Starting a commercial cleaning business can be a lucrative endeavor; in fact, the janitorial services and cleaning industry grew by an annual average of 3.6% between 2018 and 2023.
But if you want your business to thrive, you need to drive sustainable, reliable income over the long term. And the way to do that? Cleaning contracts. A cleaning contract is a formal agreement between a cleaning business and a client that outlines the terms and conditions for providing cleaning services.
These contracts are a key in making sure you get paid so you can have a stable cash flow and grow your business. But how, exactly, do you get these cleaning jobs in the first place? And how do you create a cleaning contract? We’ll dive into all that and more–so keep reading!
8 Ways to Get Cleaning Contracts
To get the cleaning jobs you want, it's essential to get your name out there and let people know about the great services you offer. That's why you need a great marketing strategy.
Here are the 8 top strategies you can use to market your cleaning service.
Know What Your Competitors Are—And Aren't—Doing
Looking at what your competitors are doing right to attract business can give you insight into what might work for you.
Competitor research can also reveal areas that competitors might have overlooked, giving you the chance to appeal to prospective clients your competitors aren't serving.
For example, competitor research might reveal that your competitors aren't offering deep-clean sterilization services—something that many businesses consider important in a post-COVID world.
Adding this to your office cleaning services (especially during flu season!), for example, can give you the edge against other cleaning companies in the area.
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Tap Into Your Network
Word-of-mouth recommendations from people you know can be an incredibly effective way to get new cleaning contracts. In fact, 90% of decision-makers consider referrals from people they know and respect to be "moderately, very, or extremely effective" in persuading them to consider making a purchase.
And the best way to get those referrals is—you guessed it—tapping into your network. Ask your family and friends to recommend your services to people in their networks.
Offer existing clients incentives (like discounts) for referring work to you or for leaving a review on your website and social media profiles.
And don't forget any local business you interact with on a personal level; ask your favorite business owners to refer yours to customers and colleagues in their networks. (Just don't forget to return the favor!)
Make It Easy for Customers to Work With You
Satisfied customers are the key to building a strong reputation and getting more customers. And one of the ways to achieve (and maintain!) high customer satisfaction? Making it easy to work with you.
Look for ways to make the process of working with you simple, straightforward, and pleasant for your customers. That means being direct, professional, and transparent—including before you sign a new contract, during a job, and after you've completed your work.
For example, offer free consultations and walk-throughs to help new customers decide which of your services they need. Be open about the cost and thoroughly explain how you'll handle each request.
That also means making it easy for potential customers to book your services. Provide multiple avenues for potential clients to reach out to you and schedule work—and make each of those avenues convenient to use.
For example, if you offer online booking, make sure your contact form is simple and easily accessible from your website and social media profiles. If you support booking by phone or text message, make sure someone is available to answer or respond during business hours.
Create a Website
Your website is like your company's digital home; it's where customers come to learn about your services and ultimately decide whether they want to work with you—and, as such, it's important to invest in a great design. Focus on making it easy to navigate, include a clear service menu, and offer a convenient way to book a consultation or contact your company.
Get on Google, Yelp, and Social Media
These outlets let you engage with interested customers and allow existing customers to leave feedback and testimonials, serving as social proof of your company's level and quality of service.
Use Tried-and-True Marketing Tactics
Traditional marketing—like cold calling, direct mail, flyers, newspaper ads/classifieds, radio ads, and TV ads—is seeing an increase in popularity and effectiveness. These tactics can be effective for reaching a wider audience, including those prospects your competitors might be overlooking.
Don't Sleep on Digital Marketing
Digital marketing—like email newsletters and pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns—can generate traffic and more than double your investment.
And it's effective, with some newsletters earning $36 for every dollar spent on email marketing and some paid ads generating $2 for every $1 spent, helping to boost awareness of your company and build upon your other strategies (like your website and social media engagement).
Get Involved in Your Community and Industry
In-person meetups, networking events, and trade shows are great ways to find clients. Whether you're looking for house cleaning work, carpet cleaning, office cleaning contracts, or offering commercial cleaning services, find the place where your potential clients hang out—and go there with a friendly face and your business cards. Extra points if you can bring some sort of fun trinket or goodie for them to remember you by. And just as important, don't forget to follow up with any leads by sending a friendly email or text.
Setting Up Cleaning Contracts
Once you get the business, you need to put some processes into place to make signing new clients as simple, straightforward, and stress-free as possible.
These processes can help you appear professional to both prospective and existing clients and avoid potential problems in the future (like nonpayment or confusion about what services you're expected to provide).
While the exact processes you ultimately put in place will depend on your business, clients, needs, and preferred work style, some contract processes you should definitely consider putting in place include:
Create a Contract Template
Service contracts are legal documents that outline an agreement between you and your clients.
