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What’s Your Ideal Client Size?

Decide which approach best suits your cleaning company

Ideal Client Size

In the cleaning industry, as in many other service industries, one of the keys to success is acquiring and maintaining regular customers. This is especially true for someone new to the industry who needs to build a strong client base for their company. There are two schools of thought on the way to go about this. Some cleaning companies prefer to charge a few large clients a bigger fee but may not service them as regularly. Other companies prefer smaller, more frequent jobs, with smaller fees for a larger number of customers. There are pros and cons to both approaches. You need to figure out what client size works best for you.

The risks and rewards of large clients

The American philosophy “bigger is better” often spills over into business, fueling the assumption that servicing the biggest clients is the only way to go. Bigger usually refers to the jobs that pay the most. In the cleaning industry, that may mean you’re hired to clean a large facility once from top to bottom to get ready for a special event, or to clean a restaurant or retail store with several locations on a regular basis.

The primary benefit of bigger clients is also the most obvious one; the bigger the job, the more money you will earn. But there is also a large drawback. If the majority of your income comes from a few large clients, and you lose one of them, you are losing a significant amount of revenue. That loss may force you to cut costs in other areas like staffing.  

In addition to the money they bring in, there are several other benefits to working with a small number of high-revenue clients. You can deliver excellent customer service easier by limiting the number of clients you service. With fewer clients, it’s easier to focus on the needs of each one, building customer loyalty. This personal attention may inspire the company that hired you for a one-time job to call you again the next time it needs cleaning services.

Building a business with smaller clients

Many cleaning company owners have built very successful businesses by servicing smaller clients on a consistent basis. This tactic works because it is a lot less expensive (as well as less work) to keep an existing client than to find a new one. While each job pays less, the combined totals may bring in more than one big client. And if you lose one of these clients, you are losing a much smaller percentage of your income than if you lost a large client. 

As a business owner, client retention is key. You’ll need to keep your clients happy if you want to keep them. It should go without saying that the main component of this is top-notch service and professional customer relations. But in this day and age, clients need more. They want customizable services that fit their needs, as well as personal attention that show you are looking out for them. If they don’t get it from your company, they might go looking for it from one of your competitors. This is true no matter how many clients you have. But a cleaning service with a large number of clients must be prepared for the extra time it will take to establish these relationships, while also juggling the demands of scheduling and performing regular cleanings. 

Best of both worlds

The decision to build your cleaning business on a few large clients—or many small, consistent ones—is up to you. There is no “right” answer to client size, plenty of companies have succeeded doing one or the other. Or, perhaps, like an investor trying to diversify their portfolio with big stocks and smaller ones, the best answer may be to do a little of both. 

Doug Flaig

Doug Flaig is the president of Stratus Building Solutions, a janitorial services franchise organization. Flaig has spent over 20 years in the world of multi-unit retail (Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, 7- Eleven stores, and Wetzel’s Pretzels) overseeing hundreds of franchise retail locations. Prior to joining Stratus Building Solutions, he served as chief operating officer with Safe Facility Services, a janitorial services provider headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California.

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