There are a lot of rules around running a cleaning business. But you can find greater success if you know which of those rules to break – and when to break them.
Rules are made to be broken. (Well, not all rules.) We don’t mean to say that businesses should disregard regulations, especially if they exist for safety or legal reasons. Sometimes though, after playing by the rules, it can help to bend or yes, even break, the guidelines you go by when running a cleaning business.
Before anyone goes off breaking the rules for no reason, let’s add some context. A famous quote, often attributed to Picasso and the Dalai Lama, but seemingly coined by Alexander McQueen, says, essentially, “Learn the rules so that you’ll know how to break them properly.” That second part is the necessary caveat here. We’re not suggesting mere disobedience. That wouldn’t do much for business. What we’re talking about here is innovation, thinking outside of the box, and only breaking the rules when doing so will lead to a better outcome.
Again, we’re not talking about just any rules, here. It’s still smart to unplug your machines before you work on them, and you never want to skip checking references on new hires. But there are a few rules specific to running a cleaning business that can and possibly should be broken once you’ve got the hang of them.
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The 7 rules of running a cleaning business that you need to start breaking right now
Rule #1: Never turn down a job
You’ve probably heard that you should never turn down a job, especially if you’re trying to get your business off the ground. But if you’re running a cleaning business sustainably, you can’t always adhere to this rule of thumb. Sometimes, if business has been slow, it’s wise to take what jobs come along just to keep the lights on, but in reality, your cleaning business will do better by being selective about the work that you accept.
One of the most important reasons for this has to do with company values. Whether you’re new to the industry or you’ve spent years running a cleaning business, an essential part of the work you do is what motivates you, what you value. In turn, you’ll want customers who share those values. Taking every job that comes your way could associate you with a customer that doesn’t quite see the world the way you do, which can then make new customers give you a second think.
Be selective about your work, and you’ll build longer-lasting relationships with clients while attracting new ones with whom you also connect.
Rule #2: Always be selling
While it’s true that you never want to miss a good business opportunity, as the owner of a cleaning company, it’s essential that you do more than just sell. Build relationships with current customers as well as your employees. Invest in training for your employees and software for your business. Strategize how you want to do that selling. Building your customer base and selling services is important, but unless you’re a cleaning services salesperson, there’s much more to your job, and therefore, much more you should be doing besides just selling.
Rule #3: Keep costs low/hire cheap
Whether it be what you invest in your labor, your materials, or other things to enhance your business, the advice to keep costs low and hire cheap is only somewhat useful. You want to maximize your earning while minimizing your spending, but remember the catch-phrase, “You get what you pay for.” Good labor may cost more. Safe, efficient supplies may carry a higher price tag. Cleaning software will add to your spend, but maximize your efficiency. Crunch the numbers, but when you’re done, err on the side of spending (within reason) unless you’re simply in no financial position to do so.
Rule #4: Always offer discounts
Discounts are a helpful tool for gaining new customers and rewarding current ones, but just because you’re running a cleaning business doesn’t mean you need to give stuff away for free. Use discounts as a device when necessary, but otherwise, stand by your pricing (assuming it’s fair). If your services are as good as the price says, then holding firm can make you more attractive to a customer because they assume you must be able to back it up. Again, use discounts when appropriate, but don’t be afraid to regularly charge top dollar for top services.
Rule #5: Stay away from print marketing
Many people talk about how digital marketing is the future, and companies should save on print marketing as it dies a slow death. This is definitely a rule to break. According to a recent study, print marketing can bring in a return-on-investment (ROI) of over 1,200%. That’s a pretty great return! Search the internet, and you’ll find plenty more statistics to show that print marketing is still effective among all generations, and it probably will be for some time to come. If you’re running a cleaning business, set aside some of that marketing budget for direct mail, business cards, and signage.
Rule #6: Don’t bother clients for referrals
Another breakable rule is one that says you shouldn’t ask current satisfied clients for referrals. Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective forms of advertisement, so of course, you’ll want to get referrals from clients. If they’re happy, they won’t feel “bothered” or “pestered” by your request. They may say no, but they won’t stop using you over it. And if you want to incentivize them, go ahead, use one of those discounts we just talked about not offering! Just remember that you can’t incentivize someone only for a good referral. This should become a moot point if you only approach happy clients.
Rule #7: Don’t try to do everything
Lastly, you may hear that running a cleaning business means you need to be a generalist, offering just the basic services while only specializing in one or two things. This is a good rule for beginners, but as you grow your business over time, continue to add in as many niche services as you like! The more you offer, the larger your pool of clients will be. Of course, you want to be sure that you’re good at the extra services, but once you’ve mastered one area, add another. Especially in today’s digital world, people are looking for one-stop-shops for most everything. Be that for your clients as much as you can and see how your client-base (and revenue) grow.
While it’s true that running a cleaning business is a lot of work, and many of the rules can help your business stay in compliance and operate safely, some rules outlive their usefulness.
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