How to Win 80% of New Cleaning Jobs

**When you're done reading this article, check out our Reframe Janitorial Workshops, currently in San Jose and San Francisco, for more on how to close janitorial sales!**

The quote is complete and the keys to their office are in my hand… yet when I walked in the door the first thing the office manager said was “We are getting a few other quotes this week.”

In 2014, when I started using technology in my commercial cleaning business, this was the norm. In fact, it happened enough times that I had to step back and assess (and now share) what was going on.

What I discovered is simple, repeatable, and is all tied to having conversations that are not focused on cleaning and supplies. It may sound crazy, but let me outline why spending more than 15–20% of the conversation talking about the supplies and methods you use to clean an office is actually detrimental to winning the contract.

Stop talking about cleaning!

The cleaning industry may be interesting to us, but sadly it isn’t of interest to our clients. I conducted research on 30+ of my clients and discovered major trends that solidified my process when quoting a new space.

Most of the people have hired another cleaning company in the past and have received quotes from multiple cleaning companies. This is a massive benefit because the potential client has heard the same conversations many times about each cleaning company having the best cleaners, cleaning methods, greenest supplies, and of course the best retention of cleaners and clients. Everyone says the same thing and this causes the message to lose credibility with the client. So, I didn’t focus my time here during the quote.

On top of this, it became clear that many of the office managers felt they knew what was required to clean their own office (often times comparisons were made to cleaning their own home). They simply wanted a company they trusted to consistently complete the tasks. So why bore them with a conversation around cleaning methods and supplies?

Reframe the conversation and the industry

Many sales people in the commercial cleaning industry are already on to these insights. They aim for relationship building and try to build connections through personal hobbies/interests. If you are able to quickly find a connection, it can help build trust, but it will come back to haunt you when negotiating price. The fact that you both have kids who play soccer does not position you well for negotiations, and can actually cause them to feel entitled to a discount because you now have things in common.

The way to make an impact on this prospective client is by sharing something that 1) resonates with their goal of hiring a cleaning company they can trust, and 2) is something they have not heard of before. I did this by showing them the technology that we created for our own cleaning company.

First, I ask them what problems they ran into with previous cleaning companies. The answers were always the same: quality issues, cleaners didn’t show up, supplies ran out, high turnover resulted in inconsistent cleaning, etc. Armed with this information, I showed them why my company was different: we use technology that allows cleaners to check in with GPS, we can send messages and report problems in any language and have the app translate it back to english, etc.

Once they smiled and expressed excitement (again, they are normally bored from conversations about cleaning,) the entire meeting shifts and it becomes far more enjoyable for both of us. It is like a sense of relief comes over them because they trust that my use of technology was the key to their problem. At this point, they run with the conversation and fill in the gaps about how all of the problems of the past would not have surfaced if the other companies used technology.

In this survey, it shows that 96% of business owners are influenced by the use of technology in a cleaning company when making a decision to buy.

Your sales efforts become a chain reaction

By avoiding the same conversation as every other cleaning company and shifting their expectations of the janitorial industry, it makes every conversation they have with your competitors boring, generic, and leaves them with a feeling that something is missing!

They can no longer compare apples to apples and this gives you leverage in negotiating price. In fact, when I was selling commercial cleaning services and clients pushed back I would ask if they had more trust in a company that manages with pen and paper or one that uses technology? They always agreed that less headaches for them was always worth more money.

The proof that your company is different

Technology is in everyone’s daily lives from reading the newspaper, ordering a taxi, booking a flight, or video calling people on the other side of the world. Simply showing them that your company is keeping up allows you to blow past all the other companies that are using pen and paper.

Are you able/ready to position your next quote like this or are your competitors reading this and deciding what category you fall under?

Want to learn more about increasing your close rate on janitorial contracts? Check out our Reframe Janitorial Workshops in  San Jose and San Francisco!

Three Steps to Qualifying Janitorial Leads

*Pro Tip: Once you've read this article, if you want help getting those qualified leads to sign the deal, click here to learn about a 14 day free trial of our software — it's helped many of our clients close new contracts!

