When many people in the cleaning industry think about marketing, "traditional" marketing methods usually come to mind -- cold calling, mailings, knocking on doors, etc. Now don't get me wrong, this type of marketing definitely has its place and works - it's worked wonders for our business. But one of the problems with this type of marketing is that most prospective customers can spot the dollar signs in your eyes as you eagerly tell them about how wonderful your business is and that they really must hire you to cleaning their building. For many people it's a big turn-off.
Have you ever thought about putting yourself in your potential customer's shoes? What are they thinking as you present yourself? I recently read an article from a "buyer" of services and she mentioned several things that turned her off. She made some good points...have you ever done any of these?
- Don't start out by telling a bad joke - it won't impress them and only makes you look bad.
- Don't start out with meaningless small talk. Busy people value their time, so don't waste it.
- Don't bribe them by offering free gifts. Believe it or not, this turns people off.
- Don't try getting them to buy your services by offering a discount and saying it's only good this week. This de-values your service.
- Start out the conversation with meaningful dialogue and get to the point quickly.
- Your conversation should focus on how the prospective client's business will benefit from using your services. Make it about THEM, not YOU.
- When talking about benefits, drop names. Tell them how your other customers benefit from using your services.
- Don't talk price, talk quality and value.
When you're in the cleaning business, compliments are few and far between. We're pretty much "out of sight, out of mind", unless of course there's something wrong. Then they're quick to make a phone call to complain.
This morning I was checking my email and received a rare compliment. Our client actually took time out of her day to compose a short email letting me know what a great job our employee is doing.
This particular account is small, but very important to a lot of people. You see we live in a resort area, and in the summertime the population more than doubles. Located in one of the busiest shopping centers is the town's Chamber of Commerce, with attached public restrooms. Anyone who's ever been to this area is sure to have used these restrooms! So needless to say, they're used continually throughout the day and it's quite a challenge keeping them clean.
Here's the compliment:
"I just wanted to let you know that I have gotten compliments regarding our bathrooms. I have had several people stop in to say what a great job Craig is doing. When he is done, the bathrooms are very clean! Thanks for the great service!"
Of course I'll be passing this along to my employee and put a commendation in his file.
Our membership sign ups at The Janitorial Store has gone up quite a bit this summer, which is great! We've also had a number of positive comments from our members in our online discussion forum. Here are just a few:
"I would first like to give a very BIG THANKS to Mr. Hanson for putting this site together. This site is amazing. Now I would like to thank all of the people out there for such a quick response and the all of the advise..... I'm hooked..."
"This website is incredible. It is such a wonderful thing to have access to everyone's knowledge. I might say knowledge that seems infinite. I hope to be around for a long time to come. Thank You."
"Let me just say thank you to The Janitorial Store and the discussion forum for the immeasurable assistance I have received. We won a 12-month contract at a private K-8 school, using your sample contracts and bid specifications. Thank you so much."
"I just want to THANK the people who started the this GREAT SITE for people who are in the cleaning business. My company has done well using the tools provided for us. Its great to have information and tools like The Janitorial Store provides. I LOVE IT!"
Yes it's true - these comments make us feel good and encourage us to keep doing what we're doing. But comments like these also go a long way towards convincing potential members that maybe this site has what they're looking for and just maybe they'd be foolish for NOT taking advantage of such a great resource for their cleaning business.
How about you? Do you have any great testimonials from YOUR customers? You should! What if you had a list of testimonials from all your customers telling what a great service you provide? Wouldn't you like to hand that to your prospective clients? Chances are, your prospective client might recognize a name or two and think, "well if they're good enough for so-and-so, then they're good enough for me!"
The next time you talk to one of your customers, ask them if they'd write a testimonial for you. You just might be surprised at their willingness to do just that!
What is a mentor? The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a mentor as "a trusted counselor or guide". Wouldn't you like to have a guide for your cleaning business?
How do you find a mentor? Think about people you know whose opinions you respect and who you believe could impact your cleaning business. Have anyone in mind yet? Now ask yourself if you've earned their respect. If so, you have a potential mentor. If not, then start making a list of people you would like to meet who you feel could be a mentor. Find a way to get to know them and find a way to help them get to know you.
Look for mentors who are successful. Don't ask your best friend or family member who is just getting by, to be your mentor - it's never going to work. You need help from someone who's been where you are and has come out on top!
Why would someone want to be your mentor? Mentors are inspired by your success, so be sure to share your achievements and successes with them.
How to have a successful relationship with your mentor:
- Don't abuse the relationship by monopolizing their time.
- Thank your mentor regularly for their advice and counsel. Tell them how you applied their advice and the results of your actions. As mentioned above, mentors are inspired by your success so you want to let them know that their advice is being taken seriously.
- Don't get defensive when your mentor gives advice and it's not what you want to hear. They're talking from experience and only want to help.
- Ask about their business (or what's going on in their life if they happen to be retired), and if there is anything you can do for them.
One of the most valuable assets your cleaning business can have is a good mentor. If you have trouble finding a mentor, then you might want to consider joining us as a member of TheJanitorialStore.com. We offer a private community for owners of small cleaning companies and people who are thinking about starting a cleaning business. We offer a wealth of information including new articles posted every week, an online discussion forum where you can ask unlimited questions, interviews with experienced mentors in business and the cleaning industry, and monthly telephone discussion forums where we will answer all your questions.
Today we interviewed Ron Holt of Two Maids & A Mop and posted it on our website for our members to listen to. Ron has a successful residential cleaning company in Florida. If you're thinking about starting a cleaning business, residential or commercial, this interview will give you some great insights into how to build a successful cleaning company.
Ron is also looking to expand his business into other cities in Florida, so if you're thinking about getting into the residential cleaning business, you might want to contact Ron. He's looking for people to partner with in his expansion plans.
And check out Ron's blog at Two Maids Blog!
Last month I wrote about a new carpet cleaning account we bid on. This is a very large, very profitable account so it's one we'd like to keep. However I have to admit there's been a somewhat challenging aspect to this account. You see, we're used to getting complete access to our new clients' buildings, including keys and access codes to the alarm system. This account however, has decided that their cleaning contractor will keep control of this and so we have to clean the carpets when they're in there cleaning.
Now you wouldn't think this would be a problem, but numerous times we've been in the middle of cleaning carpet and the cleaning contractor comes up and says, "We're ready to go!" So we have to pack up and leave, not accomplishing what we set out to do. Now keep in mind, we've got a posted schedule with timelines, so they know what we're trying to accomplish each day.
Last week we needed to clean the lobby carpet, which is a very large area. Our contact person at the clinic said that Saturday would be the best day, so that's when we scheduled it. On Sunday, I returned to the clinic to pick up our carpet fans and was read the riot act by the attending nurse. Apparently they weren't happy with the noise of the carpet machines, and felt it was a big distraction for them.
I nicely explained our situation and said we'd be happy to do the work after hours, but since we don't have keys and codes, we're not always able to do it then. I also explained that she should be talking to our contact person at the clinic since she's the decision-maker.
I was fully contemplating dropping this account, profitable as it is, just because I really don't need to be hassled by the nurses and cleaning contractor! But I talked with our contact and she's perfectly happy with our service and was not happy that the nurses were complaining to me. So I decided to bide my time and continue to build my relationship with her, in hopes that one day we'll have full access so we can do the job accordingly.