As we face some uncertainty in the economy with rising inflation and talk of recession, it can cause anxiety on how best to secure a strong position for your business and build those customer relationships. Recessions impact every business, and the best way to weather that storm is to know your customer.
That sounds so simple, however, when the customer is also the decision-maker for the provision of your services, you should understand everything you can about them.
Be aware of the customer’s situation
It is important to determine your customer’s wants and needs. In difficult economic times, you want to understand the customer’s entire situation. What problems do they have? What are they worried about? What options are they considering?
Consider the issue of trust and think of your first interaction with your customer. For example, most customers when are not present while cleaners are present, so highlighting that your employees are bonded could put you in a different class than someone who is not as thoroughly vetted. When a customer is anxious, having a trusted service alleviates worry and adds to the trust factor for your company.
Highlight your value
When economic challenges persist, and customers re-evaluate their spending, your competition is not only from others providing your service, but with an entire bucket of services within the customer’s spending. Our customers are not focused on making a trade between cleaning companies, rather, they will be looking at their entire spending bucket and deciding which services to maintain and which to defer. This is your opportunity to communicate your value.
We have an advantage in the cleaning industry because we have moved away from being viewed as a discretionary service and have shifted more into a needs-based service. One of our brand values is that we afford people more time, especially now when people are busier than ever.
Time is still worth more than money to most of our customers.
Stay true to your brand
Every business faces the need to adapt from time to time. It might be to implement new technology, and it might be to manage an economic circumstance. Having flexibility in your services will make it easier to maintain your customer base.
That might mean that a customer who receives service every week takes a step back, choosing service every other week. We still maintain them as a customer because we can adapt to the needs they have at the time. We still maintain our promise to deliver high-quality service in a trustworthy way, and when the customer feels more confident about the economic situation, it is an easy transition back to full service.
RELATED: The importance of relationships in commercial cleaning
Trust can weather nearly any economic storm. While changes in the economy can be jarring at times, they are also short-lived; the trust built in a business relationship should have a long-term commitment. Brand commitment is crucial because it builds a relationship of trust and consistency of service.
Leverage your strengths and experiences
As a long-standing cleaning business, there is the benefit of deep experience leading through challenging economic times. Similarly, we have all been through COVID, and there are lessons learned and leveraged to make good decisions for the future.
Use everything you have to your advantage — time, intelligence, experience — to adapt your company in ways that will allow you to continue to be successful in any economy. Cleaning services offer peace of mind, consistent quality, dedicated commitment, and a trusted relationship—core values that are key to earning customer trust and loyalty in good times and bad.
Don’t be shy about communicating all of your value to your customer. You understand their needs, and you can continue to deliver your service in the same reliable manner that makes their lives just a little easier to manage. Consistency breeds comfort.
Take care of your people
Anyone in a leadership role has a responsibility to create a positive experience for their people because the way they treat their people will be reflected in how their people treat their customers.
Frontline workers are the people who deliver the service, and we need to make sure we are taking care of them. We can all do a better job of taking care of our people and developing them to feel more valued.
Take the time to build a rapport with your teams so they deliver the experiences you want them to provide as ambassadors of your brand. When employees are appreciated and encouraged and feel you are also invested in their lives, you will reap the benefits of hiring and onboarding new people.
With challenge comes opportunity
Change is hard for most people. As a service provider, the sooner you start understanding the changes you need in your business, the more time you have to become more flexible for your employees and customers.
Take a proactive approach toward adapting to external factors that affect your service and consider how those factors may be impacting a customer. Your customer is at the core of your business, and challenging times often present strong opportunities to solidify and grow your business.
By Jean Grossman
Jean Grossman was appointed president of Merry Maids® in February 2023. She has been at the helm of customer service leadership for more than 25 years and has helped navigate both established and emerging franchise brands through challenging economic times.
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