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Realistic ways to find new clients and customers for your cleaning company

Updated on November 8, 2013

So many people, so much potential.


It is not always the Journey, sometimes it is the Destination.

So you have done all the leg work for establishing your cleaning business. It could be as simple as utilizing your own personal supplies on hand and getting the ball rolling, to putting a sizable investment towards an employee based company. You have used up all your family and friends contacts, but things have become stagnant. Now what? The bottom line is no steady clients means no steady revenue, which in turn you do not have long before this is just a money pit of a hobby. That's not why you started though, is it? It is to work for yourself, be your own boss and create a positive cash flow all the while providing a service for people. There is quite a bit of information provided online that can be useful for obtaining new clients in the cleaning world, but in contemporary times, a lot of it is outdated even thought freshly posted. I have outlined below, a step by step process that will guarantee you new clients and debunk some myths along the way.

The Good

Your there. Working for yourself and thinking aahh, smooth sailing. Sure, there is more flexibility in your schedule but you have to give yourself structure and discipline for a pay off. Upon your start up, prepare for late nights plus weekends to get the juices flowing. Every free moment you have when not actively running your day to day operation should be dedicated to finding new prospects. When you are successful, this process needs to be repeated. Reading this list is mandatory to get your name out there in a very competitive market.

  • Create a Website, Now.
    You are just kidding yourself if you think you don't need one. If you are serious about your business, and want to show others the same, not to mention have good information to provide your customers, then it is time to start working on this immediately. There are a variety of ways to get one up and running that will tailor your budget. Wordpress is a great avenue, Hostgator and Weebly are other affordable choices. If you chose to obtain your domain separate from your web host, namecheap and gandi are a good start. You can make this as easy as you want, or as complex as it gets, but if you do your own site, research carefully. It will take some time, but time well spent.
  • List your business for free on all the usual suspects. Google, Bing, Yelp, Merchant Circle, YP, E-Bay, and Angie's List are some of the well know ones. There are many more. Use them. Hot Frog, Kudzu, Tuugo, Stumble Upon, the list goes on. Seek them out and make sure you do plenty of research on all the "free" listings prior to signing your name up. There are many unreputable sites that you simply do not want to be associated with.
  • Network Network Network. We could go in depth about all the details involved with social media and online advertising available. Let's allow the plentiful offerings of other sites cover that. A word of advice, choose your media ad dollars carefully. They "add" up quick. Your other choice is to not spend a cent at all for ads, but advertise yourself. Every moment you are out there is a moment to sell your cleaning business. Always keep a good number of business cards on yourself (Yes, you should have these already!) and be ready for the right time to do a quick intro. You never know when the right moments arise, it is a positive attitude that must be installed within, so you present yourself professionally to each potential contact. This could mean after a long day of physical work and you have just personally scrubbed the messiest house you can think of, then up walks an individual inquiring about the service you provide. Be proactive and passionate about what you do and the rest will follow. I know, feeling rainbow bright doesn't seal the deal. Its also with whom you network with. Those customers are fellow parents at school if you have children, former co-workers, the staff at the local establishments you shop, drink and eat at, and even the occasional stranger that you may be chatting with. It is said if you want to act globally, act locally, and that is the complete truth. You can try the local chamber of commerce and sub-chapters, business organizations, realtors rotary clubs, church groups, or the many various networking clubs available, some of which you may already belong to. Selling is not about being shy, you have to be outgoing and willing to strike up conversation with ease. This may feel uncomfortable for some, but it is a fact for your cleaning companies growth.
  • The Old Fashioned Way. The term now is offline. Which means human interaction. There are various opinions about this, but I can tell you from both personal experience and seeing others work it first hand that going door to door targeting commercial businesses works. The positive on this is that your potential client could see your tenacity making the point to show what you can offer. This takes grace, a genuine friendly approach, plus a bit of luck and good timing all rolled into one. Remember, other businesses are wrapped in their daily operations and may not have the time for you at the moment. Leave your self open to have a meeting on another date, and make sure when speaking to the employee at the front office to always treat them with complete respect. Often, they are the gatekeepers to the decision makers. Door to door sales is not for the faint of heart, you will deal with a lot of no's, and then a lot more, before results happen. On the other end of cleaning, I would not suggest going to residential homes as they are considered public property. Most people feel uncomfortable to say the least when a stranger crosses their threshold and knocks on your door. That it is truly up to the neighborhoods you live in, or targeted areas, then making the proper judgment call. In short, it could be a lot walking for low yield results at best. If you opted for that route, it is best to have a stack of snazzy door hangers on hand to have a real chance for selling your business, and that is just more money to spend. So network, it's free, and you build relationships that can last a long time.
  • Cleaning and Organization. It starts with you. That means having a clean vehicle, presentable appearance, good attitude. How you carry yourself, perform your tasks, and the crew that works for you is all a direct reflection of your cleaning business. First impressions do count, do not blow it.
  • Paper, not Paperless. You can go to the public library and obtain business listings, plus residential addresses in your target specific areas. Assemble a few helping hands, and take the time to mail your information. Creating an inexpensive flyer can gain exposure, I would suggest you create your own template and use your own, or if needed, a family or friend's inkjet printer for a quality reduced cost printed ad. The availability of bulletin boards has greatly diminished. Forget Starbucks and most grocery stores these days. You can ask your local church, day care, school, or partner up with a small business to display them. Make sure a discount is offered, and it never hurts to have small promo items with your company logo on them. Baked goods, such as cookies, or chocolate is always a great start for a conversation. Remember to always follow up and follow through with whom you have spoken to, plus sent and handed out business cards to. Do not just hand out and wait by the phone. People actually do forget, or test to see if your really in their best interest.



