How to Start a Janitorial Business in California: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you looking to start your own janitorial business in California but don’t know where to start? The good news is, with the right amount of hard work and dedication, anyone can become a successful entrepreneur in the janitorial industry. Not only does this industry offer endless opportunities for growth and profits, but also provides a valuable service to businesses and individuals alike. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in and explore the steps you can take to start your own janitorial business in California!

First and foremost, you’ll need to conduct thorough research to gain a solid understanding of the janitorial industry in California. This includes identifying your target market, competitors, and industry regulations. Next, you’ll need to develop a sound business plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and financial projections. This will serve as a roadmap for your business and help you stay on track throughout the journey.

Once you’ve established a strong foundation, it’s time to invest in the necessary equipment and supplies to get your business up and running. From cleaning products and equipment to vehicles and insurance, there are several costs associated with starting a janitorial business. However, with a bit of planning and strategic budgeting, you can ensure that you’re financially prepared to launch your business. With these steps in mind, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get started on building the janitorial business of your dreams.

Legal Requirements for Starting a Janitorial Business in California

If you’re starting a janitorial business in California, it’s important to understand the legal requirements you need to comply with to avoid legal issues and penalties. Here are some of the legal requirements that you should keep in mind:

  • Business registration: To start a janitorial business in California, you need to register your business with the California Secretary of State. You can register as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation, or other business entity.
  • Tax registration: You need to obtain a California State Sales Tax Permit if you plan to sell taxable goods and services, and a California Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you have employees.
  • Insurance: The state of California requires all janitorial businesses to have workers’ compensation insurance to protect employees from work-related injuries and illnesses. Additionally, liability insurance is important to protect your business and clients from any damages caused during cleaning services.

California State Laws Regarding Janitorial Services

It’s important to understand the laws regulating janitorial services in California to ensure that your business operates legally and ethically. Here are some of the laws that you should be aware of:

  • AB 1978: This law requires the registration and licensure of janitorial contractors and establishes wage and hour requirements to prevent wage theft and exploitation of workers.
  • SB 176: This law requires that janitorial employers provide at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all employees every two years.
  • AB 350: This law requires that janitorial employers provide employees with written instructions on how to report sexual harassment and designate at least one individual to receive these complaints.

Certifications and Training

Having certifications and training can help you stand out from your competitors and show your potential clients that you’re a trusted and professional janitorial service provider. Here are some certifications and training programs that can help you:

  • ISSA CIMS certification: This certification demonstrates that your business has met the industry’s highest standards for quality management, operations management, customer service, and human resources.
  • BSCAI certification: This certification is offered by the Building Service Contractors Association International and covers a range of topics, such as cleaning chemicals, carpet care, safety, and leadership.
  • Training programs: Consider investing in training programs for your employees, covering topics such as safety, cleaning techniques, and customer service, to ensure that your business provides high-quality services to your clients.


Starting a janitorial business in California requires compliance with legal requirements, understanding of state laws, and obtaining certifications and training programs to stay ahead of the competition. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but once you have established your business and reputation, you’ll find that the rewards are well worth the effort.

Legal Requirements State Laws Certifications and Training
Business registration AB 1978 ISSA CIMS certification
Tax registration SB 176 BSCAI certification
Insurance AB 350 Training programs

By keeping these legal requirements, laws, and certifications and training programs in mind, you’ll be better equipped to start and grow your janitorial business in California.

Market Analysis and Identifying Your Target Customer Base

Starting a janitorial business in California requires a thorough understanding of the market and your target customer base. Conducting market analysis is crucial to identify your competitors, potential customers, and the demand in the area. It also helps you to determine the cost of starting your business, the services you will offer, and the pricing strategy that best suits your target customers.

