Is Your Window Cleaning Company Guilty…Of These 12 Marketing Mistakes?
(#1 in a 3-part Series)
You’ll make many mistakes as you build your window cleaning business, but don’t let marketing be one of them. Marketing is the life-blood of any company, but it’s not always an easy walk in the park. Fact is, marketing mistakes are often unavoidable, especially if you are a new aspiring window cleaning entrepreneur.
Here, we will point out the most common mistakes that window cleaners all over the world are making in their marketing efforts. Not only will you discover the major mistakes, but you will also learn how to avoid them or prevent them from occurring again within your business.
Mistake #1: Not Having a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
What is a USP? Your USP is a very precise statement that explains why your company is special and why YOU can provide greater value to your clients than any other window cleaner in your area. Your USP should answer this question…
“Why should I do business with you instead of your competitors?”
Competition in our industry can be fierce and it can be difficult to differentiate one company from the next. Just take a look at an old Yellow Pages or an online search under window cleaning. You’ll notice that just about every ad says basically the same thing. If you can find a company that is able to differentiate themselves from all the clutter, then that company certainly has an advantage when it comes to attracting more clients. You must learn how to separate yourself from your competition, in all of your marketing endeavors.
In other words, when potential customers look at your company, what do they say?
“They’re just like all the rest.” or “Well, no one can say that...”
See what I mean? In a minute, I’m going to give you some tips on creating your USP for your company. But first let me tell you a story that demonstrates just how powerful a USP can be.
There was a student determined to pay his way through college. To do so, he and his brother decided to open a little pizza place. Brother #1 would run the store during the day while Brother #2 went to school, then run the pizza place at night. Brother #1 would go to school while Brother #2 ran the pizza joint.
After just a few months, this business was losing money and Brother #2 decided that he wanted out. So, in exchange for an old beat up Volkswagon Rabbit car, Brother #1 bought him out and ended up owning the entire business. Soon after, Brother #1 developed a USP for his pizza business that turned that business into a multi-billion dollar giant. His USP went like this:
“Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less… Guaranteed!”
You most likely recognize that USP, but in case you don’t, it’s Domino’s Pizza. That’s how Tom Monohan (Brother #1) made his fortune. Today, they no longer make the 30-minute guarantee, but that’s irrelevant now. Everyone knows Domino’s Pizza. But make no mistake about it, the business was built on this USP and today that company is obviously very successful.
The important thing to remember is this USP is very simple. It does not promise all things to all people. It never mentions a homemade delicious sauce from the “old country” or even a great tasting pizza. What Tom’s USP did was hit an opportunity gap in the pizza delivery business.
Tip: You can DOMINATE a market if you hit an opportunity gap!
How to decide on your USP…
You need to really spend some time thinking on this...don't rush it. The key is to determine what really makes your company stand out from all of your competition.
- It could be that you, the owner of the company, are personally involved in every job that your window cleaning company does.
- It could be that you only provide one specific service and only offer it in a very specific area of town.
- It could be that you offer the strongest service guarantee in town.
- It could be that you use only the newest, cleanest and finest equipment available.
- It could be that everyone in your company speaks English.
- It could even be that you are the only company in town that offers a rain guarantee.
- It could even be that you are the only company in town that offers a gift card guarantee to a restaurant if they do not receive their estimate within 3 business days.
- It could be that you are number one on a specific review site in your area.
Whatever it is, make certain that your USP statement comes through in everything that you do. Scratching your head? No need to worry. Try talking to your clients. See what they really like about you and doing business with your company. Find out what else they would like from you - even find out about what they don't like about doing business with you. This can be a very eye-opening experience and can shape your company’s future, so don't take it lightly. Carefully consider what you learn from your clients. What is important to them and what can you learn from it? We do this by sending a survey (or accessible via our website) to every residential customer we do business with. The feedback can be surprising and is always worthy.
The key is to answer your client's wants and needs in your USP. Then narrow it down to 1 to 3 sentences and use it in all of your marketing and promotion endeavors, and also in your everyday conversations with customers. Then, back it up and deliver, deliver, deliver. And ‘live’ your USP in all that you do.
Mistake #2: No Formal Referral System.
Referrals and word-of-mouth are a substantial, and very important part of your business. With that said, answer this question:
Do you have a formalized referral system in place?
