Starting Your Own Janitorial Business in California: Step-by-Step Process

Jason Hunt
November 20, 2021

California is rated as the 9th richest state in the United States. If it was a country by itself, California would be the 8th largest economy in the world.

So many businesses and rich people need a lot of cleaning up after them; therefore, if you’re planning to start a Janitorial Business in California, then this is an elaborate guide for you.

Here’s a step-by-step process shedding light on the topic, “How to start a janitorial business in California” –

Step 1 – Choose Your Business Entity

Before you start any janitorial business, you must settle on the business entity.

If you’re planning to hit the markets with a mop and bucket as a one-man show, you can register as a sole proprietor, and you’ll be responsible for the taxes and liabilities of your janitorial business.

Suppose you’re planning to work with a team of cleaners, partners, or managers. In that case, you’ll be better off registering as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) as this will offer you better liability protection.

This means when cleaners cause damage to articles in customers’ homes/offices, your company would be liable for those payments and not you personally.

The best way to go around this is to consult a private attorney or tax advisor to receive suggestions for an appropriate business entity suiting your requirements.

**Your legal obligations will depend on the type of entity you choose to proceed with.

Step 2 – Registering Business Name


Firstly, you’ll need to register a business name with the State of California. You can find details about the name registration here. Business name and domain approval by registering your business for legitimacy.

Pick a catchy and unique business name. Check with the California Secretary of State to make sure it’s available. If you plan to operate under a different name, you’ll need to file a DBA (Doing Business As).

Step 3 – EIN & Business Entity Registration

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like a social security number for your business. You can get it for free from the IRS website.

You can also get an EIN by filling out Form SS-4 and sending it to the IRS by mail or fax. It might take a few weeks for the process to be completed. This will allow you to open a bank account, file taxes, and get loans.

After you acquire an EIN, you can proceed to register your business as a legal entity (LLC, LLP, CORP).

Step 4 – License & Permit

In California, you don’t need a business license for general house cleaning services. But as things can change, The licenses and permits you require to successfully run your California-based janitorial business vary by the counties or cities your business is based.

Simply visit CalGold, a website run by the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, to assist you with the legal requirements.

Once you visit the website, type in your city/county and enter your business type e.g. ‘Janitorial Cleaning Maintenance Services’.

You’ll be directed to all the legal papers you require to operate your business.

Step 5 – Banking and Taxation

Keep things organized! Once you’re done with the local requirements, you’ll need to open a bank account with your Business details (name, address, etc.)

This will allow you to file your tax files, which include –

Based on the category of your business, you’ll be expected to pay a number of federal taxes, registered under the IRS.

Business Tax Certificates –

Running a business in the State of California requires you to file a tax certificate with the State of California Franchise Tax Board. Businesses with income inside and outside California may fall under this category.

Sales Tax Certificate

This allows you to officially charge Sales Tax from your clients and potentially saves you from Tax evasion charges. Sales Tax registration of the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA)

If all of this goes above your head, you can hire an accountant to do the job for you.

Step 6 – Health & Safety

Workers’ Health & Safety Insurance Insurance for Protection

Janitorial jobs can sometimes lead to accidents.

Your employees can slip on wet floors, or they can be exposed to hazardous/toxic substances (from cleaning agents).

Workers’ Health & Safety Insurance Insurance for Protection.

So, you should take preventive measures to avoid such unforeseen problems.

You’re required to prepare an Injury and Illness Prevention Plan for meeting the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) requirements. California Division of Occupational Safety and Health

Additionally, you’ll have to comply with a few other regulations, as laid out by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

Step 7 – Insurance

There are many risks associated with a Janitorial Business. You’ll need insurance to back you up in most cases.

From health safety to the safety of property, be it for yourself and your employees or that of your clients, you’ll require insurance to cover any unforeseen damage or loss.

For cleaning businesses, it’s important to consider common types of insurance like general liability and commercial property insurance.

orkers’ Compensation Insurance is also smart to cover employee injuries. You can find more information on getting insurance for your cleaning company in the Commercial Insurance Guide.

Based on local standards and regulations, you may also require bonding for your business.

Step 8 – Advertising

To get your business up and running, you’ll require successful advertising.

Develop a marketing plan to reach your ideal clients. This can be in the form of flyers, posters, cold calling, and many more.

Consider building an online presence, using websites, social media advertisements, email lists, and networking to build brand awareness.

Just make sure not to engage in a false advertisement, and you’re good!

Step 9 – Terms and Conditions

Make sure to lay out clearly and precisely the terms and conditions of your services.

You can do this by posting your policies on your website and other platforms.

Furthermore, you should draw up contracts for each of your clients for every term of work you engage with them.

The janitorial contract is a legal paper that includes policies and should protect both parties (both contractors and managers) from any discrepancies or exploitation caused during the service.

A contract must list down possible clauses and terms that parties must agree upon
These policies can include standard operational procedures like –

Whether the cleaner should open a door if the doorbell rings.
Whether to clean electrical appliances or not.
How to proceed during uncalled situations or lack of supervision.


These policies can include standard operational procedures like –

Step 10 – Employment

Educate yourself on the local employment laws when starting a janitorial business in California.

This will help you with insights into your hiring process, worker compensation, workplace ethics, and worker eligibility.

Stay updated with the IRS and the US Department of Labor to stay on top of the employment protocols.

Standardize Your Service

Consistency is key in the janitorial business! Here’s how to create a system that ensures every job shines:

  • Detailed Cleaning Procedures: Develop step-by-step guides for various cleaning tasks, like restroom sanitation, floor care, and window cleaning. Include specific instructions for product usage, dilution ratios, and equipment operation.
  • Comprehensive Checklists: Create checklists for each cleaning service you offer. These should include all tasks to be completed, specific areas to be addressed (e.g., break room refrigerator, high touch surfaces), and inspection points to ensure quality.
  • Training & Communication: Thoroughly train your employees on cleaning procedures, safety protocols, and the proper use of equipment and chemicals. Regular communication ensures everyone is on the same page and quality standards are met.
  • Quality Control Measures: Implement quality control measures to monitor your staff’s work. Conduct regular inspections, use customer feedback surveys, and consider assigning specific zones to employees to foster ownership.

By investing in a standardized cleaning system, you’ll elevate your service quality, reduce errors, and build trust with your clients.

Building Client Base

Attracting and retaining clients goes beyond just offering competitive rates. Here’s how to build a loyal customer base:

  • Exceptional Customer Service: This is the foundation of any successful business. Be responsive to client inquiries, flexible with scheduling changes, and go the extra mile to address any concerns.
  • Referral Programs: Turn satisfied customers into brand ambassadors! Implement a referral program that incentivizes existing clients to recommend your services.
  • Retention Strategies: Don’t take your clients for granted! Develop loyalty programs that reward repeat business. Offer additional services at a discount or conduct regular client satisfaction surveys to ensure you’re meeting their needs.
  • Embrace Technology: Utilize online booking systems and management software to streamline scheduling, communication, and invoicing. This creates a professional experience for your clients and frees up your time to focus on growth.

End Note

Starting a business always comes with its own set of challenges. Stay strong and be patient. Follow the steps we’ve discussed above and you should be well ahead on your journey in starting your own Janitorial Business in California!

Alternatively, our janitorial appointment setting program could help you land more commercial cleaning work in your area.

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