  • Competitive Analysis: Researching the competition in your area will help you to understand their business models, pricing strategies, the services they offer, and their target customer base. It also helps you to identify the gaps in their services and come up with a unique selling proposition that differentiates your business from your competitors.
  • Target Customer Base: Identifying your target customer base is key to the success of your business. Your target customers could be residential or commercial customers, or both. Residential customers can be homeowners or tenants, while commercial customers can be businesses, office buildings, or institutions. Understanding their preferences and needs will help you to create a service package that best suits their requirements.
  • Demand Analysis: Understanding the demand for janitorial services in the area is also crucial to determine the feasibility of starting your business. Analyze the population, economic conditions, and the growth potential of the area to get an idea of the market demand for your services.

Services and Pricing Strategy

After conducting market analysis and identifying your target customer base, the next step is to determine the services you will offer and the pricing strategy that best suits your business model. Your services could range from basic cleaning to specialized services such as carpet cleaning, floor waxing, and window cleaning. The pricing strategy you choose will depend on factors such as the size of the area to be cleaned, the frequency of cleaning, and the level of service required by your customers. Here are some common pricing strategies to consider:

  • Hourly Rate: Charging an hourly rate is a common pricing strategy for janitorial services. This strategy is easy to implement and provides flexibility for both you and your customers.
  • Per Square Foot: Charging per square foot is a popular pricing strategy for commercial customers who have large areas that require cleaning regularly. This strategy provides transparency and ensures that the customer pays only for the work done.
  • Flat Rate: Charging a flat rate is a popular strategy for residential customers who require basic cleaning services. This strategy provides predictability and peace of mind for your customers.


Conducting a thorough market analysis and identifying your target customer base are crucial steps to starting a successful janitorial business in California. Understanding the demand for your services and determining the services you will offer and the pricing strategy that works best for your business model are also key factors to consider. With the right strategy in place, you can create a successful janitorial business that provides high-quality services and meets the needs of your target customers.

Pros Cons
Profit can be achieved fast High competition
Job opportunities to those who need them The availability of employees could be scarce at times
Tax benefits Long hours of work

Ultimately, starting a janitorial business in California requires hard work, patience, and strategic thinking. With the right approach, you can turn your startup into a thriving business that meets the needs of your customers and helps you achieve your financial goals.

Creating a Business Plan and Obtaining Funding

Starting a janitorial business in California can be both lucrative and challenging. To ensure success, you need a solid business plan and adequate funding. Here’s how to get started:

  • Research and analyze the market: The first step in creating a business plan is to research and analyze the market. You need to understand your competition, potential customers, and market trends. This research will help you identify your unique selling proposition and develop a sound marketing strategy.
  • Define your business structure: Next, you need to define your business structure. Determine whether you want to operate as a sole proprietor, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation. Your choice will affect your tax obligations, legal liability, and ability to raise capital.
  • Develop a financial plan: Your financial plan should include startup costs, projected revenue and expenses, cash flow analysis, and break-even analysis. It is crucial to have a financial plan in place to keep track of your finances and obtain funding from investors, lenders, or grants.

Once you have developed a business plan, you need to obtain funding to get your janitorial business off the ground. Here are some options:

  • Bootstrap: If you have some savings, you can use your own funds to start your business. This is called bootstrapping, and it is a great way to retain full control of your business and avoid debt.
  • Seek investors: You can also seek investors to fund your business. Investors can be family members, friends, or angel investors who are looking for high-growth opportunities. In return for their investment, investors will expect a share of your business’s equity or future profits.
  • Apply for loans: Another option is to apply for loans from banks, credit unions, or the Small Business Administration (SBA). Loans can come in different forms, such as term loans, lines of credit, or equipment financing. You need to have a good credit score, collateral, and a solid business plan to qualify for a loan.

Starting a janitorial business in California requires careful planning and sufficient funding. By creating a solid business plan and obtaining the right funding, you can start your own successful janitorial business.

