new accounts

any tips or suggestions on gaining new accounts. any help is greatly appreciated . i'm a fairly new commercial/office cleaning company looking to expand. we also refinish floors and pressure washing . i've tried a few different tactics but it seems like word of mouth/referals are the best option when possible. just looking for ANY other GOOD strategies thanks.

  • Hi Thirsty (great name!);

            I deal in the marketing end of things for a few different industries. Here's my 2 cents... some of this is basic stuff you may already know:

    * over time, you'll find that word of mouth and networking will be 90% of your new business. That's anecdotal, of course, but for most companies I'm comfortable saying that's the lion's share for them.  The other 10% is people seeking you out, ususally through marketing.

    * Networking Tip #1: the local chamber of commerce is usually where salespeople hang out not clients.

    * Networking Tip #2: go where your clients go. Go to their industry events.  Ask where they spend their time professionally, maybe personally if you're comfortable asking that (and I only point that last one out in regards to if a lot of your clients or prospects play golf, for example, you may want to hang out at the course :) .

    * Networking Tip #3: if you find networking difficult, try and make a game of it.  Try to give away or collect X number of business cards in a week. Go to an event with a goal of having 3 good conversations with 3 different people, etc.

    * Sales/Marketing Tip #1: have a system for tracking prospects, i.e. CRM

    * Sales/Marketing Tip #2: write down the actual steps that were involved in getting your current clients and make this your process. Refine it over time but be aware of it. Too often I run into people who are impatient for sales to happen and don't take into account that prospects usually need to be courted first.

    * Sales/Marketing Tip #3: write down an introduction for yourself and your company that you can tell people. This sounds stupid and a lot of people don't do it for that reason but the tendency is to give too long an explanation and occasionally leave out important details if you wing it. Refine the introduction over time.

    Good Luck!

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  • In reply to Ed_from_IronStrikesIron:

    I have been in the cleaing industry for 25 years and have run compnays from 1millon to 50 millon in revenue. I agree with alot of what was said above but to think that 90% of new business comes from word of mouth and networking is way off base in this industry.

    Word of mouth would be less than 5%, networking combined with old fashing sales calls will be 90% of your potential business. The cleaning business is highly competitive and you need to be in front of the client, build a relationship that over time sometimes years will get you the bid oppertunity.

    If you are a small company (start up) target the business the big companies do not want. One day, two day or 3 day a week service.  Small buildings under 25,000 feet.  Those clinets are more likely to give you the opperunity.  Build a base of good clients, then use them to expand to the next level of potenttial clients. 

    Join the local BOMA, meet the vendors, your competition, and porperty managers. Do not try to sell at these functions, just build relationships.

    Retlationships get you the business, relationships keep you the business.

    Just my thoughts! 

  •      Greetings Thirsty and good luck with your new venture!  I agree word of mouth is the most successful marketing tool, but I’m not patient enough to wait for someone to say something nice about me.  I believe that if I want to build a business I need to be proactive, not reactive.  So with this in mind I will suggest…..


         “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”.  Truer words have never been spoken and understanding how that phrase applies to your business is absolutely mandatory!  Your company may be the strongest, most professional, most experienced and most capable player in your market for a particular task, but if you are the only person that knows that information…. well… you get the idea.


         Every business needs to advertise to grow and establish a client base.  Always remember your client base is where your consistent cash flow and your referrals come from.  Whether it’s signs, uniforms, print, radio or Internet advertising, telemarketing or direct sales, you need to do something to fuel your business.  Telemarketing is the subject of this reply, so I’ll touch on it here.


         The brief overview of a telemarketing effort would be the understanding of who you are, what your immediate goals are and exactly who you should communicate that information to.  As an example, if I were to be cold calling from a list of Facility Managers:

    “Good morning, my name is Thomas Anthony and I’m with Facility Support Services.  We are commercial cleaning vendors and I’m interested in competing for the cleaning business with your company.  Who would be the person I need to speak with?”  I wouldn’t offer any other information, unless asked, until I connect with their decision maker.  When I do connect with the decision maker I would repeat the above sentences again to him/her followed by:

    Are your cleaning requirements re-evaluated and bid annually or only as necessary?  Their answer to that question gives you your action date.  Forward them a little information about your company and add their information to your time sensitive prospect file.  Their contract isn’t available for bid right now, so taking too much of their time now would be unprofessional.  Set an approximate date with them for your follow up call (never more than 60-90 days), thank them for their time and send a follow up thank you letter/e-mail including brief company information.  If your company has a strong client base, include it as footer to most of your correspondence.


