The property maintenance industry is booming. In 2012, the outsourced services sector was worth $143.1 billion. Forecasts at the time suggested that the industry would grow to become a $176.5 billion market in 2017 and that it would exhibit continued expansion until at least 2022.
Residential property maintenance work comprises a significant proportion of income-generating activities within the industry. In 2018, homeowners paid an average of $3,067 per year to have their properties maintained. Expenditure was highest in Portland, OR, and lowest in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Non-residential property maintenance services are also highly sought after. In 2012, these accounted for 55% of the industry's total revenue. Income generated from residential property maintenance has likely superseded this figure, but nonresidential services continue to drive industry growth.
Considering the demand for property maintenance services, you may be wondering how to get your own business up and running within the industry. If so, read through the steps below to discover how to establish a successful property maintenance business.
How to Start a Property Maintenance Business:
If you're passionate about property maintenance and looking to turn your trade into a profitable business, you may want to branch out as a solopreneur or even a company with employees. Here's how to do just that.
Decide whether starting a property maintenance business is for you.
Familiarize yourself with the industry, if needed.
Residential and non-residential properties need a range of upkeep services to function optimally. These include interior and exterior cleaning, groundskeeping, painting, carpentry, locksmith services, drywall repair, as well as HVAC, electrical, and plumbing work, and much more.
Evaluate your training and experience.
Training requirements depend on the types of services you'll offer and whether you'll conduct these yourself. Cleaning and groundskeeping, for example, do not require the completion of formal training. However, you'll need formal training to render HVAC, electrical, and plumbing services.
Those who lack the requisite educational requirements may need to hold off on starting a property maintenance business until they have received formal preparation. Alternatively, it may be possible to delegate these tasks to suitably qualified individuals.
Consider the risks and challenges.
Property maintenance often requires intense physical labor as well as exposure to potentially harmful environmental conditions. Both of these will render you and/or your employees vulnerable to a host of short-term and sustained bodily injuries, or worse.
In addition, you may need to conduct after-hours work. This is particularly important during the initial stages of establishing a property maintenance business; it gives companies a competitive edge. This may even be necessary if the demand for property maintenance shrinks, as was the case during the recession.
If you're willing to face these challenges, then a property management business could be the right fit for you.
Define the scope of your business.
Think about your interests and expertise.
By now, you should have a good sense of what you're qualified to do and where your passions lie. Use these insights to inform the type(s) of services you'll be offering.
Consider whether you'd like to work alone or in a team.
Perhaps you don't have the skills or capacity needed to perform the range of property maintenance services you'd like to conduct. If this is the case, consider whether you'd be opening to hiring one or more employees.
Choose a business name.
Consider your offerings.
Foregrounding your services will help convey information about your business, which could attract clients. Start by jotting down all the ideas that spring to mind when you think about your offerings.
Try using synonyms, where possible — particularly if you don't want your business's name to be too on the nose. Online resources such as thesaurus.com can help with this.
If you get stuck, use NameSnack to find thousands of property maintenance business name ideas.
Discard ill-fitting names.
Among other things, your business's name should be easy to spell and pronounce, and congruent with your desired brand identity. Go ahead and weed out any ideas that don't fit these criteria.
See what your target market thinks of the remaining names.
Potential clients should be able to give you a sense of which names are informative and, brandable. They'll also be able to indicate which options are easy to spell and pronounce.
Create and share an online poll via social media to reach potential clients.
If you intend to offer residential property maintenance services, you should consider targeting home improvement groups.
Secure a domain name.
Visit the website of an ICANN-accredited provider such as Namecheap to check if your preferred domain name is available. If it is, proceed to register it.
Form your property maintenance business.
Formulate a business plan.
Your business plan should outline the core objectives of your company, as well as measurable steps you will take to achieve these aims. The document will serve as both a roadmap and a tool to hold you accountable to yourself. It could also help you to articulate your ideas to others and to secure financial backing.
Your business plan should contain the following:
- Executive summary.
- Company overview.
- Market analysis.
- Marketing strategy.
- Financial summary.
- Future goals.
We've created a free property maintenance business plan template to help. You'll find it near the start of this page.
Choose a legal structure.
Property maintenance businesses can be structured in various ways. Key options include sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and limited liability corporations (LLCs).
Given the litigious nature of the industry, it may be worth forming an LLC or a corporation. These options ensure limited to no personal liability. Unsurprisingly, many U.S. property maintenance companies have opted for one of these structures.
Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Some businesses are not required to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN). However, if you decide to operate as a corporation or partnership, or if you intend to hire employees, then an EIN is mandatory.
Having an EIN is a sign of legitimacy in the industry. It often makes it easier to open a business bank account and to secure financing. You'll also be able to use your EIN in lieu of your Social Security number when conducting business, which could prevent identity theft.
Open a business bank account.
A business bank account will allow you to easily distinguish between personal and professional finances. It'll also be a sign of professionalism when dealing with clients and vendors.
For some, a business bank account is more than just a nice-to-have. The IRS requires that all incorporated businesses have a dedicated business bank account.
Property maintenance businesses are susceptible to a range of risks. These include theft, accusations of negligence, and even accidental bodily harm to others. Thus, many business owners purchase general liability insurance, professional liability insurance, and commercial property insurance, at the very least. State regulations may require you to have workers' compensation coverage, even if you aren't an employer.
Obtain your licenses and permits.
Licensing requirements are contingent upon a number of factors. Typically, these include the region in which you intend to work, as well as the types of property maintenance activities that you will conduct.
View our list of the most salient, state-specific licensing information.
You'll notice that many states offer a minor work exemption — the ability to render services without a license if you don't exceed a specified dollar amount. Remember to inquire about this.
Note that the table doesn't account for local requirements. You should check in with your county clerk's office to obtain information about these.
For more detailed licensing information at the state level, be sure to contact your state's department of business regulation.
Outline your funding requirements.
Calculate vehicle and related expenses.
Regardless of whether you're a sole proprietor or aiming to employ others, you'll likely need a vehicle to travel between work sites. This might mean using your own vehicle or leasing one, to begin with. Either way, you must be able to cover all associated costs.
Consider location-related costs.
Smaller businesses may be able to use a spare room, garage, or shed to store their supplies. Alternatively, you may wish to lease a warehouse with adequate storage space. While you don't need to sign any agreements just yet, it's important to have an idea of the applicable costs, if any, before attempting to secure funding for your business.
Determine the cost of supplies.
Regardless of which specific property maintenance services you intend to offer, you'll need a range of tools and equipment. We've rounded up some of the common ones for you.
Consider the nature of your work, as well as the guidelines prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), when deciding what you'll need.
Ask family and friends.
Having formed your business and outlined your finding requirements, you'll need to get some cash. Consider asking loved ones, who might be personally invested in your success and thus, willing to back you financially. Loans from family and friends often present flexible payment terms as well as little to no interest.
You'll be able to reach many potential investors by harnessing your friends' and family's networks.
Perhaps offer free maintenance services to donors who make sizable contributions to your campaign.
Search for angel investors.
In addition to financing, they'll be able to offer you guidance on establishing a successful business within the industry. Though this avenue presents an opportunity for flexible terms, you may need to relinquish some control of your business.
Apply for a loan.
Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are federally-backed lending options that include longer repayment periods, capped interest rates, and smaller down payments. However, they can be difficult to qualify for.
Another option is to apply for a conventional bank loan, which should be processed fairly quickly. Note, however, that the repayment terms tend to be shorter and you'll likely need to provide collateral.
Use a business credit card.
Business credit cards are fairly easy to obtain, and many providers offer a 0% annual percentage rate (APR) plus no annual fees during the first year. However, business credit cards can turn out to be costly in the long haul.
Select and set up your location.
Find the perfect location.
At this point, you'll have decided whether to establish a base station at home or if you'd prefer to lease a warehouse. If you choose to do the latter, consider enlisting the services of a real estate agent. Ultimately, your chosen space should have ample storage for your equipment and supplies, as well as sufficient parking space (for yourself and your employees, if applicable).
Purchase your equipment and tools.
Having obtained funding, you can go ahead and purchase the supplies you'll need to get started.
You don't have to purchase the most expensive supplies, but be sure to weigh the initial cost of each item against its projected lifespan when deciding what to buy.
Search for bundled deals, particularly for power tools and common supplies (screws, nuts, bolts, etc.).
Be sure to review shipping-related restrictions when shopping online. Items such as hacksaws may not be eligible for delivery.
Clients who require specialized materials may be billed separately for these. However, you should discuss payment-related expectations before commencing each project.
Observe all pertinent storage regulations.
The OSHA has promulgated many regulations that apply to the stowing of certain maintenance and construction-related supplies. These are outlined in 29 CFR Part 1910 and in 29 CFR Part 1926. Be sure to review them along with local guidelines to ascertain how they may dictate the layout of your space.
Remain guided by safety considerations.
