There is no great mystery around cleaning service contracts. To get a cleaning account with a client you have to do these common sense actions.
There is no way around it. To make your business get up and go, you've got to market it. If you do not tell the world about your new cleaning company, your enthusiasm will wane, and you risk getting off to a very slow start. Most start-ups will not survive a sluggish launch. One year or more spent in getting a small business in gear is simply unwise and unaffordable for most people.
What to do? Plunge headfirst into marketing. This takes guts and nerve, no question, but it will pay off by getting your business up and running quickly. Get the word out any way you can, using both guerilla and classic methods. Sooner or later your business will become sustainable from word of mouth advertising, but that will never happen unless you pay some dues in the set-up phase.
Join local professional organizations. Your aim is to build up a large network of people who know you and understand what makes your service so unique and special. The more professionals you can get to know, the merrier. Network with other service-professionals that operate businesses that are related, but not in direct competition with yours. When customers need those other professional services, refer them. They will return the favor.
Skip the newspaper ad
Old fashioned ads do not work for this business. The result of putting an ad in the paper is dismal and costly. It will bring you a smattering of jobs that are difficult and low-paying. Most importantly, there is no way to know who will contact you, or from what part of the city. You will have no idea who you will be working for until the moment you walk through their door, and then it is too late.
Take control. This is your business, after all! Prequalify your leads and go to them directly. Do not buy advertising in the traditional Yellow Pages either.
Rather than using the newspaper and the Yellow Pages, your startup stands a much better chance at landing good jobs that pay well by giving your target customers your individual attention. Flyer them directly. This is the best way we know how to get a satisfying number of cleaning service contracts. Starting the business should be a high-energy phase. Why risk sinking your company morale before you even get started? Marketing your service directly is one certain way to keep the energy and motivation going, especially during the first few months while you're in the set-up phase.
Organizing your leads
Spend a bit of time researching your target clients. Look up the businesses in your area, record and organize the data in a spreadsheet. Record names, addresses, as well as contact hours and the route you will take to get to each location. Write down your target earnings for each business, and what type of contract you want, short-term, long-term, or one-off cleaning jobs. Use this spreadsheet as a springboard to execute your various marketing efforts.
Use your list to cold call and/or visit the premises. It is best to flyer directly by handing them a flyer in person. Importantly, make sure you get past the "interceptor,” the front-desk person who takes your information (and usually throws it into the trashcan the moment you leave). You need to make sure that your flyer gets into the hands of the decision maker at each of these businesses. Persevere, politely but firmly.
Giving the bid
Once you have a potential client who is interested in getting a bid, go and conduct a walkthrough. You will need a process that you have down pat, for giving bids. This process has to be memorized so you can project confidence, which takes time to develop, practice and get good at. There is no other way to learn this part. You just have to get out there and gain the practice. Everyone who has ever done this process gets nervous at first, but that does fade with time. You might be surprised at how much you begin to enjoy the bidding process, once you get familiar with it. Get over the nervousness a.s.a.p., so you can start landing steady contracts.
Once you have given a bid, follow up after a reasonable amount of time with a phone call or visit. This is where your people skills and sensitivity will really be useful. Don't overdo it. Just check back with them about once a month, after the bid. The reason to check in with them at regular intervals, is that eventually they will lose their cleaning service, and you want them to think of you first. Often you will discover that landing a contract is all in the timing.
Close the deal
Many cleaning professionals blow it at closing. They think they got it in the bag, and some undefined term of the deal gets fowled up and the deal falls apart. Ensure the specifics of the job are spelled-out and clear to the client. Shake on it and get a signed contract. Follow up again each month, this time checking in briefly to make sure the clients needs are met.
There is no silver-bullet easy-peasy way to get contracts. However, the process of getting good ones does get easier with practice and experience. And there is a payoff for this phase. At some point, your business will become sustainable and rely mainly on word of mouth advertising—the very nicest kind.
Further reading:Cleaning Business Contracts