Dusting Up on Business
Should I Go Solo or Start a Cleaning Franchise?

Many cleaning, janitorial, and office / carpet cleaning professionals have faced this dilemma: should you start an independent cleaning business, or become a franchise of a larger cleaning company such as ServiceMaster Clean, Stanley Steamer, Stratus Building Solutions, Jani-King, or Window Genie?

Let's look at the costs and benefits of joining a commercial cleaning franchise.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Starting a Cleaning Business as a Franchise

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Starting a Cleaning Business as a Franchise

There are two main advantages of joining a cleaning business franchise:

  1. Marketing. If you work for a cleaning or janitorial franchise, one of the biggest benefits is the name recognition. Clients will recognize your logo, franchise name, and other aspects of your marketing. This gives your business instant credibility and makes it easier for you to attract new customers. (For more marketing strategies, see, "How to Get Cleaning Contracts: Attracting and Keeping Customers.")
  2. Ease. The franchise oversees the early stages of your business, which means you have access to their business model, contracts, marketing materials, suppliers, methodology, and more. Many small-business owners are overwhelmed by all the logistics they need to figure out to get their business off the ground. Working with a franchise makes this much easier.

On the other hand, there are two significant downsides to becoming a cleaning services franchisee:

  1. Royalty fees. The franchise's Terms and Conditions can be your best friend or your sworn enemy. Every cleaning or building service franchise agreement is different, so you'll have to read yours thoroughly. Some franchise fees take a percentage (maybe four to seven percent) of your revenue; other agreements have a flat fee. Additionally, you need to make sure you know what the franchise fee will be in the future. If your business grows, you might not make as much money as you hoped because of the increased fees.
  2. Predetermined and confined management style. As a franchise owner, you have to follow protocol established by the parent company. That means you'll have to handle complaints, new clients, and other aspects of your business according to someone else's rules. For some business owners, these rules and regulations take all the fun out of running a business. In addition, it means you won't be able to cut costs in certain areas. For instance, you might be locked into spending more to buy cleaning supplies from the franchise or its vendors.
Should You Start an Independent Cleaning Business Instead?

Should You Start an Independent Cleaning Business Instead?

Some entrepreneurs prefer a more hands-on approach, and for them, starting their own business from scratch makes more sense. Though there is greater risk to starting your own business, many business owners find that the rewards are greater, too.

When you start your own business, you won't have to spend any of your hard-earned revenue on franchise fees. However, there's more legwork. Your small business may take years to get off the ground. It takes dedication to get your name out there and earn referrals. And when you are solely responsible for your business, you also accept all the liabilities that come with it.

Whether you start your own business or become a franchisee, it's smart to begin thinking about the risks involved with running a cleaning company. To learn more about risk management for cleaning businesses, read, "Top 5 Risks for Cleaning Businesses."

Customer Rating 4.9 out of 5
Read Customer Reviews

Grab-n-Go Information

Keeping Your Claims History Clean: A Risk Management Guide
Browse eBook
Sample certificates
See a sample Certificate of Liability Insurance, the proof of coverage you need for most contracts.
Download pdf
Sample Quotes & Cost Estimates
See what insurance really costs: actual quotes by policy & specialty.
Learn More
Ask A Question
Submit your questions about restaurant insurance and get answers from our experts.
Learn More