         A time sensitive database of all the prospects in your area is an incredibly valuable tool.  Your time is much better spent, and your closing ratio is substantially greater, when you are sharing information about your company’s abilities with a decision maker at the time their looking for it.  Every contact you have should reside in this database and you should check and update it daily.  Soon it will be directing you towards new business and new cash flow streams.  Try to include every prospect with a short “he said-she said” in the database to refresh your memory as necessary.  Always remember the rule of SW:

    SW: some will

    SW: some won’t

    SW: so what!... next!  … and pick up the phone again.


    Good luck with your prospecting!


    Thomas Anthony

    Facility Support Services

  • You can't get new business unless you get to bid on jobs.  The best advice I have learned for getting opportunities is:

    Check the classified DAILY!!

    Many entities are required to post RFP's in the classifieds.  I am not talking small stuff either.  In the last 6 months I have bid on a hospital / clinic, and an airport.  I won the hospital / clinic job and we are probably going to get the airport, just waiting to hear back from a board meeting for approval.  (I hate the waiting!)

    You WILL get opportunities to bid on jobs from the paper, but you gotta have a powerful presentation / proposal.  Be different, but professional.   There is so much out there on how to create a great proposal that I will leave that to another topic.  But that it my advice, and it is tried and true. (not to mention cheap.  8 bucks a month for me!)

  • In reply to DonRankin09:

    I totally agree with Don.  It's all about building trust through your relationships.  Joining industry affiliated organizations are crucial, but the key is not to get involved on a committee.  Becoming visible for yourself and your company.

    And ALWAYS  maintain a very polished professional educated professional image!  Good Luck!

  • In reply to Chris Terrell:


    When you are talking about classifieds do you mean government bidding?

    In my area they pay pennies. After going to a few meetings I've decided that it's not worth my time. Is the situation different in your area?

  • In reply to alphacleaning:

    I do not think that it is going to be the best solution is all areas.  Like in a larger city it would be tough, and the competition would be tougher in those situations potentially. 

    However, I am not in a large city.  I am in northwest arkansas.  I bid on about somthing from the classifieds once a month this time a year.  a majority of them are govt entities like schools, colleges, airports, and govt office buildings.  They are required to let the general public know about RFP's.

    However, it is a two edged sword.  you are not going to be the only person who sees it and therefor competition can be greater.  A polished proposal, good presentation of yourself, and of course the right price will overcome all. 

     I would make all opportinities worth your time to investigate.  you can always not bid, but I always attend site tours.  But I don't know what size stuff you are looking to clean.  I look for large facilites like airports and school districts. Small stuff in classifieds would not be worth my time, but that is not what I am looking to clean. 

  • In reply to Chris Terrell:

    Well Cleaning is something that really need lots and lots of effort to provide a results that satisfies your clients and there cleaning needs. Give what they wants and how they want. Cleaning things is something but loving your cleaning is what makes you different and successful.

  • In reply to Simon:

    I don't know where you are located but if in the US, you are joining 127,000 other cleaning companies all chasing new accounts. Almost all of what has been said above was true in the past but the competition for every cleaning dollar has never been tougher. Check out my post on Janitorial Marketing Fundamentals for starters.

    Here is one clue to the puzzle; how many hours is your potential client sitting in front of a computer screen and on his smart phone and compare that number with the number of hours your buyer is dropping what ever they are doing to run down to a lobby and speak with you or any sales person. Once again, 127,000 US cleaning services all saying exactly the same thing.

    I grow janitorial companies all over the US, contact me if you need help.

  • My suggestion would be to try a marketing mix of cold calling, direct mail, website/internet marketing--pay per click or organic search--these are the search results that appear on the search results page. 

    My own results from the above 3 marketing types are:

    1 Internet marketing  = the biggest account + many bid requests

     2 direct mail = the most accounts

    3 cold calling = the smallest accounts

    Suggestions on direct mail  I used a post card for 2 reasons. 1 I have 5 seconds to get the reader's attention on the way to the circular file 2 I think a post card stands out from all the envelopes a potential customer receives daily.

    I am not a direct mail specialist or expert just an experimentor

    Internet marketing, I'm still learning and experimenting with what works and what doesn't. I can say this of the 4 pay per clicks experts I have hired only 1 got results, meaning 1 new account. Pay per click can get expensive fast and requires someone to manage it almost daily, if you go this route I would try to get some understanding of how it works.