The residential and commercial cleaning industry presents a lucrative business opportunity for small businesses with its low concentration of large firms in major markets and a low cost of entry. The industry might be somewhat recession-proof, but successful entrepreneurs are aware that smart marketing coupled with continued growth is the key to the survival and success of a cleaning business.
Whether you would like to start your own commercial cleaning and janitorial business or simply need an injection of new ideas, here are 8 tips for growing your cleaning business, as provided by some of the leading marketers and experts in the cleaning industry.
1. Picture Your Ideal Cleaning Business
Every entrepreneur starts out with a goal in mind, but as the days turn into months and months turn into years, it can be rather easy to lose sight of the original goals and dreams. So, when you are thinking about growing the cleaning business, take a step back and think about what your ideal business would look like and what it would take to reach that point.
Your dream might be having satisfied employees, customers, and happy owners, which is a kind of set-up that ensures satisfaction and stability for all parties. To turn this dream into a reality, you should first define your ideal customer.
2. Act Human by Sharing What Sets You Apart
Differentiating yourself is essential in a crowded market. Customers would like to know what they can get from you that they won’t get from other cleaning firms. Start by assessing the competition – what unique things do they do not just in their messaging but also in their actions?
Word of mouth, online reviews, and Facebook are all valuable tools for helping you know what the market has to say about the services offered by your competitors. What needs are not being served? From a service delivery perspective, it may involve a greater emphasis on a flexible cleaning schedule, green cleaning products, etc.
Explain to your customers clearly how you are different by using your marketing to build more intimate relationships. Send out newsletters, start a blog offering cleaning tips or to introduce members of your team to help customers know exactly who they are dealing with. If you offer that information, it will help prospects connect better with you, which will translate to loyal customers later on.
3. Focus on Your Customers in Every Step of the Marketing Cycle
Small businesses are often so involved in the day-to-day business operations that they almost always never take a step back to think about the different ways marketing can actually help them grow their business.
To do that, you have to first define the buying circle in your company. It is possible that you have clients and prospects at each stage of the cycle – from awareness (customers are aware of your business but are not so sure what you are offering) through discovery an engagement (where customers try learning more about the business and take actions that may or may not lead to a sale), and all the way to referral status (when they are so happy with you that they want everyone else to know).
Obviously, there will be other steps in between, but the key point is that you must always have a plan that focuses on customers in every step of the buying cycle. Some of the tools will be the same, but you might have different messages and calls to action – you may consider using a direct marketing campaign to help steer prospects to your website where they can learn more about you while you might offer a coupon to customers in the engagement phase as an incentive for them to hire you.
4. Leverage Email to Earn More Business
Email marketing is no longer new. After all, all kinds of businesses have been using it successfully for a long time. Perhaps you are already doing it. However, it is highly likely that there are ways for you to get more mileage out of your campaigns. If you still send out just a single newsletter to all customers rather than segmenting them and customizing campaigns by segment, that’s one place for you to start.
If you have not started using automated email campaigns, you should consider making that your next customer retention and marketing initiative. Automating your emails is actually easier than you think and is an effective way to convert prospects to customers or engaging past customers for repeat business.
5. Keep Knocking on Doors
From medical practices to churches to restaurants, door-to-door sales can be an incredibly effective sales tactic for janitorial and commercial cleaning businesses. You must never take a break from lead prospecting. You can get lots of names, email addresses, and phone numbers of the right person to contact later.
If you stop by at a building to make a call, just as who you should speak to regarding that ‘contract’ for their nightly janitorial service. Such follow up all too often doesn’t happen and it is quite a shame since this direct line is your bloodline to new business.
6. Use the Side Door to Get in Front of Clients
Don’t just make cold calls to residential clients or knock on the doors of commercial properties. Use the side door to get in front of potential clients. How?
By pitching your business to real estate agents. As part of the home sale, real estate agents often offer clients complimentary cleaning services, which can translate to additional business for you.
What about contractors? They also usually send in cleaning crews after they have finished their construction projects.
Invest in new home buyer mailing lists and send out pieces of direct marketing once every month to the higher income residences. You can even consider narrowing down your search to very specific demographics, too.
7. Network More
Today, there’s almost definitely multiple groups for your industry or business niche; all you have to do is find them. Try searching for networking groups for your location, services, and business on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Alignable. If you are interested in local events for business owners and professionals, Eventbrite and MeetUp are excellent places to hunt for local networking events.
Beyond simply attending meetups or events geared towards entrepreneurs such as yourself, you should consider going to events that cater to your dream target or customer markets. It is an excellent way to meet more people and learn exactly what drives your customers and how to better win them over.
8. Actively Building Your Offline Reputation
The Internet tool is an excellent tool for getting the word out, but it is also advisable to work on your brand offline. You also need to get out in the community to build brand recognition offline too.
Put up flyers around town in areas where business customers are likely to see them. Lok for bulletin boards in shopping centers and large office buildings or put up flyers in coffee shops close to the offices of clients that you would like to secure. Use bold headlines that mention office cleaning services and consider tacking up a couple of business cards with the flyer.
Community events and sponsorship opportunities should never be ignored. Fairs, festivals, and local events are all great ways to market your business to local eventgoers and residents as well as show your community spirit.