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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Question

I just started a commercial cleaning business. The papers are done, but I didnít get any offers yet. I applied to become a subcontractor, but still there is silence. What else should I do? Keep advertising?


Answer

Answer # 1:
When you first start up a commercial cleaning service you have no track record and limited experience. Your clients will not be Fortune 500 companies. And since most phone calls from Yellow Pages ads are to get low-priced estimates, that is not your most productive source of business, either. You cannot just wait for offers to come to you.
Take your business cards and start visiting small offices and local businesses to find some that need your services. Offer a free proposal for their cleaning needs. You will make a lot of contacts before you succeed in finding a need to fill, but it will happen. Keep good records of those with whom you speak so you can follow up in a month or so to see if anything has changed.
Once you have a RFP, price it right - fair to them, but profitable to you - and insist on doing a good job.
Forget working for others as a sub-contractor. When you are just beginning to develop a business, you need all the practical experience and all the cash flow you can get. Most of those nationwide contractors who are looking for local sub-contractors to do mall retail outlets and such, are trying to keep every dime they can and will ask you to work for ridiculously low prices.
If you have a lot of business, you can pick and choose, but if you need the work desperately, you will be at their mercy as you wait forever for payment and they string you along with promises of more work if you just are patient.
Your best, and least expensive, advertising is word-of-mouth. Price the work fairly, do a good job, ask for references, and repeat the cycle.
As simple as cleaning appears to be, there are a lot of poorly maintained properties out there and a lot of incompetent cleaners trying to look after them. There is work. Go get it. And be determined to keep it.
Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Associate Editor
lekrafft@juno.com

Answer # 2:
Customers and other contractors tend to hire crews which convey a professional image, demonstrate experience and commitment and have references. An attractive marketing flier and business card is the best place to start. Explain your service coverage and any special areas of expertise. Passing out your fliers and asking prospects if they would like a free back up bid is advisable. Learn to submit bids based on accurate time projections and competitive (yet profitable) hourly billing rates. If you lack cleaning references, try to obtain written personal references (friends that have a business card and will vouch for your personal character).
Gary Clipperton
National Pro Clean Corp
(719) 598-5112
www.nationalproclean.com