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In our 2019 cleaning industry trends report, the theme for cleaning pros was to stick to the basics: Build systems and a trustworthy team.

In 2020, with increasing competition, and price-sensitive customers, you need to find ways to make more sales and build processes for keeping customers satisfied.

Similarly, time is money. You can’t afford to micromanage every task, put out fires, and oversee every customer interaction. You need to fine-tune your systems and optimize your existing team to increase efficiency without sacrificing reliability.

And that’s the theme for 2020: Improving on the foundation you built in 2019—your systems and team.

To help you get there, here are the top ten cleaning industry trends for 2020, based on conversations and a survey with over 100 residential cleaning businesses to see what they’re doing differently at the start of a new decade.

The Top Residential Cleaning Industry Trends in 2020

Trend #1. Customer Service Will Become More Automated

Many cleaning businesses spend too much time delivering customer service on the phone. This time could be better spent handling customer issues when they do pop-up, and working on other critical business areas.

This is set to change as businesses embrace smart customer service systems. Systems ensure consistency, efficiency, and quality, every single job. Smart customer service systems mean you can spend less time on the phone and more time delivering stellar customer service.

“Amazon has taught the consumer that they can have a great buying experience without ever talking to anyone. So good customer experience is moving away from something that is highly personalized to an experience that is super convenient.

This means the customer can:

Companies that are resistant to this change will have to play catch-up in the next few years. Now is the time to figure out how to make this work in our businesses while we can take small steps toward this goal.

By automating our customer service through online methods like chat boxes, Facebook Messenger, automated texts, and follow-up emails, we’ve cut down the time spent on customer service to just three hours a day. That extra time allows us to handle issues when they do come up much better, or to spend time on other aspects of the business we enjoy.”

– Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid

Cleaning Business Owner Royce Ard

Trend #2. Responsiveness is What Wins More Jobs in 2020

In our survey of 100 cleaning businesses, ‘attracting new clients” was the biggest challenge. This is unsurprising as residential cleaning is a competitive industry, and clients expect fast response times.

In fact, cleaning businesses we spoke with agreed that if you do not respond to a new lead within 30 min and up to 24 hours, you will lose the opportunity—and the client will simply go elsewhere.

“Business owners need to step back and take a look at their responsiveness. Customers expect their questions and problems to be solved immediately. If they want to know the cost of your service, book an appointment, ask a question or buy something, it has to be instant. Business owners can accomplish this through live chat on their website and being extremely responsive on social media. Service businesses need instant quote and online booking features, and everything has to be easy to do on mobile phones. One tap on their phone to contact you is absolutely necessary.”

– Katie Pearse, Glisten Academy

Katie Pearse, the Maid Mentor, for Jobber

Trend #3. Investing in Business Software = Investing in Success

Cleaning businesses currently face a major challenge: If they can’t be more efficient at managing certain business areas like invoicing and payments, they’ll fall behind the competition—and lose money.

The cleaning businesses that will remain ahead of the curve are those that choose to invest in the right residential cleaning software.

“There are so many moving parts of running a successful cleaning business: customer management, frequency of visits, lead management and qualification, team scheduling, invoicing, and payments. And there’s only so much you can juggle. The more you take on, the more opportunities you lose to quick-thinking competitors.

It’s virtually impossible to try to grow a successful cleaning business without relying on software. The cleaning industry trend I’ve seen is that the majority of established cleaning businesses are already using operations software and understand the value. So in 2020, it’s time for everyone else to catch up.”

– Brianna Rogers, Product Marketing Strategist, Jobber

Trend #4. Finding the RIGHT Customers is More Important Than Finding New Customers

In 2019, the Jobber team ran a focus group at the ISSA Trade Show. According to insights from the focus group, cleaning businesses recognize that they not only need more customers but they need the right customers.

All participants of the focus group had rigorous criteria of who they would or wouldn’t clean for. They also understood the importance of qualifying leads quickly.

Having a lead qualifying process means both you and the client will be aligned on what needs to be performed and at what price. On-site assessments and phone calls performed by the owner are the old way. In 2020, offer online booking and information request sheets.

“If you can get your leads to qualify themselves, it saves you time and builds trust early. Use your website or social media to educate potential clients in advance. Price, policy, procedures, staff expectations, insurance information, company values, FAQ, etc.—providing this upfront will help you manage you and your client’s expectations.”

– Brianna Rogers, Product Marketing Strategist, Jobber

“Make yourself visible to your customers and show your phone number and address on your website. This brings instant trust. All in all, don’t hide and be upfront with your customers.”

– Judith Virag, Clean Club Calgary

Trend #5. Finding (and keeping) the best employees means being better employers

No amount of leads will matter if you don’t have reliable and well-trained employees to do the work. Employees are the key to your success at the end of the day. They are the ones who do the hard work, interact with customers, ensure repeat business, and get 5-star reviews.

In 2020, we’ll see the most successful cleaning businesses double down on building a strong team by incorporating mandatory training, employee perks, hiring processes, and safe and respectful work environments into their company culture.

“Everyone is desperate to find better workers. They are searching for people who want to work hard, people who care, and employees who aren’t lazy, or will work out long-term. But we have it backward in this industry. Stop searching for better employees, start being a better boss. If you want the best, you have to BE the best. Stop focusing all your time and energy on finding a better ‘them’ and start being a better boss. If you create an irresistible job, you will attract irresistible workers. It’s not them, it’s you. The day I realized that was the day my business changed forever.”

– Debbie Sardone, The Maid Coach

Trend #6. More Cleaning Businesses Will Compete on Customer Service (Not Price)

Lowballers may win the odd bid, but they will rarely win repeat customers over the long term. The businesses that will succeed are those who deliver quality work and go above and beyond to ‘wow’ customers, book more recurring work, and win more referrals.

