I just reread a book that I first read over ten years ago called Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant. The concept of “Blue Ocean” can change the way you view your business and the decisions you make. When I first read the book, I realized that I had inadvertently been working on a Blue Ocean strategy with my businesses all along, and the authors helped clarify the strategies that were helping me be successful.
What is a Blue Ocean strategy?
Blue Ocean strategy is about competing in a Blue Ocean Marketplace instead of where most people compete—a Red Ocean Marketplace—where all the sharks are thrashing around in a small area of the water fighting over the fish there. It’s “Red Ocean” from the blood of those battles. But when a shark swims away and finds an open, blue patch of the ocean, it’s able to gobble up fish/customers without much competition. The water in a Blue Ocean Marketplace is not bloody from battles with other sharks because the other sharks haven’t discovered that patch of water yet.
How do you create a Blue Ocean strategy?
So how do you create a Blue Ocean Marketplace and what does it look like for cleaning businesses? Let me take you down memory lane to my own business, 25 years ago, before I’d even heard of Blue Ocean strategy when I was struggling in the early days, trying to figure out how to be mop-free and grow my way out of being out in the field as a cleaner. I made a conscious decision to differentiate my business from the big cleaning franchises that I competed with.
One of the things I had heard from friends and clients was that they hated having cleaning companies blast through their house in 45 minutes with a team of three cleaners. Well, of course a team of three people is going to be out of your house in almost an hour if it’s about a three work-hour job. From a labor perspective it made sense, but I understood that customers didn’t like it, that they preferred having one person in their house carefully cleaning instead of a bunch of strangers in a big rush.
Differentiate your business
So I built my business on the solo cleaner concept, but as a professional agency that covered insurance and bonding and screened employees. I created this Blue Ocean concept where I was completely different from the other cleaning companies in my area, and I made this differentiator work for me. I’d tell prospects that my company was unique in that it was very big and successful, but that we didn’t send a team of strangers into your house who are in and out in a hurry. That solo cleaner model was my tool of distinction. I told prospects that they got all the benefits of hiring a private housekeeper but none of the risks. They got the benefits and perks of working with cleaning professionals without any of the stress of having a group of strangers coming and going in a huge hurry. And people loved it. It set me apart. I was swimming in my own patch of Blue Ocean.
Another example of a Blue Ocean strategy
Let me share another Blue Ocean strategy because once you understand these concepts you’ll be better able to create a strategy for your own cleaning business.
Another Blue Ocean strategy that I inadvertently created was when I started Cleaning For A Reason. If I had just wanted to start another nonprofit benefiting cancer patients, I would have been swimming in very “Red Ocean” waters, with Komen’s Race for the Cure, American Cancer Society, the Breast Cancer Foundation, and hundreds of other cancer nonprofits. Instead, my nonprofit was the only one in the category utilizing professional services for the benefit of cancer patients. And one benefit of Cleaning For A Reason is that it offers member cleaning companies an advantage, a differentiator to help them stand out among other cleaners in their area.
Let’s create your own Blue Ocean strategy
What are you doing to create Blue Ocean opportunities in your community? Are you just another cleaning service who does everything the way everyone else does it? If so, and if you’re always competing on price, you will always lose customers to the lowest bidder.
If you don’t create your own Blue Ocean strategy you’re going to compete with all the sharks in your Red Ocean marketplace. I’ve helped so many people in the cleaning business industry to figure out their patch of Blue Ocean, let’s work together to see what your patch looks like. Contact me to schedule a time to discuss how I can help you differentiate your business from the competition.