Wondering how to grow your cleaning business? There’s no better way than through good old-fashioned networking.

If you run a business, you know that the first key to success is in the relationships you build. Business is about people as much as it is about service. So if you’re thinking about how to grow your cleaning business, you should first think about the relationships you have, followed promptly by the relationships they might lead to.

Why think about people? Because they are the ones who are going to go out into the world and tell others what they think about the work you’ve done for them. Especially in the age of Yelp! and other online review forums, it’s essential that you send customers away happy not just so that they’ll come back, but so that they’ll bring others with them.

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How To Grow Your Cleaning Business

How to grow your cleaning business: Online reviews

More than perhaps any other advertising method, online reviews shape how to grow your cleaning business, or at least, where you need to start. Websites like Angie’s List and Yelp! are major hubs where people go to find information about businesses they may hire.

The reviews on sites like these can make or break a business, so it’s essential to do everything you can to make sure people have something nice to say. While it’s probably true that you won’t please everyone all the time, if the majority of your reviews are positive, any negativity will go by the wayside.

How do you get positive reviews? Apart from providing outstanding service, there’s a very simple way: ask. At the conclusion of service, ask your customers about their experiences. If positive, encourage them to leave an online review. You can even offer an incentive, like a discount on services, for leaving a review. Just note that you cannot provide the incentive for ONLY good reviews; people have to be free to write any kind of review and still receive the incentive.

Angie’s List is particularly useful because of the verified reviews. Again, if you lack reviews there, just ask your best customers if they’d mind writing a review of your business. Most people will be happy to do it, especially since membership on Angie’s List is now free. If your customers like the service they receive, they’ll be glad to throw more business your way.

How To Grow Your Business

How to grow your cleaning business: Build rapport

To that same end, when you start looking at what makes your cleaning business thrive, building rapport with customers is always near the top of the list. To create the rapport you need to flourish, it takes more than just doing a good job. There has to be something extra, some added value that isn’t just a discount or freebie.

Ask customers questions about their experiences, make them feel cared for. Anticipate their needs and make suggestions. If they’re asking for more services than they may need, let them know your professional opinion. If customers see that you’re primary interest is their interest and not just your revenue, they’ll respect you and even more important, they’ll trust you.

Another way to build rapport is to be visible in the community. Attend local chamber of commerce events. Sponsor a charity. Partner with other businesses so you can tell your customers about each other’s services. People don’t just want to see businesses anymore; they want to see the people behind the business. The more connected you are, the more likely people will be to patronize and advertise your business.

How To Grow Your Cleaning Business

How to grow your cleaning business: Talk it up

When you understand how to grow your cleaning business through networking, you know that it primarily boils down to talking. In many sales industries, they consider any “talk-to”— when they discuss any element of what they sell with a potential customer—a type of metric and even a small win. That’s because sales people know that every person who isn’t already a customer is a potential customer.

That doesn’t mean you should start every conversation with something about your cleaning business. That would be a deterrent. But work usually comes up for most people in casual conversation, and there’s nothing wrong with picking your acquaintance’s brain a little bit when it comes to what their needs might be. Maybe they work for a company that’s looking for a new cleaner, or maybe they hear something about your business they like that their current cleaner doesn’t do. The point is, you never know, so keep putting the word out there.

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The more interpersonal you are, the more events you attend, the more charities you support, and the more positive reviews you get in the online world, the more likely you are to see (potentially substantial) growth in your business. Traditional and digital advertising certainly help, but there’s no better way to spread the word about a good thing than to get people talking about it.