If you’re managing a small to medium size commercial cleaning company, you’re likely juggling a variety of tasks on a daily basis, and responding to RFPs, phone calls, and website inquiries are just a few of them.

And while these tasks are crucial to your company’s success and growth, they are also time-consuming and in some cases, resource-intensive. That’s why it’s important to prioritize the leads that are most likely to result in a signed contract, and beyond that, the ones that will become your best long-term customers.

Many resources on this topic reference the BANT method: factoring in their Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline.

In an effort to provide you with guidelines specific to the janitorial industry, we came up with our own acronym. Unfortunately the “PPP Method” isn’t the sexiest name, so instead we present to you:
 

The Three P’s of Qualifying Janitorial Leads: Persona, Problem & Price

 

Step 1: Know Which Personas You Want to Hire You

In other words, have an ideal client in mind. Take the time to sit down and describe in detail what type of clients are your best clients. You may have 2 or 3 ideal clients, but each should have a specific persona.

For instance, one common persona amongst commercial cleaning companies is the office manager. These days they are more than likely a tech-savvy millennial who is doing their research online before contacting you. Their cleaning needs may vary, but they tend to understand that the cleanliness of their office space is a reflection of the business as a whole, and expect their ideal contractor to understand that too.

Other personas might be managers of specific types of buildings like hospitals, churches, or airports, or small business owners with unique buildings and needs.

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Setting your sights on specific customer types will not only help you qualify leads, but will result in you working more of those clients, which over time allows you to position yourself as an expert in servicing that particular industry.

 

Step 2: identify Their (Real) Problem?

You may think you know the answer to this question (ummm, their building needs to be cleaned?) but getting to the root of their problem — beyond simply “they need to hire a cleaning company” — can be really useful when qualifying a lead.

Perhaps they are in the market for a new cleaning company because their current contractor doesn’t offer regular inspections, and quality assurance is really important to them. Their problem is not simply “they need cleaning services,” it’s “they need someone to be responsible for assuring a certain level of cleanliness.

Figuring out their real problem requires you to pause and evaluate both their challenges and their goals for hiring a cleaning company, and determine if you really are a good fit for the job. It’s better to know this before signing a contract than have a customer churn a few months in because you simply don’t operate the way their ideal contractor would.

 

Step 3: Be Transparent About the Price

Too often commercial cleaning companies are forced to compete on price rather than the quality of service they’ll provide. To help manage expectations before even getting to the proposal / quote stage, it can be helpful to give them a sense a similar contract might cost, and asking if it’s in line with what they were thinking. This can save you the time and effort of putting together a proposal or quote if they simply don’t have the budget for your services.

If you’re not able to give a relatively accurate estimate on the spot, you can also indicate the price range the customer can expect, or even the price that those services start at. For instance, "Weekly floor cleaning starts at X dollars, but can go up to as much as X depending on the square footage."

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Ultimately it's you who will be the best judge of whether or not to respond to an RFP or invest a lot of time into providing a quote. You’ll want to take other things into consideration too. For instance, if the person doing the hiring seems like a bit of a jerk, that may be a red flag that you shouldn't work with them.

At the end of the day, our hope is that at the very least, you'll choose quality of leads over quantity, and do your best to prioritize (or in some cases, only respond to) RFPs that will result in valued customers for your business.
 

bonus Step: Close the sale

Okay, okay. There were only supposed to be three steps to qualifying janitorial leads. But we all know that's only half the battle.

If you're looking for help with getting those qualified leads to sign the deal, we can help you there too. Click here to learn about a 14 day free trial of our software — it's helped many of our clients close new contracts!

How to Write Winning Proposals

As the owner / operator of a janitorial company, responding to RFPs is likely something you spend a lot of your time doing. And if you’re looking to grow your business, bidding on new contracts definitely deserves to be a priority.

But when you’re wearing many hats, other urgent tasks can begin to get in the way of responding to RFPs in a timely manner, or investing the time they deserve. This is a habit you’ll want to avoid, because...


