Are you a neat freak?
In your personal clean zone, dust doesn't dare scatter. Paperwork
always lives in its proper place, showers sparkle and wiry dog hairs are nowhere
near your dirt-free carpet. Friends tease you about your maid-like tendencies.
After all, who climbs the corporate ladder and makes big bucks because they're
You can. Today.
Janitorial service owners play a crucial role in any business's success.
Imagine walking into a restaurant and being bombarded with disgusting old
fish and cabbage smells. Or walking into a posh office's bathroom and seeing
things you'd rather not see. Those lingering smells and images stay with you
forever -- and you'd have a hard time going back and spending money with dirty
Janitorial service owners carefully clean up these messes, clean bathrooms,
vacuum floors and spit-shine their client's image. "We're not just the cleaners.
We're the eyes of their facility," explains Frank Cephous, vice-president
of sales and marketing for the Delaware-based Elite Cleaning Co. Inc.
If there's a mess, janitorial service owners immediately clean it up. That
keeps corporate clients happy -- and keeps service owners in business. "Regardless
of what a business does, if it's a wreck, perceptions go down," says Cephous.
Janitorial service owners don't just help businesses -- they help individuals,
too. Time-strapped families may not have time to vacuum, dust and scrub. Between
juggling two careers, kids and outside obligations, house cleaning is a monumental
A simple appointment with a cleaning company can organize their lives,
release them from paperwork piles and conquer that strange dustball under
the couch. Plus, these same time-impaired families are happy to pay for cleaning
Arlene Cline, owner of Jani-King Janitorial, saw dirt's profit potential
years ago. Today, Cline has four employees, major contracts and makes good
Be warned. If clean is your dream, you'll need to shell out some green
to start. "A contract cleaner could be a one-person or 'mom-and-pop' operation
all the way up to a company with thousands of employees. Some businesses start
out very small; others decide to start with a medium-sized operation or larger,"
according to Dominic Tom, managing editor of Cleaning and Maintenance Management
You'll need at least $5,000 to $10,000 for start-up equipment costs (vacuums,
mops cleaning solutions and supplies) -- and much more if you decide to buy
an established franchise or business.
But don't worry. Even with higher start-up costs, you can still be successful.
"There's more than plenty enough work," says Cephous.
There may be plenty of work, but don't expect to have cushy hours or an
easy job. Ever notice you never see a clean-up crew between 9 and 5? That's
because janitorial service owners work behind the scenes, stealthily cleaning
while others are sleeping.
"I usually start around 6 p.m. and clean various places. Sometimes [I don't
finish] until 6 a.m. Due to the nature of the business, I rarely see my clients
on a face-to-face basis," explains Cline.
If you specialize in residential cleaning, you'll probably have more daytime
flexibility -- but you'll still work weekends. "It's almost all evening and
weekends," admits Cline.
Vacuums, mops and specialized cleaning equipment can be heavy, especially
when you're lugging it up and down stairs five or more days a week.
"My job is very physical. I have to be able to lift boxes of supplies,
five-gallon pails and garbage bags weighing 50 pounds. You need strong feet
as well, with good shoes," says Cline.
Those late-night and weekend hours can be stressful for the novice janitorial
service owner. Clogged toilets can be super disgusting. Mopping and polishing
huge floors can be dull. Cleaning solution chemicals may give you a major
However, even janitorial service owners have occasional funny moments that
put everything back in perspective.
"We were cleaning a restaurant which had been decorated with black and
orange balloons. My helper was burnishing the floor with a high-speed machine,
and all of a sudden he screamed and ran! A stray black balloon was under a
steam table and literally flew out from the force of the wind. He said he
thought it was a rat. I found this out after I recovered from my spasms of
laughter," jokes Cline.
It's a good idea to take some college-level business, accounting and marketing
classes. Climbing the janitorial ladder will require some solid business skills
-- so prepare yourself accordingly.
"Managers typically have some college education or a degree, are well-paid
and are responsible for budgets, hiring, training, paperwork," says Tom.
"Some contractors work an unrelated full-time job while starting out as
a part-time custodial operator," says Tom. "Work a day shift at the full-time
job, then clean offices or other commercial facilities at night. Build a reputation,
obtain references and begin to market the business, until that point comes
where you decide to jump completely into a contract operation."
Or you could start simply by cleaning your room.
Society of Cleaning and Restoration Technicians
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How to Start a Janitorial Business on Little to No Money
Learn about starting your own janitorial service business