A Complete Guide to Commercial Cleaning: Contracts, Opportunities, and Business Startup

by | Jun 19, 2023 | Commercial Facility Cleaning

Many people want to start their own businesses so they can create their own schedule and foster a healthy work environment. If you want to start a commercial cleaning business, you need to know what you’re getting into before you invest time and money in the endeavor. This guide will explain cleaning contracts, how to find clients, and offer cleaning business startup information.

Commercial cleaning keeps businesses sanitized without interrupting normal business operations. Executive Cleaning Services has been in business since 1976 and today provides commercial cleaning services in all 50 states.

What Is Commercial Cleaning?

The term “commercial cleaning” refers to servicing any building that is not residential. Commercial buildings have high levels of foot-traffic, exposing staff and patrons to all kinds of germs. Some buildings, like schools and large offices, have a dedicated janitorial staff, but janitorial services and commercial cleaning services are two different things.

The Difference Between Janitorial Staff and a Commercial Cleaning Crew

Janitorial staff are around every day, providing basic cleaning services throughout the building. These could include trash removal and routine bathroom cleaning. They also provide maintenance services around the building.

Commercial cleaners provide deep cleaning on an as-needed basis. They use special techniques and equipment for a more detailed cleaning that cleanses the space of bacteria and other filth. While some businesses hire commercial cleaners for janitorial services as well, commercial cleaning is a different aspect of the industry.

Who Needs Commercial Cleaning Services?

Smaller businesses have a handful of overworked employees that don’t have the time or energy to clean the building after business hours. Others have hundreds of employees and know their building will benefit from professional cleaning.

Commercial cleaners can extend the life of industrial kitchen appliances because we have the training to clean them without causing damage. Restaurant employees may receive a basic overview of how to clean kitchen equipment, but since it’s not their main focus, they don’t retain the knowledge over time.

Some businesses that commonly invest in commercial cleaning service include:

  • Schools
  • Clinics
  • Gyms
  • Corporate Offices
  • Restaurants
  • Start-ups
  • Libraries

As you can see, these are all areas with a lot of people passing through their doors every day. Every industry benefits from investing in commercial cleaning services, and you can tailor each contract to suit the needs of the business.

What Do Commercial Cleaning Services Include?

There are a wide variety of cleaning services that fall under the umbrella of commercial cleaning. Ultimately, you get to choose which services you want to provide. Here are some of the options:

Overnight Cleaning

Some businesses stay busy from the second they open. They aren’t able to close early for deep cleaning, and your team will just be in the way if you try to clean during normal operating hours.

An overnight schedule for commercial cleaning and disinfecting provides service outside the business’s operating hours. Overnight cleaning allows the staff to provide comprehensive cleaning service without customers looking on and without disrupting the flow of business.

Floor Cleaning

Floors are the first areas of a commercial building to get filthy. Whether the floors are wood, tile, or carpet, they quickly get dirty and stained from outside foot traffic. Vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping will keep floors looking better longer. Carpeted floors need occasional steam cleaning to remove dirt deep within the fibers.


Windows get increasingly dirty over the course of a few weeks, both inside and out. Fingerprints and smudges cloud inner panes.

Pollen, bird droppings, and even hard water stains form on outer windowpanes and need professional service to keep them clean.

Parking Structures

Before customers enter a business, they see the parking structure, whether it’s a multi-level garage or a traditional lot. The parking structure gives customers a subliminal first opinion of the business, and it’s imperative that they keep it clean.

The concrete or asphalt surface of parking lots can become sanded away by loose gravel and car tires. Oil spots can cause a safety hazard. Weeds can grow through cracks in the surface, making the business look neglected.

There are many ways a parking lot can get dirty, and commercial cleaning is necessary to keep it in good shape.


Commercial cleaners can disinfect restrooms and deep clean them more thoroughly than the everyday cleaning provided by janitorial staff. Every surface of a restroom needs regular disinfecting to prevent the spread of illness. The busier the business, the more often a bathroom needs deep cleaning.

The employees in a business are there to do a specific job, and that job usually does not include cleaning restrooms. Employees forced to clean restrooms don’t do a thorough job. Since commercial cleaning is your specialty, businesses will quickly see the difference when they invest in your services.

COVID-19 Sanitization

Many businesses continue to invest in thorough commercial cleaning in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. As more cleaning products specifically designed to stop COVID become available, commercial cleaners incorporate them into their everyday service. As always, it is vital to maintain the cleanliness of public spaces to prevent the spread of illness.

