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Competition in cleaning industry

11 Nov 2015

Competition in cleaning industry

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I often receive these comments:

  • “How do you compete in an industry that has so many established companies?
  • “How do you compete when it’s littered with people who start a cleaning company due to low barriers of entry?”
  • “How do you differentiate when all customers care about is the bottom line?”

Allow me to offer an idea or two and let’s take these questions one-at-a-time.

How do you compete with so many existing companies?

Accept that you’ll always have competition. This industry has many companies that do things correctly: They carry liability and umbrella insurance; Workers compensation; Payroll through a professional provider; And pay their taxes. We also need to understand there many more companies that do not do these things. So, educate your clients to understand that because you address your business seriously and handle it in a legally responsible manner, it demonstrates that you’re in business for the long haul. Companies typically paying people under the table or not carrying the required insurances are rarely available when the client has a problem or reporting-need. Many prospects and clients have told me they are looking for long lasting relationships because changing janitorial firms can be exhausting and constant turnover within other janitorial companies create hardships in their own business. 

How do you compete with low-cost start-up companies?

“Cheap” cleaners can be a nuisance to those with more skin-in-the-game. Because every client has a budget, some will be tempted by the low-cost-provider.

If these customers are truly a good fit for you, stay on top of your game: Training front line employees is a key; Ensuring your employees and customers understand the Right To Know Laws, OSHA requirements, MSDS, proper standard operating procedures; Access to continued education and cleaning certifications can be huge ways of standing out from your competition (especially the “trunk-slammers”). You can become the company that all of your competitors are chasing because you are the best at what you do, with a very defined target market. And speaking of “defining…”

How do you differentiate?

Often companies think that “everyone” is their client. This belief will only cause you to be spread too thin to successfully reach the clients you best suited to you. First, define and focus your company by identifying your best-current clients. Gather as much information about them and their industry as possible; Are they medical, automotive, manufacturing, or another industry? If its one of these industries, get even more specific. What type of medical? Doctors office; Hospital; Dental…

As you can see, with even these few examples, different types of training and equipment are necessary and depending on the size of the client’s facility the sash outlay for equipment and materials can differ greatly. Upon recent completion of a project spec, it was determined that this new client required an equipment purchase of nearly $225,000.00 to start the job. For some, that may be a great opportunity, but how many of you are in the position to outlay that kind of money to start a job?

I wish you all the very best of luck!


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