How To Start a Remote Cleaning Company

How To Start a Remote Cleaning Company

10 min read

By the way, this is an extremely high level overview. If you want a better resource on this that goes into much more detail and also includes all of the actionalable steps you'll need to succeed in this industry, buy my handbook:

How does a remote cleaning company work?

To start off, the company operates by hiring cleaners as 1099 contractors. Hiring cleaners as contractors is essential to the company running remotely because 1099’s are required by law to provide their own gear and insurance. When you only hire 1099’s, you don’t have any of the overhead associated with paying for and storing equipment.

This model is great for hiring people hoping to earn some extra money or people who currently clean houses on their own and are looking for help filling up their schedules. Legally, you can’t tell a contractor how or when to work. Instead, they set their own availability, and your job is to find customers who want their houses cleaned within that availability. Once you find a customer who wants their house cleaned, you assign the customer to the cleaner, and you make money in the margin between what you pay the cleaner and what you charge the customer.

After getting at least one person to agree to work for you, you can do paid advertisements through platforms like Google, Yelp, or Angi's List to get customers. Your role in this equation is to act as a middleman between customers and cleaners and match up people looking for house cleaning services with people willing to provide that service. To do this, build a website that allows customers to book online and use a CRM like BookingKoala to match up customers and cleaners.

After you’ve set up your CRM, you can charge customers and pay cleaners right from your website. This will allow you to operate the company remotely without ever needing to clean any of the houses yourself.

The main reason that this model works is that cleaning is not a very competitive niche. If you Google cleaning companies in your area, you'll likely find that most of them don't even have a website, and the ones that do are usually pretty awful. If you call around to try to find cleaning companies in your area, the majority of them probably won't pick up their phone. These are all indications that the niche is ripe for disruption - because if you throw together a nice-looking website that can give customers automatic quotes and allow people to book online, and you’re willing to pick up your phone, you're going to be head and shoulders above your competition.

The steps to starting a remote cleaning company

Before I go any further, I want to qualify this blog post by saying that none of the platforms I'm about to refer to are paying me anything - this is just what I use.

1. First, create a website and get a CRM. I use BookingKoala for a CRM, and I love it because I also have my website hosted through them. Hosting your website through BookingKoala allows customers to get quotes automatically and book cleanings online - something that most cleaning companies in the US don’t offer.

2. Next, set up Stripe to charge customers and pay cleaners. Stripe is terrific because it integrates with basically any platform you use, including BookingKoala.

3. Once you have a website, you need insurance. I like Thimble because it's super easy and inexpensive (it costs around $50 per month). Additionally, you need your cleaners to have insurance, and I refer them to Thimble for this.

4. After you’ve laid the groundwork, you need to find cleaners. For this, I prefer Indeed because they allow you to pay per applicant and get refunds on applicants who don’t meet your qualifications.

5. Before you hire a cleaner, you'll need to do your due diligence to protect yourself. First, have the cleaner sign a contractor agreement (Docusign is the easiest way to do it) that states the legal structure of your relationship and that you're not liable for any damages to the customer's property.

6. After the cleaner has signed the contractor agreement, you’ll need to conduct a background check on them. I use Certn because they make it super easy.

7. Finally, you need to have the cleaner fill out a W9 form for tax purposes.

8. After you get your first cleaner, you'll need customers. For this, I use Google Local Service Ads and Angi’s List. You can get customers in many ways, from paid advertising on Google and Angi to other platforms like Yelp or Nextdoor, to good old-fashioned paper advertisements and knocking on doors. I like Google because it's super easy to target specific locations and turn the ads on and off. Still, Angi is nice for diversifying how your service shows up online. A lot of people search on Angi specifically when looking for home service providers, so it's a good idea to establish yourself on their platform in addition to Google.

For the deepest dive available on all the different platforms available for marketing and hiring in a remote cleaning business, check out the Remote Cleaning CEO Guidebook. It also includes a contractor agreement template, a detailed explanation of everything you need to know about insurance, and WAY more.

A few lessons I've learned since starting a remote cleaning company

Always be hiring. 

When you’re first starting out, it’s tempting to hire the first person who agrees to work for you - and a lot of times, this might feel like your only good option when you want to get started. However, if you’re not picky about who you’re hiring, you’re inevitably going to bring on some unreliable people. Plus, you never know when someone will quit or just stop showing up to jobs. For this reason, you don’t have a stable company until you have multiple cleaners because you need to be able to transfer work to other people when cleaners quit. The cleaning industry has a lot of turnover, so you need to be prepared for this. 

How to handle cleaners not being able to get into customer’s homes

When it comes to running a cleaning business, one of the most significant headaches is cleaners not being able to get into homes/apartments, and if you’re in a big city, there may be issues with parking. For this reason, prior to accepting work from customers, it’s important to ask them how the cleaner can plan on entering the residence and if there is sufficient parking on the premises; this will save TONS of headaches.

Get customer billing info BEFORE going to a job

ALWAYS get customers to enter their billing information on your website prior to the cleaning. I like telling customers that they need to enter their billing information to confirm the cleaning, or you might give the time to someone else. If you have people’s billing info on file, it makes it 10X easier to collect money from them after a job is over. This is especially relevant if the job goes poorly for any reason, and prior to the job starting, if the customer is overly reluctant to give you their billing information, they may be planning on not paying you for the job at all. If someone refuses to enter their billing info before a job, it’s typically a good idea to cancel the job altogether because there’s nothing worse than being unable to collect from a customer after a job is over.

In my Remote Cleaning CEO Handbook, I dive into everything I’ve learned from taking a cleaning company from 0 to 10K per month, all while operating the company fully remotely. In the book, I have an entire section dedicated to “Why Your Remote Cleaning Company is Going to Fail,” where I dive into each of the learnings I’ve described above in more detail, as well as over 20 other learnings that you won’t find anywhere else. Check it out here:


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