Have You Ever Walked Away From An Opportunity To Make A Sale In Your Cleaning Business?

Walking away from taking on a new client is not something anyone likes to think about because we work so hard to gain each and every one of our clients. And when you have a prospect that is ready to give you their business, why in the world would you ever say no?


Why Walk Away From a Prospective Cleaning Account?

Sometimes, walking away is just the right thing to do. Several years ago we had a medical clinic account where we did all the carpet cleaning and hard floor care. The surgery center that was affiliated with the clinic called us up one day and asked us to give them a price for cleaning their space.

We met with them to find out more about their needs and found that they were practically ready to hire us that day because they trusted the fact that the clinic was very happy with our work. After walking through the space, we realized that if we were to take on the account we'd be getting in a little over our heads. You see at that time, we did not have enough specialized knowledge and training in cleaning a surgery center, and it would take time for us to get that type of training in place.

It would have been so easy to take on that account since they were practically handing it to us

But because we didn't feel comfortable in our ability to handle it at that time we decided to turn it down. It was the right thing to do for the prospect. Of course after that opportunity came along, we decided that this was a niche that we should become educated in, which we did over the next year. And that gave us the opportunity to re-connect with them in case they ever needed a new cleaning service.

What it comes down to is integrity and making sure you don't place more importance on dollar signs over what is right for the prospect. Customers today want to to deal with credible people who will tell them the truth. If you're walking into a situation that requires more skill than you have, or it's a much larger account than you're prepared to handle, then do the right thing and walk away.

Have you ever walked away from an opportunity like this? Please share your story by clicking on the Comments link below.

Ask Yourself These 7 Questions To Figure Out Why You Lost Your Last Sale

The prospect went with someone else for their cleaning service. Darn it! I know they liked me, and it really felt like it was going my way. But they gave it to someone else!

Instead of licking your wounds, I challenge you to ask yourself a few questions to figure out why you lost your last sale. Let's start with the easy ones.

1. Were you on time or were you late? The RIGHT answer is that you were at least 5 minutes early.

2. Were you organized? If you carry collateral material about your company, a measuring device, notebook, pen, tablet, etc. is it all organized so that you don't fumble around looking for things?

3. Were you prepared? Did you do your research so you weren't asking the prospect to tell you about their company? Remember, it's your job to know! If you called on a residential prospect, were you familiar with the neighborhood and the type of clientele that live there?

Now ask yourself the tough questions. And be honest with yourself! If you don't pass muster with these questions, it's time to do something about it or you'll continue losing out to your competition.

4. Were you able to overcome all the objections confidently? If not, you have work to do. You should be prepared ahead of time for the objections you'll hear so that you have a confident response that will satisfy the prospect.

5. Did you feel as if you were on the defensive through most of the visit? If you find yourself always defending your price, the quality of your service, or other tough questions posed by the prospect, then it's time to work on your confidence level. If you aren't confident that your price is worth every penny, the prospect will see that as an opportunity to negotiate. And if you're not confident about quality control, employee longevity, or a host of other subjects, you'll probably find yourself on the defensive throughout the visit. This will NOT get you the client!

6. Did you appear desperate to make the sale? Too many people, especially those new to the business, are often anxious to make the sale. And the client will read that as desperation. They won't give their business to someone that is desperate for it.

7. Did the prospect ask "doubting questions"? Doubting questions are questions that prospects ask to make sure you have the ability to do the job. For example, they may ask things like:
- How much experience do you have?
- How long have you been in business?
- How many clients do you have?
- How do I know you'll show up when you say you will?
- What if you get hit by a bus tomorrow?
- How do I know you'll send me the same employee to clean every time?

Even though you thought the sale would go your way because you got along with the prospect and they seemed interested, it's not enough. They need to not only LIKE you, they need to trust you and believe in you. And when you're confident in your ability to handle the job at a price that makes sense, then you've got a much better chance to close the sale.


Knowing Your Prospects' Issues With Cleaning Companies Is Key to Demonstrating Your Expertise

There is one question that you can ask your cleaning prospects that can help bring about a discussion of the issues they experience with cleaning companies. And that question is:

"What kinds of problems are you facing today with regards to keeping your building (or home) clean?"

This is a good open-ended question that is likely to get them talking. It will also help you to direct the discussion to what you already know about the problems prospects typically face.

For example, you could now say something like:

"Based on my work with a number of other [banks, property managers, homeowners, etc], I find that the top three issues they're facing are:

  1. Finding a cleaning service that doesn't have a revolving door of employees cleaning their office (or home).
  2. Finding a service that provides consistent cleaning services. They start out great but after a few weeks or months, the work goes down hill.
  3. Finding a cleaning service owner or manager that actually knows what's going on in our building (or home) and anticipates my needs.

Which of these three issues is having the most impact on the cleanliness of your office (home)?"

