You’ve cleaned your own home. You’ve helped family and friends clean their homes. Is that enough experience to hang on your cleaning business shingle? Perhaps. Many self-employed house cleaners have been successful following that path.
A faster track to get experience as a self-employed house cleaner is to work for a larger cleaning business for a year or two. Working for an established cleaning business helps you three ways:
• You find out if you like to clean other people’s homes. Not everyone is cut out for cleaning other peoples homes on a daily basis.
• You learn cleaning systems. Nearly every hotel and large cleaning company trains their workers to use a clear-cut system for cleaning guest rooms or customers homes. You are trained to follow a cleaning checklist that delivers the results guests and customers expect.
• You learn to be thorough and work fast. When working for a large cleaning company, you have to clean a wide variety of surfaces like stainless steel, fiberglass, granite, wood and tile—without damaging items in customer’s homes. You also learn how to be efficient in your cleaning. As you gain experience, you also gain speed, which can lead to more money in your pocket when you start your own business.
My Cleaning Experience Path
How can a beginning cleaner get much needed experience? The path I took years ago was working for a large franchise cleaner for a year.
I cleaned every type of dwelling, from houseboats with no running water (go figure) to high-rise penthouses so dirty there was dust on the walls and carpets from sheer neglect.
The customers ranged from friendly to almost menacing. While some customers hovered around throughout the cleaning, most were not home or busy in a home office.
An unexpected part of being a house cleaner was dealing with all types of pets in customers homes. The pets I encountered in cleaning customer’s homes ranged from the usual cats and dogs (some friendly, some not) to snakes in glass cages, parakeets that flew throughout the house (leaving bird droppings everywhere!) fish, turtles and hamsters.
Same with kids, nannies, elder parents and other household members. I learned how to work around all types of people in all types of situations in that year with the franchise cleaning service.
Sometimes the homes were full of people who came right behind me and my coworker, pulling out toys, food and papers, making such a mess that it seemed that no cleaning had been done by the time we left the home.
In those situations, I learned the second rule of cleaning: when you’re done, you’re done.
Which Route Will You Choose?
There are three main routes to house cleaning experience that takes you from a casual cleaner to a seasoned pro:
1. Work for a large franchise cleaner for a year. Many large cleaning companies hire for attitude, not experience. They are more than willing to train you in their cleaning methods and systems, if you are prepared to learn. Along the way, you will gain cleaning experience in a wide variety of homes, from tiny studio apartments to five bedroom mansions.
2. Work as a housekeeper in a hotel or motel for a year. You will learn how to work quickly and effectively under pressure. Hospitality housekeeping is fast-paced work.
Quickly turning hotel or motel rooms from rockstar chaos to clean and serene for the next guest is a challenge that can prepare you for the types of cleaning you will encounter in private homes.
3. Sign up as a service provider for a home services broker like Care.com once you have a year’s experience under your belt. They take care of background checks and provide references to their subscribers.
Cleaning providers can range from one year’s experience to more than 10 years experience. You get to set a payment rate that is well over minimum wage. Some of the more experienced cleaners command an hourly range between $35 to $50 per hour.
From your time with a home services broker, you can gather referrals to new customers outside of the broker’s network. Some of the cleaning customers you work with in the broker’s network may be able to provide references and testimonials that give you a running start for your own cleaning business.
During that one intense year of franchise cleaning, I learned that cleaning houses is more than technical skills.
Knowing what tools and supplies to use on different surfaces is important, but only part of what a self-employed house cleaner needs to succeed. Cleaning houses involves a lot of social skills.
Dealing with customers, their family members and pets, also other service workers like plumbers, construction workers and electricians taught me skills that have proven very useful over the past twenty years.
Technical and social skills are just the beginning of a self-employed house cleaner’s education.
Succeeding as a self-employed house cleaner also means sharpening your sales skills, keeping good records, managing your time and keeping up with technology.
Whether you choose a fast track or a slow path to gaining cleaning experience, keep in mind how many twists and turns your route may have or where it may take you. Just put one foot in front of the other and get started on your path.
Cleaning Business Start-up Basics
What path did you take to be a self-employed house cleaner? Share your experience in the comments below ⬇︎.