Sell more gift cards this holiday season

For some reason, cleaning businesses typically do not sell a lot of gift cards during the holidays. This is a huge missed opportunity at a time when most businesses are selling hundreds if not thousands of them. I won’t go into detail on how to sell maid service gift cards here, but I sold $12,000 worth of gift cards one holiday season just by following the principles that I outline in my gift card course. So it is possible.

Most cleaning business owners get nervous because they think a gift card equals a free cleaning which could be anywhere from 3-8 hours depending on the person’s house. You can solve that problem by noting on the gift card that this is for a three hour cleaning, and when the card is redeemed, you can clearly outline what will be taken care of in that three hours and offer the homeowner the opportunity to purchase more time from you if they’d like. You can also work with them to get their list of prioritized areas and tell them that you’ll tackle that list in the three hours that the gift card covers. With that, you make the redemption process easy and hassle-free.

You’re not selling a cleaning, you’re selling a gift.

Another obstacle to overcome is to turn cleaning into a gift. We sell our house cleaning services every day to people who call up and are looking to solve a dirty house problem. But when we’re selling gift cards, the person who is buying the gift card is not buying a cleaning or a service, they are buying a gift for someone. Let’s say a husband wants to buy his wife a really nice Christmas gift of free house cleaning for a year. He’s buying a gift while you’re selling a cleaning. I’m here to help you think through this disconnect and to get you selling a ton more gift cards this holiday season.

Make this gift look visually spectacular!

The number one tip is that you have to make this gift look visually spectacular. A year’s worth of free cleaning, let’s say, is $1200. You cannot let this hypothetical husband leave your office holding a computer printout for a year’s worth of house cleaning and expect the wife to be dazzled. However, if this printout or actual gift card comes tucked inside an elegant gift basket, you’re well on your way to making that gift a jaw-dropper. So put together a gorgeous, holiday-themed gift basket and fill it with some other items, like a bottle of wine, some wine glasses, some fancy chocolates. We use a really pretty wicker basket and add a few Christmas ornaments inside, then tie it up with a red bow and some holly or greenery to give it that extra Christmas sparkle.

If you’re concerned about including the wine, you can check with your local alcohol bureau to make sure you’re allowed to include wine in the gift basket as long as you haven’t charged directly for it. If that’s not allowed, you could always purchase a gift certificate from a local wine boutique and put that inside, to say that your gift baskets come with a bottle of wine from a local vendor. This wine boutique could also be someone you’ve done a barter with, like you clean their store and get a number of these gift certificates in exchange.

Another idea is including a gift card in the basket for a therapeutic massage—another potential spot for you to barter your services in exchange for receiving gift cards that you can include in your own holiday gift basket. Restaurant certificates are another good idea (and yet another potential barter partner).

The goal here is to make a very elegant gift that someone will feel special receiving. You can have several of these baskets made up ahead of time to save yourself time and money. Then you can tuck your own gift card into the basket depending on the amount of money someone wants to spend with you.

We use the gift baskets as a bonus to entice people to spend more. I don’t mind giving away those free massages or wine or chocolates when I know I’ve sold $1200 worth of house services to this person. Bartering for those extra bonus items makes it even cheaper for you, and then you build it into the price of the package you’re selling them by saying that you’re throwing in over $100 of free bonuses into the gift basket when they buy a year’s supply of maid services, or a $1200 basket worth $1300.

The bottom line is that you’re not selling a cleaning, you’re selling a gift. So you need it to look and feel like a gift and it needs to be something tangible they can hold in their hands. There is nothing elegant, romantic, or special about that husband printing off the gift certificate that you emailed him and him giving that to his wife on Christmas morning. It doesn’t feel special. But this gorgeous gift basket that you’re building is a different story.

The actual construction of the gift baskets is easy. Get yourself some wicker baskets, a roll of cellophane, some pipe cleaner, red bows, bits of greenery. You can make them up ahead of time and close the top of the cellophane with a pipe cleaner so you can just twist it and tie the bow on later, then you can reach in and adjust the gift card amounts based on what they buy. Perhaps someone doesn’t want to buy $1200 worth of maid service but rather 4 hours of cleaning once a month for 12 months. You can do the math and adjust your gift card amount based on what you’d charge for that job.

