How one letter to a property management company resulted in $17,512.54

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by Tom Watson on November 3, 2013

Over the years I have been in business I’ve read countless articles on how to get cleaning jobs. Some were useful but most were simply a waste of energy.

Generally speaking those who try to “educate” others on how it’s done completely OVER-COMPLICATE the process. This scares beginners to the business away in most cases.

“Old school” marketing techniques work best

In my humble opinion I firmly believe that simple techniques deliver far superior results than a complicated alternative. In a nutshell… taking ACTION with a simple plan beats planning out some complicated “master plan”.

In most cases the simple route is also cheaper plus you get the added benefit of getting the ball rolling much faster. I mean at the end of the day your goal shouldn’t be to write some lengthy thesis on how to start a cleaning business, it should be to ACTUALLY START ONE.

This is why I have always been a fan of direct mail. It’s a proven way to reach an audience that needs your services in one way or another. In the direct mail example I’m sharing today my letter was nothing remarkable. I just mailed it to “property management companies” in my area.

The letter itself really just “introduced” the recipient to who I was and how they could get a hold of me. I included a business card along with the letter. In most mailings I also threw in a refrigerator magnet to make the envelope feel “heavier”. This is a nice little tip the pros use to increase the “open rate” of the letter.

If you think about it for a moment it makes sense. A magnet in an envelope adds a different dimension to the letter. It makes the person opening it wonder “what’s inside”. This results in higher than average readership of your letter, and as we all know, getting eyeballs on the letter is the key!

“One winning ticket” makes the mailing worth it

When you perform a mailing you will get a pretty small “response rate”. What I mean is that for every hundred letters you mail you may only get one to three people contact you. This translates to a 1% to 3% response rate. This will vary from mailing to mailing.

Sometimes you may get a 1% response rate while other may give you a 6% response rate. At the end of the day however you will average somewhere between 1% to 3%. Though this seems like bad news, the odds actually work in your favor over the long haul.

When I did a mailing to property management companies several companies called me. Though I only landed one account out of the bunch that one job has generated $17,512.54 to date. The jobs this particular company calls me for are all “one time jobs”.

When a property they manage goes empty because the tenant moves out they call my company to perform the cleaning. Sometimes it’s a easy job that takes a few hours while other times the job can take several days. It all depends on whether they are flipping the unit quickly or doing a complete makeover.

While some management firms will have “regular monthly contract work”, this one doesn’t. They only rent to larger industrial type customers that don’t need a retail setting. As a result they don’t provide any cleaning services to the tenant.

Instead they allow each tenant to get whoever they want in there to clean, thus not allowing for the option of my company to clean the entire complex. I only get the “turnovers” so to speak. With that said, I do mail sales letters to all new tenants in case they need me!

Breaking down the money from just one customer

Though I don’t get any regular monthly commercial cleaning type work from this particular account it has worked out very favorably for me. I did the mailing that landed this account about six years ago. They have hired me 29 times over those six years. That works out to about 5 times per year.

The $17,512.54 total charges range from only $80.25 for a small cleaning to $3,150.01, with five different jobs being over $1,000. This averages out to $603.88 per job. Not that bad for mailing out less than a hundred letters in my spare time six years ago.

Like I mentioned earlier, don’t over complicate this process. Get a list of property management companies via a list broker, online or even the phonebook if need be. Hand address the envelopes to make them appear more personal and include a sales letter, business card and a magnet for that “added weight” I spoke of.

Then get those letter in the mail and see what happens. Don’t be discouraged if the phone doesn’t ring right away, as it may take some time. You’ll also want to repeat the mailings every six weeks or so to “stay in front” of them (just like credit card companies do when they seek YOUR business).

I’ve had good success with this method and I believe you will too if you just give it a try. Should you have any questions or thoughts concerning this post or direct mail in general just leave a comment below to get the conversation started!

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jaime November 3, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Great point tom and well said as usual! This happens to be my next move exactly. Theirs a huge real estate franchise company in my area I’ve had my eye on lately. I think the magnet trick is golden!!

Thanks tom!

2 Tom Watson November 3, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Hi Jamie! The magnets are my secret weapon. Countless people have RAVED about them over the years plus nobody ever throws them out. Good luck with your effort!

3 LAD November 3, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Follow up on my part has been the best in landing residential cleaning jobs. People mean to call me, but it’s just not a top priority. When I call them to follow up, I’ve helped them by doing the work for them and they usually thank me for contacting them. Thanks for the magnet tip!

4 Tom Watson November 3, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Hi LAD! Great assessment. And YES… make it EASY for them. As far as the magnets, I really should do a post just on that, as I’m a HUGE fan of them. Done right, they make you look super polished and professional (plus… odds are your competition isn’t using them).

5 Steven November 3, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Sometimes I don’t follow because I don’t want to annoy people but I like the magnets too. How many times do you send the mail to the same people before moving on?

