This is an exciting stage of the process! It’s where you start getting your hands dirty.
You’ll jump into looking at different platforms, and since you already know what you’re looking for, the whole process will be less painful and time-consuming.
So where should you start?
We’ve put together a brief guide to researching the various business management platforms available for cleaning companies.
(If you haven’t read the first two articles in this series yet, we’d recommend taking a look at both—especially the one on answering some foundational questions—before proceeding.)
- Read part 1: Do I need a janitorial business management system?
- Read part 2: 7 questions to ask before researching janitorial business management software
In the next few sections, we’ll explore where to look, what to look for, and how to decide. But first, we want to make sure you're familiar with Aspire.
What is Aspire janitorial business management software?
Aspire is a comprehensive janitorial business management system used to help cleaning companies operate more effectively. By centralizing all your data (estimates, schedules, site audits, invoices, etc.) in one place, Aspire allows you to take control of your business operations. No more juggling spreadsheets or disconnected software solutions. With Aspire, you’ll gain the real-time visibility you need to make informed, proactive decisions that enable your janitorial business to grow and thrive.
Now let's dive in!
Sources: Where to look
Where’s the first place you go for information?
If you’re like most people, the answer is probably Google. While a basic Google search is a good place to start, checking out software- or industry-specific sources can be beneficial as well.
For software reviews and ratings:
For cleaning-industry insights:
There are pros and cons to each. Software-review sites, for example, may have limited or inaccurate comparison info, and industry publications may not have a strong focus on technology.
However, exploring these sites, in addition to Google, can help you develop a more comprehensive picture of what’s available.
During your research, pay attention to customer reviews, as well as what companies say about themselves. Look for case studies on vendor websites that share in-depth stories about how a particular customer uses the product.
Finally, don’t forget to ask around! Employees in your office may have ideas or recommendations from past workplaces or colleagues at other companies. As valuable as online research can be, there’s nothing like a word-of-mouth referral.
Criteria: What to look for
First, you want to use the roadmap you created during priority-setting to guide your evaluation process.
For a refresher, take a look at the features you identified as most important, your timeline, the budget you set, and your platform/integration requirements.
In addition to keeping those specific needs in mind, here are some important areas to consider:
- Platform architecture and scalability
- Product roadmap, integration, and functionality
- Implementation process
- Training and support
- Customer satisfaction
- Value for fees
Platform architecture and scalability
Technology changes rapidly, so you want a solution that will age well.
Look for something that’s adaptable but offers a solid foundation for your business operations. You also want to choose a platform that will continue serving you well even as your company grows. (After all, who wants to go through this process again five or 10 years down the road?)
Product roadmap, integration, and functionality
A product roadmap is a plan for continually adapting the software program to improve its performance. The roadmap can include adding new features, updating existing features, or simplifying processes.
In choosing a platform, you want something that’s updated frequently and has a team of dedicated product designers working to continually add improvements.
Implementing a new business management system is a big job, and you don’t want to be stuck doing it all on your own.
During your research, look into how vendors promise to support clients through the onboarding process. Questions to think about include how long it takes to implement, what specific services are offered, if there will be additional fees, etc.
Aspire's onboarding process, for example, is designed to have your core business functions operational within 60 days, and all implementation managers have at least 10 years of industry experience. (You can learn more about Aspire's implementation services here.)
Training and support
Once implementation is over, what kind of regular training and support will be provided?
Find out if a vendor has in-house support or customer success teams, what your access to them will be, and what other training materials are typically produced.
Looking at customer reviews and case studies is a great way to gauge whether a company’s existing clients are happy with the service they receive.
If you can’t find many reviews online, you can always ask about things like customer renewal rate during your conversations with the vendor.
Value for fees
This last one is so obvious it almost doesn’t need to be included, but of course you want to make sure the solution you choose is worth the investment of your time and resources.
Depending on a vendor’s pricing structure, you might need to do a little digging to find out the true total cost for everything you need (software, support, implementation, etc.). Some platforms have you pay by user or service level, while others charge a flat fee.
In comparing costs, it’s important to think in terms of “value,” because the cheapest solution isn’t always the best answer. The key is finding a product that’s within your price range and offers the highest quality of service and functionality.
These criteria, as well as your own unique considerations, will help as you explore your options.
If some of this information isn’t readily available on a company’s website, you can still bring it up during a demo or conversation with a sales rep.
Evaluation: How to decide
It’s crunch time! You started by casting a wide net, trying to include as many options as possible in your initial research. Now, it’s time to come up with your short list.
You’ll likely weed out many solutions right away, but you may also end up with a long list of possibilities.
Documenting each stage of your process can make it easier both to remember your thought process later, and to explain your decisions to other stakeholders. Having easy access to notes can prevent you from having to retrace your steps to answer a question, saving valuable time and frustration.
Once you’ve narrowed your list to the top two or three options (using your company roadmap as well as comparison data gathered during research), you’re ready for the next step.
A free trial or a demo can help you evaluate your options more seriously, and most business management platforms offer one or both.
In the next article in this series, we dive into what you can expect from the sales and onboarding process once you’re ready to really start comparing the options on your shortlist.
And if Aspire ends up on that list, you can sign up for a free, personalized demo below!