How To Set Up A Cleaning Business In The UK: A Guide

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Kick-start from a Clean Slate

Becoming a self-employed cleaner is a great way to earn a living. This career path gives you the freedom to work the hours you want, choose your clients and, most importantly, be your own boss. With these perks, it’s no surprise you’re interested in setting up your own cleaning business, but it’s vital you’re aware of all the costs, risks, and responsibilities before doing so.

As an insurance provider who has helped protect companies for 35 years, we know how important the right cleaners insurance is for new businesses. However, this is just one of the many things you need to organise before you can become self-employed. In this guide, we explain everything there is to know about setting up a cleaning business in the UK.

Registering your cleaning business

There are certain criteria you must meet in order to truly class as a self-employed cleaner. According to the UK Government, you must be in charge of your own business and take sole responsibility for its success or failure. You also don’t have the same rights and responsibilities of regular employees and don’t receive your salary through PAYE. Like all self-employed workers, you’ll have to fill in a Self Assessment tax return for the previous tax year, while the National Insurance Contributions (NICs) you pay depends on your profits. It’s possible to be employed and self-employed simultaneously. For instance, you could work for another cleaning business two days a week and run your own the rest of the time.

The next step is registering your new cleaning business with HMRC. It’s worth thinking about hiring an accountant who can advise you on tax and VAT, as your business will also require its own designated bank account and there is lots of paperwork involved.

Once your business is registered, you need to purchase all the equipment and products for work as a cleaner, as well as things like a business computer and relevant software packages to manage the company and communicate with clients. All this adds up, so it’s vital you plan and budget appropriately for this expenditure—for instance, a van you’ll use to transport your cleaning materials could cost at least £3,000. Therefore, make sure you base all your purchases on the profits you estimate you’ll make later on.

Protecting your cleaning business

Setting up a new business is exciting, but it’s important not to lose sight of the potential risks of doing so and plan how you’d protect your company’s finances against unexpected losses.

The most beneficial coverage for cleaning businesses is public liability insurance, as any costs associated with workplace accidents that cause personal injury to a third-party or damage their property will be covered by us. Very serious incidents can sometimes result in compensation claims costing over £250,000 but, with this insurance in place, you’ll never need to worry about being financially ruined due to an unexpected event. What’s more, some clients request proof of this coverage before offering you work, and you may lose out without it. It’s most useful to take out a public liability insurance policy that, like ours, automatically covers you for financial loss and legal expenses. Not only does this save you from paying the high costs associated with legal cases, but you’ll also be insured if a compensation claim was made against your cleaning business for purely economic losses.

If you plan to hire a team of employees, the law requires you to take out employer’s liability insurance. This is similar to public liability cover, but applies to compensation claims and legal action from your team rather than a member of the public. Organising personal accident insurance and income protection is also sensible, as this ensures you receive a salary if you’re unable to work due to illness or injury. You’ll receive a weekly benefit if you’re temporarily out of work, or a lump sum if extreme circumstances means you’re unable to return to the job.

Finally, if you’ll be operating your cleaning business from a new premises, you may decide to take out property insurance to protect it from accidental losses or theft. This type of insurance is not provided as standard by Tradesman Saver so please contact us for a separate quotation if you need this insurance.

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Marketing your cleaning business

Once your business is ready to get started, you need to focus on acquiring new customers and the only way to do this is through effective marketing. Even if you already have a number of loyal existing clients, all companies lose business from time to time, so an ongoing marketing strategy is essential to continuously attract fresh clientele.

There are a number of ways you can market your business, including:

  • Word of mouth
  • Advertising
  • Websites and social media

The approach you choose will depend on who you’re targeting. Generally speaking, your business will service either the commercial, domestic, or specialist market. This may be pre-determined by your existing experience, but even if you consider yourself an expert in your chosen sector, it’s vital you conduct thorough market research. Once you’ve figured out your target customer base, you can think about the campaign most likely to appeal to them. In some cases, you may have the most success with advertisements in local newspapers or flyers, while other markets may respond more favourably to you simply knocking on their doors.

Market research can also help set your prices, as you’ll be better able to estimate how much customers would be willing to spend on your services. Make sure you check what your competitors currently charge to ensure you’re staying competitive.

With the right prices and a proactive marketing strategy, your customers should start rolling in. Take advantage of every good job you do and ask your clients for personal recommendations, referrals and testimonials to help you drum up even more business. Becoming a self-employed cleaner takes a lot of commitment and skill but once you succeed, the experience will be worth it as you start to reap the rewards of working for yourself.

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*This indicative price is for £1m public and products liability, £250,000 legal expenses, £10,000 financial loss and £10,000 accidental death insurance cover for a sole trader. The price includes insurance premium tax and our admin charge. 22% of new customers paid less than £59 between 1st January 2019 and 31st August 2019. The actual price you pay will depend upon your specific business requirements and will be affected by your trade, your claims history and the optional covers you select which are all priced separately during the quote process. This website is intended for customers based in the UK and is therefore subject to the UK regulatory regime(s) © Copyright 2019 Tradesman Saver | Tradesman Saver and Henry Seymour & Co. are trading names of Barkdene Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 303965) for our insurance distribution and credit broking activities. Barkdene Limited is a credit broker not a lender. You can check this on the Financial Services register https://register.fca.org.uk/.
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