“Statistics show that 73% of deals are won by the first company to respond”
 

So how do you ensure you're responding quickly while still putting your best foot forward? We recommend using Proposify, an innovative proposal software that allows you to create beautifully designed custom proposals with ease.

Proposify Screenshot


Six Reasons We Love Proposify:
 

1. It’s beautifully designed & incredibly user friendly

And that goes for both the app and the proposals.  Not only is the software super visually pleasing, but their pre-designed templates will leave prospective clients thinking you're a design whiz too!

And from the easy-to-follow feature tour for new users, to the incredibly intuitive web navigation, you’ll never feel lost or confused while using this software.

 

2. the Free Proposal Templates

Proposify offers a wide variety of proposal templates, completely free of charge. These templates allow you to enter information about your company, team, services, and pricing into pre-designed (and otherwise pre-written!) proposals, saving you a ton of time and money responding to RFPs.  

The best part about this gallery of free, professionally written and designed templates? It includes one specifically designed for cleaning companies!

Use this template as a guide when bidding on residential, commercial, and institutional properties. It's scope includes sections like cleaning philosophy, sanitation services, getting started process, team, sample contractor agreement, and fees.

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Click here to access Proposify’s Cleaning Service Proposal Template.

 

3. The 14 day Free Trial

Another great thing about Proposify is the ability to use their software, complete with all it’s amazing features, free of charge (no credit card required!) for 14 days.

If you’ve opened one of the templates described above, simply click the green “Use This Template” button in the bottom right-hand corner and you’ll be prompted to start your free trial.

 

4. It Integrates With Your Accounting Software

As if the process of creating, signing, and sending isn’t convenient enough, Proposify can also integrate with your accounting software in order to seamlessly import your contacts and generate invoices when a client accepts your proposal.

Currently Proposify integrates with QuickBooks, Xero, and Freshbooks, but we have no doubt there are more third-party accounting integrations to come!

 

5. You can translate the interface

English not your customer’s first language? You’ll still need to translate the content of your proposal, but Proposify helps you out by enabling you to translate the interface into 15 different languages. ¡Qué guay!

 

6. you can Track & Measure Your Proposals

Perhaps the coolest part of Proposify (besides, the serious lack of effort it takes to use,) is the ability to track and measure your proposals from your “Pipeline” and “Metrics” dashboards (both accessible from the main left-hand menu.)

These features ensure you know the status of all your deals, the state of your proposals past and present, and how your team is contributing to the process. You can also download their handy-dandy mobile app to track on the go.

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If you’re not currently using a proposal software, or your current proposal software isn’t quite cutting it, we highly recommend checking out Proposify. You can even compare your current software to Proposify by visiting their website, scrolling down to the bottom of the page and selecting it from the list under “Compare.”

Hope you found this post helpful, happy bidding!


PS — Believe it or not we aren't affiliates of Proposify! We just truly believe this product is one that can benefit the janitorial industry, and hope you agree!

How to get top dollar when selling your Janitorial Business

You’re not going to be working forever, that’s a given. You might even take a vacation now and again (imagine that!) Just because you’re leaving, doesn’t mean your cleaning business has to stop. In fact, you can earn more if it doesn’t.

If your business is going to keep growing, even after you’ve walked out of it, you’ll need an exit strategy to successfully transfer ownership to someone else. Setting the wheels in motion now will radically boost the value of what you have built-- that will become very clear in the price tag once you sell.

What is an exit strategy?
An exit strategy is a preplanned set of systems and actions which prepare for an important player in a business to leave. This includes a business owner, CEO or operations manager. And this strategy is usually planned by you-- the head honcho of your cleaning business.

Why should this be important to you?
Question for you: when you sell your business, do you want to get $250,000 for it, or $500,000?

The answer is pretty obvious. But why such a big difference? More often than not, the business with the smaller price tag didn’t have the operational systems in place to prove their true value.

Wondering what a business with higher value would actually look like in practice? Here are 3 important systems you should consider for boosting your janitorial business’ value:

SYSTEM #1: OPERATIONS

Half the work of building a business is creating the operational systems for it. Some business owners don’t bother taking the time to create reliable systems-- which is a huge mistake. Those step-by-step processes give you and your people direction, purpose and efficiency. And prove to a potential buyer that you have your ducks in a row.

