About This Section
This section of our How to Start a Cleaning Business Guide is for those ready to take on customers.
If you plan to do the cleaning yourself for your first few contracts (before hiring employees,) read on. If you intend to hire others to do the cleaning we suggest heading over to the “Hiring Cleaners” section first. By starting the hiring process now you’ll avoid landing a client you’re not ready to serve!
Here are some quick links to the various topics in this section:
- Picking a Niche
- Cold Calling Leads
- Standing Out from the Competition
- Closing the Sale
- Additional Sales Resources & Videos
Picking a Niche
If you’re not already really clear on the type of clients you want to work with, your first task for this week is to pick an ideal client type — also known as a niche. You may have more than one, but take note — “anyone willing to pay me” is not a niche!
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO PICK A TYPE OF CLIENT?
- It allows you to narrow down which businesses in your area could be leads — otherwise, where would you even begin?
- It allows you to target them with specific marketing messages. If you have one generic message for all client type, it won’t feel like you truly understand the challenges they face on a daily basis in their industry. Referencing things that are unique to their business sets you apart from the competition.
- By working with clients in the same industry you will begin to specialize in those types of jobs — making you an expert in that area.
- Testimonials and references from other clients in the same industry will allow you to build trust quickly.
HOW DO YOU PICK AN IDEAL CLIENT TYPE?
Start by talking to your friends. Do they own businesses or know someone who owns a business that your company could serve? Then give some thought to whether or not you are well suited to clean their spaces before deciding to go after more of that type of client.
Also pay attention while you’re out and about on a daily basis — while you’re at the dentist, the gym or dropping your cat off at the vet. Do any of these businesses have specific pains that you could solve with your services?
Once you’ve brainstormed, begin Googling businesses in your area that match up with this client type. We’ll soon help you turn this into a list of leads in your local area, but first it’s important to determine how you’ll make your company stand out to these types of organizations.
Cold Calling Leads
BUILDING A LIST OF LEADS TO COLD CALL
The first step is to research businesses in your area within your niche. You can do this using Google and YellowPages. Use this Lead Tracking Spreadsheet to record the contact information of as many businesses as possible. You’ll see at the bottom of the spreadsheet that we’ve divided it up by type of business. Because these leads are cold (meaning you have no previous relationship with them,) you’ll want to compile a long list before reaching out to anyone.
Aim for at least 100 contacts. This may seem like more than you’ll need, but unfortunately you won’t get a hold of everyone on that list, and of those you do, not all of them will result in a walk through. You may only book a walk through with 10% of these contacts, and even that is a good percentage!
IMPRESSING LEADS DURING A COLD CALL
Once you’ve identified the type of businesses you’d like to work with the next step is identifying the unique pain points of each client type. For example, a dentist office doesn’t run into the same cleanliness-related issues as a fitness centre or an office building. By understanding the challenges each of them faces you’ll be able to speak to these pains (and offer solutions) when you’re on the phone with them — setting your company apart from the competition.
We’ve created this Customer Pain Point Worksheet to help you brainstorm their pain points and record solutions you might be able to offer.
MAKING COLD CALLS
Now that you have a nice long list of leads and a plan for keeping it organized, it’s time to pick up the phone. Because this may seem like a daunting task, we’ve creating Cold Calling Scripts for you to use as a starting point. We encourage you to print these off and write in the proper names where they belong.
As you may soon find out, cold calling can be discouraging, and it’s easy to give up after 20 – 30 contacts. Here are some recommendations for making cold calling more enjoyable:
- Put on some music — something upbeat — and commit to calling for at least an hour.
- Allow yourself to be happy — even excited about it. The key is to be in the right mindset!
- Give yourself the chance to experience a successful call. Your first call that goes really well will give you the confidence to keep going.
- Don’t try to close the deal on the phone. Don’t talk about price — talk about their pain point and how you have something different that sets you apart.
- Use the scripts we’ve provided to get started, but once you start to get the hang of it tweak that script and do what works for you. You don’t want to sound like a robot!
As you know, business owners are busy, so you’ll likely get a lot of voicemails. Leave a message with your name and phone number and let them know approximately what time you’ll call back. If you’re persistent, they’ll call you back or answer eventually — and that’s your opportunity to show them how you’re different.
MAINTAINING YOUR LIST OF LEADS
Truthfully, it’s not creating the list that’s important — it’s maintaining that list. When we were a cleaning company building a list like yours, the leads that converted into customers were the ones that we carefully tracked.
Here are some recommendations for keeping your list organized:
- List your next action item for each contact and highlight them each in colour.
- Put those action items in your calendar before you forget!
- If you have a lot of people asking you to follow up in a few days, re-organize your list and move those contacts to the bottom
- Include any notes from your calls in their own column to jog your memory about that lead for future conversations.
Our handy Lead Tracking Spreadsheet has examples to get you on the right track.
SENDING COLD EMAILS
In addition to making cold calls you may want to test cold emails. We’ve created sample “Drip Emails” for you to use as a starting point. Drip emails are a series of emails that go out to the same lead in order to build a relationship over time.
The first one is an introduction to your company. If they don’t respond you send them the second email in the series, and so on, and so on.
**Note: If you’re using email automation software to send these emails automatically, remember to remove anyone who responds to one from the list so that they don’t receive the rest of the emails in the series!
Standing Out from the Competition
TAKING CHARGE OF THE WALK THROUGH
A key part of the sales process is the initial meeting with a potential client. We’ve created a Walk Through Checklist and put together this video to help you nail your next one.