Can you see how combining a good, open-ended question can lead them into a discussion where you can showcase your understanding of their frustrations? When directing your discussion in this way it also shows the prospect that you work with other people just like him.

And be sure to ask a related follow-up question, which will get you the more specific answers you're looking for.

When you ask thought-provoking questions of your prospects and then follow up with what you already know from your experience with other clients; you're sure to make an impression on your prosect that will get him moving in the direction of becoming your next client.

How To Get Into Larger Cleaning Accounts

In a recent episode of CleaningBiz.tv I discussed whether or not you're ready to take on larger cleaning accounts.

After seeing the video, one viewer emailed us, asking specifically how to get larger accounts. My first thought was, well how are you getting your smaller accounts? It's not that much different!

Are you networking in your community? Are you targeting the clients you want? Are you taking care of business with your existing accounts so you can get great references?

That is really the first order of business when it comes to getting into the larger sized buidings. Taking good care of your existing clients. Owners and property managers of large buildings are going to ask for references and they WILL call them! You need glowing reports of the great work your employees do, how quickly you respond to requests, and how well you anticipate their needs.

Once you have that part down, start focusing on the buildings you want to clean and start researching. Is it owner occupied? Is it a multi-tenant building that is managed by a property manager? Can you ask your networking buddies if they have a contact person they could introduce you to?

Taking on larger buildings will not happen overnight. In many cases it will take months to even get the opportunity to submit a proposal. But if you are determined to make it happen and you take care of business with your existing clients, there is no reason it won't happen for you!

Are Your Referral Rewards Enough To Keep The Cleaning Referrals Coming?

We all know that referrals can be a huge contributor to the growth of our cleaning business. Most of us would like to reward the people that refer new business to us, but I've seen these rewards run the gamut from sending a Thank You card to sending a gift card to giving hundreds of dollars in cash.

Part of your decision on referral rewards is the size and quality of the referral. If you're a residential cleaning business that received a referral for a new home to clean, you might treat your referral reward a little differently than a commercial cleaning company that received a referral for an account that grosses several thousand dollars of income each month.

When I speak to the quality of the referral I'm talking about whether or not the referral is a good fit for your company. You must educate your clients and networking buddies on what exactly is a good referral for you.

Assuming you're getting good referrals, I would recommend at a minimum, a policy of sending a personalized greeting card along with a gift card to thank them for the referral, regardless of whether or not you picked up a new client. If a person goes out of their way to refer someone to your cleaning company, then you should go out of your way to say thanks. You'll be surprised at how this small gesture will build a stronger bond with your advocates.

When it comes to gift cards, many people like to give a Starbucks gift card since it's a gift most people enjoy. But I'd like to suggest that you give more than a $5 or $10 card that will buy one or two fancy coffee drinks. Instead, give a card with at least a $25 value so that they can use it several times. Each time they use the card they'll be reminded of who gave it to them.This happened to me one time when I gave a referral and when my card ran out I thought to myself, "darn, now I have to start paying for my coffee again." This alone can be incentive enough for them to give you ongoing referrals!

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you give referral rewards that keep the cleaning referrals coming? Click on the comments link below to share your ideas.

P.S. If you want an easy way to send a personalized thank you card with Starbucks giftcard in just minutes, check out CardsForCleaners.com. No need to go to the store to buy the card and then stop by Starbucks to buy the gift card -- you can do it all in one step online!

How Soon Should I Follow Up After Submitting A Cleaning Proposal?

It seems as if we've been getting this question at least once or twice a week lately. It appears there is no shortage of people looking for cleaning services, but many cleaning business owners that are new to submitting proposals don't seem to know how to follow up.

Rule #1: Present the proposal in person. Don't just email it or drop it off at the front desk. This is another opportunity to get in front of the prospect and discuss any last questions they may have about working with your company.

Rule #2: Always set a day and time to follow up with the prospect before you leave your last meeting. Never leave a prospect meeting without setting up the next meeting. If you just did a walk through of the building, then set a time to come back and review the proposal. If you just reviewed the proposal and they need to wait for additional contractors to submit their proposals, then set up another appointment to discuss their decision.

Rule #3: Follow up in person. If at all possible, always follow up in person. If they are waiting until all proposals are in and tell you they will call with their decision, find out when they plan on making that decision and tell them you will call to follow up with them on that day. Never leave it up to them to call you because something will always come up and you'll probably be wasting your time waiting by the phone.

Take control when submitting cleaning proposals by always setting up the date and time for your next follow up. This is especially important at the time of the walk through and proposal presentation. If they are hard to pin down on a decision, start spreading out your communication to give them some space, as you never know what is going on -- their priorities might have changed. It's not necesarily a sign that they won't hire your business, it may just be a sign that it's not going to happen as soon as you thought.

The Cleaning Prospect Said No! What Did I Do Wrong?