Most companies rely on referrals for somewhere between 20% to 75% of their business. Yet, these same companies give no thought whatsoever to having a system in place to control referrals. The best part about referrals is how these customers come favorably predisposed to you. They'll typically want higher priced services and they usually will refer even more profitable business to you. We've always been taught that if our job quality and our customer service is good, then referrals will automatically occur. Sorry, that's just not good enough.
Of course, assuming you provide a decent service to your clients, you will gather a few haphazard referrals but to really increase your referrals you need a formal and proactive system. You need a way to compel customers to happily provide their friends, neighbors or business associates names and addresses to you, and then a systematized way to compel these referred prospects to do business with you. And, a little note printed on your invoices or business card that just says something like "we appreciate referrals" just won't cut it either.
There are two groups of people that you should consistently ask for referrals. The first group is your customers and the second group is your 'circle of influence'. Your customers, are the most obvious group to ask for referrals because they have experienced your services and have a first-hand knowledge of how your business delivers. These folks will always be your best source of referrals. Develop a system for obtaining referrals first from your customers and secondly from other influential people or 'Circles of Influence'.
Perhaps the simplest way to harvest referrals from your customers is to write a simple letter asking them for their help. This letter should become part of your routine system and should go out like clockwork at the given time that you set. The best time to send out this letter is immediately upon completion of a job. If you are providing repeatable services such as window cleaning or pressure washing, then asking your customers for referrals several times a year should be part of your overall marketing plan. And naturally, the very best time of year to do this is during the times when your customers will be most happy – right after the job is completed.
For example, being you're in the window cleaning business, then the ideal time to ask would be right after the windows have been cleaned and are still sparkling and clear and looking their very best. If you offer house washing and pressure washing, be sure to reach out to them immediately after the service is completed offering to upsell your other services while asking for referrals. Same with gutter cleaning or gutter polishing.
Subject Line: Thank You. Free Squeegee Bucks for You!
Hello [customer name],
This is just a quick email to Thank You for the opportunity to be of service to you. We value our customers and truly appreciate your business. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 704-799-0313. We look forward to seeing you again soon. Please visit our Quick Online Feedback page below and fill out our Quality of Service Survey. It only takes a minute.
http: //yourcompany.com/quality-of-service -survey/
EVERY returned Service Survey is reviewed by EVERY Squeegee Pros employee involved with our residential division. Our goal is to earn the highest rating possible on every single performance criteria on every single job. Any individual grade falling below "Excellent" is carefully reviewed by our management team so that corrective action can be initiated when appropriate.
P.S. One of the ways our business has grown and continues to grow is through customer referrals. We LOVE referrals. Can you think of anyone that may be in need of our service? If so, we promise to take really good care of them and as a thank you we will send you some “Squeegee Bucks” as our way of saying thanks. Have them call us at 704-799-0313 or simply reply to this email. Again, our services include:
Gutter Cleaning and Polishing
Gutter Protection Installations
We hope to hear from you or someone you know…soon. Thanks again for allowing Squeegee Pros to be of service to you.
Now - the second important group that you must work with to generate referrals is the group we are going to call your "centers of influence". And, your "centers of influence" can be broken down into 2 subcategories which we are going to call tier 1 and tier 2 centers of influence.
Your tier 1 centers of influence are other people who have a connection to the same people that you serve. Not your competitors, but other folks who provide complimentary products or services to your clients. Tier 1 centers of influence can be a very powerful source of referrals.
To give you an example, let's assume that you have a window cleaning company and that's all you do. Your tier 1 centers of influence could be:
- Carpet Cleaners
- Maid Services
- Pressure Washers
- A Glass Company
All of these people deal everyday with people who are prospects for your services. If you're a residential window cleaning company, then your tier 1 centers of influence should also include home builders, window and door contractors, and architects. Your objective with these tier 1 centers of influence is for your name (or company name) to be the first thing that pops into their mind when someone mentions the word "window cleaning". In order to accomplish this objective, the first thing you obviously have to do is form a relationship with some of these people. I would suggest choosing only one say...carpet cleaners to start, rather than trying to nurture a relationship with every carpet guy in town.
Become Their #1 Referrer - Before you receive, you must give. Start sending some referrals their way and they are almost sure to reciprocate. Think about any of your clients that may be in need of their services right now.