You should always be mindful of safety, even in the absence of industry-specific regulations. For example, even non-hazardous materials should be stored in a manner that prevents toppling, rolling, and the obstruction of spaces where people may walk. If you intend to store your supplies at home, be sure that the garage, shed, or room from which you work remains locked when it isn't in use.
Keep your space well-organized.
Supplies should be stored intuitively from the outset. Consider creating labels and maintaining an updated inventory management system to promote easy access to your gear. Not only will this spare time, but you'll have a good idea of when to replenish your items.
Hire staff, if needed.
Determine how many employees you need.
Having thought about the services you'd like to offer, you should have a good idea of how many staff members you'll need, and the functions they ought to perform.
Revisit your business plan if you need a refresher, but don't feel pressured to stay bound to your initial intentions. It's completely normal for these to change over time.
Advertise your vacancies.
You'll want to attract as many suitably qualified candidates as possible to ensure that you find the best fit for each position.
Consider posting your advert(s) on free job boards and across all of your social media platforms.
It could be useful to use an applicant tracking system if you end up receiving a large volume of interest.
Review candidates' resumes.
Once applications have closed, you'll need to review candidates' resumes and other supporting documentation to narrow your pool of applicants.
Many applicant tracking systems include a resume parsing tool that can help you do just this. Go ahead and use it if you're dealing with a large group of candidates.
Remember to ensure that shortlisted candidates comply with the requisite state and local licensing requirements.
Having identified the top candidates, you can go ahead and arrange interview times with each of them.
Appoint the best candidate(s).
Once you've worked through each of the applicants' resumes and met with them, you should have sufficient information to extend job offers.
Market your business.
Create and display your logo strategically.
In most instances, your logo will be the first point of contact between your business and prospective clients. Kick-off your marketing process by creating a visually interesting logo that encapsulates the purpose of your business. It should be displayed on all marketing materials including bumper stickers, uniforms, leaflets, etc.
If you need a hand, consider writing down (and possibly even sketching) your initial ideas and then taking these to a professional.
Create some leaflets.
Be sure to note the range of services that you offer, as well as important contact details. You could also include a few before and after photos of your best work.
Distribute your leaflets.
Be sure to focus on the neighborhood in which you'll be working. With permission, you could also leave these at local hardware and furniture stores.
Build and maintain an updated website.
At this point, you should create a website that contains detailed information about your offerings. Also include contact information, as well as links to your social media accounts. As work comes in, you'll be able to include a photo gallery of completed projects.
Harness social media.
Both Facebook and Instagram are great platforms for sharing visual content, which you'll want to do. These also offer opportunities for direct engagement with prospective and existing clients.
Remember to include a link to your business's website wherever possible.
Forge strategic partnerships.
Perhaps your neighborhood supermarket or restaurant is in need of maintenance. Consider offering your services in exchange for advertising.
Use local SEO.
In 2018, 46% of searches were said to have "local intent." That is, searches were made with the aim of yielding location-specific information. In your case, clients are going to want to know about nearby property maintenance businesses — and you'll want to pop up in their search results.
Start by registering for Google My Business.
Next, create a Yelp Business Page.
Urge clients to post reviews of your work.
Continue to study and implement other techniques.
It might help to enlist the services of an experienced professional.
Get ready to open.
Take stock of your supplies.
Before you start tackling projects, you'll want to make sure that you've purchased everything you need. Property maintenance software can help you do just this.
If your preferred solution lacks the appropriate features, perhaps opt for dedicated inventory management software. There are free and paid options.
Prepare your schedule.
As maintenance requests roll in, you'll want to keep track of these.
Be sure to do the same for your employees, if applicable.
Try using scheduling software if a standard, online calendar doesn't suffice.
Shop for job-specific supplies.
Highly specific projects might require specialized supplies. Be sure to purchase these in anticipation of upcoming projects once they've been scheduled.
Review directions to worksites ahead of time.
This is something you'll want to do as a matter of course, particularly when you aren't familiar with the area you'll be working in. However, it's especially important when you're starting out and wanting to form a great reputation for your business.
Gather all the pertinent tools before seeing your first clients.
Finally, you'll want to round up all the supplies you'll need for your first week of operations. This should help avoid a last-minute scramble while also ensuring that you don't forget important supplies.
Tips from Property Maintenance Business Owners:
"Part of the time it is listening to what they want and then asking the right questions or repeating it back so everyone is on the same page. Consider taking notes instead of just thinking [that you remember] which picture goes where, which towel bar goes where, etc. If you have to constantly ask the client over and over about things that does not look good.Having just about everything in the trailer is important also."
