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Image by: Dave Crosby
By Josie Alexander
If you own your own service-based business, you know how important a niche can be. It centralizes your business so that you can focus on being the best in your field. Once you master that niche, you can expand to others as well. So what kinds of businesses can have niches? All of them.
Today we’re going to focus on one, however: cleaning. As of 2010, there were 50,000 cleaning services in operation in the United States. Around 90% of the cleaning revenue was from cleaning companies (in comparison to self-serve places like car washes and Laundromats). This industry is a $46 billion dollar industry and small business owners are just starting to see the potential in it.
If you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, you can make a comfortable living by owning your own cleaning service. However, do yourself a favor and start with a niche cleaning service so that you won’t be spreading yourself out too thin.
#1) Finding the Perfect Niche for Your Community
Don’t end up being a small fish in a big pond (or rather the ocean). Instead, take these steps to figuring out which niches will work best in your community.
Assess your strengths, weaknesses, and preferences as a business owner. Remember that when you’re cleaning someone else’s house or business, it’s not the same as cleaning your own. You will require certain materials and tools for different jobs. You may even need a special skillset for something like window cleaning high-rise buildings. Look at what you’re good at and where you can be a leader.
Research your competition and the market in your area. Look online (on websites like craigslist in your area), your local community paper, and the yellow pages to see which cleaning businesses are open in your area. Look for niches and compare those niches to your skill sets and preferences. Think of it this way: the more niche your market, the less demand. However if you can specialize, you can ask for higher prices.
Consider a franchise or a business partner. Going at it alone is hard. You’ll have to acquire all of that equipment by yourself and those specialized cleaners can be expensive.
In addition to your niche, you can also offer janitorial or maid services. It will be a great supplement to your business. However, for these services, you will need to employ more people and that may be a hassle in the beginning. This is another reason why a business partner can come in handy. One can focus on the janitorial and maid services, while the other can focus on the niche.
Let’s go over some niches. As you read them, pay special attention to your neighborhood. Do you live in a city with a lot of tall buildings? Do you live in a small town? How big are the residential areas in your town and what shape are they in? How far are you willing to travel?
#2) Window and Blind Cleaning
This one is fairly common so if you see a lot in your local yellow pages, I suggest that you also specialize in something else and just offer this service as well. That being said, businesses are always looking for window cleaners.
#3) Pressure Washing
Pressure washing is versatile: residential and commercial, walkways and parking lots, kitchens and warehouse floors, outdoors or indoors, etc. You’ll have to get your own, reliable pressure washer but that’s a modest investment in comparison to other things.
#4) Restroom Cleaning
If you’ve seen the state of various public restrooms in your hometown, you probably know just how dire your neighborhood is for some decent restroom cleaning businesses. It’s bigger than just retail stores also. Think bigger: arenas, stadiums, schools, company offices, etc. This would go great with a janitorial service too.
#5) Ceiling and Wall Cleaning
This does go beyond residential too. Kitchens need these services so think about restaurants and catering agencies in your area. Ceilings and walls are often neglected but they do capture a lot of dirt, odors, oil, grease, dust mites, and other unsanitary things that people just don’t want to think about.
#6) Moving In/Moving Out
This one is mostly for residential areas but it can also apply to businesses that are moving as well. People and businesses that are moving into a building can ask for it to be cleaned inside and out. This includes basic landscaping as well. When it comes to landscaping, talk with the new home/business owners to see if they want you to set up a specific area for them.
You can also offer insulation of carpet, other flooring, and other fixtures and items if you are certified in that area. It would be a good investment, if you want to consider making your business in this niche market.
#7) Post Trauma/Crime Scene Clean-Up
This one’s not for the faint of heart. It also requires that you get some specialized training, equipment, and materials. You also have to get special vaccinations, get OSHA approves, and know all of the EPA regulations in regards to the disposal to hazardous waste.