Last year at this time we blogged about increased competition in our industry and shrinking margins. Here we are 12 months later and the situation has not improved. Finding new business remains challenging. Competing on price is a necessary evil at times.
The best lessons learned from cleaning companies surviving these challenges involve looking at your business offering from several angles, and exploiting and promoting everything noteworthy about what you provide to your customers, and why they should trust their business to you. This approach has led to improved revenue and profitability for many companies.
Below is our list pulled from their experience of the 4 main areas of focus that are contributing to increased revenue and profitability for companies leading the pack. How many of these are you doing? How many can you start doing this week?
Defend your pricing by holding your vertical experience over your competitors
In a competitive bidding situation, when prospects think they’re comparing apples-to-apples, they’ll focus on price. When you have an advantage in the form of deeper industry (vertical) knowledge and experience, you break this apples-to-apples comparison. Perhaps this refers to specific facility types–retail, medical, fitness, hotels, etc. You might have a deeper understanding of specific issues and challenges that are unique to your prospect’s industry. You’ve probably dealt with these issues and know how to keep things running smoothly for companies in their industry. Your deep, referenceable customer list attests to this. In these competitive situations, you need to leverage your referenceability in that specific vertical – exploit and promote your specialties —and let your prospect know that you have a better understanding of their needs than your competitors. This will increase your chances of winning these bids. You might enjoy success like one of our customers who went after wellness facilities in this manner and is now struggling to keep up with demand (100+ wellness centers in one shot). It works if you commit to it.
Do your homework and be prepared to strike at new business during renewal cycles
This is critical and often an area where opportunity is lost. Salespeople have the details here: when their prospects’ contract renewals are coming up, who the incumbent competitors are, the size and scope of the jobs. This is information that you should be exploiting by creating contact schedules that ramp up the engagement level with the prospect as the renewal date approaches. Dripping competitive messaging, your value-add offering, and referenceability can lead you to a new customer. However, all too often, these opportunities are off the salesperson’s radar and therefore don’t get the attention they need. When this happens, you lose potential business. These days, leading commercial cleaning packages have schedules and reminders like these built in to help sales teams ensure that they don’t drop the ball. Examine your approach and details management here. If you’ve lost business in the last year, you’re probably due for some process (and even technology) adjustments.
Innovate and expand your service offering with value added services
Your customers have many options when looking for cleaning services. You should ask yourself—and your leading customers—about what services you offer that make the difference? What services could you (easily) add to create a differentiator and, more importantly, make life better for your property managers? An example of value added services is improved communication and collaboration with your customers—becoming more of a strategic partner with them on resource management and issue prioritization. One company began offering reports to track GS42 compliance for one of their customers—which turned out to be a benefit for several other customers across the board. Ask yourself, and your team, what extra little bit of reporting, handholding, tracking, communicating, reminding or preventing can you do that might just make all the difference to your customers and prospective customers.
Let technology automate some of your workload so you can spend more time prospecting
How much time have you spent this week pushing work orders around, or sending invoices, or communicating with your field staff on job details? How much time are you spending on inspections? What about employees—with onboarding, tracking, coaching, correcting, reprimanding, training, …? (Don’t even mention supplies.) Whatever time you put in here is time you’re not focused on protecting your existing business and driving new revenue forward. These days, that’s just not a cost-effective use of your time. Technology from leading commercial cleaning solutions is purpose-built to automate much of this type of work. Automatic invoicing, two-way field staff communication, notification, work order processing, etc. can all be done for you. This means you can have 80% of your week given back to you to focus on more strategic business directives. The cost of technology is far outweighed by the additional revenue you can gain by using automation to keep your customers happy and informed, keep your staff accountable and on-task, and keep your sales team focused on new business opportunities.
We can offer this list of suggestions because we’ve been working with cleaning companies and their customers for years, providing solutions that facilitate good communication between them and build trust that translates to repeat business. The most successful customer relationships evolve well beyond competitive pricing to become strategic partnerships between cleaning service provider and client, in lockstep on needs and deliverables that benefit all involved.
Tell us what you’re running into these days as you struggle to maintain and grow your business. We’d be glad to hear your story and share our insight on what types of changes you could make to improve.
Accelerator CC provides cloud-based commercial cleaning software that helps you profitably manage contracts, bids, operations, sales, and staff while providing advanced on-site inspection and quality assurance to your customers. One of the fastest-growing SaaS platforms on the market, Accelerator CC delivers an advanced level of automation, remote/field connectivity and built-in best practices that specifically target the needs of commercial cleaning organizations and their customers. Learn more by visiting us online at AcceleratorCC.com.