We've been asked a lot recently about the best ways to get customers for a softwashing business. Seems there are a lot of new folks coming into our softwashing industry, which is great as there's more than enough work out there for everyone.
This article focuses primarily on getting domestic softwashing work, which is the market we have most experience of. But you'll be able to easily adapt the principles for contacting businesses and organisations. All decisions are made by people and the ability to talk easily to a prospective customer will ensure your success whether you are aiming at the domestic or commercial softwashing market.
Several of the softwashing business-building tips below will apply equally to building a window cleaning business. Many contractors who are primarily window cleaners also softwash and other contractors who are primarily softwashing also clean windows. So we hope there will be something in this article for everyone.
Btw: Leo built his window cleaning business on the exact principles you are about to read about. He was the most expensive window cleaner in his area and the only problem he had was being inundated with work for the entire 10 years he ran his window cleaning business. It was a nice problem to have ... :)
Leo taught Ben the principles you are about to learn, who enjoyed similar success. Using these principles Ben was able to set up a highly successful window cleaning business in a very short time. Following that success he went on to create his softwashing business ( www.performancecleaning.ie ) the same way.
1) Create a simple A5 flyer.
2) Create a simple website.
3) Knock on doors and introduce yourself and your service. Do not just shove leaflets through letterboxes – that will achieve very little. The only time we recommend putting leaflets through letterboxes is when you cannot find anyone at home after the 3rd visit, in which case delivering a leaflet is better than nothing. The secret is to talk face-to-face with prospective customers.
4) Get your first softwash customers at whatever price they will pay, although obviously charge as high as you can. The work you do on their house is going to sell your services to many others. Give them your flyer so they will remember you and have your contact details to refer you to their friends and family.
5) Take plenty of before and after photos and put them on your website (with your customer's written permission – it is illegal to use photographs of other people and their property for commercial gain without their consent). It's also a good idea to build up a physical portfolio of pics of previous work you've done, which you can show prospective customers when standing on their doorstep.
6) Learn from experience and continually improve both the effectiveness of your work and the quality of your customer service.
7) Keep putting your prices up until you get more "No's" than "Yes's". You will then have found the "sweet spot" that customers in your geographical area are willing to pay. Remember that what people are willing to pay can vary wildly around the country, a factor that is mainly determined by their financial affluence.
8) Canvas the neighbours of your customer – and eventually everyone on the same road or estate – using your first customer's home as a demonstration or show house for your service. Say something like, "Would you like your house to look as lovely and clean as Mrs Jones next door?"
9) Rinse and repeat ... :)
Of course many people are reticent to knock on doors to promote their business. And many of those who do, fail because they attempt to talk customers into having softwashing (or window cleaning) work done. But those who are willing to learn do it ethically and effectively can discover a vein of gold just waiting to be mined.
This is what keeps most people hiding behind the safety of a marketing approach based on impersonal advertising, leafleting and websites.
Now, don't get us wrong. Certainly have a website as a point of contact. These days it is also a way of establishing your credibility. And have a flyer to give to your customers and to put through the letterbox of prospects you can never find at home. But if we just sit back and wait for customers to find our site and beat a path to our door we could be waiting a very long time.
The reality is that simply introducing yourself and politely telling the prospective customer how you can help them really is easy.
You do not have to become a salesman. You do not have to put on a "friendly sales smile" and pretend to be someone other than who you are. Simply relax and talk naturally. Most people who will answer the door to you will not have two heads. And most will not bite ... :)
Just do not try to talk them into having work done.
If they say No, thank them and quickly move onto the next house.
Keep it honest and simply draw your prospective customer's attention to a problem with their property. Your opener may be something like, "Hi, I'm Ben and my company is Performance Cleaning. I noticed you have a lot of unsightly green algae growing on your render. Would you be interested in having it removed?"
If they say "Yes" follow up with something like "Great, I can give you a quote if you like. Would you like me to do that?"
If they say No, say something like, "Ok, thanks for your time and have a good evening".
If they say Yes to receiving a quote, ask for their permission to wander around their property and put a quote together. This really is easy peasy.
There are many permutations of an opening "one liner". The principle is to get your prospects attention as quickly as possible and get them saying "Yes" as much as possible. And it's a good business principle, not to mention simple good manners, to ask their permission before wandering around their home.
You'll want to get in front of as many prospective customers as possible within a 2-hour period of canvassing. You can save time by not arguing with someone who is probably never going to be your customer anyway, simply thanking them for their time and moving on to the next prospect.
Why two hours? Because we've found that's the optimum time during which we can maintain a state of high enthusiasm. After a couple of hours we noticed our energy sagging, which meant the number of sales dropped off.
Also, the best time to find people at home is the sweet spot of 6-8 pm. Early than this and they are either at work or coming home from work. Later than this and knocking on strangers doors feels too intrusive. Saturdays are also a good time to canvas for softwashing customers, especially when the evenings are dark during winter.
Remember that canvassing is a numbers game. Talk to enough people and you are assured of getting work.
These are the simple keys to success we've found to work to create highly profitable softwashing and window cleaning businesses. And they are principles that will earn you an endless stream of referrals.
And ... do remember to KISS your business :) - i.e. Keep it Simple & Straightforward ( or,"Keep it Simple Stupid" as some say ... ) This is a simple business and some people tend to over-think it, which makes life harder than it needs to be.
Oh yes, one last tip - invest in our Softwashing How-To Manual. It's based on the hard won trial and error practical experience that Ben gained from several years of running his Performance Cleaning softwash and window cleaning business.
It's a full-colour illustrated printed paperback manual that ...
Is clear and easy to read – with loads of photographs showing the principles of softwashing in action.
Explains the how-to of softwashing in a straightforward way that's easy to understand.
Contains practical knowledge that comes from several years trial and error experience.
We hope this information is helpful and inspires you to succeed in your softwashing business.
Ben, Leo & Fiona