- THE MAGAZINE
Once December 24th hits, most companies need to have a different marketing plan to keep busy. This is especially true for cleaners in the north where it can be difficult to get clients during winter, but even if you operate in a warmer area, January and February can still be tough months. Consumer pockets are tight once the Christmas credit card bills roll in at the beginning of January. Hence, for most businesses, January is a slow month. Add cold weather to the picture and it is no wonder why January can create a slow down.
When I first started my cleaning business, I remember talking with a competitor who told me, “Even if I went door-to-door, I couldn't give away carpet cleaning in January or February.” Funny thing was that the very next year I had my busiest month ever in February. Goes to prove you shouldn't always listen to what other cleaners around you say.
You have three options:
1. You can plan on being slow until April. Simply close down shop or run with minimal overhead. You could just take a long vacation this time of year as long as you have enough money saved.
2. You can add different services throughout winter like snow plowing or emergency water damage restoration. Offer a service that can easily compliment what you normally do the other 10 months of the year.
3. You can kick off a heavy marketing plan these months and plan to stay busy. But the marketing you do this time of year needs to work well.
If you haven't already done so, I suggest you pick one of the above options now and make a plan. For most growing cleaning businesses, the best option would be to prepare to stay busy. And there's little chance you'll stay busy by accident - you'll need to actively do some marketing to get your phone to ring.
What is the best marketing during winter?
· First, come up with one or two exclusive killer offers. Make this the best offer you've made all year. It should be an offer that makes you money, but inspires clients to get more cleaning. Ideally, this should cross-sell a few of your services. For example, give away a small amount of free tile or hard floor cleaning with the purchase of two area rugs cleaned. Or clean a free area rug with any whole house carpet cleaning purchase. Depending on your offer, you may want to have one offer for repeat clients and a separate offer for new clients.
· Rely on your current clients! Your clients are the gold mine in your business. If you've already been communicating with them throughout the year, you'll have more favorable results. But even if you've neglected to contact them, your results can be great because your clients are the people who love you. They are the reason you are in business. I suggest you kick off the first week of January by mailing your killer offer to your current clients. Most importantly, send this via snail mail. Secondarily, send your killer offer in an e-mail.
· Kick your Internet marketing plan up a notch. This can be a low- or no-cost way to get new clients or bring back old clients. In addition to the initial client e-mail you'll send at the beginning of January, send weekly e-mail newsletters to current clients and prospects who have signed up for your e-mail newsletter. You'll want to put an opt-in box on your website to allow instant sign ups. Use Facebook like crazy this time of year to announce your killer winter offer. Facebook is working great right now because more people use it daily than Google or any other website. You can test out Facebook pay-per-click advertising with a really small budget. Plus, if your company is active on Facebook, it tends to boost your website search ranking a bit.
· Concentrate on neighborhood marketing. Consider this only after you've mailed to your repeat clients. In the U.S., Every Door Direct Mail is a great program for mailing large postcards for as little as 16 cents per home. You can target any neighborhood. And you can even target higher value homes in certain mail routes. Your postcard must be at least 6.25 x 9 inches. Include reasons why your company outshines the competition along with your exclusive killer offer.
· Set up relationships with businesses that can refer you. Visit flooring retailers, rug galleries, realtors, interior designers, insurance agents, plumbers, veterinarians, and any other business that can refer you to their clients. Stop by to tell them about your referral program. Of course you'll want to give them professional literature about your company. But even more importantly, as my good friend Howard Partridge says, “Bring them food.” Pre-packaged cookies, candies or donuts work great. While they are munching away, tell them what you can do for them. When you bring food, you're a welcome guest in their office. Set a goal to visit at least a dozen of these businesses each week. When you visit, be sincere and ask how you can help them.
Winter can be a great time to change the entire way in which you market your cleaning company. Write out your plan. Set goals for what you want to do and dates for when you want to get the tasks done. When you write it down, you're 10 times more likely to get it done.