'm going to have a hand held bucket with all I need in it and a good washable bag to carry which should be easy to get around with.

OP’s posts: |
sosix Wed 18-Feb-15 15:43:25

I pay £10-£12.50 per hour usually but thats in south

WellTidy Wed 18-Feb-15 15:54:57

Interesting posts on how much people are prepared to pay and how much cleaners require.

In my area (inside M25 but not in London), �10/hour is the going rate for an independent cleaner. Not a person who is in the UK illegally either, an experienced cleaner.

We have had the same cleaner for nearly 7 years. I pay her �10/hour, but her going rate is �9/hour. She does 6 hours a week. I provide all the cleaning products and equipment, but she tells me what she likes to use. She does cleaning and ironing and anything else that I ask her to do (I pay her extra for this at the same hourly rate) eg making up beds, cleaning the fridge.

She gives a good service. It is good enough for me, anyway. I think other cleaners could give a better clean. But she irons amazingly well, and is also incredibly reliable and trustworthy.

I need someone who is willing to iron too, and had previously ruled out cleaners who weren't willing to do this. A friend of mine pays ehr cleaner extra for stopping at the shops on her way to pick up groceries (she doesn't just pay the priice fo the groceries, she pays the hourly rate), and this is a good service to offer.

Other things I would pay more for on say, a fortnightly basis or whatever:

Someone stripping the beds and making them up, either taking the sheets away to wash and iron (this would be ideal) or putting them in the machine for me to unload when I get hiome; Cleaning inside of windows

Just things for you to think about OP. Good luck with your business.

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