If you have just started a cleaning business or are wanting more regular work to make your business more secure, this article may be useful.
Now that you have a business and you have all the equipment needed to get busy and start work, you will need to take a look at securing some contracts for your new business.
Although you may feel like your business will be fine to work on a per job and per client basis (which is possible); to become a real leader in the field within your area, you will want to secure cleaning contracts with several clients. Securing contracts offers financial security of permanent clients no matter how quiet your casual clients become. Not only does this give you peace of mind, you’ll also be building a brand for yourself as a dependable and reliable service to potential clients.
Securing contracts may seem like a daunting task, but it needn’t be. There are a few simple things you can put into place to introduce and promote your services to your potential market. Clients will at first need awareness that your business exists and your range of services. Clients are less likely to engage your services on a permanent basis if they’ve never heard of you. By working on your marketing, you’ll be able to build a brand for yourself and this will in turn make your business appear more professional.
Do you need a written contract?
One of the questions that you may think of when getting into your business is whether you need to have a written contract. Is it necessary? The answer depends on the type of business you’ll be focusing on. It must be noted that this advice does not replace the need for a solicitor or lawyer to assist you, it is only a guide as any business regardless of its size should always seek professional legal advice.
If you are mostly focused on house cleans and are looking to pick up casual jobs every so often, you may not require a written contract. A verbal contract and a handshake is often all that is needed for this kind of work. In fact, a verbal agreement can hold up in court just as much as a written contract, but a written agreement is much easier to prove. Verbal agreements work well for these clients as they are not “locked in” to your services should their personal circumstances change. A verbal agreement will also work well for you in this case if the client tends to be a little troublesome and things don’t work out well in your relationship with them. A verbal agreement is best when providing jobs that will cost under $150.
However, if you’re looking to provide services on a regular basis to a commercial property, a written contract will be best. This is especially true if you’ll be accessing the property outside of normal working hours or you require access via a different entrance to normal staff and clients. Commercial clients tend to prefer organising your services once a year, usually around the beginning of the financial year. In this case, a written contract will be best to help cover both parties. A written contract should outline the costs, hours you will be working, when you will be accessing the building and what services you are providing such as the cleaning scope and additional charges for any ad-hoc requests.
There may be some clients who will want you to provide your services to them on a regular basis without a written contract. In this situation, offer the client a mutual contract and take them through the details to demonstrate what is involved and what is covered and what isn’t. It may be a case of them not having an understanding of a standard contract you provide them and they may just require a little bit of explanation. It is good to openly discuss the client’s issues as it gives them a chance to build confidence in your professionalism and the contract at hand.
Writing the contract
You don’t need to involve a lawyer or solicitor to draw up a contract, you can easily draft one yourself and use a solicitor or lawyer to read it over to ensure you haven’t missed any important features. There are some basic items you should definitely start considering.
- Basic Title
Start with a simple header/title such as “Cleaning Services Contract” or “Service Agreement” at the top of your contract in bold lettering. As well as this basic title, don’t forget to add in some simple items such as the date the contract was written and the dates the contract is valid for. The start of your contract should also clearly define who the contract is intended for, which is likely to be you, the contractor and the client.
The rules of termination should be set out clearly. This is to inform everyone involved of how to terminate the contract, whether it be a verbal termination or a written termination, and if there are any cooling off periods for your contract. This is very important as it helps to point out ways the client can terminate the contract in the event of their circumstances changing. It also covers you and your business if they try to stop the contract in the incorrect way so you can still receive your compensation and work.
- The Service
The contract needs to specify what services are included in the contract. This shows a clear intent to the client of what you will be doing for them, as well as covering you if they ask you to do a job that would normally cost extra and it is stipulated in the contract as an ad-hoc request to your standard services. The contract needs to state what you will be completing, when and how frequent. If some tasks are to be completed more often than others, be sure to note these items down specifically.
This is a great section that will inform the client what is required of you to complete the job and what you need the client to provide you. Generally, you will provide all the cleaning equipment and supplies needed, such as cleaners and solvents. If you need the use of electricity to power your equipment, state this in the contract. You will likely provide everything needed, but you may have some clients who want a specific solvent or solution to be used, such as low-allergenic or eco-friendly chemicals. They may decide to provide this or you may provide it at an extra cost if required.
The pricing guidelines should be stated here clearly. If you charge an hourly rate then ask for a monthly payment, this should be stated here. If possible, break down what the rate covers, such as equipment, time, solvents, travel expenses and so on. Keep this section clear and precise.
If in the event that you damage or break anything that belongs to the client, you should state that you will cover any damage caused to property or equipment if it is your fault and what steps you will take to resolve it.
This section entitled “Compensation” will generally be the area where you will specify payment terms. This will cover everything to do with how you will get paid. If you wish to be paid after each job, each week or monthly, state it here. You will also be able to confirm how long your client has to pay for your services. So, as an example, you may want payment each month and the client has 14 days from the last day of the month to pay. How you will receive payment should also be specified such as if you wish to receive cash, direct deposit or a cheque. If there are to be consequences for not paying within the times you specify, these should also be listed here.