Now let's talk for a minute about your "tier 2" centers of influence. This group contains all the people that you come into contact with on a regular basis. It includes, but is not by any means limited to: family, friends, neighbors, other small business owners, your minister, maybe your doctor, dentist, and lawyer...really anyone whom you regularly interact with who is not necessarily interacting with your ideal prospects on a regular day to day basis.
Some of these people may have no idea what you do. Or, they may know that you are a "window cleaner" but may not know exactly what all the services you offer consist of, or who your ideal client is. You should make a point of letting these people know what exactly you do, and also let them know that referrals are a big part of your business and that you would truly value any business that they might send your way. Let them know that you are enthusiastic about your business, and get them excited too.
Establishing a formalized and systematic referral system is crucial IF you are serious about growing your business quickly and effectively. Many window cleaners actually confuse word of mouth advertising with generating referrals. Don't make this same mistake and miss out on another powerful and effective way of growing your business!
Mistake #3: Keeping Employees Because They Are "Nice" and "Try Hard".
To wrap up the first part of this 3-part article I wanted to switch gears and take a moment to talk about who makes up your staff and how it impacts your company. You are probably asking, ‘how does this tie into a marketing mistake’?
Here’s how - your people are the face of your company. And if you have the wrong ‘faces’ representing your company, the word will get out and before long your company’s reputation will be threatened and your business may ultimately suffer. Hiring mistakes turn into marketing mistakes!
Here in Charlotte a few months ago, a landscape company was all over the news. They had a huge contract with one of the main venues here. This company’s employees all went to this particular venue for a night out. A fight broke out and these employees, were at fault according to the news. Things went from bad to worse very quickly. The owner of the landscape company lost the contract, lawsuits are currently flying and who knows if this particular company will recover. The face of your employees reflects you, the owner and the company itself.
Tip: Hire Hard. Hire Smart.
Your company depends on it and so does your marketing.
Hiring mistakes turn into marketing mistakes!
It is difficult to fire someone. But a bad employee or one that is not producing the results you need will drag your window cleaning company down. Think about it this way; if you now had the opportunity to hire this person (knowing what you know now about their work habits) would you hire them? If not, it's time to be open with the employee and let them know they are not a good fit with your company. They are not the right person on your “bus”.
What about Productivity Costs? Of top managers surveyed, fact is that supervisors spend 17% of their time – which equates to about 1 day per week, managing poorly performing employees, whether work ethic, attitude, or laziness. Think about that the next time you dispatch your window cleaners into the field.
In May this year I had my management team do an exercise for me. I had them write a short one or two page essay on how they bring ‘value’ to their position and to my company. It was the first time I did this and I’m glad I did. It was an excellent gauge to determine their productivity levels and the ‘true’ value they really bring to me and my company. I suggest you do it too.
What about Financial Costs? Let’s see. You are paying them a wage and they may not be performing to your expectations. In fact, you might be paying for additional training because of it. And if you have to let the employee go, you may be responsible for unemployment pay. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the cost of a bad hire can equal 30% of the employee’s first year earnings. Things to think about.
What about Employee Morale costs? It is difficult to stay positive when one team member requires so much attention and manages to bring the whole team down for whatever reason. I call it a cancer and when a cancer develops in our organization we are very quick to cut it out. A poor hire greatly influences employee morale.
Consider these facts as we close out this month’s Business Builder article:
- 80% of turnover is due to bad hiring.
- The cost of replacing an employee is roughly 20% of their salary.
- Turnover disrupts company culture.
- Turnover decreases productivity.
- Turnover leads to the loss of customers and revenue
- Hiring employees just because they are “nice” and “try hard” can be a waste of your marketing dollars.
Marketing IS your business, not simply one aspect of it. What I've shared so far is a whole new way of thinking for most window cleaning companies. You must change your thinking if you are not managing your business with marketing at the fore-front.
In review: Your USP, your referral generating methods, and how well you hire all have an impact on your company’s marketing. Start working on these topics today and see how it changes things. Call my office at 704-799-0313 if you have any questions.
Take control and become your own marketing expert, and your business will boom. Until next time…
Jim DuBois is founder of Squeegee Pros, Inc. out of Mooresville, NC. He is the creator of WindowWashingWealth.com, which specializes in aggressive marketing tactics, the importance of internal company systems, and how to dominate your window cleaning marketplace. All things a serial window cleaning entrepreneur should know to build a huge business. Visit the site for a Free marketing report. Feel free to send any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.