National Pro Clean Corp.

Marketing Questions

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Here are more answers to marketing questions we have received.  

I need a strategy to land janitorial contracts for my new company. I have called the SBA office and the Chamber of Commerce to no avail.

A. It’s unlikely the SBA or Chamber would ever pass on such a lead to a new contractor with no performance record, although, once you belong to the Chamber, you can sometimes learn of jobs when you visit an after-hours Chamber mixer.

As a newcomer, your initial challenge is to market yourself so potential customers will know about your services. There are many ways to do that, including passing out professional looking fliers and cards directly to facility people in buildings you would like to clean, direct mail, telemarketing, networking with realtors and other business people, etc.

No matter which avenue you choose, a well designed marketing program that reaches your niche target list will be essential. Our Contractor Start up Program would be an excellent investment for you to consider.

I need to land new business. What should I do?
A. Customers and other contractors tend to hire crews which convey a professional image, demonstrate experience and commitment and have references. An attractive marketing flier and business card is the best place to start. Target and then make calls on businesses in the area that you plan to service. Explain your service coverage and any special areas of expertise. Passing out your fliers and asking prospects if they would like a free backup bid is advisable. Make a list of persons you contacted and record a follow up schedule along with a possible strategy. Be persistent as marketing is a numbers game.

Learn to submit bids based on accurate time projections and competitive (yet profitable) hourly billing rates. If you lack cleaning references, try to obtain written personal references (friends that have a business card and will vouch for your personal character). Once you start to land accounts, focus on networking with people you know. Word-of-mouth advertising is the least expensive. Our training programs are probably just what you are looking for. Check out our Contractor Start up Program or our Janitorial Success manual.

Q. Where do I go to contact some of the larger janitorial firms to find out if I can sub-contract from them? 

A. Many of the largest cleaning companies hire only employees. With your experience it should be easier to locate subcontract work. Ask your previous employers for a letter of recommendation or, ask them to write a note of endorsement on the back of their business card. Be prepared to share this with potential companies.

Concentrated sales effort may be required. You could phone the janitorial contractors that are close to you and ask if they have need for an experienced and dependable subcontractor who can perform a quality job, independently, without supervision. Tell them you would also be glad to sign a non-compete agreement (assuming it only covers the actual accounts you would clean for the contractor). There are also janitorial bidding and marketing training programs available that can show you how to bid and land your own contracts.
Q. What do you think about sub-contracting?

A.  It can be ok when you first start and actually need cleaning experience, but it does have its drawbacks. Here are some actual stories from my past.
About 20 years ago I helped set up my first contractor in the business; serving as their consultant. Eventually the owner was doing so well he no longer needed my services. Later, I had seen a report that he had expanded to several million a year.  A couple of years later I phoned him just to see how he was doing. He was working an hourly job and had lost his two big box accounts. One had gone out of business and the other was fickle (little or no loyalty to its contractors). Since he had put all of his eggs into two baskets; when his accounts went south, so did his entire business. In many cases it can be unwise to allow one account to provide more than 30% of your income.  About six years ago a contractor out of L.A. called me to see if I would clean (subcontract) the carpet cleaning in about 5 Hollywood Video stores. I asked them what they were paying. They said 6 cents a square foot. I said, “Did you mean 16 cents?” which was the national average then. I politely declined by telling them that back in 1974, I was charging 8 cents a sq. ft. for commercial. The moral: always follow your own pricing models by knowing your break-even point and required profit on every potential job.  And finally, about 25 years ago, I agreed to sub- contract the floor and carpet care for a large New York Contractor. It included servicing several Dallas mall stores. About a month later several pails of floor finish and stripper showed up on my porch. It was payment for doing the labor. What a nice surprise. The moral: watch out who you take on as your partner.  A solid marketing plan to canvas your trade area can land your own accounts. Then you can keep 100% of the gross. If you are looking for training materials, check out our JanBid Estimating Solutions and Janitorial Success marketing manual

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