One of the more challenging areas of running a software company is anticipating the legal and tax laws, which can change rapidly. My partners and I have often put ourselves at a disadvantage in this area. We ensure we adhere to these rules and prioritize them over our personal benefit. Many of our competitors play by different rules; They take legally risky bets and pay up when they have to. ServiceMonster can’t do that - I don’t have a $2M ‘in-case-we-get-caught’ legal fund.
One good example is the state-by-state tax law known as Sales Tax Nexus. It defines the level of connection between a business and a taxing jurisdiction. When a nexus determination is made between a state and ServiceMonster, we are responsible for collecting and paying sales tax on our services. Some states don’t have nexus. Others might want to charge us only for ServiceMonster CRM or our direct mail services (FillMySchedule), while other states may require sales tax on both.
States see their population as a commodity. If we gain access to that market in any meaningful way as defined by the state, and the state has nexus determination events, we could be required to collect sales tax from our clients in that state.
Until recently, we have steered clear of nexus determination, which has limited our growth in many ways. A common nexus determination can happen if we pay a non-employee (commonly referred to as an affiliate) for leads or sales to the state in which the affiliate lives. Keep in mind that it has nothing to do with sales of ServiceMonster related to the affiliate. When a state makes a nexus determination, we must collect taxes for all the revenue in that state.
For the last 20 years, ServiceMonster has had nexus in only one state: Washington, where our business is legally registered. For the last 20 years, we have paid sales tax for our Washington state customers on their behalf. Rolling state-by-state sales tax into our operating expenses is not a sustainable model.
ServiceMonster is pushing several growth initiatives in 2023, including adding an affiliate network (if you want to get paid for bringing us ServiceMonster clients, let’s talk). Last year I asked our development team to make all the necessary changes to identify nexus state-by-state, locate the correct sales tax for a client’s jurisdiction, and apply that sales tax to monthly or yearly charges for ServiceMonster services.
What does all this mean for you? As I’ve said, currently, we only have nexus in one state, Washington. Washington state clients will soon see a change to their bill reflecting the sales tax we collect for the state. Most of our clients will see a new line item on their bill for sales tax, which will default to $0 and 0%. If a state declares nexus with ServiceMonster, your invoice will reflect your sales tax responsibility at your local rate.
Should we have done this a long time ago? Probably. Unfortunately, the tools required to make this a simple administration task, like knowing the tax rate in every jurisdiction we have a client, are relatively new. Should we have gone with a riskier ‘growth-at-all-costs’ attitude? I guess this is just one of those areas where I’m not a very good CEO. For me, the regulations under which we operate are non-negotiable. The laws, employees, and clients have always come before growth or profits. I know I’ve left money on the table for this idea, but unearned profit is often poison. That’s not how ServiceMonster does business. Our 20-year history with zero lawsuits, zero judgments, and zero audits allows me to sleep well at night, nexus or not. These changes ensure that we will continue to operate with the utmost integrity in every state.
What do most people do when they need someone to perform a service, such as carpet cleaning? They google it! In a sea of competition, you’ve got to make sure your business stands out from the rest. Having a clear and easy to read website is one of the best ways to stand out and make yourself the obvious choice. It’s one of the most valuable sales tools you can have! This is where having certain elements on your website to drive those sales becomes critical. Luckily, there are a few very simple - and easily executable - things you can do yourself to make your website the best it can be without having to go out and hire an agency.
With that in mind, here are some essential website features that will make you the easy choice for whoever’s surfing your site looking for their next cleaning.
Seeing is always believing and if you're in the cleaning business, there's no better way to convince potential clients to hire you than by showing them photos of your work. Also, there's something oddly satisfying about before and after pictures, especially when it comes to cleaning transformations! All it takes is a few simple snaps before and after and you can highlight your past jobs and craftsmanship.
Pro Tip: Pro Tip: If a customer insists on bargaining, learn how to overcome their price objections here.
For most cleaning pros, this will likely be a button or a link that takes a customer to a contact form, scheduling screen, or contact number/email. Whatever shape this call to action takes, it should drive them directly to you in as few clicks and steps as possible. Your goal with the call to action doesn't have to be just to book new clients, either. You can also use them to gather potential new customers’ information so you can market to them later.
A good call to action is clear, concise, and it should be obvious to the reader what actions you want them to take. Call to actions can be buttons that say “Contact Us Now” or “Schedule a Cleaning Today”. These call to action elements should be consistent in their design (color, fonts, size, etc.) and placed in key areas of your website (near the top, after any major sections) and definitely at least once on every page.
Nowadays, reviews are one of the first things someone looks at when choosing a business. If you put a lot of time and effort into providing great customer experiences and your clients are letting you know, don’t be afraid to ask them to post written feedback for you. Platforms like Google and Facebook do a great job of showcasing reviews of a job well done, and you’d be surprised how much attention potential customers pay to them.
Pro Tip: Make followup easy and automate communications with your clients after each job: Automate and engage users with pop-up widgets like those you can get from the free Engage tool by NiceJob.
Make sure your website features a good variety of client testimonials. Your reputation says a lot, and by letting your past clients speak to your professionalism and quality of your service, you’re going to increase credibility. You can not only feature client reviews, but also any industry awards you’ve received or quality guarantees.
Feature your customer testimonials in multiple areas. Highlight them on various sections of your website between major blocks of content. Once you've gathered enough, dedicate an entire page to house all of your reviews. If you're new and in the early stages of your cleaning business, focus on building credibility and go the extra mile.
Everyone loves a good story. Even if it isn’t thrilling to you anymore, most potential buyers on your website will be interested in learning about your team and and how your company came to be. You can use it to talk about your company philosophy, where you're based, and how your company came to be.
To introduce your team, all you really need is a picture of each employee with a short bio about them. That’s it! What’s key is to just show potential customers the faces of the people doing work for them.
Pro Tip: Another great way to add trustworthiness and let your potential clients know more about your team is with ID badges from The Seal. They provide a photo and 3rd party proof of verification of background check, are an excellent way to show clients that you’re reputable.
This mostly applies to companies that offer more than one service, but it’s a good thing to think about for any business, regardless of your scope of work. Say you’re an exterior cleaner who offers soft washing, window cleaning, and roof/gutter cleaning. In most cases, a potential customer will be searching for one of the services you offer, not just general exterior cleaning.
A great way to boost your ranking for your relevant search terms is to have a specific landing page for each service you offer. The end result is that when a potential customer searches “window cleaners in [insert city]” on Google, you have a higher likelihood of showing up for that specific service. While your main page should highlight everything that you do, it will definitely help you to have specific pages that go into more detail on each service you offer.
While this may be similar to the call to action element for you, it’s worth revisiting. Having clear and easy-to-find contact information on your website is CRUCIAL. People need to know how to contact you as soon as they are on your site, as well as on any page after that.
Make your contact info easy to find and intuitive. There’s nothing worse than making someone hunt and search to find out how to find or contact you! Put your phone number, email, and in some cases your physical address, in the footer of your site, on a “Contact” page, and within any sort of call to action. Many cleaning businesses even put their phone number in the header of their website so it’s clearly visible at all times.
Pro Tip: Learn how to connect to potential customers by using your website as a sales too here.
The vast majority of website building is done on a desktop computer, and because of that it’s shockingly easy to forget about what your site looks like on a mobile device. A lot of recent data suggests that about half of all internet traffic is from a mobile device. So it’s safe to assume that about half of your website visitors will be on their phones. This is why it is so, so, SO important to have your website optimized for mobile.
If you do your web design yourself, make sure the platform you’re using has a good way to optimize specifically for mobile. If you hire out, make sure that whoever you hired is spending just as much time on the mobile version of your site as they are on the normal desktop version.
Having an FAQs page will not only help give your potential clients a better experience, but can also save you and your employees time in fielding phone calls or emails about simple yet frequently asked questions. If you've got techs or a sales team, they're sure to come across questions from clients that pop up again and again. Talk to them and let their feedback help you compile a list of the most often asked questions to include on this page.
The FAQs page can also help your website visitors with information to help guide their purchases. In addition to providing more info to sell to potential clients, having a comprehensive FAQs page will also help boost your visibility on Google and other search engines.
Again, your website is one of your most valuable sales tools. Give it the proper time, attention, and resources that you have to make sure it stands out from among the competition. Your potential customers will get a good sense of who you are as a business within the first 30 seconds of landing on your website, so it's important that you leave them with a good impression! Make sure to include these 8 elements on your cleaning business website and you will be set for success.
In part 1 of Pete Happy’s story, we introduced to you how ProShine had its humble beginnings to grow into a thriving company. Pete talked in our interview about the reasons why he needed ServiceMonster to come in and help his company’s operations. There were so many elements that led to his company success that we wanted to continue it with this next series.
We’ll talk more about how ProShine worked through its growing pains and put tools to the task to make their business more efficient, and about how they ultimately were able to leverage their findings from a SWOT analysis to grow despite the challenging times.
QuickBooks obviously isn’t a CRM, but it’s not uncommon for small businesses to use it as their first CRM. Pete was no different. QuickBooks was his main tool for managing customer relationships from very early on because of its capacity to let him easily write estimates, convert those invoices and get payments. It worked great for a time but as the company grew, Pete recognized very quickly that things might start falling apart if he didn’t make some changes. Couple that with the fact that Pete was moving off the trucks and into sales - he wasn’t too keen on the idea of employees having unfettered access to his sensitive accounting data either.
Pete needed a buffer between his employees and the business accounting, and introducing ServiceMonster as his CRM helped establish that. Now he was able to give his team the tools they needed to be able to go do their job, but not put them in a place where there was the possibility of accidentally altering any crucial accounting statements.
When it came down to making the move, ServiceMonster’s QuickBooks integration made the switch simple and easy! All it took was an invoice history import and everything was there at Pete’s fingertips. Now, he could get the support he needed for multiple worksites, and get a robust snapshot of each customer's history with a newsfeed while being able to process payments online all under one umbrella.
And QuickBooks wasn’t the only application that he added to the mix. A few of the applications Pete already had in place that could be used within ServiceMonster were:
ServiceMonster has many other integrations to help boost your company’s performance, too. To learn more about them and to find out if we have an integration for any of your existing business applications, visit our MarketPlace.
When Pete was getting off the truck and adding more employees to expand his business, he needed to make sure his dispatchers and techs also had a seamless experience with the new software. Luckily, ServiceMonster was very user-friendly and one of the easiest things for his employees to learn when it came to training. Here are a few things techs have to make life easier:
Having ServiceMonster as a software keeps ProShine employees from waiting on answers and lets them better focus on their jobs. It's a great tool to help set them up for success from day one.
Ultimately, I don’t really believe we sell window washing. I don’t really believe that we sell pressure washing. We sell an experience.
Covid changed the trajectory of many service businesses. One of Pete’s biggest struggles during that time was with staffing. With new work-from-home measures, ProShine saw a high increase in requests for their services to accommodate more outdoor activities. The flip side to the rise in business, however, was that there were not enough employees to get the work done. How did ProShine combat this? They raised prices to try to lower the amount of people that would be accepting their bids and to cover additional expenses.
Though necessary, raising prices can be a daunting task for small businesses because it might mean a decrease in sales. But in Pete’s case, the loss in sales turned out to work in his favor. It reduced the demand during the pandemic to a level his workforce could now accommodate.
But there was another missing piece to this equation. Pete knew that potential clients could easily hire any other provider to get the same job done for less money. So what made his clients choose to pay a bit more for his services?
Pete and his leadership team had done a SWOT analysis and found that hiring was one of their weaknesses. They were struggling internally and during covid, especially, there were literally zero job applicants. So they made a push to attract and hire top talent, and it ended up paying off in spades. Clients love his team, and because of that they return again and again. Pete understood that hiring a good team would be better for the bottom line, and what came from it was an impressive 74% residential repeat rate. Client retention and repeat business played a large part in the overall growth of his business.
ServiceMonster is #1 reason why we can fulfill that value of being responsive
Alongside other key factors such as making company-wide changes to benefits and to attract top talent, ProShine devised an acronym that better reflected their mission and values: ROOTS.
The acronym stands for:
And Pete attributes one of those key values - responsiveness - to the support he gets from the ServiceMonster team. He or any one of his techs and call on the phone and talk to someone from the team every time. They can give immediate answers or if not be relentless in figuring it out. Pete knows that, as the owner, if his dispatcher has an issue they can pick up the phone or shoot an email and there will always be a friendly, knowledgeable person on the other side ready to help.
Thanks so much for the kind words, Pete. We appreciate you too!
The ServiceMonster team will be out of the office on Thanksgiving day. We wish our customers a happy Thanksgiving, and our support team will be back with limited hours on Friday 11/25 from 8am-1pm PST. Normal support hours will resume on Monday.
Back in 2013, and with only $180 worth of hand tools, Pete Happy decided one day that he would create his destiny - even better, to be his own boss. His seasonal gigs at Mt. Hood ski resort meant that he'd need to figure out quickly what to do with his summers, so with big ambition and some ingenuity, his window-washing business, ProShine, was born.
Nearly five years into bootstrapping the Pacific Northwest-based cleaning business with hard-earned cash, Pete was able to add an additional service vehicle and expand his services menu from purely windows to everything related to exterior cleaning - from roof cleaning, gutters, and solar panels to decks, driveways, and patios.
The growth was exciting, and shifting into becoming a more grown-up business was more than a welcome event. Yet it started to become clear that the expansion would add some complexities to operations that couldn't be handled with the few existing tools they currently had.
Until 2017-2018, it was one truck with Pete doing everything. He was using Google calendar to schedule things, and QuickBooks was his only software to manage estimates, invoicing, and payments.
Using the Google calendar for scheduling jobs worked fine when it was only him. However, as Pete started adding more vehicles and services, things quickly fell into disorder and disarray, with random notes piling up everywhere and a calendar that couldn't handle multiple jobs and sites. He knew he needed some type of extra support for handling that, or else things would quickly go downhill. That's when ProShine made the switch to ServiceMonster.
"Notes were all over the place, you're using Google calendar for scheduling things…it was really just kind of a mess. It worked ok for just 1 truck but when we started adding additional vehicles it was going to fall apart."
ServiceMonster handled the more complex scheduling requirements that ProShine needed for its multiple worksites. In fact, ServiceMonster is a scheduling platform first! But beyond just scheduling, there were many other things that ServiceMonster helped with while Pete was navigating through his business expansion.
"Being able to attach photos and review that history was another key piece…"
Pete was excited to be able to communicate info easily with his techs and have them see all their customers' info at a glance. They were no longer scrambling around and trying to make sense of random notes! They could also easily pull up info on their mobile devices.
While inside customers' accounts, ServiceMonster's newsfeed gives them a full view of everything that's happened between you and the customer - including all communication history and work done. Employees could attach photos to the work order, review the scope of work with the homeowner, and see all of ProShine's previous jobs - all from out in the field and under one umbrella.
"No one answers the phone. It's the least effective way of getting anything on the schedule."
Before ServiceMonster, Pete's marketing system involved:
The phone calls were a personal way to reconnect, but he found it to be the least effective way of getting anything on the schedule. No one ever picked up the phone! In Pete's words, it was 'extremely labor intensive and really depressing.'
ServiceMonster helped automate ProShine's marketing with straightforward drip campaigns that follow up with customers every time after the work is done - all done at a combination of different touchpoints and channels.
Pete was looking for a more efficient way to market to his existing clients, and he understood that when he ran an email marketing campaign, only about half of the recipients opened their emails. Enter FillMySchedule (also known as FMS). With FillMySchedule, ServiceMonster's in-house automated direct mail marketing service, ProShine could automatically send out cards so those not checking their emails would get something in the mail.
And because it's automated, it's easy and consistent. And we all know that consistency is king when it comes to marketing!
"If there's one thing you can't screw up, it's someone's pay."
Pete's life got easier once ServiceMonster could help with providing automated marketing campaigns and support for his operations, all under one umbrella. But in addition to cutting down on time spent on tasks, ServiceMonster software provided another valuable and critical source for his business: Reports.
Before using ServiceMonster, Pete had no idea what his residential or commercial repeat rates were. Today, Pete can happily say what his repeat rates are (72% and 77%, respectively)! Repeat rate was a metric they didn't even know about until ServiceMonster entered the picture. If you know where your business stands, you know where you need to make adjustments.
Another ServiceMonster reporting game-changer for ProShine was being able to track employee performance pay. When it's time to run ProShine's payroll, Pete can easily pull a report to see how much each technician receives for their production bonus based on their production rate. It's an effortless way to track employee commissions while keeping things accurate. And if there's one thing you want to be accurate, it's someone's pay!
You've just read the first part of the story of ProShine's journey to becoming a growth hero. There's still a lot more to share! In next week's post, we'll talk more about how ProShine made a values-led decision to focus more on employees during covid, and how, while many service businesses struggled, they were able to work through the challenges and end up thriving.
Vacation time is a luxury many business owners don't have the opportunity to enjoy. As the holidays grow near, vacation is on the mind of many a service industry pro. It's hard to take the time to recharge on vacation when you're still responsible for your company. However, as business owners, we know that taking time off is essential for our wellbeing—and our businesses. Don't worry: with the right mindset and smart planning, you can enjoy a stress-free vacation without losing ground on your business.
Here are some tips for keeping your business running smoothly when the boss disappears for a week or two:
If you have a team of people who can step in while you're away, they must know exactly what to do in your absence. Ensure that your entire team is aware of any changes while you are away. Make sure they understand what's happening and know their responsibilities during this time so there is clarity when you return.
When you're getting ready to go on vacation, don't be afraid to ask for help. Ask your team, customers, and suppliers if they'll have time to step up in your absence. You may be surprised at how willing people are to pitch in and help make things run smoothly while you're away.
You don't want your vacation to feel like a burden, or that it's taking away from the life of someone who steps up to help. Try handing off tasks that can easily be delegated so there isn't too much stress on any one person. If not all of those things can be outsourced—and most likely some can—maybe consider bringing someone on board full-time who can take care of them for now. This can also help them build relationships with clients they may have access to one day down the road!
Test your communication channels before you go on vacation. Test them while you are away, and then test them again when you return.
Make sure they work. Could you make sure they are secure and reliable? If there are any issues, have a plan to deal with them ahead of time so that no one has to worry about the problem while dealing with other things on their plate during the vacation period. If necessary, ask for help or delegate tasks to others who can take care of them in your absence (or at least know how much more work needs to be done).
You'll want to do a few things to prepare for this. First, ensure that you and your team know what to do in an emergency. It is best to have a plan that everyone is aware of. Additionally, if something happens while you're away, the next person in charge needs to know the steps to correct the situation.
To help with this process, create a shared document where everyone can keep notes about progress toward completing their tasks or projects during your absence. This way, people can go straight to the document instead of having long phone calls or meetings where everyone has different versions of the events taking place!
Regarding who is responsible for handling these situations during your vacation time, designate one person on each project as the main point of contact. This way, everyone will know who they need to ask if issues pop up while no one else is around (though hopefully, this will only happen sometimes!).
Preparing for the worst-case scenario is crucial when planning to take time away from your business, but you should also plan to handle the good things!
If a client calls and pays their invoice—or makes an inquiry about booking another job—make sure someone is available to handle it immediately. You don't want to miss out on potential revenue or opportunities while away from work.
If no one has access to this information while you're away, consider contacting clients beforehand and letting them know they can reach one of your team members should anything arise while your away.
Planning is key to a stress-free vacation. If you have a job deadline, ensure you have enough time to meet it before leaving. If that's not an option, add the project to your vacation schedule so that you'll know exactly when to check with your team when it comes due.
Automation can help you in many ways, but communication is the first place to focus your automation.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can automate your responses. You can use filters to automatically respond to emails with certain words in the subject line. For example, if someone sends you an email asking for advice about a project they're working on, you could have the filter send them a response that says something like: "I'm happy to help! Send me more information, and we can set up a time to connect." This way, if the person wants to schedule an appointment or get advice from you—they won't need to wait for your response!
You can also set up rules so that when certain people send emails (or when specific keywords show up), your email will handle them in a certain way. For example, I can filter my incoming mail and set aside all of my client inquiries into separate folders within Outlook. This way, I'll know where all the client inquiries are going without having them clutter up my inbox unnecessarily.
Email and social media updates will be some of the first things people see before visiting your website. It's essential to communicate your status and tell them what to expect.
You can also update any other marketing materials that you have in circulation. For example, if you have business cards or postcards on hand with old summer hours, get rid of them! You don't want anyone getting confused or thinking they can hire you when you aren't available.
Many of us in the service industry are owner-operators, meaning we don't have teams to rely on when we're gone. Being a business owner, that definitely creates a certain amount of stress knowing that you're the only one there to run things. But that doesn't mean you're never entitled to a vacation! Burnout and overwork are both very real. Taking time off – even if it might mean shutting the business for a week or more – is essential to keep you and your business refreshed and restored.
If you don't have a staff in place and it's just you, consider designating a specific period during the year as your holiday break. As long as you give your clients advance notice and tie up any loose ends before that period, it's okay to close the doors for a time. The main thing to acknowledge is that prioritizing rest and vacation doesn't make you a bad business owner. The rewards from taking a break will benefit you and your business when you're back: reduced stress, clearer thinking, and increased productivity. Proper time off is a more sustainable solution to keep you functioning at your best.
With all these tips, it can feel like you need to be a master of business management. But don't worry! Just focus on what's most important to you and take the time to plan for any unforeseen events. Take the proper steps to ensure there are no fires to put out when you're back so that you can adequately relax on your vacation instead of returning more stressed. Then use some of these ideas to automate your workflow so that even when things go wrong (and they will), it won't affect your time away.
Finally, remember that taking time off is good for everyone - including your employees!
You may think of customer service as the work you do in your clients’ homes, but it goes way beyond that—it's about how you carry yourself and treat people in general. In fact, many successful service businesses have built their reputations on going beyond just completing jobs; they've inspired customers with their professionalism, great attitudes, and general willingness to help whenever possible.
I can think of one time I had a plumber in my home to fix a burst pipe. The first thing he did was take off his shoes before he entered so as not to track dirt inside. That level of respect for my home left a lasting impression on me! It went a long way toward building trust for him and his company and I never thought twice about calling him again.
Customer service is crucial for any home service business, but what’s more important is to be engaging, honest, and helpful so that you can go the extra mile for your customers every time.
Here are some simple customer service ideas you can use in your service business to set yourself apart from your competition:
The phone is an underutilized tool in the customer service arsenal, but it can be a powerful way to show your appreciation when you take the time to call someone who's given you their business. Call them up and ask them how they found you. Do they have any questions about the work done? Is there anything else that might make their experience better? Research has shown that a simple phone call works better to help people connect in a meaningful way. This type of personal touch will make for a lasting relationship with your customers—and it won't cost you much money at all!
Have you ever stepped into a retail store and none of the sales people even bothered to look up and acknowledge you? You’d be surprised how far a simple ‘hello’ and a smile with eye contact goes. Even if you're busy, be sure to greet every client in person—it's a great way to set the tone for your relationship with them.
Use their name when you greet them and throughout your conversation. People like being recognized as individuals by those who serve them, so make it a point to use names whenever possible (including when addressing groups).
If you have a long list of open tasks on your agenda or are slammed at the office or on a job, don't let that interfere with showing up ready to serve the customers who matter most: those who've already shown interest in doing business with you! You'll turn off prospective clients if they get the impression that their needs aren't important enough for you to prioritize over yours.
Be honest about your skills and pricing. Don’t over-promise, but don’t under-promise either. If you can usually do a job in one hour but you foresee this one taking three hours, tell the truth! Educate your client on the factors as to why and let them know if there are any delays in service that happened because of something outside of your control (like bad weather or an illness).
Be honest about the cost of materials if you have them on hand at a discounted rate for clients who use them for projects. For example, let's say that you sell tiles at wholesale prices as part of your business model; when someone purchases from you, they're paying retail prices anyway—so why not make up some ground by giving them some savings where they don't normally expect it? You could also offer services such as delivery or installation at no extra cost—because after all, what good is a discount if there's still an expense associated with obtaining said discount?
Make sure your customer knows you’re there for them. When customers are anxious about something, they need to feel reassured that you can help. So, let them know that everything will be okay: “I’m glad you called us about this problem; we want to make sure our customers are happy with their services. I know how frustrating it can be when things don't go as planned, but rest assured that I am here to help fix the situation as quickly as possible."
On the flip side, be transparent and honest if you don't have an answer yet. While offering them reassurance is important, sometimes a situation isn't clear-cut enough for a simple solution or quick resolution—in which case it may be best not offer any promises of fixing things right away until more information becomes available. Try this instead: "It sounds like there might be some work involved on our end in order to solve this problem--but since we've never dealt with anything like this before ourselves either, I'm not sure what exactly needs doing at the moment."
Be proactive with customers. You can’t assume that your customer understands the processes of the job involved. So be proactive in asking questions when talking to them to gather info that’s helpful in understanding their needs and wants better - including why they are looking for services like yours, along with what impact this would have on them (e.g., cost savings, time savings).
Don't assume you have all the answers. Ask! While this may seem obvious, many businesses don't take any opportunities to dig deeper because they want quick sales rather than long-term relationships with their clients. Going above and beyond here will help generate repeat business down the road if done correctly.
You're a professional, and you want to be treated like one. That means that when you ask a customer for their opinion on your product or service, they should take the time to respond with constructive feedback. To earn that kind of respect from customers and clients alike, become an expert in your field by reading relevant books and articles, attending seminars and conferences related to your industry, and staying up-to-date on current trends in business.
Becoming an expert is also about building trust with customers—they'll feel more confident about trusting you when they can see that you know what you're talking about! You can earn this trust by being honest about what works best for them (and why), being reliable by showing up when expected or delivering work on time (or early).
This should be a given, but you’d be surprised how often I’ve had experiences where service providers complete a job and leave a mess. A clean job site means a happy customer. It's easy to leave behind bits and pieces of your work, but it pays off in the long run to leave a clean space when the work is done. After all, what's the point of being done with a project if you're leaving work for someone else to deal with? The rule of thumb should be to treat and leave your clients’ space as good - if not better- as your own.
Another thing that customers appreciate is when workers clean up before they go home for the day. Show care and consideration on behalf of everyone involved in getting something done right.
Apologizing is a skill that can be learned and perfected through practice. You don’t need to be perfect; it’s better to apologize than not, especially when it comes to customer service. Apologizing is beneficial for both parties involved because it demonstrates an understanding of the issue and shows your willingness to fix the problem, even if you weren’t the one at fault.
Effective apologies are simple: they include an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, an explanation of what went wrong, why it was wrong (if applicable), how you plan on fixing the problem and what steps you'll take next time something similar happens. In addition, an effective apology should avoid blaming others or making excuses—which means saying things like "I'm sorry" or "This isn't good enough." Instead, express regret for having disappointed someone's expectations by saying something like: “I know this isn't what we agreed upon but I'm going to try my best."
Once you've done a job for a customer, don't walk away and leave them hanging. If you're the type who's good at following up, it can be an opportunity to deepen your relationship with your customers and make sure they're satisfied—and happy to refer you in the future.
Here are some great ways to follow up after completing a job:
Call or text. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly phone call to put someone's mind at ease and confirm that everything went well. At the very least, this demonstrates that your company cares about getting things right!
Following up doesn't have to only pertain to after the job, either. A quick followup call or text to a prospect who didn't get back to you after an estimate also shows a commitment to relationship building and follow-through. If you haven't thought about using text messaging for followups, you should check out ServiceMonster's CHIIRP integration to see how you can easily automate followups with prospects or current clients. It's a great way to win warm leads and get repeat business!
Send a handwritten note or card. A handwritten note from someone means so much more than just an email or text message—it takes time and effort on their part as well as yours for both parties involved (which is why it's worth doing!). Plus, people love receiving snail mail these days!
Send a gift card or voucher for their next purchase/service with you. This could be used toward any follow-up services you offer that are specific to the work you just did or a coupon or discount code tucked in a handwritten thank you card. If you were particularly pleased with how understanding they were with a tough situation, consider sending them free merchandise or added services as well.
Sound old-fashioned? Maybe so, but it works! Handwritten thank you cards are an excellent way to express gratitude and build lasting relationships with your customers. With the rise of social media and text, handwritten notes are far more meaningful than digital messages.
A handwritten note is a great way to show your customers that you care. You can use a template or make it unique, but the important thing is that you add your personal touch and let them know how much they mean to you.
It's also a nice way to show customers that their business matters. If they see their order has been carefully packaged, they're more likely to believe that other aspects of their experience with your company are being cared for as well.
Did you know that ServiceMonster has an automated feature to help you do this very thing? It's called FillMySchedule, and instead of handwriting and mailing cards yourself, you can let ServiceMonster take care of it all with one tap of a button. It's one of the easiest ways to get repeat business and will come back in spades when it comes time for reviews! Customers remember good service and tell others about it—especially if there's something specific about it, like a personalized, handwritten note.
Customers remember the little things. They’re not just looking for a good service experience; they want an exceptional one—the kind that makes them feel special and appreciated. So go the extra mile in whatever ways you can: deliver above and beyond, send thank-you cards when someone has chosen you for their services, and even leave handwritten notes on receipts thanking them for their business (seriously!).
Customers remember how you make them feel. One of the best ways to make customers feel special is by going above and beyond their expectations and making sure experiences are memorable for all the right reasons—not because something went wrong!
If you want to build customer loyalty and make a lasting impression on your customers, then it's important to go the extra mile with them. By doing small things that show you care about their needs and wants, they'll be more inclined to trust in your service and return again in the future.
Spot Out is a well-known floor care company in the Coachella Valley owned by Josh and Connie Klopfenstein. For almost 25 years, loyal customers have been trusting them with all of their high-end cleaning and restoration needs. Josh and Connie believe in offering only first class experiences, and they’ve made it their goal to set themselves apart from the competition by educating their customers with knowledgeable and informed expertise along with providing unsurpassed levels of thoughtful and personalized service.
In their early days as a family operation, Connie took over admin duties to help her husband, Josh, while he was moonlighting to start his carpet cleaning business. After some time, though, she found herself struggling with multi-tasking and the manual tasks involved with keeping track of new jobs and work orders - whether that was sending follow-up cards after each job or taking phone calls and booking jobs while at her kids’ baseball games. Doing everything with pen and paper was proving too chaotic and, as a result, this juggling left her with little faith that her current system of operations was a reliable one. The final straw was the one evening she forgot her business scheduling calendar at her daughter’s guitar lesson. Every record of the next day’s jobs and beyond disappeared in the blink of an eye! That’s when she knew things had to change and that she needed a way to reliably keep track of things.
Josh and Connie began looking for a business solution. ServiceMonster was the easy choice to help automate all those tasks that Connie was previously completing by hand. They could stop relying on physical invoices and job folders to carry to each job, and Connie could stop having to rely on a calendar notebook to write down each client that needed to be scheduled. With ServiceMonster, Connie could now easily handle work orders and scheduling from her phone - all while still balancing life with kids and raising a family. Now she can schedule jobs from anywhere like a pro!
Besides reducing the chaos and clutter of pen and paper work orders and scheduling, one of the big things for Connie that set ServiceMonster apart from other service business softwares was FillMySchedule (otherwise known as FMS), ServiceMonster’s in-house automated marketing feature that sends out stamped, addressed high quality thank-you and follow-up cards to clients. Connie was already sending follow-up cards as a way to stay true to Spot Out’s ’old-fashioned service experience’ because it added a great personal touch and was a way to show appreciation for their customers’ business and loyalty. But instead of writing and sending each one by hand, now she could send them out with just a few clicks. And clients loved receiving them!
For Spot Out and other companies, FillMyService is an excellent way to show how much you value your customers, as well as a great tool to get repeat business. If you want to read more about how a vast majority of ServiceMonster users have had their biggest growth and customer retention by using FMS, go here.
During Josh’s early days working as a delivery driver, time and efficiency was drilled into him. Subsequently, he carried this work ethic into his own business practice. So it was important to Josh that he be able to get the most work done in the shortest amount of time, and for the quality of client that he had. Introducing a software to do the things that he and Connie couldn’t - or didn’t want to - do themselves was key to keeping them professional and efficient.
As a budding young business owner, Josh also understood there were certain aspects of his business that were still unfamiliar and new, like bookkeeping. With its QuickBooks integration, ServiceMonster helped him get a better grasp of where his company stood financially. Also, being able to see and track reports of his business progress helped him to make better informed decisions, such as being able to identify which clients brought the highest ROI and which ones who might not be the best fit.
After a few years, Josh and Connie were able to expand their business and hire new employees. For a long time, they were using route packets and handwritten invoices with job folders containing each client’s necessary paperwork. Just this year they went mobile using ServiceMonster! Now, both they and their techs are able to have visibility and tools from their mobile devices. Josh and Connie can see how far away techs are from the next job, and their techs are able to do a variety of things right in the home, like quote and collect payments.
ServiceMonster also allows for pre-filled pricing menus within the CRM, which Spot Out techs could refer to and quote with. This took a lot of stress and fear away from techs having to present high priced ticket items to the client, while allowing them to be consistent and build credibility.
Adding ServiceMonster as their customer relationship management tool has helped Spot Out be more professional, more efficient, and to keep their highest ROI clients. Their goal of running a successful cleaning business while managing a family is now simpler than ever. As a result, they’ve even been able to make more time for themselves and expand their business to hire employees.
