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|Original Message Added : 14 Oct 2008|
I set up a new cleaning business in May this year. We so far have 6 regular clients, who are very happy with the work we do. The problem is, we are struggling to get more clients on board. We have a brilliant reputation with our existing clients and would like to promote this, but how do we go about doing this?
The problem we face is the credit crunch with people now not being able to afford the luxuries in life like a cleaner. How do we overcome this?
We have produced 1000 leaflets and will be delivering these around our local area. We also have an advertisement in the yellow pages and numerous advertisements on the internet.
Is there anything you can suggest that would boost our take up rate of new clients and can you suggest anything we are doing wrong and how to improve this?
|Reply : 15 Oct 2008|
The best way to prevent the future corruption of your Marketing Blueprint is to do a marketing audit.
Having said that...
Many people simply don't know of the 5 fundamental principles of marketing endorsed by many marketing professionals. They are - Positioning, Packaging, Promotion, Persuasion & Performance. In other words. You need to know who you are selling to, and what it is you really offer. You need to package what you offer in such a way that other people will find them attractive and want to buy them. Many people simply don't know how to promote themselves effectively enough. Many people can generate the leads, but unfortunately don't know how to convert those prospects into sales. Some might achieve all of the previous mentioned strands, but simply not be able to meet their client's expectations.
If your marketing isnt working for you - it might be time to activate your 5 strand marketing DNA. ;)
Now with regards to pricing....
What is the VALUE you are offering for the client?
What is the alternative for them other than use you?
What is the VALUE your competitors are offering?
I suggest doing a competitors analysis, and closely examing all the "Ps" with regards to your competitors to then revisit your existing proposition and offer before following through with any tactics as such.
Don't become price competitive, become value oriented.
Hope that helps.
|Reply : 15 Oct 2008|
From a sales point of view, I would recommend implementing initiatives that generate business via word of mouth (or referral marketing). Personal recommendations will work well for you.
I would carefully monitor what you are getting back from your advertising spend - my instinct is that this will not work, especially if you are not specialising or targeting a particular market sector!
Also, and when you meet potential customers for the first time be very clear on your 'pitch' and the benefits to them if they buy from you. Be professional - follow through on what you promise.
You may also want to consider a small incentive for new customers should they be wavering committing to use you.
|Reply : 16 Oct 2008|
I think you've received some good advice from Fraser and Mark.
All businesses need to answer questions such as:
It's not clear from your question whether your current clients are householders or businesses, but judging by what you're charging, I'm going to guess that it's householders.
I think I'm going to speak more from the position of someone who "consumes" cleaning services, than as a marketing consultant.
I note from your website that you're based in Birmingham. I'm just outside London and I pay £7 per hour, so £10 an hour in the Midlands sounds expensive to me. I would therefore be sceptical of you being able to increase that price. I think the only way that you'd be able to get those higher "commercial" rates is by focusing your energies on offices and shops.
You might also like to consider blocks of flat where you can get fairly lucrative, long-term contracts. We currently pay something completely astronomical like £50 per week for a guy to come in and sweep the floors in the communal areas which only takes about 45 minutes per week. However, as I'm now a director of the RTM Co and we're taking over the management in 2 months' time, you can bet your bottom dollar that we're going to work hard to get that figure halved!
But the principle is there. You could contact managing agents in your area, who are the ones usually responsible for cleaning contracts. If you go to the ARMA website, you'll probably be able to get lists of them.
Fraser spoke about value. I think part of the problem with a cleaning service is that the "value envelope" (if you like) is pretty narrow. There isn't that much difference between a good cleaning company and a mediocre one. People will not pay 2 or 3 times more if your cleaners are much better than others. Maybe they'll pay 30% more. In any event, it will be difficult to create consistent quality between different staff members, so unless you do something dramatically different, then I think people will generally view cleaning as something of a commodity.
You also have to figure out "what game" you're in. Is the challenge to oust existing providers, or is it to persuade people who don't currently have a cleaning service that getting one is a good idea. Your offer or your proposition will need to be different for each case.
Let's take the example of shops. Do most shops have a cleaning service (I have no idea) or do the existing staff do the cleaning? If it's the existing staff, they're probably being paid minimum wage of £5.52 (or whatever it is). So why would they elect to pay you £10 per hour? In what ways would employing your services help them to save money or make more money, or have an easier, happier life?
As with most small businesses, you may find that you benefit from specialising. You may not be ready to do that yet, but you might want to hold on to that thought as things progress. When you specialise, you'll have a much stronger message because you'll be clearer about what your clients really want and what makes you different and more valuable. You'll also find it easier to find your target market and to communicate a compelling message and irresistible offer.
As far as the tactic you already have in place (the leaflets) I would hope you'll be delivering those in areas where people have the disposable income to pay for cleaners and who are cash-rich/time-poor. You wouldn't have any problems selling your services to the business women of Hertfordshire!
Which gives me another idea - might it be worth trying business networking - especially business women's groups?
More generally, I would encourage you to put thoughts about the "credit crunch" out of your mind, unless it specifically affects your strategy. Focusing on this is not likely to help you remain positive and optimistic, and it's the media spreading doom and gloom that tends to either cause or aggravate recessions in the first place.
Let us know how you go!
If you want to know how to attract clients instead of chasing after them, click here to download the fr*ee report "3 Secrets for Easily and Consistently Attracting All the Clients You Can Handle"
|Reply : 17 Oct 2008|
I think your question has been answered by Fraser, Mark and Jane above so my input is generally the same but with a different angle being branding.
Many traditional services like VA's, PA's, tradesmen and cleaners are taking a big push into branding. Its a way of reinventing a old trade which has found a new market in today's world.
My advice would be to take all of the above questions into account and look into professional branding. It doesn't have to be expensive just professionally finished. Overall the new image should speak volumes about who you are and account for all the above questions which were asked above.
Look at it as a way of separating yourself from other cleaning companies to build a unique niche and reputation in your trade.
What to get done:
- logo design
- bus cards
Livery and uniforms become a mobile advert whilst bus cards and invoices show professionalism, trust and become subliminal marketing materials.
Everything should affect the outcome of the new image from target market to service and price.
Pricing: You can charge £10 or you can charge £100 if you like but you must justify it and charge it appropriately.
eg. You can charge £10 to clean a house or you can charge £30 which includes additional outdoor maintenance as well.
This is justified but will it work and will anyone actually be interested in it? Does it appeal to your TA? If not can you reach and alternative TA with this idea?
Think about the future your business, how can you revolutionise it and make it a unique trade to you.
Articles on brand and design that you may find helpful:
Brand, Identity & Design. What's the difference?
5 Steps to defining your brand
Turning your business into a corporate identity
Does Sex make Sales?
|Reply : 24 Aug 2010|
I believe it is simpler than that.
Make your service what your customers want and then - if you can be sure that it works every time - add a guarantee to remove the risk from the customer. What the guarantee is is entirely down to you and what you believe your customers will respond to but it needs to entirely remove the risk that a new customer faces when changing supplier, often its better the devil you know even if their service is awful.
You could consider free trials - you don't pay unless you are 100% delighted (not satisfied), offer an unconditional money back guarantee if they are not delighted, get the idea.
In our business in Glasgow we offer guaranteed delivery times for accounts or our clients don't pay - see what I mean? But you really MUST make sure your processes are robust enough to ensure you can deliver the same high quality service every single time.
Hope that is a useful addition to the thread