The Marketing Handbook for Starting or Developing your Cleaning Business

Looking to grow your cleaning business or just starting a cleaning business? You're in the right place to learn all of the best industry marketing secrets that will take your cleaning business to new highs! We use the latest marketing research to bring you this comprehensive guide to marketing your cleaning business, whether residential or commercial, that provides both online and offline strategies that business owners should be paying attention to.  

While a certain amount of growth can come from word of mouth referrals based on quality work, it’s still critical to pay attention to physical and digital marketing resources that can further boost your cleaning business. Even if you already have too much work, this guide can help. This blog provides enough insight into marketing to gain a strong foundation in the subject so that you can keep focusing on the day to day operations that make your clients homes shine.  This guide does not include  specific marketing templates, but does provide the steps for tactics like tutorials you can use to grow your marketing presence.

The basics: Every customer should be treated like family.

To start, it is important to focus not only on how to find new customers but how to make the most of customers you already have or will have. This can serve as part of the foundation for your business plan for your cleaning services. No client wants to feel like just another number in your contacts, so it’s important to develop good relationships with your clients and to make sure they know that their business is important to you. This is true not only for doing the right thing as a business owner, especially a small business owner, but also to ensure you are not missing out on potential "Lifetime value" of your clients.

Let's look at an example cleaning business that generated 50 new customers last year.

  • Each customer spent on average $1500 with the business (some lots less and some lots more)
  • The average customer will stay with you (if you're doing a good job) for 5+ years (let's assume 5)
  • The lifetime value of a customer (5 years x $1500/year) is $7500 or future lifetime value (if have been with you for 1 year) is (4 years x $1500year) is $6000
  • Therefore 50 new customers are worth $375,000 in future income (50 customers x $7500 future value)

Why do we start with this lesson? The reason is so that you remember the importance of not only closing the first job with a customer, but how critical customer relationships are. In today's competitive age, it is no longer just who does quality work, but also who makes the customer feel like a priority.

Let's imagine the scenario in which you have 10 unhappy customers that you gave a full refund to on a $500 job because something went wrong. Assuming that 50% of those customers come back vs. 0% if you didn't give a refund you will make an incremental $25,000 than if you didn't make a refund (5 customers *$6000 for 4 future years of work - 10 customers *$500 per job). Now, this advice is not  to recommend that you must give full refunds to customers when something goes wrong, but it shows that the upfront cost in building a relationship can be worth it in the long run if you can afford the cash flow.

Before you can focus on growing your cleaning business, you must first have the foundation in place. You wouldn't try to build a house on top of a swamp without any foundation. That's what it's like attempting to grow your business with designs you tried to draw yourself. Let's face it 99.9% of us cleaners are great in the field and not in branding design.

Where to get started: branding and set up

The top 4 things you can do to build a reputable brand as a cleaning business are below. These actions cost relatively little compared to the benefit that they will bring. Note that this is with regards to marketing and not the foundations of getting the proper business licenses, forming an llc as part of a sole proprietorship or a corporation, setting up a business bank account, getting the right business insurance or even the right cleaning equipment, etc.

1. Get a memorable logo professionally designed

A logo that is professionally designed not only builds trust, but also will add to your brand recognition and will help you get into target markets.

How to:

  • Work with freelancers to generate your logo using a service 99designs (a base package should cost ~$300) or a service like Fiverr.
  • If you would prefer to work with a company rather than a freelancer, the ProPhone team is always ready to help as part of their custom design package.
Source: Lucy’s Gleaming Cleaning Services

2. Get a professional website

A website helps to build your online presence (we will cover this from a marketing standpoint below), but also makes your brand seem more reputable to customers. Having a custom website can help you to showcase your best work, answer customer FAQs, develop customer trust, and attract new customers. Even if you have plenty of customers already, a website is still an essential business tool to keep you at the top of your game. (read more here).

How to/ tools available:

  • If you have a few hours to spend and are familiar with design, You can utilize tools like Wix or SquareSpace to try to make your own site- be prepared to spend several hours formatting the site and deciding on the content you'd like.
  • If you want a website that is both affordable and unique, you can work with a service like ProSite by ProPhone to have a custom website designed within 1 day tailored to your business. This is a great middle ground option if you want a professionally designed site but don't want to spend several hundred to thousands of dollars on an individual developer
  • Work with a full service marketing agency or individual freelance developer to make a highly customized website (at a much higher price point - several hundred to thousands of dollars)

If you are still unsure about how to create a website you can learn more here.