Operational systems are the blueprint to running your cleaning business. You’re essentially selling the handbook or guide of your success to an interested party. What sorts of systems could this look like?

  • Scheduling and time tracking
  • Problem management
  • Restocking supplies
  • Employee satisfaction ratings
  • Inspection reporting
  • And much more

SYSTEM #2: DOCUMENTATION


Documentation means more evidence. Evidence helps you prove the value of your business in a tangible way. Storing information like Problem Reports and Cleaning Instructions in an organized database shows that you’re running your business more efficiently than the competition. This isn’t just better communication, it’s better management. And that has huge value.

Documentation means you’re rely on something more dependable than your cleaner’s memory of a conversation you had last month. Having information like Cleaning Instructions documented in an easy-to-access database will improve the value of your business when you choose to sell. Why? Because it shows that even with you gone, your people still know what to do. 

SYSTEM #3: RECURRING REVENUE


Recurring customers mean more loyalty and security. Security is appealing to anyone interested in taking ownership of your business. Wouldn’t YOU pay more if you could avoid building your clientele from scratch, and just walk right into relationships with clients who already love you?

Take the worry away from your successor by offering a portfolio of happy recurring customers, and the already-made systems in place for servicing them. It will save your potential buyer a huge amount of time and money, automatically boosting the value of this seamless machine you’ve created. You deserve to be credited for that!

If your business runs without you in it, then it’s worth more
Even if your business isn’t quite there yet, it’s never too early to start making strategic decisions for systemizing your organization. You can get more bang for your buck if you have the evidence to prove the price tag is worth a significant boost. If you’re not sure where to start for getting clear on the systems you need, you can easily find your answers by asking your people on the ground what could be improved. 

Consider Swept
Swept takes the intimidation out of technology, and gives you an easy-to-use tool which will make running solid operational systems, supporting effective documentation habits, and maintaining recurring customers an absolute breeze. And that is just scraping the surface.

We believe that showing you’re a better managed company isn’t just the key to winning more contracts, but it will also boost your company’s value. If you can prove how you're better managed, you’ll get better payout from a potential buyer.

Find out how Swept can be your teammate in providing value to your business’ price tag.

Happy planning!

A Framework for Getting Things Done in Your Janitorial Business

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

You’re busy right? I know a lot of us are busy, but running a Janitorial business is a different kind of busy! Managing schedules, hiring new cleaners, keeping new cleaners, winning new business… the list goes on and on.

On top of that, juggling the information from multiple people and making sure things get done in the right order is impossible, right? Not so fast :)

Years ago, when Swept was a cleaning company, we faced these very same issues. We were lucky enough to find a proven approach that made all the difference. It was efficient, didn't cost us any money, and most importantly it helped us maintain our sanity from day to day.

Getting Things Done (GTD)

In late 2002, David Allen published a book called “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”. If you’ve figured out how to fit in time for reading books make sure to add this one to your list.

For the rest of us who struggle to stay awake watching Netflix, this article was written with you in mind. The approach is broken into 5 key steps:

Step #1 - Capture

Start by creating a list of 100% of the things you need to get done. This could take a bit of time, but it doesn't have to. You can make your list by adding to it over a couple days. At least you've taken your to do’s out of your head and put them in one place. The goal is to get down what has your attention.

Why is Step #1 important?

Does this sound familiar? That nagging feeling that you're forgetting something. Or, the "thing" you forgot that pops into your head at the perfect time... right before you're about to fall asleep. This is your subconscious trying to protect you. If you want that feeling to stop, and want to get control back rather than “just letting things happen”, start dumping everything you need to do into a single list. Okay, got your list? Let’s move to step #2.

Step #2 - Clarify

This step is about understanding what everything on your list means, how important it is to you, and what you should do about it. For each item in your list ask the following questions:

Can you do this in 2 mins. or less?

If the answer is yes, do it right now. I mean it, right now. If you can’t do it right now, in less than 2 mins., ask yourself the next question.

