I couldn't help but apply that billboard to our business and what is ahead in 2013. With the average BSC losing 17% of their business per year for all kinds of reasons--price, poor work, friend of the buyer, new buyer wanting to make a name for themselves, downsizing of the customers business etc., I think it is more important than ever to have a plan for adding new business in 2013. Just think, if you want to grow by a meager 10%, and you have the average lost business of 17% you will need to add 27% new business next year. For the company doing $500,000 in annual revenue that means adding $135,000 in new business next year. Are you ready? Do you have a plan? If you have a plan, is it designed to bring in enough business next year to meet your desired growth.
Let me offer a few suggestions that may be helpful in saving advertising dollars and getting your name AND YOU in front of the right buyers. First off, I think it is important that you and your staff answer a few questions about your business such as,
1. What types of accounts do we service now? Size? Frequency? Time of day or night?
2. Which accounts are we best at servicing?
3. Which accounts that we now service are the most profitable? Do we have 20% of our accounts taking 80% of our time and we find out they don't produce a satisfactory margin? Some accounts make a lot of noise and take a lot of time but when you analyze their profitability you may find they actually contribute very little, if anything, to the bottom line. Be diligent in checking each of your accounts to see which ones are really producing your profits and which ones are just taking up your time.
4. What hours do we provide the best supervision? If you are best at 6-12 PM, it makes little sense to pursue the local newspaper for cleaning after midnight. It will just consume your time and you put at risk your profitable accounts. Large accounts do not necessarily translate to large margins. In fact, quite often the reverse is actually true.
5. What are the market segments that fit our supervision hours that we are not servicing now and why are we not servicing them?
6. Make a list of all the prospects in your area that fit your size, frequency of service, time of service, profit potential, and supervision coverage. I suggest you will be surprised how many accounts are out there that you haven't pursued.
I recall doing this exercise with a client recently and he proceeded to tell me that there just weren't any prospects left in the category that he was best at. In fact, he was suggesting if would be best if he opened a branch in another city so he could experience the growth that he wanted. Since he had just picked me up at the airport the day before I suggested we just get in his car and drive back to the airport and see how many, if any, prospects there were between his office and the airport. As we drove I pointed out buildings that were suspects in the category he was wanting. By the time we got to the airport we had 42 new buildings on his list to pursue. The problem was he was so familiar with his city he had become unfamiliar with his city and was driving right by prospects that could be turned into customers.
How about you? Have you become so familiar with you city that you drive right by buildings that could possibly become prospects? Let me suggest you use some gas and just drive with the express intent of "will this building fit our profile"? You may surprise yourself.
Once you have created the new list, call or visit them to find the buyer's name and then begin sending a series of targeted information packets each week--say 10-20. This will vary by size of city and size of prospect list. Mail them on Friday and then call the next Wednesday to ask for a 20 minute appointment to discuss how you can be mutually beneficial to each other.
What should go in the information packet you ask? Well, I am going to tell you. You want to explain to them that your company is a viable alternative to what they have now. Include points such as,
1. Any software you may have that is unique to the industry--Team, CleanTelligent etc.
2. Training programs that set you apart from your competition. Maybe even include an agenda from a recent training class that you held. (I am assuming you have an organized training program).
3. If your turnover is below the industry average, explain how you keep it so low.
4. Include pictures of key staff members and maybe even their years of service to you and/or the industry. Maybe even highlight individuals that would be responsible for their account.
5. If you are the key staff member, highlight the personal service that you, the owner, can provide that larger companies maybe can't.
6. Include a brief outline of all the services that you offer. This is another way to catch their eye if they aren't interested in custodial service right now.
Place the information in a file type presentation folder, NOT IN LETTER FORM. Mail the information in a 9 by 12 envelope so it gets to the desk of the buyer. DO NOT ADDRESS ANYTHING TO BUYER OR TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN. Always have a name to mail to.
Some key points to remember,
A. Be consistent in your mailing. MAIL THEM EVERY WEEK.
B. Do not fail to call the following Wednesday or Thursday for an appointment, no matter what "fires" need to be put out at the time.
C. Ask for a 20 minute appointment and be sure you stay only 20 minutes unless the suspect asks you to stay.
D. As for the opportunity to present a proposal, not bid.
E. BE ON TIME.
I realize in today's business environment, the thing to do today is e-mail marketing etc. but I will tell you I still use this system of initial contact with my clients to obtain new business and IT WORKS.
From these mailings you will be able to determine which suspects will become prospects and then you take the next step and place them on your "hit list" but that is a subject for a later discussion.
So let me suggest you begin TODAY to start a targeted sales process for 2013. I believe it is critical to the success of an organization to have a systematic ongoing sales program at all times. Customers can't buy from you if they don't know you exist and just being a nice person doing quality work doesn't bring you enough business in today's world.
Till next time. By the way, you can now sign up at the bottom of our web site's front page and have these blogs come directly to your e-mail each time they are published. That is www.consultantsincleaning.com. Don't forget to listen to our free weekly pod cast at www.tripocast.com.