Though specifics (like pricing) can change from client to client, many of your contract elements will stay the same across jobs—and having a ready-to-go document template can cut down the time it takes to put a contract in place.
Before you start marketing your commercial cleaning business, create a contract template that includes:
- Information about you and the client: Company names, addresses, and contact information
- Your relationship: A statement that says you are working on a contractual basis and not as an employee
- The scope of work: The services you'll be providing, when and where you'll do the work, and any specific requests or details (like confidentiality requirements)
- Payment terms: The cost for services, when payment is due, what forms of payment you accept, if and when discounts apply, and how late payments are handled
- The contract length: How long the contract remains in force, how to extend it, and what fees (if any) apply for terminating the contract early
- Legal provisions: What happens if either party breaches the contract, how and where arbitration is handled, and other legal clauses
Though you can write your own cleaning contract template, it's always a good idea to have it reviewed by a lawyer to make sure your terms are enforceable—and that they protect your business.
Make a Pricing Menu
Provide a menu that explains your services and the pricing for each. A pricing menu helps customers determine if your services are within their budget.
It can also be an effective tool for upselling; for example, a client may have hired you for indoor cleaning and sanitization, but after seeing your price list—and your competitive pricing for lawn care services—they may opt to add those services to their contract.
As for how you should price your services? That's up to you; you can charge hourly, per square foot, per room, or whatever structure makes sense for you.
And don't get caught up with making the prices on your menu too exact; instead, provide a price range for each service you offer, which gives you—and your customers—room to negotiate after you do a walkthrough and offer an initial estimate.
When creating your pricing menu, you'll also want to pay attention to what competitors are charging for similar services. This can help you make sure your prices are competitive—and give you insight into your local market's expectations and demands.
Establish Payment Methods
In order to keep your business moving forward, collecting and accepting payment from your clients needs to be a priority. But payment processing can be difficult for some customers—leading to confusion, incorrect or late payments, or even nonpayment.
The solution? Making it as easy as possible for your customers to pay you by using simple and convenient payment methods. There are a huge number of payment processors, apps, services, and invoicing services (like Stripe, Square, and QuickBooks Payments) that make collecting payments through a variety of methods (including ACH bank transfers, credit cards, and debit cards) a breeze—both for you and your customers.
And if you're invoicing customers instead of taking payment immediately upon service? Make sure to outline payment terms in your commercial cleaning contract—or, in other words, the length of time between a customer receiving an invoice and the date payment is due.
For example, a net-15 payment term means the customer has 15 days to pay you from the date they first receive the invoice.
And because terms can impact your cash flow—especially if you're buying cleaning supplies and paying employees to complete a job before you're paid—make sure you're comfortable with whatever terms you and your customers agree to.
How to Retain Cleaning Clients
Constantly prospecting for new customers can eat into activities that generate revenue, which means it's important to not only get new contracts but to retain the contracts you already have.
And you (likely) won't be able to based on pricing alone. Instead, you should focus on providing the best and highest level of service in your area by:
- Communicate clearly and openly: Be clear about what's included in each of your services and be transparent about how you perform your work. If a job takes longer than expected or you run into difficulties completing it, explain why and offer a solution. And be transparent with what you charge your customers; don't hit them with unexpected fees or unwanted service charges that weren't discussed and/or included in your contract.
- Do the best job cleaning: Almost anyone can wipe down a dirty surface, empty the trash, and vacuum a carpet. To retain your clients, you need to go above and beyond by demonstrating the professionalism of your business. Use a checklist to make sure you clean everything the client requested and as proof that each task was completed.
- Provide the best customer experience: Follow any requirements or protocols your client has in place when on-site (like checking in with property managers or security). Take before and after photos to verify that you completed the job and to highlight the differences before and after cleaning. Provide discounts to recurring clients and run surveys to gather feedback about what's working (and what isn't)—and then apply that feedback to improve your customer experience.
- Maintain proper licensing and insurance: Make sure your business complies with the laws set out by your state and local governments. Buy proper insurance coverage to protect against liability (like spilling cleaning liquid on sensitive paperwork or ruining expensive artwork). If you need workers' comp, Hourly makes it easy-peasy with affordable, pay-as-you-go plans.
Put Yourself Out There to Get New Business
Owning a commercial cleaning company can help you keep your customers safe and healthy. And as the cleaning industry continues to grow, learning how to get cleaning contracts—and retain your customer base—can help you scale your business, maintain consistent cash flow, and drive revenue.
So now that you know all about how to get (and set up) commercial cleaning contracts, all that's left to do? Get out there and start telling people about your services!