We love talking to people to hear how they're running and growing their service businesses every day. We recently sat down to chat with Rebecca at 313 Clean, and dug into how she builds her brand online with the help of Facebook.
Hi, Rebecca. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. Care to introduce your company and what you do?
Sure. 313 Clean is a full-service residential and commercial cleaning company. Our cleaning services include but are not limited to: routine weekly and monthly cleanings, spring cleaning, commercial & office cleaning, rental/foreclosure properties, move-in/move-out cleaning, setup and teardown for special events, home staging for houses on the market, hoarding cases, estate clean out, and construction clean up from remodeling and renovations.
Giving you time for the more important things in life.
A lot of people today live very busy lives, and we take a lot of pride in making sure they can just enjoy what free time they have available, and don't have to spend it on cleaning.
Let's start at the broadest level to give you some freedom to drive the conversation. You've built a solid following and awareness of your service business in a relatively short time. Right now, it looks like you're approaching 1,000 likes/followers of your Facebook page. How have you built up brand awareness for 313 Clean?
Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. I don't think I'd have been able to build up if it wasn't for Facebook.
On the hustling side of things, I hunt down people who are talking about looking for cleaners on Facebook posts and pages, and I start up conversations with them. I also spend time looking up Facebook yard sale pages, then I reach out to the people having yard sales to offer cleaning services before or after the sales.
Interacting with people is super important, and I try to do a lot of it. I engage with Facebook users who comment on my posts, as well as on client posts when they mention me. Sometimes it's as simple as just saying, "Thank you!", while other times I might be explaining to someone how to get a tough stain out their kid made on a couch, a rug, the carpet, or just about anything.
I also put a lot of effort into sharing content with people. All kinds of things. The easiest thing—and I do this for almost every single job we do—is just sharing pictures of my work. Well, the after shots, at least. I don't usually post before shots, because I wouldn't want any of my clients to see a picture of their dirty home or office online. But when I share a picture of their home sparkling at its best, they often feel really good, and other people see it and want that in their home.
I also do this thing where I post live & recorded videos of products we're using or trying out. Like, actually using the product, pretty much in real-time. I'll show off just how easy it is to get an oven cleaned, while being my silly self in the downtime. I post a lot of silly things, too, and turn them into talking about cleaning. And I'll share cleaning & organizational hacks or tips and tricks to help people save time, be more organized, and maybe think about having me come do the hard work for them.
You say you post silly things. I think I saw a bedazzled toilet on your page.
[Laughs] Oh, yeah. Stuff like that. People just love it. It doesn't always have to be about cleaning. It's just fun to share that stuff, and sharing is the whole point—staying active online and creating opportunities for people to talk and react. I can share a toilet that looks like someone glued a bajillion sequins or something on it, sparkling like you've never seen a toilet before, and maybe it just makes people laugh or something.
Let's look at the offline world for a second. How do you build relationships outside Facebook? Is there a difference in your approach to people when representing your company face-to-face?
There’s definitely a difference in the clientele outside Facebook. They tend to be commercial clients more often than not—like realty companies, office managers, people like that. Homeowners typically come from Facebook. Building the relationships offline usually comes from referrals and in-person meetings. Face-to-face. I try to respond and engage with people the way they speak and engage with me. I want to match their communication style and make them feel comfortable. So, if I'm talking to someone who uses lots of emoji when they message or text me, I’ll use lots of emoji, too. Just be really normal. On the other hand, if they’re really formal, I’ll be much more formal and professional. If I’m meeting with a realty company, I’m not going to speak the same as i would to a normal homeowner asking for help online with smiley faces and happy poop emoji. I'm usually more formal in person than online, though it always depends on the person and their personality.
Do you have a rough guess at what percentage of actual customers come from your social presence and brand-building activities? How does turning Facebook contacts into customers compare with in-person contacts or direct referrals?
60%? Yeah, something like that. I never get beat on price. The only challenge I ever really experience is if someone has a cleaning emergency or something that I just cannot fit into my schedule because I've already promised the time to another client. I don't ever bump a client just to get another one. That's rude. So, with Facebook contacts, I average about 6-7 out of every 10 contacts becoming a customer. Word-of-mouth referrals usually are 100% rate of closing as a client. I can pretty much smile and laugh and talk to a door, so it's pretty easy to connect with people, make them feel comfortable, and gain a new customer.
How frequently do you post & engage with people on Facebook?
Haha. All the time? I mean, it seems like it's all day every day. I probably post something to my Facebook page once or twice per week. Always once. Sometimes twice. It just depends on what I'm finding worth sharing with people. Engaging with people? That's got to be 5 to 10 times daily or more. I always reply to people when they mention me, comment on my posts and shares, ask questions, whatever. I never let an opportunity pass me by to make sure people know I'm there, I'm listening, and I'll respond.
