Starting a janitorial business can be challenging. You need to know about the industry, the market and getting clients. But once you set up shop, you’ll discover it can be an especially lucrative option — commercial cleaning is a $117 billion industry in the U.S., according to a 2020 study by Marketdata Enterprises.
To help you out, here are answers to the top questions about how to start a janitorial business so you can get started on the right foot.
What do janitorial services include?
The term janitorial can mean many things, but it usually refers to cleaning services. It can include commercial or residential cleaning in office buildings, schools, hospitals, retail stores, hotels and other places.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), janitors and building cleaners commonly provide services that include:
- Collect and empty trash receptacles
- Sweep, mop and vacuum floors
- Operate rotary floor machines and steam cleaners
- Clean restrooms and stock toilet paper, paper towels and other supplies
- Wipe up spills and other hazards
- Wash windows, walls and glass surfaces
- Order and maintain stock of cleaning supplies and tools
- Mow lawns, sweep walkways and remove snow
Depending on the type of establishment you're contracted with, you'll have different duties.
How do I write a janitorial services business plan?
If you’re looking to start your own janitorial business, you’ll need more than cleaning equipment and supplies. A solid small business plan is essential for getting your company off the ground.
It doesn’t need to take too much effort, but putting your goals and plans in writing will help you carve out a niche for your janitorial business. However, if you plan to finance your business, lenders will want to see a more detailed plan complete with financial projections.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has a helpful guide, including examples of business plans to review.
How much does it cost to start a janitorial business?
A janitorial services business has startup costs. How much you’ll need depends on the type of business and the scope of work you intend to provide. For example, you might start your business from the ground up or choose to open a franchise.
Opening a janitorial business on your own can include operating costs, tools and equipment, licensing and insurance expenses. You might fork over $2,000 to $6,000 to get everything set up.
If you opt for a franchise, your costs can vary based on the individual brand fees and resources. The fees can include setup expenses, products, equipment and training.
Do you need a business license, permit or certification to operate janitorial services?
You’ll likely need a business license, permit or certification if you’re working as an independent business owner (and not as an employee of a larger business). It largely depends on your location and the laws in that area. You may need to:
- Register your company
- Get a business license
- Apply for a federal business permit
- Pursue a Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) program
When going through the steps of how to start a janitorial business, check with your local and state government for details about what paperwork is required.
What is the NAICS code for janitorial services?
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code for janitorial services is 561720. NAICS is a coding system used by Federal Statistical Agencies. It helps classify businesses to make collecting, analyzing and publishing statistical data easier.
Government agencies, trade associations and regulatory boards also use the NAICS code. For example, you may need to know the janitorial cleaning services NAICS code to open a business bank account or buy small business insurance.
Do you need to get janitorial business insurance?
You may not need to get janitorial business insurance. The exact requirements depend on your state. For example, while most states require business owners to have workers’ comp insurance if they have employees, the number of employees you have before the requirement kicks in varies by state.
You should consider buying a janitorial insurance policy even if your state doesn’t require it. Most commercial customers will require general liability coverage before you clean their spaces, lest they’re held responsible for property damage or accidents you may cause.
Also, consider that without insurance, if you damage a customer's property, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for repairs and legal claims.
Janitorial insurance typically includes:
- General liability protects you if someone other than an employee gets hurt or you’re responsible for property damage.
- Errors and omissions (E&O) offers protection if you’re accused of making a mistake that causes someone to lose money.
- Commercial auto covers collision repairs, rental reimbursement and medical expenses for business-owned vehicles.
- Workers’ compensation helps pay for medical care and lost wages if an employee is injured on the job.
- Tools and equipment covers your gear whether it's in your vehicle, in a trailer or at a job site.
- Commercial property protects your business equipment, inventory and misplaced keys and locks.
Business insurance can protect your business from janitorial accidents and basic risks. It gives you financial peace of mind knowing you’re protected — your insurance packages can cover the costs, so you don’t have to.
How do you find commercial cleaning work?
Janitorial business contracts are your ticket to cleaning business success. If you live in an area with plenty of commercial property, your best bet for finding new clients is word-of-mouth. Contact landlords and property managers directly and let them know you’re available for cleaning services.
If that doesn’t yield any results, try handing out business cards at area commercial properties or posting flyers at local coffee shops. An established online presence is also important to win janitorial contracts — create a website for your company to showcase your services and tell your brand’s story.
How should I price janitorial cleaning services?
If you’re considering starting a janitorial business, one of your first concerns will likely be how much to charge for your services. If you’re unsure about how much you should charge, consider these pricing models:
- By the hour
- A flat rate
- A square footage rate
Because costs can vary by location, research the prices of other cleaning services in your area. You might call to ask about charges or review price lists on another company’s website. Get at least three quotes to use when deciding how to price your services.
NEXT can help you start your janitorial business
Starting commercial cleaning can be time-consuming, but a janitorial business can be a lucrative endeavor. NEXT Insurance helps you protect yourself and your business — you’ll get small business insurance that’s matched to your company, so you only pay for the janitorial insurance you need.
And if you have questions? Our U.S.-based, licensed insurance professionals are available to help you every step of the way.