How to STAND OUT from the competition

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by Tom Watson on March 24, 2013

When you start your own cleaning business you will be competing against other cleaning businesses. No news there right? That’s how it works.

However this does scare a lot of people as they make the assumption that the other companies are super human in some way, and can’t be beaten just because they are established.

Of course that belief is not true in any way shape or form. As I’m fond of saying, just by doing a handful of things better than the competition you will probably leapfrog ahead of them in no time flat.

How to differentiate your cleaning business

Getting business when you are new to the game revolves around many different elements, but we will touch on only one for today. This one is quite important and you will have issues getting accounts if you drop the ball here.

So how is this done? Well it comes down to this… You need to find a way to create SEPARATION between YOU and your competition. Essentially you have to provide at least one clear reason WHY the potential customer should choose you. The more reasons you have the better, but at least one.

If you don’t stand out from the other companies THEN YOU ALL LOOK THE SAME. When all the cleaning companies vying for the same account all look-alike you know what happens? The potential customer generally falls back to who’s the CHEAPEST.

Now that is NOT something you want to happen! The cheapest guy may get the job, but odds are the profit margins are skinny. The smaller the margins the more accounts you need to earn a living, so your goal is to get accounts with better margins so you reach your goals faster.

Now how do you create that separation? The easiest way is to just highlight how you will SOLVE their problems. The VAST MAJORITY of all problems in the cleaning business can be SOLVED by…

  1. A LASER focus on quality control.
  2. A HIGH QUALITY training program for new hires.
  3. Regular INSPECTIONS.
  4. Being FULLY insured and bonded.
  5. Having a high-level CONTACT person available to solve emergency requests.
  6. PERFORMING background checks on new hires.
  7. All staff WEAR ID BADGES or company shirts.

The goal for you is to HIGHLIGHT how your company is different! As you can see, if you create sales letters, flyers (commercial flyers or house cleaning flyers) and brochures that bring out the features in that list YOU WILL STAND OUT.

The great part about that list is NONE of it is all that hard to pull off. It’s not expensive either! Quality control is FREE (you just have to follow through on it). A training program is JUST YOUR TIME spent personally getting a new hire up to speed.

Inspections don’t cost a dime, you just need to show up and perform them. Insurance is required and bonding is a nice low-cost touch. An entry-level background check on a potential new employee cost’s less than $20.00 many times.

Finally ID badges can be made with a simple kit you buy at the local office supply store and shirts, though more expensive serve as free advertising as staff wear them outside of work as well. As you can see this approach DOES NOT have to cost an arm and a leg.

When we first started our company we did everything on that list to make ourselves stand out from the rest of our competitors. Like I said, the more you stand out the better you look in the eyes of the customer.

Another way we made our company stand out was to get a little more insurance than the average cleaning company. It actually came up by accident as we initially had just basic general liability insurance.

We got a call for a big construction cleanup job, but the catch was you had to have a million dollar insurance policy. So we called our agent and he said it would only cost a few hundred more for the year if we upped the policy (which was EASILY covered by the construction job we landed).

So we purchased the extra insurance and PROMOTED that fact at every chance we had! WOW… a MILLION DOLLAR POLICY sure does sound pretty when the topic comes up with a customer. Are you insured Mr. Watson… YES, with a MILLION DOLLAR POLICY SIR. WE STOOD OUT yet again!

So let’s say you go for an estimate after sending out some info. You know this company has a problem BECAUSE they are taking bids to REPLACE the poor soul who is dropping the ball.

In most cases like this you will be able to find out why the last company is getting the boot. Normally you can just ask the following question: “How is your current cleaning company letting you down?” Most people open up and spill the beans about what they either are doing wrong or have done wrong since being hired.

This data is EXTREMELY important because they are TELLING YOU what you need to do to earn their business. Normally the reasons are quality control related as I mentioned earlier. Now all you need to do is CRAFT YOUR PROPOSAL in a way that ADDRESSES their concerns.

You’ll do that by making mention of one or more of the ways YOU ARE DIFFERENT. Perhaps in the cover letter you could REINFORCE the fact you will perform regular inspections, send your insurance info over upon request or whatever you think will create that separation you need to stand out with this particular prospect.

You could then combine that approach with offering a big discount incentive for new accounts (25% to 50% off first full month of cleaning). This will just give even MORE weight to you and your company. This may seem like a lot, but the long-term value of the customer will make it well worth it.

Now it goes without saying that if you make promises (LASER focus on quality control, regular inspections etc…) you BETTER follow through on them or you will be toast just like the last company. I’ll wrap this up by asking you to work hard at making your company different from the rest. The more SEPARATION the better!