What do you think people should do their first month if they are just starting out on Facebook and want to get going building awareness?
Post pictures and videos. And post often. Whether it's your stuff or someone else's. Share with the people you know and their friends. And put real time into it. Add a good-looking picture when you share about your work—take a minute to take a nice picture that shows what people will be getting out of your services. Make sure you've got decent lighting. Don't post a blurry shot. You know what I mean. Even if you're not the world's greatest photographer, take that extra minute to snap a really good pic.
Put a face to the company name—make sure people not only know your company exists, but help them know the person behind it. You're the person they're going to be dealing with and trusting to help with their needs. Be personable and let people get to know you.
Be patient—don’t get discouraged if it takes a while for people to catch on and start engaging. It takes time and persistence. Don't give up!
Always be careful how you reply to clients—don’t give them any reason to feel negatively about you or your company.
How do you respond to negative feedback or complaints?
Oh, man, it really depends on just what kind of feedback or complaints it is. You know, sometimes it's just people complaining about your price. Whether they're just trying to talk you down, or whatever, you can't let it get to you. I tell customers I understand if it’s a price thing they're worried about, but I don’t budge on my prices and diminish the value of my work. There are very few instances where I'll negotiate a change in rates—it has to be some give-and-take.
You have to make sure people know you hear them and understand what they're saying. If it's a legit complaint about something you messed up, forgot to do, didn't do to your best standards, you have to own it. It's not personal. It's business, and you made a promise to get something done right. Don’t turn negative feedback and complaints into an even more negative situation by attacking, getting negative yourself, fighting back, or whatever. That's just going to ruin you, and you're going to lose a customer. If you can save the customer by letting them know you've understood them and offering ways of fixing it, do it.
You mention people pushing back on pricing. How do you typically deal with that? What are the situations where you might negotiate, and how does that play out?
Well, first off, if it's just a one-off job, and someone isn't happy with the price of services, I'm not going to just lower rates for the sake of one person. I always try to inquire about people’s budgets if they resist my standard pricing, and I try to find a way to match things up. Some people really have budget constraints, and I will offer meeting their budget, but explain how I'll have to take off some service items to get there. An example could be agreeing to do a cleaning at the customer's desired price, but explaining we’re not going to be able to clean all the windows or something like that. People respond well to that.
Situations that might bring me to give a price break are usually with companies as clients who bring in job volume, where giving up a small bit in the rate is more than made up in having more work to do.
But the most important lesson I've learned is that I do not rush to the bottom just to get a customer. Some people aren't going to see the value we're offering them in terms of time and quality of our cleaning services. You can't win everyone over, and a lot of the people who really fight you on price weren't going to be very good customers to have anyway. I want to make sure that my customers are delighted in our work, and paying for the service is a happy event—not something they do begrudgingly.
What kind of advice or recommendations would you give to other people?
Have I mentioned Facebook? [laughs]
Pay attention to the details—never settle for good enough. Ever. It makes you lazy over time. Take pride in your work, and focus on bringing your customers happiness with every single job. Do the little things you don’t think anyone will notice, because they will.
A good example of that last one is when we once cleaned this lady's toilet paper holder. It was one of those mirrored platters, sitting on the tank of a toilet. I remember spotting that it hadn't been cleaned or dusted in I don't know how long. It was obvious the woman never did it herself. It would have been so easy to just let it go. But, we cleaned it all up, and wouldn't you know it—the customer noticed it and called to tell us she was so impressed that that little mirror was sparkling. People notice the little things when you're the one who did the work for them, even though it's always the little things they forget when they're the ones doing the work.
Stand out from everyone else in some small way, and make it your own. We leave a scented candle behind for every new customer after their first cleaning. It's a small thing that doesn't mean much. But they walk in to a sparkling clean home, and there's a nice-smelling candle waiting to be lit to really help them feel good and relaxed. We hear little thank yous from people all the time over that.
Oh, and get licensed and insured. You may also need workers’ comp depending on your clients. If you want to do some work for other businesses, that's often required, and it's better to have it before you want to put a quote in on a big job.
Any final thoughts for other service business owners like you out there?
Can I tell people they should use WorkWeek? Seriously. What WorkWeek is doing has been such a game-changer. I had 4 different apps on my phone just to try and keep track of all the things I had to do every day. And I had to keep switching between all of them, sometimes redoing the same repetitive tasks for each job and customer. That was like cleaning the same toilet over and over again. But now you guys are keeping track of so much more for me, and it barely takes any effort on my part. You guys are like those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I wouldn't want to get by without it.
Haha. Thanks, Rebecca. Nobody's going to believe us when we tell them you said that.
[Laughs] It's true! It's totally changed my typical day—almost as much as my favorite oven cleaner! (PS: that's Easy Off. It's amazing! Everyone needs to be using that stuff. It's magic.)