How to Start a Janitorial Business: 8 Common Myths Debunked

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By Zachary Shor

Starting a janitorial company seems easy. Buy some mops and brooms, incorporate the business, and you’re ready to go. Right? Not so fast.

The janitorial business does have a low barrier to entry. Almost anyone can afford to get one started. And, if you want to do all the janitorial work yourself, it won’t require additional capital to keep it going. But, if you want to grow the business and hire staff to do the work for you, that’s a different story.

I’ve been in the janitorial business over 10 years now and operate a successful company—but it wasn’t always that way for me. During the first five years, I struggled to get new clients. Many of my accounts were difficult to manage and not very profitable. I knew if the business kept going in that direction, I’d have to sell it and do something else for a living.

That’s when I finally realized something. Many of my initial assumptions about the janitorial business just weren’t true and belief in those “myths” was stopping me from growing my company. I wrote this article to debunk the myths so you can take your janitorial business where you want it to go.

Myth #1: I’ll never have to push a broom—I’ll hire someone to do the janitorial work for me.

Most janitorial companies start off as “mom and pop” operations. Unless you have substantial startup capital, this means you’ll be doing some of the janitorial work yourself in the beginning stages of the company. If you really want to learn the business, this is an important step. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. You’ll get to know the reality of what your staff does every day to earn their pay.

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Myth #2: I don’t need to know much about cleaning. After all, anyone can clean—all I need is a rag and a mop.

You need to expand your knowledge of cleaning on a regular basis to remain current with industry standards and advancements. Initially, you’ll need to learn about the chemistry behind cleaning. You will also have to become familiar with OSHA regulations and the EPA’s guidelines for cleaning and disinfection. So, keep an open mind and expand your knowledge. There are lots of resources out there to help—and there’s a lot to learn.

Myth #3: I can buy the cheapest equipment and supplies because the customer won’t know the difference.

Inexpensive, outdated equipment and supplies leads to poor results. Your customer WILL know the difference if you don’t use the proper equipment, supplies, and cleaning processes.

Myth #4: Sales shouldn’t be that hard. There are so many businesses in my area that need to be cleaned—I’ll get my fair share.

I wish that were true, but there’s a lot of competition out there. If you can’t find a way to differentiate yourself in the janitorial business, it will be much harder to win new business. And, if you don’t know how to pitch your company, you won’t close many prospects. There are many resources available online that can help you become a better salesperson. But first spend time developing your unique selling proposition. You have to figure out what makes you unique as a company.

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