Specialist Commercial Cleaning

You can increase cash flow by offering specialist cleaning services. For example, if you have special knowledge in cleaning certain types of machines or cleaning specific types of window treatments, you can charge more for these services.

Any service you can provide that other commercial cleaners don’t offer will give you an edge in the industry. Even if you don’t have special knowledge when you start, you can learn what area has a need for a specialist and obtain training to market yourself accordingly.

Cleaning Contracts: What Are They, and Do You Need Them?

You need a cleaning contract to protect both your business and the property owners. A cleaning contract is a detailed list of services you will provide for a specific client. Some details to list include:

  • The start and end time of service.
  • Number of commercial cleaning staff who will be on the premises.
  • What services you will provide and any specifications about procedures or chemicals used.
  • Frequency of service (daily, weekly, etc.).
  • Payment amount, due date, and how you will accept payment (check, cash, ACH transfer, etc.).
  • What happens if either you or the client fail to fulfill the terms of the contract.

New business owners can find it taxing and impersonal to draw up a detailed contract, but it’s the best way to protect yourself and ensure you get payment due.

One way to streamline the process of drawing up contracts is to create a template. One for schools, another for offices, and so on for all types of commercial cleaning you offer. That way, you don’t have to write every contract from scratch.

How To Charge for Commercial Cleaning

There are a few options when it comes to determining your rates. Some cleaners charge hourly, some charge a flat rate per service, and others charge per square foot.

While charging by the square foot can take a little extra work to calculate, it is common for commercial cleaning. For large commercial buildings, it makes more sense to charge according to the size of the building.

When you calculate your rate, whichever method you choose, make sure to factor in the cost of driving to each location as well as the wear and tear on equipment. Each cleaning service uses your special cleaners. Make sure to factor in the cost of supply consumption for each client.

How To Start a Commercial Cleaning Business From Scratch

Now that we have gone over exactly what commercial cleaning means and what types of businesses might want your service, let’s talk about how to start a commercial cleaning company.

Market Research

Before you start your business, pinpoint your service area and do some market research. You need to know all about the competitors within the same area and whether or not there is enough demand for another commercial cleaning business.

As you learn about the target market, you can develop a marketing strategy to cater to the needs within the area.

Choose a Name

Every business needs a name. Whether you choose an unusual business name or take a more straightforward approach, your business name needs to immediately let potential clients know what service you provide. Choose a name that is both unique and easy for clients to remember.

Develop Your Brand Image

Branding is what really sets your business apart from your competitors. Take some time to think about your brand voice.

Do you want the tone to be young and fun, mature and responsible, or a combination? Your brand voice depends on the type of people you want to market to.

You will need brand colors and a logo for advertising. You can hire someone for a short-term marketing contract if branding is not your strong suit. An internet search will lead you to skilled designers who specialize in branding for small businesses and solopreneurs.

Create a Budget

The amount of money it will take to launch your business depends on you. If you are a sole proprietor with one or two employees, you may not have the funds to buy industrial equipment in the first year.

You can start your business with just a few hundred dollars and the necessary equipment, or you can invest more money and buy company vans and industrial equipment right at the start.

Creating a budget for supplies that includes replacement of tools and cleaner replenishment will help you determine cash flow as you start your business.

Register as a Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Forming a legal entity like an LLC is the best way for small business owners to protect their personal assets in the event of a lawsuit. Once you establish an LLC, you can apply for business loans. Businesses owned by women and minorities can apply for unique financing opportunities.

In the business world, an LLC is more credible than a sole proprietorship. Businesses with “LLC” in the title appear more trustworthy to potential clients.

Open a Dedicated Bank Account

Even if you’re starting small and you’re the only employee, mixing your personal and professional bank account can get messy. Opening a business checking account and credit line will protect your personal assets during a lawsuit. Business loans require a professional bank account in order to qualify.

A business credit card will establish a credit history for your business, which is necessary for securing funding. It is also an easy way to keep up with business expenses as you establish cash flow.

Taxes, Licenses, and Permits

Every business must register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). The IRS provides them free of charge. You need one for various aspects of the business including tax reporting.

Individual states have different requirements for small business licenses and permits. Check the requirements for your state so you can register your business properly and avoid fines.

Business Insurance

General Liability Insurance is enough to cover small businesses in the beginning. It protects your business in the event of serious injury or death on the jobsite. Most states also require businesses to have Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

Establish a Business Phone Number

The last thing you want is potential clients calling your personal cell phone. Set up a business phone line that provides information to clients if no one answers. Phone services for small businesses are reasonably priced and further increase legitimacy.