Welcome back to Guerrilla Marketing, our series of posts on unconventional and inexpensive marketing techniques you can use in your business.
Our last post covered what door-knocking is and its advantages as well as disadvantages. In this post, we’re looking at the tools needed for this type of salesmanship (or marketing), as well as tips for preparing before you try door-knocking yourself.
You've read the pros and cons and want to knock on some doors? That's awesome!
Just like showing up for a job, you want to have all the tools you'll need at your disposal.
We've compiled a list of the sales tools that will help you make the most of your time.
You should rehearse a sales script before going out into the field. When someone asks a question or says something that throws off your flow—which they will—having a sales script prepared in advance will keep things running smoothly. For door-to-door sales, you don't need to follow your exact script, and you never want to be reading it when you're with a potential customer. Still, it is essential to think through how the conversation could go and rehearse what you'll say. Practicing your script will help boost your confidence when talking to a customer.
You can leave these behind with people who aren't ready to decide at the moment but might want to contact you later if they change their mind. Business cards are cheap and a worthwhile investment if it means someone will remember your company and come back later when they have time (or money) to hire you! Bring a pen so you can write personalized notes on your business cards.
Door hangers are great for getting people's attention. They're also easy to pass out, so if someone isn't home when you drop by, they can still get your message later. Your door hangers should include your services, any promotions, and contact information such as your phone number and website. A door hanger is also a great place to highlight your best work with before and after pictures. A well-designed door hanger lets potential customers see what they would get if they hired you. Make sure you have enough door hangers to leave one at every house you visit.
Coupons are a great way to make people remember your company by offering them something free or at a discount, especially when speaking with them at the door. Having an information sheet handy can help customers understand even more about your business before they commit to hiring you. You can include coupons and further information on your business card and door hangers, but having separate items helps go the extra mile.
You should prepare to make an estimate or a booking on the spot so that you can act fast if you meet someone ready to hire you. Travel with a complete price list with you and a way to take down their information. By collecting their contact information and noting the services they're interested in, you'll know what to send them after you return from knocking on doors. It's also essential to have access to your calendar so that you can give them your availability if they want to schedule work on the spot. If your quoting/booking process isn't mobile, consider ServiceMonster, which lets you run your business from an app. If ServiceMonster isn't suitable for you and you can't find another solution, plan for how you'll handle a customer who's ready to hire you.
Before going door-to-door, you'll need to prepare. Here are some things to consider:
You'll want to have a clipboard or notepad on hand so you can write down contact information and make notes about your conversation with the customer. Make sure you have plenty of business cards and door hangers on hand. You can get these printed by asking a local printer or ordering them online. Don't forget to bring the tools you need to make an estimate on-site so that you can provide quotes on the spot!
Dress appropriately for the weather and season. Wear comfortable shoes that won't slow you down when making your rounds. Choose something comfortable but professional—jeans and a button-up shirt are perfect for door-to-door sales, so long as they're clean and ironed. Avoid wearing anything too distracting or colorful because it may make people feel uncomfortable about opening their door to you.
Choose a neighborhood where people will likely have money and time to spend on your services. Make sure it's an area where people feel comfortable talking with strangers—not a gated or remote community. Choose another neighborhood if you are worried about running into trouble with security guards or police officers. Check the terrain and spacing between houses and find a place where you'll be able to park before going door-to-door to ensure the area is suitable.
Practicing your pitch is extremely important because it will give you confidence when going out into the field. Practice in front of friends or family members, or practice saying a friendly "Hello" in the mirror before going out—it's crucial that you sound confident and friendly when approaching potential customers.
In these tough economic times, people watch their nickels and dimes more carefully than before, so don't be discouraged if folks turn you down. You're also going to speak with people who aren't interested in your services, and they're going to turn you down too. Don't let that discourage you. Even if they aren't interested, they get the information to make an informed decision later.
If they say yes, great! You've just gained another customer.
If you've reached the end, you're ready to take to the sidewalk and start knocking on some doors. Door-to-door salespeople have been traveling to homes or businesses for over 100 years, and it's time to take this time-tested marketing method into the field to book some jobs.
Don't be afraid to get out there and do it; you miss out on business if you don't try it at least once.
ServiceMonster can support your door-to-door efforts and help you be more effective in the field. You can start a free trial if you're not currently using ServiceMonster.
Providing an estimate on the fly is a great way to get a potential customer interested in hiring you. You can make estimates in ServiceMonster Mobile by creating a new order with the "estimate" type and adding the potential customer as an account with the "lead" type. After the estimate is made, you can email it to them. Emailing a potential customer is a great way to get their contact information and send them something they will see after your conversation. Read more about orders on mobile here.
Even if you don't send an estimate, you can still enter potential customers as leads in the mobile app. Entering them as a lead will make it easy to follow up with them and help you track the success of your door-to-door efforts later. To record a lead:
Learn more about creating accounts and managing leads on mobile.
A big part of going door-to-door is leaving behind door hangers or business cards. It can be challenging to track which customers come to you because of the materials you left behind - but by creating a promotion exclusive to them, you can track those customers. Start by creating a marketing campaign, then create a promotion for the campaign that matches the offer printed on your materials. Tracking promotions will give you an idea of how many people booked after receiving your door hanger. Take this a step further by adding the cost of your door hangers to the campaign as an expense so that you can calculate your total return on the money you spend on door-to-door sales.
Going door-to-door is one of the most effective ways to get your name out there, especially when you're just starting or facing a business shortfall. It's inexpensive and quick, and it allows you the chance to meet face-to-face with potential clients. However, there are a few things you should consider before you start knocking on doors to sell your service. In this post, we’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of door-knocking so you can determine if it’s a good fit for your business.
Door-to-door sales is a term used to describe going door-to-door to sell a product or service. But what is it in practice?
The stereotypical door-to-door salesperson that we think of is often someone who works for a direct selling company. Direct selling companies are companies that sell products directly to consumers through direct sales representatives, who are independent contractors that make a commission off of every sale. Direct selling companies have been around since the 1940s; many are legitimate companies with good products. Still, their commission-based pay structure encourages salespeople to be unrelenting in securing a sale. The pay structure of direct selling companies and the behavior of their salespeople have given door-to-door selling a lousy wrap with consumers.
It's essential to understand the difference between an independent contractor working for a big direct selling company and a business owner selling a service. You might be using the same approach to sales, but you aren't in the same category.
Suppose you work for a direct sales company, and you're still reading this post. In that case, it's a good time to stop because the strategies here won't be half as effective for you as they are for a service business and an independent entrepreneur.
One of the most significant advantages of door-knocking is that you can reach a wider audience than other forms of marketing. Service businesses offer things that every homeowner needs, and chances are there are people in your area who would be interested in hiring you. Door-to-door sales lets you reach customers without them finding your product online or through advertising.
With most forms of marketing or sales, connecting with customers in person is impossible, but knocking on doors almost guarantees you'll meet a future customer. Meeting customers means getting to know your customers and their needs before they hire you. Knowing your customers is especially important if they have to trust you when you enter their homes to perform a service. You can't get this personal connection via phone calls or emails alone.
The number one advantage of door-to-door sales for home service businesses is seeing a potential customer's home, which lets you tailor your sales pitch. For example, suppose your company specializes in pressure washing, and you see grime and oil spots on their driveway. In that case, you can explain to them how pressure washing would make it look good as new and even tell them the exact methods you would use. Lawn care and landscaping are also industries where this approach works well, as is any industry where you can see the area you're servicing from outside. This strategy of assessing and addressing the customer's needs on-site before you even knock on the door is only possible with door-to-door sales.
When you sell your services door-to-door, unpredictability is a part of the job. You never know what you'll find when you knock on someone's door: maybe they'll be in the mood to talk, perhaps they'll be annoyed you're there, or maybe they won't answer their door. While there are ways to make it a valuable knock regardless of what happens, you will need to knock on many doors to find people interested in your service. Impatience won't help you win door-to-door.
Laws in many states make it illegal for door-to-door salespeople to solicit customers without obtaining permission from those customers or during certain hours of the day. Specific homeowners associations may have policies, and some homeowners will post a no-solicitation sign. It's best if you check with your state's Department of Consumer Affairs before you start knocking on doors.
When researching local laws, remember that many things fall under the legal definition of solicitation, so look specifically for laws and policies that apply to selling services door to door. An excellent place to start your research is library.municode.com, a website with an extensive database of municipal codes that is free to use. You may also want to call your local municipality to check. Most importantly, always respect the homeowner's wishes if they ask you not to solicit their home, and leave the neighborhood when asked. Overstaying your welcome in a community can damage your company's reputation.
Another disadvantage of door-to-door sales is that you have to walk around in all weather conditions. Bad weather can be uncomfortable and even dangerous if you don't prepare. Still, planning and preparation make it much more manageable. Because you will be walking door-to-door, the terrain and the area's layout can make or break a day of selling.
In the next Guerrilla Marketing post: we'll go over tools and strategies to make door-to-door sales successful in practice. Stay tuned!
The world is changing fast, and your business must adapt to meet your goals. Expectations from vendors have changed as costs continue to rise, expectations of employees have changed as their ambitions have shifted, and expectations of clients continue to change as older service businesses shut down and new ones replace them.
From 2021 until the 2nd quarter of 2022, the amount of cleaning businesses closing their doors increased by a factor of 4 and those numbers haven’t shown any signs of slowing.
In 1990, if you had the right equipment, a yellow-page ad, and an employee manual, you could operate a successful service business with little else.
In 2010, you needed the right equipment, a good number of referrals, a decent website, pay-per-click ads on google, and a good relationship with your employees.
In 2018, you needed the right equipment, a good number of referrals, a decent website, pay-per-click ads on google, a good relationship with your employees, software experience, content creation, digital ads, and social media presence.
The number of skills required to run a successful service business have radically changed since 1990. It’s not enough that you do good work and have deep knowledge and dedication to the craft. Now in 2022, you need all that and more hoping to break even. If your business is thriving, congratulations. You’ve either adapted or you have benefited from other service providers closing shop.
New businesses are always better equipped to leverage the current environment. In a very real sense of the word, at some point you must be prepared to build the business that will replace you. You need to put yourself out of business before the market does. But how do you do that? How do you hack differences in your current business that will allow for these changes?
Every business generates the data needed for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). You must know what changes will affect you bottom line. Tracking Cost of Goods Sold (COGs), margins, repeat rate (for residential), average invoice, services income breakdown, sales pipeline, lead source acquisition, schedule capacity, recurring revenue, and ad attributions.
Once you have visibility, you can attack low hanging fruit and watch how changes in your business influence your KPIs.
Set yourself apart from the sea of options on the market. There are two ways you can do this. You should do both. First is to identify yourself as an All-Star service provider. This is super easy because the bar is so low.
answer my phone
show up on time
be smart like a guru
educate my client
be fresh and clean
develop an intentional retention strategy
smile more and be sure
clean my equipment.
And if there is a problem, do my best to fix it
The second way to differentiate yourself is to BE DIFFERENT! Shocking, I know. Opportunities here should be tracked. Consider using index cards for your ideas. Leave nothing out, no matter how crazy or expensive. Take each card and rank them on two values. 1- Difficulty (time, cost, knowledge, etc.), and target impact on your business. Rank each of these as either LITTLE or BIG.
The number of ideas you can come up with is nearly unlimited but here are a few creative options we have seen. Automated recurring services, community outreach, trucks and vans with bubbles, a caricature of the owner or animal as a mascot, hi-tech posturing, costumes, online services for clients, using local lore/teams/attractions as inspiration, a list of services presented like a restaurant menu, and on and on it goes.
Never make your client work harder than they have to. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I once went 3 months before paying a service provider. It wasn’t intentional but I was shocked that in 2019 they didn’t take credit cards! He sent one invoice via snail mail, and I had to make a special trip to the bank to get a check printed. When I remembered on my own, I had yet to pay it. I don’t know if they take cards now because I never used them again. If they would have sent me a text or email with a link to a payment portal he would have been paid before he left the driveway and I would have used his services again.
Similarly, when we moved ServiceMonster to Bellingham in 2007, I wanted to get my carpet cleaned before I moved into our new home. I called three service providers and left three messages (read: answer your phone). I didn’t receive a single return call. I remembered that when I opened the truck roll-up door in front of my new house. If any of them would have followed-up, it would have been an easy job.
You should streamline your internal processes (like follow-ups, call-backs, and reminders) to make it easy and traceable for your team. This also includes access to their schedule and reports on their own individual KPIs. Streamlining your business can help reduce employee turnover and costs while giving you every opportunity to win new business and keep existing clients.
In order to thrive in our current business environment, we must learn to adapt. By putting the right systems in place, like ServiceMonster, you can make measuring, differentiation, and streamlining much easier.
I am happy to announce the addition of ServiceMonster Pay to the SM Marketplace.
Though this new payment option has additional benefits to both our clients and ServiceMonster directly, I first and foremost want to be clear that our existing payment providers like Stripe, and gateway providers like Authorize will continue to be available. We will always be committed to offering our clients choices, that’s just how we do business.
The relationship between software companies and payment processing is rarely discussed, but I have always pushed a culture of transparency at ServiceMonster. That is why I am using this post to share not only the details of our new payment option for ServiceMonster, but also why our competitors have been offering their own payment options for years.
All CRM companies that offer their own payment processors get a kickback from charges processed with their internal system; in our case this system is SM Pay. So, let’s talk about why this is so popular among CRMs, and why I think this is a good move for ServiceMonster. Our competitors get up to $12,000 for every $1,000,000 they process through their system. This adds up fast when you consider how many invoices get processed through CRMs every year. At ServiceMonster, our platform processes $500,000,000 in cleaning invoices each year, so if only a small number of ServiceMonster users choose SM Pay it could mean a big upside for our company.
You might be wondering, where does that upside come from? Let me explain; If you’re not using SM Pay and instead opt to use PayPal, Square, or Authorize, all fees you pay to process a transaction go directly to the merchant you’ve chosen. In short, the percentage you pay with every transaction goes straight to the bank.
With SM Pay, things are different. Because we are now direct partners with a merchant, we can control our rates by cutting out another bank or payment processor. Operating SM Pay has its own complexities and expenses- for example we are responsible for chargebacks, reconciliation, PCI compliance, and fraud. These are all expenses we need to factor into the rates offered through SM Pay, but ServiceMonster makes its money on subscriptions, not ancillary payment charges, so we can keep our payment fees as low as possible.
At launch, our fees will be set up to give you the best rate we can offer. The rates we charge are based on how many payments we process, and as the number of people using SM Pay increases so too will our power to get better rates.
As SM Pay grows, we have three options:
1. Use the extra cash from SM Pay to continue to improve ServiceMonster with more development resources, more hardware, and more benefits to you.
2. Reduce the credit card charge rates.
3. Pocket the cash.
I have no interest in pursuing option 3. ServiceMonster is doing well, and we don’t need to pocket the extra cash, so we will be implementing a combination of options 1 and 2. Our plan is to use any kickbacks we get to reinvest in our product, to improve the experience for you in your scheduling software, and to offer even lower rates in SM Pay.
From a fellow business owner, the most important character trait I look for around cash, is trust. We take great pride in the relationships we have established with you over these last 20 years. This is one reason it has taken us so long to offer a direct payment solution. Not only do we want to maintain the trust we have earned, but we needed to have some idea that the partner we worked with would help us maintain that level of confidence- and I’m proud to say I have full confidence in ServiceMonster Pay. It is safe to say the wait has paid off.
So yes, ServiceMonster is now offering a direct payment solution. While the kickbacks we may get are a win for us and our product, that isn’t the only reason I’m excited about ServiceMonster Pay. The team here has been working hard to meet one of my biggest objectives; with SM Pay you will be able process checks in ServiceMonster. This feature is one of the biggest reasons we developed SM Pay, and it is unique to our product. Check processing in SM Pay is another great example of how we are always working hard to make your business easy to operate, and hopefully more fun to operate too.
Get the most current rates and features here, and you can sign-up for ServiceMonster Pay in the SM Marketplace.
I’m Ryan Fenn, Co-founder & CEO of Chiirp, a ServiceMonster integration that lets you automate text messages, emails, voicemails and so much more… Here’s the story of how CHIIRP came to be:
Determination: In 2010, after having worked for someone else for a while, my brother and I decided that we would start out on our own and become business owners rather than remain employees. We had learned a lot from that employer - just as much about what not to do as what to do. We decided to start our very own windshield repair business.
I had been married only a few years and my first son was a newborn. The three of us lived in a tiny apartment and I had zero dollars in my savings account. I didn’t finish high school so I felt that advancement through traditional employment wasn’t an option for me. If we were going to make it, it was entirely up to me. But I wasn’t about to let my wife and son starve so I hit the pavement.
Our First Business: We started selling windshield repair and replacement services door to door. Within only a couple of weeks, I was making more money than I ever had and I felt like I could support my family as an entrepreneur. This was an empowering time for me and I was excited about our future.
As the weeks went by we grew tired of selling door to door and began brainstorming methods to grow our business without knocking on doors every day. It took us a while to figure it out but we ended up providing windshield repair services to customers in auto dealerships when they came in for other services like oil changes and maintenance. Soon we had grown our little startup into 9 dealerships.
The Light Bulb: That’s when it hit me! An idea that changed everything. I wanted to help young entrepreneurs start their own windshield repair businesses. I started putting together training videos and within about 4 months I had created a digital course that taught how to start a windshield repair business from the ground up. I also reached out to windshield repair tool manufacturers who agreed to sell me equipment at wholesale pricing with my company logo.
I taught everything from setting up your business, sourcing glass, repairing chips, dealing with payment and insurance, and getting locations like dealerships.
Success: I first started posting local classifieds and leads started trickling in. I got my first sale - Josh! He bought my equipment and my training course in March of that year and started his own windshield repair business. By August he had made $60,000. I legitimately helped somebody start a successful business. The fulfillment I felt was like nothing else. I loved helping him succeed! I started advertising more heavily. Leads started pouring in. Some days I’d get as many as 300 inquiries. I couldn’t keep up. As the leads came in I’d text them and try to get them to schedule an appointment. We were booked out for days and we were selling a lot of windshield repair equipment.
Automate to Grow: That’s when I started to learn about automation and that’s when it all came together. I would automatically text my leads as they came in and automatically follow up with them to get them to book an appointment. Once I had it dialed in, I didn’t have to do anything manually except SELL to my red hot appointments. Everything else was taken care of with automation.
We were selling our product for between $1500 and $3000 and we’d typically sell 2-3 per day. My brother and I sold windshield repair equipment and training for 3 years and we grossed over $2,000,000. Quite a jump from zero savings and a tiny apartment. We helped over 1000 people start their own windshield repair businesses. We had hundreds of text messages from people thanking us and telling us how awesome their new life as an entrepreneur was.
CHIIRP Was Born: At this point, I knew that the process we were using with text message automation was working extremely well. This would be great for any business. This was the future of sales! So once again, I started over. This time with a much bigger picture goal - to create software that would allow any business to get the same benefits that I was experiencing without piecing together many different applications.
I raised a small amount of investment money through a friend of the family, contacted an old friend who was a software developer (one of the best software engineers in the world in my opinion), and invited a close friend to join us. The three of us started building what became CHIIRP. Our goal was to build an automated lead follow-up and customer nurturing tool that would allow small business owners to grow their companies and still have time for their families. Venture Capital money seemed focused on profits over value, which was not the way we wanted to build a business. We believed that slow growth focused on our customer’s success would build lasting customers and ultimately, friends.
In our first couple of years, we built CHIIRP by introducing it to any and all business types that would use it. We basically sold it to any business we felt would benefit from its automation capabilities. We knew we wanted to focus on a specific niche but we just weren’t sure who could benefit the most from it. That’s when Oscar, a carpet cleaner in Denver found us. He started using CHIIRP to create follow-ups for his carpet cleaning business. He created lead conversion campaigns, estimate follow-up campaigns, appointment reminder campaigns and so many more. Oscar started experiencing huge improvements in his business - just as I had learned from my previous business. More of his leads were converting into jobs, more of his jobs were turning into 5-star reviews and more of his past clients were re-booking with him.
Oscar opened our eyes & minds to the home services industry. We found quickly that CHIIRP was the perfect tool for home services companies. Small businesses where entrepreneurs could grow through automation. CHIIRP's capabilities and automations lined up perfectly with the industry’s needs.
CHIIRP began to focus and started integrating with the leading home service CRMs. We are now just finishing up a very deep integration with ServiceMonster and couldn’t be more excited to introduce our product to the ServiceMonster family.
Sure, CHIIRP provides text messaging, ringless voicemail, email, Facebook Messaging (and soon Google Messaging). But the real-time saving and money-making benefits are in the automation. CHIIRP provides…
Our goal with CHIIRP is to give you, the home services industry entrepreneurs, the freedom you need to create the perfect customer journey for your business. By automating your communication from the very beginning you will build deep and lasting relationships with your customers. This process will free up your time while nurturing your leads and maintaining communication with your customer base. It’s literally relationship-building on autopilot.
Come check us out and see how CHIIRP can help you capture more leads, connect more authentically, and close more deals using our newly launched ServiceMonster integration.
Hello and happy holidays,
ServiceMonster phone support will be available 7am-1pm PST on Thursday, December 30th and will be closed Friday, December 31st. Our support team will be back in the office with regular hours starting Monday, January 3rd.
The same schedule will be followed for support tickets submitted via email.
Thank you for understanding our revised schedule during this joyous time of year, and happy New Year's from the team at ServiceMonster!
To automate your marketing strategy, two core facets need to be addressed. The first is capturing attention and acquiring leads, the second is the follow-up after you capture them. Before addressing any of the processes involved in automated marketing, you need a place for potential leads to land on the internet. The web presence of your business is crucial to potential customers contacting you. This includes your social media (i.e., Facebook and Instagram) your google business presence, and a strong website.
Social media can be addressed in a wide variety of ways, but it is good to post at least a couple times a week. These posts can be before and after pictures of job sites, “value add” posts that explain the benefits your service offers, or positive reviews of your business (NiceJob offers an excellent product that automatically turns your best reviews into social posts.) While not the cornerstone of your marketing strategy, social media is a great way to build trust with web-based leads.
Google’s business is centered around managing your reviews on google, which is critical to your business being found on the internet. Google functions as the modern phone book and is the first-place people will go when searching for a service. Google geolocates your business and will place it above normal websites if you have strong reviews and manage your presence through the google business suite. Your website is where you capture a lead.
When a potential customer finds your business, the website for your business is where they go to learn more about your company and book an appointment. On your website it is essential to have a lead capture form, where they enter their information for you to follow up with them. The information you collect from leads is essential to automating your marketing strategy.
Here is a hypothetical journey of a potential customer. First, they query google, for example they search “HVAC installation.” Google automatically finds their location, and matches them with results in their area, displaying a list of businesses in google maps at the top of the search results. These results include a phone number, links to social media, and a star-based rating. Most importantly they include a link to your website. This is where a potential lead will vet your business, checking your past reviews, social media presence, and the information on your website. From there, they can call you via the number you have listed on google or opt to book a call or appointment from your website. In a best-case scenario, they either call you directly from google, which you can track via the google business suite, or they navigate to your website where they book a call or appointment. This is where the magic happens.
If they are booking through your website, you can capture their information directly through a form. For example, you could have a form that asks “Interested in our services?” and provides a way for them to schedule a phone consultation. This form can ask for a variety of information, but their name, phone, and email are essential. If you want to go beyond this, we recommend asking for specifics about the type of work they are interested in so that you can address their needs as soon as you contact them.Once they enter information on your site, you need a system in place that notifies you and creates a customer record in a database. While you can use a tool like google sheets to log this data, it is best to create a record in a CRM (customer retention management) database. CRM products offer a suite of tools that let you track interactions with a potential customer and eventually convert them into a paying customer. A CRM also makes it easy to manually add a customer if they come to you organically, in other words through a source that is out of your control, like finding your phone number.
After you have started to build a database of leads, it’s time to market your service to them. It is incredibly important to operate a complete and accurate database, so that you are not wasting time and money marketing to customers that are not truly interested in the service you provide. A preemptive step you can take to help maintain a clean database is to ask more from your customers in the form where the lead is captured. While asking more of potential leads early on will result in some dropping off before submitting their information, it will result in only the most motivated clients making it into your database.
With your database built and cleaned, there are a plethora of ways that you can automate marketing to these leads, but before automating marketing it is critical that you make the initial contact directly. This can be a phone call to discuss their needs, or an email responding to the details they listed in your lead capture form. No matter how you directly follow up, it is important to do so quickly. When a customer reaches out, it is rare that they only reach out to one provider, with most opting to reach out to the top 2-5 companies they find in their initial search. A prompt response increases your chances of winning their business and is a near guarantee that you will beat a competitor that fails to respond within the first 24 hours.
After initially reaching out, it’s time for automation to take over. The most direct way to automate your marketing is through something called a drip campaign. A drip campaign is a series of emails that are scheduled to go out after a specified period elapses and begin when a customer is added to that email list. As an example, an initial email is sent that thanks the lead for reaching out, a week later an email is sent that outlines/clarifies the services your business offers, and two weeks later a final email promotes a deal or specific service. Through your CRM or customer database, you can automate updates to the drip campaign process. This will allow you to set a rule that removes a lead from the drip campaign if they book an appointment or move them to another drip campaign if they request a quote but do not book an appointment. This sort of automation ensures your marketing stays relevant to a given client and alters the messages you send them based on their interaction with your business.
Automated marketing can work wonders for past clients as well. In fact, you may have a longer list of past clients than new leads, especially if you are new to lead generation. A drip campaign that sends follow up emails after a job is completed can be a great way to leave a positive impression after you have completed work, oreven request that the customer leave a review on google.
Mass email campaigns, on the other hand, work differently than drip campaigns in that they send a single email to a large list all at the same time. Mass emails are a good way to seasonally remind clients of your services or promote specials. If you operate a cleaning business, it is easy to send a spring-cleaning reminder to all your past clients, or if you are struggling to book jobs during the off season you can offer a discount to all your past clients via email. Again, this is a place where a proper CRM has advantages over a simpler database system, because it can facilitate the generation of lists based on advanced qualifiers so that you can separate customers by the type of services they need, or their last date serviced, allowing you to tailor your mass emails to match the needs of customers more accurately. Past clients are some of the best customers to market to because they have already chosen to do business with you, making the sales process easier than if they are simply shopping around for a service.
Email marketing is the cornerstone of a marketing automation strategy, so make sure you're doing it right. ServiceMonster offers a suite of tools focused on marketing automation, including a full CRM capable of drip campaigns.
In this episode of The ServiceMonster Podcast, Joe, Adam, and Mary discuss what makes for great Customer Support & Service, and why it is so important to your business. Also in this episode, we go over the latest updates to the ServiceMonster software, and break down some posts from SMUG. Be sure to check back every week for new episodes! You can watch the episode below, or listen here.
In this episode of The ServiceMonster Podcast, Joe, Adam, and Asher have a conversation with Robert Ayala about his entrepreneurial journey have a service business owner. Starting from the beginning, to finding Super Hero employees, getting off the truck, focusing on social media, and getting good reviews. You can find the full video below or listen to this episode here.
In this episode of The ServiceMonster Podcast, Joe, Adam, and Mary break down internal employee communications within ServiceMonster 6 and the app, from notes to activities, and more! Joe & Adam go in depth on the feature request process, and also in this episode, our weekly updates on the software, as well as a deep dive at some of our highlighted posts in SMUG. You can listen to the podcast here, and the full video can be found below.
Accepting cashless payments is quickly becoming a standard of doing business. In this post we will help you understand and apply digital payment technology in your business.
Cashless payments allow you to take credit and debit cards either in person using an app, or online with a webpage. If you have a credit card, or even a debit card, you’re already familiar with cashless payments! As customers, we can all appreciate the huge convenience offered by this technology, but in this blog post we will be exploring why and how to integrate digital payment technology into your business.
Digital payments have been steadily growing in popularity since the advent of digital banking in the 1990s, but they have become particularly ubiquitous in recent years. In 2021, cashless payments are forecasted to account for 6.6 trillion dollars in transaction value, a 40% increase from only two years prior. The rapid growth of digital payments is just one indicator of consumers heightened expectations around transactional ease and efficiency. Digital payments are convenient, and for customers and businesses alike they can be easier than the traditional invoice-to-check pipeline that many service businesses may be using.
To understand the value cashless payments can offer your business, let’s explore a hypothetical. You get a call to do a pressure washing job. Using Google maps you can quickly call up the location on street view to provide an estimate, or if it is a returning customer, you can use your site notes and past estimates in ServiceMonster as reference for a new estimate. You estimate and schedule the job remotely and show up at the location to complete the job. With your paperwork completed digitally in advance ahead of arrival, you can get to work immediately without waiting to speak to the client on-site. This helps you maximize your uptime and cuts down on delays too your workday.
To finish the job, instead of printing an invoice and trying to track down the client to sign it, you can run the same process digitally after you have left the job site. ServiceMonster supports digital signing for both estimates and invoices, and through our payment partners you can accept a variety of digital payment methods. An added bonus here is that all of the necessary documentation is saved automatically for you, meaning you don’t have to scan the signed invoice after it is completed. The invoice will even mark as paid once it clears through your payment provider.
Cashless payments coupled with the power of ServiceMonster make it possible to conduct business without any face-to-face contact. In the times of social distancing, it is easy to see how this can help keep you and your employees safe, but even without social distancing in effect, the benefits of being able to do business completely remote are plentiful. Being able to manage processes that are critical to operations on-line helps streamline your business, and lets you focus on getting and finishing more jobs. Digital invoices also signal professionalism, and further establish the trustworthiness of your brand. For busy corporate clients, the ease of a cashless payment process is a great time saver.
Digital payments also make it very easy to follow up with clients and tackle non-payment. Instead of mailing multiple invoices and waiting for a check to be sent back, cashless payments give you the convenience of being able to see as soon as a payment is made. For clients, the ability to pay with a credit card means you can be paid on time, even if they have their own cashflow issues. Accepting digital payments can help make late payments a thing of the past!
ServiceMonster has built-in support for two leading payment processors, Stripe and Authorize.net. Both payment processors offer pay as you go pricing based around a small transaction fee. They can easily be integrated into ServiceMonster from the marketplace, and there are help pages that offer detailed instructions for set up for both Stripe and Authorize.net. Choose the payment processor that works best for you, follow the help guide to set it up, and you’ll be ready to accept cashless payments right in ServiceMonster!
In this episode of the ServiceMonster Podcast, Adam and Mary give you the rundown on appointment reminders. How to set them up, default settings, and how to customize them to best serve your business. Also in this episode, our weekly updates on the software, and a deep dive at some of our highlighted posts in SMUG. The full video is embedded below, and you can listen to the audio here.
Success means something different to each individual, and most everyone goes about trying to achieve it in a different way. You could be the best carpet cleaner in the world, but is skill the only thing that equates to success? Not necessarily. Since every cleaner runs their company a little differently, we thought it would be interesting to get some different opinions on the topic of success and what it is that helps cleaners ‘win’ every day.
So, we asked the question: “What one thing is crucial to your success on a daily basis?"
Here’s how some of your fellow cleaners responded.
Brad Mastrangelo, Mastrangelo's Carpet Cleaning
“Making your customers smile and laugh. I have been in this business for 25 years. I have also been a professional stand-up comedian for 23 years. Many of my customers know this and many find out when I leave. I believe that we all have access to the same equipment, chemicals, and training. I feel strongly that if you make a customer feel comfortable with you the person, you will have a customer for life.”
Jeremy Higley, Ultimate Carpet Cleaning
“Absolutely it has to be time management. Google Keep keeps me on track with goals, to-do's, etc.”
Tom King, Rug Gallery Flooring
“My wife's hard work and great people skills.”
Shen Schulz, Environmental Carpet and Air Care
“Communication! It is the foundational basis for everything going right in our business. We could not stay as organized with our schedule and demand without communication. We could not have strong marketing and online presence without communication. Our customers experience good customer service and understand everything they need to know regarding their job, because we proactively communicate with them all details. Our different departments work together seamlessly (senior leadership, accounting, customer service, cleaning techs, web marketing) because we instill the importance of communication in our culture.”
Pavlin Zarkov, Master’s Touch
“Be honest, win customers’ trust and turn them into a cheerleaders for your business.”
Joseph Rodgers, Quest Floor Care
“Taking the time to learn new things and integrate them into the business when helpful. The key is actually taking the time to learn and understand the new thing, whether it's a process, a piece of equipment or a form of technology (like another form of social media).”
Jessica Zuniga, Zorro Carpet Cleaning
“Getting to know our customer’s needs and exceeding expectation.”
John Stewart, Healthy Choice Carpet Cleaners
“I got rid of my ego -- stopped making excuses. I became determined that only the best will do -- even if I lost money on some jobs. While running my business with these guidelines I managed to serve some people who became cheerleaders for my business and helped it grow. And I was a decade ahead of the ‘green, eco-friendly’ thing."
Russ Terhaar, The Clean Machine
“Integrity, hard work, and faith. Not sure what order to put those in because they all work together for me. Take one out and I'm dead in the water...”
