The Best Vehicle for Your Cleaning Business

Published on March 28, 2019

The best vehicle for your cleaning business? Choosing the right one can seem overwhelming when you don't know all of the options you have and factors you need to consider.

Whether your current car for your cleaning business just bit the dust, or you're looking for your first one, this article will help.

By the end of this article, you'll get answers to all of these questions and more:

  • Which vehicle will bring you the most value?
  • Which one will help grow your business the most?

Use these pro tips to help you consider all of your options and decide on the best vehicle for your cleaning business.

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Why You Need a Reliable Vehicle

On average, it takes one tenth of a second for us to judge a person by their face. Typically, longer exposure doesn't significantly alter those impressions either.

Also, this is true of the way people judge companies and their employees.

If a potential client’s opinion is built in less than a tenth of a second of seeing your company, it’s going to be based on:

  1. Your marketing materials
  2. Word of mouth from an existing client
  3. Your vehicle (Is it an eyesore, or does it look professional?)

What do you do when you’re creating marketing pieces for your business? Do you slap together some words, and send it out… or do you spend hours to craft the perfect cleaning ad for Facebook?

What about your cleaning services? You put 100% of your effort into doing the best job possible. This makes it easier for clients to fall in love with your work, and refer you to their friends and family.

You don't neglect the first two ways clients see you, so you can't neglect your vehicle either.

Your vehicle is a mobile billboard, and you should be using it as such. In the same way that you take great care with your service quality and marketing, you should carefully consider the message your car sends.

If it's constantly dirty and damaged, held together by duct tape and prayers, then you need to invest in a new car for your cleaning business.

How to Choose the Right Vehicle for Your Cleaning Business

Wading through the endless ocean of makes, models, and options of vehicles for your cleaning business can be intimidating.

There are a few primary considerations that will impact your business’ bottom line for the life of the car:

  • Fuel Efficiency
    • A few MPGs better is worth paying extra. This vehicle will be on the road constantly, so you’ll make up that extra money in gas savings very quickly.
  • Insurance Costs
    • This will drop as the vehicle depreciates (as long as you drive safely). In general, the larger/heavier the vehicle, the more expensive the insurance. Check with your commercial insurance agent to get more information about where to save money here.
  • Maintenance Costs
    • Do a little research into parts and service. Will third-party mechanics be able to easily and cheaply obtain parts, or will you have to work with a dealership? Are there common problems with the vehicle (e.g. transmissions going out at 40,000 miles, etc.).

These are the things that are going to cost you money throughout the life of the vehicle. In turn, we want to consider them ahead of other concerns. If you can’t afford the constant maintenance and terrible fuel economy, then the low price of the lemon is wholly irrelevant.

Although, there is one last major consideration:

  • Space
    • If you own a residential cleaning business, this will not be a huge problem for you. After all, even a two-door coupe should have enough trunk space to fit your supplies. However, if you are using carpet cleaning machines, or window-washing gear, then you may need something larger.

Final considerations when purchasing a vehicle for your cleaning company:

  • Total Price or Monthly Note
    • While it’s worth paying a premium to get better gas mileage or lower maintenance costs, make sure to stay within your budget. Figure out what you can spend every month without straining your business.
  • Safety
    • Don’t cut corners here. Check the crash test ratings of the vehicles you’re looking at. Poor safety ratings can be a deal breaker on an otherwise solid car.

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The Top 5 Cars for Your Cleaning Business

If you're in the residential cleaning business, or you're looking for a more budget-friendly option with great fuel economy, then a car might be the right vehicle for your cleaning business.

Below, there's a compiled list of cars using several different resources to find the best ones for your cleaning business.

Resale Value
Toyota Prius54/50$24,525$15,639
Toyota Corolla31/40$20,075$14,938
Honda Civic Hatchback31/40$22,200$13,639
Chevy Malibu29/36$22,270$14,447
Kia Soul28/33$19,190$11,942

The Best Vans for Your Cleaning Business

If you're in the commercial cleaning business, or you're looking for a larger vehicle, and you have the budget for the car and added fuel costs, then a van might be the right vehicle for your cleaning business.

Take a look at the compiled list below to find the best one for your cleaning business. Though, keep in mind, if you're looking for something more economical, most of these van makes offer smaller, more budget-friendly compact cargo vans too.

Resale Value
Ford Transit$35,270$21,571
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter$36,355$29,028
Ram ProMaster$30,590$16,842
Chevrolet Express$32,500$22,191
Nissan NV$30,640$18,373

Decide Whether to Finance (Even If You Have the Cash)

Financing can be intimidating (as it should be).

After all, making a long-term financial commitment is a big decision, and you should approach it cautiously. You may want to speak to a third-party advisor to ensure you can handle the expense of a vehicle... especially if you HAVE to finance because you can’t afford to purchase the vehicle outright.

That said, even if you can pay cash money for a vehicle, you should consider the cost of financing against the value that money would accrue in savings and the value of fluidity (having cash on hand).

You can use Bankrate's financial calculators to check the total cost of a car loan versus what the money would make in a business savings account.

I ran a test for you:

For example, let’s say you want to buy a new vehicle that costs $20,000.

If you finance the vehicle for 5 years, you’ll end up paying $21,562 (or $1,562 in interest) according to this calculator.

Auto Loan Rate for Cleaning Business Vehicle

And according to this calculator, if you invest that $20,000 into a business savings account for 1.1% APY (Annual Percentage Yield) for 5 years, you would end up with $21,124.47 (or a gain of $1,124.47).

Simple Interest for Cleaning Business Savings

What this means: If you finance your vehicle AND put the money in a business savings account, you will only spend ($1562 - $1124.47) = $437.53 above the car's price.