Different Types of Funding Available for Small Businesses

We touched on getting funding, but what types of funding are available? There is money out there for small businesses like yours, you just have to know where to look. There are several funding opportunities for your commercial cleaning company.

Bank Loans

Bank loans are the most obvious choice. You can borrow a small amount to get you started or a bigger amount to scale your business from the beginning. Loan approval can take a while, which may cause a delay in starting your business, so start the process as soon as you are sure a bank loan is the right choice for you.


Crowdfunding has turned into a solution for the underinsured to pay their medical bills. It also helps aspiring business owners fulfill their dreams. You can set a target amount and increase awareness through social media.

Supporters can donate as little or as much as they would like. Some crowdfunding campaigns offer rewards for different amounts to incentivize donations.

Angel Investors

Some people enjoy investing their own money in start-ups that they believe in. They often gained success through their own business ventures and enjoy acting as mentors for new business owners. Angel investors are great for getting insight about the business and learning from their experiences.

Small Business Loans

Small Business Loans are another popular way to obtain the money you need to start your business. Terms for these loans vary, but they are backed by the government and are often a good choice for small business owners.

How To Find Commercial Cleaning Clients

Once you go through all the steps to create and register your business, how do you find clients who need your services?

The first step is to imagine your ideal client. Who do you want to provide your service to? The more specific you get, the easier it will be to market yourself.

Do you want to work with corporate companies, or small businesses? In schools, banks, or clinics? Choose one market to start and you can always expand as your business grows and your preferences change.

Once you decide on your ideal client, the easiest way to start is to reach out to local business owners. Give them a detailed description of your services and a way to contact you.

Marketing Your Business

You want to take every opportunity possible to make people aware of your business. Brand awareness will bring in new clients and help your business grow.

Online Marketing

Businesses without an online presence do not appear legitimate to potential clients. When someone needs a service, the first thing they do is search online for local businesses. They want to read reviews and see social proof that your business is trustworthy.

Creating a website for your business is vital. An optimized website will show up in internet searches and bring organic traffic to your business. Potential clients can get an overview of the services you provide and contact you for an estimate.

Online Payment

Your business will appear more inviting if you have an easy online payment system. Most people prefer to submit payment online and not with a physical check.

Social Media

In addition to a website, you will need to create business accounts on various social media platforms. You don’t have to post funny videos every day to maintain your social media platforms, but you should keep them up-to-date.

Social media accounts are a great way to show before-and-after photos of your services and for clients to sing your praises and recommend you to others.

Social media apps feature ads from local businesses. They are a great option for targeted ads. When a potential client does an internet search looking for commercial cleaning, your ad will show up in their social media feed and inspire them to contact you for service.

SEO-Optimized Blog

A website isn’t effective unless people see it, and an SEO-optimized blog is a great marketing tool to get eyes on your business.

You may wonder what a cleaning company has to blog about. Think of each blog as an advertisement for your business.

When someone searches for “commercial floor cleaning,” for example, they may find a blog post about the benefits of hiring a professional instead of trying to do it themselves, along with contact information for your business. Just like that, you gained a client.

Even if they don’t contact you for service immediately, they now have increased awareness of your brand and are more likely to reach out in the future.

Print Marketing

Online marketing isn’t the only way to attract business. Print marketing methods are still effective. An ad in the local newspaper or even a church bulletin will let people know your business is available for new clients.

Door hangers or fliers in commercial areas are also effective, but they require a large time commitment to distribute them in a large radius.

Cold Contacting

The simplest way to gain clients is simply to ask. Contact local businesses you would like to provide service to and let them know you provide service in their area. You never know who is unhappy with their current commercial cleaners or who has been meaning to schedule service but can’t decide who to call.

Additional Marketing Techniques

Though the cost may be bigger than you have the budget for in the first stages of starting your business, a local radio ad or even a movie theater ad will reach an even bigger audience.

Join a group to network with other local business owners. It’s a great way to get advice from other people going through the same things and you can recommend each other to clients.

How To Bid on Commercial Cleaning Jobs

When a potential client reaches out for a bid, you will need to look at their space in person before you give them a number. Set up a time to walk through the commercial space with them and discuss the details of the services they need. Get a clear idea of the services they want and how often they would like service.

Whether you choose to give them a bid on the spot or draw up paperwork and submit the bid at a later time is up to you. Think of a bid as an estimate. If a potential client isn’t happy with your bid, they will reach out to competitors for their bids, so don’t price yourself out of work.