Once you’ve got your gift baskets in place, take some photos of your beautiful creations and spread the word. Mention it in all your emails, have your staff leave flyers with your clients, put something out on Facebook about it once or twice a week, hit up your NextDoor threads with information on your gift baskets.

Make sure that the gift looks elegant and high-value, and you are on your way to breaking that pesky habit cleaning business owners have of not selling enough gift cards in the holidays.


I highly recommend that you join my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course to get training, strategy, and weekly answers to your burning questions. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

Marketing for the holiday season on a budget

It’s crunch time for holiday planning—are you ready? If you have been heads down on your business, it might surprise you to look at the calendar pages flying off the wall as we approach the last months of the year. If you haven’t put aside a certain amount of money to promote your business during this busy season, I’m here to help with some low-cost and no-cost marketing ideas.

How do you get the most out of your marketing dollar?

Marketing does not have to be expensive—you can start small. Below are some tips around how to get the most out of a tiny marketing budget, and still manage to grow your business.

Be responsive – answer inbound leads immediately

You can’t just spend money on advertising and then not answer your phone when customers ring. You need to be sure you’re responsive to your marketing—answer immediately. It’s not going to work if you don’t call prospects back for days or if they can’t ever reach you. With a quick response, you should be able to snag those jobs that your marketing drives to you.

Start small and invest your profits back into marketing

If all you have is $300, then start there. Let’s say that this $300 produces a customer. You should take the profit you get from that new customer and put it directly back into marketing. Keep putting the profit you make each month back into marketing and see how quickly marketing pays for itself.

Be strategic and analyze the effectiveness of each marketing source

You have to be strategic. Well-placed marketing is worth the investment because there’s a return. When you spend $1000 and get 3 or 4 customers who will use you for a year or longer, it pays for itself. You have to analyze each marketing source you spend money with— is it a weak source, driving low-value customers or none at all? Then cut that source and replace it with a proven source.

No money? Invest time instead

If you really can’t afford to spend money on marketing you can spend time instead. Sometimes you have more time than money… and sometimes you have neither but you find a way! Go door to door with flyers, spend time networking with local business groups, be active in your local Facebook and Nextdoor groups.

Other low cost or free marketing ideas

  • Email marketing is very cheap. It’s not free, but it’s inexpensive. Build your list and communicate to your subscribers with relevant information and offers.
  • Go to networking events and attend local events in your community, like local trade shows or festivals. Recently I had an employee attend a women’s networking event— we had our table and signage, which probably cost me $100—and had hundreds of people to come by and engage with my employee.
  • Build up your Facebook page and presence, and participate in Facebook groups by making recommendations for local restaurants and dialoguing with people on Facebook. It costs you nothing. When the time is right, talk about your service and get the word out organically through conversations you’re having in these groups.
  • Incentivize a friend to drum up business— give them $20 for each client they send you.
  • Partner affiliate relationships don’t cost you anything but a business card. Leave business cards at local nail salons and restaurants and tell them that for every client they refer, you’ll give the client a $50 gift card for nail treatment or dining out. The partner businesses will be thrilled to promote you because that means money back to them.

 


This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

Do well by doing good

It’s October, which means Breast Cancer Awareness month is in full swing. If you’re a member of my non-profit that donates free house cleanings to women battling cancer (Cleaning for a Reason) be sure you take advantage of all the good work that you’re doing by letting your community know!

Media outlets are hungry for feel good stories, so now is a great time to reach out and let them know that you’re doing work that benefits the community. If they want to interview you, don’t be nervous! I have a ton of great tips on how to handle your first (and second, and third…) interview. It gets easier over time as you nail your talking points and especially if you keep practicing.

If you don’t want to join Cleaning for a Reason, find something in your local community that sparks your passion and that you feel good about doing. Maybe it’s volunteering to do quarterly cleanings at your local pet rescue shelter, or cleaning your church’s community center. Whatever cause that you choose, be sure it’s something that you feel rewarded by, even without receiving any monetary gain. Your personal connection to the cause will help you come across in the media as an authentic, caring business owner.

Once you select your pet project, don’t just quietly volunteer—tell the world about how you’re helping! Where can you shout from the rooftops?

