Entering the cleaning trade isn’t a clean sweep, by any means. You won’t succeed at everything straight away. But when you do, accruing confidence and clients over time, you may be keen to take things up a level. That’s when an established brand becomes a whole lot bigger…
You might have identified some of the signs that it’s time to grow. However, it’s hard to know where to start. Whether you’re in a small business franchise or heading solo, advice can seem slim on the ground.
That’s why we’ve written a guide to growing your specialist cleaning business. So dust up your management skills and dry out those misgivings; it’s simpler than you think.
Tip #1 – Hire staff that’ll take you somewhere new
If you already have a name people recognise, we’re guessing there are several people (at the very least) on your payroll. Great! Keep them there. Hire more like them, even, to accommodate your growing workload. ‘Fee-earning’ employees will increase your profit by a sustainable margin – fuelling further growth.
However, as the size of your company increases, so will the variety of job roles. Administration, bookkeeping, HR, business development and operations management are roles that you may’ve filled yourself until now. Eventually, they must be handed over; no leader can micro-manage indefinitely.
Is there a duty that drains a lot of time from your day? Could a part-time sales rep help you gain more customers, or would you rather have organisational assistance? Answering phones, emails, and in-bound requests can be tiring. The better you can let go of these responsibilities, the more hours you’ll free up for the things you do best.
Tip #2 – Take on more jobs and territories
With an increased number of hands on deck, a team can diversify what they’re able to do and how far they can take it. People will want to use you elsewhere. The amount of jobs you’ll oversee will increase, but so will demand for your business around the UK. Word spreads quickly; with the right networks, you can find clients in another county (for example) through those you’re already speaking to.
Franchisors have their own method for expansion – growing business can purchase additional territories for exclusive operation in that region. Most franchise leaders stay with one or two initially. Then they grow to three, four and five in subsequent years.
But even if you aren’t part of a franchise model, there’s reason to find other, incremental offices and service hubs. They make it easier to respond quickly in the targeted region. Showing your face around the business scene is useful too, when you’re trying to become recognised and affinitive with the neighbourhood.
Tip #3 – Widen your service offering
Meanwhile, the service itself might get grow beyond what it used to do. Office, school and home cleans are all well and good, yet there’s more margin to be made on a highly sensitive task. These include:
- Treating chemical spills
- Factory cleans
- Industrial carpet hygiene
- Cleansing a crime/accident scene
- Asbestos removal
- Restoring old buildings
- Remedying the effects of a fire or flood
- Cleaning up a ‘new build’ site
To do this, you may have to invest in training and equipment. But when it pays off, the results are tremendous. Again, be careful, and don’t juggle too many elements at once. It’s better to be known for a handful of incredible services than spreading yourself across too many.
Over the first few weeks or months of the new service, consider applying a discount, currying favour with your clients. Then, after the job, ask for a recommendation. Most people are happy to share their experience. You can put reviews on your website, social channels, email marketing etc. It’s a stash of evidence that can be shown to anyone who wants to know more about your service.
Tip #4 – Give your marketing a makeover
Image is so central to how you’re perceived – we really can’t stress this enough! But so is the voice you use: how those words and images combine to tell the story of who you are.
It goes without saying that having an online presence is important. Websites, social media and even paid ads can all help to raise your profile – both at a local level and further afield. However, don’t forget about more traditional forms of marketing that remain extremely effective today.
Business cards are a must for everyone – creative designs linger in the memory far more than your standard, box-ticking cut-out. What makes your service unique? Try to represent it in the card’s aesthetics – you’ll be glad you put some thought into your appearance when shaking hands at a meeting or networking event.
Place listings in local directories, town halls, bulletin boards, and in businesses you can forge a service partnership with. By this last point, we mean a mutual discount in a community, like customers receiving 10% off a pub chain if you successfully recommend it after finishing their cleaning assignment. You might specialise in hospitality, office spaces, leisure facilities or public sector buildings. Talk with them to see how you might cross-promote, feeding business both ways. Back all of this up with a consistent message.
Tip #5 – Don’t forget about existing customers or services
Like we’ve said, word travels fast; people aren’t going to appreciate being left in the cold as you look to more locations, services and opportunities. The best businesses take care of those who were there from the start i.e. your original clientele.
Keeping in touch with your existing client base not only helps to protect your reputation – it can also lead to repeat business. This could be weeks, months or even years after the initial job, but staying at the forefront of a customer’s mind makes it likely that they’ll get in touch when they need your help once more.
It’s also useful to remember what made you a force to be reckoned with in the first place. Was it mold reduction? Attic cleaning? Restoration on Grade II-listed structures? The longer you’ve been doing it, the more capable your team will be. There’s no sense sacrificing this on the altar of change. That’s the equivalent of Burger King ditching their Whopper forever… So always work to improve the recipe of your original service structure, keeping pace with trends in the industry.
Tip #6 – Conduct regular reviews
We’ve covered a lot here. It’s okay to be hesitant about expanding, simply due to the scale of the tasks we’re placing in front of you. That’s why a regular review schedule is so important. After all, there’s no point doing everything we’ve suggested if you can’t measure whether it’s working, failing, or on the cusp of its potential.
Take the Rainbow recommendation, and asses each of these factors every 30-90 days:
- A balance sheet, with profits and losses in a graph relative to other months of the year. It’ll help you spot downward behaviours before they get out of control, or where the business may be exceeding its targets.
- Service enquiries and orders. What do people value the most? Are you doing enough to cause a stir in the market? Those questions and others – such as seasonal patterns, for service hire, in various UK branches – should steer some of your future business plan.
- Employee satisfaction, which never dips into irrelevancy. Building trust with new and old staff alike leads them to tell you what they’re really feeling. And since they’re the ones with a foot in the local area, they can explain what customers are feeding back after assignments.
But of course, there’s less cause to doubt yourself (which many specialist cleaning owners tend to do, on their own at the top of their hierarchy) when you enter a small business franchise agreement.
Rainbow International have dozens of territories over the length and breadth of the nation. You’re still your own boss, but gain the advantage of decades’ experience in the same field; wisdom that can help you expand when you’re ready, with constant support and training.
Just ask our current owners of a franchise business! They’re ready for a conversation, the same as our recruitment specialists. Get in touch to find out more.