6 Tom Watson November 4, 2013 at 7:16 am

Hi Steven! I understand not wanting to annoy folks, as I don’t like to cross that line either. With that said, advertising and promotion of our company is mission # 1 for survival. As to “how often” to mail to same group… at least 3 times is a rule of thumb. Many go WAY beyond that, like 6 or 7 times.

I usually go 3 to 5 times before giving a different audience a try. Mail the letters spaced out about six weeks or so. As far as magnets… I just love using them. Sometimes I use them INSTEAD of regular business cards at networking functions or even when someone asks me for a regular card.

7 Lindell November 4, 2013 at 11:16 am

Once again, another great article! Packed with informative, valuable info. Thank Tom!

8 Tom Watson November 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Hi Lindell! Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated!

9 jaime November 5, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Hi tom,
I’m looking for magnets and was wondering what type of magnet and envelope is good for this.Should it be a envelope with my company logo?Also does it look cheap to use stickers instead of a printing the logo on the envelope? I see the stickers are much cheaper. Just trying to increase that open rate!


10 Tom Watson November 5, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Hi Jamie! A business sized magnet is what I used. Yes it had my company logo. I used a company called 3-mag. Here is their site (they sell 1000 of them for $179)

I never used labels on envelopes, I hand addressed them. It takes longer, but it worked well for me. With that said, give the labels a try if you like.

11 jaime November 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Much cheaper than what i thought..I’ll check them out.
Thanks a mill!!

12 Glenda November 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Great article. I will start using magnets in my mail out.

13 Tom Watson November 11, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Hi Glenda! THANKS… and good luck with your mailing.

14 Jeremy November 23, 2013 at 4:47 am

Amazing article. When sending out direct mail do I put my return address on there too or just leave it blank? I’m getting ready to mail some out soon. Thanks!

15 Tom Watson November 23, 2013 at 7:23 am

Hi Jeremy! Thanks! I used to put a return address on, BUT what I would do is this… “leave off” my company name. I would just use my personal name and address, so it didn’t look like t was coming from a company.

This way they weren’t going to just toss it as “junk mail”. I always did that. Can’t say it’s magic or anything, but I found it effective. Let us know how it turns out once you get some results in!

16 Evelyn Johnson December 21, 2013 at 4:23 pm

thanks you gave me some tips. I have been thinking about doing move outs and new houses that’s where I am getting how to get the new house’s?

17 Tom Watson December 22, 2013 at 8:47 am

Hi Evelyn! I would either buy a list of new home owners (from a list broker) or go the cheap route and drop off flyers in that new neighborhood. That would be the two main ways.

18 Dee June 27, 2014 at 10:26 am

Hey Tom ! Should the sales letters be on letterhead?

19 Tom Watson June 27, 2014 at 11:27 am

Hi Dee! NO… just regular copy paper is fine. If they sign up for service down the road, then use the good stuff.

20 Dee June 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Thanks for the fast response ! Is there a certain amount of letters that I should mail out on the first batch to get a good response rate? I was thinking to send 100 to 200 sales letters to the property managment companies.

21 Tom Watson June 27, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Hi Dee! 100 to 200 is a good start. Just keep in mind you need to do AT LEAST that many each month. You have to keep doing it month after month!

22 Michael August 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Hey Tom,

Been following your site for a few months and I’m super impressed by everything know in this industry.

Two quick questions, after mailing out a sales letter/flyer or directly handing it to them door-to-door, would you recommend initiating the follow-up via phone or wait for them to call? And if the prospect doesn’t have a cleaning crew, they basically do the cleaning themselves, is there any way you can sway them into taking look at what you have to offer?

Thanks and again, awesome work!

23 Tom Watson August 11, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Hi Michael! I don’t follow-up. I would just spend the time sending more out. It’s a numbers game, so the more you send the better chance you’ll have of getting a call for an estimate.

To your second question… Not really. You just need to focus on spreading the word you own a cleaning business. You can’t really tell what type arrangement a company has.

24 Toni March 14, 2015 at 10:56 pm

Hi. I just found your website, and have been reading almost every blog post. I love the magnet idea! I was wondering, do they add so much weight that you need more than one stamp? I’de hate to try this the they all come back because I didn’t have enough postage for the weight

25 Tom Watson March 14, 2015 at 11:32 pm

Hi Toni! I never added more than one stamp. If in doubt, do a test of just a few envelopes and see what happens.

26 HP February 19, 2016 at 9:43 pm

Great article. Glad I came across it.

27 Portiqo December 19, 2016 at 12:55 am

This was a very interesting read. Property management firms usually provide cleaning services to their tenants which is why they usually get a ton of mails from cleaning companies and because of this standing out is the key. Great point on using magnets inside the envelop , this is easily one of the best ways to make your letter more interesting.

28 Marie May 15, 2017 at 8:50 pm

I know this article was written a few years ago, but I was wondering should the envelop be addressed to anyone in specific or should it just have the management companies name?

Thank you

29 Tom Watson May 15, 2017 at 9:17 pm

Address it to the “Office Manager” if you have no specific person to address it to.

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