Managing customer expectations in 2019

With an industry flooded with small operators, to grow you simply must find reliability through strong processes.

Compared to other industries things are looking relatively stable for the commercial cleaning sector in 2019, but there are still many challenges that await.

One of the biggest is customer expectations. When customer expectations are not met contracts are lost, hurting cash flow, and in some cases can even lead to businesses closing shop.

Let’s look at a few things you can do using technology to avoid these customer demands rolling over you and your team in 2019.

Play to your strengths

  • Small to mid:

Much of our industry is made up of businesses which have between five and 30 employees. If this is you, you need to stand out from the pack. Using digital tools will help your business market, quote and record the commitment you make with your clients.

Through the use of these digital tools you can communicate this commitment to your staff. The same tools also allow your team to report to you and for you to report to your client (and vice versa). This effectively closes the gap on any expectations set and possibly missed, before they become an issue.

  • Enterprise:

The ‘top-four concentration’ is a measure of how much revenue the top four companies in an industry hold. In some sectors it can be well over 50 per cent.

In the commercial cleaning industry is it understood to be around 10 per cent. This means these large players are under constant threat from a myriad of mid-sized players.

At this level the focus is on locking customers into contracts and enhancing their tender win/loss rates and negotiation.

Digital tools that are fast and efficient are essential to provide premier service at the top of the sales funnel and prove you have capacity for great service on the biggest jobs.

  • Franchise:

Franchise groups are understood to hold just under 9 per cent of total industry revenue. Given the business-in-a-box advantage, franchisees should look to marketing as their advantage.

Improving your digital marketing skills and managing every touchpoint with customers helps individual operators stand out and win more than your fair share of work.

  • Micro and solo operators:

Low barriers to entry do not equal low barriers to success. While we see businesses start very readily, we also see many businesses fail just as readily too.

With an industry flooded with small operators, to grow you simply must find reliability through strong processes.

The ability to cover shifts for occurrences such as illness or leave and operate at capacity is challenging.

Some industry reports state customer turnover for many operators will exceed 50 per cent of revenue in a given year – typically due to their dependence on one or two major contracts they cannot afford to lose.

Digital tools that manage your processes and deadlines ensures you won’t drop the ball and can grow with confidence.

Customers are not disloyal, you are

I find the reported customer turnover rate of 50 per cent astounding. It is incredible that any business should work hard on winning business to only then lose it due to poor delivery.

Customers don’t want to change. The customers we help via FreshOps are very clear – it is a hassle looking for a new cleaning provider and only change when forced to.

They change when the work is not meeting the initial expectation set. When that is a surprise to management, it means there is no process or technology to monitor what is happening in the field.

All business owners must look to use digital scheduling and monitoring tools to allocate and report work to as well as enhance communication with staff and customers.

This will get you close enough to the work on the ground and avoid any surprise cancellations (not to mention knowing when you might want the odd serial pest to go somewhere else too!).

Good staffing delivers a great business

From sole operators to multi-nationals, staffing is a very large portion of your cost base and improvements here can have one of the greatest impacts on your bottom line.

Yet too often the staffing conversation is on how to save money. Of course, you can’t be wasting money, but as the saying goes, “if you think good staff cost a lot of money, wait until you have bad staff!”

The ability to coach, nurture and retain good staff efficiently is essential. However, so too is how to tactfully and fairly turn around or move on staff who don’t want to perform to reasonable standards.

Technology can play a large role in providing objective, instant feedback on which staff are performing well – allowing you to encourage and reward good behaviour and intervene quickly where performance is lacking.

Mobile workforce applications can support your staff better and reduce friction for potential employees. This will provide your business access to the greatest pool of talent available and retain those team members that deliver reliability for you and your clients.

Technology aides communication

Time and again we hear poor communication leads to lost contracts. Everything from what work needs to be done and when, to issues in the field not getting back to management to allow problems to be rectified.

The information revolution of the past decade is all about improved communication. If you are still relying on phone calls, email or text communication you are making it hard for yourself.

Field management software, messaging apps and work verification programs are all now digital and the leading companies in 2019 will be those that adopt them.

FreshOps (www.getfreshops.com) is an Australian-made, mobile workforce application and management portal built for commercial cleaners. Questions or feedback welcome to mark@freshops.com.au.

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