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December 2007
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February 2008

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Networking

One of our members at The Janitorial Store offered the following advice about networking:

The 5 biggest mistakes that are made at networking events:

  1. Trying to promote and state your business solutions to everyone at the event. Listen to what others are saying and find those whom you can help.
  2. Having nothing planned to say (work on your elevator speech).
  3. Treating the event like a social event (it is business!).
  4. Showing up late for the event.
  5. Passing out business cards to everyone you meet, instead of to only those who ask for them.

If you can bring a friend, introduce them and their business & solutions to others (and they can do the same for you); don't hang out at the snack table, and listen more than you speak. Try to find people who need to be connected to others.

It always helps to get testimonials, and if the person giving the testimonial is attending the same event, all the better for you! Many professionals suggest that these 3rd party endorsements are the best form of advertising.

It's Not Who YOU Know, It's Who Knows YOU

Sometimes cleaning business owners do what we call "passive marketing". Advertising your business through conventional means (yellow pages, newspaper ads, flyers, etc.), and then waiting by the phone for someone to call. Have you ever known anyone to have great success with this? And if you're looking to gain clients quickly, waiting by the phone will never work.

The key to getting clients is to get out there and start meeting people and growing your network. The idea isn't necessarily to meet the people who will become your prospective clients. Rather, the idea is to grow your network so that more and more people know YOU. The more people who know YOU, the more people there are who will likely refer your business.

When you put your face out there, people will be able to associate who you are with what you do. If you're just a name in a yellow pages ad, you're just like every other faceless cleaning company. If they know who you are, they're much more likely to remember you and think, "Oh, you're looking for a cleaning company? I know someone who does that!"

Importance of Building Relationships With Clients

We recently picked up a new account, and there's a very good reason we were able to get it so easily. The person in charge of finding a cleaning company for a newly constructed commercial building used to work for one of our other clients.

We had a very good relationship with this person and stayed in contact with her regularly through email, on the phone and in person. So when she decided to change jobs and had the challenge of finding a cleaning company, the first company she called was ours. We did have to bid against two other companies, but we could tell throughout the bidding process that they were leaning towards us due to the rapport we had already established.

Always remember to build relationships with your clients. Just as important is to be friendly with employees who work at the buildings you clean. You never know when they may change jobs and end up recommending your cleaning company - it's happened to us many times.

Do You Have Systems in Place for Your Cleaning Business?

Why do so many of business owners try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to their business?  As a cleaning business owner, you do so many things - from cleaning to invoicing to paying bills to payroll and more.

Do you have a system in place for everything you and your employees do?  If not, now is the time to find a system that works, and then start using it!

If you've ever talked to successful cleaning business owners you'll discover that they all have one thing in common - they have time-tested systems that work. In many cases, they developed a system that worked, documented the system, and then taught others in their organization how to do it so they could move on to other things that would allow them to grow the business.

In other cases, they have key employees that they rely upon. The business owner simply has each key employee document the steps they use to complete each task they do. Now, if that person is not able to handle a task, someone else can step in and follow their step-by-step directions to get the job done in their absence.

You simply can't do everything yourself. If you don't have any written systems in place, now is the time to start...and it doesn't have to be an overwhelming task. There are a couple ways to do it. First, you can simply write down the steps as you work on a project. Another way is to use a digital recorder to record the steps as you do them, and then you can have the recording transcribed.

Once you have established systems in place, it makes it much easier to train someone to handle any job in your business. If you're serious about growing your business, you need to do what other successful business owners do - put systems in place and start using them!