Delivering fantastic service does not mean you need to go beyond reasonable means, it just means looking for small opportunities to delight.

“I have a hard and fast rule for all of our cleaning technicians. If your client asked you to do something which, in your estimation, will take less than ten minutes – just do it! (Providing it does not violate any of our safety rules or laws!) Change sheets on an extra bed, carry packages from FedEx, help unload some groceries, or wipe down patio furniture. My pricing can easily absorb an extra ten minutes, and it sets us apart from the nickel-and-dime services.”

– Bobbi Taylor, Lemon Blossom Cleaning Services

Trend #7. Customers Want Convenient Ways to Pay

Customers want to pay you. What they don’t want is for payment to be difficult, slow, and inconvenient.

In 2020, more businesses will make it easy for clients to pay. They will accept multiple forms of payment and even automatic payments for recurring customers.

“The way people are paying for anything and everything, including service, is changing. People want convenient ways to pay. Most millennials want to pay by credit card. People are looking for a specific experience—and that experience may change depending on your customer base, so you need to do your homework. A good rule of thumb is to automate your payment process as much as possible and make it really, really easy for your customers. Your turnaround time will be faster, and your admin time will go down. Chasing payments is a lot of work that’s not adding any value to your business, and it’s probably frustrating both parties.”

– Darren Wood, Director of Finance and Operations, Jobber

Trend #8. Efficient Scheduling is Improving Customer Service

Scheduling remains one of the biggest hurdles for cleaning businesses. Operationally, scheduling is a real double-whammy: overbooking jobs burns bridges with your clients and employees.

The result? Everyone’s frustrated, and nobody gets paid.

In 2020, take control of these scheduling inefficiencies by implementing permanent solutions. Band-aid solutions will not cut it.

You need to get to the heart of the problem—whether it’s time tracking, real-time team notifications, or better client communication—and overhaul your scheduling process so that it works for you.

“Efficient scheduling starts with a specific goal and clear objectives. How many billable hours per day do you want per person? Second, don’t step over a dollar to pick up a penny. Rather, spend money on a software program that saves you time because time is money. If you are still using manual processes that good software can handle, you are losing money by not adding this technology to your business.

One missed appointment because you haven’t automated the scheduling or reminders can cost you that client forever. Did you know that one lost recurring client is worth, on average, $3,200 a year to your business? What is it costing you not to automate and systemize your scheduling? Always look at the cost to you if you don’t automate your scheduling, not the cost to do it.”

– Debbie Sardone, the Maid Coach

Plus, don’t forget to build systems into your scheduling. Systems needn’t be complex. They can be as simple as color-coding customers into your schedule.

“Have you ever moved a client onto your schedule only to discover that the client had previously told you, “never come before a certain time” or “don’t come before one?” This is a big issue in the cleaning business with recurring customers as we optimize our schedules each week to make sure the routes are efficient, and there is little to no downtime.

Here is our solution to the problem. We are big believers in using colors on our calendar in Jobber to alert us to certain types of customers. For instance, our cleaning customers who pay for our premier service get a different color on our calendar.”

— Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid

Trend #9. Smart and Flexible Pricing Is Winning More Business

Pricing is always a huge sticking point. As a result, cleaning businesses often take shortcuts when pricing their services. They look at what their competitors are charging and then set a price in line with theirs or simply lowball them.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with looking at industry benchmarks to guide you.

But your business is unique. It has its own cost structure and value that it provides customers. Your pricing should reflect that.

So, in 2020, be smart. Know your numbers and build systems that support profit.

“The problem with most companies is that they are not pricing jobs profitably. The consumer gets a bargain, and the business can’t scale due to low-profit margins. The three factors in pricing for profit are learning how to sell time accurately, improving your production rates, and charging at the top of the pricing value scale, not the bottom or the middle.

If your employees are slow and inefficient, you will have to price at the bottom of the value scale. So, speed up your staff, don’t overestimate the time needed, and regularly shop the professional competition to keep up with pricing increases in the market.”

– Debbie Sardone, The Maid Coach

Debbie Sardone the Maid Coach

Plus, implement smart pricing strategies, test them, always move forward, and never undercut your prices if it puts your business and reputation at risk.

An excellent place to start is to be flexible and price different service packages. Packages give customers choices that will fill their “shopping” needs, so that they will stop looking around at your competition.

“In today’s market, customers like to choose from packages. Often this gives them all of the context they need to make a decision right away. But it also puts the emphasis on value, rather than features to be haggled over. By laying out a ‘good, better, best’ option for customers to choose from, you’ll close more jobs at higher prices, and your customers will thank you!

– Curt Kempton, Founder, ResponsiBid

Curt Kempton

Trend #10. Focusing on Small Wins Can Build a Foundation For Success

Running a cleaning business is challenging. There’s a lot to manage: Invoicing, payments, staff, customer issues—and so it goes.

Focus on the core tenets of running a successful cleaning business: Do good work, take care of your people, and put your customers first.

How you do that boils down to putting systems in place, building a strong team, and, most importantly, taking one small step at a time to create small wins. These small wins build on each other to create long-term success.

“Stop focusing on where you wish you were in business, or where you hope to be in 5 or 10 years. Decide where you want to be 12 months from TODAY. Then, work backward. Break it down by the month and make a list of things you must do, the steps you must follow to reach your monthly goals. Focus on just beating yesterday. Focus on just reaching this months’ goal. One step at a time will create small wins that will fuel your inspiration to go on to have bigger wins.”

– Debbie Sardone, The Maid Coach

2020 Is Your Year for Success

2020 is all about improving your systems and team. Tapping into these ten cleaning industry trends will help you do this.

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