I don’t watch much television but every once in a while I like to flip through the channels. I am fascinated by the Gold-Rush show.
People with massive machines to move and filter dirt in search of gold. They will literally move tons and tons of dirt to find what they are after. How silly would it be if they walked up to a plot of land and said: “gold appear now, we don’t feel like digging.”
Too often that’s the approach people take when they start a cleaning service. They think they can register a business, pass out a few cards and work will come pouring in. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Well if you’ve tried that approach you know that it does not work. You cannot harvest a crop without first sowing seeds. You cannot sow seeds until you prepare the soil to receive them. So what in the world am I talking about? Prospecting.
Prospecting is the lifeblood of your business. It needs to start immediately and continue for as long as you want to grow. When you are prospecting for new commercial cleaning clients you need to be ‘planting seeds’ also known as getting your name out there.
You have to ‘prepare the soil’ by defining your market. If you’re not careful you can waste a lot of time by prospecting to the wrong people. As you develop your market it’s important to identify buildings that do not hire their own cleaning service. The building owner or property manager provides the service.
When we prospect and the person tells us the building provides the service, we always try to find out who they are. Then we stop prospecting to tenants of that building and move on. Prospecting requires self-discipline regardless of your approach.
The most common way to prospect is on the phone or walking into businesses. Let me give you some numbers. Our telephone prospectors use a professional dialing system. It’s fast and efficient and we expect 35-40 dials per hour. Out of those dials, we find a lot of ‘dirt’ including disconnects, wrong numbers, no answer or answering machine, etc.
Of course, we also find live people to talk with and introduce our service, that’s the start of finding the gold. It takes the average caller about 3 hours of calling to find ONE person that will agree to see us for an estimate.
It takes an average of 5 estimates to find one company ready to sign now, the long-term numbers are better since some will sign up in the future. But we need work now so that’s a lot of prospecting just to find one client.
We also go door to door, good old fashion, in person prospecting. After walking into ten businesses and introducing yourself ten times it’s easy to feel like quitting. I’ve found that the in-person prospecting numbers are a bit better, but you still have to see many people to get an immediate yes.
As your business grows you will be busy running it. This is where prospecting will take a back seat which is very dangerous. You need to have a steady stream of new prospects from multiple sources to stay in business long term.
If you’re new and cannot afford to pay for prospecting then it’s up to YOU to make it happen. As your business grows and you have the available capital consider paying someone or hiring a service to prospect for you.
No matter what, always be looking for that next client. Make prospecting a priority, take a long-term approach and you will see your results pay off.