If your goal is to offer high-end, elite cleaning services to a target audience of wealthy clients, do your market research. It is vital to prequalify your prospects. Spreading your marketing efforts out too broadly will dilute the results.
“Market research” sounds more complicated than it is. It means that you must figure out where the neighborhoods are that will welcome your services. Then, target these neighborhoods with your direct marketing.
How to find the right clients
Here is what not to do, which may run counter to your intuition or the advice of your friends. Do not run an ad in the local paper. Doing so will result in bringing you jobs that will make you want to run screaming. There is absolutely no prequalifying the customers who will respond to an ad in the paper, because anyone and everyone can get their hands on a local newspaper.
The two biggest nightmare cleaning-job experiences I ever stumbled across were the result of my placing an ad in the paper. Typically, the people who answer these ads are bargain shoppers in need of a once-a-year (or even less frequent) housecleaning. These are not the people who will turn out to be your loyal customers, as they plan to never call you back after that first (and last) dirty job.
Housecleaners should also avoid putting an ad in the Yellow Pages for the same reason, not to mention the ridiculously high cost. However, a company that is specializing in commercial cleaning might consider placing an ad in the Yellow Pages if it's within the budget.
Find only the best prospects. How is this accomplished? By finding the first-class neighborhoods, not the economy class ones. This is easily done online by using real-estate focused websites such as Zillow and Trulia. Search your area by home values, and get maps and pictures of the neighborhood. In the old days we had to get in the car and cruise the whole area, using a map and a magic marker. Now it is so much easier to obtain a mental picture of the territory and a more accurate feel for the home values, just by cruising around the Internet. We think it is still a good idea for anyone who is going to market to the area to take a drive-thru, and see if there are any obstacles. Keep an eye out for physical signifiers such as a community gate, or “No soliciting” signs posted. Keep in mind that I had my best results in the "no soliciting" neighborhoods! Proceed at your own risk.
Once you have mapped out your target-market neighborhoods, the next step is to prequalify the clients. Do this by crafting marketing materials that resonate only with a certain type of person. Housecleaners who take this important step have a much easier time growing their business in the beginning. We have written extensively about this on this website. It is all about how you language the content on your marketing material. You only want the people that resonate with your signals to respond. This will make your job a whole lot easier, the jobs will pay better, and you are more likely to actually like the clients you clean for. That's a plus, because it lightens the workload.
Once you have your optimized marketing materials, spread them around, and you are getting responses, it is best to give in-person bids directly on-location for each job. You will be taking detailed notes on the specifics of the tasks needed for the job and determining whether or not the client is a good fit for you. Most importantly, you will be sizing up what you think they are willing to pay. You need to look professional and act somewhat sophisticated. Keep small talk about the job. If you can help it, do not get into discussions about politics, religion or personal hobbies or anything of a personal, subjective nature. After all, you want to get the job. You aren't there to convince this person about your point of view on various world affairs.
Closing the deal
The hardest part is giving the bid amount and closing the deal. There is no magic formula to follow that will give you the same results each time. That is because people are involved, and people are unpredictable. You just have to get better at it with practice. Closing a sale is an art-science and with time, you improve at doing it successfully. Be firm, and willing to stick to your price range. You cannot get into a situation where you need every bid to go your way. That is unrealistic. The way to not worry about getting each job, is to generate far more interest in your services, through marketing, than you actually need. This is strictly a function of marketing scale. It is better to overcompensate on the exposure end and turn jobs down, or bid high and not get the job. The thing is, reducing your charge by $15 - 20 may not seem like a big deal, but if you did the job twice a month for three years, that reduction in price would be $1,440.
The trick to offering elite cleaning services for profit is in your persona. Look, act, and excel at the role you are playing. Make an effort to understand their world, and try not to project your own personal values onto your clients. The actual cleaning is the easy part and even if you are an outstanding cleaning professional, that will not make your cleaning business a success. The key to success is how you interact and communicate with the client. That has the biggest impact on your business.