The Bad

You can say there are no bad customers, just people that may not be suitable customers for your cleaning company. Taking on clients for the sake of work and money can be a losing proposition for both parties involved. The last thing you want is bad reviews online or negative word of mouth. How to circumvent such issues can be tricky and at times, unavoidable.

  • Low Ball. You worked hard to obtain that new client, and when you get into the job you realize that it is taking longer than expected. Factor in supply use plus mileage, you might break even at best and worse, lose money. Price accordingly, flat rates do not always work for a start-up.
  • The Rat Pack. Visions of Frank Sinatra crooning can seem like a dream when you witness deplorable conditions that individuals feel fit to live in. There are residences in which you may not be suited to properly clean, or be able to truly clean at all. If you are a company that intends to specialize in hoarding, compulsive collectors and bulk haul out, then you have done your research and are prepared. For all others, take a polite pass on a job that can be to big to handle.
  • Cleaning for a Friend. It is great when you can help out or offer a discount cleaning for your acquaintances. If this starts out, or leads to a steady paid job for you that was incorrectly priced from the beginning because you felt the need to please your friend, it could become quietly stressful for you and awkward at best as to how to approach the matter. Suggestion, price accordingly first, if not, do not let it fester. Prepare an honest and mutually beneficial solution for both of you. If that does not resolve itself, be prepared to walk away, you are running a business. Just exit gracefully.
  • The Living Amazon Groupon Social Deal. I could get a lot of flack for this, but if you opt for any of these promotional options, do your homework. The risks can certainly outweigh any long term profitability. Plan a strategy and run the numbers in detail. There are numerous online forums to weigh the options, which could be beneficial to your cleaning company. Just be ready to take on a deluge of requests and do your best to honor everyone when committed.

The Ugly.

It may come as a surprise, but should come as no shock the means in which other companies craft to make money off your company, when you don't have much money and are trying to make money. This can run the gauntlet, here are some of the worst offenders.

  • Craigslist. This is akin to rattling a saber by putting their company within this category. Sure, it's free for the most part, how can you complain? Yes, they are great to sell your wares, find labor and numerous other offerings. For you however, be forewarned, your ad can be flagged quickly and easily by malicious competition. Your innocent ads can be "ghosted" by craigslist themselves into dark cyberspace. Categories such as cleaning can be inundated with listings in certain markets. Others, not so much and can reap great rewards. To elaborate on this, I do not mean simple healthy competition. We have all seen how multiple listings that are either identical, or with slight variations can bury yours to page 10 and beyond quickly. Some small businesses and individuals have the resources and time to get away with what is classified as unethical practice according to Craigslist. Let them have it. I would recommend to make an ad, and post. Then as Ron Popeil would say: Set it and forget it. Follow up on those on your own conditions and concentrate your efforts where they are most effective. Those ads are not the long term solution for successful growth.
  • Backpage. The forgotten child of craigslist. Or so you think. The main purpose of this site is to provide escort services and all other manner of ill repute. Don't bother.
  • Thumbtack. If there is a success story with business from them other than their own, I have not heard of it yet. There may be, but a slim margin at best. If you like paying or bidding for false leads, then this is your place. Keep looking, and don't look back.
  • More Pay for Leads. See above. The amount of businesses that offer you leads that require payment is staggering. It's real simple, the vast majority are out to get your money while you are working hard to create a successful cleaning company. They will leave you with nothing and make attempts to cancel your card difficult or even, impossible. The old saying goes, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

Time to hit a home run.

White Sox vs. Reds - 2013 Spring Training in Glendale Arizona.
White Sox vs. Reds - 2013 Spring Training in Glendale Arizona. | Source

Knocking it out of the park.

In summary, Social Media plays a huge part of your advertising customer base. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many others such as Vox, Meet-up, FullCircle to name but a few. The purpose of this article was to guide your thoughts towards the one on one relationships that sustains a healthy business. Finding and nurturing them is a long and winding road that leads to a bright future. All it takes is the right direction and the right attitude. Thanks for reading!

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