There’s a large cleaning market that many are not away of, and one that I used to generate about $40k in two weeks with. The best part is that the profit margins are really good as well. As the business owner you can make $20k in just two weeks if you do it right.
It’s a small market and not all that easy to get into, but I’ll go into great detail about what I've done for the last three years.
Disclaimer: I am no longer in the cleaning business, but sell cleaning products instead, mainly this cleaning apron that will help you and your team clean faster. So if you'd like to show some support, feel free to purchase an apron and clean faster as well :)
Before you waste your time, you need to be sure there is a college in your location. If there isn't, this info will be worthless.
I will show you how to get a contract cleaning hundreds of student apartments in just a few weeks.
So first, you need to understand the different types of student housing out there. College students can live in three types of places.
- They can go out and rent a regular house or an apartment.
- They can rent a dorm room and live on a dorm that is owned by the college.
- Finally, they can live in an apartment that is not affiliated with the college whatsoever, but only allows students to live in them. This is called private student housing (what we will focus on).
All students move out at the same time each year. So the apartment companies get about 2-3 weeks to clean 100+ full apartments and many individual bedrooms and bathrooms. This is fast and great money!
Step 1 - Search
To begin, you will need to begin your search around January, maybe earlier if you can. Most apartment managers want to lock someone down by February.
Get on Google and type in “Student Housing 'your location'”. Of course replace 'your location' with the actual city you live in.
Start by visiting the website of every apartment on the list. It will become very clear to you if these are only for students. Here is a website from my location. Notice how it’s geared for students.
Once you have a list of potential apartments, give them a call. This is very important. Don’t be shy! Each complex has a full time manager. Simply call their main office and ask to speak with the manager.
In my experience, only the manager and maintenance supervisor will have any idea what you’re talking about. When you get on the phone, ask if they need a cleaning company to help “turn” their apartments during the summer. This is the lingo most places use.
If they do, ask how to place a bid. They will most likely not turn down your offer to place a bid. Better yet, swing by the building and introduce yourself.
Finally, act professional. This is a very corporate gig. Most of these companies are owned by large corporations and they want to work with someone who they can trust. If you look or act like an amateur, they won't trust you. Fake it til' you make it.
Step 2 - Bidding
This is where the tricky part begins. You need to figure out how to price your cleanings appropriately. If it’s too low, you’ll be in trouble and not make any money. Too high and you won’t get the job.
My numbers are probably going to be different because of my location. They even told me that I’m priced about 20% higher than the competition. But they didn’t like the other companies (for reasons I’ll get into late) so I got the work. On the other hand, some places might not have any competition so it may be different.
The complex we cleaned had three sizes of units. There were 2 bedroom, 3 bedroom, and 4 bedroom units. However, all of the bathrooms, kitchens, and living rooms were identical.
Here were my numbers and a drawing of what each unit looks like.
Price per partial unit.
In addition, there were times that we needed to clean partial units. This means just cleaning a bedroom, bathroom, or a kitchen.
In order to price this out, I charged to clean per room, depending on what they needed. You need to keep these numbers high because moving from one unit to a different unit wastes a lot of time. So I needed to charge more money because we were wasting time when moving.
Here are the prices:
Living Room / Kitchen
With the above prices, we generate $39k revenue in 2 weeks. We do this by being efficient. Four cleaners should be able to clean a 4 bedroom apartment really well in about and hour. However, unlike cleaning houses that are spread all over town, the next unit is across the hall, allowing you to crank these out like no other.
In addition, we made a ton of money on the partial units. We justify this by telling the company that it takes more work and time to move from one unit to another. This is a true statement as you will get burned out running around the complex all the time. Be sure to factor this in.
You will also need to know the insurance requirements. Before bidding, request to see what insurance coverage will be required. We were forced to have a $2 Million umbrella policy which really increased our rates. Be sure to take this in account.
Units in Terrible Condition
The prices above aren't set in stone, but don't push your luck. We cleaned only a handful of units that were truly bad. One of them took about 8 man-hours to clean instead of 4. So we let the manager know and charged them extra. The manager then charged that to the students. The managers do a pre-inspection before you go into the room so they know which ones are bad. So if it's terrible, let them know, but don't push your luck and try to squeeze every penny out or else you might not be back next year.
Step 3 - Hiring
My crew consisted of 8 college students. The great thing about cleaning college housing is that you can use college students as well.
They can be very motivated, work very hard, and best of all, are only looking for a short term job for the summer.
To find the students, I posted to the university job board. Most schools have a place that employers can post job listings to. It can be any type of employment. All of my employees came from there and it was very easy to locate help.
Be sure they fill out a W-4 and I-9 to be legal. Most apartment complexes are by-the-book.
I paid $12/hour. In order to do payroll, I set up an account with Wagepoint. Using this software allowed me to run payroll in about 5 minutes every week. After setting up the accounts, all you do is enter the hours worked at the end of each week and it does the rest.
Step 4 - Cleaning
You may be an expert cleaner, but this is different! I can guarantee you that what I learned in the last three years is faster and more efficient than anyone out there. The managers told that to us all the time. So please read this post about the tools and techniques we used to clean. Trust me, you need to read it if you're serious.
To summarize the above post, I split up the 8 employees into two teams of 4 people and assigned everyone a clear role as follows:
Role 1 - Bathtub cleaning
Role 2 - Kitchen cleaning
Role 3 - Bathroom and bedroom cleaning
Role 4 - Backpack vacuum
My bathtub guys were incredible and could clean the worst tubs in just minutes based on the technique I developed. We were the fastest and best tub cleaners you've ever seen.
Step 5 - Collecting Payment
In order to collect payment, I used a spreadsheet to monitor all the units. I used Quickbooks invoicing and sent an invoice at the end of each day.
If you have any questions whatsoever, please comment!
Thanks for reading