Ron Beatty, Ron Beatty Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning
“Consistency, reliability, humility, and a lot of hard work.”
This throwback ServiceMonster Blog post was originally posted in July of 2015.
Subscribe to the ServiceMonster newsletter to stay up-to-date with our monthly COVID-19 cleaning industry reports:
While the cleaning industry has seen much improvement over the past 3 months, our August report indicates that complete recovery may take more time. The August numbers still show small decreases in number of jobs and total revenue nationwide. While the decreases are not near as large as earlier months, the numbers are not as good as June and July were.
Our data shows an 11% decrease in total number of jobs nationwide in the month of August (compared to August of 2019). Comparatively, March saw a 22% decrease, April saw a 46% decrease, May saw a 31% decrease, June saw a 7% decrease, and July saw a 6% decrease.
Our data also shows a 13% decrease in total revenue nationwide for the month of August (compared to August of 2019). April and May saw a 39% decrease and 28% decrease respectively, while June was much better with only a 9% decrease and July even more so with only a 3% decrease.
In the month of August, only 6 states showed positive growth in number of jobs. However, MOST states that showed a decrease only experienced a minor drop in number of jobs. The average nationwide was an 11% decrease in total number of jobs for the month.
* NOTE: Delaware and Nevada were also the top 2 states in the month of July.
* NOTE: North Dakota was not included since we did not have enough of a sample group to make a statistic.
Following pretty much in line with the jobs report, total revenue numbers for the month of August showed a 13% decrease. Overall, 13 states saw no change or showed positive growth.
* NOTE: North Dakota and Maine were not included since we did not have enough of a sample group to make a statistic.
Over the past several months, we've seen the cleaning industry dip to some pretty severe lows, then slowly begin to recover. While June and July showed some pretty massive increases, August didn't quite continue the upward trend.
Previous months showed large increases with smaller decreases at the ends of the spectrum for both jobs and revenue. While the overall nationwide averages were still negative, many states were showing positive results. However, August's largest increases for jobs and revenue were not near as high as previous months, and the largest decreases were much more severe as well. Also, many more states were in the negative for August.
One thing to take into account is that August is often a very busy month for cleaning businesses, so while the numbers this year are not as good as last year, that doesn't mean the industry isn't still recovering slowly. We're hopeful that many businesses will continue to see growth each month as the industry gets back on its feet!
Clients who use ServiceMonster process over 1.25 million cleaning jobs a year. Our clients largely include carpet cleaners, pressure washers, window cleaners and maid service companies. We compared the total number of jobs and total revenue in August 2019 to August 2020 with a constant cohort for both data points.
Subscribe to the ServiceMonster newsletter to stay up-to-date with our monthly COVID-19 cleaning industry reports:
Good news! The cleaning industry is continuing to show improvement amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Our newest report for the month of July shows very minimal decreases in number of jobs and total revenue nationwide. After a rough March, April, and May with low numbers, June and July have indicated that the industry is recovering well.
Our data shows only a 6% decrease in total number of jobs nationwide in the month of July (compared to July of 2019). Comparatively, March saw a 22% decrease, April saw a 46% decrease, May saw a 31% decrease, and June saw a 7% decrease.
Our data also shows only a 3% decrease in total revenue nationwide for the month of July (compared to July of 2019). April and May saw a 39% decrease and 28% decrease respectively, while June was much better with only a 9% decrease.
The month of July continued to show healthy improvement in total number of jobs. While fewer states showed positive growth than they did in June, the nationwide average of a 6% decrease shows that many states had far less severe decreases than previous months. Overall, 11 states saw no change or showed positive growth.
* NOTE: North Dakota was not included since we did not have enough of a sample group to make a statistic.
Following the improvements seen in the jobs report, total revenue numbers for the month of July are even better than previous months. Overall, 21 states saw no change or showed positive growth.
* NOTE: North Dakota was not included since we did not have enough of a sample group to make a statistic.
Over the past several months, we've seen the cleaning industry dip to some pretty severe lows, then slowly begin to recover. While the overall numbers for July aren't that much better than June, the largest increases and decreases show the real story.
Going back to June, the states with the largest increases in number of jobs showed a 35% and 17% increase. For July, the largest increases were 45% and 24%. These higher increases show that many states are continuing to improve more and more each month. Looking at the largest decreases, June's largest decreases were 51% and 50% fewer jobs. July's largest decreases were only 27%. As these numbers shift to larger increases and smaller decreases, that's a huge sign that the industry is doing well.
Looking at revenue numbers, the trend is similar. For June, the largest increases in revenue were 32% and 29%. July's largest increases were 53% and 44%. Again, this shows that many states are doing even better and better. Taking into account the largest decreases in revenue, June's largest decreases were 57% and 51%. July's were 54% and 38%. While this is a smaller change, it still supports the upward trend we are seeing.
Clients who use ServiceMonster process over 1.25 million cleaning jobs a year. Our clients largely include carpet cleaners, pressure washers, window cleaners and maid service companies. We compared the total number of jobs and total revenue in July 2019 to July 2020 with a constant cohort for both data points.
Your website is one of your most valuable sales tools. What do most people do when they need to find someone to complete a service for them, such as cleaning? They’ll Google it! Hopefully, you’re ranked high for relevant search terms in your area and it’s easy for potential new customers to land on your website. This is where it becomes essential to have certain elements in place on your website to drive those sales. The information you present needs to be clear and should provide your potential customers with the ability to make an informed decision that ultimately results in them choosing you. With that in mind, here are some must-have website features for your cleaning business:
For most cleaning pros, this will likely be a button or a link that takes a customer to a contact form, scheduling screen, or contact number/email. Whatever form this call to action takes, it should direct customers directly to you in as few clicks and steps as possible. Your goal with the call to action is not just getting new customers scheduled, but also gathering potential new customer’s information so you can market to them. A good call to action is clear regarding which action you want the customer to take, such as buttons that say “Contact Us Now” or “Schedule a Cleaning Today”. These call to action elements should be consistent in their design (color, fonts, size, etc.) and placed in key areas of your website (near the top, after any major sections, and definitely at least once on every page).
While Google and Facebook do a great job of showing reviews to potential customers, your website should also feature varying customer reviews. By letting your past customers speak to the professionalism and quality of your service, your credibility is strengthened. Testimonials can be featured in multiple areas, such as on various sections of your website between major blocks of content, on a page dedicated to housing all of your reviews, or even through a pop-up widget such as the free Engage tool by NiceJob.
One website feature that is often overlooked is a page that highlights you and your employees. This is a super simple page since all you really need is a picture of each employee with a short bio about them. That’s it! You can include more, such as a brief overview of your company story, but the key here is to just show potential costumers the faces of who will be doing work for them. Being funny/witty with the employee bios is a great way to stand out to potential customers as well!
This mostly applies to companies that offer more than one service, but it’s a good thing to think about for any business, regardless of your scope of work. Say you’re an exterior cleaner who offers soft washing, window cleaning, and roof/gutter cleaning. In most cases, a potential customer will be searching for one of the services you offer, not just general exterior cleaning. A great way to boost your ranking for your relevant search terms is to have a specific landing page for each service you offer. The end result is that when a potential customer searches “window cleaners in [insert city]” on Google, you have a higher likelihood of showing up for that specific service. While your main page should highlight everything that you do, it will definitely help you to have specific pages that go into more detail on each service you offer.
While this may be similar to the call to action element for you, it’s worth revisiting. Having clear and easy-to-find contact information on your website is ESSENTIAL. People need to be able to know how to contact you as soon as they are on your site, and on any page after that. Put your phone number, email, and in some cases your physical address, in the footer of your site, on a “Contact” page, and within any sort of call to action. Many cleaning businesses even put their phone number in the header of their website so it’s clearly visible at all times on any page of your website.
The vast majority of website building is done on a desktop computer. Because of that, it’s easier than you’d think to forget about what your site looks like on a mobile device. A lot of recent data suggests that about half of all internet traffic is from a mobile device. So, it’s safe to assume that about half of your website visitors will be on their phones. This is why it is so, so, so important to have your website optimized for mobile. If you do your web design yourself, make sure the platform you’re using has a good way to design specifically for mobile. If you hire it out, make sure that whoever you hired is spending just as much time on the mobile version of your site as they are on the normal desktop version.
Again, your website is one of your most valuable sales tools. Give it the proper time, attention, and money to make sure it stands out from among the competition. Your potential customers will get a good sense of who you are as a business from your website alone, and it’s so important that you leave them with a good impression! We’re confident that if you include these six elements on your website, you will be set for success.
Subscribe to the ServiceMonster newsletter to stay up-to-date with our monthly COVID-19 cleaning industry reports:
The cleaning industry is coming back! Our newest report for the month of June shows overall minimal decreases in number of jobs and total revenue nationwide. After a rough March, an even worse April, and a slightly better May, our June industry numbers are encouraging to see.
Our data shows only a 7% decrease in total number of jobs nationwide in the month of June (compared to June of 2019). Comparatively, March saw a 22% decrease, April saw a 46% decrease, and May saw a 31% decrease.
Our data also shows only a 9% decrease in total revenue nationwide for the month of June (compared to June of 2019). April and May saw a 39% decrease and 28% decrease respectively.
After a rough few months, June showed marked improvement in total number of jobs. Sixteen states saw positive growth.
Following in line with the improvements seen in the jobs report, total revenue numbers for the month of June are much better than previous months. Eighteen states saw positive growth.
Clients who use ServiceMonster process over 1.25 million cleaning jobs a year. Our clients largely include carpet cleaners, pressure washers, window cleaners and maid service companies. We compared the total number of jobs and total revenue in June 2019 to June 2020 with a constant cohort for both data points.
As a business owner, it can be overwhelming trying to sift through the numerous podcasts directed towards you and your fellow entrepreneurs. There’s a ton of great content out there, but how do you quickly and easily find it? To help, we’ve compiled a list of the top 8 podcasts for cleaning businesses (in no particular order). Enjoy!
The podcast dedicated to all things cleaning! Hosted by ServiceMonster CEO Joe Kowalski, The Cleaning Podcast features interviews and discussions with top names in the cleaning industry. From specific cleaning “how-to’s” to high-level business and leadership tips, any cleaning business owner will find a ton of value in each episode.
Join Eric and Larry from morningtechmeeting.com as they discuss all things related to running a blue collar service business more effectively! They know, all too well, that running a blue collar business is not for the faint of heart. For that reason, the Blue Collar Nation Podcast is dedicated to making the lives of blue collar service business owners better. Join them and their many guests for open and honest discussions that will make you a better owner!
Brought to you by Hatch, the BuiltBy podcast focuses on the latest marketing and sales trends for home improvement companies. Gain confidence in your marketing ability through the insights offered by their various guests, ranging from fellow service business owners to other software solution providers.
Do you want to grow your cleaning business? If so, this is the podcast for you! Join service industry expert Josh Latimer in each episode to learn how to better utilizing marketing, admin, production and sales in the growth of your business. Josh is also frequently joined by other industry leaders for greater insight into the keys of business growth.
The NiceJob podcast helps small business owners handle everyday challenges through conversations with everyday experts. With their focus on producing easy to understand episodes with great actionable takeaways, this is a podcast that is perfect for any cleaning business owner who wants to run a better business.
The JNE podcast takes a deeper look at the emotional side of chasing your dreams and goals. For a refreshing and honest take on the life of an entrepreneur, join Bobby Walker and his many guests as they share stories of success, failure, and life in general.
The ServiceMonster Podcast is your resource for all things ServiceMonster! Each episode features a deep dive into a business or marketing strategy/principle that is valuable for any service business owner. Also discussed are posts from the ServiceMonster User Group, as well as any company and product updates. Even non-ServiceMonster users will find plenty of value in this podcast! Episodes are hosted by CEO Joe Kowalski, who is joined by employees Adam and Michael.
Are you looking for even more relevant podcasts? Check out the brand-new Blue Collar Nation Radio for a syndicated station featuring several of the top podcasts for blue collar business owners! Curated by Larry and Eric from morningtechmeeting.com and hosts of the Blue Collar Nation Podcast.
Subscribe to the ServiceMonster newsletter to stay up-to-date with our monthly COVID-19 cleaning industry reports:
After a further downward trend in April, our data indicates that the cleaning industry is now showing signs of recovering. We saw a 22% decrease in total number of jobs nationwide in March (see that data here) and the trend continued with a 46% decrease in jobs for the month of April. However, in May, the decrease in jobs was only 31% compared to May of the previous year.
Our data also shows a 39% decrease in total revenue for April (compared to April of 2019) and only a 28% decrease in revenue for May (compared to May of 2019). All things considered, it's safe to say that the cleaning industry is improving once again!
After a rough month of March, April continued the downward trend with a further decrease in total number of jobs. Every state showed a decrease.
*North Dakota was not included since we did not have enough of a sample group to make a statistic
The states that showed the smallest DECREASE in number of jobs from April 2019 to April 2020:
The states that showed the largest DECREASE in number of jobs from April 2019 to April 2020:
Overall, the nationwide average shows a 46% decrease in the number of jobs, comparing April 2019 to April 2020.
New for this report is data showing the total percent change in revenue by state. For the month of April, our data shows that all but two states saw a significant decrease.
*North Dakota was not included since we did not have enough of a sample group to make a statistic
The states that showed the largest INCREASE in total revenue between April 2019 and April 2020:
The states that showed the largest DECREASE in total revenue between April 2019 to April 2020:
Overall, the nationwide average shows a 39% decrease in total revenue, comparing April 2019 to April 2020.
After further losses in April, May saw improvement with less states seeing such drastic decreases in total number of jobs. Still, every state showed a decrease, except for Minnesota which saw a large increase.
*North Dakota was not included since we did not have enough of a sample group to make a statistic
The only state that showed an INCREASE in number of jobs from May 2019 to May 2020:
The states that showed the largest DECREASE in number of jobs from May 2019 to May 2020:
Overall, the nationwide average shows a 31% decrease in the number of jobs, comparing May 2019 to May 2020.
After a rough April, May showed improvement in revenue totals by state. Our data shows that three states saw increases, while the rest still showed decreases, albeit less significant decreases than April.
*North Dakota was not included since we did not have enough of a sample group to make a statistic
The states that showed the largest INCREASE in total revenue between May 2019 and May 2020:
The states that showed the largest DECREASE in total revenue between May 2019 to May 2020:
Overall, the nationwide average shows a 28% decrease in total revenue, comparing May 2019 to May 2020.
Clients who use ServiceMonster process over 1.25 million cleaning jobs a year. Our clients largely include carpet cleaners, pressure washers, window cleaners and maid service companies. We compared the total number of jobs and total revenue in April & May 2019 to April & May 2020 with a constant cohort for both data points.
From the desk of ServiceMonster CEO Joe Kowalski:
Some general advice from the husband of a homeschool parent.
With the current shutdown orders in place for US citizens, most public and private schools have closed their doors to students for the rest of the school year. Many states have scrambled to get students some sort of direction, suggestions, and/or remote learning access, albeit with varying degrees of success. Parents who are in the middle of their own stressful changes are suddenly responsible for their children’s education. Parents may feel overwhelmed, inadequate, and a bit freaked out by the entire situation. I get it. It’s scary to think that, out of the blue, the daily education of your children currently rests in your hands.
Relax. It’s going to be okay. Your children will thrive even if you completely screw-up the next 5 months. I know this because I’ve experienced a more controlled version firsthand. About 12 years ago, my wife and I decided to start homeschooling our children. It was a major struggle for me to get used to that idea. We have 6 children now but at that time we were raising our first two. They were both super bright. I was terrified that we would fail to give them the direction and education they needed, that they would fall behind their peers or that they would not live up to their full potential. I was so very wrong.
I was raised in a public-school environment and indoctrinated into the system. I believed in our public schools and even accepted its many flaws. It was simply easier. Easier to leave the task of educating our children to the professionals. I have a lot of respect for educators, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that, in my opinion, it’s not the best learning environment for the kids. The best environment is one-on-one, much like the aristocracy did for thousands of years. The education is adapted to the child. Not the other way around.
Now I don’t think everyone should suddenly start homeschooling. What I would like to do is provide a bit of relief for parents who are worried. Your kids will be just fine heading into their next year, even if you do nothing until September. Have them follow the local schools plan as best they can but don’t beat yourself/them up over it. I’ll break the following article into two parts. The first will provide some basic suggestions to get you and your children through until the next school year. The second will attempt to provide a bit of guidance if homeschooling is something you are now considering.
Social media is plastered with frustrated parents trying to become the administrator for their child’s education. Managing the schedule for multiple siblings, controlling computer and screen time, ensuring they are paying attention and attempting to tutor them when they get stuck or need help can nearly be a full-time job by itself. Let’s see how we can ease the burden a bit.
All of that is well and good. As I stated, if you’re invested in your kid’s education, it’s unlikely you’ll screw them up before September. However, many families are seriously considering making the switch more permanent. Under those conditions, any friction one may have had with the schools, the curriculum, or the teachers, nearly vanishes. There is almost an infinite amount of ways you can go about educating your own children, resulting in what can be a confusing and stressful first year or so. If you are thinking of homeschooling, realize that the burden will be yours. You are going to have to do a fair bit of learning yourself to figure it all out.
In my opinion, as a homeschool father, my #1 goal is to install intellectual curiosity and rational thought. If I can do that, we both win.
Some parents are surprised that you can’t buy a “school in a box”. There is no one best solution that you can purchase, learn, and teach. Instead define the topics that you AND your child would like to tackle and find resources for the task. Yes. Both of you.
While you’ll find a lot of information about all the other methods of homeschooling, Institutionally Assisted Learning is my personal term. It’s the idea that you can homeschool your child using the resources available to you from your school district. Educational materials are not inexpensive. Some parents find that the financial assistance that is available from some school districts helps to ease the financial burden and fog of war by providing much of the curriculum that you may need. There are strings attached though, such as regular testing, documentation requirements, and regular counseling.
The classical method is one of the more popular teaching styles for homeschool parents. Mostly because it has been around since ancient Greece. This technique is centered around the Great Books. The subjects are interwoven into a chronological reading plan. This way the student gets the benefit of learning in historical context. The Classical Method also makes heavy use of dialog, fostering rich conversations and debate over the material while encouraging a deeper understanding beyond simple comprehension.
Montessori is much more modern than the Classical Method. It was created around the turn of the century by physician and educator, Marian Montessori for her work around kids with special needs. Physical learning tools called manipulatives provide a tactile experience while helping the child understand the concepts in physical form. Montessori is an independent learning system where the teacher provides guidance and instructs indirectly. Large time blocks (up to 3 hours) of unstructured learning encourages free movement and independent thought. Uneducated observers might look at a Montessori environment and simple see kids “playing”. Upon further observation, they will see the sneaky and well-structured teaching technique. This method is better suited for smaller children.
Another teaching technique popular with homeschool parents is called Student-Led Learning. In this style, the student (with guidance and direction from the parent) decides what he or she would like to learn or what topics they would like to learn about.
Here is an example. Let’s say Jonny is super into Greek Mythology. Go deep. Study the Odyssey and the Iliad. Read about Greek society. Look into the great western philosophers. Study the Art of the Argument handed to us by Aristotle. Study the Pythagorean theorem and Euclidean geometry. With one subject which the child is interested in, you can cover, math, science, history, philosophy, and sociology. And it works.
Most traditionally educated parents have a hard time understanding the unschooling concept. Let’s start with what it’s not. It is NOT an excuse to provide no schooling and be lazy with the effort. It’s not No-School. Unschooling takes the idea that everything is a learning and teaching opportunity. The student must first be well grounded in the basics of reading, math, and science before being allowed to learn from the world. It’s very much like Student-Led Learning but also promotes the idea of lifelong learning.
Homeschooling rules differ from state to state, so be sure to do your homework to find out what requirements your state may have for you, your child, and their education. Some states simply require you to file (so they know not to send the school money for your kid) while others require testing and a visit with a district educator.
I haven’t touched on some of the more common concerns of parents, such as support network, socialization, pace, and so on, but know that most of these concerns are non-issues as long as you are making the effort. Find a homeschool association in your county. Talk to other homeschool partners in your area.
Effort is the key. This is going to take real effort on your part, but the benefits, as I have seen over and over, can far outweigh the risks. You’ll get more family time, your child will get richer education, and you can choose your own methods from year to year. Fair warning though, if you simply pull them out of school to not teach them, or simply teach them what you think you know, there is a risk they will be underprepared for the adult world. Yes, it’s a big responsibility. But I think it’s completely worth it.
Subscribe to the ServiceMonster newsletter to stay up-to-date with our monthly COVID-19 cleaning industry reports:
The numbers are in: Cleaning industry jobs were down 22% nationwide during the month of March.
Our data shows that the percent change for each state ranged between a 7% increase in total number of jobs and a 49% decrease. However, all but two states saw a sharp decline in number of jobs compared to March of 2019.
Only 2 states showed an INCREASE in number of jobs from March 2019 to March 2020:
The states that showed the largest DECREASE in number of jobs from March 2019 to March 2020:
Overall, the nationwide average shows a 22% decrease in the number of jobs, comparing March 2019 to March 2020.
Clients who use ServiceMonster process over 1.25 million cleaning jobs a year. Our clients largely include carpet cleaners, pressure washers, window cleaners and maid service companies. We compared the total number of jobs in March 2019 to March 2020 with a constant cohort for both data points.
It’s crazy out there right now. There's no doubt about it. Our world, both as professionals in our respective fields and as individuals in our communities, is rapidly changing and will likely never be the same. The distinction between an essential vs non-essential business (read more about that from our friends at NiceJob here) has plagued many cleaning business owners with confusion and uncertainty. Some businesses are doing well and some are barely hanging on.
Wherever you're at, marketing is still important. It's still necessary to connect and engage with current and future customers. In fact, in some ways it’s more important than ever! There’s one major aspect to your marketing that must be changed though: Your message.
In the marketing world, we call this “pivoting" your message. All it means is that you must reevaluate and restructure your messaging to be appropriate for the crisis that we’re in. While it’s not always easy to do this, we’re going to walk through some examples and go over some practical tips to help you pivot your messaging.
There are a lot of variables to consider and every business is different. Whether jobs have slowed down a lot, or you're busier than ever, you want to make sure your past customers know you're still there. So, regardless of your business situation, the easiest way to break this down is into 3 parts: Acknowledge, empathize, and offer value.
Acknowledge what’s going on in your marketing messaging. Whether it’s Instagram posts or a monthly email newsletter, make sure that you are being mindful of the fact that life is different. Regardless of your opinions or your views on the situation, don’t just carry on like business is the same and people’s lives are the same. It's both necessary and appropriate to address the crisis directly. Don't hide from it or be scared to talk about it. People will appreciate your honesty and mindfulness of what's going on in the world around them.
Empathize with those who have been affected by the crisis. This is where you have an even greater opportunity to humanize your business. Show your customers WHO you are and show them that you genuinely do care about them and their safety. Highlighting the measures you have taken to keep your customers and their families safe is a big part of this. Also, this is a great time to really personalize your communication. Make it from YOU, the owner. Not just the general company.
Offer value to your community instead of pushing ads. While some level of advertising may still be effective and/or necessary for you, try to provide as much value content as possible. This can take a multitude of forms for a cleaning business, but a great approach is educating your community. Write blog posts about the latest home cleaning methods that customers can do themselves. Post Instagram stories showing how you sanitize a building, with explanations of each component of the process. Send out an email or a text to past customers when a major change is made to local laws regarding the crisis. Any of these things, and so much more, are simple and effective ways to offer value to your community.
Now, let’s get a bit more practical. Hopefully you already have automated emails or texts going out to your past customers. During a crisis, it will be necessary to change what you say in those. One of our customers shared with us a great example of how to pivot email messaging during the current COVID-19 pandemic:
At this difficult time, we at [COMPANY_NAME] want to help the people and businesses in our community fight the COVID-19 epidemic in any way we can.
Using products approved by the EPA to eliminate SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, [COMPANY_NAME]'s professional, deep cleaning services and products can help ensure a safer environment for your family, employees and customers. However, at no additional cost:
Because we provide professional cleaning and sanitizing, we meet the criteria to be an “essential business” established by [COMPANY_STATE] and the federal government. Therefore, we can help you keep you home and workplace safe right now!
During this unprecedented crisis, we take the responsibility of promoting peoples’ safety and health very seriously. We are continuously monitoring the evolving epidemic response so that we make decisions that will maintain the health and safety of both our team members and you, our customers.
Thank you and stay safe,
An email like this hits all three of the main points in multiple areas. For example, the very first sentence acknowledges the situation. Then, the last paragraph very clearly empathizes with customers by stating how much of a priority it is for your business to keep them safe. And the middle of the email is all value! This example has a very specific offer of going the extra mile to provide additional sanitation while on the job, at no extra cost. This sort of pivot in your messaging is sure to keep customers more comfortable with your services and at the very least, will let them know that you care!
Along with your automated campaigns, this same style of messaging should be applied to any and all direct customer contact. Say you’re using a platform like Hatch to engage with some new leads through texting. Making sure that lead knows what steps you will take to keep them safe is huge (and could help you get the job even)! No matter what type of contact you’re having with a customer, this messaging change goes beyond just direct marketing materials. It should be in every form of internal and external communication that you have.
There’s one more side to pivoting your messaging that is crucial to look at: your employees. As the owner, you may not be the one in contact with customers on a day-to-day basis. As such, it’s extremely important to train your employees on how to align their actions and words with the pivoted messaging you’re putting out. Make sure that each person under you knows the additional services you’re offering, or what steps you as a company are taking to keep both yourselves and your customers safe.
When you pivot your messaging, you’re setting yourself up for future success. Once a crisis is over and the economy starts to recover, there will be a resurgence of jobs that need to be done. So when you use this opportunity to serve your community and your customers by being a voice of reason and stability among the chaos, you’re establishing yourself in their minds as the best option to go to. And remember, when it comes to your crisis messaging, acknowledge what’s going on, empathize with others, and offer value.
Right now, more than ever, is the time to strengthen your business. A crisis of any sort is tough on everyone, but that doesn’t mean it's time to just accept defeat and give up. Take this opportunity to work ON your business, rather than working IN your business. Step back and ask yourself, “Where can I improve?” and “What can I do to effectively grow?”.
Put ego aside, put preconceived notions about your own success aside, and get back to work.
In our current crisis, some businesses, especially in the cleaning sector, are not considered “essential”. However, many others are. So to really effect lasting change on your business, first analyze where you’re at. Some business owners are working harder than ever doing everything they possibly can to serve their communities and their existing customers, while diversifying their service offerings.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the business owners who are pulling back and just hoping that their business can survive. This may be a personal choice, or they may have been forced to shut down temporarily. Regardless of the reason behind it, that situation can be a scary one.
So, which side are you on? Where is your business at? Maybe you’re in the middle somewhere, but it’s likely that you are more on one side than the other. Times of crisis tend to push people to extremes, and business owners are no exception. Fortunately, no matter where you’re at, you CAN use a time of crisis to strengthen, to grow, and to catapult your business forward.
It’s time to take a step back and look at your business from a different perspective. Just to clarify, we’ll never tell you how to run your individual business, since every situation is different. We don’t put food on your table. You do. But what we can offer is eight principles that you can follow to strengthen your business during a time of crisis.
Take the time to coach your people. As the owner, come up with systems and procedures that benefit the business and then pass that knowledge on to your employees. All it requires is some time. Often, business owners say they don’t have time to coach their employees. But right now, you probably DO have time!
A great example of this is the implementation of any sort of business software, such as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. When you find a CRM that works well for you (like ServiceMonster), it becomes your job as the owner to coach your people on how to use it. When business is slower, it's the perfect opportunity to further coach your team on how to use essential business tools properly. Make sure everyone knows how to schedule a job from their phone, or take payment in the field, or close out an invoice in the office. As you coach your team and their skills increase, your business will become more efficient and more effective at serving your customer’s needs.
As an entrepreneur, you must always be learning. Gaining more knowledge allows you to stay relevant to the people you serve and the people who you WILL serve in the future. After a crisis, there are thousands upon thousands of people who may need your services. Cleaning businesses especially have a great advantage when it comes to sanitation. If you need to learn how to provide sanitation services, now is the perfect time to gain that knowledge and set yourself up for success in the future.
This one is simple. Take the time to organize your business. This can mean anything from organizing your books so tax season isn’t such a mess, to organizing your shop so that it’s easier and faster to find what you need before a job. Whatever you need to organize, do it! Anything that streamlines your business for the future will benefit you and help you survive a crisis situation.
This is a big one. As a leader, you need to inspire your people. This works on multiple fronts, but first and foremost, you need to inspire your employees so that they understand the true value of the service that they offer. Give them hope and confidence in the work that they’re doing.
Now, being an inspiring leader is a lot easier said than done. We get that. Some people are born as natural leaders, and others have to learn. There are tons of resources available to help you learn how to be a better leader, including books, apps, online courses, and even personalized coaching (check out Bruce DeLoatch).
But at the very base level, being a good leader necessitates the ability to create a vision for the future of your business. Not just any vision, either. An INSPIRING vision of what is possible and what your team can achieve together! Once you have that vision, the next step is to impart it to your employees. Bring them into the process and make sure they know that they are a crucial piece to the success of this vision.
Another thought on the principle of inspiration: As the owner and leader, everything is your fault. Yep. Employees being late, being lazy, being rude to a customer, that’s all YOUR fault. And that may sound accusatory and negative, but in fact, it’s a positive thing! When you own the problems and take responsibility for the actions of your employees, that means you have the power to change it. When you play the victim and blame an employee for all of their problems, you lose the ability to actually change anything. So, own the problems. Your employees will see the humility in taking that course of action, as opposed to playing the blame game with them. This sets you up for a perfect opportunity to inspire your employees with the exciting vision of your business (which, of course, includes them)!
Another massive one here. If you’re a business owner and you think your job is to sit back and be served by your people, then you’re dead wrong. Your job, as the owner and leader, is to provide for your people everything that they need to rise to the greatness within them. Each of your employees has untapped potential, and you’d be crazy as their boss to not want to use that potential for your business!
The culture of your company should look something like this: The boss (you) serves the managers, the managers serve the frontline employees, and the frontline employees serve the customers. As long as your business is flowing in that direction, the money will flow in the opposite direction!
Another way of approaching this is thinking of your company as a tree. At the very bottom, providing for the health of the tree, are the roots. That’s you. Your job is to support the people who actually do the work, the figurative branches and leaves. One of the best ways to support your employees is to leverage their passions. This does require some effort on your part, but it will pay off for your business in the long run.
As a business owner, you always need to be training, learning, and growing as a leader. We’ve established that already. But what about actually getting your employees some training? This goes beyond you coaching them, as we discussed previously. When was the last time you paid for your employees to take an official training course on the latest methods of cleaning in your specific industry? Or what about sending your managers to a leadership seminar?
Now is the time to get your employees trained up. As your employees have more skills to offer, your business will benefit greatly. Whether it’s IICRC training, leadership coaching, or something entirely different, it’s worth it to invest in your people. And if you’re worried about “wasting” money on them because they might leave at some point, then you really aren’t valuing your employees. Invest in your business by investing in your employees. If they leave, then that’s just a cost of doing business.
Now this may sound similar to some of what we’ve already talked about. But what we mean by "educate" here is to educate your community, clients, and prospects. During a crisis, a lot of people get tired of seeing the same news about the current crisis. Here’s your opportunity to educate them on things they can practically do once things start to improve. This could look like educating them on how to keep their homes cleaner, or educating them on the benefits of a certain method of cleaning over another. You don’t have to create this information necessarily, all you need to do is effectively relay it to your customers and potential customers.
Let’s make a key distinction here: Training is internal (within your company) and education is external (what the company is projecting). When you educate your clients, you become an authority figure. And what better way to get your name out there than be known in your community as someone with helpful and reliable information?
This all goes back to the basic function and need of all businesses: making money. Do you want to make more money? Sure. It’s safe to say that most, if not all, business owners would say yes to that. But you can’t make any more money. And it’s not about your ability, or the industry that you’re in. If you want to make more money, then you need to go learn something new and apply it in a manner that is valuable enough to people that they are willing to pay you for it. Educating them on what you know, why it benefits them, and why it’s worth them paying you for it, is how you make more money. You’re making as much money as you can with what you know right now. To make more money, you have to know more.
So, start with educating yourself. Then educate your customers. When you become an expert in their eyes, you’re not only greatly benefiting yourself but also your community.
“Oh yeah, I sent out a postcard but it didn’t work. I tried a newsletter once too, but no one seemed to care.” We hear this ALL. THE. TIME. You can’t just try something once, and give up when it doesn’t work as you expect it to the first time. You have to keep it up; You have to REPEAT. Don’t look at results right away because in many cases (especially in marketing), results are not instantaneous. You have to consistently keep at it with the goal of staying top of mind with your customers.
The basic premise of repetition comes from how our brains are hardwired. We are pattern-recognition machines! We don’t see reality objectively; each of us sees reality through the lens of our own experiences and opinions. Fortunately, by repeatedly educating your customers with thoughtful and helpful content, you become the expert in their minds. Then the next time they have a problem related to the service you offer, boom! They call you. It becomes a natural reaction.
