Growing a small janitorial business in a competitive environment is challenging. Finding and retaining commercial clients who can provide long-term cleaning contracts is essential to your company’s success.
This article covers eight time-tested ways to find clients. It is intended for new and growing commercial cleaning companies.
Who is your ideal client?
Many commercial cleaning companies try to market their companies to a broad market. They believe this strategy will increase their chances of finding clients. Unfortunately, this approach does not work. Many business owners make this common and expensive mistake.
Targeting a broad market spreads your marketing dollars and efforts across too many potential clients. Furthermore, many of the businesses you reach won’t meet your criteria for an “ideal client.” Consequently, building traction will be nearly impossible.
Instead, spend some time defining your ideal business client. Consider focusing on the types of companies with a strong presence in your area. Narrow the list to local companies you can service well and would benefit from working with you.
For example, assume you have a small company with four employees. Trying to win a contract to clean a large office complex daily is counterproductive. Your company does not have the needed staff. Instead, you should focus on smaller businesses.
Why are you better?
Most commercial janitorial companies don’t know their strengths and weaknesses. Consequently, they don’t market their strengths. Instead, they focus on generalities such as “we provide great service” or “all our clients are happy,” etc.
Ask yourself, “Why should this client hire my company instead of a competitor?” This difficult question is one that you must answer objectively. Reconsider your niche or business model if you cannot answer this question effectively.
Here are some examples of potential strengths you can consider:
- Overnight availability
- Years of experience
- Special equipment or skills
- Industry affiliations
- Bonded employees
- Screened employees
- Blind cleaning
- Carpet cleaning
This list contains eight tactics to grow your commercial janitorial business. They are not very expensive and can be implemented by a small business. The best strategy is to start with a few you feel comfortable with and grow from there.
1. Focus on a couple of niches
A janitorial company focused on a couple of market niches has a better chance of success than one that markets to everyone. Evaluate your skills, team, and location to determine which types of companies have the greatest demand.
Focus on one or two niches at most. They should require overlapping skills. Here are some examples:
- Small businesses
- Small offices
- Medical offices (e.g., doctors, dentists, etc.)
- Healthcare facilities
- Senior living facilities
- Construction cleanup
- Residential properties for management companies
Once you have selected your niches, develop a list of prospective clients. These clients should match your requirements for an ideal client.
2. Smart use of promotional items
Promotional items can be an effective way to market your commercial cleaning business. The best strategy is to get simple office supplies with your company’s information. Every office uses them and includes pens, pads, etc. They are also inexpensive.
Leave some promotional items every time you visit a prospective client. These items keep your information handy. When the client needs your services, they have a way to contact you.
Avoid expensive or “vanity” promotional items. These include coffee mugs, branded clothing, etc. These items may look good, but they seldom work.
3. Cold calling
Every business owner seems to hate receiving cold calls. And most salespeople hate to make them. However, they can be an effective way to get appointments quickly. You have a better chance of success by focusing on your strength during the call. Also, use a highly targeted list with ideal prospective clients.
Remember that the objective of the call is not to sell your services. That strategy seldom works. Instead, get the prospective client interested in a meeting. You can use the meeting to do the actual sales. Remember to leave some pens with your company information (strategy #2).
LinkedIn is a great and often underutilized resource for building a commercial cleaning business. Most of your prospective clients likely have a LinkedIn profile. Furthermore, LinkedIn can also help you find the contact information of other key employees at the company.
LinkedIn charges a premium for the option to contact people outside your network. However, it’s well worth the expense.
We think the soft sales approach is more effective. Mention what your company does and what your strengths are. Use the opportunity to ask for a meeting.
5. Local business associations
Local business associations, such as chambers of commerce, can be effective if your prospective clients belong to them. This depends on the industries you serve.
These organizations usually have a lot of small business owners. Consequently, you could do well if you serve that market. However, you won’t find many prospective clients if your target customers are large office management complexes, large companies, doctor offices, etc.
6. Industry associations
Consider joining some of the industry associations your prospective clients belong to. We have found that the local chapters of these associations can be a great source of potential clients.
Most associations have special vendor or affiliated industry memberships that allow you to meet with members. These can be great places to make connections that ultimately lead to cleaning contracts.
7. State and local governments
Government agencies are large buyers of commercial janitorial services across all levels of government. These include the federal government, state government agencies, county government, and local city governments. The opportunity is substantial. However, these contracts are very competitive.
Commercial cleaning companies like to work for government agencies because they provide steady work during good times and recessions. Winning these contracts is difficult and requires knowing how the procurement system works and bidding competitively.
The main challenge is that you have to handle multiple bidding systems. For example, you can find contracts in the system for government agencies in the FedBizOps system. The contracts for commercial janitorial services are listed under the following:
- Product Service Code: S201 – HOUSEKEEPING- CUSTODIAL JANITORIAL
- NAICS Code: – 561720 – Janitorial Services
However, finding cleaning contracts for state, county, and city governments is more challenging. In many areas, state agencies, counties, and cities use different processes. It’s best to start small and scale up as your company grows. Focus on one system (e.g., city governments) and grow as your experience increases.
8. Business Mail
Using direct mail to build your client base is expensive and not very effective. Small cleaning companies should consider other options first.
However, a more targeted approach could work well for small companies. Create a small list of potential clients. Send a personalized business letter to the key decision-maker of the company you are targeting. Mention that you will call them on a specific date to discuss their needs. This strategy combines personalized direct mail with cold calling. It can be an effective tool to get a meeting and ultimately secure a contract.
Remember: commercial customers pay slowly
Most commercial and government customers pay their invoices on terms. Offering terms is expected in commercial transactions and gives your clients 30 to 60 days to pay their invoices. This payment delay can create cash flow problems for companies without enough money in their cash reserves. These financial problems can affect your ability to pay employees and suppliers.
You can solve this problem using financing to pay expenses while waiting for invoice payments. One of the best financing options for janitorial companies is invoice factoring. Factoring is available for small companies and provides an advance for your slow-paying invoices. You can use the advance to pay company expenses and service new clients.
Learn more: “How Does Factoring Work?”
Does your company need financing?
Does your janitorial company need invoice financing? We are a leading factoring company and can offer competitive terms. Click here for a quote or call us toll-free at (877) 300 3258.