The goal of the walk through is to do just that — walk through the space. Yet what often happens, especially for new owners, is that the potential customer brings you straight to their office.
We recommend taking control of the walk through right from the beginning and suggesting you tour the space together first. This will get them comfortable talking to you, sharing with you the problem areas, and explaining why they’re looking for a new cleaning company. It can avoid awkwardness, save you time, and makes you seem more confident and experienced.
KNOWING WHAT TO SAY
We firmly believe that the key to winning a new contract is to reset the client’s expectations of the cleaning industry. They likely have pre-determined ideas about how the conversation will go; they expect you to talk about your company’s attention to detail, how reliable you are, and the types of cleaning supplies you use. To stand out from your competition, you’ll need to reset their expectations. Here are some ways to do this:
1. Don’t Talk About Cleaning
We recommend talking about cleaning no more than 15-20% of the time. Instead, focus on getting to the root of their problem. What is the real reason they are in the market for a new cleaning company? How did their last cleaning company fail them? How does the cleanliness of their space affect their lives?
2. Know Your Competitors’ Pitches
By understanding what other cleaning companies in your area are saying to sell their services you can look for ways to differentiate yourself. How do you find out? Pick up the phone and give your competitor’s a call as if you are in the market for their services!
3. Avoid Bonding Over Common Interests
Wait — what?! That’s right, our time in the industry also taught us that surprisingly, focusing too much on common interests between you and the potential client — things like your kids playing sports together or discovering that you attended the same high school — puts you at a disadvantage. It gives the client the advantage because they are left with the impression that they will receive a preferred rate because of the connection.
4. Don’t Just Talk the Talk
Don’t just tell them about how your company provides great service…show them! Use your free trial of the Swept app (sign up below!) to physically demonstrate how you’ll give cleaners clear instructions for cleaning their space. For step by step instructions on how to do this, watch this video on How To Sell With Swept »
KNOWING WHAT TO CHARGE
Our best advice is to be confident in the price you’re quoting. In other words, don’t feel pressured to give them a price on the spot during a walk through. Let them know that you will review your notes, crunch some numbers and get back to them with a fair quote. You don’t need to close them while you’re there!
Better yet, when we ran a cleaning company we would finish a walk through and ask to clean the space that night in order to give them a proper quote. They had no idea we didn’t yet know how to quote a space!
To help you, we’ve created this Quick Estimate app that you can use for free to calculate a rough quote on the spot.
Closing the Sale
When bidding on a space there will always be risks to both you and the person hiring you. For you there is the risk to you that you will undercharge for a space and it will not be a profitable job.
On the other hand, the customer doesn’t want to pay too much for your services, or be stuck in a contract if they are unhappy with your work. To close the sale, you’ll need to remove all the barriers for them to buy.
When we were a cleaning company, we didn’t require customers to sign contracts.
No contracts meant they could hire us risk-free, and because we provided exceptional service we didn’t lose any customers — they stayed with us because they wanted to.
We also told potential customers that we would pay them to fire us.
Yes, you read that right!
We offered to pay for their last month if they weren’t happy with our services. This allowed us to stand out from our competition and showed them we were confident in the quality of our services. The best part? We didn’t have a single person take us up on it.
CREATING THE PROPOSAL
Having a proposal that looks professional and personalized can be crucial to closing the deal.
While Proposify is super user friendly and the sections of the template are pretty self-explanatory, we want to highlight a few key areas that deserve special attention before you get started.
When customizing your Proposify template be sure to…
- Use the letter at the beginning of the proposal to reiterate how you are different from your competitors.
- Update the Getting Started page with your own process.
- Outline your fees as clearly as possibly, breaking down the cost per sq/ft, per hour, etc. when possible.
- Add your own contractor agreement to make this document legally binding.
FOLLOW UP AFTER SENDING A PROPOSAL
After submitting a proposal to a potential customer, you may need to follow up (sometimes multiple times) before you’ll hear back from them.
Unfortunately you’ll sometimes have trouble getting a hold of someone. This could be because they are simply too busy to look at the proposal or even to call you back, but there’s also the possibility that they aren’t sold on your services. For this reason, we recommend starting with a phone call so that you can answer any questions they have on the spot.
Once you’ve sent an email, it’s a good idea to follow up via email so that they have multiple ways to reach you at their convenience.
We’ve put together some follow-up email scripts to help you navigate these waters and get more information out of them without being pushy. Click here to download the Follow Up Email Scripts.
PRO TIP: COLLECT PAYMENT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE MONTH
It’s quite common for those who are new to the industry to make the mistake of billing customers at the end of the month. This is a problem because it often takes customers 2, 3, even 4 weeks to pay you. Best practice is to charge them on the day you begin working with them so that you have the cash to pay your cleaners for that period of time.
More Sales Resources
THE 21 DAY SALES CHALLENGE
Much of the content in this section has been taken from our 21 Day Sales Challenge — a resource that delivers everything you need to close you next contract to your inbox. In addition to the written instructions and resource links provided above, the Sales Challenge also offers lessons in video format. If you’d prefer to watch the videos you can sign up for the Sales Challenge here.
LIVE WEBINAR ON SELLING JANITORIAL SERVICES
For a consolidated version of our sales materials in video format we also have recording of our live webinar “Win More Janitorial Contracts Using Swept“. This 45 minute recording covers our key recommendations for selling janitorial services, and does a deep-dive into how to stand out from your competition using Swept software during your walk-through’s. Click here to watch Win More Janitorial Contracts Using Swept »
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