So, after all of that, let’s briefly cover some actionable steps you can take to keep your business healthy during a time of crisis:
This approach opens up a lot of doors for continuing to improve as a leader, especially when times are tough during a crisis. You may have to adapt and improvise in ways that you never thought you would have to. Your business may suffer and you may have to reinvent how you function on a day-to-day basis. But through it all, remember these principles. And most importantly... get back to work!
Recently, ServiceMonster CEO Joe Kowalski was joined by Bruce DeLoatch (IICRC Instructor and President of The Cleaner's Coach) on an episode of The Cleaning Podcast. This content has been adapted from their discussion, which can be listened to here.
From the desk of Joe Kowalski:
I type this from the makeshift office I have set up in my home. Washington State issued a stay-at-home order last week. ServiceMonster is currently completely virtual. All of our employees are working from their homes. Fortunately, for both you and us, we have that luxury. Service providers such as yourself, however, don’t have that kind of flexibility. I’m sure everyone who is under a stay-at-home order is struggling to find the balance. Is your work considered essential? I can’t answer that for you. I don’t put food on your table. I don’t live in your community. What I can do is offer some guidance to those who have decided to (or been forced to) stay at home.
You’re an entrepreneur. This is not a vacation. If you need some time to get your head right after making some very hard decisions over the last few weeks, do that. Then get back to work.
If you’re able to keep your business after a few months in lock-down, then take this time to do all the things you “never had time to do" before. Get your books in order. Take that accounting class. Read. Study. Read some more. Master your CRM. Find out what a CRM is. Start getting to know your most important vendors. Get your business systems in place. Build a few spreadsheets. Create a few dashboards. The list is endless on how you can use this time to work #OnYourBusiness.
If you’re thinking of shutting down, lick your wounds and get back to work. Most entrepreneurs fail four times before they get it right. Not all of those failures are due to global pandemics though. I get it, but my point is that you have a clean slate. You can take everything you have learned, every experience you’ve had, and use that to create something new. A new idea. A new purpose.
Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. Just know that your lack of understanding is simply a measure of how much you need to learn. Embrace the change and build a stronger version of yourself AND your business.
I hear comments like “I can’t learn that” and “that’s too complicated for me” from other business owners all the time. And they’re wrong. Self-limiting attitudes are a mind killer. The truth is, people who have that mentality are simply saying, “I don’t want to”. Fine. That’s a much different position. Either you’re managing your time and resources wisely, or you're lazy. Maybe even a little bit of both. Don’t claim that you "can’t." If you find it hard to make the transition, simply add “yet” to the end of your self-defeating mantra. “I can’t do that" becomes “I can’t do that, yet”. After a while, it changes the game.
The value your service provides is probably worth more than you’re charging. Try not to exchange hours for dollars. You and your business are worth more than that. This idea isn’t new and you’ll find plenty of references to this concept as you read and study.
Now, it’s likely that you’re thinking something like: “But I can’t raise my prices! How am I supposed to sell ‘value’? I don’t know how to do that!”
Then I will remind you: “You don’t know how to do that, YET.” You must build/re-build your business to be stronger. Self-reflection and study is number one. Proper revenue balance is number two.
You can’t sell value if there is no value to be sold. If you’re providing a community service, just like everyone else, you’ll never stand out as exceptional. Don’t be basic. MAKE yourself exceptional. Add something to your business, create new marketing or messaging ideas, or offer specialty services. Find a way to bring more value to your clients in the most creative ways you can think of. How can you help them, with what would work best FOR THEM? Take this time in the office to explore your creativity. You can be as crazy as you like on the white board. Push yourself and your ideas to a new point of view. You can always make them “less crazy” in the real world.
When is the last time you questioned a belief which helped determine your behavior? How do you protect yourself from you own bias? Business owners often fall into an insidious trap: We believe our actions have brought us the success we enjoy. That’s only a half-truth. The reality is, some of the positions and beliefs we have about our success will actually be the very beliefs which limit our growth. How can you tell the difference if your experience tells you the wrong story?
One such tool is the formal logic principle as defined by Aristotle and his band of merry men. There is lots of information available on logical fallacies, constructing proper syllogisms, and building the tools needed to recognize when you are irrational. Not irrational like, you cray cray. The proper definition of irrational.
Irrationality is cognition, thinking, talking, or acting without inclusion of rationality. It is more specifically described as an action or opinion given through inadequate use of reason, or through emotional distress or cognitive deficiency.
Find remote tools for your business that can help you communicate, create, plan, and execute. ServiceMonster has made many changes in our own office and here are some helpful tools we found when working from home:
Facebook Workplace – We have used Slack and Mattermost. Both are chat platforms. Neither of them gave us the communication options that Workplace has. Its familiar interface and wide range of options makes it perfect for chat, calls, video calls, and group posts.
Ring Central – A business phone system with virtual options, voice trees, multiple phone lines, and side loads on your phone via an app. This means that you can separate your personal and business lines on your smart phone.
Trello – Task management in a simple to use interface.
Basecamp – Project management in a simple to use interface
ServiceMonster – Take control of your schedule, keep your eye on important key performance indicators (KPI's), and stay in touch with your clients via automated marketing tools.
We must adapt if we are to survive. Take this time to reflect on your success and failures. Take what you need, ditch the rest, then get back to work #OnYourBusiness.
ServiceMonster 6.5 is here! Every time we release a product update, it's important that our users (and anyone else who is curious) know what exactly has changed. In release 6.5, there's quite a lot to go over... but we're going to tackle the biggest and best improvements in this post. Let's get started!
Perhaps the most noticeable changes with 6.5 are the multitude of visual improvements. We are so excited to introduce dark mode and light mode, as well as a redesigned and modernized classic view! This is the first step of many in a continued effort to make ServiceMonster not only the most powerful software of its kind, but also the best looking. This update includes other various visual improvements all across the software, some of which we will cover below.
We've completely redesigned the home page. Now, see your most important company data, stay up-to-date on the latest ServiceMonster news, and view each training course all from one page.
It often has been difficult for us to convey the difference between a job and an order. An order within ServiceMonster is WHAT is being done, whereas a job was simply the time blocked on the schedule for each trip to complete that order. To help illustrate the difference, think about a situation where you are cleaning a rug in your own shop rather than in the home. You could have a scheduled event to pick up the rug, time dedicated to cleaning the rug marked on the schedule, and another scheduled event to drop off the rug. One order, three different events.
Moving forward we will now be calling these scheduled events "appointment" rather than "job." To alleviate any confusion, we are changing the term “job” throughout the software to be “appointment” (or “appt” if an abbreviation is necessary).
The home page has multiple new dashboards to give you quicker access to your data. We’ve also added new dashboards on the Leads, Accounts, Orders, Scheduling, and Marketing sections to give you easily digestible & targeted data based on each specific area.
The navigation menu has had a massive makeover! The collapsed view gives the menu hover functionality so that you can instantly access any section of the software in one click. The expanded view gives you easier to read menu titles as well as more detailed expandable sub-menus.
We know that there's a lot to learn within ServiceMonster. To aid with that learning process, we are now offering in-app training lessons that will slowly walk through the various sections of the software. These 1-to-2 minute long lessons are then grouped into larger courses so that you can track your progress and continue your ServiceMonster education.
Additionally, there will be a full course dedicated to all of the 6.5 changes. Plus, every new release moving forward will also have dedicated training materials so that you can take advantage of the new features right away!
Grids have had a makeover, with some new default views and a new “advanced options” toggle. Now you can customize each grid via the advanced options and those changes will “stick.” Or, simply just enjoy a cleaner default view! The choice is all yours.
The all-new Marketing Wizard is here to make building campaigns much, much simpler! Create an email, letter, call, or export list quickly with built-in campaigns and a step-by-step walkthrough of the campaign process. Those of you that have more advanced chops can still create any campaign from scratch.
Drip campaigns will be added to the marketing wizard in the future as well!
We’ve beefed up the bulk add items process and made it the primary way to add your products and services to an order. Those of you that prefer to add items one at a time on the primary order screen can still do so.
More order updates coming soon!
Quickly adding an account is easier than ever. Use the "+ Account" button to open a modified version of the Quick Add to enter in all basic account information and scan your account list for potential duplicates. Keep your data clean!
This release is packed full of many other improvements, fixes, and new features. Like we've been saying, it's seriously massive! Please contact us if you have any questions or need help understanding a new feature or change that you're seeing. Be on the lookout for full release notes soon!
Also, don't forget:
Join us Thursday, March 26th at 5:00 pm PST for a live webinar showcasing all of the new features and improvements in 6.5! A recording will be available sometime following the webinar. Make sure to register here.
We love to share helpful tips and business advice from our many awesome integration partners. For this guest blog post, we teamed up with Josh Carter and the incredible team over at Hatch.
The cleaning industry - residential and commercial - has boomed in the last few years. Job growth is expected to increase 6% in 2020 from 2014 levels, and revenues will likely reach nearly $50 billion this year.
But with great opportunity comes great risk.
The average cleaning company loses 55% of their customers due to poor service. Competition is fiercer than ever, and it doesn’t take much for a cleaning business to get up and running. All it takes is one bad job for your customer to take their money elsewhere.
So how do you stand apart from the competition? How can you get more jobs and more repeat customers?
Hatch and ServiceMonster analyzed what works - and doesn’t - across their cleaning customer base to give you the Top 4 Cleaning Industry Tips to Get More Jobs and Repeat Customers. Put these tips to work and you’ll get results...fast.
When you’re first working with a customer, put information in your CRM that can add that personal touch later on, like:
The good news is CRMs like ServiceMonster make it easy for you to create these custom fields. Now you can develop deeper relationships with your customers over text, email, and phone as well as on-the-job, resulting in more repeat customers.
Emailing and calling worked well 10 years ago, but today your customers are less likely to pick up their phone (thanks, robocallers) or sift through their spam-filled inbox. You have to incorporate texting, too.
Hatch has found that cleaning companies see a 64% average response rate over text. Compare that to 4.5% over email and you see why layering in texting is helping reps crush their close rates.
Here’s a great example of how texting, emailing, and calling can work well together.
Notice how I:
This one’s a no-brainer. Who doesn’t want a clean house before the family comes into town?
Consider running a special to your existing customers just before the holidays. Below is an effective text and email campaign that encourages a 1-to-1 conversation. Feel free to use it for yourself!
Hi [First Name]! [Rep First Name] from [Cleaning Company] here. With the holidays approaching, we have a few specials on [Service Last Purchased] and I thought of you. Have a minute to chat?
...if no response
Subject Line: Specials on [Service Last Purchased]
Hi [First Name],
Sent you a text yesterday about some holiday specials we are running on [Service Last Purchased] but I didn’t hear back from you. Is your number still [Phone Number]? Give me a call or text me at [Rep Phone Number]. Would love to walk you through the specials.
[Rep First Name] from [Cleaning Company]
...if no response
[Cleaning Company] is running a 30% off special on [Service Last Purchased]. Would you like to schedule it now?
Email (response to Day 2 email)
Hi [First Name],
Thank you for purchasing [Service Last Purchased] on [Date of Last Service]. With the holidays approaching, we are running a 30% off special on [Service Last Purchased]. Book it now.
[Rep First Name] from [Cleaning Company]
Here’s what that campaign looks like in Hatch:
According to Brightlocal, positive reviews influence 68% of consumers to use a local business. But nearly every local business is asking for reviews the wrong way.
Do not ask for a customer review right after you complete a job.
Instead, wait a couple days for the customer to appreciate the work you did. Then ask them if they are happy.
If the customer is happy, request that they write an online review for you.
If they’re unhappy, make it right.
Follow these tips when you ask for a customer review:
Use details like pet names, allergies, and number of rooms to give your customers a personal touch over text, email, and phone, as well as on-the-job. Use custom fields in your CRM to log this information.
Cleaning companies see a 64% average response rate over text. Compare that to 4.5% over email and you see why layering in texting is helping reps crush their close rates.
Consider running a special to your existing customers just before the holidays. Scroll up to see an effective text and email sequence that encourages a 1-to-1 conversation.
A couple days after the job is completed, ask your customer if they are happy. If they are, request that they write an online review for you. If they aren’t, make it right. That’ll increase your 5-star reviews.
Most of us have seen those super satisfying cleaning videos that are all over Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Whether it's a pressure washer showing us how clean a sidewalk really can be, or a carpet cleaner totally transforming a living room so it looks new again, we love seeing the results of a good cleaning. But where does that filth go? And HOW dirty were those carpets actually? We wanted to find out, so we went straight to the source: Carpet cleaning professionals.
To make things a little more fun, we decided to run a contest called "Grossology", with the winner receiving a PP5000 Pet Urine Detection Light Kit from Army Chemical. The requirements for entering the contest were simple: Show us the absolute grossest carpet cleaning wastewater from one of your jobs. After two weeks of receiving submissions, and a round of voting by the staff here at ServiceMonster, we have a winner.
Congratulations to Pure Dry Carpet Care for submitting the grossest video! There's not much to say about the video besides... it's really, really gross. Check it out here:
If you can make it through that one, we chose 2 runner-ups who we felt deserved recognition for their submissions.
The first runner-up is Cascade Cleaning Services, with this video showing wastewater being drained into a toilet. Yep, pretty nasty. Check out the video here:
Our second runner-up in the Grossology contest is Christopher's Chem-Dry. In the caption, they explain that these particular carpets were soaked in pet urine. Watch their submission here:
It's eye-opening to see how truly dirty many carpets are. The great thing about these types of videos is that they show exactly how important and necessary it is to get your carpets cleaned. To all carpet cleaners reading this: Record this type of content. Show your customers. Use it for marketing. The before-and-after photos and videos are great, but supplement those with a picture or video showing just how filthy the carpets were. The vast majority of people aren't aware of how desperately their carpets need to be cleaned. So, show them!
Thank you to all of the carpet cleaners who submitted videos for the Grossology contest. We appreciate each and every one of you for taking the time to show us the grossness that you see every day! If you haven't tried out ServiceMonster, you can learn more and sign up for a free trial here. We'd love to help you reach your business goals for 2020.
Until next time!
Did you know that it costs on average over 5 times more to attract new customers than it does to keep your current ones? How about the fact that selling to existing customers is drastically more successful than selling to new customers (60-70% success rate for existing customers vs. 5-20% success rate for new customers)?
Successful businesses understand that their most profitable customers are their current client base. Your business has already spent good money to convince your customers to use your cleaning services. If you’re not taking full advantage of the hard work you have done by selling and servicing your clients, then you’re missing out on some very real profits. Research shows that by increasing your client retention (the number of customers that use your services again) by 5%, you can increase your profits by 25% to 95%.
Again... this is crucial for the long-term success of your business. To illustrate this point, a carpet cleaning company conducted a survey at a home trade show and asked home owners to recall the name of the last carpet cleaning company they used. Less than 1% of those who stated they were satisfied with their cleaning could recall the company name. If your customers can’t remember your name, how are they going to get ahold of you when they need additional cleaning? There are many ways you can help to ensure that your customers will call you again next time, instead of calling your competition.
Reminders serve two very important purposes. First, they let the customer know that you are a professional, detailed-oriented company. Second, it reminds them that they need to be serviced again (by YOU). You can send reminder postcards, letters, emails or whatever else you want, but always try to add that personal touch by customizing it (use their name, last service date, pet's name, etc.).
2. Additional Service Marketing
If you offer more than one type of service, it’s a great idea to market to customers who have already used one of your other offerings. For instance, if a customer has you clean their carpets, send them some sort of marketing communication (letter, card, email, etc.) offering your tile and grout services 2 or 3 months after the job. This serves a dual purpose: It will help keep your name in front of them, and it also keeps them from going to another company simply because they were unaware of your tile cleaning service.
Send newsletters quarterly, or even monthly. This will keep your name and phone number in front of them all year. Be sure to add some sort of content that offers them something of interest. Make them want to read it, or at the very least just notice it. Newsletters also serve as a great way to connect with your local community.
Calendars, magnets, pens and emergency contact lists are great trinkets you can leave behind to help them remember you and keep your phone number easy to find.
5. Social Media Engagement
This is a huge one in the digital age: Encourage your customers to interact with you on social media. Now, the vast majority of adults use social media on a daily basis (check out some statistics here). As a business owner who is active on social media, this is an incredible opportunity for you to stay engaged with those past customers. Even just posting regularly will ensure that they see your name and your content on a far more regular basis than ever before.
None of these marketing strategies are secrets. In fact, you’ve probably identified the ones you promised yourself to do and have not completed. The education of WHAT to do is only half of the battle. You actually have to DO IT for it to be effective. Very few of us wants to come home after a hard day of work and sift through last year's invoices, compile a list of clients to market to, and create customized letters, post cards, or emails for each one of them.
The good news is that you don’t have to.
One of ServiceMonster's greatest strengths, our automated marketing features, gives you the ability to perform most of these tasks effortlessly. By creating marketing campaigns with ServiceMonster, you can generate letters, labels, calls, and emails which are targeted and customized. With a few clicks, you're off and running, your marketing is done, and you can spend more time with your newly found profits (and of course, your family).
If you haven't tried ServiceMonster, you can get started with a free 14-day trial here.
The Correct Calculation
A fair number of our clients calculate their repeat rate incorrectly. Part of our training process includes an in-depth look at your marketing efforts. One of the items we focus in is your repeat rate. Here is how ServiceMonster does it: Take the number of customers you have serviced in the last two years (C), then find how many of them used you more than once (R).
(R/C) x 100 = Repeat Rate %
The Incorrect Calculation
Most of our clients will calculate their repeat rate like this: Take the number of customers you serviced this month (c). Then find how many of them used you more than once (r).
(r/c) x 100 = repeat rate %
The main problem here is the length of time sampled. The rate can vary widely depending on how successful or unsuccessful your prospecting efforts are. Additionally, the two year timeline represents your true number of active clients. ServiceMonster research shows that getting a client to return after 2 years (specifically when they used carpet cleaning services) is more expensive than obtaining a new client.
Why you care
There are only 3 ways to increase your revenue:
1. Increase your prices
2. Offer more products and services
3. Service more customers
For most companies, servicing more customers is the quickest and least risky way to increase your revenue. The most successful cleaners have several things in common. In terms of financial stability, ServiceMonster shows us customer retention is the most important aspect of your business. If your repeat rate is under 50%, you are losing more customers than you are keeping and need to make up the loss through additional new sales.
Take this example: Let’s say both Company A and Company B start a cleaning company. They both pull in 20 new customers a month and have an average invoice of $250.00. Company A has a repeat rate of 25% and company B has a repeat rate of 60%.
In addition to the increase in base revenue, you will also reduce your expenses. Keeping your name in front of your client is far less expensive than trying to get a new customer. Not to mention that your cross sale potential increases radically if your current clients are aware of ALL the products and services you offer.
How to increase your repeat business
First, it’s time for a change. Rest assured, you will produce the same results if you make the same mistakes. There are many ways to do a better job of staying in front of your customers. Here are the common numbers we see everyday.
Repeat Rate Based on Direct Mail
If you fall into the first two ranges above, you seriously need to reevaluate what you doing for your current clients. If you are in the 30% - 50% range, doing just a little better will have significant results. Sending targeted direct mail pieces on an ongoing basis will improve your repeat rate rapidly. A simple card stating “Dear [First Name], it’s been 9 months since your last cleaning” is all it takes.
The hard part is actually doing it. Gathering the list of clients you serviced between 9 and 10 months ago, performing a mail merge to personalize the messages, and printing on the media are just a few of the problems you need to overcome. Then there’s the stuffing, sealing, stamping, and delivery to the post office.
ServiceMonster can help you with this in two ways. The marketing engine will make list gathering and mail merge simple. Then you can print and mail your reminders with a few clicks. Most of our clients use FillMySchedule and completely automate the process. We can gather the list, print, stuff, stamp, seal, and deliver your cards directly to the post office. Your thank you cards and reminder cards will never be late again. Consistent campaigns for consistent results. Our customers are averaging an 8 to 1 return with the campaigns we automate for them.
One simple way ServiceMonster can increase your repeat rate with just a few clicks.
For years, keeping track of leads has been a mostly, or completely, manual process. Writing down someone's information in your notebook. Typing it into your phone or computer. Gathering leads from a social media site or other source and writing them down. All of these methods take time out of your day and can be quite inconvenient when you're on a job. Not to mention, it's much more likely for leads to be lost or misplaced.
How can this lead capture process be simplified?
It's simple, actually. AUTOMATION.
The first step to automating lead capture is to have an easy way for prospective customers to fill out their information and have it sent directly to you. This can be done in many ways, but we will primarily focus on two methods. First up are webforms, which are forms embedded on your website that people can fill out and have their info sent to you. Second, we'll discuss how Zapier can help automate your entire lead capture process from pretty much ANY source.
But then what? Where does that data go?
It should go to a CRM. If you aren't already using a CRM software (Customer Relationship Management), you're missing out big time. Using a solid CRM to manage your customers, among many other tasks, is crucial for any size business. If you're a large, multi-truck operation, you need a CRM for your office staff so they can handle the hundreds of requests and jobs per day. If it's just you on the truck out by yourself, then you need a quick, easy, and reliable system to keep track of your customers, schedule jobs, and get paid in the field. You can't afford to be wasting time manually entering information when it could be handled all automatically.
Now, back to the automation piece! When your lead capturing is automated, that webform will automatically dump the customer/job information into your CRM. Your CRM then will process the lead and you will get some sort of notification or email about it (if you want). Then, your CRM will store the information to be used later on for retargeting, marketing, and even automated follow-up (depending on which CRM you use). Everything is done behind-the-scenes with no involvement from you. How cool is that?!
The key to all of this is using the right CRM with the right functionality. This is where ServiceMonster comes into the picture.
ServiceMonster now has the most complete automated lead capturing system possible. As a user, you have multiple options. The first and most direct option is to use ServiceMonster webforms, which are pre-built, automatically-generated forms for each and every unique ServiceMonster account. All you have to do is paste some code into your website and you're good to go! When a customer on your website fills out the form, all of the info will instantly be transferred into ServiceMonster. If they scheduled a job, it'll show up on your schedule. If they just want more information or want a quote, it'll show up as a lead. All of this is happening while you're out working, with no involvement from you.
The second option is very similar. As a ServiceMonster user, you can also paste the code for a "book now" button on your website. This button has the same functionality as the previously mentioned webform, except when a customer clicks on the button they are taken to a separate page with that same form. Again, all of this is going on behind-the-scenes and takes very minimal set-up on your part.
The first two options are by far the easiest and most reliable options to use since they are ServiceMonster-specific. However, we now have full integration with an awesome service called Zapier. With ServiceMonster/Zapier integration, you can now use ANY webform technology (as long as it can connect to Zapier, which most do), and have that info sent right to ServiceMonster. Zapier also is used by a lot of service companies to capture Facebook leads and leads from any other non-website source. With Zapier, the options for lead capture are pretty much endless, and now with direct ServiceMonster integration, you can fully automate your lead capture from any source. Now THAT'S cool!
So, what does all of this mean for you, the hard-working service business owner?
It means that your leads will be handled faster. Less of them will fall through the cracks. You'll have more time to focus on actual business work, while your lead capturing is always running in the background. Overall, the likelihood of a lead being converted into a job will increase, which means you'll get paid more and your business will grow.
There's also one other reason why automating your lead capture is so crucial: The all-important email list. As you gather leads, you're gathering people's information. For marketing purposes, this is AWESOME! You can now add email addresses to your marketing drip campaigns (another super helpful feature in ServiceMonster), and even add the customer information into Facebook for targeted advertising. Just because someone doesn't use your services right away, doesn't mean that lead is dead. Far from it, actually. The more people contact you and fill out a webform, the more people you can specifically market your services to. And THAT is worth it all right there!
So if you aren't using a CRM, you should be. And if you aren't automating your lead capture, then start automating it! ServiceMonster can do all of this for you, and so much more.
To set up Zapier for use with your ServiceMonster account, click here.
To try ServiceMonster free for 14 days, click here.
Here at ServiceMonster, we're all about the numbers. We believe that knowing and truly understanding the numbers of your business will improve your day-to-day operations and, ultimately, help you grow. In 2018, our users processed over $500 million in invoices! However, we wanted to break down the numbers even further. That's why we're very excited to present to you our state-by-state cleaning industry statistics for 2018. We've condensed down our ServiceMonster user data to provide you with two key metrics: Average invoice total (filtered between $50 and $2,500) for 2018, and average invoice growth rate from 2017 to 2018.
The heat map below has the data sorted by each state, with the lighter blues representing a decrease or lower overall change and the darker blues representing a larger overall change.
We're pleased to report that our data shows a nearly 5% increase in the average invoice total nationwide, with the average invoice being just shy of $283.
However, two states stand out with a massive increase in numbers!
First up is Maryland. By the end of 2018, cleaners in Maryland were averaging just over $353 per invoice, with a growth rate from 2017 to 2018 of 30%! This data was taken from a sample of 27,000 invoices.
Next up, we have Ohio! By the end of 2018, Ohio cleaners were averaging almost $246 per invoice, with a growth rate of just over 25%. This data was taken from a sample of 52,000 invoices.
While some states did see a decrease in the average invoice total, the vast majority saw an increase from 2017 to 2018.
For those of you who would rather see the raw data all in one place, below you'll find a table containing each state's data:
Regardless of how long you've been in business, you've had to make your fair share of big decisions. Some probably resulted in huge successes, and others may have set you back quite a bit. Earlier this week, ServiceMonster CEO Joe Kowalski took to Facebook seeking answers to two questions: "What's the BEST business decision you have ever made?" and "What's the WORST business decision you have ever made?". After sorting through all of the nearly 200 comments between the two posts, we present to you a summary of the BEST and WORST business decisions made by service business owners.
"What's the BEST business decision you have ever made?"
"Working with a business coach and changing my attitude. It was in 2009 in the recession. I fed into the 'economy sucks' mentality. My business coach showed me places I could go in business that I never saw. Equipped with this new knowledge my energy changed and I became positive and excited about business. I was the problem! A business will never reach its full potential unless you are positive. Potential clients notice your energy. I know because I have been on both sides." - Matt P.
"This is going to sound weird, but the best decision I've made thus far is to ignore my preconceived notions of what my work is worth. What I mean is, I nearly went out of business in the winter. Not because there wasn't any work, but because the limited work available was at a rate below what I felt was worth my time. The result was no work at all while I waited for good paying jobs that came few/far between. It wasn't until I got desperate and decided to do the low paying jobs that I realized I could make it work, especially as it forced me to innovate to become more efficient. Of course, low paying work isn't ideal, but I went from accruing massive debt trying to stay afloat to actually pulling profit while still in the slow season. Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and get to work. If you face a problem, solve it. I couldn't make the work pay more but I could figure out how to get more of the work done in the same amount of time so that my daily average is still sustainable. Big lesson learned for sure." - Steven M.
"Making sure the phone is always answered. I was going to hire an answering service when I asked my wife if she would like to be involved in the business, starting with this. Best decision I ever made." - John T.
"Not offering as many services I once did. I'm sure this answer will change as I grow." - Dennis R.
"Integration of a good CRM software. A good example is ServiceMonster :) - Shawn C.
"What's the WORST business decision you have ever made?"
"Hiring friends and relatives!" - Ron M.
"Starting as bait and switch." - Kerry H.
"Just going to work and not knowing my numbers." - Brian J.
"Ugh! I have to pick just one... I would say on the bad advice of our accountant we tied personal and business money together. It is still hard to break from to this day. The fact of the matter was if we just paid ourselves first we wouldn't have needed to do that." - Robin D.
"Not firing bad employees fast enough!" - Bill O.
This information helps. For most of these comments, there were several other comments saying essentially the same things. That means these decisions, both good and bad, are commonly made among service business owners. By sharing these experiences, you can help each other avoid future mistakes and choose the right path when a big decision has to be made. In an effort to provide as much value as possible, we will be releasing more blog posts over the next few weeks that will deep dive into many of these situations. Rather than just state what the "best" or "worst" decision was (like in this post), we'll go further and explore how these situations happened, why that specific decision was made, and give specific tips to aid in making the best decision in similar situations.
In closing, thank you to each and every individual who commented on the original Facebook posts. Your willingness to share both positive and negative experiences is much appreciated by all of us at ServiceMonster and also by your fellow business owners. Check back soon for the next post!
We’ve all experienced it. Either on the customer side or the business owner side, at some point, there’s going to be an issue regarding pricing. Maybe it even happens frequently for you. There isn’t one “right” way to deal with this sort of situation. However, sharing each other's experiences can at least give us all some guidance on how best to handle a pricing objection from a customer. Thank you to Russell, a pressure washing business owner from Tennessee, who has graciously let us use his story for this post.
What follows is a slightly edited version of Russell’s original Facebook post:
“Below is an email exchange I had yesterday with a client. We cleaned his neighbor's roof, he hired us, and then this happened:
Customer: "Russell, thank you for taking the time to explain the details of the cleaning process. Is there a particular reason the cost is so high? Based on some online research it seems the cost should be around $500 to get the roof done. Thanks again for your prompt response and understanding."
I understand the desire to save money on work around your home.
While I can't speak to pricing charged by other companies, I will attempt to explain our pricing to you.
Roof cleaning is dangerous work. Any time we get on a ladder we risk injury and even death. Additionally, it takes great expertise to ensure that the cleaning chemicals are mixed and applied properly. Improper mixture and/or application can be dangerous and potentially damaging. We have been through extensive training and also have almost 10 years of cleaning experience.
Another consideration is your roof. If you owned a single story, 1000 square foot home, with a basic roof and a mild pitch, your suggested price of $500 might be more reasonable. Although I can say that, personally, we have never cleaned a roof of any size for that price.
There is a saying, 'cheap labor isn't skilled and skilled labor isn't cheap.' I realize that our price isn't 'cheap', but it is fair. More often than not, the cheapest price will end up costing you the most in the long run. This is a situation where you have to consider cost VERSUS price. Your home is most likely your most valuable investment. I can assure you that we will apply our years of knowledge and experience to take the best possible care of your investment. Check out our reviews. We have never received less than 5 stars.
One last thing to consider... Because you agreed to a roof cleaning, my brother knocked $100 off of your gutter/soffit cleaning.
I hope this adequately answers your question. We look forward to the opportunity to serve you.”
Customer: "Russell, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. Well written response. What date are you guys scheduled to be here?"
Look at that response from the customer! Russell responded in a professional and informative manner and was able to completely satisfy his customer's objections. There's not much else that can be said about this. If you're in a situation with a difficult customer who does not like your pricing, consider saying something along the lines of what Russell said.
Have a unique customer experience that you would like to share with us? Send an email with your story to email@example.com.
The internet is full of amazing pressure washing videos and photos. It's also full of some pretty bad ones. Now, ServiceMonster is getting in on the fun with a new series of posts highlighting the best (and the worst) cleaning posts we can find! While the main focus will be pressure washing, we also will include some window cleaning and carpet cleaning posts. Without further ado, we present to you this week's collection of posts:
#1: Pressure Washing Magic
View this post on Instagram
Happy Friday! We’re LOVING this awesome pressure washing video today. So satisfying! #repost @foamhomeco ・・・ Another Happy Patio!! #CleaningCharlotte #CLT
A post shared by ServiceMonster (@servicemonster_) on Apr 12, 2019 at 8:47am PDT
#2: The Window Cleaning Wizard
View this post on Instagram
Some serious window cleaning action right here! So fun to watch. To all you window cleaners, what’s your squeegee of choice? Let us know in the comments! #repost @jackson.pass.3367 ・・・
A post shared by ServiceMonster (@servicemonster_) on Apr 22, 2019 at 8:36am PDT
#3: Now THIS is art!
[X-post /r/powerwashingporn] Power washing mural before/after. 56m x 6m canvas 40-50 years in the making... Can't wait to complete it. Artists in Argentina wanting to participate, and/or ideas are welcome from r/powerwashingart
#4: ... Just why?!?
Landscapers tried to power wash our ramp from r/powerwashinggore
#5: "Cars in the way? Not my problem!"
Cars in the way? Not my problem! from r/powerwashinggore
That's it for this week! If you find any good cleaning videos, send them our way and we will feature the best (or worst) ones.
Sometimes customers can be pretty terrible to deal with. Sure, you’re probably used to the occasional person who rudely accuses you of charging too much, or the unreliable customer who cancels last minute with no explanation. That’s just part of running a business, especially in the service industry. However, sometimes a customer can take it too far. In those unfortunate and difficult situations, emotions can run high and the end result may be you having to “fire” that customer.
Recently, we were chatting with a window cleaner who told us about one of these difficult customer situations. Here’s their story:
“I got a call and set up a time to do an estimate as soon as possible. I did the estimate and emailed it to the customer, all within a day. They agreed to the estimate and wanted to schedule a job. I sent our first available date and time which was about 10 days out. I included a couple of other dates with more flexible times the following week. Her email back to us stated that she wanted to have an appointment within the next couple of days. She wanted an appointment starting at 4:30 pm for a 4-hour job. She worked during the day and had taped the screens into their frames from the inside, so the only way to clean certain windows was to get access to the inside. She also threatened us in this very same email that she would sue us if one petal or leaf of her flowers was damaged.