Retain Business

The main goal is to create relationships with clients and keep them on your cleaning rotation. Your business and the client both benefit from scheduling regular service. They know exactly how much it will cost, and you know you will have guaranteed income.

Subscription plans are a great way to secure long-term clients. You can set up recurring payments for weekly or monthly service. Offering incentives to long-term clients will keep them happy with your service.

How To Hire Additional Employees for Your Commercial Cleaning Service

If things go well in the beginning stages, it won’t be long before you will need to hire additional employees. If you are the only person running the whole business, you will quickly burn out. Here are few team members you can add as your business grows:

Cleaning Team: Cleaning is your main priority, so focus on providing the best service possible.

Manager: When business is booming, you need more than cleaning crew. You need someone to manage schedules, handle conflict, and ensure each new hire receives proper training.

Bookkeeping: As you add staff, money matters including payroll will become more complicated. At least one dedicated bookkeeper will make sure everyone receives payment on time and that cash flow is properly allocated.

Client Relations: When you have many client accounts, you need someone to address their needs and maintain the relationship to keep them happy. Client relations team members also work on securing new clients.

Delegating different aspects of your business will give you more time to concentrate on various aspects of the business as needed instead of trying to juggle it all yourself.

How to Find Commercial Cleaning Employees

When it’s time to hire employees, how do you let people know the jobs are available? There are a few ways to reach out to the community.

Local job fairs are like speed dating of hiring events. You will meet interested candidates face-to-face and conduct interviews on the spot. If you interview someone you think is a good match, you can schedule a second interview to find out if they are right for your team.

Temp-to-hire agencies can provide you with vetted candidates. They conduct the initial interviews and can even drug test candidates before they move on to the next step in the hiring process. The agency acts as a middleman during the process. If you don’t want a new employee to return, let the agency know, and they will find someone else.

Online job listings allow interested candidates to submit their resume and complete an assessment. If they seem like a good fit, you can contact them for an interview. Bots sometimes spam those websites, but many job seekers rely on them as they look for employment.

Desirable Skills for Job Candidates

When you first start the hiring process, you may not know how to determine which candidates are the best for your business. Here are a few qualities to look for in potential job candidates:

Respect: Employees should know how to respect you as their employer as well as every client. Your employees represent your brand, and you want them to represent you in the best light possible.

Availability: Are they available to work when you need them? If you need to hire someone for overnight shifts but they can only work during the day, they aren’t a good candidate for the available position.

Reliability: When you draw up a contract with a client, you will decide on a time for the cleaning appointment. Employees who show up late or not at all will give your business a bad reputation.

Great Work Ethic: Commercial cleaning is all about attention to detail. You want employees who have the drive to give it their all and give each job the attention it deserves.

Teamwork: It takes a team of people working together to complete every job. Hiring people who work well together can be a challenge, but employees who work in a healthy environment are more efficient and burn out less often.

Set Expectations

Set clear expectations with each employee before offering them a job. If you have a uniform or dress code, cover that during the interview process.

Let them know what to do if they are going to be late for work and the consequences for repeated lateness. Employees need to know exactly what you expect before they agree to come onboard.

Provide the Best Commercial Cleaning in Your Area

You have the basic knowledge it takes to start your commercial cleaning business. You know that commercial cleaning refers to any building that is not a private residence. Commercial cleaning services cover a wide variety of areas, including floors, restrooms, and even parking structures.

A cleaning contract outlines exactly what services you will provide to each client, how much you will charge, and when the service will occur. Pricing for commercial cleaning varies, with business owners charging a flat rate, hourly, or by the square foot.

The online presence of a business shows relevancy and trustworthiness. Every business needs a website and business accounts on social media.

When it’s time to secure funding for your business, you can choose from several options, including angel investors, crowdfunding, or various types of loans. Each option has its drawbacks, so take the time to decide which option is right for your business.

You can find clients using online marketing strategies like targeted ads and an SEO-optimized blog to draw in organic search traffic. Print marketing techniques like an ad in the newspaper or door hangers in industrial areas also bring in new business.

Your business may start small, but with a little patience and a lot of hard work, your business can grow bigger than you ever dreamed. Every great journey started with one step. The first step can be the scariest, but the sooner you start, the sooner you can have your dream job.

Executive Cleaning Services offers commercial cleaning services to take the stress out of maintaining your commercial building. Contact us by calling 1-800-664-6393 to schedule a free quote. We serve all 50 states.