Difference between Commercial Cleaning with Residential Cleaning
Many residential cleaning business owners want to expand into commercial cleaning but don’t realize just how different it is from their core business. The mindset is that cleaning is cleaning, whether it’s a home or office. This type of approach is the reason that residential cleaning companies expanding into commercial can falter and fail from the get go.

So what makes commercial cleaning different from residential cleaning?  Here are 10 things to consider before diversifying into commercial cleaning.

  1. Residential cleaning is done during the day and most commercial cleaning is done in the evenings, late night and on weekends so it’s best to have two separate crews. This will require hiring additional cleaners, team leaders and/or promoting current employees to supervise the commercial cleaning crew. You may find hiring for your commercial crew more challenging compared to your residential cleaners since people are more willing to work day time shifts as opposed to evening, night, and weekend work.
  2. You will need to re-train your current cleaning staff if they will be working the commercial cleaning crew also. Since residential cleaning is much more detailed than that of commercial, your commercial crew will need to clean much faster and with less focus on detail and more focus on completing the required cleaning specifications of the facility.
  3. Residential cleaning is done in the client’s personal space versus their work space. Since you are touching their personal belongings they tend to be more sensitive and “picky” than commercial cleaning clients. They are generally more demanding of the small details (i.e. how you place the pillows on their couch and bed, how you hang or fold the towels, how you replace items you pick up to dust….). Commercial clients are more concerned with ensuring you complete the cleaning specifications agreed to on the contract.
  4. When residential clients are in the home while you are cleaning they tend to watch every move you make. They expect you to be on time and may watch the clock to see how long it takes to clean. Commercial clients are not watching the clock to make sure you arrived on time (if they are even on site when you arrive). They may, however, leave “traps” to make sure your employees are thorough in their cleaning.
  5. Residential cleaners have more interaction with the client so you want to hire people who have good communication skills, are personable, and are well groomed. Although these are qualities you want to have in ALL employees, commercial cleaners normally clean at night, after the building occupants have gone home, so there is generally less interaction.
  6. You will have to wait to get paid with commercial cleaning so expect a decrease in cash flow. Residential cleaning companies are usually paid the day the service is provided. Commercial cleaning companies are usually under contract with terms of payment. This requires an invoice be issued each month to the customer and results in a longer waiting period to receive payment. With that said, a lot of commercial cleaning companies are now invoicing prior to providing cleaning services versus invoicing at the end of the month for that months services.
  7. Pricing and profit margins are different. In commercial cleaning, the larger the account, the lower the profit margin. Also, chemicals, supplies, and equipment costs are higher with commercial cleaning which leads to lowered profit margins per client. However, the larger accounts can be easier to manage and the lower margin can be made up in volume.
  8. Production rates are different from residential vs. commercial. The average production rate (how many square feet per hour one person can clean) for residential is typically 700-1000 sq. ft. vs. commercial which can range from 2500 to 4000 sq. ft. per hour or more. Pricing commercial is more time consuming also. Commercial clients normally require a bidding process, a building walk through and an agreement drawn up to include the list of cleaning specifications, terms and conditions of payment, signatures and references.
  9. Marketing is different because residential cleaning is “business to consumer” and commercial cleaning is “business to business”. Also, there are many more potential residential opportunities out there than commercial businesses so naturally there will be more competition for commercial accounts.
  10. You may have to change or alter your current residential company name or create an entirely new company. Your company name must fit the services you are offering. You will find it extremely difficult to lure new commercial cleaning customers with the name: Squeaky Clean Maid Services. Find a name that will be marketable to both residential and commercial clients.

As you can see, there are many differences between residential cleaning and commercial cleaning. If you are considering diversifying into commercial cleaning, start making a list of pros and cons in order to determine if this is the right thing to do for your business.

If you decide to take on this new challenge and move forward, start making a business and marketing plan to determine how you will fund and manage the expansion. Do your research and try to forecast every aspect, good or bad, of the new business expansion. This way you’re not heading out into the unknown unprepared and you will be able to handle glitches, problems, and roadblocks as they arise.