Small Business Loans for Cleaning Services
Does the sight of a sparkling kitchen fill you with joy? Do friends compliment you on your in-depth knowledge of how to remove any stain from upholstery? Maybe you turned your passion for cleanliness into owning a cleaning service.
For whatever reason you went into business, you will have to learn the skills to manage your business effectively for it to be successful and growth. A cleaning service can be an easy and low-cost business to start, but to grow, you will need to invest capital. Capital supports an expansion or an acquisition. It can cover current expenses while you are out soliciting new clients, pay for marketing materials, and keep your business running during a slow season. Below are some of the best options for small business owners seeking to fill a funding need and you can get an answer in just a few clicks.
What Do I Need to Qualify?
Below is a list of the requirements to get approved for business funding with our most basic program. There may be additional factors that are considered, meeting these three requirements though gives you a very high chance of having your application approved.
- At Least 2 Months in Business
- 500 Min. Credit Score
- $8,000 Min. Monthly Revenue
Types of Business Loans Available
There are various types of business loans available and not every one is the perfect fit for each individual. We have funded thousands of businesses and will work with you to find the best business loan for you and your company.
1. Bad Credit Business Loans
Banks prefer to lend to only the most-qualified borrowers. They require that a borrower have an excellent credit score, at least two years in business, and a healthy revenue stream. Banks also prefer to loan in larger amounts, the average “small” business loan with a traditional, large bank is
Failing to meet any of a bank’s qualifications means that you fall into what the lending industry calls a “bad credit” business loan. Note that your credit score could be perfectly acceptable, but another factor could disqualify you from borrowing. Alternative lenders offer bad credit business loans to small business owners who need access to capital.
At Shield Funding, you can borrow based on your monthly revenues as long as you have a credit score above 500. Minimum monthly revenues must be $8,000, and you must have been in business for two months or more. They offer flexible repayment terms and interest rates between 12% to 45%. You can borrow anywhere between $5,000 to $1 million.
2. Short Term Business Loans
A short term business loan helps business owners cover short term needs. They are best used when you have a specific project or capital need with a set duration. If you know, for example, that your office remodel will be done in six months, you can take out a six-month loan.
Shield Funding grants short term business loans for terms of six to twenty-four months. Interest rates range from 9% to 45%, depending on your credit score, which must be above 650 to qualify. If your business brings in more than $10,000 in monthly revenues and you meet other requirements, a short term business loan from Shield Funding could help your business grow.
3. Working Capital Business Loans
Many cleaning services operate on a cash or credit card basis. The only time you might be owed money is if you have industrial or commercial contracts. But cash flow crunches can occur, particularly if you must cover overhead costs when business is slow. Rent, the salaries of office staff, and utilities are all examples of overhead expenses. A working capital loan helps you keep the bills paid when revenues slow.
Working capital is the amount of funds you have available to pay all your current bills. It is calculated by subtracting the current liabilities on your balance sheet from the current assets. Financial advisors tell small business owners that they should have two times their current liabilities on hand, but it can be a struggle to maintain this ratio.
Working capital loans have terms of one to three years and interest rates from 9% to 45%. You can borrow if you have only been in business for two months as long as your monthly revenues exceed $10,000, and you have a credit score above 650.
Growth Tips for a Cleaning Service
While you may have started with a bucket of cleaning supplies and a dream, it will take hard work and planning to grow your business. Once you have formed an idea of the type of cleaning company you want to build – residential, commercial spaces, schools – the path to growth will become clearer. Pick the tips that apply from this list, put them in action, and watch your business grow.
State of the Industry
Under the umbrella term of “cleaning services,” you will find everything from commercial cleaning companies, janitorial services, to small mom and pop cleaning crews.
Janitorial services, which includes all of these types of businesses, generated $61 billion of revenue in 2019. It has been a slow-growth industry, only growing an anemic 1.9% over the past five years. The strongest growth in demand has been in commercial cleaning services, which represents 31% of the industry’s revenue. Lower office vacancy rates, nonresidential construction, and growth in the number of businesses needing their services have led to a broader client base.
It is an industry strongly impacted by economic downturns or recessions, particularly those segments that serve individuals and provide housecleaning services. For example, revenue fell 5.3% in 2008 and 6.1% in 2009. Recovery has been steady since then, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 7% job growth until 2028. Commercial cleaning services are less susceptible to being cut during a recession as housecleaning services, which many families view as a nonessential service.
Franchises only generate 10% of the industry’s revenues, so do not be intimidated by starting your own company. There are not many barriers to entry or high costs involved if you want to start small and grow.