But even at that huge red flag, we tried to work with her, telling her that we would take great care around her newly emerging bulbs and offered the solution to use a water fed pole to clean all the windows, eliminating the need to put a ladder in her flower beds. She still wasn’t happy. She wanted an evening or Saturday appointment (we have a family of small kids and don’t work weekends) and wrote a demeaning email back about how we must not know how to clean windows properly because we would still need to remove the screens and put a ladder into her flower beds (but remember, she told us that she had taped the screens from the inside and we would need to remove screens from the inside).
It became very clear that no matter how nice, accommodating or careful we were, she was not going to be happy. We drafted an incredibly warm letter that explained that we wanted her particular scheduling needs to be met and that we would not be able to accommodate her schedule. We acknowledged the importance of not damaging her flowers and told her that while we take great care in and around our customer’s homes, we would not be able to offer the guarantee she was looking for.
We referred her to two other local businesses that work Saturdays and might be able to schedule her sooner. She was obviously still not happy and left us our first and only bad review on Google.
We realize that it’s all part of owning a business, especially one that is in the service industry. However, it does sting a bit when we pride ourselves on our good reputation in the community. Hopefully, anyone who sees the complaint will also see that we tried to deal with it professionally and without pointing fingers (which is sometimes what you WANT to do). It also has no bearing on the quality of our work, so that’s good. We are so grateful that we identified a problem customer before it dragged on. It was a bit of a time waster but it could have been much worse and now we have affirmed to ourselves what some of our deal-breakers are. The threatening of a lawsuit in the first email was fairly obvious but the entitlement and disregard for our other customers that had previously scheduled was another big one for us.”
Wow. What an experience, huh? The window cleaner in this situation did everything right. They communicated clearly, quickly, and appropriately. Even though the customer was still unhappy and left them a bad review, they were able to get out of the situation by kindly letting the customer know that they would not be able to do the job for her. We can’t imagine a way to handle this situation any better than how this window cleaner did.
Remember, it’s okay to “fire” a customer. It’s okay to say “no” to a job. It is entirely in your hands to decide which jobs to take and which to pass on. It’s not worth it to endure abuse, demeaning comments, or threats of legal action just for one job. Your business and your work are worth more than that, and there is no shortage of respectful customers willing to pay whatever you charge for quality cleaning.
To learn more about when to say “No!” to problem clients, check out this episode of #AskServiceMonster below:
That's right, we have FOUR NEW FillMySchedule cards available now! The Mark Henry Collection was designed in-house with a unique illustrative style that will be effective for any industry. We're always striving to improve what we offer our clients, and increasing the FMS card options is a big part of that. Be on the lookout for many more new designs in 2019, as well as the implementation of custom fronts (this is an exciting one!).
The Mark Henry Collection offers a "Thank You" card, a "We Miss You" card, a "Friendly Reminder" card, and a "We're Here to Help" card. Adding these to your FMS order is super easy. Either click here to place a new order, or contact us by phone or email to change around your campaigns. As always, we're here to help you every step of the way and we hope you enjoy these new card options!
As we're approaching the end of the first quarter of 2019, all of us here at ServiceMonster are extremely excited to introduce our latest content offering: The ServiceMonster Podcast! Building on the past success of The ServiceMonster Show and #AskServiceMonster, we've taken a new approach focused on podcast-first audio recording, followed by a full video release and a variety of shorter clips. However, that does mean that the Ask and the Show will both no longer be produced (we promise that the new podcast is a great combination of the two with even more awesome content!).
This new weekly show is now your source for all things ServiceMonster: highlighting of product updates and feature improvements, SMUG (ServiceMonster User Group) questions answered, and a focused topic of discussion each episode, ranging from lead capture to marketing automation tools and everything in between. The podcast is hosted by our CEO, Joe Kowalski, who will be joined by a guest host each week. Expect to see different ServiceMonster employees, industry professionals, and maybe even some special guests in the future!
Our focus with this podcast is to provide YOU, a service business owner and/or a ServiceMonster user, with a complete weekly experience that will help you grow your business effectively. While also providing some entertainment, we aim to help each and every listener become a ServiceMonster "power user". Our commitment to you has always been helping you grow. The ServiceMonster Podcast is our next iteration of what that commitment looks like. We genuinely hope you enjoy each and every episode, and we always welcome feedback! Let us know if you'd like to see a specific topic covered, or have an idea of someone who would make a great guest host.
Now, let's briefly cover your listening/viewing options for the podcast.
Transistor: First and foremost, each new episode is posted on Transistor, our podcast hosting platform. You can stream the show there, or use these links to listen on your preferred platform (Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, etc.).
SoundCloud: Just like the other audio-only options, SoundCloud is a great platform for listening but also allows you to engage with us more directly.
YouTube: Finally, the video. Our YouTube channel is the go-to video host for each podcast episode, so make sure to check that out if you want to actually SEE the podcasting action!
That's it for now, but let us know if there's another podcasting platform that you would like us to post to. Thanks for checking out our content and never hesitate to reach out with questions/comments/concerns.
If you aren't a ServiceMonster user, make sure to check out our free 14-day trial here.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post was written by Ed York in the second quarter 1977 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Never in the history of our industry has the need for a Code of Ethics been so apparent as NOW. The BLITZ of newspaper advertising that is appearing in the nation's newspapers is horrible. A local firm has advertised a certain area for $19.95. He has been doing this for over a year. I don't object to unit pricing, but I do object to the newspaper allowing the words THIS WEEK ONLY, to be included every week. In 1969 I tossed out thousands of dollars worth of sales aids that had the words OLD method over a picture of a shampooer with a large X marked on it. The flyers were reprinted without the X and the words conventional method. The shampoo method is still a very acceptable method of carpet cleaning.
Ads designed to confuse the consumer as to methods used are wrong. Our profession is an HONORABLE one. Ads designed to downgrade a competitor utilizing deceiving wording or false facts are without HONOR. Not only is the carpet cleaner wrong in using these tactics but even more so is the newspaper that sells the space with no concern as the validity of the ad. These same publishers are the ones you will find giving lip service on local consumer protection boards and naturally the good old Better Business Bureau.
The worst offenders in the industry are the Von Schrader people. A sample of one of their latest publications is a good example. This is outright FABRICATION of legitimate facts put together to create an impression that can not be substantiated. They WON the respect of the "prestigious Nationwide Consumer Testing Institute."
They BOUGHT it. The NCTI was simply doing a job they were paid to do and the Director is highly qualified and was able to deliver what Von Schrader had to have. A copy of this ad is being forwarded to every carpet manufacturer listed in the Carpet & Rug Institute 1977 Directory, to find out if, in fact, they tested all methods and selected the Von Schroder method as the outstanding, premium, highest rated, or whatever you called it, over other forms of cleaning, such as shampoo or steam extraction.
I have three suggestions at the present time. (1) Don't stoop to their tactics and fight them with paid ads. This only gives them free newspaper space and supports the newspaper who is also at fault and doesn't deserve extra profits from his deeds. (2) Offer to your customer a dry foam method. I have been doing this for ten years. To date, I have found THREE occasions where it was requested and in two of the cases, it was the proper method. It is offered at about 50% of the cost of steam cleaning and 75% of the price of rotary shampoo. (3) The most important duty you can do is to write a letter to every Trade Association you belong to and urge them to join in a current attempt to obtain a Code of Ethics with the blessing of the Professional Carpet Cleaners through their Associations. We will then be able to put a stop to these highly unethical practices. Until then, keep your ads full of consumer education and awareness. Yours is an HONORABLE profession. Don't cheapen it by joining the hucksters.
We recently updated ServiceMonster to version 6.3.2, and within that update is a new version of the Quick Add feature. In an effort to help out any of our users who have questions about the new Quick Add, our onboarding specialist, Adam, put together a "quick" video (see what we did there?) giving an overview.
You can check out the video below:
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post was written by Ed York in the second quarter 1977 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Guinness Book of Records may not have the results of a recent straw poll listed, but the fact still remains that customers are now paying more per square foot than ever recorded previously. This may come as a shock to many doubting Thomases, who will show numerous advertising specials at a ridiculously low price. Strange as it may seem, they are also correct. The question then arises, as to how can this be?
How is it that some customers are paying record low prices, while others are paying higher total costs than ever? The obvious answer comes swiftly when you look at the big picture. More homeowners than ever are having their carpets cleaned. The prestige cleaners selling quality at a premium price are ADVERTISING their services more than their predecessors ever did. The price merchandisers are placing LARGE display ads in their newspapers. Stop by your local paper someday and check out papers ten years ago, or longer. Try to find an advertisement telling the home-owners that their carpets are dirty.
Hallelujah... The Pied Piper has been shouting this theme for the past decade to assembled cleaners. All we have to do is make the public AWARE that having clean carpets are the IN thing. Yes, clean carpets should be made socially acceptable all over our land. When this is done, then and only then will carpet cleaners be able to take their proper place in our society. Can you imagine, carpet cleaners are actually taking VACATIONS with their families? They are talking: Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico and all sorts of attractive vacation spots, formerly only discussed as where their customers went.
Now once again what determines the prices paid for carpet cleaning. It is not determined by the customer. It is determined by the carpet cleaner. He can be the cheapest in town or the most expensive. He only has to let the consumer know what he is offering. There are folks that want the economy of a Datsun or Pinto, and those that want the Lincolns and the Cadillacs. People who are now paying three times as much for their homes as they did a few short years ago, can and WILL pay for quality work if they know where to obtain it. They still won't, and for this, I'm most thankful, pay premium prices for natty, non-informed, non-professional appearing WORKERS, that have a HIPPY-like-van parked in front. They will pay the professional, that not only does professional work, but most important, looks professional.
So, fellow carpet cleaners, stop complaining about today's customers. If you are not getting your share of this Bonanza Market, then take a look at the home base. Today's consumer are beautiful people willing to purchase your service and pay the price. If you want to offer "price" carpet cleaning then there are those that will want your services. If you prefer to upgrade your package and do prestige work, then charge 22 cents or 28 cents or 30 cents. There is a good market and plenty of takers. DON'T make the mistake of most, however, by offering and pushing prestige cleaning at cheapie prices. The folks who can afford it, won't buy it. They know more than the average carpet cleaner. They know you can't buy quality diamonds at the variety store. So more customers than ever are waiting for your services. Figure out what type of service you want to offer. Price it accordingly. Go to the marketplace and shout your wares. Don't keep them waiting.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post was written by Ed York in the July-August 1975 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Haven't made anyone or any group mad at me this month, so guess I'll stir up the pot some more. After an extremely active summer, meeting with several thousand carpet cleaners throughout the nation at work clinics, conventions and personal visits, I come once again to the conclusion that Carpet Cleaners are still their own worst enemy. Progress has been made, but, unfortunately, it is still at a snail's pace. Before the carpet cleaning industry can take its rightful place of leadership and obtain a true profit picture, changes must be made.
Since our industry is so widespread and loosely knit, better lines of communication must be established. Recently, a Board of Director member of one of the older statewide associations on the West Coast told me his group should give me a trophy. Their group had suffered a decrease of members. Their meetings were irregular, with little new blood showing up. In fact, they were torn with internal strife. SCT, on the other hand, was moving forward. In order to combat SCT's growth, the group's members had some emergency meetings and started to roll forward. Because they started to put something into their program, besides "lip service", their group once again started to function. They now are most active and truly serving their members. They are all working to "out-class" SCT. Guess SCT has served as a most useful catalyst! Funny or tragically, it is a fact that in order to act, we must have a common enemy. I'm positive this same group could have obtained their present status and probably even more so, if they had applied the same effort towards a different goal, such as the 86% of dirty carpets now installed in America. This time our industry lucked out but unfortunately most of the time it has been the other way around.
Traditionally, carpet cleaners have received from 10 cents to 15 cents per square foot for their work. Along came a new method which was dubbed "steam." The old-timers wouldn't accept it, so non-professionals entered the market, and with some advertising, were not only able to sell it to the consumer but able to obtain from 20 cents to 30 cents per square foot. In their enthusiasm, however, they kept pushing the old-pro to try it. They finally succeeded, and the first thing that happened was the old-pro dropped his prices. The more old-pros that entered the "steam" field, the more the prices dropped until the old time standard was once again reached.
In 1969, I introduced "method" selling. This was geared to offer a variety of methods, instead of discounting or "panning" all other methods available. The significant difference was that each method carried a different price. The consumer loved it and was happy to pay more for "steam" than rotary. She paid more for the combination than one method. In fact, she was happy to pay additional for our "premium" service. Wasn't long, however, until the old-pro figured out how to do the same thing, but since it cost very little if any more, to charge the same price. In fact, rather than keep the methods different; in order to have a different price structure, it was now standard to do it all for the old traditional price. In 1974, "Package" selling was introduced but lay dormant until Blue Ribbon Carpet Service of San Diego put it to work. It was immediately effective and pushed their average job from 12 cents to 22 cents. Rather than keep his success a secret, this on-location carpet cleaner freely distributed the facts and know-how to all who would listen. It is not only working in San Diego but all over America where the bold new breed is presenting it. The tragedy lies in the fact that the subject is now being "poo-pooed" by the old-pro. In fact, a recent circular was distributed to members of an association advising them of an upcoming meeting regarding the "CONTROVERSIAL PACKAGE" selling method.
ADVERTISING...In some areas, carpet cleaners have joined to promote CLEAN CARPETS. Once again the old-pro has risen to the occasion. He has doubled his Yellow Pages advertising. If a person would check their local telephone Yellow Pages, and count up how much money is being spent in the quest to snare this estimated 14% of the market rather than devote this money to 86% of the market untouched by Yellow Pages, they should hang their heads. Oh yes, the Yellow Page salesman comes by once a year and makes a hero out of you, but try to find him 60 days later when the first bill becomes due. They don't have to be available, they have a 100% mortgage on YOUR BUSINESS. The biggest advertising program I have ever seen was in Santa Barbara, California. There TWO old-pros spent hundreds of dollars every week telling the consumer how horrible the other one was. They managed to destroy a very lucrative market. Sure, folks in Santa Barbara are still having their carpets cleaned, but what would have happened if these two GIANTS had advertised Constructively rather than Destructively.
"STEAM"...Rather than devote our efforts to creating standards, our industry is still being torn apart by our industry on the position of whether steam is "Steam." Instead of performance bond issues and quality standards, a Carpet Cleaning non-steam equipment manufacturer in Wisconsin caused so much pressure on the Milwaukee Better Business Bureau to try and outlaw steam that the Attorney General has been brought into the Act. A test suit will take place in September. The Wisconsin Attorney General will tackle a small Independent Carpet Cleaner on the horrible crime of offering "steam" cleaning to his customers. At the same time, the old-pro firm is flooding the nation with flyers on how a person can enter the carpet industry with nothing more than a DRY FOAMER and make a bundle. I'm confident if the Attorney General of Wisconsin was hit in the face with a handful of DRY FOAM, he would find it quite WET. Too bad their legal arm isn't aimed at requiring the firms at least to have a business license and a small consumer protection bond. My hat is off to a small group of Professional Carpet Cleaners who make up a Wisconsin Association who have hired an attorney to make sure "steam" is at least represented fairly. SCT has offered to help with legal costs. I wonder where'n'ell are AIDS. RCI. CCI. OHIO ASSOCIATION, and the other big guns during this time of put up or shut up. The way this case turns out will have a powerful effect on all CARPET CLEANERS.
EFFORTS...Our efforts of today will set the pace for tomorrow's future. Do we have to continue to fight among ourselves? Regardless of our names, type of equipment we use, and supplies we like, we have a common enemy-- consumer apathy toward clean carpets. Dirty Carpets should be our enemy and not a method, or type of tool or personality.
I am firmly convinced that while I am one, the only thing wrong with the Carpet Cleaning Industry, is Carpet Cleaners.
Alright. We know you've heard it before, but door hangers do actually work. In a world of digital communication and social media marketing, sometimes taking a more "old school" approach can prove very effective. We're not saying you should stop your digital marketing by any means. Keep that going strong! However, supplementing the digital with some "analog" is a great way to increase the effectiveness of your marketing.
(Just in case you aren't sure what we mean by a "door hanger", we're talking about those little rectangular fliers with a circular cut-out on the top that are hung on doorknobs and handles. See the photo mockup in this post.)
Recently, we heard from a pressure washer who commented on one of our Instagram #ServiceMonsterTips videos (check us out on Instagram if you haven't already!). He said that his strategy with door hangers is to methodically distribute them to houses that are dirty and could clearly use a cleaning. In the past two months, he estimates that he has distributed about 500 door hangers, spending only a couple hundred dollars total on all of them. So far, he has booked around $12,000 worth of work.
Yep, he spent a couple hundred dollars on some door hangers, distributed them to dirty houses, and as a result has booked jobs totaling $12k. Now that's what we call a return on investment! In his words, "they work exceptionally well". He even said that two months later, he's still getting calls from people who held onto the door hanger all this time. Impressive!
This is just one story from the many service professionals who have found success using door hangers. Again, these are a great tool to supplement your digital marketing, not necessarily replace it. So next time you're in a neighborhood on a job, we encourage you to place some door hangers on the houses around the one you're cleaning. That's the very least you can do. If you have more time, why not go block-by-block through a larger section of the neighborhood? You may be surprised at how well it works.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post was written by Ed York in the October 1971 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Correspondence from a man in Denver, wanting information about steam cleaning and what it costs, how it works etc. Plain stationery, with typing as bad as mine. I sent what I could from time to time and decided to stop by last week while in Denver. The Yellow Pages told me that he had been the leader in STEAM since 1965, looked like a big company, with my mans name as the PRESIDENT. Evidently, he is a sneaky Pete that is afraid to come out from under the rocks.
I have many competitors that correspond with their own names. My friend, Gene Bates of Steam Genie always takes time to have long talks on the pros and cons. We respect each other, and I'm sure would help each other if the need arrives. I often wonder who these weasels think they are fooling. If their product was half what they claim, it would stand up to discussion. I'm trying to get the carpet cleaners to establish friendly relationships with each other to improve the overall image and uplift the entire industry. Then, to discover that manufacturers are some of the worse offenders. The carpet cleaning industry needs and must have LEADERS, not sneaky petes.
CALL YOUR COMPETITOR...
Rather than spend frustrating minutes trying to check out your competitor with phony calls for pricing etc., give him a call. Introduce yourself, and your company. Tell him what you are charging. Tell him honestly that you do not want to obtain jobs by cutting his price, and that you AREN'T doing so. You are trying to do a good professional job. It is a proven fact there are more dirty carpets in your town than you and he can both do, working full time. You will be surprised that in most cases, your competitor is just as worried about your attitude and price cutting as you are of his.
I lose all respect for the cleaner that calls his competitor out to FREE estimate his mother-in-law's carpets just to find out how cheap she can get it done. Don't wait for him to start upgrading his profession... You start it! I challenge you to call your most miserable competitor and take him to lunch. You will find some interest in common, and both discover the other guy isn't as bad as you had built him up to be. He will think twice the next time you run head-on in the field because he remembers your good points. Plus, he has to see you over lunch next Wednesday, when he repays your hospitality.
We have two SSA members in a smaller town. They fight like cats and dogs, with me in the middle. I can't seem to get through to them that they are both doing better business and better work than ever. With their effort to outdo each other, they are waking up the customers to the fact they are living on dirty rugs, and need them cleaned. Let's stop trying to beat our competitor's price and start cleaning up our own towns dirty carpets.
The Elements of a Successful Business
Lewis Migliore of Magic Steam Cleaning in Rochester, New York has been a part of the cleaning industry since 1973. He is currently a Regional Supervisor for IICUC, a Regional Coordinator for SCT and a member of Ed York's Consultant Sales Team.
Magic Steam Carpet Cleaning, Inc., owned by Lewis and Bruce Migliore, was started in March of 1973 with the philosophy of delivering quality service at a fair price as well as becoming the biggest and best in its field. This was quite a task, but not impossible for two brothers who have been successful and determined since boyhood days. The organization has grown, in this short period, to cover an area of 10,000 square feet and employs five full-time people plus a number of sub-contractors and agents. The plan we follow is not without pitfalls and problems and certainly should not be considered perfect, for we continually investigate and improve each aspect of the business. As we grow, we learn and as we learn, we change things to be more profitable, easier, more efficient and less costly, regardless of what it takes. One thing we are not afraid to do is change when it is necessary. All these statements are generalizations, but our business functions on a careful balance which no one is exempt from adhering to. This is the most important reason for our success.
From point one, our exposure to the public maintains an important image whether it be yellow pages, newspaper, T.V., or radio. Our business tie-ins with the largest and most recognized carpet and furniture retailers, the Hoover Co., Welcome Wagon, beauty salons, auto dealers, realtors, contractors, etc., keep our name in front of the public. But the only reason they do this is because they are dealt with sincerely by business people, not people in business for themselves.
When our phones ring they are answered by a pleasant voice which smiles and is nothing but cheerful, courteous, and can sell! Our girl's job is to get us in the home or business for a written estimate, or if that is not possible, which is relatively rare, they sell over the phone and sell our best package besides, with very little trouble. All work is written up on job sheets specifically by our girls or by inspectors making calls. Any agent who works with us must supply the same information for his jobs or they are "No-Go's".
Our men are prompt, courteous, knowledgeable, neat, skilled and well-equipped. We treat them well and pay them well and they deliver for us. They are "the company" in many cases. We have very little turnover of personnel, but we demand they produce! We do not skimp by on "cheap" chemicals or equipment. If it is evaluated as beingbetter but costing more, and yet can justify our use of it, we buy. If not, it doesn't get in. Our men also leave our customers with evaluation sheets to critique our business and a carpet care guide. We know how long each job takes, who did it, when it was done, where, how, where they got our name, why they purchased their service from us, etc., etc., etc. We take cash, check, Master Charge, VISA, and if they qualify they can charge for seven days.
Follow-up is imperative! Each customer gets a thank you from us at the end of each month. We keep a separate folder on each job. We make call-backs on all pending, previous, and lead jobs, and it pays. We produce approximately $2000.00 extra per month because we are consistent at follow-up and everybody works at it. It's called paying attention to detail. Our furniture cleaning operation is handled a little differently. We feel it is one of the best in the country and getting better every day. Everything comes to our shop for cleaning and is picked up and delivered in a large truck purchased especially for the furniture operation. All furniture is cleaned by women. Total time from pickup to delivery is 4 days. Our furniture business grows daily as does our entire operation.
We are heavily involved with the Chamber of Commerce, registered with the Better Business Bureau, registered with Dunn and Bradstreet, belong to a neighborhood business group, and are constantly investigating areas to make money. There is much strategy involved in the way our business is run. One point I can give you and it is the most important part of our business. We sell and market SERVICE not cleaning, and that's something that doesn't come cheap. We aren't the first to do it and we won't be the last. There is no reason why everyone shouldn't be doing the same. It's probably the best thing our industry can do. It's a little slower and demands more from everyone, but when it starts to pay off — it comes in bushels. I'm sure that all of us would rather have it that way!
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from the July-August 1981 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
A Phoenix, Arizona firm advertised their carpet cleaning special of $11.95 prior to doing the job. The firm would then make disparaging comments about the special and sell a more expensive service. The firm also offered a customer satisfaction guarantee. According to a suit filed by the Arizona Attorney General's office, the firm wouldn't correct any reported problems or take care of shoddy work.
Wayne K. Brown and Jacqueline Aguayo, operators of Springtime Fresh Carpet Cleaners of Phoenix, Arizona admitted the charges, as well as admitting they would sell their clients a protective coating for the fibers, but would actually spray on a solution containing water.
Along with the other charges, Brown and Ms. Aguayo also admitted to misrepresenting their company as Sunshine House Carpet Cleaning. Sunshine is owned by Donald Kristofferson, long time SCT member who operates a known and respected cleaning company based in Mesa, Arizona.
Brown formerly operated the defunct Anderson Carpet Cleaning and Dyeing Co., located at the same address. This firm ran into trouble earlier for the same illegal practices. $15,000 of the total fine represented costs and fines from a preliminary injunction order in 1979.
This firm is no stranger to Tips N Chat or to SCT with their tactics being the subject of previous complaints. Their misleading advertising has been discussed in Chapter meetings, and Kristofferson had reported the misrepresentation of his firm by Springtime Fresh telephone solicitors who also reportedly claimed SCT membership as well as IICUC Certification.
Prior to Anderson Carpet Cleaning settling in Phoenix, they operated a company in Hawaii. Their advertising and work habits caused a good deal of trouble to SCT members Leith and Jean Anderson, who founded Deep Steam Carpet Cleaning in Hawaii. With Leith being a fourth-generation Hawaiian, and the Anderson family being so well known, it was easy for a potential customer to be confused and call Anderson Carpet Cleaning when they wanted Leith Anderson.
Tips N Chat is happy to report that after almost ten years of misrepresentations, the State of Arizona was able to take punitive action against this operation. In addition, a word of encouragement to the Leith Anderson's o' Hawaii and all the other legitimate carpet cleaners whose integrity and professional image was tainted along the way by the shoddy ethics of Brown and Aguayo.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is an Ed Sez article all about Ed York's position in the carpet cleaning industry. It was featured in the March/April 1980 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location cleaning technicians”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Wearing a Black Hat Isn't Fun
by Ed York
I've been accused of looking for ways to make folks angry at me... that I must do it for fun. Well, let's set the record straight: Wearing a black hat isn't fun. I don't have to search for ways to make folks angry. All I have to do is refuse to walk the same traditional path that others are traveling. No matter if that path is unreasonable or leads to destruction, or simply serves someone's special interest. Well, I've never tried to hide my special interest. I believe in the dignity of the service technician also known as a carpet cleaner. I respect their desire to succeed. I'm also in this business for profit. Now when the time comes that I can't combine these, then it's time for me to leave.
If the industry would grow up and produce leaders who are interested in more than just what they can sell--then there would be no market for me. I can only exist because of the simple fact that someone better isn't doing it. The reason I established a school was because, at that time, the suppliers didn't care enough about their customers to educate them. I established a supply house because suppliers were not willing to carry the necessary but unprofitable little items that every cleaner needs. I helped organize a Certifying body to help provide the carpet cleaner who wanted to earn his stripes some dignity and recognition. SCT came about only because trade associations at that time were places to go once a year as a tax write-off or to gather every month or so for a keg of beer. I continue to issue bulletins every month so carpet cleaners can share knowledge and not handicap their progress by hiding behind a phony "trade secret" cop-out. I continue to bring competitors together, as I truly believe that if they can learn to sit down and have a cup of coffee together, they will work together in harmony against their real enemy: DIRTY CARPETS.
So I challenge those who become riled at me because I upset their apple cart to start giving the carpet cleaner some real, honest leadership. Manufacturers are now building superior equipment, so they don't need to exaggerate its ability. "Tell it like it is." A prominent manufacturer once threatened to sue me because I challenged his salesman for installing a unit with the gas line feeding from a portable gas can sitting in a loop of hoses. The manufacturer now requires factory-approved installation and I don't need to shout.
A chemical manufacturer tells a class of students that breathing mineral spirits isn't harmful. He is angry because I shout WEAR a respirator! A supplier peddles an exclusive Hot Fogger for $550.00 to our members and gives him a $50 discount if he buys TWO. He is furious when I point out that the item has a list price of $425.00 at any pesticide supply house.
The trade magazines continue to publish stories written by and for the glorification of their advertisers. It matters not if the material has any substance. I make no bones about this magazine--it is published as a fun-thing for carpet cleaners to enjoy. It wasn't established to be a crusade or a voice. It is a tragedy that most trade publications provide little more than an ego trip for their advertisers. It evidently doesn't matter if the contents are fabrications merely to highlight a product, as long as the contributor continues to advertise.
If I've ruffled some feathers in the past, then the future should really be interesting. Since I'm not controlled by any special interest group, I'm going to dedicate the future issues of TIPS N CHAT to not only carrying some chit-chat about our good readers, the Carpet Cleaners-- but also to bringing out some true FACTS about our industry that others may not be able to publish. Guess that's enough for now, besides I have to go see my Haberdasher, as I'm buying myself a new BLACK HAT.
~ Ed York (1980)
The situation: You have some extra cash saved up to do some new marketing for your business. It's not a lot, but you want to use it in the most effective way possible to get new clients.
The solution: Well, there's not just one solution to this situation. There are several options to explore.
First of all, as a service business, you have to get the mindset right. Before you do anything else, make sure that your company mindset includes marketing as a primary function. The work that you physically do in your business (i.e. carpet cleaning, pressure washing, etc.), must be tied to the mindset that you are also a brand-building company. Some say running marketing campaigns here and there will work just fine, but that is actually the least effective approach you can take. Consistency and dedication are key.
Something to remember: When you're not servicing clients, you should be servicing your business. This means that any extra money and extra time you have should be poured back into marketing efforts to get new clients.
Cost-effective methods for getting new clients:
Most effective (albeit, not the cheapest) methods:
Every door direct mail (EDDM): Be careful not to carpet bomb the largest client base that you can. You want to focus on smaller segments of your area, such as specific neighborhoods where you haven't done much business in, or a more affluent area where you know you can upsell more effectively. The goal with EDDM is to send a mail advertisement of some sort to the people in your target market 3 to 4 times in a 3 month period. This can be supplemented by cold calling and emailing (if you're able to get people's phone numbers and email addresses in a legitimate way). The more ways you can get your company name in front of them, the more likely they are to call you when they need a service that you offer.
Five-arounds: This is a classic method and is quite simple and easy to do. Write down the addresses of the two houses next to the one you cleaned, and the three houses across the street. Then, you can market to these specific people with messaging talking about how you did work for their neighbor. This method allows you to build a solid prospect list, but does take more time and may not have the highest response rate (for ServiceMonster users, SendJim integration is a great way to quickly get this done).
The big suggestion: Facebook ads. Our strategy here is a 4-step plan that is simple to follow, and easy to learn.
Facebook marketing takes time to get right but is an incredibly cost-effective method with potentially huge results. Interested in learning more about how to maximize your ROI through Facebook? Check out our free guide here!
Now, where to start? Taking control of your brand's marketing is not always easy. It's totally normal to feel slightly overwhelmed with all of the possibilities, so below we have listed the three main takeaways from this post. If you can focus on these three things, you'll be just fine:
1 - Get your mindset right. You're building a brand. You can't just get some cash, throw it at some random marketing campaign, and grow a thriving business. Be intentional and be consistent with your marketing strategy.
2 - Pay attention to the small ways you can turn your free time into leads. Don't be lazy. You're running a business.
3 - Facebook. This will give you the best ROI. Other options, such as EDDM, fliers, mailers, cold calls, and seasonal opportunities such as sponsoring a little league team, all serve as great supplementary methods to your Facebook advertising.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is a guest editorial written by Michael Thompson regarding economic issues and how carpet cleaners are affected. It was featured in the January/February 1983 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
A recent article by Michael Thompson, Marketing Director for Hydra-Master, in his company's newsletter was so profound. I felt it deserved repeating. It is published as a Guest Editorial, with thanks to Mike.
The economic downturn we are experiencing is having a devastating effect on many professional carpet cleaners throughout the country. Reports are constantly coming in of areas in which carpet cleaners are suffering decreases in business of 50% and more. Regional trade show attendance reflects these losses in sharply curtailed turnouts--cleaners simply do not have the money to spend on travel and lodging this year. Direct mail campaigns to carpet cleaners by suppliers are experiencing record returns of mail out pieces marked "correspondent unknown-undeliverable"-- a further indication of the decline in carpet cleaners. A telephone solicitation of carpet cleaners listed in the yellow pages - many with 1/2 page ads - produces a response from operators that the number called is "disconnected" or "out of service". Trade publications also reflect the malaise or demise syndrome affecting carpet cleaners-- classified ads in these trade journals point out the surrender of many of the industry's "finest." What the hell has happened to our industry?
I believe that many cleaners have forgotten their "roots." When they first began in carpet cleaning, they didn't run a half-page yellow page ad and wait for the phone to ring - they couldn't afford it. In most cases, they began their cleaning career as many a life insurance salesman began his sales career -- first, they sold their family and friends. From there, they contacted acquaintances and neighbors and before long, they had a steady stream of jobs because THEY ASKED FOR THE JOB! Later, as business grew, there came a day when they had a full schedule booked a week or so ahead and had to turn business away. From that point, our carpet cleaner had generally all the business he could handle. He began to be able to advertise in the Yellow pages and gradually increased his ad to a half page at great monthly expense. That done, he became complacent and turned his attention to the myriad duties of managing a growing and increasingly complicated service business.
Then the recession hit and suddenly the telephone stopped it's incessant ringing. Instead of having three trucks head out in the morning with full schedules, it dropped to two and then one. Perplexed, our hero sat in his office and grumbled about how bad business was. Meanwhile, across town, FBN (fly by night) Carpet and Upholstery cleaning were steaming ahead at full tilt doing business as usual ("your entire home carpeting cleaned for only $14.95 -- steam method"). Aware of this, our hero grumbles about the competition being "rip off artists" and "bait and switchers", all of which may or may not be true. The important question is: Are they getting the business because of their low price? Our hero says "yes" and that he can't compete because of his overhead costs - incurred while trying to run a "quality" cleaning business. I say "no", the price is not the reason.