"Tools are all organized by trades; even though it means I have doubles (and triples) of a lot of things. Life's just a lot easier when you can grab the right toolbag & just go. Discovering that you forgot a tool, once you're there, can cost more than you're making on these little jobs."
"I'm learning that when you develop your business in whatever way, it is a full on steep learning curve until things settle down and then you wonder what all the fuss was about."
State-Specific Licensing Information:
Salient Licensing Information
Need to be licensed for swimming pool projects worth more than $5,000, residential projects worth more than $10,000, as well as commercial and industrial projects worth more than $50,000.
General Contractor License with Handyman designation (residential/commercial projects up to $10,000). General Contractor License without Residential Contractor Endorsement (commercial work/residential remodel services worth less than 25% of the structure's value). General Contractor License with Residential Contractor Endorsement (can do residential work that costs more than 25% of the structure's value). Specialty Contractor License (allows use of up to 3 specified trades).
None for projects worth less than $1,000 unless a permit is required. There are numerous, distinct licenses for residential and commercial work, plus dual licenses that allow residential and commercial work.
None for residential projects worth less than $2,000. Residential Licenses: Home Improvement Specialty License, Residential Remodelers License, Residential Builders License. Commercial Licenses: Restricted (only projects up to $750,000) and Unrestricted (no limit).
None for projects under $500. Otherwise, you will likely need at least one license that falls within the General Building Contractor or Specialty Contractor categories.
Those who intend to make any permanent alterations to residential property must register as Home Improvement Contractors.
No trade license. Need a Resident or Nonresident Contractor license (for revenue purposes) in order to bid on jobs worth $50,000 or more.
No specific Handyman license, but the scope of work is restricted. Otherwise, licenses typically fall under two categories: Certified Contractor (lets you work throughout the state) and Registered Contractor (limits holders to a specific jurisdiction). You can pick which type to apply for.
Four types of contractor licenses for projects exceeding $2,500: Residential Basic Contractor (selected one-and-two-family residences); Residential-Light Commercial Contractor (family residences + light commercial buildings/structures); General Contractor Limited Tier (all general contracting duties; max. $500,000 projects); General Contractor (all general contracting duties; unlimited dollar amount).
None for jobs under $1,000 that don't require permits. Otherwise, there are two pertinent licensing classifications: General Building Contractor and Specialty Contractor.
None. However, those who engage in construction jobs worth $2,000 or more must register with the Idaho Contractors Board.
None. However, construction contractors who earn $2,000 or more per year must be registered with the Iowa Division of Labor.
Residential License: for most projects worth $75,000 or more. Commercial License: for most projects worth $50,000 or more. Note: those working on home improvement contracts valued between $7,500.01 and $75,000 must register with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors.
Home Improvement License if performing common alterations. No other state-issued licenses for general contract work.
Home Improvement Contractor registration if performing common alterations. Common licenses: Specialty Construction Supervisor License (limited to a specified trade); Restricted Construction Supervisor License (can supervise construction, etc. on max. two-family units + accessories); Unrestricted Construction Supervisor License (can supervise construction, etc. on any type of building under 35,000 cubic ft.).
Applicable to projects worth $600 or more: Maintenance and Alteration Contractors License (e.g., carpentry, tiling, insulation work), Residential Builders License (construction on residential or residential + commercial structures).
For those with an annual income of $15,000 or more: Residential Remodeler License (can work on existing structures); Residential Building License (can work on existing structures + build new ones).
License not needed for smaller projects. Noteworthy licenses: Residential Remodeling License (required for jobs over $10,000) and Commercial License (required for projects over $50,000, although rules differ when work is related to fire protection systems).
None, but construction contractors who have employees have to register with the Department of Labor and Industry.
Can conduct many projects worth $1,000 or less without a license. Two pertinent licensing classifications: Specialty Contractor (includes 36 options) and General Building Contractor (for remodeling and construction that requires the use of 2+ unrelated building trades).
You'll need a Home Repair Contractor License if you offer clients financing. All Home Repair Contractors must register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
Classifications include, inter alia, GB-2 Residential and GB-98 General Building. There are many more. Submit a classification determination request for further information.
Generally, you'll only need to obtain a license to work on projects worth more than $30,000. Pertinent classifications: Specialty Contractor (designated trades/activities); Residential Contractor (residential construction and demolition work + other selected activities); Building Contractor (can perform all construction and demolition work).
