This isn’t another article about stuff you already know.
You’re here because you’re interested in winning more commercial cleaning contracts. Maybe you’re struggling to win bids despite competitive pricing, or maybe you’re just having a hard time getting anyone to respond to your calls.
If you know who your target market is, you’re pounding the pavement to get to them, and you still can’t seem to get any traction, this post is for you.
Marketing advice you’ve probably heard before
If you’re a business owner who's been trying to expand your client base for a while, you’re probably familiar with most of the advice out there.
Regardless of where you look, marketing tips for the cleaning industry are all pretty much the same. They talk about identifying your ideal customers, attending community events, joining networking groups, developing an online presence, contacting local businesses, promoting your services on social media, and using digital marketing tactics.
Those ideas are great, but if you’ve already got a functioning marketing strategy, they fall flat. You need something that goes beyond the surface, showing you what makes a real difference when it comes to finding the right clients and preparing winning bids.
(As a side note, if you’re not sure whether you need a new marketing strategy, check out this post to see if you’re following best practices.)
To get more commercial cleaning contracts, find out what your prospects are looking for—then beat everyone else at offering it.
What really matters to commercial cleaning clients
We’ve all had someone attempt to sell us on their product or service before. Usually, we ignore them. Occasionally, we may listen (especially if they’re offering something we’re already looking for), but that’s pretty rare.
The volume of sales and marketing offers we’re inundated with daily is overwhelming, so weeding through the noise can be a real challenge.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to pay close attention to what your potential customers actually want—not what you’re guessing they want, or what you want them to want. What they want.
So if you’re looking for more commercial clients, you have to find out what they want from a janitorial services provider. Every market and customer is different, but we’ve found the following six themes come up again and again for prospects seeking commercial cleaning services:
Property managers are responsible for the spaces under their control. That means they’ll be the ones held accountable if you do something wrong. Understandably, they want to choose a commercial cleaning business they won’t lose sleep over.
You can go above and beyond in demonstrating trustworthiness by running background checks on all new employees, providing references without being asked, obtaining relevant certifications, and maintaining substantial insurance coverage.
Bringing this kind of information up early in conversations with the prospect can help you stand out among the competition.
Communication is key to maintaining good relationships with existing clients (i.e., customer retention) and showing prospective clients what it would be like to work with you.
Potential clients make judgments about your company based on every interaction they have with you. When a salesperson is slow to respond to an email, makes an inappropriate joke, or doesn’t know the answer to their questions, prospects will be turned off.
Instead, try to keep communication professional, friendly, and responsive. Prepare thoroughly for every meeting, and set clear expectations for the bidding process—as well as your plans for taking care of their property should you win.
Quality concerns are hard to get past. If prospects aren’t convinced of the quality of your services, they’ll probably ignore your calls.
Again, property managers are held responsible for the condition of their buildings, so they want reassurance that every time you leave, the space will be in pristine condition.
Address their concerns with information about your process—the cleaning products you use, your methods, how team members are trained, etc. Do you use sustainable materials and List N disinfectants proven to work against the coronavirus? Share that information! And if you’re not already, consider becoming Green Seal or LEED certified.
Accountability goes hand-in-hand with quality—it’s your promise to not just have lofty goals, but to live up to them. After all, clients want to work with a company that does what it says it will do.
Having a thorough, well-documented quality control process that you can share with property managers shows them you’re willing and able to be held accountable.
Don’t wait for them to ask when you do inspections, who does them, or how reports are generated. Bring that information to the table early on, and let prospects know how you plan to keep them in the loop throughout your relationship.
Using business management software like Aspire to handle everything from estimates and schedules to inspections and invoices is a great way to show potential clients you’re organized, efficient, and technologically savvy.
Most prospects have some sense of the staffing challenges janitorial contractors face. They may have had bad experiences with another provider in the past, heard horror stories from their peers, or simply made assumptions based on the nature of the work.
Pre-empting any concerns with data about your hiring practices can help put their minds at ease. Using employees instead of contractors, paying a decent wage, and running background checks can help you keep high-quality workers longer—something prospects see as valuable in choosing a service provider.
Finally, depending on the type of commercial contract you’re going after, flexibility may be a factor in their choice of janitorial company.
If you’re able to offer services at different times, or work with a prospect to come up with a highly-customized schedule, that can be a selling point. Even if you’re only able to work within a certain timeframe, offering flexibility from week to week or month to month (if needed) may be attractive to prospects, even if they never take advantage of it.
How to stand out in a crowded field
If you’re building relationships with commercial clients that are still under contract with another provider, emphasizing these qualities in your conversations can be a great way to convince them to go with you instead. Connect with them on LinkedIn (or make sure they've got your phone number and business card) to stay top-of-mind when their contract is up for renewal.
And if you’re bidding on new business with everyone else, having these systems and policies in place can give you a leg up on the competition for cleaning jobs.
Pro tip: Telling prospects about what you offer is great, but word of mouth referrals are even better. If you can, pick a few current clients to serve as references, then offer to let prospects call them.
If you’re looking for some quick, actionable tips, here are five things you can try today to start excelling in the areas clients care about most:
- Ask 3-5 longstanding clients to serve as references
- Publicize your use of COVID-19 approved cleaning products
- Document your quality control process in an easily-digestible infographic
- Use business management software like Aspire to improve productivity, visibility, and profitability
- Survey existing customers to find out if they’re happy with their current cleaning schedule
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