If you are a new business just starting out into the world of contract cleaning then your immediate aim is to gather as many new customers as you can and constantly grow the business. The initial stages are hard and it is difficult to gain those first few customers. How gain you gain a foothold in this highly competitive market? Many of the marketing strategies you might employ have been explained in previous articles. One area that was not explored in these articles was networking.
As a new business you will probably receive a number of invitations to go along to various local networking organisations meetings. At these they will no doubt try and impress upon you the huge benefits to be gained by networking. You will also be told how much business was generated for its members over a period of time. All will seem very impressive and like myself you may very well be impressed enough to join the weekly breakfast or luncheon meetings. This could cost you anything up to ?500 a year to be a member plus the cost of the meal or maybe as little as the cost of the meal. Some of the internet networking organisations charge a small monthly fee and then organise monthly local meetings.
When I started out into the field of commercial cleaning I was willing to try anything that might generate business so I joined a number of these organisations. So how successful was this as a means of expanding my business?
I did in fact persevere with some of these breakfast meetings for a whole year, having paid the yearly subscription it was in fact something of a necessity. However it does not take long to realise that the people who attend these meetings are not in fact your likely customers. Many of the individuals who attend networking meetings are just starting out in their business and are operating as sole traders working from home and not in any way, shape or form likely to be your potential customers. Others are well established but still operate as single entities such as business coaches and have no office as such. Others may be proprietors of shops just starting out and these are potential customers.
However you as a contract cleaning company are looking to clean offices and office complexes and these are inhabited by well established companies who do not by and large participate in local networking groups. So you are not going to come in contact with the group who are going to provide the more lucrative cleaning contracts.
I can look back on my time with these networking groups as a learning experience and we probably just about recouped our membership fees. Other than that very little long term benefit was derived from the experience. Networking it would seem from my own experience is not a path I would necessarily recommend to the start up cleaning business. Use that time period to utilise other marketing techniques which are more useful to the cleaning business entrepreneur. If you do fancy the idea of networking then you must target a different audience. That is the established businesses, and to do that you will need to join such organisations as the Chamber of Commerce where your networking will not be so overt and often done in a more sociable and relaxed atmosphere.