The recent economic downturn has led many contract cleaning companies to diversify their services, according to a 2012 study by the Freedonia Group, an international business research group based in the United States.
Instead of just offering janitorial services, contract cleaning companies are expanding and adding a variety of other services, such as landscaping, light bulb maintenance, carpet cleaning, and parking lot cleaning. Most of them are going about this by offering these services to their current roster of clients first, and if that is successful, then marketing them to others, as well.
Marketing to your current clients is easy; they already know you and you have already built up a relationship with them. However, this is not the case when you start meeting with new prospects. To help you prepare, here are some marketing best practices that can help you become a deal maker and not a deal breaker when calling on prospective customers.
Be on time.
When selling services, prospects often equate punctuality with dependability and professionalism. Even if the prospect leaves you waiting, the prospect will note that you arrived when you indicated. If you are late, especially seriously late, their view of you as being dependable and professional will go out the door.
However, just to give yourself a little wiggle room, suggest about a 30-minute block of time for the start of the appointment. If you say you will be there between 9 and 9:30 a.m., for instance, most people will accept arriving during that period of time as punctual.
Meeting a customer is no time to wear yesterday’s shirt. While you do not have to arrive in a suit and tie, you should look clean, neat, businesslike, and professional. Also, it is always good to wear clothing with your company logo on it.
Keep a distance.
When first meeting the prospective customer, he or she will likely feel a bit more comfortable if you stand a couple of feet away from him or her. Once the prospect takes your card and you begin the walkthrough, you can stand a bit closer.
Make the walkthrough count.
Always encourage the potential customer to accompany you through the facility. This will give you an opportunity to understand the needs of the facility and the prospect's concerns. Additionally, the walkthrough gives you a feel for this prospect, what he or she wants, and very likely, why the prospect is considering changing services, if that is the case.
The commercial customer will likely assume you have professional cleaning equipment; however, you should take advantage of this initial meeting to have a brief discussion about your cleaning arsenal. For instance, if you use cylindrical brush technologies to clean and maintain floors, explain these machines to the prospect and why you have selected them over traditional rotary floor cleaning systems. Additionally, with water concerns mounting in many parts of the country, if you are offering carpet cleaning as part of your services, mentioning you use continuous recycling extractors that consume considerably less water can prove to be a feather in your cap.
Discuss your accolades.
Training and even accreditation are essential today. The prospect sees these as additional signs that you are a professional and know what you are doing. If you have been accredited or are, for instance, Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) certified (a program provided by ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, that teaches cleaning best practices), mention it. Many building managers know that certified contract cleaners are more committed to customer satisfaction, and they may also be able to suggest ways for the customer to save money.
Doug Berjer has written extensively on cleaning, carpet cleaning, and water conservation issues. He works for CFR and Tornado Industries, manufacturers of professional cleaning tools and equipment, and may be reached atwww.tornadovac.com.