Generally, you only need a license for projects that cost more than $4,000. Class A License (max. $100,000 per job); Class B License (max. $300,000 per job); Class C License (max. $500,000 per job); Class D License (over $500,000 per job).
You'll need a contractor license for most types of work. There are residential, commercial, and dual residential/commercial license endorsements.
None, but Home Improvement Contractors who earn between $5,000 and $50,000,000 per year must register with the Office of Attorney General.
None, but you must register with the Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board if you perform home improvement projects valued at over $500 each.
You'll need a license to conduct residential projects worth over $200 and commercial projects worth over $5,000. Pertinent categories: Residential Specialty Contractor (residential work that necessitates the use of specialized trades or crafts); Residential Builder (residential projects between $200 and $5,000); General Contractor (selected residential, commercial, and industrial work); Mechanical Contractor (selected residential, commercial, and industrial work).
No license needed for projects up to $3,000. License classifications: Residential and Small Commercial Contractor (residential and commercial work of a limited scope); General Building Contractor (any type of structure); General Engineering Contractor (industrial settings).
You'll need a license for projects worth over $1,000. Three license classifications: Class A (no maximum dollar amount); Class B (max. $120,000 per project; max. total of $750,000 per year); Class C (max. $10,000 per project; max. total of $150,000 per year). You'll need to choose your specialty for each.
None, but you must register with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.
No license needed for projects that cost $2,500 or less in total (must count work by others). Otherwise, you'll likely need a Contractor License. See exemptions.
No universal General Contractor's license. You may need Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification.
Note that those who hold a particular license in one state may be eligible for the equivalent license in another state without having to pass an examination. This is called licensure by reciprocity. Be sure to inquire about existing reciprocity agreements if you hold a license that was not awarded by the state in which you intend to work.
As highlighted, the aforementioned table does not present an exhaustive account of state-level licensing requirements. Moreover, it does not account for local regulations. To learn more about all the applicable licensing and permitting requirements, be sure to contact your state's department of business regulation, as well as your county clerk's office. For peace of mind, you may even want to consult an attorney.
Common Supplies for Property Maintenance:
Black permanent markers
$1.84–$5.16 (2 pk.)
Heavy-duty scraper set
Hex key set
Screwdriver set (incl. Torx and flat head screwdrivers)
Ratchet and socket set
Multipurpose plier set
Hacksaw (10+ in.)
50 ft. extension cord
3-step folding step stool
8 ft. step ladder
GPS navigation device
What is a property maintenance company?
Property maintenance companies work to preserve and improve the condition of residential and/or non-residential premises, including buildings and the grounds on which they are situated. Some companies cover all aspects of property maintenance, while others specialize in one or more services.
How do I start my own property maintenance business?
- Decide whether starting a property maintenance business is for you.
- Define the scope of your business.
- Choose a business name.
- Form your property maintenance business.
- Outline your funding requirements.
- Obtain funding.
- Select and set up your location.
- Hire staff, if needed.
- Market your business.
- Get ready to open.
What does property maintenance include?
- Interior and exterior cleaning.
- Locksmith services.
- Drywall repair.
- Window replacement.
- Roof repair.
- Concrete patching.
- Pest control.
- HVAC services.
- Electrical work.
- Plumbing activities.
Does property management include maintenance?
Yes. Property management entails property maintenance, tenant screening, rent collection, and more. Property managers either hire their own maintenance staff or employ the services of maintenance companies on an ad hoc basis.
How much does it cost to start a property maintenance business?
Startup costs depend on factors like equipment and licensing needs, as well as business formation, banking, and insurance requirements. Some suggest that handymen can start a one-person business for $1,000 or less. However, many will likely pay between $2,000 and $4,000. Those who lease commercial premises and vehicles, and who hire staff, need significantly more funding; likely $15,000 or more.
How much do property maintenance companies make per year?
It depends on the type of business. Self-employed handymen, for example, tend to earn between $15.78 and $51.52 per hour, which equates to between $33,057 and $119,892 per year. Businesses that offer more specialized services, and those who hire employees, likely have a much greater earning potential.
How can I fund my property maintenance business?
- Ask family and friends.
- Try crowdfunding.
- Search for angel investors.
- Apply for an SBA loan.
- Apply for a conventional bank loan.
- Use a business credit card.
How can I market my property maintenance business?
- Design a logo and display it prominently on promotional materials.
- Create and disseminate leaflets.
- Build and maintain an updated website.
- Harness social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
- Offer your services to established companies in exchange for free advertising.
- Register for Google My Business and Yelp.
- Ask clients to post reviews of your services once you get started.