Insurance Requirements for Janitorial Businesses in California

Starting a janitorial business in California can be a lucrative venture for entrepreneurs. However, as with any business, it is crucial to have the necessary insurance coverage to protect your company from potential losses. Here are the insurance requirements that janitorial businesses in California must have:

  • General Liability Insurance – This type of insurance protects your business from claims of bodily injury or property damage caused to third parties (such as clients or other individuals) during the course of your work. In California, general liability insurance is required by law for all businesses.
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance – If you have employees, you are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. This type of insurance covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees who are injured or become ill on the job. California law requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Commercial Auto Insurance – If your janitorial business involves the use of vehicles (such as company vans or trucks), you will need to have commercial auto insurance. This type of insurance covers liability and physical damage for vehicles used for business purposes.

It is also important to note that some clients may require that you have additional insurance coverage, such as professional liability insurance or umbrella insurance. Make sure to carefully review any contracts or agreements before starting work with a new client to ensure that you have the necessary insurance coverage.

To give you an idea of the costs associated with these types of insurance, here is a table outlining the average annual premiums for small janitorial businesses in California:

Insurance Type Average Annual Premium
General Liability Insurance $500 – $1,000
Workers’ Compensation Insurance $2,000 – $3,000
Commercial Auto Insurance $2,500 – $3,500

While these costs may seem high, having the necessary insurance coverage is vital to protecting your business from potential financial losses. It is also important to shop around and compare insurance policies from different providers to ensure that you are getting the best coverage for your money.

Creating a pricing strategy for your services

One of the most critical and challenging aspects of starting a janitorial business in California is creating a pricing strategy for your services. Your pricing strategy should not only help you cover your costs but also attract customers and remain competitive in the market. Here are some essential tips for creating a pricing strategy that works for your business.

  • Know your costs: The first step to creating a pricing strategy is to understand your costs. You need to know how much it costs to provide your services so that you can set prices that allow you to make a profit.
  • Research your competition: Look at what your competitors are charging for similar services. This will help you determine if you can price your services competitively or if you need to adjust your pricing strategy to remain competitive.
  • Determine your value proposition: What sets your business apart from others? Is it your quality of service, reliability, or customer service? Determine your value proposition and use it to justify your pricing strategy.

Here are two pricing strategies you can use for your janitorial business:

Hourly pricing: This pricing strategy involves setting a price per hour of service. Hourly pricing is ideal if you have varying services and a wide range of clients. This pricing strategy allows you to adjust your prices depending on the client’s specific needs and the complexity of the work. However, hourly pricing can be challenging to manage if you have many clients or employees.

Flat-rate pricing: This pricing strategy involves setting a flat rate per service. Flat-rate pricing is ideal if you have consistent services that require the same amount of time and resources. This pricing strategy makes it easier for clients to understand the total cost of the service upfront and allows you to manage your cash flow more effectively. However, it can be challenging to adjust prices if you have varying services.

Advantages Disadvantages
Easier for clients to understand Difficult to adjust prices for varying services
Allows you to manage cash flow more effectively Can lead to lower profits if underpriced
Less time-consuming to manage May not be competitive with hourly pricing

Ultimately, the best pricing strategy for your janitorial business will depend on your services, clients, and competition. Be sure to regularly review and adjust your pricing strategy as needed to remain competitive and profitable.

Purchasing essential cleaning equipment and supplies

Starting a janitorial business in California requires acquiring the necessary cleaning equipment and supplies. Here are some key points to keep in mind when purchasing the essentials:

  • Make a list of what you need: Before shopping, take a moment to sit down and create a comprehensive list of everything you need. Start with the basics, such as gloves, buckets, mops, brooms, and cleaning chemicals. Consider specialty items as well, such as floor buffers, vacuums, and carpet cleaners. Having a list will help you avoid impulse buys and ensure you have everything necessary for efficient cleaning.
  • Research suppliers: Once you have your list, it’s time to research different suppliers. Compare prices, quality, and reviews before making a final decision. Consider choosing a supplier based in California to cut down on shipping costs and time, and to support local businesses. Some popular suppliers include JanSanSupplies and Jon-Don.
  • Choose eco-friendly options: In California, there are strict environmental regulations you must follow, making it crucial to prioritize eco-friendly cleaning products. Opt for nontoxic, biodegradable supplies that help protect the environment, your clients, and your employees. This includes products like Greenworks cleaning solutions and microfiber cloths.

