If you plan to start a carpet cleaning business, you might wonder what steps to follow to ensure you meet all the legal requirements. The cleaning service industry doesn’t have too many hoops to jump through before you can start providing cleaning services. However, you’ll have to do local research while establishing your small business.
There are various approaches to becoming a carpet cleaning business owner. You can buy into a franchise, which drastically cuts down on the work necessary to open your doors. Carpet cleaning franchises can help you navigate the legal and business requirements for starting a carpet cleaning franchise in your location. You’ll already have a company name, branding, carpet cleaning equipment, access to cleaning products and at least a basic marketing plan. But you have to pay a large sum to start, so it’s not ideal for beginning entrepreneurs.
If you want to be a business owner of a new entity, you can create a carpet cleaning service. You must write a business plan to understand your services and target your ideal customer. You could focus on upholstery cleaning in residential homes or commercial carpets for business buildings.
Your business plan should include information about the local competition. You don’t want to start a carpet cleaning business if there are dozens of other cleaning businesses in your city. You might not get enough work from customers to keep your company afloat.
Once you determine that your cleaning business can profit, you need to think of a name and logo. You want something that demands attention and shows potential customers what they’ll get from your company. Your competition research will help here, too, because you know how other businesses promote themselves and can offer something different.
Along with logo and marketing ideas, every carpet cleaner should have a website. With proper search engine optimization (SEO) this step can help your small business appear above other carpet cleaning businesses in the search results when people nearby search for carpet cleaning. You can increase your page ranking with SEO marketing strategies to broaden your potential customer base.
After you have your business name, brand, and plan, you can open a bank account in the name of the carpet cleaning company. Then you’ll take the next step to become a legitimate operation by checking with your local government to learn whether you need a business license in order to begin residential or commercial carpet cleaning.
Not all states require a business license for a small carpet cleaning service. However, many places make it a necessity to register a business since you’ll need certain information to pay employees and file taxes. Having a business license will also simplify the process when you get insurance policies for your company.
A Doing Business As (DBA) license registers your company name if it’s not your legal name. This license means no other entity can use your business name, and it also allows consumers to look up a company and learn who owns it.
Another standard business license for carpet cleaning is a vendor’s license. The basic license lets you collect sales tax on your goods and services. In some states, you’ll need the DBA and vendor’s licenses to run your business legally.
If you file a DBA license, you’ll also need to apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN or EIN). When you operate as a sole proprietor, you can use your Social Security Number, but once you become a business and hire employees, you need a FEIN. This number is crucial for your business taxes.
Many locations also require permits for wastewater disposal. You’ll clean carpets with water and chemicals and can’t dump the final product in certain areas since it poses risks for the general public. Filing a permit with your local government will give you access to a specific wastewater location, so you remain environmentally compliant.
Since most small businesses need an office or warehouse for the physical headquarters, you need a certificate of occupancy. This permit lets you occupy a building for commercial purposes, and the location must meet all zoning regulations.
The costs for each type of business license vary depending on your state. You’ll have to pay for the permit, starting at $50 and going up to hundreds, plus filing fees with the government. In some states, the renewal fee is the same as the initial cost, while in others, it’s lower.
Your state might also put an expiration date on your business license. In this case, you can operate as your chosen company for that time. When it expires, you need to apply again. This process can seem frustrating, but it allows you to change your business name or location more easily than re-filing all the paperwork before the expiration date.
To submit your business license paperwork, follow all state guidelines. They will give you information on the approval period so you can estimate how long it takes before you can market your business and book clients.
You want to run your business following all necessary regulations. The specific guidelines to follow will depend on the state where you located your business headquarters. However, there are some federal rules to follow.
Since carpet cleaners work with chemicals, you must follow The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. OSHA’s mission is to provide safe workplaces for all employees so they have industry-specific regulations.
There are specific regulations for carpet, rug, furniture, and upholstery cleaning. Local regulations will vary, but there are typically a specific set of instructions for disposing of dirty water and used cleaning supplies when cleaning carpets. Verify that you access the correct information depending on if you clean at a plant or in the customer’s home.
Some common expectations for OSHA compliance include providing your cleaners with personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves when they work with chemicals. You also need to train them properly for the overall job and each piece of equipment they use.
You will also want professional certification to follow the industry’s best practices. You can seek several options for personal qualification as a business owner. You can also add requirements to the job descriptions if you plan to hire employees. Hiring people with professional training means they’re efficient, devoted workers who follow policy.
There are several certification opportunities, including:
Insurance protects your business from harm, damage, and lawsuits. You will want policies covering the business, you and your employees, and the property.
Standard business insurance choices include:
Each insurance policy has a specific focus, but they all work together to keep you from going bankrupt. You set up a business bank account before getting your license to keep your personal assets separate from the company.
For example, if a dissatisfied client sues your company, the court can’t take your money and property to settle the debt—only what belongs to the cleaning company.
Starting a carpet cleaning business is a major hurdle, but you need constant effort to keep it going. Regularly maintaining your business will ensure you continue booking jobs and making a profit.
The most crucial piece of maintenance is renewing your business license if required. Many states grant a business license and let it go without requiring renewal or allowing it to expire. However, if your state requires renewal, you must ensure you meet the deadline. Otherwise, your business will fall out of good legal standing, and you might have to reapply completely.
The process to renew your business license varies depending on your location. Many states mail renewal notices 30 or 45 days before the deadline. Other places let you renew online. Whatever method you use, be ready to complete more paperwork and pay an annual fee to keep your business running smoothly. If you renew after the deadline, you might pay a late fee.
Keep track of other renewals, too. You’ll need to renew your insurance policies annually. If you order supplies, chemicals, and equipment from vendors, you might have a yearly agreement with them. Staying on top of these deadlines ensures you won’t miss anything that can interrupt your business workflow and cause you to lose money or customers.
You should never stop marketing your business. You might have regular customers that request monthly or quarterly cleanings, but there’s always room to make more appointments. As your customer base expands, you can hire more employees to manage the work, which gives you the capacity for more clients. It’s a never-ending circle that means profit for your business.
Marketing efforts can range from cheap and easy to implement to more expensive and cumbersome. You can always hire an outside firm to handle SEO and marketing, freeing you up to take on cleaning jobs. If you want to handle it yourself, consider every possible marketing outlet. Online, print, in-person—anything that puts you in front of potential customers is worth it.
You can post blogs on your company website to bring in more traffic and stay relevant in the search results. You can take out ads on other websites and social media platforms, too. Even posting regularly on business social media profiles will ensure more people see your content. NextDoor is a social media platform that helps you target specific locations in your city.
You can also print flyers and postcards and take out newspaper ads. Consider putting a discount code on the materials to inspire people to take action and contact your business. You can also visit homes and businesses in person to explain your mission and cleaning process and give them a free assessment while you’re there.
In addition to your marketing methods, you can ask satisfied customers to leave reviews. They serve like online word-of-mouth to inspire confidence in potential clients. People who search for carpet cleaning services will see your business at the top of the results. When they click for more information, your professional page will grab their interest. But the reviews seal the deal.
Potential clients love to see what you provide for other people. If your customers leave results specifying that you thoroughly cleaned their heavily-trafficked carpet, taking it from gray back to white, you’ll get a call from that person. You shouldn’t underestimate the power of a positive review.