You will need a section at the bottom of the contract listing all of the signatures of those involved. This is usually two or three signatures; one for you and one or two for the client. There may be two signatures for the client, depending on how many are involved in the decision-making for hiring your services.
There are a few things you can do to determine your pricing and to ensure you don’t work yourself into debt. You need to ensure you’re charging clients a rate that covers all of the running of your equipment, the purchase of any additional cleaning solvents and materials, your travel expenses and additional staff if required. Some handy ways to work out your pricing are listed below:
- Research Competitors
There are likely to be competitors in your local area who will already be up and running and charging customers their own rates. One way to get an idea of your own pricing is to ask a competitor for a quote. They may be able to provide a quote over the phone and let you know what this will include. This will be a little harder if you’re a commercial cleaner and wanting to see what they charge for regular cleans without inspecting a property. They may be able to give you a general baseline of what they charge to give you an idea of what to charge yourself. When first starting your business, you may want to consider charging less than your competitors to gain some new clients and add some competition within the local area for your services. If you cannot afford to make the price cheaper than them, you might instead prefer to add an extra service for the same price.
- Profit as your Objective
Another great way to understand how to charge your clients is to figure out what kind of profit you’d like to make. After understanding what charges and fees you will need to keep up with in order to keep running your business, you may then decide on a figure you would like to earn as profit each week/month/year. By working out your minimum that you need to earn and how much more you need to charge to get the profit you want, you can work out a better way to work out your pricing guidelines.
- Contract Rates
You may decide you’d like to reward clients who choose to sign up on a contract with you. This could be as easy as providing a monthly or yearly discount if they choose to sign a contract for your services, instead of asking you to work on a casual basis. This way, you can provide a better price for your client, be more competitive and lock in a client on a long-term basis.
- Work out an Hourly Rate
Whether you charge an hourly rate or not, you will need to know what you can achieve in an hour, how much you would actually charge per hour, then provide a price for the whole job. By understanding what you can and can’t get done within a specified time, you’ll be able to provide the correct quote to your client and not undercharge them. It is best to have a look at the property requiring your services so that you can see what kind of workload lies ahead of you, then quote accordingly. If a business has plenty of customer toilets, for example, this may take up additional time compared to a business that has no customer bathrooms available and just has a small tea room for their staff.
As a general guide, here is a template for a contract that you can use for your own business needs however it is vital that you get professional legal advice before using it in your business.
Contract for cleaning services
This contract is made between ……………….. (client) and ……………….. (contractor) for the period between ……………….. (starting date) and ……………….. (concluding date).
This contract is binding for the duration of the contract as stated above. This contract allows for a fourteen (14) day cooling off period to allow either parties to terminate the contract without any consequences.
If either party wish to cancel the contract within the time frame specified, written notice will be required at least fourteen (14) days before the proposed cancellation date and a cancellation fee of ……………….. will be required to be paid to the other party.
The contractor will be performing the following services for the client throughout the duration of the contract.
- Vacuuming – All floor areas will be vacuumed on a daily basis
- Hard floor cleaning – Mopping or scrubbing of all required areas will be completed on a daily basis
- Floor Polishing – polishing will only be completed on a weekly basis
- Dusting – Dusting will be completed on all equipment on a daily basis
- Toilet Clean – Staff toilets will be cleaned on a daily basis
- Bathroom Clean – Bathroom facilities such as vanities and mirrors will be cleaned on a daily basis
- Bathroom Replenish – Replenish of items such as paper towels and toilet paper, as supplied by the client. If stock is not supplied by the client, it will not be replenished by the contractor.
- Replenish Stock – Stock of coffee, tea and serviettes will be replenished in staff room, as supplied by client. If stock is not supplied by the client, it will not be replenished by the contractor.
- Rubbish Removal – All rubbish bins within the office space and staff lunch room will be emptied on a daily basis.
Any other items that require maintenance or cleaned will be charged accordingly, but not prior to approval of the client.
The contractor will be providing all tools and equipment, as well as solvents and cleaners to perform their role as states above. Access to power and water will need to be provided by the client.
The contractor will be providing the above services at a rate of ……………….. per hour. Billing will occur ………………..(duration) and will be due within fourteen (14) days of invoice generated.
This rate includes:
- Supply of tools and equipment
- Supply of solvents and cleaners
- Supply of appropriate amount of staff members to perform role
- Travel expenses to and from the property
- Insurance and other associated costs
In the event of a breakage or damage to the client’s property or belongings due to fault of the contractor, the contractor agrees to either repair or replace the item/s. This will be completed within one (1) month of damage or breakage occurring (unless the part or item cannot be fixed or replaced within this time in an event outside of the contractor’s control).
Payment for services will be required to be made within fourteen (14) days of invoice generated, which will be completed on the last day of each month. Payment can be made via direct deposit.
If payment fails to be received within the time frame specified, services may be suspended until payment is received. A late charge of ……………….. (charge) may also apply to the next invoice.
(Client Signature 1)
(Client Signature 2 if applicable)