  • Social media is free. Your local Facebook group, Nextdoor, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all great places to mention the good work you are doing.
  • Send emails to your clients. Take a picture of your staff in front of your sign or branded cars and announce that you are giving back to the community.
  • Ask your clients to help spread the word to their friends and colleagues. You can even ask them what their special cause is, to get ideas about other good work you can do and engage them in the conversation.
  • Tell your local newspaper, television, or radio station. Are you already buying advertising in these outlets? If so, they are much more likely to take your call!

Now that you’ve told people, you must continually remind them that you’re giving back to the community. Don’t just tell people one time and assume the message is out there. Set yourself up with a schedule to post once a week or every couple of weeks on your social media channels. When you post, provide a story or a detail about someone you helped.

This organic exposure drives awareness for your cleaning company. You’ll create the buzz and exposure you are looking for if you consistently remind people about the work you do for the community.

 


This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

How to prepare for a media opportunity

October—also known as Pinktober, or breast cancer awareness month— is right around the corner, which means there are tons of media opportunities for you if your company participates in Cleaning For A Reason by giving free cleanings to women who are battling cancer. So let’s say you have a local radio interview booked in the coming weeks. Whatever you do, don’t panic! I’ve got some great tips on how to prepare for your interview.

How to prepare

The most important prep tip? Practice. Say your answers out loud, in front of a mirror, again and again until you feel comfortable and feel that you’ve got it down.

First things first. Find out how long your interview is expected to last. Usually they are around two to three minutes, but they could go longer depending on your media outlet. This will help you gauge how much time you need to fill.

Then find out if the interview is live or pre-recorded. If this is your first time speaking with the media, you’ll want to know whether or not you have the chance for a do-over if it’s pre-recorded. Even if it is pre-recorded, you should act like it’s a live interview to keep your hosts from having to do a lot of editing. They’re hoping for a one-take interview, with at most maybe one stumble that they can edit out. But don’t plan on practicing your answers on the interviewer; put your best foot forward and act like it’s a live interview. If you do stumble on an answer during a pre-recorded show, you can say “I’m sorry, can you ask me that question again so I do a better job answering?”

Jot down a few talking points and a phrase or two that you want to use. Media people love soundbites, and this will help you to calm your nerves as well.

Be prepared to tell a very short story about why you started your business or why you’re participating in Cleaning For A Reason.

Make a list of questions that you want your hosts to ask you. Most of them love to follow your questions, but you can’t guarantee that they’ll stick to it. It helps them out if you’ve thought through a few short questions they can ask you.

Don’t ramble on; that’s a sure sign of nervousness. Remember that the radio personality who’s interviewing you likes to do most of the talking because they’re the star of the show, not you. Your interview has to be a balanced give and take, not just you rambling endlessly.  The smoothest interviews are where you give a two or three sentence answer with a sound bite or two, and then you pause so they can jump in and comment or ask another question.

Keep it positive. Restate what’s unique about your company. Have your killer sales pitch about your services. When you’re selling, sell what’s important to their audience; is it a show that moms listen to? Talk about how you do excellent work and don’t kill their pets and their kids with harsh chemicals.

If you have time, you can provide some short cleaning tips. People love to hear about some of the germiest places in the home that people never think to clean, like the coffee pot that never gets washed out. You can also mention interesting tidbits like, “Studies have shown that most bathroom toilets have less bacteria on it than the kitchen sink.”

Be sure to insert your company name without overdoing it, like: “At ‘Cleaning Company XYZ’ we do a thorough job without using harsh chemicals that harm your children or pets.” You’ll want to keep reminding listeners of who you are, but not to the point where you mention it in every sentence.

Try to mention that one of the things that is important to you is that your employees are happy. You can also use this as a recruiting pitch: “We know you’ll be happy with a clean home but it can’t be achieved without having happy employees. And we’re always hiring. We’re always looking for that amazing cleaner who wants to work for the best cleaning company in town.”

Don’t compare yourself with local competitor. If you do that, you end up speaking negatively about them. Instead, talk about how amazing you are.

Take this opportunity to send people to your business. Be sure to give your website and once they’re there, have a clear call to action to sign up for more information or a quote.

