We often get asked for tips on how to start a cleaning business when also working a day job.

Granted, it is a challenge. However, there are ways to start your commercial business part-time. Smaller accounts are normally cleaned once a week, usually on the weekend. They may only bring in $300 to $400 a month, but several of them can add up. Pursuing small accounts in your local area is a good place to start.

Networking is a sound marketing strategy. Prepare or purchase specific marketing flyers to include in a handout. Ask friends, neighbors and relatives to help you in getting bid opportunities. It isn’t about who you know, but who they know.

Reward those who help you land the contract with a nice gift certificate. With this strategy, your circle of friends will vouch for your performance, integrity, and dedication as a cleaning contractor. Their personal endorsement may carry enough weight to land the contract.

Some customers are ok with you working days and cleaning at night. They feel you are extra ambitious. You can always return their phone calls during your breaks, lunch hour, and after work. Texting is also good for communications. On a day off, you can canvass local businesses by starting close to home. Pass out your fliers and ask if they would like a free backup bid.

Explain to your prospects that you are a local family business. You are personally vested in keeping customers happy. Since you live in the area, all they need to do is dial or text you for a prompt response. I remember 35 years ago when I left a flyer at the front desk of a health club. The manager later called me and I landed a $4,000 a month contract. So you never know.

Your local Chamber of Commerce, or Better Business Bureau may hold free monthly after-hour networking exchanges. Bring plenty of business cards and plan to reach out to everyone you meet. Be prepared with your own 20-second elevator pitch.

A lot of smaller accounts prefer a local business that delivers personal attention. They might have been burned by other companies promising everything and delivering much less. To close the deal it helps to convince them that you are out to prove you are the best cleaning company in the area. By doing so, it builds your reputation and you gain referrals, and word of mouth advertising. And that is why you are motivated to do a better job. Convince the prospect they will be extremely satisfied with your service, and then deliver all that you have promised.

Gary Clipperton, President of National Pro Clean is a forty-plus year industry veteran and has developed contractor training and certification programs including marketing manuals, flyers, videos and software. He can be reached at gary@nationalproclean.com.