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Expanding your business, your client base: Are you ready?

September 19, 2010
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What methods are appropriate for small cleaning companies to use to expand their client base? It’s a question that thousands of cleaning contractors across the globe must ask themselves to perpetuate their growth.

A better question to ask yourself might be, "Am I ready?"

Theresa Peterson, of Maid to Order House Cleaning, San Francisco Bay area, agrees it’s a mistake to take on any expansion effort without carefully studying the plan.

Doing a strategic assessment of your operation is essential to identifying several things. For those of you familiar with the SWOT acronym, this is a method to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Every aspect of your business comes under scrutiny, from your mission statement to your competitors. This allows you to streamline your operations and define the goals you wish to accomplish.

For the sake of review, this article will focus on how to utilize your existing clients to generate revenue, and highlight add-on services that can promote monetary growth.

Exceeding expectations

Building customer relationships is akin to cultivating a garden; what you put into it has a direct effect on what is produced. Likewise, the effort your company makes to enhance a customer’s experience has a direct effect on the amount of money you will reap from your customers.

Companies that strive to exceed customer expectations learn the value of what’s commonly known as word of mouth advertising. It is undeniably the cheapest form of advertising in existence, and the most crucial to promoting long-term customer relationships.

Value is defined as the quality relative to the cost. Identify your opportunities to promote customer longevity.

Since new customer marketing can cost 10 times more than maintaining an existing client, small businesses should focus on providing top-of-the-line services, thereby providing the opportunity for word of mouth advertising to take place.

In the process, you must have:

  • Customer-oriented personnel
  • Established and effective training programs
  • Empowered employees who can deal with issues quickly and effectively
  • A strong sense of teamwork within your group
Recognize opportunities

The cleaning industry is a highly competitive business and, to make your mark, you have to be aggressive in your tactics.

Setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack takes more than just having the largest phonebook advertisement or the most winning bids — it’s a commitment to quality service that your customer can actually attest to. Nothing beats a good referral like a glowing referral.

Expand your network with membership and volunteer efforts — a little community service involvement goes a long way.

  • Provide information that creates a well-informed client, identifying community driven efforts and association memberships to highlight commitment.
  • Increase productivity by means of standardized training programs.
  • Project a positive company image in dress and in manner.
  • Incorporate add-on services that will be easy to implement into your cleaning program, such as lighting maintenance, grounds keeping, snow removal, building maintenance, and the latest trend — green cleaning.

Hollye Lindquist, general manager and consultant with Strategic Building Management Systems (formerly known as Ken’s Janitorial and Whirlwind Janitorial Services of Alaska), North Pole, is a 15-year industry veteran, professional building service contractor (BSC) and in-house operations consultant specializing in strategic management and greening custodial operations. Lindquist, an active participant in establishing the Alaska Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and a certified professional radio broadcaster, was recently added to the team at North Star Management Inc, Benson, MN, as resident manager.

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