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to our Cleaning 4 Profit RSS feed. If you are looking for a step by step blueprint that will show you how to start your own cleaning business, then check out my Cleaning Business Training Manuals. If you need a great website or would like to upgrade what you already have then you may want to take a look at my Cleaning Business Website Packages.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jessica March 24, 2013 at 9:02 pm

this was not that helpful for me how can i start getting cleaning jobs or how do i even speak to these people from there companies?

2 Tom Watson March 25, 2013 at 10:43 am

Hi Jessica! I would follow the links within this post (they will lead you to other posts where you’ll find flyers and sales letters that you can download). Take those materials and modify them to suit your needs. From there you will have to get them in the hands of the market you seek work in (hand out, mail, network etc…).

3 Anthony SLATER March 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Hi Tom. is there a way we can get newsletters for our clients. It would be nice to send them out twice a month or so. They would of course be on cleaning etc. What do you think? Regards Anthony

4 Tom Watson March 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Hi Anthony! That is on our radar list actually. It’s not in the immediate pipeline, but that is something we will be offering down the road to everyone. With that said… that’s a GREAT idea. Staying in touch and offering VALUE will no doubt make you stand out. VERY FEW companies do this despite overwhelming evidence that it helps to build your “brand”.

5 Jean Lecky March 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Hello Tom..I start my cleaning business last year but never really got anywhere.Tom IAm thinking about getting into a cleaning francise’Tom what your take on that ? Plus how does this work?

6 Sheldon March 26, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Hi Tom I am located in NYC. I wanted to know the best way to price a customer. Do I go with the sq ft? Or would I try and find out what the going rate is from other companies? i.e. cleaning a foreclosed home compare a to a small office? Thanks in advance.

7 Tom Watson March 26, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Hi Jean! I’m not a big fan of franchises (see podcast 038 If you were starting a burger business, then I would say you need a franchise (McDonald’s, Burger King etc…).

However the cleaning business doesn’t require a big name “behind you”. In all my years I’ve only lost ONE account because I was not a franchise. A franchise also takes a HUGE chunk of your income, which will get “old real quick” once you learn the ropes.

As far as how “this works”, I guess you are talking about our courses… My start-up guides show you how to get up and running as fast as possible. How to do so was cheaply as possible and how you need to approach the process so you get the best results. It also provides the sales letters and flyers to generate business (plus who to market to).

8 Tom Watson March 26, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Hi Sheldon! I can’t sum up the entire process, but this is what I can say… You could call around and ask, but I think that wouldn’t really do you much good. The ONLY thing that matters is WHAT IT COSTS YOU to clean. Someone else’s math is not to be trusted.

You could be spending your time copying a company that is DOING IT ALL WRONG. If that was the case you would be following them out of business. Now your question on square foot bidding. My firm belief is that square foot bidding is best for LARGE ACCOUNTS.

Large accounts are NOT the ones you will be bidding in the beginning if you play it smart (you have to get your feet wet on some smaller stuff, then go bigger and bigger from there). In a nutshell, that really should be on the back burner as they say (at least for a while).

Other speak of a “room rate” model. This is not a good one either. Let’s say you are bidding by the “room method”. What happens under this scenario? Two different people call you? They each have identical offices that have ten rooms each.

One is pristine, and the office staff stays on tops of everything. The other is a DISASTER AREA where the staff couldn’t care less about the pizza slices scattered all over the kitchen & break room floors and the overflowing trash cans in all ten rooms.

The “room method” prices them THE SAME (ten rooms is TEN ROOMS). Is that a good idea? I DON’T THINK SO! The BEST way for beginners is to learn the system to do it yourself (that’s in my courses by the way).

I can say it’s NOT HARD. It is TOTALLY BASED on HOW LONG you need to spend to clean the place. That’s the whole KEY. You need to do this yourself, you can’t copy what others do (for the reasons I mentioned before).

You need to treat each job as a UNIQUE customer (there is NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL pricing model). The only thing that matters is HOW LONG X per hour pricing X how often.

9 Rhonda Doty March 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Hi Tom,
The hardest part is getting clients. I have delivered flyers and dropped off business cards. I have not had a lot of response from this method of advertising. What could I do different to get my business noticed. I have a Facebook page and a website, which is not up on the first page of google. Not sure what to do at this point.

10 Tom Watson March 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Hi Rhonda! The Facebook approach needs to be put on the back-burner, as that is a tough road to travel (plus it’s expensive). Business cards and flyers are good! Questions: 1 – How many flyers & business cards have you given out? 2 – Does your flyer have a special offer or deadline?

11 Crystal &kaystal Enterprise Inc July 5, 2016 at 12:30 pm

A LASER focus on quality control.
A HIGH QUALITY training program for new hires.
Being FULLY insured and bonded.
Having a high-level CONTACT person available to solve emergency requests.
PERFORMING background checks on new hires.
All staff WEAR ID BADGES or company shirts.

12 Tom Watson July 5, 2016 at 4:48 pm

THANKS for sharing!

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