The reason is plainly and simply that FBN Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning gets the business because they ASK FOR THE JOB! Day in and day out they run ads in the PENNYSAVER, the TV booklet in Sunday's paper, and in the local papers. They also, in most cases, run a "boiler room" telephone solicitation campaign calling homes all over their city ASKING FOR THE JOB! "Disgraceful" our hero grumbles, "unethical," his colleagues say--"high-pressure tactics" they chorus. In many areas, they exclude each "schlock operators" from their cleaning associations -- depriving themselves of the opportunity to learn from these successful people. In the mean-time, the public sees only one side of the carpet cleaning business -- the low price, cut-rate, discount-oriented, cut and run carpet cleaners. Is it any wonder carpet cleaning is unfavorably compared with scam businesses?
I think not - but what can be done? The answer should be as clear as the nose on your face: START ASKING FOR THE JOB! You need not set up an expensive "boiler room" operation in order to begin telephone soliciting. If your wife works with you in your business and has a good "phone voice", she can begin your program by contacting customers you have done work for in the past. Once they have all been contacted, obtain a "criss-cross" directory, (listings by street rather than name) and begin calling homes near your existing customers; when you contact these people, you can mention that one of their neighbors is a satisfied customer of yours. When this source of leads is exhausted, I suggest you begin calling people listed in the "criss-cross" directory as living in upper-income areas. The reason for this is that they are more able to afford (and need) your services. From there, you can move to middle-income groups, etc. I strongly suggest you follow up your calls with a direct mail postcard to the person contacted confirming your conversation and thanking them for their time in talking to you. THIS SHOULD BE DONE WHETHER OR NOT YOU GET AN ORDER.
In addition to phone solicitation, there are several things you can do to stir up business. ADVERTISE -- run as large a space ad as you can afford in your local paper. Accentuate quality work, length of time in business in the area, any specialty service you offer, a small free gift with every estimate or whatever else you feel will attract a response. Stay away from price -- you'll lose every time in a price war with the $19.95'ers. PROMOTE -- contact women's clubs, senior citizens clubs (offer them a senior citizen discount), garden clubs, etc., and offer to speak to them about carpet and upholstery cleaning. Explain why they need your service, your methods, etc. This is an excellent source of new business. COLD CALL SALES -- call on commercial accounts -- find out what their cleaning problems are and then figure out how to solve them -- you'll get the job.
The foregoing suggestions are only a few of the things you can do to get your business going again—you can come up with many more if you'll reflect on your past successes for a moment or two. The main thing is to get going NOW, not tomorrow or next week. The sooner you do, the sooner the "recession" will be over for you.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post addresses sub-contracting between competitors, written by Ed York as a Pied Piper column. It was featured in the March 1978 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
I had the opportunity recently of visiting the St. Louis, Missouri area. The weather was sub-zero and the falling snow was literally whipped back and forth by the cold wind, but I must admit I felt exceptionally warm inside. It came from seeing the results of a small regional trade association made up of active carpet cleaners. The St. Louis Carpet Cleaners Association is definitely not the largest, or the oldest, or the best looking, but they certainly top the ladder when it comes to members working together. I hear reports from other associations about their group's unity, but for the most part their real cooperation is between members many miles away, and not next door.
St. Louis is definitely different. It has been five years since they first banded together to challenge the Better Business Bureau's false and vicious, anti-steam cleaning campaign. While they handled the BBB in record time, they also found a common reason to be friends. They found they could give better service and make more money by backing each other up. A system of sub-contracting was developed, after realizing most of the membership consisted of owner-operator shops that couldn't handle the rush of larger jobs. Rather than go into hock to purchase a standby van and equipment, they simply "subbed" the extra work to a "competitor" that had attended FCSA's operator school. This also allowed the small operator, who had no work that day, to utilize his non-working equipment.
One story I heard concerns a carpet cleaner who, while away for a short vacation, left a job for a member to do. The member received an emergency job and "subbed" it down the line. Before the job was completed (on time, I might add), EIGHT different carpet cleaners had been assigned the job. When the main contractor returned, he found a happy customer who had never known there had been a problem. In fact there wasn't a problem, because the job had been done correctly and on time.
In my various talks with the members, the point continued to come up on how they worked together and how they had all profited by the "subbing". I was pleased to receive so many kind remarks about my help to them in those early years and for introducing the idea of sub-contracting between members, rather than fighting among competitors. Well, St. Louis, I thank you, but you deserve 100% of the credit. Suggesting is easy, but it's taking those first wobbly steps that take courage. You have proved it will work. I stand up to salute the ST. LOUIS CARPET CLEANERS ASSOCIATION.
~ Ed York (1978)
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is an article written by Cathey Manning about the benefits of advertising your business image. It was featured in the January 1978 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Does It Pay to Advertise Your Business Image?
By Cathey Manning
What does it mean to advertise your business image? Product advertising has long been accepted as a major sales tool. Many studies have been conducted over the years by advertisers and their agencies to determine the effect of product advertising. Until recently, though, little research has been done in the area of corporate image advertising. Major oil companies, steel manufacturers, and life insurance companies are only a few of the types of corporations that have ventured forth in this area.
A study was recently prepared by Yankelovich, Skelly and White, Inc., for Time magazine on the effectiveness of corporate advertising. The objective was to determine if the advertisements created a favorable attitude toward the corporation, its products, and stock value. Five companies who are currently doing corporate advertising were compared with five who are not. The group of people who were questioned consisted of upscale business executives in both large and small corporations with an annual income of $25,000 or more.
At the conclusion of almost 200 personal interviews the data suggested that of the companies that did advertise their business image, there was a greater recall of their ads and a higher familiarity with their logos. For these advertisers there was a 22% higher familiarity with the company and a 34% higher overall impression of the company. Several favorable attitudes found associated with the corporate advertisers were the quality of their products; the competence of their managements; and the soundness of their financial situation.
What does this mean to you as an advertiser in the cleaning field? With competition at an all-time high it is important to clearly evaluate your advertising situation. A rock-bottom price can be a selling point, but if you have an established company with trained operators, trying to outbid the fly-by-night company across town can be frustrating. Better equipment is another selling point, but as more and more companies offer a variety of cleaning facilities, this can also be a minor point. Service is one area where you can be different if your company's name is synonymous with quality work; competent personnel; and a business that stands behind its work.
The local carpet cleaner with one truck-mount and a few operators doesn't have a lot in common with IBM except where advertising is concerned. The problem is to find the most effective way to reach the public with the company name. One way to consider, as shown productive by the above study, is to advertise the business image; to advertise the high standard of professionalism of the company. A concept that has proven effective for Texaco and U.S. Steel can also be a concept that works for you!
Instagram: Beautiful nature photos, your friend's dog, and... oh wait, what's that? A super clean before-and-after picture of a freshly cleaned carpet? Or how about that super satisfying pressure washing video showing a sidewalk being cleaned? Your service business, whether it fits into either of those two industries or not, is a potential goldmine of quick content. If you have a smartphone, in just a few seconds you can record a quick video of your work-in-progress job and post it directly to your Instagram Story (more on this later). What about when you finish a job? If you have a customer who is willing, record a quick testimonial with your phone and post it with a quote. The possibilities are wide open for a service business, but the key is to create content that is engaging.
First things first: Make sure your company's Instagram page is a business page. Do this by going into your settings on the Instagram app, then selecting "Switch to Business Profile". Boom! There you go. This will allow you to categorize your business, include your contact info and website, and run promotions.
Using Instagram's "Story" Feature
Instagram Stories have become the go-to documentation method for its users. When this feature was first introduced, it seemed to be just a rip-off of SnapChat's Story feature. However, very quickly users realized that now they were able to quickly communicate something to their followers on Instagram, essentially giving them dual functionality within the app. Now, Stories are a huge part of how businesses, celebrities, and the everyday person quickly connect with their followers.
For a service business, it's a little more complicated since in most cases you probably don't already have a large following (or any, if you're new to Instagram). As was already mentioned, the key really is to create content that is engaging. This means that it's either visually appealing, relevant to your followers, shares an experience, or any combination of these. With specific regard to Stories, try to create content that is immediately engaging to the viewer, and keep it short. For example, a quick photo or video explaining a promotion you're running, or a one or two sentence customer testimonial, could work very well on your Story. Anything that's "interesting" looking is worth posting. Anything that is funny or comedic in any way is worth posting. Regularly posting on your story and keeping your followers engaged is the first step, and with repetition comes better content.
One fun thing to mess around with is the camera settings on your phone. You can do slow-mo, time lapse, panorama, and on some phones even take professional-looking portraits with a depth effect. USE THESE. A before-and-after photo of a job on your Instagram Story is fine, but what about a time-lapse showing (for example) the carpet in one room being cleaned from start to finish? That kind of content is more visually appealing and makes great content for your Story. Set your phone on a shelf or a chair, press record on the time lapse, and once you're done with the job you have a cool video that can even be used for a lot more than just an Instagram Story.
One last thing about Stories to keep in mind: They only last for 24 hours, unless you add them to a highlight folder. Stories are perfect for time-sensitive announcements and things that aren't really important in the long run, but for more serious posts that you want to be seen by more people, consider using a regular post.
Regular Posting on Instagram
Now for your regular page posts, this is where the content needs to be more thought out. You can use the same type of content as on your story, but the format is different and these posts tend to be seen and interacted with way more. Also, the video length can be up to 60 seconds for a regular post, which allows you to post longer clips. For starting out, we recommend a few different types of posts: Before and after photos and videos, "meet the team" style posts featuring your employees (and yourself, of course!), and testimonial photos or videos. Depending on the type of service business you have, local-oriented posts can also be utilized to show your connection to the community. This would include, for example, any youth sports teams you sponsor, volunteer work that you or your crew does, and participation in any sort of local charitable events.
The overall goal with your Instagram posts is to document what your business does and who you are as a company. If someone scrolls through your posts and just sees photo after photo of cleaned carpets, they won't be engaged and won't care as much. But if they see those cleaned carpets, along with short introduction posts about each of your technicians, photos of your crew participating in a local event together, and occasional testimonials from others in your community, suddenly they'll be a lot more engaged and be able to make a fair judgment about who you are as a business. This will increase the likelihood that they will want you to do a job for them, and gives you the ability to stay connected with past customers! One way to think of Instagram is as a sales tool that combines new leads and repeat customers. You're going to be reaching both types of people, so make sure your content actually appeals to both!
Advertising on Instagram
Instagram advertising is generally done through Facebook, which is by far the best approach. Linking your Facebook and Instagram accounts allows you to run ads on both platforms very easily, or choose different versions of ads for each platform. However, if you want to run ads just through Instagram, that can also be done through the app itself. When you select any of your posts, beneath the picture or video you will see a bar that says "View Insights" on the left, and then a button that says "Promote" on the right. Clicking that "Promote" button will start the process of boosting your post.
First, you want to select where to send people. Generally, this would be your website or a page where they can learn more about your services and easily contact you. Next, you select your target audience, which can be either an automatically-generated list from Instagram, or you can select specific people and locations to target. This is very useful if you want to run a certain promotion in a specific area or want to gather leads by targeting new individuals. The last step is to set your budget and duration of the campaign. Our suggestion is to start small (around $5 per day) and see what kind of results you get. That's it! Instagram makes it very quick and easy to advertise on their platform, so don't hesitate to use it to grow your business.
That's it for today! We hope this overview of how to use Instagram for your service business has been helpful and informative. If you have any specific questions about how to use Instagram, or needs tips/advice, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you. Like always, we're more than happy to help with whatever you need!
Until next time!
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post comes from a column called "The Pied Piper", written by Ed York about the importance of hard work, and an interesting acronym called "KASH". It was featured in the Second Quarter 1976 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
To the best of my knowledge there are only three ways to obtain money, and that is: inherit it, steal it, and work for it. Most of us will never have a chance to inherit it, and if we could steal it, we wouldn't, so that leaves only one option -- WORK for it.
Unfortunately, for the carpet cleaning industry, most of the participants entered the field under a misimpression. They were told they could make a lot of money without working as hard as when they were just employees. Guess that makes us carpet cleaners just about the most gullible bunch of yokels in the country, cause we sure fell for it.
In the past we were able to get away with sliding by. No one really expected a carpet cleaner to make much money or be able to join the country club anyway. Now along come some real energetic souls who are not hamstrung by tradition, and they are re-writing the business. They are making PROFIT while racking up solid customers. They plan on a real future. No, it's not easy. They are WORKING.
Most carpet cleaning firm owners have the mistaken idea that they must sweat to work. Pathetically, many firms are held back because the owner, in trying to be a good guy and do what's right with his business and family, works the jobs. They are trying to save the price of labor. For the most part, however, the reason why the majority of owners who work their own jobs do it, is that they are not willing to extend the effort needed to assure success. It's easier to pull the tool and wait for the phone to ring.
Managing an on-location carpet cleaning firm requires a lot more work than pulling a tool or man-handling a scrubber. Every unit should have at least SEVEN employees to insure its potential. Ask any owner who doesn't have this many "why?", and he will admit it takes too much energy to keep 7 people busy. It's EASIER to let the prospect call and cop out for a cheaper price over the phone, and then go out and do the job for wages.
An old time Insurance Agent told me back in the post "big war" days, that every person was working for an item called KASH. Was a wise old man, even if he couldn't spell. Anyway, he said to have lots of KASH, it required 4 ingredients in the proper proportions. Said it was all in the word KASH... K equaled 5% KNOWLEDGE, A was for 5% ABILITY, S included 5% SALESMANSHIP, and the balance or 85% stood for HARD WORK.
The important point is, make sure the work you're doing is necessary work... necessary work to insure a profit. The owner's job is not doing the job, but coordinating the skills of the employees to keep the firms equipment WORKING. Any time your carpet cleaning unit is off-duty more than it is employed, it means the BOSS isn't working. How about you, Mr. Employer, did you really work last week?
~ Ed York (1976)
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is an open letter to all carpet cleaners regarding advertising practices. This ran in the First Quarter 1977 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
OPEN LETTER TO ALL CARPET CLEANERS:
Advertising... Keep It Clean
The accompanying article about a carpet and upholstery cleaning business accused of false advertising and unfair business competition brought to our attention the need for the professional carpet cleaner to build a good name and standing for his profession.
Professional carpet cleaners need to beware of following "bait and switch" advertising factions who toss around fraudulent statements just to catch the eye of the consumers. If a carpet cleaner advertises to clean a carpet for $8.00, then he should charge only $8.00. If he really wants $20.00 for the job, then he should advertise the fee as $20.00.
The type of false advertising referred to in the news article has been discussed and discouraged by the Carpet Cleaning Trade Association Council. Similarly, representatives of various major trade associations are encouraging their members to advertise legitimate prices for legitimate jobs.
Unfortunately, the people who fail to practice good advertising tactics are, for the most part, business people who aren't members of professional groups. Evidently, they don't realize the trouble they cause for others.
Ed York, Executive Director of SCT, in a special message to SCT members encourages them to take a copy of this article "Carpet Cleaning Firm Accused of False Advertising" to their local newspapers and business associations to make it clear that their own advertising will not follow the accused carpet cleaner's example, but will be completely honest and above-board. As mentioned before, the professional carpet cleaner must do everything he can to promote a good name and honest relationship with the consumers.
Transcribed below is the aforementioned newspaper article:
Carpet Cleaning Firm Accused of False Advertising
Santa Ana - The District Attorney's Office Thursday filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against a Santa Ana carpet and upholstery cleaning business, alleging false advertising and unfair business competition.
Named as defendant in the civil action filed in Superior Court was Ben Timmons, doing business as Carpet Masters.
According to the complaint, Carpet Masters falsely advertised that the firm would clean a carpet for $8 when the minimum charge actually was $20, and that the firm would clean the carpeting in a house for $29.95, when actually this price applied only to a one-bedroom residence.
The lawsuit seeks $2,500 in civil penalties for each violation of state laws and an injunction prohibiting future violations or any price advertising not accompanied by clear descriptions of any conditions or limitations.
~ Ed York (1977)
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is a short article written by Ed York in his column titled 'The Pied Piper'. This ran in the Fourth Quarter 1975 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
During the past seven years my main function has been to teach those interested to be better carpet cleaners. I have traveled by boat, car, horseback, and airplane to deliver improved carpet cleaning techniques to anyone who would listen. Whether you call it preaching, teaching, or plain old shouting, the message has always been clear; we must become better "Carpet Cleaners". While I knew I was right, I also felt something was wrong. Some of my best students (or copiers) were having a hard time trying to earn a good living. Some of those who listened enjoyed a nice growth in volume and profit, but others remained where they were. I was convinced it wasn't the area. All territories have more dirty carpets than the total carpet cleaning profession could possibly clean.
Recently, while chatting with an Illinois Dry Cleaner who was diversifying into Carpet Cleaning, my "student" made a comment that unlocked the doors for me. He answered the question of what was wrong with our industry. He revealed to me the reason 86% of all homes in the U.S. have dirty carpets. The answer is simple. My friend said, "I'm not trying to teach my workers to be carpet cleaners, but PEOPLE PLEASERS."
What does it matter, business-wise, if you do the best carpet cleaning job ever done on Mrs. X's carpets, if she isn't really PLEASED. It would be better for her and the carpet cleaner, if she had received a slightly less-than-perfect carpet cleaning job and had been REALLY pleased. While PRIDE may arouse some quarrel with this observation, I will assure the doubters that a PLEASED customer will have her carpets re-cleaned much sooner than the one who only has clean carpets. She will also tell others about this fantastic PEOPLE PLEASING firm.
Guess I'm too old to change my ego, pride, or devotion to the carpet cleaning industry and stop trying to share whatever knowledge I obtain with others on how to do a better job, but from now on my message is going to be slanted. We not only need better "carpet cleaners", we also need better PEOPLE PLEASERS.
~ Ed York (1975)
This week's featured Tips N Chat Throwback post highlights a carpet cleaner named Dave Nofs and his unusual methods of advertising his business. This article was written by Megan H. Wagner in the March/April 1979 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
"Dave Nofs: Unusual Advertising His Specialty"
by Megan H. Wagner
"Getting your name in front of the people is the name of the game," says Dave Nofs of Nofs Carpet Care in St. Petersburg, FL. Nofs has been experimenting with various methods of getting, and keeping, his name in front of consumers.
"Promotional items and 'giveaways' are amazing things to get into," Nofs believes, and he has reason to think so. "I got to talking with a friend in specialty advertising, and started picking through his catalogs, picking out different things and attention getters." Nofs found many, many unique items sure to attract attention through their novelty.
But Nofs realized the importance of keeping track of the effectiveness of the promotional items he experiments with. He keeps records of the cost, distribution, and return on all novelties he uses for advertising purposes.
"Many of these items are very reasonable," he says, "costing around ten to thirteen cents a piece. They go all the way up to five to eight dollars each, too. There's a wide variety and I've found it's helpful to discuss what might be beneficial for your area, your business, and your objectives," he relates.
The most effective items Nofs has used are, he informs us, small magnets designed to be placed on refrigerators and cabinets in the home. Printed with his name and phone number, these magnets are, he explains, "always there in front of the customer." The magnets have proven to be extremely popular, and Nofs reports seeing them all over town.
"The magnets really have helped my business tremendously," Nofs emphasizes. "Also, small wallet-sized calendars have been effective." Nofs distributes these calendars to customers and to realtors in the area, who provide a good source of referrals. "My wife is in real estate," he notes, "and that helps give me an 'in' with her company and others.
"Most important, the magnets and calendars are used by customers and are kept handy. This means that Nofs' name is always at hand. "We do a lot of work in condominiums here in Florida, and often a neighbor will visit a friend and say, 'Your carpets look so terrific, where did you get them cleaned?' and our customer doesn't have to search for our name. It's right there on her refrigerator door." Also, in the condominiums, Nofs has found that his giveaways, particularly the magnets, "mushroomed." He finds them in places he has never distributed them, and in the condominiums, "our business just spreads," he says.
Coupon keepers, checkbook-size holders that fold over with two pockets and designed to keep coupons handy, were not popular says Nofs, and he had only minimal success with them in his area. Phone directories have had a mixed response, on the other hand.
"In one condominium that I distributed phone directories, I haven't received one call. In another, where the directories have been out since last September, I've received three calls in the past week, and closed all the jobs," Nofs relates. "Those three jobs paid for the cost of using that form of advertising."
Aside from the promotional items that Nofs uses to advertise his business, he also distributes flyers around town, making a mailing list from the engagement and wedding announcements in the Sunday section of the local newspaper. "The announcements give you names and addresses of potential new customers who will be establishing homes," says Nofs.
For the professional cleaner who wants to develop unique methods of advertising, Nofs suggests consulting with specialty advertising companies. A look through the catalogs will introduce you to many novel items, and a discussion with the specialty advertiser should help to formulate ideas of which items might be effective for your needs and customers.
Chances are, you've heard or seen us talking about how important a professional website is to your service business. Again, we can't stress that enough. A quality website serves as an online brochure for your business, allowing prospective customers to find you and learn about your service without even having to contact you. Fortunately, building a great website is easier than ever and is increasingly more affordable. Even if you already have a website, it may be time for an update. Let's go through a few different website builder options, so you can see what's out there and decide which is best for you.
First, you'll need to pick the hosting platform. Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly are all great options, but each has its own limitations. In an effort to keep things simple, we'll focus on Wordpress and Wix, since these two can handle anything you will need for your service business (and they don't require any coding experience!).
Wix is fantastic. It has never been easier to create a stunning, highly-functional website than it is with Wix. With their drag-and-drop page builder, great preset themes, and in-depth customization options, you really can't go wrong with Wix. If you don't have the time or the patience to craft your own website, their themes are a great way to go too. With a theme, you can just plug in your information and photos and have a quality website in no time. If you want to change a few things on a theme, that's easy too. And, if you want to start from scratch, go right ahead. Wix has you covered.
Wordpress is a totally different beast. They do not have the great drag-and-drop page builder that Wix has. However, with Wordpress, your customization is nearly limitless, with the ability to install third-party plugins for your website creation. These plugins are essentially just little mini tools that can function to help you build certain parts of your site, provide security functionality, and do tons of other complicated things that most of us don't even need to worry about. Wordpress also has many popular page builder plugins that function similarly to Wix's built-in tools, which is why Wordpress is able to compete with Wix.
The best of these page builder tools for Wordpress is called Elementor. With the free version, you can create and customize any webpage that you would need, in an easy to learn and reliable format. The Pro version offers a ton more functionality and gives you the ability to create every aspect of your website from scratch, not just individual pages. Elementor truly is a great product, and partnered with the near-limitless possibilities of Wordpress, is a worthy competitor to Wix.
Essentially, Wordpress and Wix do the same thing and one isn't necessarily better than the other. However, in the context of a service professional needing a good reliable website, the simplest option may be the best. Wix is definitely the simplest option and will give you everything that you need for your business. If you want to get really deep into your website design though, Wordpress is worth looking into, especially if you plan on using your website for more than just a simple brochure highlighting your services, reviews, prices, and contact info. If you do want to keep it that simple though, give Wix a try. Each platform is affordable for hosting your own site, and each one is very reputable, so you won't have to worry about security and stability.
We could keep going, since there are so many other options out there, and so much more to explain about Wordpress and Wix. For the time being, we'll stop here and give you a chance to explore these two great options on your own. If you want to learn about other services, check out this article from PC Mag.
Until next time!
This week our featured Tips N Chat Throwback post explores the beginnings of steam carpet cleaning... all the way back to a man who clearly lived up to his surname: Bill Wisdom. This article is our first featured post that was not written by Ed York, as it was instead authored by Cathey Manning in the July/August 1978 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
"In The Beginning..."
Arlen Knight of Kleenrite and Vac-O-Steam looks back over steam carpet cleaning's past
by Cathey Manning
1962 was a great year, remember? Sock hops, "surfing" music, "hot" Chevies... and the year Bill Wisdom created a machine for dyeing upholstery! What? Was this the birth of the steam cleaning concept?
Wilbur Sutton was the owner of Crown City Carpet Cleaners, Pasadena, California, when he was approached by Bill Wisdom with a machine for dyeing upholstery. The machine used live steam produced by natural gas or butane. The process combined the dye and cleaning solutions and was applied with a hand-held tool. A vacuum attachment removed the excess moisture.
Sutton wasn't interested in upholstery dyeing, but thought the machine could be used for upholstery cleaning. He called the process "Deep Steam". Two months later he brought the machine to Arlen who was president of Star Rug Cleaning in Santa Barbara, California. Here is where carpet cleaning came into the picture! If this concept worked for upholstery, why wouldn't it work equally well for carpets?
So it was back to the drawing board for Bill Wisdom! He designed a portable cleaner where very hot water was produced instead of steam. Fred Hayes built Wisdom's creation and Arlen became a proud owner. "It was horrible", remembers Arlen, "a hundred headaches! But we took the machine and by constantly changing, experimenting and updating it, we were ready to market the machine by 1965."
What excitement! An idea to revolutionize carpet cleaning! A renaissance for the whole cleaning industry!... and no one was interested! Because the machine turned out not to be marketable, Arlen started the Deep Steam franchise, which included the incredible steam carpet cleaning machine. It was the success of these franchises which created a demand and got others interested in steam cleaning. The rest is history.
Arlen went on to develop the first upholstery cleaning tool which wasn't merely a hand held carpet cleaning instrument. This is in its fourth year on the market under the name of Kleenrite. He has also helped develop a drapery cleaning tool as well as the innovative Vac-O-Steam which does a combination of steam carpet cleaning, dry or steam upholstery cleaning and dry cleaning of drapes.
Arlen and his wife, Florence, still reside in Santa Barbara. They have two sons: Mark, 24, and Steve, 26. Steve, who is active with fire restoration and the franchises of Deep Steam, has made it a third generation business. Arlen took over management of the local carpet cleaning in 1958 from his father who started Knight Rugs Works in 1929 and purchased Star Rug Cleaners in 1932. Arlen's younger brother, Tim, is also active in the business, as he manages Star Rug Cleaning, Inc. "We Now have 42 franchises in the United States and England, and are planning to open another in Saudi Arabia". Steam carpet cleaning, with the help of Arlen Knight, has certainly come a long way!
This week we are featuring an "Ed Sez" editorial published in the March/April 1982 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. The focus of this piece is differentiating between promoting carpet cleaning and promoting clean carpets. Keep in mind that this piece was published 36 years ago, so not all of the sentiments presented are necessarily accurate for today's industry. However, the general theme is still very relevant to today.
After some twelve years of working with the on-site cleaner, I believe I have found the answer to why we are second class citizens to the business community and the rest of the carpet industry. Before I expound on my conclusions, let me clear up one point. What we have been doing since the beginning of on-site cleaning is wrong. The bankers look upon us as next to the bottom of their list for credit. The suppliers treat us like children. The retail outlets won't even admit that they know us. Our peers think we are monsters. Our customers forget us, and society won't even accept us. With all of our past efforts, dirty carpets are socially acceptable. In fact, dirty fibers and fabrics are a way of life. Over eighty percent of all carpet owners have never had their carpets cleaned. Our neighbors live on dirty carpets and most of us live on dirty carpets. Our problem is simply, that in the past, we have promoted carpet cleaning rather than CLEAN CARPETS.
There will be those who will immediately defend their present position and try to justify their past efforts. It can't be done, even if some have been successful and make a better than average living. Just imagine what they could have accomplished, if clean carpets, not dirty carpets, were the only accepted condition. The sooner everyone connected with the cleaning industry accepts the fact that we have been wrong in the past, the sooner we can start on the road to real success.
For the past four years, I have had the pleasure of working with the on-site cleaners in Japan. They have enlightened me greatly. Their philosophy is that dirt is unsightly and embarrassing to the home, or commercial building owner. Their concern is to keep their homes and offices from getting dirty. They understand this can't be done on a once-every-two-or-three-year basis, but is a continuing process. It is their custom to prevent dirt from entering their home. Outside shoes are left outside the home. Since this is impractical in business, the entry areas receive special care. This may be weekly, monthly, or daily. The Japanese do what is necessary to keep their carpets looking attractive at all times.
We must accept the same philosophy. We must stop asking our customers to give us a call when their carpets get so bad they are an embarrassment. We must initiate a service which will keep the customer's carpets from becoming soiled. Carpets should be a possession of pride to their owners. They can be, if we will only change our emphasis. It is easier to promote clean carpets than carpet cleaning. If we can't clear our thinking as to carpet cleaning, let's try it on something else. For example, which would you rather pay your doctor $50 for? Clearing up a cold you have, or providing a service which prevented you from getting a cold? You can do the same thing with dirty carpets. When a person has just spent $20,000 for a unit to clean carpet, it may seem foolish to purchase $500 worth of equipment to prevent a carpet from getting dirty.
How do you begin? First, draw a line down the center of several pages. Title each one, equipment, personnel, emphasis, and capital investment. Place production on one side and procurement on the other. List your firm's ability and capabilities on each page. A successful company will have true balance in each of these areas.
While we must always be dedicated to technical advances, we must realize our efforts to include a full sales department. Our sales staff must be trained to do their job, and not to help deliver furniture or answer the phone. We have a story to tell and a service that the homeowner and business person alike will buy, if we allow them to. It won't work, unless we accept the fact that what we have been doing isn't working and re-adjust our work habits and business philosophy. We must become sales orientated. We must stop selling carpet cleaning and start selling clean carpets.
~ Ed York (1982)
This week, we’re taking a look at an "Ed Sez" editorial written by Ed York in the February/March 1974 issue of Tips N Chat. The focus of this piece is Ed's advertising strategy for service professionals, along with a fitting personal example of how that strategy works.
One of the first steps the on-location cleaner takes after deciding he wants to present a professional image to the consumer and increase his volume is to lay out an advertising campaign to tell his story. I am then asked to recommend an ad that will do the job. Everyone wants the catchy ad that attracts the homeowner and convinces her that she needs her carpets cleaned right now, and that our man is the one to call. I wish I could provide this perfect ad. I haven't found it, and I have tried hundreds over the past years. I have come to the conclusion there isn't such a thing. What appeals to one person is missed by the other. The best answer is not in the perfect ad, but in the repetition of three basic points: 1. You clean dirty carpets, 2. You are a qualified professional, and 3. How to contact you.
You can switch from simple ads to complicated ones. Serious ads to humorous ones, but they should contain and highlight these basic three points. It doesn't matter how many different ways you tell the story, just make sure you tell it.
A good example of my theory on advertising was demonstrated to me last week quite graphically in the form of a traffic ticket. I was driving my father to the barbershop in the morning and after entering the main street of our small town (Clovis, Calif.), I drove about 3 blocks when I noticed a sign in the crosswalk. It proclaimed the pedestrian's right-of-way. A quick glance to my speedometer showed that I was going around 35 MPH. I slowed to 25 and then noticed a big red light following me. A member of our town's finest proceeded to pull me over and presented me with a citation for doing 35 in a 25 mile zone.
I attempted to explain to the man that I had only driven 3 blocks on Clovis Avenue. While my speed was higher than evidently the speed limit was, I wasn't going too fast for road conditions and that I had slowed down on my own when I saw the FIRST sign indicating extra caution. He then advised that I had been clocked on Radar and that the speed limit was posted and I had passed 3 traffic signs in THREE blocks. Now, I can't fight the ticket, especially when it was clocked by RADAR, but I am observant of traffic laws and I can see a SIGN if there was one.
I had noticed a small pedestrian sign that didn't even mention speed and had associated it with my speed, so it made sense that there WASN'T a speed sign. He smiled, handed me the ticket and suggested I re-drive the three blocks and see if I could spot the signs. I did and was flabbergasted when I now was clearly able to see three signs, big as life, staring out at me during the short drive. The first stated in bold print the speed limit of 25 MPH. The second stated that traffic laws were strictly enforced, and the third cautioned that speed was checked by radar. My point is that the City of Clovis had in effect placed 4 ads in the 3 blocks I had traveled. Each of these ads were carefully worded, and should have alerted me to the fact I was either going too fast or if I continued, then I might be caught.
I failed to see or notice the first three. I did see the 4th one and took action to comply with it. My problem was that I was too late. The damage was done and I had a ticket for my reward.
A speeding ticket might not relate to carpet cleaning, but the facts of the case do. Your potential customer is busy doing something else and just hasn't noticed your ad yet. She is having carpet danger signs, but overlooking them. Hopefully she will see your next sign and take heed before she gets a ticket from you saying "sorry lady but you missed my ads too many times. Your carpet is past saving".
One ad may not do the job, it may take a steady flow of them. I do know that now since I have "bought" a ticket the first time, I see all 4 signs each time I travel this street. I also travel at 25 MPH. We don't care if your customer doesn't see all your ads, just so she has a second, or third, or fourth chance. Hopefully, she will before it's too late and become a regular customer. It would be a shame, however, if she never had the extra chance, and never had the pleasure of having as good a firm as yours serve her future carpet and upholstery cleaning needs.
~ Ed York (1974)
This week, we're taking a look at a short article written by Ed York in the July/August 1973 issue of Tips N Chat. Yes, this article is 45 years old. However, the underlying message of being the best you can possibly be at what you do is just as relevant today as it was back then. Enjoy!