3. Paint or wrap your vehicles

Your vehicles will be one of your primary marketing assets! It's like a billboard you don't have to pay any additional fee for! When your vehicle is parked at your customer's homes, it becomes instant advertising to neighbors or even just other homeowners driving on the highway. A simple magnetic sign of your commercial cleaning business logo is the perfect solution if you cannot afford a full wrap.

What to do: Make sure to include

  • Company name, phone number and website
  • Company colors
  • Something memorable that makes you stand out

Example wrap to not to pick as the company info is too small on the side of the truck.

4. Get swag (t-shirts) for your team

Providing t-shirts to your team will not only keep your crew happy, but provides additional “free” marketing for your business.

How to/ tools available:

  • Use a custom swag company to get t-shirt or other merchandize - SubEffects

Good old fashioned physical marketing tactics

According to International News Media Association, 82% of consumers report that they trust print ads. In a digital age, consumers are frustrated with scams just like cleaning professionals are! Most scams do not occur through print ads so consumers tend to trust them. Thus, this section provides some more tactics beyond social media marketing, instagram and other online channels. Additionally, the average individual is cluttered with about 121 emails per day, so standing out is much more attainable in physical form. As you might imagine, most people are not thinking about window cleaning, baseboards, or bathroom cabinets that need cleaning on a daily basis. Therefore, physical promotional content can help to remind them of  the importance of taking care of these personal assets.

Lawn Signs, Flyers and Door Hangers

What to do:

  • Ensure your website URL and phone number are listed correctly (for Door Hangers you can put a QR code for your website)
  • Ask customers you are the closest with if they would be willing to put a sign in their yard (remember how much good client relationships matter!). You can offer a discount in exchange - ask enough and some will take you up on it!
  • Create a marketing plan for your cleaning business to post the signs, flyers and door hangers. By making a schedule it will ensure that you maintain your physical presence on a daily basis.

How to:

Direct Mail

While you may assume that direct mail campaigns are a thing of the past, they can be effective for cleaning marketing if targeted and designed correctly. A direct mail campaign can cost between 30 cents and $10 dollars per recipient and these costs can fluctuate depending on the medium, design costs, distribution, and so on. An example from Inkit, a direct mail campaign sending postcards to 1,000 recipients can cost about $1,150 ($1.15 per recipient).

What to do:

  • Ensure that your graphic has a consumer benefit to drive interest (think discount codes), have an illustration that allows the homeowners to quickly identify your product or service, and advertise a broad variety of offers.
  • Make sure the timing of your campaign is during the right time of year. Have you noticed that people often utilize your cleaning services before their family arrives for the winter holidays? Think of sending out advertising materials before the start of this season, but not too far in advance.

Tools to use:



Word of mouth and referral marketing is still your pal

Word of mouth growth is not only "free" but also a sign that customers love your cleaning services. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people that they know. As proven by Referral Rock, more than 61% of consumers have referred a local business to another person. It is important that you don't sit back and expect referrals to work without any encouragement from your end. If you want referrals, you need to ask for them and make it easy for the customer to help you.

How do you get more referrals:

  • Stay in touch with past customers and thank them for their business. Think of occasions that you can reach back out such as the holidays or change in the seasons. Remember that a personal handwritten card can go a really long way.
  • Start a referral program: offer clients a discounted service for each referral or give them a few of your cleaning business cards that they can hand out. It helps to offer your customers a referral benefit for them and the customer they refer (e.g., $50 off for the new customer and a $50 credit for the referring customer)
  • Do some jobs for free to high value customers (e.g., local town organizations or associations) in hope that they promote your business to others.
  • Stay on top of customer reviews in your google searches and follow best practices for getting customer reviews
  • Be sure to share your website with your customers even if they didn't initially find your business from the website. A website is the easiest way that customers can share information about your business with someone they are referring to you.

Partnerships as a cleaning company

It may seem strange to think about partnerships for a cleaning business, but the great thing is that there are plenty of other trades that you are not directly competitive with that know homeowners. If you know other home service pros such as landscapers, pressure washers, or plumbers, for example,  it doesn't hurt to give them your business card or ask if they can make any introductions for you. You can also look for stores that have a physical location that can promote your services to homeowners (e.g., your local hardware store).

