According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Southeast Coastal North Carolina is one of the areas with the highest employment of housekeepers and maids in the United States. With these statistics, it is clear that there is high demand for cleaning services in the state of North Carolina.
To start a cleaning business in North Carolina, you need to create a business plan and register your business with the city. Then, you need to purchase the necessary equipment and develop a brand. After completing those steps, it is time to start your marketing efforts and find your first customers.
Want to learn more about starting a cleaning business in North Carolina? Keep reading and check out our answers to the most frequently asked questions.
How to Start a Cleaning Business in NC
1.Draft a Business Plan
Before you can file for a business license in North Carolina, you need a business plan. The state of North Carolina has a detailed guide that explains everything that needs to go into a business plan. One of the first steps of creating a business plan is to determine if you can be the owner or if you need to hire employees.
Since a cleaning business is labor-intensive, you will likely need to hire employees from the get-go. Secondly, determine if the business idea is feasible and identify any potential issues.
Once the business idea is defined, you then need to look at the legal considerations, such as obtaining a business license in your local municipality. Next, include an analysis of your competition and how your cleaning business will have an advantage over competitors.
Then, you will want to outline the brand, including any niche markets the company will serve and how you plan to market the business. You should then notate in the business plan how you are going to finance the cleaning business.
2.Get a Business License
The state of North Carolina has a website that lists the requirements to start a business. You need to first decide on a business structure – a general partnership, sole proprietorship, corporation, limited liability company (LLC), and so forth.
The Economic Partnership of North Carolina gives additional information on each type of business structure. Most cleaning companies are formed under an LLC, sole proprietorship, or general partnership.
To get a business license for a cleaning business in the state of North Carolina, you must apply for it through your city. Each county and city in North Carolina have different business rules and requirements.
Fortunately, the Economic Partnership of North Carolina has a Small Advisor team that can help you figure out what licenses you need. Finally, you should make sure that you have all the applicable tax forms needed for your cleaning business.
Starting a business can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 and upwards, depending on the size of the operations. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a list of SBA lenders that serve businesses in North Carolina.
As of May 2021, the interest rate for an SBA 7(a) loan was 5.50% to 9.75%. While an SBA loan is an attractive option, you can also get a traditional loan through a bank or credit union.
Several organizations in North Carolina offer grants for businesses in certain industries. No matter what type of financing you use, we recommend that you get several quotes so that you can compare the interest rate.
4.Find the Target Market
Before defining your target market, you need to determine whether you are going to offer residential cleaning services, commercial cleaning services, or both.
For commercial cleaning services, we recommend some of North Carolina’s most business-oriented cities: Raleigh, Charlotte, Durham, and Greensboro. In these cities, you will find a plethora of stores, apartments, and office buildings.
Defining a residential cleaning market is a bit trickier. For example, you could cater to college students and focus on cities such as Chapel Hill, Boone, and Greenville.
If you want to clean the homes of upper-middle-class families, you can find plenty of suburbs in Raleigh and Charlotte. Since there is also a big tourism scene in North Carolina, you could cater to vacation rentals and clean properties in coastal towns such as Edenton, Nags Head, and Carolina Beach.
Keep in mind, those who use cleaning services the most often are either those who own businesses or who those with higher incomes. If you are just starting, it is best to target one marketing instead of casting your net too wide.
5.Analyze the Competition
You should analyze the competition before selecting a target market and after selecting the target market.
The analysis should also be part of the business plan. To get a better understanding of the competition in a market, Google search “residential (or commercial) cleaning services in X city, North Carolina.”
For example, “residential cleaning services in Raleigh, North Carolina.” This preliminary search will give you a good idea of how many companies are operating in your target market.
Write down at least 10 to 20 companies and notate how much they charge and what type of services they offer. While your goal should not be to outprice every one of these businesses, you should see what type of competitive advantage you can offer.
6.Buy the Equipment Needed for a Cleaning Business
Paired with trained employees, having the right equipment is one of the most important parts of starting a cleaning business. Here is a list of the most essential items:
- A vacuum cleaner for carpet and hardwood floors
- Glass cleaner and disinfectants
- A mop and bucket
- Grout brushes
- A broom and dustpan
- Paper towels and disposable rags
- Spray Bottles
- Trash Bags
- A cleaning cart or bucket to carry supplies
- Carpet shampooer
Note, this list is not all-encompassing but includes some of the most important items to get started.
7.Develop a Brand
We have already listed several steps to creating a brand – picking the focus of the business and analyzing the target market. Before registering for your business license, you would have needed a name.
We recommend using a name that is catchy, easy to remember, and if possible, incorporates the area in which it serves. You should also create a short business slogan to appear on your business cards, website, and promotional materials.
Lastly, you need a logo. We recommend hiring a professional graphics artist to create your logo, so it creates a positive first impression. Colors are important, too. You should use colors that people often assimilate with “clean,” such as blue and green.
