Many cleaning businesses start very small, with the owner and perhaps a few other people doing all the work. But you can make a lot more profits, with less work, if you take your business to the next level. Here are some ideas to help you navigate that growth process.
Know Your Niche
The first step to growing your cleaning business is understanding your niche. Why? Because knowing how you fit into the marketplace can help you identify your target audience and speak to them compellingly. Trying to appeal to all consumers in your market will water down your message until it’s not very appealing to anyone. You can make a stronger case if you know your unique selling proposition (USP) and exactly who you are speaking to.
Once you know your niche, find ways to reach your best potential customers with a message that makes you stand out from the competition.
For instance, a home cleaning company with the lowest prices in town will target middle-income homes with a message focused on savings. A cleaning company might also specialize in eco-friendly cleaning, office buildings, or medical offices — the message and target market for each niche would be different.
Market Your Business
For local businesses, some of the best tools include billboards, Google My Business, networking, local events, and direct mail.
Billboards are great for businesses that want to make a big splash. They can be very costly, but they also have the potential to reach a large number of people quickly.
Google My Business is free and lets you control how your business appears in Google search results. Make sure all your information is correct and up-to-date, and use keywords that people would likely use to find your business.
Networking is a great way to get in front of potential customers and connect with other professionals who might be able to help you grow your business.
Take out a booth at local events, hand out literature, and have a drawing for a free cleaning service. Be sure to collect email addresses so you can follow up with all the people who dropped by your booth.
Direct mail can be expensive, but it can be very effective if you target the right people. For example, segment your database by income, age, or other factors to make sure your mailer reaches the people who are most likely to need your services.
As your business grows, you’ll certainly need an employee or two — but it’s crucial to hire the right people who will reflect well on your brand. After all, the cleaning crews you send out will be your customer’s first impression of your company.
When interviewing potential employees, ask about their cleaning experience and what they’re looking for in a job. It’s also essential to get an idea of their personality so you can be sure they’ll mesh well with the rest of your team and leave a good impression on customers.
Take note of whether people smile and make eye contact in the interview. Are they friendly and professional? Do they make a good impression?
In a service business, your people are your product. You have nothing else to sell besides their personalities and expertise. Don’t skimp on hourly wages and expect to build a strong team. Set your rates high enough to pay your staff well, and treat them with respect to earn their loyalty.
Keeping track of clients, routes, and materials has probably been pretty straightforward if you’ve been working alone or with just one partner. But even the smallest cleaning businesses can benefit from field service software, and as you add employees, you’ll definitely need it.
Look for a company like ServiceWorks that covers everything from taking online orders to optimizing routes to collecting payment. ServiceWorks even helps you track your materials and keep a history, with photos, of the work your staff does. Prices are very affordable, and you can test drive the software for two weeks with no credit card needed.
A good field service management program will take the place of an entire employee and keep your service running smoothly, so your customers are always happy.
As your business grows, you’ll find that some tasks are better handled by someone else. Bookkeeping and accounting, for example, can be easily outsourced to a professional who specializes in those services. Human resource management is another service you may want to outsource, especially if your business grows quickly.
Social media marketing is another task that can be farmed out to an expert. Hiring an experienced social media manager will help you stay connected with your customers, prospects, and community.
You’ll need money to fund your growth, of course.
Friends, family, and personal savings are the first round of funding for most people, but your bank may also be able to help.
SBA loans can be a great option — you apply for them through your bank, but the SBA helps by guaranteeing the loan if your business qualifies.
The SBA’s website can help you put together a business plan and other paperwork you’ll need to approach a lender.
Growing your cleaning business to the next level can be a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it. With the right tools, software, and strategies in place, you’ll find that profits increase while your workload decreases. Keep these tips in mind as you move forward!