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May 2009
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July 2009

Cleaning Customers Want "Cheap Prices" - Why Shouldn't I Give It To Them?

With everyone cutting back to save money since the economy went south, cleaning companies are feeling the pinch!  Many of us have lost customers because they went out looking for a cleaning service that offers cheaper prices. So why shouldn't you give in and offer cheaper prices? Well actually, you CAN! In know that's not what you were expecting me to say, so read on...

What many cleaning business owners do is cut prices to help out the customer, but they stop there. What is wrong with this? The money has to come out of someone's pocket and of course that pocket belongs to the cleaning business owner - not the customer! They've just slashed their profit by cutting prices.

What can you do? When you offer to cut prices to help out your customer, you will also cut out or back off on the frequency of certain services. So when you negotiate with your customer, say "sure, I can work with you to reduce the price! Here's what I can do..." And then give them alternatives on services you provide. 

For example, if you're a commercial cleaning company, you could cut back on trash removal frequency -- instead of 5 days a week, collect the trash 2 or 3 times a week. Or you could vacuum the entryways, public areas and main traffic lanes daily, but cut back on vacuuming employee areas that the public doesn't see, or other areas that don't receive much traffic.

If you're a residential cleaning company you could go from weekly cleaning to bi-monthly cleaning. Or you could alternate a regular maintenance cleaning with a light cleaning where you don't dust everything and cut out certain rooms in the home that aren't often used.

Just because customers want "cheap prices" doesn't mean you need to sacrifice your own profits to give them what they want. Think creatively with your specifications lists and work with your customer to make it a win-win situation for all!

What have YOU done to offer your customers "cheap" prices? Post you comments by clicking on the Comments link below.

Tips for Marketing Your Cleaning Business at a Trade Show

One way to market your cleaning business is to have a booth at a trade show. Many communities have trade shows such as the Home & Garden show or the Chamber of Commerce trade show. Consider this as a way to meet new people and gather a prospect list.

A member of participates in several trade shows every year and offers the following advice for those with residential cleaning businesses:

1) Give away free cleaning. However, don't give away completely free cleaning. What we've done is give away 2-3 hours of free cleaning ... this is a $60-$90 value (or more, depending on your rates) for the winner. We give away at least 2 of these cleanings each time. You may want to place a restriction on the prize (gift certificate) by asking the winner to schedule the clean during a slow time (for us June-Sept) and not to use it for the first clean (specify fourth, fifth, etc.) This giveaway also allows you to ask for attendees' name, phone number, and email so you can build a database for a newsletter. You can also follow-up with each entry because these leads can offer an opportunity for business.

2) You might want to give away several small baskets of green cleaning supplies to "push your green cleaning." There are many local "green" events these days, and eco-friendly or earth-friendly cleaning goes hand-in-hand with healthy homes, healthy environments, and the adoption of healthier and more sustainable cleaning practices. Don't forget to include your business card. A green cleaning tips flyer/pamphlet is also a nice addition to your baskets.

3) You can print up a sign for your table: Book 8 weekly or bi-weekly cleans, get $100. This deal has worked very well for us at trade shows. Most cleans will range from $100 - $175, so by the time you give back the $100, you've made between $800-$1400 ... you're giving around $12.50/clean, no more than 30 free minutes for each of the 8 cleans. And, you are (hopefully) charging an hourly rate for the first clean to add even more towards your profit.

We find it's relevant to ask trade show/festival attendees to complete either an entry form for giveaways or a sign-up sheet for your email newsletter. Leads are the key at a trade show.

Have YOU ever participated in a trade show or local community event? Please share your tips by clicking on the Comments link below.

How to Keep a Positive Mental Attitude

When you own a cleaning business, it can be challenging at times to keep a positive mental attitude. We've all been there; you come into the office in the morning and feel like you're being bombarded with problems -- someone's office didn't get cleaned last night, customers calling with complaints, an employee quit without notice, etc, etc. It's at times like these that we wonder how some people always seem to keep a positive attitude, even in the face of adversity.

Yes, some people are just naturally positive, but most of us have to work at it. And yes, you CAN keep a positive mental attitude when you learn to shift your thinking. Here are some tips:

  • Surround yourself with positive people. That includes family, friends, colleagues and the people you hire.
  • Stay away from negative people and negative situations. If the news bothers you, turn it off.
  • Read positive books and listen to positive or inspirational CD's when traveling between jobs or when relaxing at home.
  • When you talk to people, consciously talk in a positive way. Say, "yes, I can" instead of "no, I can't".
  • Believe that you can achieve your goals. If you don't believe it or if you let the negative people around you convince you that you can't, it will never happen.
  • Consciously work at keeping a positive mental attitude every day. Yes, you will have negative things still happen, but don't dwell on it. Take care of the problem and move on to more positive things.
  • Keep in mind that when you show others your positive attitude, you can change their attitude - it's catchy just like a negative attitude is catchy.
  • Start each day by reading for 10 or 20 minutes from a positive, inspirational book and let it carry you through the day. It will become habit forming.

What do YOU do to keep a positive mental attitude? Post your reply by clicking on the Comments link below.

How Do You Deal With Cleaning Clients Who Always Ask For More?

Most of the time we love our clients. After all, they're the ones paying our bills! But once in a while we get a client who always seems to ask for more. "Can you water the plants for me? Can you wipe down my lawn furniture when you come to clean? Can you take that pile of boxes out to the trash?"

Sure, you can do ALL of those things! But the question is, will you be paid for your extra time and effort? In many cases it's a simple, one-time request that will take five minutes -- no problem. But some clients may ask for cleaning that will take substantial time and possibly specialized equipment such as a carpet spotting extractor. In these cases, you must make sure your customer understands that this is outside the scope of your cleaning specifications and they will be charged for the additional service.

In a commercial cleaning situation, be sure you have a signed agreement that outlines your cleaning specifications. Also include prices for additional services such as carpet spotting, carpet cleaning and window washing. You should also include an hourly rate that you will use for any other services requested that are not covered in the agreement. That way you can say to the client, "Yes, I can do that for you. Per our agreement, it will be $30 per hour for that service."

For the residential customer who asks for additional services, say something like, “I'm so sorry, I don't usually have time left over for extra requests, so I'm not able to do that today. But I'm happy to accommodate you in the future with just a little advance notice.  If you'd like, I can schedule an extra 30 minutes next time for this task and I'd be happy quote a price for you." 

This is a nice way to get the message across to the client that they will have to pay for always asking for more service.  They'll get the message and will either ask you to quote a price or they'll stop asking for additional "free" services!

How do YOU deal with clients who always ask for more? Post your comments by clicking on the Comments link below.