Costs to Running a Cleaning Service
The startup costs of running a cleaning service are nominal. While you should register the business and obtain the proper state and local licenses, many cleaning companies start informally.
Supplies will only cost $75 to $200, depending on if you decide to specialize in green cleaning or buy special cleansers. As you grow, however, you will want to invest in floor equipment such as a vacuum, wet vacuum, or a carpet cleaning device. Other expenses include labor and transportation, either transport that you provide or mileage reimbursements.
As you grow, it becomes necessary to purchase both insurance and a bond. Insurance such as general liability, worker’s compensation, and property casualty coverage will cover your business if you are sued for something for which you might be liable, an employee is hurt on the job, and protects any buildings or a central facility. A bond against theft reassures potential clients that their valuables will be covered. A typical bond costs 3% of its face value.
In total, startup costs alone could be between $5,000 to $15,000. Many of these expenses, such as rent, supplies, and labor, will be recurring. You will have to cover them every month, and they will increase as your business grows.
Manage your Time Effectively
How long does it take a crew of two to clean a 1,000 square foot house? Will it take three, or four hours, for your team to clean two office floors? Knowing the answers to these questions can make or break your business. To maximize your profits, you must manage your time effectively.
A job that goes over its allocated time can destroy your profit margin, especially if you are paying your employees overtime. Carefully track and monitor the actual time it takes to clean a space, which will depend on square footage and other factors. This will inform bids on new work, crew allocations, and help you identify areas for improvement.
Create a Unique Voice and Brand Vision
To stand out in a crowded business, you must differentiate yourself. Establish your value proposition – what you offer the customer that competitors do not and the benefits of hiring you. If you are unsure where you fit in the marketplace, study your competition and identify gaps in local offerings.
Ask yourself what your company’s core values will be; will you offer amazing attention to detail? Do you guarantee customer satisfaction, and will you send the crew back if the customer is unhappy? Once you have identified a unique voice and vision for your brand, you can create a marketing plan to communicate it to your target market. Consider investing in a logo and branding that reflects your business’ philosophy.
Standing out from the crowd will help customers find you and engage your services.
Train your Crews to Present a Professional Image
Once you have refined your branding, image, and value proposition, train your cleaning crews to represent it at all times. You can do this by emphasizing professionalism.
Incentive them to show up on time for jobs, and to go the extra mile. Uniforms that present a unified look increase the professionalism of your image. If that is not affordable yet, at least insist that they wear clean clothes with no rips. Create a training manual and standards which include not listening to loud music in customer homes, or wearing headphones while they work. Establish standards for how they can approach someone working late in the office if they need to empty their trashcan.
Think about every touchpoint your cleaning crew has with a customer and how they could present a professional image, and train them to always deliver on that expectation.
When marketing your business, sell cleanliness. Many people or companies like to have a clean home but are unaware of its health benefits. According to one survey, companies that don’t use a janitorial service can lose up to 5% in daily productivity due to unclean surfaces. Hiring a janitorial service can save a company money in the long run.
Consider buying your crews an ATP meter, which measures the amount of organic soil on a surface. Harmful microbes feed on this soil, so reducing its presence lessens illnesses. Lower levels in schools have been correlated to fewer absences.
Including the benefits of a clean environment in illness and disease prevention in your marketing materials and sales pitches can help you sign new business.
Cater to the Green Cleaning Market
If you offer your services in a wealthier, health-conscious area, consider catering to the “green” cleaning market. Eco-conscious consumers demand all-natural cleaning products and wish to avoid harsh chemicals and bleach.
Green cleaning products are more expensive than their chemical counterparts, and customers may also insist on natural sponges and brushes, too. But, given these higher costs, you can also charge more for your services. Buy equipment, such as vacuums, that has been recognized by the American Lung Association to improve air quality, and make sure that your staff follows green cleaning protocols.
While it is a niche market, if the surrounding market conditions support it, specializing in green cleaning could help you grow a successful business.
Pursue Long-Term Contracts
Long-term contracts provide guaranteed income, which can keep your business afloat if the economy takes a downturn. Many families consider housecleaning to be nonessential, and the industry always dips during recessions. Taking on a few long-term contracts which cannot be canceled helps recession-proof your business and can provide a steady income stream.
Most cleaning companies derive 32% of their business from janitorial contracts, such as with a local business, and 31.7% from educational contracts. If you are looking to break into this market, call the school district or local companies and politely ask to know when their current contracts expire. Ask about the bidding or estimate process, and when the time comes, submit a bid. While you should always build in a profit, ask yourself whether or not the reliable income justifies offering a discount that would help you win the work.
