Whatever happens in the economy, there will always be a demand for cleaners.

Like death and taxes, there is an inevitability to things always getting dirty. The world of cleaning is seen by some as the perfect recession-proof industry.

From cars to sofas and from warehouses to homes, everything needs cleaning from time to time. While cleaning is an essential task, it is not seen as the most glamourous, and many people are willing to pay somebody else to do it.

This spells opportunity for anyone willing to get their hands dirty, but there are a number of things to consider in order to make your cleaning business a success.

Be Legal and Safe

If you employ anyone else in your business, the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act of 1969 requires that you carry employers’ liability insurance in case they are injured in the course of their work. Even if you do not have employees, you still need to consider what other types of cleaners insurance you need to cover such aspects as public liability, tools and plant.

Know your Market

If something makes money, you can guarantee other people will have thought of it too. The cleaning market is highly competitive, and you need to find your own niche in order to succeed.

The “project management triangle” states that while everyone wants a high quality service that is fast and cheap, it is only possible to realistically achieve two of these things at the expense of the third. So quality mixed with speed will not be cheap, low prices mixed with speed means poor quality, and so on.

Decide where on the triangle your business lies, and do not try to be all things to all people. This will depend on what the market wants and also what your competitors are doing. If there is an abundance of cheap cleaning companies in the marketplace, it might be wiser to compete on quality rather than attempting to undercut them on price.

Watch the Economy

While people will always need cleaners, there are some markets in which it is a luxury as opposed to an essential. Cleaners will always be needed in schools and hospitals, and these areas can be seen as relatively recession-proof.

However, areas like domestic cleaning or professional car valeting are segments in which clients might cut back when purse strings need to be tightened.

Stay Current

Every industry evolves in terms of technology and regulation. Keep up to date with innovations in cleaning equipment and any changes in law regarding use and disposal of chemicals.

Embrace IT technology to take care of invoicing, payroll, etc and also to develop your business. Many customers prefer to buy services as well as goods online, so consider building a website with an online booking facility.

Service is Everything

The most important consideration in any service industry is to look after your customers, and nowhere is this truer than in the cleaning industry.

Switching costs are zero, which means there is no financial reason for customers to stay with you. However, they are inviting you into their home or business, which requires confidence and trust. If you do build a strong trusting relationship, they will never want to invite anyone else in through the door.

Sam Johnson is the editor of the Essex Business Hub, which is the newest business support network in Essex.