Investing in quality equipment and supplies

Investing in high-quality cleaning equipment and supplies is essential to ensuring efficiency and productivity. While it may be tempting to opt for cheaper options, investing in quality equipment and supplies can save you time and money in the long run. Here are some reasons why:

  • Durability: High-quality equipment will last longer, making it more cost-effective in the long run. You don’t want to constantly replace equipment and supplies due to wear and tear.
  • Efficiency: Quality equipment and supplies often offer more efficient cleaning processes, reducing the time spent on each job.
  • Professionalism: Investing in quality tools and supplies sets a professional tone and signifies to clients that you take your business seriously.

Understanding the costs

Starting a janitorial business requires significant investment, particularly when it comes to purchasing equipment and supplies. However, understanding the costs involved can help you budget and allocate resources effectively. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Type of business: The type of business dictates the type and amount of equipment and supplies that you require. Residential cleaning businesses, for example, require fewer supplies than commercial ones.
  • Quality of equipment: As mentioned above, quality equipment and supplies are worth investing in, but they may increase your overall costs. Be prepared to spend more upfront for better products.
  • Shipping and taxes: When purchasing equipment and supplies online or from out of state, you must factor in shipping costs and taxes, which can add up.

The bottom line

Starting a janitorial business in California means acquiring the right equipment and supplies. Make a comprehensive list of everything you need, research suppliers, and invest in quality cleaning products. Be prepared to spend more upfront but know that it will pay off in the long run, both in terms of efficiency and professionalism. Finally, factor in the costs involved to plan and allocate resources effectively.

Equipment/Supplies Approximate Cost (USD)
Heavy-duty vacuum cleaner $300-$600
Microfiber cloths $20-$30 (pack of 24)
Mop and bucket $60-$100
Floor buffer $1,000-$2,000
Green cleaning solutions $50-$100 (gallon)
Dustpan and broom $30-$50

Note: These are approximate costs and may vary depending on the supplier and quality of the products.

Hiring and managing employees for your business

Starting a janitorial business in California means you’ll need reliable employees to perform the daily cleaning tasks. Here are some tips for hiring and managing your staff:

  • Clearly define job roles and responsibilities: Ensure that each employee understands their job duties, expectations, and performance measures.
  • Create an effective training program: Invest time and resources into training your employees on the proper cleaning techniques, equipment usage, safety procedures, and customer service skills.
  • Implement a strong recruitment process: Use job postings, social media, and word-of-mouth to find the right candidates. Screen each candidate, conduct background checks and drug tests, and complete thorough reference checks.

Once you have hired your employees, managing them well is key to ensuring the success of your janitorial business. Here are some additional tips for effective employee management:

  • Set clear performance expectations: Set specific, measurable goals for each employee, and conduct regular performance reviews to provide feedback and address any performance issues.
  • Create a positive work environment: Encourage open communication, recognize employee achievements, and offer incentives for outstanding performance.
  • Establish clear policies and procedures: Develop policies around tardiness, absenteeism, employee conduct, and safety. Establish a system for reporting and addressing any issues.

Employee compensation and benefits

Compensating your employees fairly and providing benefits can help retain quality staff and lessen employee turnover. Here are some options to consider:

  • Hourly pay: Hourly wages should be competitive with the janitorial industry standards and reflect the skill level of each employee.
  • Bonuses: Offer incentives, such as bonuses, for excellent performance, attendance, or customer satisfaction.
  • Employee benefits: Consider providing benefits such as medical, dental, vision, or retirement plans, which can help retain your employees and attract new ones.
Employee compensation and benefits Description
Hourly pay Pay your employees a competitive hourly wage based on their job level and experience.
Bonuses Offer bonuses to employees who meet or exceed expectations in areas such as performance, attendance or customer satisfaction.
Employee benefits Consider offering benefits such as medical, dental, vision, or retirement plans to retain your employees and attract new ones.

