I’m finally ready for commercial clients…how do I find them? And when I do, how the heck will I close the deal?”
If you’re in the commercial cleaning business, you’ve probably had that thought a time or two. Gaining new commercial cleaning clients can sometimes feel like an impossible task.
The following tips will help you find (and close!) the right commercial cleaning bid in no time — with minimal stress.
This article will give you reliable resources and advice on…
- Networking to find commercial contracts
- How to be professional
- How to bid (and win!) any commercial cleaning contract
- How to tell if you and a potential client are a good fit
- Questions you should always ask yourself BEFORE any bid
- What to do when you lose an account
Commercial Contracts Are Built Around Who You Know
The KEY to gaining more commercial cleaning clients is NETWORKING. In order to find new commercial contracts, you have to start with someone. The more people you network with, the more easily you can land new commercial contracts.
WAIT…what is networking? Networking is when you create a list of potential resources you can use to gain more clients. In other words, networking is making connections. These are mutually beneficial relationships with people or businesses.
In order to begin networking, YOU have to initiate it. Your networking list isn’t going to build itself. YOU have to make it happen.
Here’s how you can build your own potential networking list:
- Current Clients: Ask current clients (who are happy with you!) if they know of any janitorial work that they could refer to you. Make sure they understand the service you’re offering, since not everyone will immediately understand “commercial cleaning.”
- Door-to-Door: Go to local commercial buildings and speak with the owner. Ask about their current janitorial situation and look for pain points. Even if they’re under contract, you can occasionally touch base and see how things are going – one day they’ll be renegotiating that contract.
- ISSA: Join the ISSA. As a member of the ISSA, you’ll have access to all kinds of valuable contacts. You’ll be able to connect with other local commercial cleaning businesses as well as potential clients! You’ll also have the ability to attend exclusive events where you can grow your potential networking list.
- Vendors: The people who provide you with cleaning products and equipment know everyone in the industry — they work with all of them. Treat them well and they’ll take care of you.
- Chamber of Commerce: A great way to rub shoulders with local business owners. Grab coffee with interesting people. Build relationships with people in your community.
- Local Residential Cleaning Businesses: This is especially easy if you don’t work in the residential space (or you’re transitioning out of it). You can offer to refer clients their way for residential work and they can refer to you for commercial.
- Social Media: If your commercial cleaning company isn’t on social media, you’re missing out! This is the EASIEST way to gain FREE networking. You’ll make your company more discoverable AND create a forum for you to connect with past, current and potential clients.
Dress for the Job You Want to Win
No one wants to hire someone that doesn’t look professional…
We’re talking about commercial cleaning, but let’s look at things from another perspective for a minute.
You’re looking for a housekeeper for your home. You meet with two businesses.
The first business: No website
- Beat-up, squeaky, brown Pinto you can hear from the end of your street
- Worse, they’re wearing t-shirts and jeans with “questionable” stains
- Vacuum is duct-taped together
The second business:
- Well-managed website
- Clean, blue can with the business’ logo on the side
- Clean uniforms
- Gear is clean and organized in the back of the van
This may be a drastic example, but nonetheless the point is the same. Professionalism is EVERYTHING!
There were several issues brought up in this scenario that you may or may not have noticed. Let’s talk about them…
Uniforms. An article by UniFirst mentions a national survey, conducted by J.D. Power and Associates. This survey found that businesses with uniforms are more likely to get hired.
These businesses were seen to be more professional and capable.
Vehicle Wraps. The first benefit is obvious: vehicle wraps look great.
When you go to a job, your customer base knows you’re a legit business. On top of that, they’re free advertising!
Vehicle wraps are way cheaper than paid advertising and it’s a consistent way for you to effortlessly keep your business in front of the community! And… wraps are actually EASIER to maintain than regular paint.
Website. A professional website will provide your potential customers with information about your business. In turn, this reinforces your brand imaging.
In other words, it is another way to legitimize your business. It also increases your SEO (search engine optimization). This means your website will be MUCH easier to fund (and get way more visitors)!
Employees. Hiring the right employees is KEY to looking and being a pro. Additionally, your employees need to be trained correctly.
Equipment. Remember that ratty, old vacuum we talked about? Your equipment must be up for the job. No matter how much training your employees have, they need the proper tools to complete their service.
Having the proper equipment means your employees will get the job done faster and more efficiently.
It also creates better job satisfaction for your employees…And happier employees = happier clients.
The bottom line? If you look like a pro, you’re perceived as a pro.
How to Bid (and Win!) Any Commercial Cleaning Contract
SO you have all this information. Now, let’s put together what we’ve learned so far.
The 5 steps to bidding success are…
Step 1: Check your pricing.
If you want to stay in business, you have to gain clients that are actually going to make you money.
One of the most common beginner mistakes is being the cheapest bid. This is how you lose attractability to potentially profitable clients.
