Being CREATIVE when it comes to WHO to target as a potential customer

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by Tom Watson on May 21, 2017

Over the years my company has cleaned just about every type of account you could imagine.

Some of those jobs came about by accident, as we have gotten tons of referrers over the years. But some of these cleaning gigs we were hired for were no accident at all.

They were the result of us thinking JUST A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENTLY. Some may call that “thinking outside the box”. At the end of the day it’s nothing more than being creative. My goal was to have fun running my own business, and getting creative for me meant NOT thinking like everyone else!

As I have mentioned many times before, I have done quite a bit of direct mail over the years. Nothing more than a sales letter, flyer and business card stuffed into an envelope and mailed to a list of people I thought needed a cleaning service. The hard part at times was figuring out who to mail to in the first place.

I knew who my primary target would be, as they were doctor offices and other medical related facilities. But after pounding away at those for a while I needed other alternatives. So I had to think outside the box at times, and also stretch and expand what I was willing to take on.

Thinking outside the box meant I needed to market my services to those markets where most cleaning providers would not think to go. And by stretching and expanding what I was willing to take on meant I had to be ready to tackle these new and exciting jobs if they did come my way. It was both exciting and scary at the same time.

I’ll give you some examples of how this was done. For instance we targeted cemeteries and funeral parlors at one time. This may sound odd but I know that some cemeteries have an office of some kind on site. And many funeral parlors certainly needed to be cleaned and vacuumed after a ceremony. It was a shot in the dark but we had to try it.

So we looked up every cemetery and funeral parlor we could find, either in the phone book or on Google and sent our sales letter, flyer and business card out to them. I don’t remember how many we mailed to, it probably was less than a hundred if I had to take a guess.

On the funeral parlor side we didn’t get one call from the mailing. This surprised me because I thought we had the better shot there. Over on the cemetery side we only got one call. But as I always say, that’s all you need! Turns out that was a winner for us as we landed that job. We were hired to clean a giant old house that serves as the office.

Turns out the cemetery had an employee doing the cleaning but they were retiring we were told and they had nobody else to do the work. The job was an incredibly profitable account over the years. We’ve had this account for well over ten years.

We even added two other buildings at the cemetery that were built once we were hired. They were giant mausoleums that needed to be cleaned each week. Once you couple that with the old house that serves as an office you have a sweet cleaning account that is really three accounts rolled into one.

For a mailing that cost me less than a hundred bucks way back when, and even though we only landed one account, it has brought in over $47,000 worth of revenue over the years. That’s a sweet deal by anyone’s standard, and the only reason we got it was because we thought outside the box.

We applied the same logic that landed us the cemetery to lots of other markets as well. We marketed our business to interior designers, specialty schools, construction companies, dentists, mortgage companies and non-profits to name just a few. Not every idea worked out, but enough of them did to make thinking outside the box a very profitable concept.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ismael tinajero May 22, 2017 at 3:10 pm

I just got my cleaning licence and i don’t know how to star my business i don’t know how get my first contract what shoud i do

2 HP May 23, 2017 at 7:42 am

Do you have an example of a good sales letter to send with the flyer?

3 Francia May 23, 2017 at 6:13 pm

Hi, thank you for the information. I’m smiling and will definitely reach funeral homes, this is awesome!! do you have suggestions on what I can use to clean bathroom tiles for Move out/Move in cleanings for luxury apartment homes? This is killing me. We got a great contract but we are spending too much time with these bathrooms and they still don’t look so great. Help!

4 Tom Watson May 28, 2017 at 12:54 pm

Hi! Find a janitorial supply house near you if possible and go pay them a visit. They should have a rep that can steer you in the right direction. If not, call Jon-Don (they are a major supplier) and CAREFULLY explain your issue in as much detail as possible and see what they recommend.

5 Tom Watson May 28, 2017 at 12:56 pm
6 Tom Watson May 28, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Take a good look at one of my courses. As a beginner you need to learn what works and what doesn’t!

7 Francia Bayona May 28, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Thank you Tom. I’ve been working on that, got more work to do. Jon-Don, I know of them but never thought of it.
Thanks! Happy Memorial day weekend

8 Francia Bayona May 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Congratulations, where did you get your cleaning license from? Get yourself business cards and start visiting commercial buildings or apartment complexes and ask them if you can give them a bid on their property to clean. You should know how much you’re going to charge before you go out there first are you charging per hour or are you charging per square foot and if you don’t know do a lot of reading and then you can decide.

9 Tom Watson May 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm

THANK YOU! You do the same!

10 Tom Watson May 28, 2017 at 1:06 pm

I learned how to clean as a child (had to clean up my room and bathroom or I couldn’t go out).

11 H.P. May 29, 2017 at 1:16 am

Thanks Tom for example. Very helpful.
I would like to know your feelings about joining expensive networking groups, is that a good thing or not for commercial cleaning?

12 Tom Watson May 29, 2017 at 9:16 am

Not sure what the price is you are talking about. Define expensive for me. Generally they will cost between $75.00 to $300.00. We joined several at that price. More that that… I would be careful not to overdo it when new.

13 H.P. May 29, 2017 at 9:44 am

Like about $600 with required weekly meetings.

14 Tom Watson May 29, 2017 at 10:43 am

That seems high. I would maybe spend $600.00, but join three at $200.00 each (you get the idea). For a beginner, maybe just join one to get your feet wet. I would keep it under #300.00 for any one group, in my opinion anyway.

15 H.P. May 29, 2017 at 10:59 am

Yeah, not too comfortable with it either. Thanks for feedback.

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