"Profit is Not a Dirty Word"
With the prices of everything but "carpet cleaning" rising each day, we should take a sound thought of why. Every time the price goes up, the one doing so advises they are justified because costs to them have also been increased. The American public accepts this, even though they gripe about it. Carpet cleaners on the other hand are scared to suggest this to their prospective customer. They also have had price increases. They have advanced in knowledge. Their services are needed more today than ever before. The customer, while paying more for other items, is also making more money than ever before. Why are the carpet cleaners afraid? It's not because of what the customer might say, but what their competition might bid. Let's make sure the one we are afraid of is the competition.
If the "other" bidder is untrained; operates with TOYS or inferior equipment; uses few, if any, laboratory tested and proven chemicals; carries no bond or insurance; doesn't have the facilities or resources to back up his workmanship, then they are not your competitor. They are offering a different service than you are. If your customer asked you to sell them a horse, surely you would distinguish between a plow horse and a registered Quarter horse. Both may be called "horse", but they are not the same things.
Let's start making a difference in what type of SERVICE we are offering. Is it a hit and miss appearance cleaning, or a DEEP cleaning job with detailed spotting? Food for thought... If you were charging 10 cents per square foot in 1967 for shampooing, then you would have to charge 13 cents today, just to break EVEN with the cost of living index. 15 cents per square foot would necessitate 19.5 cents to break even. Someone has to reverse the price-cutting trend. If you are a professional, then it must be you. There will always be someone around that can cut your price. They should be cheaper than you because they are offering a cheaper service. Let them fight over the old, badly soiled carpet belonging to the person who has neglected to even properly take care of it. Lift your sights to the person with the quality carpet who wants PROFESSIONAL care and is willing to pay a fair price for it. I guarantee there is less competition at the top. Lots of folks are trying to be the cheapest, but very few are striving to be the highest. We are, in our area, and strange as it may seem, we do the most business.
Bill Braeunert, our new Vapor-Vac dealer in Northern Milwaukee is using the motto "You walk on our reputation".
YouTube has become an absolutely essential resource for many people, service providers included. Don't quite know how to fix something on your truck? There's probably a YouTube video showing you how to do it. Want to rewatch a great play from yesterday's football game? YouTube has you covered. In this increasingly digital age, a website originally used for entertainment purposes has now become a vast resource of knowledge and can be an incredibly helpful asset to your business.
In this post, we're going to explore the top 8 YouTube channels that service providers should be following. Not all of them are related specifically to the service industry, but they all will provide you with massive value
Of course, you should be following us on YouTube! We release content regularly that can help you get the most out of your ServiceMonster subscription, as well as provide insight into current industry trends. One of our two regular content offerings is The ServiceMonster Show, a weekly news show highlighting social media trends, ServiceMonster news and updates, and anything else going on. The other regular video show you will see is #AskServiceMonster. This show features our CEO, Joe, answering questions submitted by users, explaining business concepts, and interviewing relevant people within the industry. You can check out our channel here!
#2: Keith Kalfas
Keith's YouTube channel is primarily centered around landscaping, but many of the subjects he covers can apply to any service industry. As a service professional himself, Keith has a unique perspective as a content creator and brings a ton of value in his videos for any business owner. Keith also talks with other business owners and service professionals to get their insight on successfully growing a service business. Check out his channel here.
#3: Service Industry Coach
Matthew Smith, otherwise known as Service Industry Coach on YouTube, has been making videos offering business advice for a couple of years now. He owns a cleaning company and a painting company, so his service experience is varied enough to provide quality advice. Some of his videos are job-specific and show tips and tricks for different cleaning methods. Other videos focus more on the owner/entrepreneur side of things, where he gives advice and shares his perspective on money management, investing, and marketing. His channel can be found here.
#4: Gary Vee
Gary Vaynerchuk (known as Gary Vee) is an entrepreneur who has gained a massive worldwide following on social media. His YouTube videos cover many different topics, but much of his advice regarding social media, marketing, and content creation can be applied to any business. None of his videos relate specifically to service providers, however, the value is still there. Gary Vee doesn't beat around the bush. He tells it like it is. Check out his channel here!
#5: Luke the Window Cleaner
This YouTube channel is specifically for window cleaners (what a surprise!), so if you aren't a window cleaner, you may not find a ton of value here. If you ARE a window cleaner though, this channel has tons of value for you. Luke does product reviews, offers technique and business advice, and focuses on content for people newer to the industry. You can view his channel here.
#6: Behind the Brand
Again, a YouTube channel that's more general in nature, but still has quite a bit of useful advice for the service providers among us. Behind the Brand goes deep into the stories and the people behind successful brands. A big part of your success as a service provider is building a strong and reputable brand. Many of these videos address strategies and tactics to achieve a brand that stands out from the competition. This channel uploads a ton of content too! You can check out the channel here.
#7: The Dave Ramsey Show
Many of you may already know who Dave Ramsey is, but his YouTube channel for The Dave Ramsey Show has daily new uploads of clips from the best moments of the show. His wise financial advice can benefit not only your business but also your personal life. Being financially secure is a huge key to running a successful business and being able to achieve growth. Check out Dave's channel here.
#8: Sunny Lenarduzzi
Sunny Lenarduzzi is basically a master of digital content creation. While she doesn't have much to do with service providers, Sunny's strategies and approaches to creating digital content most definitely apply to any service provider. So many things are digital these days, and how you are branded online is critical to continued success. Sunny's tips on making videos, being comfortable in front of the camera, social media marketing, and numerous other topics could prove invaluable for your business. Check her out here.
Thanks for reading! As always, contact us if you have any questions, or would like to see how we can help you grow your service business. Until next time!
As you've heard us say many times before, social media is your best friend when it comes to marketing your service business. Facebook gives you affordable and highly effective advertising options, with Instagram advertising included automatically. The goal of this kind of social media advertising is to show potential customers your business/product in a space where they have the ability to take further action (called a call-to-action), such as click a link or watch a video. All of this we have covered extensively before, most notably in our Social Media Mastery guide. Check that out if you haven't already, it's an amazing collection of content all for free!
The next piece for growing the social media presence of your business is ENGAGEMENT. Engagement simply means being active on your accounts, aware of what's going on with your followers, and committed to customer service. The key here is to respond to questions quickly and professionally, as well as monitor any concerns that are raised by followers on either your posts or page itself. Depending on the size of your business, and how popular your social media accounts are, this can be a daunting task. However, it is an essential tool for getting leads and keeping current customers happy.
Let's run through a few example scenarios of what social media engagement can look like for a service business:
Ex. 1: A past customer comments on your most recent post asking what your availability is to come clean their carpets (or whatever it is you do). The post they commented on is unrelated, such as a post welcoming a new technician to your company. In this instance, it may be pretty easy to miss their comment, as it didn't come in the form of a direct message. Since this situation would most likely result in a job, making sure to monitor comments and responding when appropriate/needed is crucial. Treating all comments as direct personal messages, most being worthy of some type of response, is a good mindset to have when approaching your social media engagement.
Ex. 2: A new potential customer finds your page on Facebook and reads your reviews. They see that you have mostly positive reviews (read more about the importance of positive reviews here), and send you a direct message on Facebook inquiring about your services. If you don't have notifications on, you may not see the message right away, but it is important to be checking your notifications frequently so you can respond in a timely manner. Here at ServiceMonster, we have found that Facebook is a great tool for getting leads!
Ex. 3: A current customer comments on your post that shows a before-and-after image of their carpet that you just cleaned, thanking you for doing a great job. This type of comment doesn't need a big response usually. Something along the lines of "You're very welcome, we look forward to working with you again!" is all that is necessary. This is a very quick and simple example of engagement that not only makes you look good to anyone who sees it, but also helps increase the likelihood that that customer will call you the next time they need something.
Remember, how you engage with customers on social media is how people will see your company. Strong, timely, and positive engagement shows that you are a professional and can be trusted to do a great job. If your business's online persona is that solid, you won't have any trouble staying busy and growing your business!
Here at ServiceMonster, our passion is enabling you to grow your service business. We hope you take the next step with your social media engagement and see positive results. Let us know if we can help you with anything! We're only a phone call or email away.
Until next time!
Getting reviews is a non-negotiable must-have when you’re a small business: They can make an enormous impact on the success (or failure) of your operation. Nine times out of 10 (if not 10 times out of 10!), people search online for reviews. Whether it’s purchasing some new headphones on Amazon, or searching on Google for the best local carpet cleaner, reviews play a crucial role in determining whether a product or service is worth investing in. That’s really what it comes down to: Everyday people investing their hard-earned dollars in YOU, in exchange for you providing them with the best service possible.
Reviews can be found on several different sites, but the most popular/common review sites are Facebook, Google, and Yelp. More specific to service professionals are sites such as Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor. Having a collection of great reviews on any one (or preferably, all!) of these sites is of utmost importance to your future success. However, between wearing the many different hats of a small business owner, you may feel that worrying about getting reviews is not worth your time. This may be especially true if you have a solid base of repeat customers and rely mostly on word-of-mouth advertising.
While good word-of-mouth advertising is fantastic to have, if you really want to grow you’re going to need to start converting that word-of-mouth into tangible online reviews. Positive reviews equal more revenue.
So, how do you get good reviews? There are several ways, but the easiest and least time-consuming way to get reviews is to simply ASK. When you’re done with a job, just ask your customer to leave a review. This could either be left open to them to decide which site to leave a review on, or, for example, you could ask specifically for a review on Facebook. A huge part of this process is being personable with your customers.
Taking the “ask” approach a step further, you can guide customers to giving you a review, either through your website or an email. One approach is to put a “Review us here!” link on your website, making sure that it is prominently displayed. This is simple to do and is a great tool for directing customers to the review site of your choice.
However, an even more effective method is to send out follow-up emails with the option for a customer to review you within the email. The general idea of this method is that within your email, you have a link to your preferred review site, but also an option for customers to leave you any feedback in case they had a less-than-ideal experience. Negative reviews need to be taken seriously, and giving customers the opportunity to communicate their frustrations is essential to learning and growing as a company.
Communicating with your customers post-job is a surefire way to increase your repeat rate. Even with negative reviews, you are given the opportunity to continue a dialogue and figure out what exactly needs to be done to ensure that whatever caused this bad experience will never happen again. This level of personal communication can turn a 1-star review into a 4 or 5-star review. Just remember, make sure that the review process is as simple as possible for the customer.
Here at ServiceMonster, our passion is enabling you to grow your service business. We hope you try out a few of these methods and find success with them.
Until next time!
Picture this, if you will: It’s Friday. You’ve had a long week, and you’re craving a good steak. You do a quick search online of best places for steak in your area, and come up with two options:
Restaurant 1’s website claims that their steak is the tastiest around (according to content written by the restaurant itself).
Restaurant 2 is purported to have the best steak in the area, as well. However, the difference is that you learn this via reviews of the restaurant on Facebook, written by customers who have dined there over the last few months.
Which candidate is going to win your dinner business?
You realize that any restaurant could claim to be the best at a certain dish or cuisine, but when a positive assessment comes from someone who has no ‘steak’ (see what we did there?) in the business, it carries a lot more weight. An unbiased opinion is always more persuasive.
Restaurant 2 it is!
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We have no doubt that your company does stellar work and that your customers are in great hands with you. But, regardless of how well you sell your services, you still can’t change the source: you.
Testimonials’ strength lies in the fact that they come from a source outside your business, who has seen proof of your work and was happy with the outcome. This impartial opinion fosters positivity and confidence in your prospects.
What is a testimonial video?
Before we get any deeper, let’s go over what a testimonial video is. A video testimonial is simply an on-camera endorsement of your services from a customer. The best ones are straight-forward, short, and upbeat. Though videos require more work than simply pasting a quote or two on to your website, they provide an organic way for prospects to learn about how great you are, straight from the horses (er… your customer’s) mouth.
Are videos more persuasive than text?
Without a doubt, yes. Because viewers can see your testimonial-offering customer in the video, there is an automatic feeling of authenticity from the beginning that’s inherently lacking when it comes to text testimonials.
Seeing a homeowner or business owner talk about how satisfied they are with your services can be a key factor in your home-owning and business-owning prospects (who personally identify with the customers in the video) choosing to use your company.
What do I need to consider before I make a testimonial video?
Even though videos do naturally come across as more authentic than text testimonials, that doesn’t give you free reign to hand your customer a script and tell them to read it to the camera. We recommend brainstorming a short list of questions before filming, and passing them along to your interviewee a day before filming. This will give them time to review the questions and consider how they’d like to answer them, so they won’t be blindsided when the camera is rolling.
Some questions to consider asking:
What do I need to think about during filming?
Don’t get hung up on purchasing an expensive camera, especially if you’re just starting out with video testimonials. You can even use your phone! Just be sure to shoot it using widescreen (turn the phone horizontally), and steady it against something.
Be mindful, too, of the location you choose to film – it can make a difference in how watchable the video is. Try filming in front of or inside of the customer’s home or business.
Another important consideration is audio quality. You’ll want to avoid locations that produce an echo, and busy places with lots of people talking or traffic noise. While you certainly can edit the audio post-production (after you’ve filmed), ideally you wouldn’t have to do too much to it. We recommend considering a wireless lavalier that you can run into your camera.
Also, make sure there’s enough room on your recording device for the whole interview (plus some extra in case the discussion runs longer than anticipated).
What do I need to do after filming?
After you’ve thanked your customer for their time and thoughts, it’s time to start editing. This can be as long or as short of a process as you’d like, depending on how filming went and what you’d like your finished product to look like.
Try to edit the content down to focus on the most glowing praise, and keep it short – we recommend no more than a couple minutes. Remember, people tend to have very short attention spans!
Once I have a finished video… what do I do with it?
First, send it to the featured customer and get their approval. Then… share it!
Create an email drip campaign in ServiceMonster 6 for people you haven’t serviced in a while, and include the video to convey the voice of your customers.
Create a ‘case study’ section on your website and include the video.
Share on your social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter, and create a ‘testimonials’ playlist on YouTube and place the video in there.
Also, if you have a salesman, be sure to share the video with them. They can use it as a tool when chatting with new prospects.
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Customer testimonial videos are unique because they’re persuasive and very effectively able to establish credibility for your company. Though they can be a bit labor intensive, we strongly believe that they’re worth doing because of the tremendous boost they can offer your business. Give them a try… and let us know how it goes!
This is part 6 in a series on social media for service businesses.
The full series is:
5. Using Facebook
6. Case Studies
Here are a few good examples of how we and others, have used social media to accomplish a goal or capture attention to deliver value to the business.
In late 2012, ServiceMonster moved from a bare metal solution to a true virtual service. We adopted Microsoft Azure. That decision would haunt me for eight months. Four months in, I was in a state of panic. The technology was solid. It had to be the platform. But how to get Microsoft's attention? They had no real support, and the level of support that I needed went way beyond a flow chart, so I created a marketing plan.
It was simple. Use Twitter and talk about my issues tagging Microsoft and Azure team members in every post, but first I had to get someone to listen. I needed to find some of their evangelists. Evangelists are people who are forward-facing about a product or service, but can stand up to technical scrutiny. From there I would find and follow the engineers that were working on Azure. My goal was to obtain email relations with someone that would listen. I figured it would take about 30 days.
I was totally wrong. In 14 days I was talking with an evangelist regularly. I was invited to Microsoft and had a personal eight-hour tour through the Microsoft campus. I talked to their top brass representing the Azure platform. It was pretty cool. I even blogged about it.
It really didn't help. Four months later I switch to Amazon. The day we switched, ServiceMonster was at peace again, and I got the first night’s sleep I had in a very long time.
The whole experience really opened my eyes to how effective social media could be in so many more ways than as a very effective lead generator.
In July of 2016, Gary Hite, a carpet cleaner in Temecula, California, published a video of a tile job. A few weeks later, he had over 12 million views. A month later, a separate company rented the rights to the video and created another 12 million views. We scooped the story as it was happening.
The main points are:
1. Have good stock video.
2. Learn how to produce original compelling content.
3. Do step one and two a lot.
4. Hope that a video gets picked up on an OCD subreddit.
I’m actually not joking. Be a student. Read the blog post. Watch the video. Gary didn’t know it would go viral, but he knows enough to put together some elements in his video that created interest and captured attention. That video has generated work for cleaners all over the United States, and Gary has taken that opportunity to expand several areas of his business.
On August 8th the marketing team and I decided to turn the Joe brand up to 11. We had not yet fully embraced the business persona of ServiceMonster. One mechanism we implemented was a daily entrepreneurial Facebook post, containing relevant content based on issues and hurdles I run into on a daily basis. I call it the Facebook long form. They are usually no more than a few paragraphs long but will often be longer than the fold. After a few weeks of posting, I started receiving encouragement to continue (love that). I even had requests to begin compiling these posts into a mini Art of War style publication. But this isn't 3000 BC. What did I do? I went back and tagged all of my relevant posts. I needed a hashtag that no one was using. Something that would create a brand. We often trade on 'Joe' and my focus is entrepreneurs, so #entrejoe was born. How can you provide the same type of value to your prospects and clients?
This is part 5 in a series on social media for service businesses.
The full series is:
STOP INVITING ANYONE AND EVERYONE TO LIKE YOUR PAGE! Seriously. It messes with the insights Facebook can give you. It also makes Facebook think you are a national company instead of a local service. Yes, you can target campaigns using geolocation, but it messes up some of the cooler features. Build your wall. Keep your likes relevant to your clients and prospects. Stop inviting cleaning friends and vendors. This can really wreak havoc if you hire a third-party to manage your Facebook advertising. They will make assumptions which will be incorrect, like that your page supports 35 to 55-year-old males, nationwide, who own a service business. Oh wait, that’s my demographic.
Make your Facebook Page beautiful. If your logo is still out of 90s clipart from MS Office, it might be time for an update. Learn the difference between 72 DPI, 150 DPI, and 300 DPI (dots per inch) and why that's important to a Facebook Page and mobile technology.
Take some time to build your cover image. That's your billboard. Make it compelling. Ideally your profile picture will be your logo. Only change it for the most extreme circumstances. Don't make your alias’ Page profile picture your company's logo. Maybe try a different, more amplified version of yourself.
Make sure your Page is filled out and complete. Make sure there's a link to your website. Make sure your phone number is right. Share relevant content, post original content, run ads.
Facebook Pages give you some really cool tools in the Insights section to study the effectiveness of your content (not to mention you run all of your ads from your business Page).
If you’re looking to build a Warrior strategy, it is essential to have a personal alias page for your business. Use your real name and image. Don’t try to give your persona the business name or clever variation. Facebook will eventually close your account until you identify yourself and correct it (don’t ask me how I know).
Join local Facebook groups. Local business groups can be a good source as well. Look for community influencers with a strong Facebook presence and discover where they hang out, online. Send friend requests to people who have liked your Page, and especially ones that are already your clients. Be friends with them! Invest in their lives. Make witty comments on their posts you find entertaining. Share. It’s amazing how fast customers change from clients to individuals when you see their kid hit that home run.
Create a group (or twelve). Assuming you’re the constant student and after you have some attention on both your business and personal pages, you will start to identify additional ways to capture attention. Groups are a great way to communicate to a handful of people. Currently you can add a friend to a group, even without them accepting an invite. By default, they will get a notification whenever there is a post in that group. It’s a powerful feature and one I think we will lose long-term. Be careful with it. Some don’t appreciate being added to a group willy-nilly (sorry guys). The most obvious group for a service provider to create is a private group dedicated to your clients. You have to keep the content relevant to maintain attention and engagement though, so make sure your kung fu is strong.
Creating ads for Facebook can have some challenges if you’re just getting started. Start with a goal in mind. Do you want more likes or to drive traffic to your site? When using a picture, smiling faces are always the best performers. Facebook will reject your ad for a handful of things. You can’t run an ad with an image that has too much text. The numbers are changing all the time. Use Facebook’s image text check tool to be sure.
When running ads, be sure to narrow your focus as much as possible. You can target groups of users based on their location, interests, and age. You can even target users who have liked a Page of your competitors. The narrower your focus, the better your results.
Facebook ads are so inexpensive that you can run a few ads at the same time to see which one is more effective. Just like organic engagement, the more users interact with your content, the better it will perform and the lower it will cost.
Facebook has an entire online course for learning how to use Facebook ads.
Use Facebook pixel to track traffic on your site. A pixel is a tiny bit of code you add to your web pages which will tell Facebook which Facebook users visited your site, and which page(s) they visited. You can use this for retargeting, or to figure out cost per conversion. Retargeting allows you to create a Facebook ad targeting people who have already visited your site. That can be very powerful when used correctly: You send a special offer targeting people who went to your webform and didn’t complete it the first time. You could even chain them together by giving them a better offer each time they visit.
Facebook Page likes matter, but only for establishing a baseline of creditability. For services providers, a few hundred likes and a handful of good reviews is all you really need to accomplish that. What is more important than likes is engagement. When users like, share, and comment on your posts, ads, and boosts, they flag Facebook that the content is relevant. Facebook will then display your content to more feeds. Engagement is the real metric to attention, not likes. Facebook will display the engagement of each post on your business Page insights.
OK. You have your business Page and business persona all ready to go. How do you get from there to a never-ending fountain of flowing leads? The process of capturing attention and turning that into a sale is called conversion. First, you capture attention. Then you offer value. Then you throw out an ‘ask.’ Perhaps the ‘ask’ invites them to fill out a webform. They complete the form and you now have a solid lead. Just be sure the transfer from your ad to the web page is cohesive or the user may get lost. As this series is about social marketing, my responsibility is to help you get people to the webform. From there you will need a sales pipeline and lead capture system, like oh, I don’t know, perhaps ServiceMonster...
Remember the PULL? The more engagement you get, the more Facebook will feed your content to our audience. Deliver content that has value and they will follow you. If all of your content is about you, your effectiveness will be minimal and [insert eye roll].
If you’re using Facebook Pixel with your webform and success page, then you will know what your conversion rates from Facebook actually are.
Continue on to part 6 in our series on social media for service businesses to read about a few good examples of how we and others have used social media to accomplish a goal or capture attention to deliver value to the business.
This is part 4 in a series on social media for service businesses.
The full series is:
Having a bad social strategy is worse than having no strategy. I have seen business pages with missing or incorrect information. I have seen pages created for a business by the system where it becomes very difficult to claim ownership of them. I also see links to the owners' personal, public profile, which they DO NOT use for business. They will, more often than I can believe, commit one or more of the five deadly sins.
1. Political content
2. Religious content
3. Sexually charged content
4. Drug-related content
5. Personal attacks
Now these are general guidelines and can be bent if you understand you’re alienating a portion of your prospects. I always advise businesses and associations to steer clear of this type of content.
You have nothing. Nada. Zero. This is kind of spooky for someone looking for your profile (and they will).
You have a Facebook Page and there is some information. Perhaps there is a link to your webpage and the three before and after pics you posted the day you started the business Page. Perhaps you tried a postcard-like campaign with little to no results or got discouraged when it became hard to entertain your Page likes without buying a boost from Facebook.
Your page is complete and accurate. It’s easy to call you or jump to your webpage. You make relevant posts at least a few times a month but how many before and after’s can you really do? You might have a handful of reviews and a few hundred likes on your page. You might have even tried a few boosts and got a handful of calls. Most business owners who think they do Facebook well live here.
Business Level 1 plus super consistent posts and boosts. Most of the content is shared from other sources with the occasional ad, picture, or video. When done well, the business can become a new authority in the local community. They either pay a third party or use a program like Hootsuite to manage posts. They have lots of reviews and plenty of likes on their page. They have some engagement on their boosted posts and are consistently getting jobs. These results will be similar to EDDM postcard campaigns in terms of response. The better your targeting, your content, and native attention, the lower your cost per client.
Business Level 2 plus amazing compelling original content crated by a personality in the business. Looking through the timeline of a Level 3 business Page tells a story and draws the user in. The story introduces them to the people, goes behind the scenes with friends and/or family, and shares their importance to the community. The strategy will also couple the website’s blog and newsletter content.
In order to build a warrior level social strategy, you need to triple down on your own personality. You know you're headed true north when you're your own biggest fan.
People will buy from people over businesses every time. To get the most out of your social strategy, your brand must have a face. You cannot participate in groups with a business Page. You cannot create a group with a business Page. You cannot like and comment on personal posts from your business Page. Your business Page can’t make a text-only post and expect to gain any attention. You can accomplish all of that, and more, with a business persona.
You end up with a Business Level 3 Facebook Page AND a personal profile you use ‘only’ for business. That’s not to say you don’t post personal stuff. You need to be personal if you want your audience to get to know you. Just stay away from the five deadly sins, share lots of your business content, and engage with your clients and prospects regularly, as a person.
Continue on to part 5 in our series on social media for service businesses.
This is part 3 in a series on social media for service businesses.
The full series is:
So it seems like the Pokémon Go media frenzy has finally died down, although there are still millions of players. Do you understand what just happened? Are you familiar with how it influenced business traffic? From an outsider, it may seem like a very silly young Millennial game, but as a student of technology and social media, I saw it a little differently.The importance of augmented reality (AR) has not yet been fully realized. Think about this. In 10 years, your vehicle windshield will double as a computer monitor. Obviously you wouldn't want to use it as a movie screen, but how about digital readouts of things that are happening in front of your car? A neighborhood kid could kick a ball into the street and your windshield will draw a highlighted graphic around the ball and alert you to its presence. In 20 years, we may have contact lenses that can do the same thing. I will never forget someone's name again. I’ll be able to pull up their social media profiles before I even extend my hand!Always be a student. Pay attention. If you find yourself scoffing at something which draws millions upon millions of users, check yourself. Your lack of understanding doesn't change the outcome. Look for opportunity in even the most unlikely of places. Plenty of businesses had a big boom when they found their bike shop was Pokémon central.
YouTube is now the second most widely used search engine in the world, next to Google, which means Google (who purchased YouTube in 2005 for $1.65 billion) is both the first and second most widely used search engine in the world. YouTube content can be a big player in your SEO strategy. Part of any complete social strategy should include a healthy amount of video. Be sure to post that content to a business YouTube channel and tag it correctly. Consistency and value are the two winning factors to developing an audience. Be an authority in all things [insert what your passion is for your business].
Twitter's primary purpose has evolved over time, from the leading PULL authority to an open chat site with links to everyone’s totally amazing blog. By following people and topics you are interested in, you'll be fed news and information in those areas. Its tagging and communication systems are extremely open, but its 140-character limit keeps conversations focused on jabs. You can yell at a celebrity, and sometimes, just sometimes, they will yell back. Twitter itself has not had a single day of profitability. Monetization on Twitter is clumsy, slow, and extremely hard for service providers. Have a presence to understand it and respond, should someone tag you in a post, but if you’re looking for big wins and a complete level of understanding of social, spend your time somewhere else.
Still the only professional network (have you heard about Facebook Workplace?). LinkedIn was created by the father of social media and PayPal partner, Reid Hoffman. The platform is as boring as the professional environment suggests. Typically, the posters are using automated software to post articles they have written, or ones they feel are professional. There is a pay-to-play professional subscription that has an interesting sales funnel feature. This can be an effective tool for business-to-business service providers. Microsoft purchased them for $26 billion dollars, which suggests to me they are trying to lock the corporate professions into a single Microsoft 365 platform.
Facebook has nearly as many eyes as television and it’s still growing. Millennials (18-35) spend more time on Facebook than watching TV. The marketing and targeting engine is phenomenal. When done right, there are opportunities all over the place, but it takes a little bit of cash and a whole lot of work. Facebook is the best bet for service professionals and the focus of the strategies I’ve outlined in this series.
Now owned by Facebook ($1 billion!), Instagram is a platform where people express themselves through images and short video. If it's not beautiful, you shouldn't post it. There are lots of 20-year-old life coaches, but service providers can use hashtags to bring in a substantial amount of leads if the market supports it (Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, you get the idea). Pro Tip: #dogsofseattle. Instagram turned users, and Snapchat, on their heads when they introduced Instagram Stories recently. A simple change like that has an amazing ripple effect and can turn into a tidal wave of potential.
Think text or Facebook Messenger on steroids. I'm actually super excited about this one. While the platform is too new and the population to skewed towards 20-year-olds, the capabilities to interact with other people are pretty slick. I can have a conversation with my wife while in a store and super seamlessly send her short videos and pictures. I'm excited to try this with business coaching. Using Snapchat for lead generation is unlikely at this point but keep an eye on this one, and understand it.
Dubbed ‘the front page of the internet,’ Reddit's ability to draw crowds to individual content is staggering. Reddit users joke that if you found an article on Facebook, you're at least two days behind the curve. No monetization platform. Viral videos and posts are completely by chance. The main reason the Gary Hite video went viral was because it landed on an OCD subreddit and picked up two million views in less than four days.
Continue on to part 4 in our series on social media for service businesses.
This is part 2 in a series on social media for service businesses.
The full series is:
I like to think of all of your media outlets as channels. We have a blog channel, a newsletter channel, a Facebook channel, a Facebook persona channel, a Twitter channel, an Instagram channel, an Instagram stories channel, a LinkedIn channel, bulletin board channels, and direct mail channels (I’m sure I missed a few). Having many different options of distribution allows you to deliver a single piece of content in multiple ways. But it’s the content that’s the hard part.
If you’re going to put this all together, you need to understand that you’re an attention broker. Your job is to capture the attention of your potential market with a GIVE. Give away content that helps them in some way. Do this regularly and they will follow you. The more they engage with you and your message, the more they will see your messages organically. Then, every once in a while, post an ASK. Run an ad. Ask them to fill out a form. Ask them to buy. All of the advertising rules still apply. Present value. Give a call to action. Create a sense of urgency, but it’s the attention you really want. If they’re spending their time with you, they’re essentially a client already, they just haven’t purchased yet. Once you have their attention, you can direct it anywhere you like.
Content is king. Consistent, relevant content is the key to turning social marketing into a serious growth engine. “What have you done for me lately” is the theme of the social internet. Content has a shelf life of about 24 hours. You can reuse quality content, but be careful. Don’t use past posts to fill the gap. Use them to drive value.
There are several different types of content you can use to draw attention.
Sharing content from other sites is a great way to get off the ground without having to invest too much in initial creativity. You would have to filter information you post, as you want your audience to rely on you to provide relevant, quality content to their feeds. Be discerning.
Videos rule. Videos have the highest attention and lowest cost. Shoot quality video. Learn Adobe Premier. Always use good lighting and learn what drives engagement. Be innovative. Try lots of stuff and find a groove. Post videos on both Facebook and YouTube. They are video enemies. Don’t post a video on YouTube and link it to Facebook. If you’re concerned about consolidating your views, you’re going to have to let that go. It’s much more valuable to have your custom content available natively on those platforms.
Memes are popular, easy to share, and allow you to deliver a great one-liner. For cleaning companies, use the same rules as postcards. Pets and kids with a short message is gold. ServiceMonster creates memes and shares them on Facebook so you can use them on your page. Search #stealthismeme on Facebook to grab some.
• Text Post
Text posts can exist only in the world of a personal page or business persona. No one cares when Microsoft or Apple give philosophical insight, but when Gates or Jobs say it, you take notice.
• Blog Link
Regular blog content will help your SEO and get your audience to connect with your business a little deeper than a 50-word Facebook post. There is a lot of information and advice about running a decent blog, but creating the content is why we care about it from a social marketing point of view. It’s original custom content to share, plain and simple.
Ads, ads, let me count the ways. In Facebook alone the ad types are amazing. You can create ads to get likes on your page. You can create ads to make the phone ring. You can create ads to drive traffic to a website. You can create ads to boost a post on a business Page. The list goes on. Facebook has videos and information on all of this stuff. Use it, as it’s changing all the time. Stay sharp when you see a new content type or delivery style. Look into it. Take Facebook carousel ads. Facebook underpriced them to see if the users would accept them. Take advantage of those types of opportunities.
You will often hear reporters saying things like “trending on Twitter.” We base those numbers on conversations which include a common tag in the post. Let’s look at the following post: [Today I’m headed to #theexperience2016]. The hashtag #theexperience2016 is used to express an event that users can click on, and see all the other posts which use the hashtag #theexperience2016. We use a number of hashtags on different platforms such as #servicemonster, #stealthismeme, and #entrejoe. Search those hashtags on any social network and you should pull up content we have posted under those hashtags. Anyone can use them. Instagram and Twitter use them best, but Facebook is catching up.
So Snapchat is ‘new’ according to the media, again. It’s actually not that new, but it’s starting to gain traction now that their daily active users surpass Twitter. Ouch. Here’s the thing about Snapchat. It serves volatile content. That is to say, the content you post there will be deleted shortly after the first view. If you post on you general ‘wall,’ it’s gone in 24 hours. It creates a safe environment to make silliness comfortable, but that’s the point. It also creates a sense of urgency.
Instagram recently introduced Instagram Stories which is also volatile content. Picture and short videos posted to your story will be destroyed in 24 hours. That’s good news for service providers. There are lots of creative ways I can see that working for you.
Understanding how people consume information with today’s internet is critical. In 2000 (only five years after the birth of the internet itself) if you wanted to find something, you used a search engine and searched for it. Chances are pretty good, if you’re reading this, you still consume the internet in much the same way. Understand that social isn’t a tool people use. It’s the way a large number of people consume content.
