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March 2006
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Nurturing Relationships Creates Cheerleaders for Your Cleaning Business

When first starting out in your cleaning business, what's on your mind first and foremost tends to be the need for clients - FAST!  So you go out and put out flyers, send out brochures, stop into businesses to drop off information, put an ad in the classified section of the newspaper...and on and on. But when not much is happening it's easy to get frustrated. Why isn't my phone ringing off the hook?

If you really want to be successful at marketing your business (and I've said it many times before), you need to build relationships with people. In a recent post I talked about joining the networking group, BNI. Since then, I can't believe how many people I've met and how many times I've gone out to lunch! This group really believes in the power of giving and connecting, and I can see where my already successful business is going to get even more popular with all the people I'm building relationships with.

For example, I met with the manager of a local retailer and am confident I'll be taking care of her floors soon. I met with a local realtor, and she's asked me if she can include my business in a promotion she's doing for her business. I also met with a manager of a temporary employment agency, and we've discussed how she can help me with recruiting employees by using her services occassionally when I'm a little short on employees. Then she asked me to give a training session to the janitorial workers she employs so that when they go out on jobs, they're educated on what they need to do. Now who do you think she's going to refer people to when they're looking for a cleaning service?

This type of marketing is easy!!  It's simply a matter of finding a networking group that feels comfortable to you and making a point of getting to know each member...one-by-one. I did it and you can too!


To Be Successful Do What Successful People Do

One of our members at TheJanitorialStore.com recently shared some of his recent success as a result of participating in the community and applying what he's learned.

  • In just 4 short months he doubled sales from $3000/mo to $6000/mo.
  • He understands the bidding process better as a result of using the Bidding Calculators and creating a new Bid Packet based on the one we offer at TheJanitorialStore.com.
  • He learned that marketing is different from advertising. We have numerous sales and marketing articles and an Ebook (Marketing and Sales Success for Cleaning Companies) that offers lots of ideas on how to market your cleaning business, not just spend money on advertising.
  • He's gained new clients as a result of participating and asking questions in the online discussion forum. He also participates regularly in the telephone discussion forum every month and gets all his burning questions answered.

Another member said, "It's very commendable that you will take the time to make a form that we asked about, just because you'll be helping a few people that you'll probably never meet. That means alot to a person like me. I've always believed that to be successful, you must learn from someone that's already done it."

To read what other members have to say, visit our Member Comments page.

We've been very successful with our two cleaning businesses and we're very passionate about helping others who want to start a successful cleaning business, who may be struggling, or who would like to take their business to the next level of success. We'd love to have you join us!


Joined BNI to Network Cleaning Business

I recently joined BNI (Business Network International). A group started here a couple years ago, but I was pretty involved in the Chamber of Commerce at the time and didn't have time for another networking group. I still participate in Chamber events, but I'm no longer on a committee, so I have more time to get out and network.

I was approached by two of my customers who told me that the group has gotten so big that they needed to start another chapter and they thought I'd be a good fit for the new group. They had their first meeting a few weeks ago and over 70 people showed up!  It's kind of expensive, but with such a large group of people, I'm confident that I'll be able to give and receive referrals.

Since joining I've been to three meetings and have met a number of new people. In fact I've already met with a couple people outside of the event and have appointments to meet with other members in the next couple weeks. They really encourage getting together with other members in order to learn about each others' businessess so that you know the kind of referrals they're looking for. I've already been able to offer a few referrals.

They also pair you up with a sort of mentor when you first join, and so I was paired up with what some people might consider a competitor. I think they did this on purpose to enable us to get to know each other so we can help each other out rather than compete against each other. The other company is a carpet cleaning company, which is a service we provide, however we do commercial work and they do residential. This will make for a good relationship, as we'll be able to refer people to each other.

Joining a networking group such as BNI may not feel comfortable at first, but it's such a great way to meet people and start building those relationships that are so important. Building relationships -- doesn't that sound a lot easier than having to cold call to find all your customers???


Reward Employees with Performance Bonuses

A few months ago we implemented a new reward system for our employees, which offers incentive throughout the year to perform exceptionally well - not just around review time!

We take pride in the quality of work we provide to our clients, but in order to make sure everyone is working to our standards, we need to walk through the buildings on a regular basis. We developed a Building Inspection Checklist that we use to walk through the buildings to document our findings. We use a 1 to 4 rating system (1=Poor, 2=Fair (Below Standard), 3=Good (To Standard), 4= Excellent).

After walking off the building and tallying the totals, any employee responsible for cleaning in the building or area walked-off, who receives a rating of 3 or above, will receive a $25 Bonus on their next paycheck.

It's not just the Bonus that the employees enjoy. It also gives them a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that they've done a good job and have been recognized for it. Receiving the $25 is just icing on the cake!


Unique Idea for Winning the Cleaning Bid

One of our members at The Janitorial Store just shared with us a unique idea. He had the opportunity to bid on cleaning a Realtor office twice a week. He ended up winning the bid even though his bid came in about $140 over the competition. What did he do to set himself apart?

The day he walked through the building he noticed that every trash can was overflowing, so he offered to empty the trash! Of course they took him up on his offer, and as he walked around the office he met a few people, who were all very happy that he was emptying their trash can. By doing this, it gave him an idea of how long it would take for this task, which made it easier to estimate his total time.

Have YOU done anything unique like this to win an account?  We'd love to hear about it!  Just click on the comment link below to share your story.


Extend Your Reach by Subcontracting Cleaning Accounts Outside Your Area

We live in a resort area in central Minnesota, so there are a number of small towns within a 40-mile radius. To many, that might not seem that far to travel, but Minnesota winters can be brutal, so we like to keep our core business close to home.

The problem is two-fold. 1) we have clients who have offices in some of the surrounding areas and they've asked us to bid on their accounts, and 2) we'd like to grow our business into these areas but it can be tough to manage when things are so spread out.

This is something we wrestled with for quite a while and actually turned down a couple opportunities. Then I met a woman who has a small office cleaning business and who lives in one of these outlying areas. I asked her if she'd be interested in subcontracting any of these accounts and she said yes.

So we took over the cleaning of a bank branch in one of these outlying areas and subcontract the account. We now have four branches, including the new one, and we still make a good profit on the account.


Speed Networking Nets Foot in the Door

We belong to our local Chamber of Commerce and for years they organized a monthly networking luncheon. They wanted to shake things up a bit and get higher attendance so they decided to replace the traditional luncheon with Speed Networking. It's similar to Speed Dating, but instead of finding out about someone's personal life, you get to find out about other local businesses in about 3 minutes.

I really liked the concept because at traditional networking events, people tend to hang out with the people they know, rather than reaching out to meet new people, which is what networking is supposed to be about!

Anyway, I met several new people and actually got my foot in the door on a new account already!  I have an appointment to meet with the person in charge of building maintenance at a telephone company. I'll let you know how it goes...