Why should you grow your janitorial business? Janitorial businesses make a significant contribution to the U.S economy. Research by IBIS World shows that the U.S. janitorial market amounts to more than 904,000+ businesses; 1,846,488 employees; and annual revenues of $53 billion.

While growth in this sector is only moderate at 1.6% annually, IBIS predicts that over the next five years a robust economy will see a lift in demand. Here are nine tips for getting a share of that pie and grow your janitorial business.

9 Ways to Grow Your Janitorial Business

  1. Start by Looking at Your Current Customer Base

If you want to grow your janitorial business, your current customer base can tell you a great deal about why your business is a success, where it needs to grow, and what goals and tactics you should spend your time on. This little bit of research is an essential first step to growth that will help you repeat your wins rather than adopt a scatter-gun approach to growth.

Think about where your current customers come from. What were the lead sources? Was it from referrals, word of mouth, advertisements? Which tactic worked best? Is it a model you can repeat?

  1. Know What Your Customer is Looking For

Take your customer research to the next level by building a picture of their needs. Never assume that your growth plans align with what your customers want or you risk going after a market opportunity that doesn’t exist.

Get feedback from current and even prospective customers to see what they look for when selecting and retaining a janitorial service. It’s never always just about price. It could be reliability, quality of work, flexible schedules, employee conduct, and so on. The industry is increasingly moving towards green cleaning services (which IBIS states as a key opportunity for janitorial businesses)—is there a need in your market?

Then consider how your competition stacks up against these needs. How do they compare to your business? Is there a gap you can fill?

  1. Stop and Think About Your Business Vision

If you’ve been in business for a while, there’s a good chance that the day to day “busyness” of running a business has taken your eye off your wider goals. As you think about growing your business, reflect on what you want that business to look like.

Do you want to take on larger clients? Or, perhaps, expand into other sites, campuses, or locations that your existing clients have? (This is low hanging fruit and could be a win-win if you can add some sort of incentive, such as a discount). Determine the types of businesses you want to go into.

On the other hand, perhaps you might see more success in diversifying your offerings? For example, could you add window cleaning or HVAC maintenance to your services? Your vision will help steer your growth strategies.

  1. Plan Your Marketing in Chunks

When did you last see any marketing or branding excitement from a janitorial business? Not that often, right? Once you have a vision and a strategy, think about your marketing plan. This will give you a path to follow that can help you grow your janitorial business.

Your plan should be informed by your goals and your research, and it is best approached in chunks. If you are trying to reach customers who don’t know about your business, you’ll need some awareness tactics in there (advertising, PR, etc.). You’ll also need a plan for once they are engaged (i.e. they want to learn more about you)—this could include case studies, customer references, a short YouTube video explaining your core values and service offerings, etc. Finally, find a way to keep marketing through your happy customers using a referral program. For more tips, check out these tips from my fellow blogger, Rieva Lesonsky: Creating a Marketing Action Plan.

  1. Create a Target Customer List

As you think about your marketing tactics, refer again to your vision. What defines growth for you? Are you hoping to expand your service delivery radius? What kinds of buildings are you looking to target (medical offices, day care facilities, auto dealerships, malls, corporate offices, etc.). This will help you determine who to target in your marketing.

  1. Good Old Direct Mail Still Works

If you intend to run a direct mail campaign (always a good idea if you’re trying to reach a specific person), create a short list of target companies within your service area. Find out who the facility manager is and build a spreadsheet of all your target contacts. Plan around your budget, but be prepared to send 3–5 mail pieces and stagger your messages. Start by introducing yourself and your company, then send a brochure, follow it with a piece that links to success stories on your website, include a small giveaway like a fridge magnet with your contact info, then ask for a meeting, perhaps offer a free trial—think of it as a drip effect.

Keep at it. If you didn’t have much success, “rinse and repeat”. Come up with new marketing pieces, consider tweaking your message, and start the cycle again six months later.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Knock on Doors

Door-to-door sales can be an effective sales strategy for janitorial services, an industry which, as I mentioned earlier, often flies under the radar of traditional, big-splash marketing campaigns. Refer to your target contact list, perfect your pitch, and create a special offer to lock them in.

  1. Get Out in the Community

If you’re looking to grow your business, be more active in the community in order to build brand recognition. Find ways to participate at town fairs, festivals, and chamber of commerce and networking events. You might even consider sponsoring a fun run or charity event.

  1. Have a Consistent, Defining Message

Finally, perhaps one of the most important things in marketing is having a consistent marketing message. You can’t be all things to all people, so carefully consider your differentiators and your target market as well was what you’ve already successfully done for other companies as you craft your message. Back it up with a story—explain what led you into this line of business, expand on why you’re different, and how this permeates your mission and what you do. The story is a useful starting point to crafting your sales and elevator pitch, website messaging, advertising, and other marketing tactics (brochures, flyers, social media) that you use to build awareness.

Good luck and please leave your suggestions and tips to grow a janitorial business below!

Caron is a small business owner, writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron has blogged for the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE ,and other organizations on all matters relating to small business management and growth. Connect with Caron on Twitter and at April Marketing.