A surge of cleaning services emerged all over Gainesville in 2016.
The city is seeing a rise in the number of businesses getting licenses per year, but the category, “Interior Janitorial and Cleaning Services,” had a significantly greater increase than any other industry.
Nearly one-third of all currently active cleaning services in Gainesville started last year, which is three times the average among other industries, according to the open data on the City of Gainesville website.
Forty six cleaning services of the total 150 which are currently active began in 2016. An active business is one that pays its yearly business tax to the City of Gainesville.
Erik Bredfeldt, director of Economic Development and Innovation in Gainesville, said while the city has registered the uptick in cleaning services, they aren’t sure what could be causing the industry to be such an outlier.
One factor he pointed out was the fact that basic cleaning services don’t need a state license to operate, only a city license, making it relatively cheap to start a service.
Mark Raymond, an owner of a Servpro of Alachua County West franchise since 2008, said he’s feeling the the effects of this surge.
“People have done [cleaning services] out of their homes, so they don’t have nearly the same amount of overhead,” he said. “You can do it out of your garage; you can get in pretty cheap, really.”
Raymond speculates that the number of services has been increasing since the economy collapsed in 2008.
“I do think the economy had a huge effect on that. A lot of people were driven to find something else that they could do and maybe not have to spend a whole lot of money to get started.”
Emory Miller owns the oldest cleaning service in Gainesville. The business, Emory J Miller, which he named after himself back in 1993, has also experienced a recent slow down.
“It’s not a lot for me, but it’s slowed down some,” he said.
Catrina Smith is a full-time school bus driver, and in 2016, she tried to start a business cleaning college students’ apartments. Apartment building owners sometimes hire businesses like Smith’s to clean out apartments after students move out during tenant turn-over.
“The business just didn’t take off,” she said. “I went into it and didn’t really have a lot of information. I needed more information.”
Despite not knowing enough about the industry to achieve sustainability for her business, Smith got a business tax license from the city for around $100. She never put her license to any use and doesn’t plan on renewing it next year.
WUFT News is not able to definitively determine the cause of the spike in cleaning services in Gainesville.
Jon Hamilton, economics professor at UF, declined to speculate on what the cause(s) could be.