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We surveyed over 300 commercial cleaning business owners, and here’s what we found—and what it means for you!

Starting your own commercial cleaning business from scratch or already have a business but are looking for ideas to pick a niche for your business, here are some ideas for you.

In our survey we asked ‘What type of commercial cleaning business do you clean’

Most respondents cited office space as a space they cleaned.

If you’re looking to establish a niche, be aware it may be tougher to corner the market for this kind of client. On the flip side, the following types of location made up about 12% of responses combined, indicating that there may be less competition for them:

  • Courts
  • Churches
  • Airports
  • Manufacturing units
  • Radio stations
  • Oil refineries
  • Schools
  • Film studios
  • Banks
  • Food plants

Over a third of respondents clean 11-35 locations per month

This is a bit of a shift from the last time we asked this question—in 2018 the figure was 27%, it’s up to 36% now. This may indicate that cleaning companies, in general, are growing, or perhaps have been accelerated due to the pandemic.

Speaking of COVID-19…

Most cleaning businesses lost clients due to the pandemic, but 30% won new business

And about 24% said business didn’t change. These figures are not all that surprising. Lockdowns would have closed many industries (impacting their cleaners), but essential services would have needed much more cleaning services to stay open.

Depending on if your business was specialized or diversified, the pandemic would have varying effects, and you can see that play out in the survey responses.

Respondents were evenly split on how much competition they had in their area

When asked, “In your state/region, how is the overall janitorial market doing?”

  • 42% said it’s fully saturated / too much competition
  • 43% said not many janitorial companies to compete with

This big divide tells us that location plays a huge role in the nature of your cleaning business. If competition is too fierce where you are, there may be completely underserviced locations that are worth looking into.

Employee wages tend to be the biggest cleaning business expense

We asked respondents to rank four cost factors:

  1. Cleaning supplies
  2. Employee wages
  3. Marketing the business
  4. Operational software

Wages was the #1 choice in about half of the responses. Cleaning supplies ranked #1 about 30% of the time.

It was most common for an expense like marketing to be ranked 3rd most expensive. Operational software was ranked as least expensive in the majority of cases.

Over half of cleaning business owners still use pen & paper in their day-to-day management


Almost half of the respondents use a mix of paper and software and 26% use pen and paper exclusively.

In today’s day and age, the cleaning companies that grow fastest are the ones that use operational software. Technology such as Swept can save tons of time. In fact, we asked that question!

Over half the respondents said Swept saved them 1-3 hours per day


31% told us it was even more: 4 to 7 hours per day. This time-saving effect was particularly strong on payroll days.

Operational software is a game-changer! With a few taps or clicks, you can access a lot of important business information, make faster decisions, and communicate much better with your staff.

In fact…

Messaging was one of the top reasons customers chose Swept


Swept customers in the survey picked messaging, problem reporting, and time tracking as the top three features that sold them on trying us out.

And with the recent release of Swept+, we’ve paved the way for many more tools and features specifically designed for running a commercial cleaning business.

Social media is the most common way to hire new cleaners

Nearly 70% of respondents said they use something like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to attract new talent. Interestingly, posters, flyers, and handouts came in at 32%, close to Indeed at 35%. Craigslist and Kijiji were much less popular at around 19%.

While the methods of hiring are fairly diverse, it is clear that social and digital technologies and platforms dominate over more traditional methods.

Over a third of commercial cleaning business owners use a smartphone to consume content

We asked which devices our respondents preferred to consume content on, and 35% chose their smartphone. Desktop computers had the strongest showing at 44%, with tablets coming in at 20%.

We expect this trend to keep rising, as smartphones continue to get more affordable and more powerful, and as the average age of a cleaning business owner decreases.

Finally, the big question: What keeps commercial cleaning business owners up at night?


Communicating instructions to cleaners was the #1 worry. Many cleaners do their jobs at night, and it’s understandable that owners might feel nervous that something’s going wrong as they’re lying down for the evening.

Close behind communication was proper time tracking: owners worry that cleaners might not report their time honestly or correctly.

Solving these concerns is a big part of what operational software like Swept is all about. Remember, most owners gave us a try because of messaging, problem reporting, and time tracking. We’re helping save time during the day and providing sounder sleep to our users!


We hope you found our survey results helpful and informative. No matter which of these areas of your business causes you the most stress or confusion, the Swept team is working hard to help! We cover tons of these topics on our blog, and our new Swept+ app is the latest in operational software built specifically for cleaning businesses.

Operations Industry News