As cases of COVID in the U.S continue to rise, the demand for professional cleaning services is experiencing a dichotomy. While demand for commercial janitorial services has spiked residential cleaning services have seen revenues fall by 35% compared to the same period in 2019 and 45% since the beginning of the year.
If you operate a home cleaning business, it’s likely you’re feeling the pinch. With millions of us now working from home, concerns about infection risk have caused many Americans to suspend or cancel their cleaning services. A survey by the National Domestic Workers Alliance found that 72% of residential housekeepers reported they had lost all of their clients by the first week of April.
Ironically, sanitation and hygiene is more important than ever. Even leading epidemiologist, Dr. Fauci, admitted that the only person who enters his house beside his wife and himself is his cleaning lady. In fact, cleaners are considered an essential service in many states and were exempt from lockdown orders. Yet as those orders have steadily lifted, residential cleaning companies still face an uphill struggle retaining existing clients and attracting new ones.
If you own a house cleaning business, now is a critical time to act. Here are some tips and strategies for growing your business during this unprecedented time (while protecting your employees and clients).
Look after your employees
Your employees are on the frontlines of efforts to help control the pandemic, yet many domestic workers lack labor protections or healthcare coverage that can protect them should they get sick on the job. So, it’s important that every effort should be made to protect their health – and the health of your clients.
Screen employees regularly on their recent health conditions and provide them with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves. Emphasize that PPE should be discarded after each visit and fresh ones donned before cleaning the next home.
Although your cleaning protocols may not change much, train your cleaning teams on CDC reopening guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting homes.
Position your services as “contactless”
Create policies and procedures that eliminate all contact between your cleaning crews and your customers. For example, you might establish policies whereby your clients are required to vacate the home or occupy a room that isn’t being cleaned while your team is on-site. If a client or their family can’t leave the home, request that they also wear masks and maintain a social distance of a minimum of six feet.
If you’re quoting new business, use a video call or ask your prospects to send photos so you can provide a virtual estimate. When you schedule your visits, set defined appointment times so that your clients know when to expect you and can work around your visit.
Be sure to communicate these processes to your customers. Create a video or email to share and reassure families what your company is doing to keep everyone safe. Develop an FAQ that outlines the steps and precautions you are taking and share it on your website, blog, via email, and social media.
Adjust your marketing message
During a pandemic, your client’s priorities have changed and so should your messaging. Sanitation is more important than ever. To inspire customer confidence, stress the health benefits of a clean home and the measures you are taking to protect them during the cleaning process – the right disinfectants, PPE, contactless service, etc.
Even before the pandemic, our busy lives have made home cleaning services more of a necessity than a luxury. And now is no different. With entire families working and schooling from home, find ways to stress the emotional benefits of a clean home. Think Marie Kondo – a clean and organized home can destress and clear the mind – while keeping surfaces free from bacteria and viruses.
Diversify your services
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 80% of small businesses have pivoted from their usual service offerings. Consider your customer base and demographics and think of ways to boost your business now and for the future. Is there an opportunity to offer deep cleaning services using tools such as disinfectant foggers and ultraviolet light? Perhaps you could target clients with high-traffic homes such as vacation rentals or simply those who are hygiene conscious. Survey your existing client base to gauge interest.
How about partnering with a carpet or soft furnishing cleaning company and offer discounts for bundled services? Then give those clients an incentive to keep coming back with a discount off their first regular cleaning.
Look to your community. Are there opportunities to expand into your services into commercial cleaning (without overextending your team) such as newly opened organizations such as churches or bars, restaurants, and retail stores?
Here are some other timely strategies for pivoting your small business during coronavirus.
Apply for a business line of credit
Cash flow is a challenge for small businesses at the best of times and especially difficult in 2020. As you look to sustain and rebuild your cleaning business, one way to have a reliable source of funding is to apply for a business line of credit. Unlike term loans, credit decisions can be made quickly. With Fundbox, for example, credit decisions can be made in minutes and funds may be transferred as soon as the next business day.
Fundbox gives real money in our business account so I can make payroll while waiting for checks to come in. It’s been an amazing lifesaver. Kimberly Beckford, owner, OZGLO Cleaning Company
Funds can be used when needed—to meet payroll, purchase supplies and equipment, or to fund a marketing campaign. Once you make your weekly payment, those funds are available to borrow—no need to reapply.
Check out these other tips for overcoming financial challenges in uncertain times.