How many times have you had a meeting with a prospect, gave your best effort to sell her on your cleaning services, only to be disappointed once again? Did you stop to assess the meeting after it was over or did you simply move on to the next prospect, hoping for the best?

I've learned over the years that many cleaning company owners never really stop to think about what went wrong or what they could have done better. In fact many blame the prospect for one reason or another - they wanted a lower price, they went with another company, or they were just too busy to make a decision. That's an easy way to let yourself off the hook for not doing a good enough job of converting them to a client.

The next time you lose a sale, ask yourself these questions to see what you could have done better.

1. Was I early for the appointment? Not just on time, and definitely not 5 minutes late! ALWAYS be early for prospect meetings.

2. Was I prepared for the meeting? Did I research the prospect, familiarize myself with their business? Did I bring measuring tools and worksheets to record notes about the account?

3. Was I organized or did I fumble around looking for things?

4. Was I able to answer all the questions the prospect asked about my service? Or did I stumble on a couple and say "I'll have to get back to you on that"?

5. Did I apologize for anything? "So sorry I'm late!"  "Sorry, I meant to say..."

6. Did I constantly feel as if I was on the defensive? If the client takes over the meeting and starts putting you on the spot, you could become defensive. Pricing challenges are a good example of situations where sales people become defensive.

7. Did the prospect seem distracted? Maybe she took a phone call, shuffled papers on her desk, and didn't look you in the eye as you gave your presentation. This is an indication that you haven't engaged the prospect and are losing her.

8. Was I able to confidently overcome objections? Or did I stumble and stammer as I tried to back peddle and come up with a good come-back?

9. Did I criticize the current cleaning company? It's very tempting to point out your competitor's deficiencies. But resist the temptation! The client already knows their current provider isn't doing a good job, or they wouldn't be talking to you.

10. Was I nervous? Nerves are common just before going into a prospect meeting, but if you know your service and are confident that you are the best cleaning company for this prospect, then the nerves should settle down quickly.

How did you do? Were you honest with yourself? If so, it's a great opportunity to narrow down your deficiencies in order to do a better job the next time around.

How I Got My First Two Cleaning Clients

A member of The Janitorial Store is just getting started and is struggling with getting his first clients so he asked fellow members for advice. Another member shared her story of how she got her first two cleaning clients.

OK I'll tell you how I got my first 2 clients....I went to businesses that I have given a ton of money to, and asked for their business.  A lot of chutzpah but it worked in part because of timing. Both, as it turned out, were in need of cleaning services.  One was in the process of taking bids from janitorial services (good timing there!) and the other was bringing in her own housekeeper, which wasn't working out, and she didn't know quite what she was going to do.

My next 2 jobs I got because they were new businesses, just opening, and frankly, I think I got those 2 just by being the first janitorial company they had heard from.  Both responded to postcards I'd sent and in both cases, the cards were the first touch.    So I do believe it is very important to keep your eyes and ears open in the towns you want to work in, for businesses about to open.

I picked up 2 jobs just from promoting my new business among my existing friends at Facebook, and another from my son's boy scout troop....another parent has a business and was not happy with the existing cleaning service.

I am a strong believer in relationship marketing.... it won't carry you all the way, but the first thing you should do is look to your existing circle of friends and acquaintances for those who could use you AND also do not be shy about asking for referrals from that network.

We've been saying for years that your business will never grow unless you get out there and become visible in your community. That means telling everyone you know and everyone you meet about what you're doing. Sometimes you just get lucky with your timing, as was the case in one of the examples above. But she made it her mission to get out there and search for people needing cleaning services.It doesn't always happen quickly, but once you get those first few clients under your belt, the momentum will continue as long as you continue marketing your business.

We'd like to hear YOUR story about how you got your first client. Just click on the Comments link below.

Don't Lose A New Cleaning Account Before You've Started Cleaning!

Have you ever stolen away a cleaning account from a competitor? It can be a great feeling, working on a prospect for months and then finally getting the account! But you may also have experienced the let down of a phone call a couple days later from your "new client" expressing regret that they won't be able to work with you after all.

What happened? When they told their existing contractor that it was time for a change, their contractor counter-offered to keep the account. Of course the counter-offer included lots of promises like better service and more consistent cleaning, but it also offered a lower price, which the prospect simply couldn't ignore. After all, it's easier to keep the existing contractor at a lower price than it is to deal with making the transition to a new cleaning company.

In order to avoid this type of situation, it's best to deal with potential problems head on. If you know a long-time contractor is going to be terminated, ask the prospect, "When ABC Cleaning finds out you're making a change, they're probably going to do whatever they can to retain your business. How will you handle that?"

By addressing an issue you know is inevitable, you've got a much better chance of saving the account. It's better to bring it up while you're there, rather than waiting to see what happens. If they respond to the question by saying something like, "Well, I'd have to think about their offer", then you know you've got more work to do.

Have you ever had this happen to you? Share your ideas for dealing with this situation by clicking on the Comments link below.