Previous month:
September 2008
Next month:
November 2008

Are You Thinking Outside the Box When Marketing Your Cleaning Services?

We just announce our next Telephone Discussion Forum topic at TheJanitorialStore.com. We'll be talking on November 13th about Survival Strategies for a Recession. One of the things we'll discuss is ways to start thinking outside of the box when marketing your cleaning services.

A member just shared this story in our discussion forum this morning and I thought it was a great example of thinking outside of the box. She had a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony through her Chamber of Commerce for her cleaning business. Most ribbon cuttings I've seen through Chambers have been the business owner and maybe an employee or two, Chamber ambassadors and a photographer - that's it!

She advertised the event in the local paper and mentioned that if they showed up they'd get a $10 off coupon. She had a lot of people show up. She also invited her clients, insurance agent and advertising person who did a phenomenal job on her car wrap. Since she is a service provider for Cleaning for a Reason she also got some great publicity for her work doing cleaning for breast cancer patients.

Would you like to hear more about this story? Join us in the discussion forum to read the whole story and then join us on November 13th! Not a member? Not a problem - you can join right now and gain immediate access to everything on the site.

Please share your stories on thinking outside the box when marketing your cleaning services - just click on the Comments link below.


What is your USP (Unique Sellling Proposition)?

What is a USP? It's what differentiates you from your competitors.

Why do you need a USP? When you have a unique selling proposition, you'll have a distinct advantage over your competitors. Your USP will compell prospects to do business with you rather than your competitor.

Many small businesses make the mistake of not figuring out what is unique about their business. If you don't differentiate your business from your competitors you'll find yourself competing with an ever increasing number of new companies, which also makes it tougher for the prospect to choose a cleaning service. 

If you want to be successful in your business you don't have to be the best cleaning business, but you do have to be unique. Once you figure out what it is that makes you unique, you need to incorporate your USP into everything you do. Just like you want to include your website URL in all your marketing materials, you also want to incorporate your USP into all your marketing materials.

If you don't have anything unique to say about your business, you will probably end up in a bidding competition over price because the customer doesn't see the real value of doing business with you. This is a big reason many small businesses struggle with making a profit.

I'd love to hear your USP - click on the comments link below to share yours!


Have You Stopped Marketing to Save Money?

If you're like most of us, the troubled economy has you worried and you may be thinking about cutting back on spending. One of the first things to go in a business is the marketing budget. After all, we need to concentrate on keeping our existing customers, and spending money on a Chamber of Commerce membership is $300 I could use elsewhere...right?

This is the type of thinking that gets most of us in trouble. Yes, money is tight and your profits might have taken a bit of a hit during this downturn, but now is NOT the time to cut back on marketing. The key is to start marketing creatively. Make sure you're getting as much "bang for your buck" as possible. How do you do that? Here's a few suggestions:

  1. Get some free publicity to keep in front of your prospects.
  2. Send thank you cards to your clients to make sure they know you appreciate their business. After all, if your competitors are hurting they're probably going after your clients right now!
  3. People still need cleaning services so talk about their pain and how you can help.
  4. If money is tight, cut back on your advertising budget but refocus your attention on networking. Be sure to attend all networking events available to you and let people know your business growth depends on referrals.
  5. If you want to do mailings, it's better to do several targeted mailings to smaller groups than it is to do one mailing to one huge group. An do what you can to make sure your mailing gets opened (large envelopes, colored envelopes, lumpy envelopes).

Targeted, focused marketing is the best solution in a troubled economy. Do what you can to save money, but never stop marketing - even a little is better than no marketing at all.

How else can we market creatively in an economic downturn? Click on the Comments link below to share your ideas.


Mistakes Turned Into Success Stories

I travel a lot between Brainerd and Minneapolis. When I leave in the morning I like to treat myself to a Caribou coffee and their delicious lemon poppyseed bread. The last time I stopped in I got my order quickly and went out to the car. I suddenly realized I had my bread with me but didn't have my coffee! I thought maybe I set it down when I stopped to grab a napkin but it wasn't there - she never gave me the coffee. So I went up and got the coffee and back out the door I went. I got in the car and took a sip and it was luke-warm - yuck!  So back in I went and asked for a hot coffee. The gal who waited on me was so sorry that she gave me a larger sized coffee than I ordered and also gave me a coupon for a free coffee for my next trip. Now I could have gotten a little ticked off, but I was happy with how she handled it and have been back to redeem my coupon.

How do you handle it when your employees make mistakes while cleaning your accounts? A cleaning business owner recently emailed me with her story:

I've had a customer for three years and she recently complained that the breakroom floor had some streaks from the mop and the restroom floors were dirty. She also said that my employees were using her hand towels and pinesol.

I stopped by to see my customer and indeed the floors were streaked and dirty as she said, so I apologized and promised that I would take care of it myself that evening. As far as the supplies I asked her how much had been taken and she said not to worry about it, you don't have to replace it. But I decided to make it up to her and bought 8 rolls and 1.5 gallons of pinesol.

That night I burnished the floors and let me tell you she was thrilled with the result. In fact I even scored a carpet cleaning job from her. So I learned that a complaint can be turned into a loyal customer and even generate a sale when you do what you promise.

Does anyone else have a "mistake turned success story" to share?


Surviving Networking Events

We talk to a lot of cleaning business owners about marketing their business. One of the best ways to get your name out there is to join networking events so you can start building relationships with people in your business community.

If you've never attended a networking event, you might feel a bit intimidated as you walk in the door to a group of strangers. Here are some tips for surviving networking events.

  1. Come prepared - think of questions you can ask when you first greet people.
  2. Remember to smile, make eye contact and offer an outstretched hand.
  3. If it's a women's networking event you might want to compliment someone you've just met on her earrings, scarf, etc.  This can help break the ice to get a conversation going.
  4. If you feel nervous, you're probably worrying too much about yourself. Instead, think about how you can make the other person feel comfortable or important.
  5. Talk about the event - what made you decide to come to the event or join the group. Ask the other person why they joined or decided to attend.
  6. Discuss other oganizations they belong to and ask why they chose to join.
  7. Ask the other person what business they are in and what they love about their business.

If you spend your time focusing on getting to know the people you meet and asking them to tell their story, you'll soon find that your nerves will calm down. Now get out there and start networking!