In this tough economy, how can your cleaning company increase its revenues? We surveyed several companies in the United States and Canada to see how cleaning companies are increasing their revenues in this tough economy. There is one key element that all of these companies are using—technology!
Use Technology to Be Proactive
“Competition is fierce, especially in the service industry. But a customer will always be drawn to companies that are quick to respond to questions or concerns, and to managers who are proactive in addressing potential issues,” says Trevor Stoddart, with Commercial Cleaning Services in St. Catherines, Ont. “I believe CleanTelligent—and its web-based quality control janitorial software— helps in this aspect as the client can easily see periodic work schedules, issues being dealt with and inspections all in one program,”
Be proactive. Instead of sending one e-mail at a time, use technology to send mass e-mails to all your clients. And, instead of doing handwritten inspections, do those inspections electronically. Instead of writing in a log book, use online tracking software to communicate with your clients. You can only be as proactive as you have time to be. In this day and age, you cannot be proactive in a manual world. You must use technology.
Use Technology to Deliver Quality Service
Quality service is a concept that has been practiced for years. Here’s how Bill Rettie, with Advantage Commercial Cleaning Services in Cortland, NY has used technology to deliver quality service:
“For our company, the key to increasing incremental revenue has been consistently delivering quality service to our customers,” he says. “It sounds like a no-brainer, but satisfied customers turn into referrals. When it comes to medium-sized to larger cleaning companies, consistent quality control just isn’t possible without a top-notch inspection routine in place. In our case, web-based quality janitorial software has not only allowed us to attract new clientele, but has enabled us to keep our level of service up throughout a large number of facilities.”
Adds Stoddart, “Let’s face it, any business can throw equipment and people in a client’s space. But few take the time to deliver specific quality service that a client truly needs. Understand these, and you will not have issues with retention or growth.”
Providing quality service from resolution of complaints alone will not increase your revenues or guarantee retention of your clients. With this kind of “appearance- only” quality service, you have no control. True quality service is based upon quality control; and you can only control quality when you use technology. You must have the ability to resolve complaints and measure quality over time using technology to base improvement upon real data that can be tracked.
Use Technology to Offer Value
Remarks Ben Weil of Rite-Way Service in Birmingham, Ala. “Cleaning budgets have decreased in the recent past, meaning that customers are scrutinizing their expendable dollars even more. Customers are smart and know how to recognize value. If they are receiving value, that’s where they’ll spend their resources.”
When your clients receive an invoice or write you a check, how do they feel? Do they feel value? If not, you are at risk of losing them. Clients only perceive value when they are shown value. To show value, use technology to constantly remind them that you are doing inspections of your work and are responding to their concerns.
E-mail them these reminders and give them the opportunity to login and view information that shows them value. The satisfaction in appearance will come through your service, but the value will come from the constant reminders of value that your technology has created for them.
Use Technology to Offer More Services
Chris Walker of Eagle Building Maintenance in Pennington, N.J. offers this advice: “One of the easiest ways to instantly increase your profits is by making sure your current clients are aware of any extra service you provide. In some instances, we find that they may have hired another contractor for these services. Generating additional revenue through these ‘add-on’ services can prove to be very profitable at a much higher margin than the cleaning contract itself.”
With technology, you can create message forms that “advertise” additional service options that can be selected by your clients. If your clients have to outsource to other companies to receive additional services— and those companies also provide janitorial services—you could easily lose that account to your competition. With technology, constantly remind your clients of all the services you provide so they will come to you first before outsourcing. Technology can also be used to manage billable work orders to track the revenue received for those additional services.
Use Technology to Increase Client Interaction
Not only is building relationships with your clients extremely important for retaining work, those fostered relationships also become a great resource for expanding business as well.
Russ Shreiner with Gulf Coast Enterprises in Pensacola, Fla. suggests, “[Work] closely with those that have to make cuts so you are part of the solution, not just another expense. If your customer views you as a partner, you can help them make cuts in ways that can be the least painful to the tenants and your employees.”
Audra Morehead at Aetna Building Services of Columbus, Ohio said that her company recently won a $1.5-million contract from a client they previously had a contract with. “We had serviced their smaller offices and our contract came up for renewal. To this point, we had attempted, but had been unable to win the larger offices. When we showed them [our image customer service software] and how our communication would be enhanced, they not only renewed their current contracts, but awarded us their larger remote offices as well.”
Client interaction comes down to who is going to interact more—you or your competition? Your interaction needs to be resolution based, solution based, compliance based, customer service based, and be the type of communication that is consistent, constant and shows personal attention. Clients will not interact with you unless it is easy. Technology not only makes it easy, but also documents everything so it can be easily referred back to.
You need to have an online client portal where they can log in to see historical conversations and create new ones. They also need to interact with information that proves your quality—whether it be electronic inspections, online job schedules or work orders. Let your clients know that you are providing services that meet their expectations on a consistent basis.
Use Technology to Increase Branding
Branding is all about constantly making sure your clients know who you are and the quality level of service you provide for them.
Linda Pendergrass with Cavalier Services in Fairfax, Va. tells us how they use branding. “Through our janitorial software, we’re able to have our clients put on their desktops a Cavalier “C”. Every time a client turns their computer on, there is a reminder of Cavalier on their desktop. They click on the icon to send work orders, view reports and look at inspections. We’re on everybody’s desktop and it has helped us present a professional look to clients, [while branding].”
Technology allows you to constantly send good feelings to your clients that will be a protective shield from your competition. With technology, you can always be “in touch” with your clients and constantly remind them of how great you are. Use an icon on your client’s desktop to remind your customers that you are always there for them. Have that icon link to your website to remind them how professional you are and which services you can provide. Have a log in on your website that they can use to communicate with you and view inspections and other data. From the icon, to the website, to the login, to emails to reports, use technology that constantly brands your company to your clients.
The value of using [technology] to win bids, and all the bids we have won because of [technology], certainly pays for the cost of using it.
Use Technology to Win New Accounts
Most importantly, in this tough economy, you can increase your revenues by using technology. Mike Fletcher, regional manager of The Budd Group of Winston-Salem, N.C. tells us this success story:
“My company has recently experienced great success, thanks to innovative [technology which] put us far above our competition in a recent bid presentation that landed us a $1.2-contract. A number of other companies bid on this account. After going through several bid presentations, the decision maker specifically wanted us to show them CleanTelligent.
Technology has proven time and time again to help companies increase their revenue. You will quickly find the increase in revenue exceeds the cost of the technology you use.
Mark Moninger, president of St. Moritz Building Services in Charleston, S.C. says, “The value of using [technology] to win bids, and all the bids we have won because of [technology], certainly pays for the cost of using it.”
Times are changing. Take advantage of technology so you will not get left behind.