If you’re selling yourself short, your clients will think you’re desperate. They’ll wonder why your bid is so much lower than everyone else’s. The result? You won’t win the bid.
Step 2: Provide an itemized list to your potential clients.
Businesses are on a budget, and they want to know what they’re paying for.
It tells them why they should hire you over other commercial cleaning businesses. It’s also another way for you to justify your pricing.
Step 3: Prepare a list of interview questions before the consultation.
Regardless of whether or not the client wants to hire you, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to hire the client.
You’ve got to find out if the client will be a good fit for you. If you want to stay in business, you have to gain clients that are actually going to make you money.
Step 4: Bring the contract.
This may sound presumptuous to some that are new to the commercial cleaning business, but this is a MUST. Do not give the potential client the ability to go home and think about the deal.
In the marketing world, everyone knows consumers make decisions primarily based on emotion…BEFORE they justify it later with logic.
Get them to sign the contract when they’re most EXCITED about you.=
Step 5: Know your business.
Be prepared to answer anything and everything about your business. Bring statistical information with you to the consultation. Prove your integrity and credibility to your client.
We said earlier, consumers initially make decisions based on emotion…so if you already have the necessary information while you’re doing the consultation, they’re way more likely to sign a contract with you.
Worried your prices are out of whack? Learn how to Properly Price your Cleaning Services
Not all money is “good” money.
It’s better to turn down a client that’s going to lose you money than to gain a non-profitable client!
In most cases, you’ll be able to explain your prices to your potential clients..
Occasionally, you might run into an impossible potential client. You’ve tried to compromise, but they just won’t budge. They may be looking for a bid at a price you can’t provide for the services they want.
This isn’t a good fit — DON’T sign a contract with this client. It’ll set the tone for a reputation you DON’T want, and you’ll lose money. You know what your services are worth — don’t accept anything that goes below your minimum profit margin.
Want to learn more about non-profitable clients? Learn how Your Unprofitable Customers are Killing You
The Most Important Questions to Ask Before you Bid
Bidding can be complicated…especially when you don’t know the right questions to ask yourself.
Questions you should ask yourself before you bid to your potential client:
- How low can I go? You need to know how low you can bid. If you don’t know, then you may end up bidding too low to a client. You want to receive commercial bids, but you want to make sure those bids are going to turn into profitable clients.
- How many people am I bidding against? What’s the competition doing or offering? When a potential client challenges your bid by referencing another company’s cheaper bid, ask to see what services are included. Make sure your bid is comparable BEFORE dropping your price.
- How good is my relationship with the decision maker? Determining where you stand with the decision maker is arguably the most important question to ask yourself. No matter what the answer is, you must ask yourself if there is anything you can do to improve it.
- What can you upsell on this contract? This allows you to bid lower, while still getting your money’s worth. It’s way easier to sell to an already existing client than to get a potential client to swallow a bid for every service you offer.
- Can I meet the potential commercial cleaning client’s needs? Knowing whether or not you can meet this potential client’s needs is important. Your business WILL NOT be a perfect fit for everyone. You have to know when it’s time to tell a potential client that you’re not a good fit for their business.
- Will I make a profit on this contract? If a potential client isn’t profitable — don’t sign with them. You’re not a nonprofit. You’re a business. Businesses survive (and thrive!) on profit. If this client won’t be profitable, it’s time to throw in the towel.
- Are there any potential networking opportunities? There are ALWAYS potential networking opportunities. If this client signs a contract with you, don’t be afraid to ask your new client about nearby businesses.
What Happens if You Lose a Commercial Cleaning Account?
We’ve all been there. Some clients will leave when the annual contract is up. Other clients will leave before the contract is up.
One thing is for sure…You WILL lose clients.
This is a natural part of doing business. It’s nothing personal, but for one reason or another your client has chosen someone else for the job.
When you inevitably lose a client, be POLITE.
You want to end things on a good note. There’s still a chance they’ll come back to you in the future. In fact, you should be touching base with former clients every few months to see how things are going.
Always try to convince your client to stay…but don’t be desperate.
You may try to offer them a better deal, but accept their answer when the decision is no. If you don’t get emotional and let them know you’re still available, they’re going to remember you when they themselves or someone they know needs commercial cleaning.
Do not take the loss of a client personally.
Often times, a client is terminating service based on budget cuts. In a lot of cases, the company that undercut you is new — and not profitable. They might go under before the contract is up, leaving your former client in the lurch and ready to bring you back.
Sometimes, a client is terminating their service due to poor satisfaction.
Review your business and determine whether you’re maximizing your potential. ALWAYS ask them WHY they’re terminating their service, so you can evaluate.
This article is VITAL as you win your next commercial cleaning bid. These tips will help you win your next janitorial or commercial cleaning bid. They’ll also make sure you win the RIGHT bid.
If you follow the steps in this article, you’ll find clients who are a great fit and will stick around from year to year.
Now, get out there and win those commercial cleaning accounts!