The cleaning industry has two primary market groups: consumer and commercial. The consumer arena consists primarily of residential maid services, along with carpet cleaners, window cleaners and a variety of other cleaning services required on a less-frequent basis. The commercial arena is dominated by janitorial services, which typically provide a wider range of services than maid services, along with other cleaning companies, such as carpet and window cleaners that target businesses rather than individual consumers. While it's recommended that you decide on a niche and concentrate on building a business that will serve your chosen market, it's entirely realistic to expect to be able to serve multiple markets successfully.
Before you leap into the cleaning business, it's important to look at it with 20/20 vision. Though technology has certainly had an impact on cleaning services, this is not a high-tech business. Nor is there any glitz to it. And there will be times when you'll have as much trouble as Rodney Dangerfield getting respect.
But the upside is that you can build an extremely profitable business that will generate revenue very quickly. Most cleaning service businesses can be operated on either a part-time or full-time basis, either from home or from a commercial location. That flexibility gives this industry a strong appeal to a wide range of people with a variety of goals.
Another positive aspect of the industry is that within each category of cleaning businesses are market niches and operating styles that vary tremendously. Salt Lake City janitorial service owner Michael R. says, "We offer a wide range of services to a very limited clientele. We have refined our customer base to a group that we feel we can best serve in a way that will allow us to maintain those customers permanently."
This means you can build a company that suits your individual style and talents. If you like doing the work yourself, you can stay small and do so. If your skills are more administrative in nature, you can build and manage teams to do the work. For people who like working outside, the opportunities in service areas such as window cleaning and pressure washing are abundant. Residential maid services offer fairly predictable hours; disaster restoration and cleanup can mean calls at all hours of the day or night.
Few industries offer this tremendous range of choices and opportunities, and the need for general and niche cleaning is expected to increase in the future.