That means if an emergency arises, or you need to take advantage of a profitable opportunity, you will have the money ready to go.

Having a significant amount of money in the bank can protect your business from catastrophes and help you weather seasons of poor cash flow. Sometimes, it pays to finance.

How to Match a Vehicle to Your Brand Messaging

Picture this...

You’ve just hired “Eco Solutions Organic Cleaning” to clean your home.

The cleaner arrives in a beat-up, extended cab, diesel-engine F-250 that’s belching black exhaust.

It has a tiny magnet cling on the unpainted driver’s side door with Eco Solutions Organic Cleaning’s logo on it but it’s partially obscured by mud splattered up the door.

Bottomline: Dents, rust, and mud don't communicate "clean and fresh" to your clients. It also doesn’t communicate friendliness... and it’s honestly a little intimidating.

Now, imagine a second scenario...

Eco Solutions Organic Cleaning’s cleaner knocks on your door. You didn’t even hear them arrive.

You glance out a window and see a Toyota Prius in your driveway.

It’s wrapped with a colorful print of cleaning supplies and bubbles with the logo positioned prominently in several places. The streakless shine of recently cleaned glass glares in the sun.

Because Eco Solutions Organic Cleaning has given itself a name that implies that it’s eco-friendly and “green”, it’s on message to drive a battery-assisted, quiet vehicle.

The wrapping on the car communicates:

  • Who they are (name and logo)
  • What they do (cleaning supplies and bubbles)
  • Implies expense (wrapping a car isn’t the cheapest endeavor)

Their cleaning business vehicle is entirely on message for how they present themselves.

You can use your vehicle in the same way you choose a photo for a Facebook ad - to convey something about your company. What message does your vehicle convey?

A Quick Guide to Maintaining Your Cleaning Business' New Vehicle

In order to keep your cleaning business' vehicles running smoothly for many years to come, it's important to properly maintain them.

  1. Open your owner’s manual.
  2. Copy the relevant service information (e.g. oil, transmission fluid, coolant flush, tire rotations, and etc.).
  3. Make a spreadsheet that shows what services should occur at what mileage (you can include all company vehicles in the same spreadsheet).
  4. Add a weekly reminder to your calendar to check the mileage on company vehicles.
  5. Log that mileage in the spreadsheet, and plan to perform any upcoming maintenance.

Following the Owner’s Manual is definitely the optimal way to keep your vehicle on the road for as long as possible.

Since you’re using your company vehicle to advertise your brand, you want to keep it clean. However, washing a vehicle every day is more than likely a waste of your time. More than likely, it'll be cheaper and more efficient to pay for an unlimited washing plan at a local car wash.

Bring something to read, jam to the radio, or silently enjoy the amazing machine you’re riding through (my preferred method of riding the car wash). It only takes a few minutes, and it keeps your car looking good. In turn, when your company vehicle looks good, it makes your company look good too.

Why You Should Turn Your Vehicle into a “Rolling Billboard”

On average, one car wrap generates about 30,000 to 70,000 views per day.

In other words, that’s 30,000 to 70,000 impressions you could be making every day, if you advertise on your vehicle.

To top that off, about 59% of people would rather purchase from a brand they're familiar with.

This should put the cost of a wrap for your vehicle into perspective:

  • The average vehicle wrap costs between $1,500 to $3,000, which seems like a lot until you consider that you’re essentially buying a “rolling billboard.”
  • Meanwhile, many billboards can cost anything from $14,000 to $15,000 in larger cities… and that’s just for ONE MONTH. However, a car wrap will last until the car breaks down.

Also, 47% of 18-34 year-olds found car wraps to be more memorable than typical commercials.

Imagine putting the power of a television commercial on your company vehicle... You don’t pay for ad time every month, you pay once, and you’ve got your billboard - that's what you'll get with vehicle wraps.

Use Magnetic Clings as a More Affordable Option to Vehicle Wraps

If the $1,500 to $3,000 price tag is too much to ask (especially since you’re also purchasing a new car), don’t completely neglect your rolling billboard: Use magnet clings.

While, they’re not as big or noticeable as a full wrap, they’re significantly more affordable and still generate a substantial amount of impressions.

Most local print shops can make them for around $100 a pair (one for each side).

To track the effect of your magnets or wrap, consider including an “offer word” on them. For example, “Call and mention ‘Car’ for $5 OFF!"

This way, you’ll be able to track who’s coming in from your vehicle advertisements.

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Choose the Best Vehicle for Your Cleaning Business

Choosing the best vehicle for your cleaning business is an investment.

While this investment is a huge decision, you likely found this page because you already know you need to purchase a new vehicle.

Now, you know how to:

  • Choose the best vehicle for your cleaning business
  • Effectively communicate the quality and value you provide
  • Use your car as a marketing tool that generates 40k+ impressions every day

Always remember, it's important to do your research. I suggest bookmarking this page, and then come back to it as you make this decision.

Talk to everyone you can... Your insurance agent, cleaning business owners in Facebook groups and online forums to gather as much information as you can. In turn, you'll have everything you need to make the right decision.

At last, you have all the information you need to choose the best vehicle for your cleaning business!

Related: How to Effortlessly Win Any Commercial Cleaning Bid

Originally published March 28, 2019 7:00 AM, updated Aug 23, 2021 1:09 PM

Lisa Marino

Lisa Marino is the Sr. Marketing Director for Service Autopilot. She uses her 17+ years in direct marketing, sales, and product development to push entrepreneurs beyond their limits. She's passionate about helping others grow their businesses through time-tested marketing techniques. When not writing, you can find her belting out a mean Stevie Nicks at a local karaoke night.


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