After you have created your business plan, designed your logo, and identified your target market, it is time to market your services and get your first customers. We recommend spending between $500 to $1,000 per month on marketing endeavors when you first start your cleaning business.
Marketing can be a cumbersome task for some, so you can always use local marketing agencies based out of North Carolina. There are serval effective ways to promote a cleaning business, including:
While it might seem old-school, flyers are a great way to get your company’s name out there and promote your cleaning business. We recommend leaving flyers on doors or at local businesses with the permission of the owner.
Do not leave flyers on car windshields – this tends to be an annoyance and can drive customers away. From a legal standpoint, hanging flyers is not against the law in the state of North Carolina, but you should always check with the local ordinances.
10.Create a Blog
Publish blog articles on your website on a frequent basis. This is an effective and affordable way to drive organic traffic to your website that can turn into sales. The trick to getting traffic is to use long-tail keywords a couple of times in your articles.
You can find long-tail keywords using Google’s related searches and Google Suggestions. An example of a long-tail keyword is “Cheapest residential cleaning services in Charlotte, North Carolina.” Remember, blogging is not the fastest way to get traffic, but you will see an uptick in traffic over time.
If you want to succeed in the residential or commercial cleaning industry, you must have a website. The website is part of your brand, and you should display it on your flyers, business cards, and advertisements.
The website does not need to be complex, but you should have an online scheduling system and a way to accept payments from clients. Furthermore, you should have an “about us” section that lists all the services that you offer.
Hosting a website is insanely cheap – you can host one for only a couple of dollars a month. We recommend that you use a professional web designer in North Carolina to help you with the website. You can create a free website with WordPress but using a skilled web designer will create a better sense of legitimacy.
11.Post on Craigslist
Yes, Craigslist is still an effective way to advertise services. Create the advertisement for your cleaning business under the “services” section and then “household.”
We recommend including an image with your prices and a link to your website. Depending on the city in North Carolina, Craigslist may charge a fee to post.
12.Find Skilled Employees
In many North Carolina cities, the labor market is tight, so you have to cast a wide net to find qualified employees. We recommend using websites such as Indeed, Monster, Snagajob, and Craigslist to advertise your cleaning positions.
There are also local Facebook groups where you can post jobs. Ideally, you should look for candidates that have at least one year of cleaning experience. If you cannot find skilled employees on your own, the best alternative is to use a local staffing agency.
Frequently Asked Questions
We hope we covered most of the questions you had about opening a cleaning business in North Carolina. In case we missed some, look below are some of the most frequently asked questions.
Do I Need to Hire an Accountant for My Cleaning Business?
No, you do not need to hire an accountant for your cleaning business. You should purchase accounting software such as NetSuite or QuickBooks Online for basic bookkeeping functions. As your business grows, you might find it necessary to hire an accountant.
Do I Need a Special License to Operate a Cleaning Business in North Carolina?
Generally, no. Having a registered business in the state of North Carolina should be sufficient. However, it is a good idea to check with your city to ensure that there is no special permit required to operate a cleaning business.
How Much Should I Charge My Clients?
That depends on what type of services you are offering and where in North Carolina you are. If you are in Weddington or Davidson (two of the wealthiest cities in North Carolina), you could get away with charging at least $200 per hour. However, if you are in a college town such as Boone, you may only be able to charge $100 per hour.
Do I Need an EIN (Employer Identification Number)?
Yes, you should get an EIN before starting your business. An EIN is imperative so that you can consistently file your tax documents.
Do I Need to Rent a Storefront?
No, you can operate a cleaning business out of your home in North Carolina. There is no law that requires you to have a commercial space. As you grow your business, however, you may find that you need extra space.
Pros and Cons of Starting a Cleaning Business in NC
- Low start-up and overhead costs
- No experience is necessary
- You are your own boss and can pick your schedule
- Flexible work environment
- Laborious work that is hard on the body
- A lot of competition in larger metropolitan areas of North Carolina
- High employee turnover
Is Starting a Cleaning Business in North Carolina Worth it?
Starting a cleaning business in North Carolina is a lot of work, but it can pay off in the long run. In North Carolina, the average cleaning business owner makes around $49,000 per year.
While that is not a fortune, you get the luxury of owning a business, working around your schedule, and being your own boss. And owning a cleaning business is scalable – there is no limit on how much you can earn.
Since the 2010 census, the population of North Carolina has grown by almost one million people. With the state’s fast-growing population, we are confident that the demand for cleaning services will only continue to increase.
Ruben has been doing online marketing for the last 4 years. Prior to that, he spent 15 years managing different brick-and-mortar businesses, in the home improvement and logistics industries. Overall, he has 20 years of business experience under his belt. Recently, he added SEO, affiliate marketing, and link building to his business skills.