The most important prep tip? Practice. Say your answers out loud, in front of a mirror, again and again until you feel comfortable and feel that you’ve got it down.

What to do after the interview

Once you do the interview, they usually send you a link to the audio file. You can download this file and then upload it to your own website. Or you can put together a picture montage with the audio and upload to YouTube, and then embed this in your website.

Post this radio interview on your social media channels, and then repost it a few times a year. Just because you did the interview once doesn’t mean you can’t link to it again in 4 or 6 months. Put it on your calendar to remind you to repost.

Send a link to the interview via email to your prospects and customers. You’ll be building your reputation for being an expert and your credibility will skyrocket when you get media attention.

Share the interview with your business networking groups or other local community groups. You could simply mention it before the interview happens, like: “Hey everybody! I’m on the radio tomorrow at noon for an interview about my cleaning company.” It’s not as if they’re going to make sure they catch the interview, but you’ve built up credibility with your network.

Whatever you do, don’t just do the interview and then let it be forgotten.

Recap

It is not possible to over-prepare or over-practice. Create your talking points, not long sentences to read out during the interview, but short snippets that you want to cover. Create questions you want to be asked, and then practice in front of a mirror, out loud, answering the questions you hope the host will ask. Don’t just practice your answers in your head. There is no comparison to practicing out loud, in front of a mirror, and hearing how it comes out.

When you practice you might discover that you ramble on and on. Create a few soundbites and tighten up what you want to share. With your talking points and practice, you cannot be overprepared.

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This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

 

Work for a good cause and get free publicity for your business

You might know that in addition to running my own successful cleaning company and consulting business, I’m also the founder of Cleaning For A Reason, a nonprofit that provides free house cleanings for women who are battling cancer. Working for a good cause can provide positive press exposure for your company, in addition to making you feel good about helping people.

When you align your brand with the idea of giving back to your community, you create a lot of positive brand awareness for your company. This cause marketing is a great way for you to get absolutely free publicity. With “Pinktober” on the horizon, I wanted to cover the benefits of participating in such a program so you can take advantage of the media frenzy that usually accompanies October’s focus on breast cancer.

The best way to help get your company exposure is through free publicity that comes from cause marketing. It doesn’t cost you anything and you are giving back to your community.

What are the benefits?

By giving back to your community, people will talk about your business and tell their friends and coworkers about your company. It’s an opportunity to differentiate your cleaning business from others in your area. When you participate in a non-profit like Cleaning For A Reason, you’re helping your local community and it’s a great way to stand out from the competition.

It’s also an incredible conversation opener— what a great talking point for your chamber of commerce meeting when you stand up to announce that you’re offering free house cleanings to women who are battling cancer!

When you join an organization like Cleaning For A Reason, you can piggyback on our organization’s statistics. We’ve served over 29,000 women and donated over $10M in free house cleaning services. Those dollar signs are attention grabbers for the media. Your local paper would love to interview you about your service, especially when you include those eye-popping statistics.

One of the rewards of giving back is creating lifelong relationships with the patients you help. You also get customers, but that’s not why you join—it’s a side benefit when some of the women go on to become paying customers.

So, a quick recap: the best way to help get your company exposure is through free publicity that comes from cause marketing. It doesn’t cost you anything and you are giving back to your community.

Tell the world

There’s just one thing— your participation in a cause like Cleaning For A Reason won’t translate into publicity unless you actually tell people about it! You will be the best kept secret in town if no one knows that you’re providing this free service. Start to spread the word that you’re giving free house cleanings to women who are fighting cancer. It’s a feel good story that people will love to pass along to their friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.

  • Social media is a great place to start. Post on your local Facebook groups, LinkedIn, Nextdoor, Twitter, wherever you feel comfortable. Post a picture of your staff and announce that you are giving back to the community. Take the photo in front of your sign or branded cars for additional exposure!
  • Create an email campaign to notify your customers and prospects that you’re offering free house cleaning services to women with cancer. This creates top-of-mind awareness.
  • Ask people to spread the word with their friends and colleagues. You’re offering an incredible service, completely free, with no strings attached. People will be happy to pass that information along to anyone they know who might benefit.
  • Create a letter or flyer to drop off in every home that your team cleans mentioning your participation in the good cause.
  • Approach your local newspaper, television, or radio station. This is really effective, especially when you’re already buying advertising in those outlets. One of your pitches to them is that you are trying to get more cancer patients to give the free cleanings to and need to get the word out.

