How to Transition your Cleaning Company from Residential to Commercial Cleaning

Many cleaning company owners start their business exclusively cleaning residential areas. Residential cleaning is a great industry and many cleaning companies make a name for themselves by making sure peoples’ homes sparkle and shine. However, many cleaning company owners want to grow their business and break into the commercial cleaning space along with the residential space. Growing your business to accommodate commercial clients is a worthwhile move, but it is important that you understand successfully transitioning from residential to commercial is not a simple transition. Residential cleaning companies should understand that commercial cleaning is a completely different ball game and understanding the differences is imperative to a successful transition. Here are a few things to understand when transitioning from residential to commercial cleaning.

Understand the commercial pricing structure

Residential pricing is completely different than the commercial pricing structure. Commercial cleaning often requires a long bidding process, building walkthrough, and contract that states the areas you are supposed to clean. Many residential cleaners will try to price a commercial space as if they are doing the same cleaning as a residential space. This means deep and detailed cleans of every room; however, most businesses don’t want this type of cleaning. If you price a commercial space like a residential one you will price yourself out of the bid. Businesses require a much more flexible price negotiation and refusing to move during negations will cause you to consistently lose jobs.

The best way to bid commercial is to understand that you are cleaning more space but with less detail, so you can clean it quicker. I would recommend doing some pricing research to establish a good starting price point. This means understanding how long it takes you to clean the square footage of a commercial building, plus how many desks and bathrooms you can clean per hour. Compare this to the average time it takes to clean an office in your state. Market research is incredibly important and I would recommend hiring a business consultant to help you conduct that market research.

It is also important to understand that your payment schedule will be different if you get a commercial job. Residential cleaners usually receive payment for each home cleaned, but a commercial contract means you will be paid once per month. It is important you understand your cash flow so you have the money to buy materials while waiting to get paid.

Don’t deep clean an office

Don’t do a deep clean on a commercial space unless you are specifically contracted to do so. Residential cleaners are used to cleaning a home in detail from the baseboards to the ceiling, but that is not the goal in commercial cleaning. Cleaning a commercial space is about sanitizing and disinfecting. You want to clean to create a bacteria and germ-free space. This means you are focused on cleaning germy areas such as bathrooms, desks, door handles, and any other touchpoints that could cause illness if dirty. Commercial cleaning is about quick and methodical cleaning that sanitizes the space and allows you to move on to the next job. Cleaning an office like it is a home will drastically slow down your cleaning times and hurt your business’s ability to accept more commercial jobs. Quick and efficient is the name of the game.  

Hire a night crew and buy new fleet vehicles

Most residential cleaning happens in the morning or afternoon, but most commercial cleaning occurs at night. A Business does not want a cleaning crew distracting employees during the day so you are most likely going to work after the business closes. This means you will need to hire a night crew if you haven’t already. In my experience, it is not difficult to find good employees who want to work at night. The quick nature of commercial cleaning means you can usually find a group of people willing to commit four or five hours to work nights.

Transitioning to commercial may also mean you need to buy different fleet vehicles. Residential cleaning companies usually work within a 20-mile radius from your office so your typical vans work really well. However, when you are just starting out in commercial cleaning you may need to expand your work radius to allow for more contracts. This means you may want to switch some of your fleet vehicles to a more fuel-efficient model. For example, we switched to a more fuel-efficient and durable sedan to accommodate our smaller commercial team. Finding ways to save money on fleet upkeep will put less stress on your bottom line while you grow your business.

Transitioning from residential to commercial cleaning is a great way to grow your cleaning company. Commercial cleaning is a big market with a lot of different industries that need your services. However, it is important you understand the differences between commercial and residential cleaning if you want to expand successfully. Understand the different pricing structures, know the goals of commercial cleaning, and grow your team. If you do these things you will be on your way to success in commercial cleaning.