Remember, your employees are the backbone of your janitorial business. Treat them fairly and provide opportunities for growth and development to ensure the success of your business.

Marketing and Advertising Your Janitorial Business

Starting a janitorial business requires more than just offering cleaning services to potential clients. You need to market and advertise your business effectively to make it stand out in a crowded industry. In this section, we will discuss some effective marketing strategies for your janitorial business.

1. Create a professional website

  • A website serves as a digital storefront for your janitorial business and provides potential clients with information about your services.
  • Ensure that your website is professional-looking, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly.
  • Include high-quality photos of your work, customer testimonials, and contact information.

2. Build a social media presence

  • Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can help you reach a wider audience and connect with potential clients.
  • Regularly post about your services, share cleaning tips, and engage with your followers to increase brand awareness.
  • Consider running social media ads to target your audience more effectively.

3. Utilize local SEO

Local SEO involves optimizing your website and online profiles to rank higher in search engine results for local keywords. This can help potential clients find your business more easily when searching for janitorial services in their area.

Some local SEO strategies to consider include:

  • Creating a Google My Business profile
  • Including your business information on directories such as Yelp and Yellow Pages
  • Using local keywords in your website content

4. Attend networking events

Attending local business events and networking with other professionals in your industry can help you build relationships and generate leads for your janitorial business.

Bring business cards and brochures to hand out, and be prepared to talk about your services and what sets you apart from other cleaning companies.

5. Offer referral incentives

Encourage your satisfied customers to refer their friends and colleagues to your janitorial business by offering referral incentives, such as a discount on their next cleaning service.

6. Advertise in local newspapers and magazines

Consider advertising your janitorial business in local newspapers and magazines that cater to businesses in your area.

You can also post flyers in local coffee shops, co-working spaces, and community bulletin boards to increase visibility.

7. Generate positive reviews

Positive reviews from satisfied customers can go a long way in building trust with potential clients.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews on your website, social media pages, and review sites such as Yelp and Google Reviews. Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, can also show potential clients that you care about their satisfaction.

8. Offer specialty services

Specialty Service Description
Green Cleaning Offering eco-friendly cleaning products and practices can attract clients who prioritize sustainability.
Emergency Cleaning Offering 24/7 emergency cleaning services can help you stand out in a crowded market.
Floor Maintenance Specializing in floor maintenance services such as stripping, waxing, and buffing can attract clients with specific needs.
Window Cleaning Offering window cleaning services can increase your potential client base and differentiate you from competitors who do not offer this service.

By offering specialty services, you can attract clients who are looking for specific cleaning services and differentiate your business from competitors who offer more general cleaning services.

Marketing and advertising your janitorial business requires careful planning and implementation. By utilizing a combination of the above strategies, you can create a strong brand identity and attract a steady stream of clients to grow your business.

Ensuring Safety and Compliance with OSHA Regulations

As a janitorial business owner in California, it is mandatory to ensure safety and compliance with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations. Failing to follow these regulations can lead to expensive fines and legal complications.

  • OSHA requires employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace for employees. You must assess your workplace for potential hazards and ensure that employees receive proper training to prevent accidents.
  • Develop a safety program that outlines company policies, procedures, and safety protocols. Your program should have a plan to deal with potential accidents and incidents.
  • You should also have proper safety equipment, such as protective gear, first aid kits, and fire extinguishers, on-hand in case of emergency. It is crucial to provide proper training to employees on how to use this equipment safely.

It is also essential to keep up with changes in OSHA regulations, laws, and industry standards. You can do this by attending safety workshops and training courses offered by OSHA or industry organizations. Knowing and following OSHA regulations provides benefits for your business and employees, such as higher employee morale and a safer work environment.

Lastly, keeping accurate records of safety inspections, incidents, and training is necessary for compliance with OSHA regulations. You can use these records to identify and correct potential hazards in your workplace, ensuring a safer working environment for your employees.