Can you give it to someone else?

If you were able to assign it to someone else and they can do it 80% as well as you can, then do it. Use the 2 minute rule to delegate it. If it will take more than 2 mins. to delegate, then it’s time to move to step #3.

Why is Step #2 important?

This step is about “Processing” your work, not about trying to get it all done. How often do you start a morning by opening up your inbox, and before you know it, two hours have gone by? Yeah, stop doing that. Process your work using the 2 rules above so you can move to the next step.

Step #3 - Organize

This step is about planning what work needs to be done and when. The simplest way to start is to create a few lists so each task has a place where it belongs. The key to this step is to keep your lists simple. They should be: things you need to do, things you should do and things you should consider doing. Your list might look something like this.

  • Today
  • This Week
  • Someday Maybe

Take a look at your to do list, and move everything that hasn’t been placed into one of these 3 new lists.

Today

You’re aiming to get these things done today. Be realistic about your time. Start slow with just a couple things that are really important. If you can’t decide, start with the single most important task you can think of. From there you can order the ones that are left.

Pro Tip: Block out 1 hour per day to work on your today tasks. If you make it the same time each day, you can easily communicate to your team that this hour is “off-limits”. Remember, it’s just an hour, and the world will not end during this time. This is the best way to get the most important things done each day, while still dealing with the reality of your other responsibilities.

This Week

These are things that don’t make the “Today” cut but still need to be addressed soon. Simplify this process by scheduling these things into your calendar. As an example: Check Inventory at “Location XYZ”.

Someday Maybe

This list is for things that you don’t want to forget about, but don’t think are realistic to get done this week.

Why is Step #3 important?

The key to the “Organize” Step is to be clear about what exactly you are going to get done. Don’t add anything here that is a bunch of little tasks. For example, do NOT add “Employee Referral Program” to your “Today” list expecting to get it done today just because you added it. This list is meant for 10 or 20 to do's that may take time to roll out over the next couple weeks. Getting good at this does take practice, so start slow. As you get better, you’ll be able to do more each day, I promise! Time for step 4.

Step #4 - Reflect

This is the step that makes the whole approach work. When you make space in your day to review your lists, you start training your subconscious to trust that you have a plan. It’s this step that lets you to start removing the stress and anxiety from your day. You have a system; you're learning how to use it. As you practice you WILL become better, and your ability to get more done will be noticeable.

Don’t be surprised if people start asking how you stay on top of so much but don’t look as stressed as you used to.

The key to this step is to make looking at your lists a habit. The more often you look, the more confident you’ll become in the process.

Pro Tip: Do a weekly clean up at the end or beginning of your week to make sure you’e on the right track.

Step #5 - Engage

This step is about using the approach to improve your business. Teach it to others on your team. Use it to communicate more effectively, and get more done in your Janitorial business.

Jumping In

To get you off on the right foot, we’ve put together a few resources that we use day to day for our GTD process. Most are free but a few are paid. We’d recommend starting with the free approach and move your way up to the paid tools.

Wunderlist

Wunderlist is a great free app that lets you create as many lists as you want. It works with web (using a browser) and is available for both iOS and Android for mobile.

This is a great tool for outlining your 3 lists. But that’s not all-- you can easily use this app to organize your other needs, like project planning. Wunderlist has built-in reminders, lets you add notes to each task, the great features really go one and on. You’ll have to start paying when you want to be able to collaborate with members of your team. But most importantly, it offers a tremendous amount for the right price… FREE!

Todoist

Todoist is another great task tool that can do everything Wunderlist does. Its main benefits over Wunderlist have less to do with functionality and more to do with aesthetics. If you’re willing to invest in the paid portion, Todoist has a great feature that lets you email tasks directly into your app.

Momentum

Momentum is a great way to get started if downloading an app is more than you’re ready for right now. This app is an extension for your browser that loads each time you open a tab. The free version lets you create lists and also has a great option of setting your FOCUS for the day. The paid version lets you integrate either Wunderlist or Todoist should you ever want to walk down the GTD professional path!

Good luck and happy to-doing