How to get home service referrals:

The list goes on, but think if you know anyone in: pest control, home inspection companies, plumbers, electricians, pool companies, garden shops, fence installation business owners, HVAC professionals, hardware stores, real estate agents or community organizers. Offer these partners a referral credit if they are willing to pass along a good word about your business. If you can vouch for the partners credibility then you can also refer them to others. This is another example of the benefits of having a website to simplify sharing information for referrals.

Online Marketing Strategies

While it may initially seem overwhelming or complicated, online marketing is essential in today's world and there are plenty of easy steps to take that can really boost your business. The following overview is meant to get you started, but does not go into advanced strategies for online marketing. It also does not go into the depth on the topic of  marketing on social media platforms, but it is recommended that you build a regular presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other places that homeowners search for information about cleaning services.

Creating Organic Traffic

Organic traffic is the customer visibility that your business gains without paid promotions. There are a few things you can do to start for free.

What to do:

Create an attractive website!

Tips for a cleaning website:

  • Have a contact us form or action button to make it easy for customers to reach you. It is best to have a button that allows customers to reach you from their computer or their phone. If you make it too difficult to reach you from a computer, customers may move on.
  • Avoid the word "submit" on a form as it sends the wrong message subliminally. Try to emphasize what a prospective client is getting when they click the button, like "Get my free quote" or "get in touch" or "send us a text"
  • To learn more about creating a website and the essential elements of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) check out this post on how to make your business show up on Google

Tools to create a website:

  • You can try to create your own website utilizing tools like Wix or SquareSpace, but be prepared to spend several hours learning the functions of the platform and deciding on the formatting and content you'd like.
  • Work with a service like ProSite by ProPhone to have a custom website designed within 1 day tailored to your business. This is a great middle ground option if you don't want to make the site but do not want to spend several hundred to thousands of dollars on an individual developer

Create a Google My Business Listing

You will need to make sure the following information is up to date

  • Your actual business name for your google business listing
  • Address (Google will verify it and this process can take a few weeks)
  • Phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Category of your business

Example Google My Business Listing (Source: Google)

Create a profile page on Yelp

  • Similar to google you will need to ensure your proper business information is listed
  • There is an option to pay Yelp for certain profile features and advertising, but simply having a free profile is better than nothing

Create a Facebook Business Page

  • You will need a personal Facebook profile to start from which you can create a business facebook page under the create tag on the home page
  • Make sure to input your business details, upload a profile and cover photo (best if these are real and not stock images), update your 'about' section, and include an online booking CTA to collect potential client leads
  • The CTA will be possible by "Adding Button" on your home page and the best option is to use "Book with us" or "Message Us"

Paid traffic generation

If you have capacity to increase your traffic and have already utilized the free options for growth, paid marketing is a great option if you are aware of the ROI (Return on Investment) for your online marketing. It is critical to be aware that online marketing costs can add up quickly if not monitored closely. It's best to start with a small experimental budget to see if the investment is worth it for your business.

What to do:

Google Local Service Ads

  • Google Local Service Ads appear above organic search results and even Google pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  • Local Services ads are only available for certain regions in the U.S. and Canada. To check if your region is eligible, visit the Google LSA signup page.
  • With Google Local Service Ads you pay per lead, not per click (CPC) like you would if you were bidding on keywords. You won't pay whenever someone clicks on your ad in search results like you would with Google Ads. You only pay when you have a legitimate phone call from a qualified lead.
  • Google Guarantee - this is like a signature of confidence from google that provides customers a money back guarantee up to $2,000 if they aren't happy with the quality of work.
  • The cost per lead from google service ads can range from $5-$100+ but on average should be around $20

Facebook Ads

What about lead generation services

Given the intense feeling over lead generation services, there is not a recommendation for or against using some of the online lead generation tools. If you do chose to use a lead generation tool, make sure you treat each phone bill like a $50-$150 bill because that's what some leads can cost. You are best set up to utilize a lead generation service if you have capacity to readily address incoming calls and can be immediately responsive to closing the deals.

And of course,  we couldn't resist including a Home Advisor meme:

What if I still have questions about online marketing!?

If you still have questions about online marketing for cleaning businesses, the ProPhone team is ready to assist you at 857-856-6777. You can also check out additional blogs on this topic here

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