Choosing your niche: How to decide which services to offer to which sector.
In this lesson, you will choose a niche for your cleaning business to operate within. Choosing a niche is important when starting out as often you have limited resources (time, money and staff) so need to focus these into one profitable area.
This is going to help you get the most out of your funds when starting out, as you’ll have the right equipment for the jobs you are advertising for. Think:
You chose domestic carpet cleaning as you can afford the start-up cost of equipment, know there is weak competition in your area and you only want to work locally. You’ve chosen a business name, website and logo all reinforce that you are a carpet cleaner. When customers call you they all ask for their carpets cleaning in the town centre, which you have the right equipment for the job and can reach easily. You know that any money you put into marketing is going to attract these highly profitable customers to your business.
The niche you choose will not limit you completely; if you are a domestic cleaner and are offered a commercial job that you can feasibly (and profitably) take on then go for it!
Remember all that research we completed in the last lesson? We did that so that you could make smart marketing decisions. As you walk through this lesson, have your research to hand so that it informs the choices you make.
First, let’s take a look at choosing a sector.
Choosing a sector: Domestic Cleaning vs Commercial Cleaning
Not everyone can choose to exclusively service either the domestic or commercial sector. Your location will dictate this mostly, as commercial cleaning businesses need to be surrounded by lots of offices, businesses, hotels and public spaces in order to have enough work to do.
Another factor could be the competitors that are working in your area. Is there room for another commercial cleaning business, or does one have the monopoly on your town?
Here are some typical characteristics of the two sectors to help you identify where you could operate best:
Choosing a Core Service
Next, it’s time to choose a core service. The idea here really is so that you can become an expert in your field, earn a reputation as someone you can trust with a specific area of cleaning and keep your equipment costs low.
Here’s an overview of the main areas of cleaning, along with some pros and cons to each:
Carpets and Floors
If you choose to specialise in either of these, it is a wise decision to offer both carpet and floor cleaning hand in hand. This not only protects you from changes in customers taste but also opens you up to many upselling opportunities when you are on the job. Most carpet and floor cleaning businesses also offer rug cleaning, tile and grout cleaning and wood floor sanding, too.
There’s a lot to learn in order to make sure you don’t cause any damage to customer’s property, but there are plenty of training courses and support networks out there to help you get started.
Exterior and Windows
Exterior cleaning involves pressure washing, soft washing and maintaining exterior building features such as gutters and windows. It’s often a good choice for those living in affluent areas as bigger, privately owned homes not only demand a lot of upkeep but are occupied by customers who can afford to do it.
Although most exterior cleaning business will include window cleaning, window cleaning can also be a specialism in itself. Because people often want this work done periodically, it’s a great option for businesses looking for repeat customers. Many are even getting their customers onto direct debit, which is a fantastic business model if you can attract and maintain a large portfolio of properties.
Oven cleaning is fantastic because it is so easy to systemise. It’s rare you’ll come across many different ovens the same way that you’ll find different carpets, houses and rooms. Because of this, financial forecasting and planning is simple and it’s easy to figure out how many jobs you need in order to reach your goals.
It typically commands a lower ticket price than other cleaning jobs, so most oven cleaners rely on the frequency of work to generate profit.
Beware that some towns and cities are highly targeted by websites like Groupon for oven cleaning, which can make it difficult to compete and to generate a good profit.
House cleaning services (sometimes referred to as maid services) are built on trust. Getting a good reputation is everything, as customers will perform extensive research to choose a cleaner they’re happy to give their house keys to.
This can make house cleaning slower to get off the ground, but once you have a handful of happy customers, you’ll find yourself swamped with referrals!
Once you’re happy with the niche you’ve chosen, it’s time to start building your business!