Referrals can really help you grow your business if you play your cards right

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by Tom Watson on April 19, 2015

It’s no secret that advertising your business can be rather expensive. This is especially true for beginners who lack excess capital.

So the goal is to maximize the cheap ways to grow your business as much as possible so that you can get some revenue coming in.

From there you can spend whatever customer money you have coming in to promote your business. At the very least it should reduce what you put out-of-pocket if you play your cards right. Then if you do a good job, you should get referrals. Over the years I’ve benefitted quite a bit by having people refer work my way. I’ll share a few below:

A local janitorial warehouse owner – When I first got my start in the business I looked around for a place to purchase my supplies. One of the first places I went to was a large janitorial supply house not too far from where I live. I had the good fortune of meeting the owner of the business.

This guy knew a lot of people! Some of them would ask him if he knew any good cleaning companies they could hire. He gave my name out a few times over the years. One was a pizza place that brought in almost $600.00 per month. I had that place for many years. Over $23,000 in revenue from that one customer!

The foreman of a local developer – I stumbled across this guy by mailing some info about my business to him. He hired me a few times and liked both me and my wife, not to mention the work our company did for him. As a result he was always looking to refer business my way.

One was an IT company that was renting out one of the units he was responsible for. I landed that job, and it paid me over $500.00 per month for several years. I also did a fair amount of carpet cleaning for them too. This account totaled roughly $29,500 during this time.

Construction company manager – This particular company does a lot of business with various state governments and municipalities, and we also happen to be their cleaning company for their headquarters. As a result they have referred us over the years to the partners they work with.

This resulted in us getting hired to clean several DOT (Department of Transportation) offices over the years. These were never big money type gigs, but every little job helps. This person also referred us to a another large facility in town which we have cleaned for several years now!

As you can see, getting referrals can be a great way to grow your business. You just need to put yourself in a position to get them! Do good work once hired, keep in contact with those who hire you, aim to improve how you serve the account and above all don’t be afraid to ask them if they know of anyone else who may need your services.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 patrick April 19, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Hi I just started a small cleaning business that I’m looking for contract now. And I do sell all types of products to like cleaning supplies office supplies can you help thanks. I love you ideas and you websites I really need some guidance.

2 patrick April 19, 2015 at 6:50 pm

Where can I get my first contract

3 Tom Watson April 19, 2015 at 7:15 pm

Hi Patrick! Good luck going forward. It may be best if you give me a call during the week. I can better answer your questions that way.

4 Tom Watson April 19, 2015 at 7:16 pm

There are many ways to go about that. We’ll tackle that topic on the phone call.

5 Shekima Stallings April 19, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Hello Tom
I have learned so much from you and I want to thank you.
My question is, what is the best way to advertise to residential customers on a budget? I get some referrals now but not as much as I would like. Would you recommend door hangers, flyers, or both thanks in advance.

6 Tom Watson April 19, 2015 at 8:03 pm

Hi Shekima! You are very welcome, I’m happy to help. To your question… yes, door hangers and flyers would both work. I did a quick search for door hangers and found this…

Don’t know anything about those folks, but the price sure seemed good PLUS they had some cleaning business templates too. May be worth checking out.

7 Shekima Stallings April 19, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Thank you so much I will check it out.

8 Wayne April 20, 2015 at 2:59 am

hi im so happy I found your website and podcast.
Mr. Watson I find Everything you say and write truly inspirational! Every time you have a podcast out it’s like a pick me up boost for when I am feeling lazy or like things are going too slow with my small business.

You may or may not have covered this topic already but what would be your suggestion for trying to get new accounts would you suggest sending nice flyers? Via post or email? Turn up at potential customers asking for responsible for buying In cleaning services? Or cold calling?

Thanks in advance!

9 CATE NDIRITU April 20, 2015 at 7:48 am

Hi Tom,
I love reading your articles.
Give me ideas on how to cost Facade window cleaning.while at it give the esiest ideas on how to go about this cleaning.

10 Tom Watson April 20, 2015 at 11:22 am

Hi Cate! Happy to hear you enjoy the site. To your questions… I can’t sum up the process in only a paragraph, but the goal is to break down large jobs into smaller pieces. So if you have 3 different types of windows to clean on a given job, ask yourself HOW MANY of EACH TYPE can I clean PER HOUR. Take your best guess! Then apply maybe 30 per hour to whatever time frame you come up with. If ladders are required for part of then job, charge slightly more.

There are a lot of different techniques you can use to clean windows. You’ll have to look into the various manufacturers of window cleaning equipment to see what fits your style best. I like Unger products. In fact my last post dealt with that topic. Take a look at the kits I highlighted.

11 Tom Watson April 20, 2015 at 11:29 am

Hi Wayne! Thanks for sharing that, I am happy to assist. You can do this… just keep your feet moving! To your question… No one way to get customers, so you need to try multiple avenues to find what works best for you. I always liked direct mail, though that can be costly for beginners. Handing out flyers, visiting realtors and giving out your info and joining networking groups are but a few of the ways to cheaply drum up business.

Just stopping in to places or cold calling really doesn’t yield good results. You ideally need a solid sales letter, business card and some type of flyer that is offering a special of some kind to get the best results. You would want to get them in the hands of your target market in large numbers if possible. Give out hundreds, then hundreds more. If you do that… the phone WILL RING.

12 Terry Clark April 21, 2015 at 3:12 am

Thanks for sharing that’s pretty inspirational Tom, and thanks for the quick email response!… I gotta squeeze in I’ve been having a *BLAST* with your course! Can’t thank you enough. It’s all happening so quick. I just started your program not even 5 months ago. I’m already on my 3rd proposal!!! I feel pretty good about this, and with all your guidance from your podcast’s and your book it’s all coming together now.



13 Tom Watson April 21, 2015 at 8:45 am

Hi Terry! I’m VERY HAPPY to hear that. Keep going!

14 Raymon Samuel April 23, 2015 at 12:26 am

Hi Tom, what you think about buying leads, what are your thoughts?

15 Tom Watson April 26, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Hi Raymond! Are you talking about Service Magic, or something similar?

16 Caryl September 2, 2015 at 4:23 am

Hi Tom… I just found your website and I’m glad I did… I do have a question… Is it better to have work with independent sub-contracted cleaners or for me to have employees (and do the taxes/payroll)…. I now need the help and I’m not sure which one would be better for me…

Thanks again for a great bunch of info on your site…

17 Tom Watson September 4, 2015 at 9:37 am

Hi Caryl! My accountant told me the best route is to just hire people then have a company like ADP (Automatic Payroll Processing) do the taxes and cut the checks. That is what I did! I hired people, then hired ADP right away (which is like $60 or so per month).

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