But don’t just tell people once. This is key. You’ve got to remind people that you’re giving this free service. Don’t make the mistake of posting once and then never posting again. Get on a schedule to post once a week or every couple of weeks. When you repost, don’t just say the same thing over and over— mix it up and provide a story or a detail about someone you helped. This is organic exposure that drives awareness for your cleaning company and will create unprecedented brand alignment with giving. Be consistent and you’ll create the buzz and exposure you are looking for.

So pick up the phone and make the effort. Send follow up emails. Keep trying. Don’t give up if you don’t hear back from media outlets. This will be easier in October when media outlets are looking for pink, cancer-themed stories. Being able to tell a unique story about your community is incredibly newsworthy to them, instead of running yet another piece about a Race For The Cure.

You can leverage any media coverage that you get by posting it on your Facebook page and linking to it in your emails. Use it a couple times a year; you don’t need to be freshly interviewed each time you post it. Remind people that you’re still here, still available, still helping your community. Give people a reason to talk about you and share what you do and how you do it.

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This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

9 ways to market your business without breaking the bank

Many of the clients that I help are not sure how to go about getting the most bang for their buck, marketing-wise. It’s the struggle that every cleaning business owner faces—how do you find more customers for your service without breaking the bank? Here are a few obvious and not-so-obvious ideas about where you can look for more business.

Word of mouth

This is normally a huge untapped market for new customers for you. Do you already have a few happy clients? Ask them to tell their friends about you. Give them business cards with your information that they can pass along. And be sure to thank them for helping you.

Mailers

People think that print is dead, but we know it is not so. Door hangers, postcards in the mail, mass mailer coupons still work. The key to success is repetition. Don’t stop and start, but keep your brand in front of your target audience and they will call you when they need your service.

Book recurring clients

When you get a new client, be sure your staff provides its usual amazing, high-quality cleaning service, and then follow up with the customer after the cleaning and ask how your team did. If they liked your service, offer to confirm their next cleaning and suggest a date. This is called “the assumptive close” in the world of professional selling, and it works like a charm. When your customer agrees, confirm that they will be on the schedule every two weeks and in many cases, their answer will be yes! One issue I see over and over with cleaning companies is that they neglect to ask for the sale. You have not because you ask not!  Once you start asking for business, you’ll start closing more recurring bookings.

Barter

Bartering is where you exchange your services for those of another professional without any money changing hands. Need a new paint job for your home office? Why not ask a local painter if they’ll accept a trade in cleaning services for payment. To learn more about using bartering to market your business, be sure to check out my Barternomics book.

Flyers

Have your staff start flyering the neighborhoods they visit. As a cleaning business, you’re inherently local. You can also pick a few neighborhoods you’d like to have coverage in, and print up some snazzy flyers that you can leave on door steps or in mailboxes. Hand out flyers in person at a spot where you know busy commuters are flooding past, like a local coffee shop or gas station or bus stop—tell them you can help.

Partnerships

Find a business that you can try a partnership with— for example, a local nail salon. In exchange for cleaning their building, the nail salon could incorporate your marketing into theirs and offer a discount on your services when the customer purchases a service from the nail salon.

Web site

Get a website if you don’t already have one. If you do, make sure it’s up to current design standards that put your company in the right light. It’s worth the investment and acts as the “face” of your business online. If you have not invested in making your website mobile-friendly, spend the money to make it look good on mobile devices, since the majority of traffic these days is on phones and tablets.

Social media

Promote yourself on NextDoor or in Facebook groups by frequently posting unique content. One of the cleaning business owners that I coach has had tremendous success with getting clients from posting in various Facebook groups of the community or in her NextDoor group. She found that success is in the repetition. She posts every day to her Facebook community groups and to NextDoor. By posting different pictures of houses that she cleans, she keeps the content unique and fresh to each post. The last thing you want to do is post the same thing, over and over, making other people in the group angry. So make your posts personal, tell them something about yourself and your business, share a story with each post. Get out there and join some local community groups online, introduce yourself, start to provide helpful information not just about your business, and let people get to know you. Then ease into talking about your business, and keep it up day after day.