Advertising hasn’t changed that much since… well, ever. Sure, over the years the delivery methods changed. From wanted posters on a tree, to newspaper, mail, radio, television. Each one of those advertising tools is what the marketing world considers PUSH advertising. A business pushes an ad hoping to intersect with that perfect point where need meets attention. Social has completely changed the game. Now users PULL content to them. By liking, reading, watching, commenting, and subscribing to topics and people of interest, the social internet feeds users with content and ads they care about. It’s a huge marketing shift and one that benefits both the users and the business owners who can leverage it.
Get good gear. A GoPro is $200 and takes great video. The DJI Osmo is an amazing video camera with a built in gimbal, a 35mm 4K lens, and runs around $600. Get a lavalier or two as well. Lavaliers are the little mics that clip to your shirt collar. I would suggest the RØDE smartLav+. In addition, get a good DSLR camera with depth of field. In fact, you should start building a media kit.
Take a look at Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s the entire Adobe suite for $50/month. Then learn Adobe Premier. There are a TON of YouTube videos on these tools and they’re not as intimidating as they may seem.
Continue on to part 3 in our series on social media for service businesses.
Greetings business owners! My name is Joe Kowalski, and I’m the CEO of the CRM ServiceMonster. I’ll start with: I have nothing to sell you in this space. I don’t believe in buying social media maintenance services. We do not offer them. We do all of our own marketing in-house, as I believe you should. Paying a company $400/month to post generic content to your Facebook Page and manage the occasional ad is far less effective than learning how to do it yourself. Notice I did not say “not effective.” A robotic, business-only approach is perfectly acceptable if you’re looking to get EDDM (every door direct mail) and postcard prospecting results.
I spend a lot of time talking to business owners about how to use social media as an effective marketing platform. I hope this series of posts will get you headed in the right direction, and clear up some of the confusion and fear many have. I can’t give you a map; instead, think of it as guide to writing maps. No one has this mastered. No one. It requires constant education, thought, and failure. The platforms are changing all the time. How users adapt is changing all the time. It requires wit, cunning, and a healthy ego to get the results we all want. And like anything else worth doing, it requires persistence. Social media marketing is a constant experiment in social engineering and the only way to win is to play the long game.
As I write this, Facebook is currently the service provider’s best source for monetizing social media. It’s also a great place to learn the basics because you can do so much with it. Your end game is acquiring leads and maintaining relationships with current clients. Your ability to market well on Facebook over the next three years is directly related to how well you understand it. Always be learning, and follow those who do it well (take the hint and follow me to steal all of my chops, live – links at the end). In three years, the window closes forever. It’s only a matter of time before Fortune 500 marketing departments realize their budget is more effective on Facebook and price the rest of us out. The same thing happened to pay-per-click a few years ago. Social marketing is extremely undervalued right now, but like pay-per-click, it won’t stay that way forever. Social media can be the answer to your growth, or the nail in your coffin. You can choose to use it effectively, but even for ‘professionals,’ it's a little bit of both.
Social fear is real. Many people I talk with want to engage in social but are afraid of some potential scenario, afraid of rejection, afraid of looking silly, or afraid of failing. You will fail. Sometimes no one will show up. Then three will. Then 15. Then 26. Yes, maybe someone will be mean. Perhaps someone will leave a negative comment or review. Perhaps someone will just be a downright ass-hat. Remember you can only control your own actions. In business, in marriage, in life. If you handle yourself in a courteous, calm, and helpful manner, even negative comments or downright attacks can be handled with grace. Many times I have found these engagements to be an excellent opportunity. When other rational people see how you handle an irrational situation, they feel they're getting a true sense of who you really are. Authenticity is critical to amazing social media results. Don't be afraid of interaction. Embrace it. Just try not to let it eat at you too much. That's the hard part.
You can practice your social skills, too. Talk to people. I don't mean online. I mean in the grocery store. Engage the clerk or people in line with casual conversation. Project positivity and wit. Try a little bit of charm. You know, like we used to do. Smile more. Here's a dirty little secret: You scale your business using social by engaging one-on-one. It's totally counterintuitive, but that's the social part of social. Realize how much that one ‘like’ really matters.
It’s not easy. It takes a ton of hard work. In the new frontier, business isn't contained between Monday through Friday, 9-5. That's a hard pill for a lot of people to swallow, but you can still have balance. You must use your passions to drive you. If you’re cheering on Friday and bummed on Monday, go get a company to do this for you, because you’re not going to have the drive to do it well.
Social media is the most powerful marketing engine of all time. I suffocate when I think about removing social strategies from our marketing plans. The return on investment (ROI) for service businesses has ventured into the ridiculous, if you’re using it correctly. Most businesses do not. Too many business owners fail to understand how to make this platform work for their business. I still hear a lot of people complaining about how Facebook Pages for business have changed. We've been posting on our business Page since 2010. Of course it's changing. I understand you don't like that you can't reach the audience that likes your Page effectively without throwing down five bucks, but realize the value in the service. Stop bitching and adapt, because the market doesn't care.
In 1995, if you didn’t have a Yellow Page ad, you were all but non-existent. In 2005, if you didn’t have a website and search engine optimization (SEO), you were all but non-existent. In 2010, if you didn’t have a webform, you were leaving money on the table (you have a webform right?). And in 2020, if you don’t have a Facebook Page, you will soon be all but non-existent. You’re asking a lot out of your clients if you’re not at the party.
More and more people are using social to decide where to spend their money. It makes sense. 100 years ago, referrals were the driving force behind every business, 50 years ago, referrals were the driving force behind every business, and today, referrals are the driving force behind every business. People just happen to refer business to their friends via Facebook. Local Facebook groups are pushing leads to businesses they enjoy working with.
Business is a game of people. Of relationships. You make your money by selling solutions to problems. No amount of marketing is going to make someone with clean carpets get carpet cleaning. That's why prospecting is so hard. You are hoping that some random chance will cause a client who has a problem to find you through a radio ad, a postcard, or a door hanger.
We all know the best leads come from referrals. We also know that our best clients are repeat clients. Repeat business has higher margins. Plain and simple. What makes referrals and repeat clients so much better than a cold lead? The relationship. You can actually establish that relationship in advance. That's smart prospecting.
How much would you pay, to get in a room, in front of one thousand perfect potential clients? How much value is in the ability to talk with them, engage with them, present your goods and wares and your personality, your brand? Would you take a plane flight? Get a hotel room? Take a couple days away from the family and the business? Of course you would.
Do you ever think about TV and radio and lament on the reach that they present, and your lack of resources to reach that audience? Then understand that social media presents the most effective, lowest cost, and best targeted opportunity in human history. You are in front of your perfect clients on a daily basis. The effectiveness of television at a fraction of the cost. Sold? Yeah, me too. Moving on.
Continue on to part 2 in our series on social media for service businesses.
The full series of social media tips for service businesses is:
3. Social Platforms Overview
4. 7 Social Strategies
5. Using Facebook
6. Case Studies
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are numbers you can use to make smarter business decisions. With KPIs, you can flag areas of growth potential, fix issues before they become problems, and generally gain a greater level of insight into your business.
KPIs are important with or without ServiceMonster. While the ServiceMonster dashboards give you instant, real-time results, complete all of your calculations and comparisons for you, and offer an elegant carousel view, you don’t need ServiceMonster to measure and understand your KPIs. You can get these numbers from a stack of invoices, a calculator, and a few days to kill. But make no mistake, they are that important.
Let’s break down each of the nine KPIs we have identified as the most critical to any service company. Although ServiceMonster gives you much more data than what we’ll explain here, these KPIs should be numbers you know off the top of your head. These nine are the most important.
Most of these figures are focused on residential floor cleaning and related services, with some commercial data thrown in. Many of these figures are simply universal truths. The target rates are the results of 15 years of data analysis within our industry. In 2015, ServiceMonster processed over $345,000,000 in cleaning and restoration invoices in the United States alone. That gives us the largest analytical data engine in the industry. By a lot.
Numbers and Comparisons
Understanding and monitoring a KPI is the first step towards real change. Simply watching a KPI will improve it! Being able to understand the differences in the last 30 days, the last month, the last quarter, and the last years’ worth of data for a given KPI can uncover trends that you never knew were there.
In addition to the KPI itself, you can also look at changes to your KPI over time. Comparing last month with the same month last year can show you if you’re up or down, and by what percentage. We say that business moves fast, and while that’s certainly true, it’s not real-time. It can take 18 months to see the cause and effect from changes you’ve made to your business. Running comparative KPIs can give you true clarity on the direct effect of everything you do!
1) Repeat Rate
What is repeat rate?
Your repeat rate is the percent of clients who have used your services more than once in a given period. Repeat rate is the most important KPI you have, and it will take a few other KPIs to calculate it correctly. Believe it or not, a fair number of service businesses calculate their repeat rate incorrectly. With this in mind, part of our training process includes an in-depth look at your marketing efforts, and one of the items we focus on is repeat rate.
The incorrect calculation
Most of our clients will calculate their repeat rate like this: Take the number of customers you serviced this month (c). Then find how many of them used you more than once (r).
(r/c) x 100 = repeat rate %
The correct calculation
Take the number of residential clients you have serviced in the last two years (C), then find how many of them used you more than once (R).
(R/C) x 100 = Repeat Rate %
The main problem with the incorrect calculation is the length of time sampled. The rate can vary widely depending on how successful or unsuccessful your prospecting efforts are. The two-year timeline in the formula represents your true number of active clients. ServiceMonster research shows that getting a client to return after two years has roughly the same cost as obtaining a new client.
Why should you track repeat rate?
Your repeat rate is often an indication of the experience you give your client, combined with your proficiency at maintaining a consistent client retention program. Your repeat rate is the most important KPI you have. If you track nothing else, track your repeat rate. You work hard to attract new business! In fact, our data shows that it costs around $82 per prospect to get in their home. Compare that to an average of $15 per client, and you can see – the difference is all profit. Your margins on repeat business are much higher.
In addition, your total marketable base will grow much faster with a compounding client base. Take this example: Company A and Company B are cleaning companies. They both pull in 20 new customers a month and have an average invoice of $250. Company A has a repeat rate of 25% and Company B has a repeat rate of 60%. The only difference is that Company B has a strong client retention program. In just three years, Company A has a customer base of 640 clients, earning a total of $80,000 per year in revenue. Company B, however, (the one you want to be), has accumulated 1,200 clients, and brings in $150,000 per year.
In addition to the increase in base revenue, you will also reduce your expenses. Keeping your name in front of your existing client is far less expensive than trying to get a new customer. Not to mention, your cross-sale potential radically increases if your current clients are aware of ALL the products and services you offer.
Repeat rate targets
Your repeat rate should be above 50%, otherwise attrition will limit both your business growth and the horsepower you need to build your empire.
Improving repeat rate
Working to improve your repeat rate should be your number one goal at all times. What good is driving new business if you’re losing them on the backside? Focusing on the lower margin sale is a good way to grind your exciting business into just another job. There are many ways to help ensure you have a good chance at new work from an old client: Show up on time. Be well groomed. Be professional. Listen to your client. Set proper expectations. Work hard. Do a good job. Give the client an unforgettable experience. You might be surprised at how much room for improvement there is in these areas! Fix those first.
After you’re sure you have the basics covered, create a client retention program. You can use the do-it-yourself marketing features in ServiceMonster to create direct mail, call, and email campaigns. Build a few years’ worth of content at once, then build a drip campaign which will generate your materials and lists, or send the emails at timed intervals. Optionally, you could also use our FillMySchedule (FMS) system, where we do high-quality direct mail for you, automatically (content and all!). FMS is a proven tool with a national average of 800% return on investment (ROI), and is a great way to get your client retention program up and running quickly.
2) Total Market Potential
What is total market potential?
Your total market potential is not strictly a KPI, but it’s a number you should know and understand. It represents the total number of potential clients in your area (but it’s not population). It’s also called your core demographic. If you’re focused on the value client in California, for example, you would target 25- to 55-year-old home-owning females with kids and/or pets, with home values above $350,000. You can use the free tools from InfoUSA to target your area and service distance. That will give you a nice target number. Tattoo that number to your forehead: the maximum size of your business depends on it.
3) Total Marketable Base
What is total marketable base?
Your total marketable base is the number of active clients in your database that have used your services in the last two years. You can increase that to four years if your services are strictly maintenance-based, like tile cleaning or air duct cleaning. A company that deals solely with restoration has no “marketable base,” because you can’t convince people to have another flood just so you can come clean it up for them. You will use your total marketable base when calculating your repeat rate.
Why should you track total marketable base?
Assuming that you know your total market potential, understanding how much of that market is yours gives you incredible insight. What’s your potential market share? What’s your maximum earning potential? How will you scale? You also need to track marketable base because you won’t know your repeat rate without it.
Marketable base targets
We have seen some interesting trends with marketable base and residential clients. Let’s assume your market potential is around 100,000 people. When your total marketable base hits 1% (1,000 clients), your referral rates start to climb… especially if you’re asking for them. When you hit 10% (10,000 clients), your referrals are so strong that you may forgo prospecting altogether. Not that we’re advising that.
Improving your total marketable base
To improve your total marketable base, you will need to implement strategies for improving both your repeat rate and your sales pipeline.
4) Average Invoice
What is average invoice?
Your average invoice is a calculation of the sum invoice subtotals over a period of time. You want to break it up by order type (carpet cleaning vs. restoration work), but other than that, it’s pretty straight-forward.
Why should you track average invoice?
There are two important reasons to track average invoice. The first has to do with your repeat rate. Understanding your average invoice gives you the power to influence it over time. See if you can change the numbers by targeting higher-end clients, or by adding new products or services. Raising prices will quickly increase your average, but will that affect your total marketable base? Will your new leads slow down? Knowing these comparisons in real-time gives you the ability to make quick course corrections and stay ahead of trouble.
The second reason to track your average invoice is because it can greatly affect your repeat rate.
Average invoice targets
Residential carpet cleaning invoice averages are around $245 nationwide. That also happens to be the sweet spot for getting a great repeat rate. Invoice averages under $200 typically attract price shoppers who have little loyalty when it comes to service providers. Invoice averages of over $350 are in real danger of creating sticker shock, drastically reducing your repeat potential. Managing expectations is tough for even the best cleaners.
Improving your average invoice
Improve your average invoice by focusing on incremental price increases, offering additional products and services, and working to boost your upsell numbers. Use ServiceMonster service items to increase the likelihood of an upsell to an existing client by over 30%! Use the income by service report to find out which of your services are selling, which ones need more attention in your marketing message, and what new services are working in your area. Track your upsells with the order upsell and commission features.
5) Income by Service
What is income by service?
This KPI is a very common accounting report. It breaks down your income by the services you provide, and it’s hard to put together without accounts receivable features like ServiceMonster’s invoices, line items, and service list.
Why should you track income by service?
Knowing what your clients are buying, and when, can be very insightful when trying to offer additional products and services. We once had a client who was, shall we say, “manly.” In our first conversation, he mentioned that he wouldn’t clean upholstery. When asked why, he said, “Oh I sell it. But that’s women’s work, so my wife does it.” Months later, we noticed that upholstery services represented over 25% of his income. We told him that his wife needed a big raise! His reply, “After I found out how much upholstery work there is, I’ve been doing upholstery too.” His market was perfect for upholstery cleaning, but he never realized it until he saw the KPI.
Income by service targets
Target making the largest slice of the chart under 50%. Stable companies usually have three or four main services, and a small market in additional work. Ideally, you would have three services at 30%, and the remaining 10% in “other” services.
Improving your income by service
Adding additional services is as easy as visiting your local distributor and shelling out some cash, but deciding what new services to offer varies based on your area. Getting that tile and grout wand won’t do much good in a community with little tile. Listen to your clients! What services are they asking you for? Let your market help you decided what to add.
Secondly, sell them! Service providers are inherently bad at two things. (1) Maintaining a consistent client retention strategy, and (2) Letting clients know about ALL of the products and services they offer. Customers can’t buy it if they aren’t aware of it! Update your marketing materials, your website, and your business cards. Before each job, talk with the client about what you have to offer. Part of the reason you want to expand into other services is to keep your client, YOUR client. There are other service providers out there that Mrs. Jones can use to get ALL of her cleaning done, but we don’t want her to use other service providers. We want her to stick with you!
6) Clients by Lead Source
What is clients by lead source?
Clients by lead source helps you to identify which of your marketing campaigns are winning you business. ServiceMonster allows you to identify, using lead sources, which specific marketing campaign or client (referral) brought he new account to your company. We track lead sources for both the account and the order. This is a very important difference, because it identifies two important data points: (1) Which campaigns are working to gain you new clients, and (2) Which campaigns are working to bring existing clients back to you. We see too many data imports where the current account lead source is set to “Repeat.” Not only does that hide the actual result of what brought them back, but it REMOVES THE ORIGINAL lead source value, destroying your ability to see which campaigns are working over time!
Why should you track clients by lead source?
Knowing your response rates, close rates, and ROI for a given campaign will help to maximize your marketing dollar. Ideally, 30% of your gross income should be going back into marketing (we’re not there yet either). Imagine if you were averaging 400%+ ROI on your campaigns over a 90-day period. You would essentially turn your company into a cash machine, only reaching a peak due to your total market potential. That’s a very compelling reason to track your lead sources.
Clients by lead source targets
By breaking up your campaigns into prospecting and client retention, you’re able to set your targets with more accuracy. As a rule, your client retention responses and ROI will be much higher than general prospecting campaigns. If your client retention is very strong and your repeat rate is well above 50%, your prospecting ROI could even be negative and your business would still grow. Ideally, your total average prospecting ROI will be above 100%, and your total average client retention ROI will be above 400%.
How to improve your clients by lead source
Every guru has a magic pill. A silver bullet. But in reality, there is no such thing. Positive prospect marketing ROI comes from hard work, trial and error, and understanding your core demographics.
You can improve your results by running A/B campaigns. Break your list into two equal, but random, parts. Use a separate message and imagery on each one. Track the one that has the best responses, and use that as the A campaign next time. Then create a new B to battle against. By using an A/B campaign, you will slowly increase your response rate by leveraging content and language that speaks to your clients.
Try not to limit your prospecting to one single campaign. Sure, it may have the best “numbers,” but a single source will only produce a high volume of leads for a short time. Diversify. Keep marketing on several channels at once: direct mail, email, Facebook… you get the idea.
For client retention programs, you can influence your response rates by a few percentage points, but the biggest way to improve these numbers is by simply running consistent campaigns.
7) Average Job Time by Order Group
What is average job time by order group?
The average job time by order group takes the total man-hours for each job, for each type of work you do (cleaning, restoration, etc.) and averages the total for the time period. It can be broken down by employees as well, so you can compare each employee to the company average. We only focus on the job type, work (not estimates), drop-offs, pick-ups, or reworks.
Why should you track average job time by order group?
Tracking your job times can help identify your margins. We’ve had clients that feel they are profitable, but the data tells them another story. Understanding your average job time can also help you plan your workload better.
Average job time by order group targets
Looking at employee job averages can give you insight as to which of your employees are excelling and which ones are a drain on the company (and you!). Longer job times aren’t necessarily a bad thing if the employee is upselling well. Taking order totals into account will give you an average revenue for each employee.
Average job time by order group targets
Use ServiceMonster Mobile for automated employee check-in and check-out. One way to get more out of each employee is to limit their downtime. Wait list, job work logs, and commissions can all be used to effectively establish company policies. Create a commission program where your techs get more for upsells. Educate them on giving value to the client as opposed to taking a sales approach.
Get the employees involved. ServiceMonster leader boards can be a powerful tool you can use to offer rewards to high earners. Quick and efficient employees, with low rework scores, will have good averages even if they aren’t upselling. More deliberate techs with better people skills can push good numbers by offering all of your services, and landing add-ons. Techs with poor performance can be retrained, repurposed, or replaced before they poison the well.
8) Sales Pipeline
What is sales pipeline?
Your sales pipeline shows you how many new leads, opportunities, and invoices you have received and converted in a given period. If you work sales opportunities over multiple touches and through different stages, then your sales pipeline will show you what percentage of leads convert to opportunities and how many of those opportunities convert into sales.
Why should you track your sales pipeline?
Getting the information sooner rather than later that your leads are depressed gives you time to adjust. Knowing that your conversion rates are high might tell you that new message and language you’re using is working. Tracking your sales pipeline can provide clarity on how you and your staff are dealing with the influx from the marketing you’ve been doing. If your leads are up and your conversions are down, perhaps you’re targeting the wrong base, or your message is establishing improper expectations. Either way, data gives you the power to make changes and see how those changes affect your bottom line.
Sales pipeline targets
10%+ of your leads will be spam from bots and price shoppers who provide junk data. From your qualified leads, you should be closing well over 50%, no matter what services you provide. As a service provider, just answering the phone and showing up will land you more jobs and earn great clients! Most of your competitors have a hard time with those two simple things. Past that, your challenge is to beat your own numbers.
How to improve your sales pipeline
Implement some sales commissions. Train and retrain. Then monitor sales activities (especially your own!). Record phone conversations here and there, and listen to them. Talk about the recorded conversations. Then train again.
Do what you say you’re going to do. If you say you’re going to send an email or call a client back, don’t drop the ball. Track sales efforts and tasks with opportunities and activities. Create drip campaigns to automate basic communications and offers. Send potentially large clients a thank you card. Above all, set yourself up to stay on top of your leads and reach out to them as soon as possible.
What is churn?
Churn is not typically found as a KPI in service companies, but we think that all businesses in this industry should at least understand it. ServiceMonster is a SaaS (Software as a Service) company. Repeat business is a critical part of our business model. You pay monthly to use ServiceMonster, but you can cancel at any time. The clients that we lose from cancellations, or simply because they couldn’t pay, go into a calculation called churn. It measures the percent of clients lost over time.
Why should you track churn?
There are two client programs that make churn relevant in a service business: (1) Recurring commercial work, and (2) A SaaS-style residential program, like ServiceMonster account subscriptions, where you charge the client monthly for regular automated services. Tracking churn against these cohorts makes a lot of sense. As you onboard new clients, you will notice a shift in your receivables (if you can pull it off). Your income will stabilize throughout the year, and your repeat rates will climb. Churn is almost the opposite of repeat rate: a SaaS-style approach assumes that you will keep the client, while the standard service approach is trying desperately to bring them back.
As this represents a very small (but growing) income for the industry, we don’t have good a churn rate to give you. As a SaaS company, we try to stay below 12% annually. That means our repeat rate, month after month, is 99%. Chew on that for a minute.
How to improve churnWe know how we improve churn at ServiceMonster. We use education and contact strategies for customers’ first 90 days. In your business, let’s just get a SaaS-style service to market, shall we?
ServiceMonster is full of KPIs. The ones mentioned above are the heavy hitters, but there are still many more that serve to enlighten your business decisions and help keep you on track. Keep your finger on the pulse of your business 24/7, with the help of ServiceMonster!
What is the perfect recipe for making a video go viral?
It has to be easily accessible (embedded into a Facebook post, ideally), and it has to be worthwhile to share (the reasoning behind which varies widely). It definitely has to be eye-catching and enjoyable for people to watch. It also needs to be short -- people have brief attention spans these days, and they won't stick around for a drawn-out video. High quality images and audio make your video easier to watch. It also couldn't hurt to draft up a marketing plan to go along with your video to encourage its virality.
...However, none of these things are a guarantee. You could follow the guidelines to a T and still not see your video gain much traction. Such is life on the fickle internet.
But, sometimes... like in the case of The Dirt Army Carpet & Tile Cleaning Services, you post a video with very humble (if any!) goals, and watch in disbelief as the views and shares soar.
We recently had the opportunity to interview ServiceMonster customer Gary Hite with The Dirt Army, who is currently experiencing this phenomena.
Chances are you've seen their latest video.
It contains fairly straight-forward subject matter: grout cleaning. However, they've seemed to hit a niche just right. There are a ridiculous number of 'satisfaction'/'perfection' videos on YouTube, many that include cleaning, organization, and an assortment of 'gross' topics like ear wax removal and pimple popping. There is even a subreddit titled Oddly Satisfying (The Dirt Army's video was reposted there, of course.). Many people find these videos gratifying to watch, in an 'OCD' kind of way.
Currently sitting at roughly 5,900,000 views and 70,000 shares, The Dirt Army's video landed on the first page of Reddit and completely blew Gary's initial expectations out of the water.
Check out the interview with Gary below to learn about his thought process behind the video, how it's affected his business, and more!
We have been in business since 2008. I did it part time for two years, then took one year off. In 2011 I started cleaning full time. We service the Temecula Valley area in Southern California.
I've been making cleaning videos for five years. It seems like each time they get a little bit better. My goal was to sell more tile jobs in Temecula and the surrounding cities. Now, people from all over the world want me to clean their tile! We average 170 calls, 200 direct messages, and 75 emails a day asking us if we have a franchise in their city, or if we can recommend a local cleaner with similar equipment.
I cleaned this tile using my brand new Prochem Everest HP with e-idel. The tile cleaning tool is the Turbo Hybrid Grout Cleaning Tool 12" from Cobb Supply (they are the only supply store that can get this tool in green! It typically comes in blue, but Dirt Army green is the best.). The cleaning product is called Grout War from Army Chemical.
I used a GoPro.
I used Windows Movie Maker. It's the easiest software to use.
I published the video at 8:00 pm Pacific on July 26th.
I uploaded the video to YouTube and Facebook.
Yes. I boosted the post to people who like The Dirt Army Facebook Page, and their friends. I targeted locations in and around our local Southern California area, including Canyon Lake, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Murrieta, Temecula, Wildomar, and Winchester. I selected ages 32-65+.
I hired a woman to answer phones the night before this video was published. The next day, she mentioned that I got "the strangest phone calls." Later when talking to her, she said that most of the calls came in from Florida. That afternoon, when looking at the 60,000 view count, I said to myself, "this is going to be viral."
My website visits are up 3,600%! Our Facebook Page has gotten 42,000 new likes in seven days, which is an increase of 39,803%. I just bought the domain dirtarmyleads.com, and we will have a full staff selling leads that come in to cleaners around the nation. Army Chemical is a product line that I started three months ago, and we now sell Grout War, Odor War, and Stain War. I know 100% that millions of dollars will be made from this 1:30 minute cleaning video. My life will never be the same. I'm excited and scared at the same time.
I would have included my Grout War tile cleaner in this video (pouring the product into our pump-up sprayer).
On Tuesday, we submitted the video to CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX.
Hype die down? NEVER! I will be making new videos each week that will include our products. For a fee, I will select cleaning tools from our industry.
Definitely. Other cleaners are sharing this video to their company pages, stating that they can achieve similar results.
Ryan Kettering with Prolific Prints saved us! He shut down their entire printing and graphics art shop so they could work on building me three websites in six hours. The team also designed three labels for my chemical line, Army Chemical, that same day. It only took them six hours to complete my order. Who knew you could rent out an entire graphics studio?
We are currently looking for serious investors, because a Dirt Army franchise is coming soon. I'm hiring a professional that has franchised other businesses to completely take care of this for me. I feel like I am the busiest person in the world right now. The power of social media is insane! And this is just the beginning.
Thank you for taking time out of your chaotic day to answer our questions, Gary!
Gary spoke with ServiceMonster CEO, Joe, on the phone a few days after the video went live. After discussing all the new business the video has brought in, Gary admitted one regret: "I wish I had started using ServiceMonster sooner!" (No worries, Gary. We'll get you up to speed in no time!)
Check out The Dirt Army's website for more information about the company. You can also find them on Facebook.
Prospects turn into leads and leads turn into sales, which means that without prospects, it’s hard for your business to grow. For prospecting to be effective, it should be done on a regular basis (ideally daily!), and it can require a bit of research. Equally as important as prospecting every day is making sure that you’re targeting people who are already likely to use your services. This way you’ll be getting the most bang for your buck, so to speak, and maximizing your time.
However, how do you build a list with those constraints? You not only have to prospect all the time, but you also have to vet people, too?
It can seem overwhelming at first. With this in mind, we’ve brainstormed nine ways you can get started finding prospects that will be the most likely to buy.
Encouraging referrals is a good way to elicit customers that meet your standards, because clients that are referred from existing customers tend to be good overall fits for your business. When you receive a referral, be sure to thank your referral source and follow up with the referral as soon as you can.
1. After completing a job, send the customer a thank you card to let them know that you appreciate their business. To add referral potential, include a refer-a-friend deal. Something along the lines of, “If you loved the cleaning we provided you, share it! If you and a friend schedule a service within the next three months, both of you will receive 20% off our regular prices.”
2. If you use the FillMySchedule program, ask about Bottomless Business Cards. We’ll print up to three business-card-size inserts (per card) for you, for only $.28 per FMS card. Include your refer-a-friend deal on each insert, so your customers can hand out your information (and a great discount!) to three of their friends or neighbors.
3. If you get leads from a service like HomeAdvisor or Angie’s List, take the email addresses you receive (as long as they are genuine), along with names, and create a new account in ServiceMonster for each lead, marking their account type as prospect. In the future you can use the DIY Marketing tools in ServiceMonster to pull the list of all your prospects and market to them specifically.
4. Team up with a local real estate agent, contractor, or another individual or company in your town that sells something that would complement your services. If you partner with a high-volume realtor, for example, they could potentially send you a large number of their own clients who recently bought or sold homes that need cleaning.
Neighbors pay attention when the house down the street has some work done, so use this to your advantage!
5. Target the neighbors around a job you recently completed by mailing out a postcard to those households. On the postcard, include something like, “We just did work at your neighbor’s house,” include your customers’ address or their last name for reference, and encourage the recipient to ask their neighbor how you did.
6. Be sure to always carry your business cards on you. After completing a job, leave your cards on the doorstep of the surrounding houses.
Name recognition is an essential part of marketing your business – people have to hear about you before they can consider hiring you!
7. Get involved in your local community by sponsoring events, participating in local groups and activities, posting your business card on local bulletin boards, and doing anything else you can think of that gets your business in front of people in a positive way.
8. Stay active on social media. Building momentum on social media can be a slow process, but if you post relevant content regularly, you can expect your follower count to grow. Social media provides the perfect platform for interacting and developing rapport between you and potential prospects, and it’s another way for them to contact you for more information or to schedule a cleaning! Be careful not to spread yourself too thin, though – especially if you’re just starting out on social media. Choose one or two platforms where your customers seem to hang out the most (Facebook and Twitter, for instance), and post on a consistent basis. Offer sales and/or contests occasionally to give people more of an incentive to schedule a cleaning.
It’s much cheaper to retain current customers than to go out and find new ones.
9. Focus on keeping the ones you’ve got! ServiceMonster’s FillMySchedule program helps you do just that, by encouraging repeat business through the use of high-quality direct mail cards. The program starts off with a thank you card, mailed to the customer after you finish a job for them. Then, every three months after that, FillMySchedule follows up with a specially-crafted message to remind them how long it’s been since their last cleaning, that you’re available to help, and that you offer other services that might interest them.
If you’re interested in growing your business, it’s important to get in the routine of prospecting on a regular basis. Try one, two, or a combination of these suggestions, and be sure to mix it up every now and then to ensure you’re covering all your bases. The more active you are at prospecting, the more memorable your business will be for a greater number of people, and the higher-quality the leads you bring in will be. Now get out there and start building your prospect list!
Carpet can be beautiful. It has the potential to add warmth to a space to make it feel more inviting, and it can enhance a room or act as a focal point in a building.
Other times, however, carpet can be downright ugly. Be it due to poor taste or more diabolical purposes, ugly carpet is everywhere. We decided to gather together some of the very worst that we’ve come across online. We don’t blame you if you avert your eyes… but if you’re brave enough, let’s gets started! In no particular order…
1. Singapore Changi Airport (Singapore)
Carpet designer 1: “Should we make this one brown, or yellow? Should we include circles or lines or rectangles?” + Carpet designer 2: “ALL OF THE ABOVE!”
2. Portland International Airport
This carpet has grown a cult following (it has its own Facebook Page… and Twitter account), but we don’t really understand the appeal, to be quite honest.
3. Bellagio (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Have you ever looked at a stereogram before? They’re images that look like patterns at first glance, but hide 3D images when stared at for a period of time. I think there’s a 3D image in this carpet.
4. Phoenix, Arizona home
This could have just been hideous, plain turquoise carpet. But no. They had to go and spill their coffee all over it…
5. Harrah’s (Las Vegas, Nevada)
They might be trying to channel the sky portion of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings with this carpet. Except very poorly and in shades of red instead of blue.
6. Phoenix, Arizona home
This pattern might not be too painful as a rug. A small rug.
7. Seattle, Washington movie theater
I wonder what color this carpet REALLY is – under all the layers of spilled soda, popcorn butter, and dirt…
8. Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center (Nashville, Tennessee)
The good news: If you spill the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup you’re eating, no problem – it will blend right in! The bad news: No one will ever want to visit your convention center (let alone eat in it), due to the carpet choice.
9. Sun City West, Arizona home
If you’re in the mood for a picnic, we know a great spot! Right on the grass in this livin—wait a second. Grass doesn’t grow in living rooms…
Last but not least, our personal favorite…
10. Peppermill Fireside Lounge (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Having planets in the sky just doesn’t cut it these days. We need them on the floor, too. And throw in some rainbows and comets while you’re at it!
So, I think we’ve learned a valuable lesson here, folks: Never trust the interior decorating opinions of people who pick out the carpets for airports, casinos, movie theaters, and convention centers!