OSHA Resources Description
OSHA Small Business Handbook A guide to setting up an OSHA-compliant safety program for small businesses.
OSHA Consultation Program A voluntary program for businesses to receive free, on-site consultation services from OSHA professionals.
OSHA Training Institute Education Centers Offer training and education courses on OSHA guidelines.

Following OSHA regulations ensures a safe working environment for employees and protects your janitorial business from potential liability. Incorporating safety protocols, procedures, equipment, and training into your business plan is critical for success.

Establishing relationships with suppliers and contractors for additional services.

Starting a janitorial business is not just about providing cleaning services to your clients. To succeed in this business, you need to build strong relationships with suppliers and contractors to offer additional services to your clients. These additional services will not only add value to your client’s experience but also increase your revenue streams.

  • Identify your business needs – Before you start looking for suppliers and contractors, you need to identify the additional services you want to offer your clients. For example, do you want to offer carpet cleaning or furniture polishing services?
  • Research potential suppliers – Once you have identified your needs, research potential suppliers. Look for suppliers that are reliable, offer excellent prices, and provide quality products and services. You can attend trade shows and conferences to network with suppliers and contractors, or you can use online directories such as Yelp and Yellow Pages.
  • Build relationships – Building relationships takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. Attend networking events, join industry associations, and offer to buy your suppliers and contractors coffee or lunch. These little gestures can go a long way in establishing a strong business relationship.

Remember, building relationships with suppliers and contractors is not just about getting better prices. It’s also about creating a network of people who can help you grow your business. For example, if you have a client who needs additional services that you cannot provide, you can recommend a supplier or contractor they can trust.

Below is a table outlining some of the additional services you can offer your clients:

Additional Services Description
Carpet Cleaning Deep cleaning, shampooing, and stain removal of carpets.
Window Cleaning Cleaning of windows, glass doors, and mirrors inside and outside the building.
Pressure Washing Cleaning of building exteriors, sidewalks, and parking lots using high-pressure water.
Junk Removal Removal of unwanted materials such as furniture, equipment, and trash.

Offering additional services to your clients will not only make them happy but also increase your revenue streams. By building strong relationships with suppliers and contractors, you can provide your clients with quality services at excellent prices. This will not only make your clients happy but also increase your chances of getting repeat business and referrals.

FAQs About How to Start a Janitorial Business in California

1. Do I need a license to start a janitorial business in California?

Yes, you need a license to run a janitorial business in California. You must obtain a Cleaning Service Contractor License from the California Contractors State License Board.

2. What are the startup costs for a janitorial business in California?

The startup costs for a janitorial business in California varies depending on the size of your business, but it can range from $10,000 – $50,000. This includes expenses such as equipment, supplies, insurance, and marketing.

3. How do I create a business plan for my janitorial business in California?

Creating a business plan is essential for any business, including a janitorial business. Your business plan should include a description of your services, your target audience, a marketing plan, and financial projections.

4. What legal requirements do I need to fulfill to start a janitorial business in California?

Apart from obtaining a license, other legal requirements include registering your business with the California Secretary of State, obtaining liability insurance, and complying with tax laws.

5. What marketing strategies can I use to attract clients for my janitorial business in California?

Marketing strategies for a janitorial business can include creating a website, networking with other businesses in your community, offering discounts, and distributing flyers and brochures.

6. How do I hire employees for my janitorial business in California?

When hiring employees for a janitorial business in California, you need to ensure they are eligible to work in the US and comply with California labor laws. It is also important to conduct background checks and provide proper training.

7. What types of services can I offer as a janitorial business in California?

You can offer a range of services as a janitorial business in California, including commercial cleaning, residential cleaning, carpet cleaning, window washing, and post-construction cleaning.

Thanks for Reading

Starting a janitorial business in California can be challenging, but following the right steps can ensure your success. Remember to obtain a license, create a business plan, and comply with legal requirements. Marketing your business and hiring employees are also critical steps. We hope this article has given you valuable insights into starting a janitorial business in California. For more information, please visit our website and don’t forget to come back often for more tips and advice.