Adding long-term contracts to your portfolio of clients can give you a bit of peace of mind each month.
Cut Costs through Wise Investments
It would take one person two hours to mop a 5,000 square foot area. An automatic scrubber could do it in 15 to 30 minutes. If you plan on focusing on commercial cleaning contracts and large-scale cleaning projects, you will need to invest in more equipment than a mop and bucket. After the initial capital outlay to purchase the scrubber, however, you will save in what you pay your hourly employees.
Buying equipment that leads to cost-savings, in the long run, can help you cut costs and land larger contracts. Instead of relying on staffers to mix chemicals, which is also an area of potential risk, you could invest in an auto-dilution machine at the warehouse. It would cut back on waste and improve profit margins.
Take some time to research capital investments which would support long-term growth and allow you to expand your business.
Partner and Network to Find Clients
If you are concentrating on the residential home cleaning market, think beyond homeowners.
Many real estate agents offer a free housecleaning to their clients, either sellers before they list or buyers just before close. Reach out to local agents and offer specials or package deals. Forming a relationship with a realtor can lead to ongoing work from their clients, too, if they are happy with your service.
Homebuilders also need cleaning services. They will need to keep their model homes in tip-top shape, and they may offer a free cleaning to new home buyers. Partnering with a home builder who is building a large development can bring in steady work.
Lastly, consider purchasing a new home buyer mailing list. Send postcards or flyers to these new home buyers, who may be looking for a new cleaning company. Actively seeking out work can lead to growth.
Manage your Online Reputation
Online reviews can make or break a service business. Pay close attention to what current and past customers are saying about you online, and work to address complaints quickly. Respond professionally and courteously, as much as you may want to argue with them.
If they are complaining about cleaning crews showing up late, talk to your crews about timeliness and punctuality. Or, maybe you need to build more time for travel between jobs into their schedule. A complaint can indicate where you need to make adjustments in your business.
Solicit positive reviews from customers, and do not be afraid to ask them to rate your services on Yelp or Angie’s List. Many customers are happy to help a small business. If someone does leave a positive review, respond with a “thank you” online.
Devote a little time each week to managing your online reputation before an issue arises to protect your business’ future.
Invest in a Good Website
A good website can sell and support your cleaning business. If you decide to market through Google ads or Facebook ads, you will want customers to click through to a well-designed and professional site.
Aim at answering all the questions a new client might have; your service area, hours of operation, phone number and other contact information, years of experience, and any credentials, licenses, and bonds. The goal is to increase their confidence in your professionalism and expertise. Consider adding headshots and bios of the leaders on your cleaning crews so that a new client knows who to expect when they answer the door.
Putting a scheduling calendar online offers convenience to clients and cuts down on administrative costs. Investigate software which will integrate with your site and perhaps send automatic text or email reminders.
Market your Cleaning Service
Any new or established business must get the word out about themselves. Even businesses that have been operating for years will lose clients, either to a move or due to budget cuts. Maintaining a steady flow of new clients will help you continue to grow despite attrition. To support this goal, put together a marketing strategy.
Word-of-mouth and referrals matter, but sometimes you have to encourage current customers to pass along your name. Offer a referral discount to current clients when they refer someone to you, but only extend it after that person has booked and paid for their cleaning. Always send a “thank you” note to a client when they refer your services.
Invest in branded fridge magnets or pens with your company’s name and logo and pass them out to current and prospective clients. That way, your name and number will be front and center when their best friend asks who did such a great job cleaning their kitchen. Print up brochures that your crews can put on the doors of neighbors, as growing your business within the same neighborhood can reduce transportation costs.
Utilize social media to spread the word, too. Set up a Facebook page and share cleaning tips and other helpful posts. Incentivize people to like and follow you by offering online-only deals and specials. When a customer “likes” your page, it will appear in their friend’s feeds or as a suggestion for their friends to also like. This can grow your business at no cost to you.
When putting together a marketing plan, think about your target market and which forms of advertising would be most effective in reaching them.
The Final Word on Business Loans for a Cleaning Service
Whether you need $5,000 or much more, you will want to work with a reputable lender. Shield Funding has been lending to small businesses for over ten years. They understand the needs of borrowers who cannot access capital through traditional means, or who prefer the ease and convenience of working with an alternative lender. If you have realized that it is time to borrow, reach out to talk to a lending specialist at Shield today.