Discounts

This is a tried and true method for attracting new customers. Offer a very rich discount on your services (30-40% off) and consider that the cost of acquiring a new client.

 

This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

Give yourself a raise this month

It’s one of the biggest questions that cleaning business owners struggle with and a question I get all the time… What should you charge for your services? If you charge too little, you devalue your own business and shortchange yourself. If you charge too much, you run the risk of pricing yourself out of the market. (To get my full rundown of advice on what to charge, take a look at my pricing for profit kit.)

To figure out what rate you should charge, find out exactly what your professional competition is charging per hour. I recommend using a secret shopping service to figure out exactly what your professional competition is charging per hour. Ask a “secret shopper” to price all the professional services in your area to get a general idea of what the market rate is for your area.

You absolutely do not want to be the lowest priced service in town because you will not make enough to cover your costs and to retain top-quality employees. Don’t make the mistake of devaluing your business. On the flip side, you should be aware of how much your competitors are charging and be sure you don’t price yourself out of the market.

Keep in mind that solo-preneurs who own the business and do the cleaning have almost no overhead and can charge very low hourly rates. Contrast this with franchised businesses that have overhead costs, employee wages, business insurance, and other expenses. If you run a more complex business, then your prices need to be higher than those of sole practitioners who do their own cleaning. Prices vary from state to state, so shop around and see what others are charging.

Charging super low rates is not scalable, because when you are ready to grow your business and hire staff you’ll have a whole batch of underpriced customers that will be unprofitable when your employees clean.. If you run a more complex business with employees and an office, your prices must be higher to cover these costs. Again, I recommend finding out what other services are charging in your area and acting accordingly.

You have to charge enough to pay a good wage, otherwise retaining staff will always be an enormous struggle. Avoid trying to be the “low price provider” in an effort to win market share.  Competing on price is the worst place to be in business.

If you found this helpful, you would benefit from checking out my pricing for profit kit. I help you determine how to size up a job and price it for profit every time.

This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

How to break a bad habit in your business

We all have bad habits that prevent us from being our best selves in business and in life. One of my favorite people, Darren Hardy (the author of The Compound Effect), just shared his experience of going on a “vice fast” every three months where he picks a vice that he has and gives it up for a month. The point is to see if his bad habits have begun to master him or if he’s still the boss of his habits. If there is a real struggle in giving up the habit for a month, then he knows that it’s probably something he should permanently get rid of.

As soon as I heard this, I realized it was a great tip to apply to business as well. Think about it—what is happening in your business that you need to change, what are those bad habits that are undermining your ability to grow or that are detracting from the amount of success you could have experienced this month or year? If you had to give up one of those habits for thirty days, how well would you do?

How to break a bad habit in your business

Here’s how to tackle this.

  • Write out a list of the things you think are bad habits in your business.
  • Circle the one you think will have the greatest impact on your company if you gave it up for a month.
  • Give up that habit. If you struggle, it’s probably the one habit you need to give up the most. Stop doing it for 30 days and don’t backslide.
  • Track your results. Whatever your habit is, break it for a month and see what kind of a difference you see in your business. Do you make more money? Do you get home earlier?
  • Determine if the benefits of giving up the bad habit outweigh the discomfort of not doing it. If so, stop doing that bad habit completely.

Are these bad habits in your business?

When you’re making a list of bad habits you encounter in your business, you might not know where to start. Here are some things that I saw when I was more involved in the day-to-day workings of my company.

  • Checking email first thing in the morning and letting it interrupt you repeatedly throughout the day. Do not allow email to set your priorities for the day. It’s much more important to make sales calls or return voicemails, anything that will help you grow your business. I actually try not to check my email until at least noon.
  • Gossip. We love to talk about other people, but it’s not a good use of time and it can contribute to a negative feeling in the office.
  • Facebook. While we have to use Facebook to promote our business, sometimes we get sidetracked looking at pictures of family and friends and spend much more time there than we intended to spend.
  • Negativity. Our business is full of challenges and it’s easy for people in the office to get annoyed and irritated. Negativity comes naturally in this environment, but it is not helpful or productive and it really poisons the atmosphere of the office.
  • Dawdling or goofing off. This is when you’re trying to work but you’re just not focused or disciplined. Maybe there’s not a lot of pressure to get things done that day, so you dawdle a bit, working on things that aren’t important or goofing off. I find myself throwing laundry in, making another cup of coffee, maybe watching the news, and then I see that it’s 10:30 am and I have yet to sit down at my desk. That’s dawdling and it’s unproductive.
  • Other fun social media, like Pinterest or Instagram or Twitter. You can spend hours on these sites and it does very little to help your business.
  • Idle chit chat. Before we made a conscious effort to reduce this in my office, we would waste so much time just chatting with each other. Now the culture is that unless you’re talking about business, you should take a break to talk about things unrelated to work.
  • Online shopping. Amazon is an addiction. Once you look at something on there, you can’t stop looking. What if you had to cut yourself off from Amazon for thirty days? How much less time would you waste?

This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

 

Was this helpful? Please let me know in the comments.

Fight the summer slump with move-in and move-out cleanings

If you’ve been working in the maid service industry for at least a year, you know that there’s such a thing as a summer slump. It’s in July and August when your sales are slower —when customers skip appointments because they’re on vacation or when teachers put their cleaning service on hold because they’re at home during that time. Luckily, this is also the busiest time of year for people to move, so you can offset the summer slump with additional business from move-in and move-out cleanings.

Switch gears to focus on move-in and move-out cleanings in the summer. A move-in cleaning is a great opportunity to capture repeat business, but for a move-out clean you need to charge the maximum of your pay scale because most likely you will never see that customer again. If you haven’t already, you should establish your move-out cleaning pricing now. Not every cleaning service does them, and people want it done right the first time. They don’t have the luxury of time to be able to fiddle around with a cheaper service.

For move-in cleanings, I usually give them a price break because I want to win their repeat business. But you have to realize that you’re not likely to get their business right away. There are all kinds of expenses that crop up with moving, and often people don’t initiate their cleaning service until they’ve been in their house for at least 3 to 4 months. Whatever you charge, don’t lose money on first time cleans for move-in or move-outs.

How to attract move-in and move-out cleanings

Build relationships with the moving industry or other local vendors. Find out who is a part of the moving industry in your community; this includes realtors, movers, painters, window washers. Then go visit the owner. Offer to take them to lunch or set up a quick 15 minute meeting. Bring them a gift of some kind, like swag from your company, and give them your brochure. In the meeting, tell them you do a lot of move-out cleans in the summer and often people are looking for a mover/painter/realtor, and since you are always looking for reputable companies to refer, you’d love to be able to refer their company. You haven’t asked for a thing from this business owner—you met, gave them a gift, and said you’d like to send business their way. This is the best way to build relationships with local vendors who are in a position to refer you for cleaning work.

Join private Facebook groups for your community and do a search every day for the words “cleaning,” “cleaning service,” and “moving.” If you join 5 or 6 local groups and search every day, it will take you about 15 minutes, and you can respond when you see an inquiry. You’ll get free exposure to all the people seeing your response in addition to the person who’s question you’re answering.

Run paid ads on Facebook or Google AdWords. If you know what you’re doing or if you’ve hired professional help, you can invest in the move-out/move-in cleaning category. This is a great way to capture some summer work and fill in gaps from customers who are skipping or who have cancelled due to moving.

Pay for leads. Home Advisor is another opportunity to consider using during the summer, where you pay for leads to help capture jobs. If you advertise, use very specific verbiage to be able to target the move-in/move-out cleans. Thumbtack and Takl are other sites to try. If you’re able to jump on the leads ASAP, you’ll get more benefit out of these sites.

Do a Facebook Live broadcast offering moving tips. You can search for moving tips and then repackage them as short video broadcasts, like “Summer moving tips from ABC Cleaning: Everybody finds it difficult to get boxes for moving day, so here’s my tip on where to find high- quality moving boxes for free.” End your live broadcast by saying – “if you know a realtor who would like to share this tip with others, or a friend needs this help, please tag them.”

Market additional services to your current customers. Launch a promotion to your customers around laundry or light cleaning. Maybe they wanted to stop the full cleaning for the summer, but you can suggest they get light cleaning and laundry help to handle the additional load with their kids home from college.

Don’t forget door hangers! Get employees to help you with door hangers in neighborhoods they are cleaning. These are relatively cheap to print, and a great reminder of your business to homes in the nearby area.

Whatever you do, be sure to track your progress and pay close attention to your business’s seasons. In my maid service, we know July and August are our slowest months, so we focus more on winning move-in and move-out cleans to make up the gaps.

This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

 

Was this helpful? Please let me know in the comments.

What is cause marketing?

In my last article, I covered some of the benefits of cause marketing. Here are a few more ways you can take advantage of doing good while growing your company.

How to spread the word

On the local level, the best way to help get your company exposure is through free publicity that comes from cause marketing. It doesn’t cost you a dime, and you are giving back to your community. But your eager participation in a cause like Cleaning For A Reason won’t translate into publicity unless you actually tell people about it!

You’ll be the best kept secret in town if no one knows that you’re providing this free service. So start to spread the word that you’re giving free house cleanings to women who are battling cancer. It’s a feel good story that people will love to pass along to their friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.

Social media is a great place to start. Post on your local Facebook groups, LinkedIn, Nextdoor, Twitter, wherever you feel comfortable. Post a picture of your staff and announce that you are giving back to the community (bonus tip: take the photo in front of your sign or branded cars).

Not sure where to start? Why not try Cleaning For A Reason, a nonprofit that provides free house cleanings for women who are battling cancer (full disclosure: I’m the founder of this organization).

Create an email campaign to notify your customers and prospects to announce that you’re offering free house cleaning services to women with cancer. This creates front-of-mind awareness. Ask people to share this email with their friends and colleagues. You’re offering an incredible service, completely free, with no strings attached. People will be happy to pass that information along to anyone they know who might benefit.

But don’t just tell people once. This is key. You’ve got to remind people that you’re giving this free service.

Create a letter or flyer to drop off in every home that your team cleans and have your staff ask their clients to spread the word to friends and neighbors who might need help. This will turn your customers into referral partners. In relation to the free cleaning you’re giving to the community, people will see your company name and hear about your good work.

Often there are local business groups you can join online that have rules around self-promotion. Generally, you can promote Cleaning For A Reason on those groups because it’s a free service that helps the community.  Many of these local groups have thousands of members in them, all talking about local things. They’ll appreciate knowing how you are giving back.

Don’t make the mistake of posting once and then never posting again. Get on a schedule to post maybe once a week or every couple of weeks. When you repost, don’t just say the same thing over and over— mix it up and provide a story or a detail about someone you helped. This is organic exposure that drives awareness for your cleaning company and will create unprecedented brand alignment with giving.

Be consistent and you’ll create the buzz and exposure you are looking for.

What about approaching your local newspaper, tv, or radio station? Reach out to them and let them know what your company is doing for the community. This is especially effective if you’re already buying advertising in those media outlets. One of your pitches is that you’re trying to get the word out about the program because you haven’t had many patients to serve since they don’t know about the program. So pick up the phone, make the effort. Send follow up emails. Keep trying. Don’t give up if you don’t hear back from them. This will be easier in October when media outlets are looking for pink, cancer-themed stories. Being able to tell a unique story about your community is incredibly newsworthy to them, instead of running yet another piece about a Race For The Cure.

Let me recap some of the benefits of cause marketing:

  • It gets the word out about your company.
  • It creates unprecedented exposure for your business.
  • The credibility factor for your company goes sky high when you’re on TV – you’re looked at as an expert.

You can leverage any media coverage by posting it on your Facebook page and in emails. Use it a couple times a year; you don’t need to be freshly interviewed each time you post it. Remind people that you’re still here, still available, still helping your community. Give people a reason to talk about you and share what you do and how you do it.

Align your brand with giving. It resonates emotionally with your customers. When you don’t let them know that you do this, you miss an opportunity to touch their heart and let them know how special your company is. The best thing that you can do for your brand is to create this kind of positive awareness.

Are you already in the Cleaning For A Reason program or some other local giveback program? Please leave a comment below— I would love to know what you are doing!


This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.