Since cleaning businesses find success in areas with high concentrations of their target consumer, it should be no surprise that the “urban uprising” identified by Moen’s department of consumer and market insights is a good thing for the growth of the residential cleaning industry. But it still won’t be easy marketing to the different groups of inhabitants in this new urbanity.
Moen identifies three primary groups, with different ages and origins, but ultimately similar needs when it comes to a clean home and work environment:
- Urban Nesters (ages 49-67)
- Single Gen X’rs (ages 36-48)
- Upscale Gen Y’rs (ages 18-35)
All three of these primary urban market groups share a key element of the buying mindset: they are all looking for ways to improve their life experience, no matter the size of their home space.
Let’s look at business trends emerging in response to that growing demand.
Steady Growth in Demand for Chemicals and Sustainable Choices
Despite the use of the general term “chemicals,” the Industrial & Institutional (I&I) Cleaning Chemicals Forecast for 2014 and 2019 (prepared by the Freedonia Group) indicates an increase in demand for the various types of chemicals used to clean and sanitize homes, offices, healthcare, multi-family and industrial dwellings.
The sale of disinfectants and sanitizers is the fastest growing area of the industry in the constant battle against viral and bacterial threats in food preparation areas, restrooms, and healthcare settings. General purpose cleaning agents remain the bulk of the product in demand.
One of the more sustainable chemical choices for cleaning continues to see growth in consumer and manufacturer demand. US demand alone for enzymes is expected to rise 4.8% annually to 2014. While the use of enzymes in a cleaning procedure requires a reworking based on the time it takes for the enzyme to work, the long-term sustainability of the results seems to meet the expectations of the “green” consumer well. Enzymes can also be used to contain and remediate industrial bio-chemicals that threaten the environment, like those used in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010.
What does this mean for the cleaning business owner or BSC? First, it means that more space is being cleaned, proof that the market for the cleaning industry is strong and growing. However, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily growing in your local market.
Second, higher demand for products often leads to slightly higher prices, especially for more specialized products used in cleaning procedures. Businesses specializing in “green” or “organic” cleaning will want to budget more for supplies to accommodate higher prices. Alternatively, specialty cleaning services should revisit equipment investments that could reduce supply costs in the long-run.
Automating Your Sales Process
Automation is leading the wave of consumer response products, with continually more streamlined buying procedures, especially online and mobile-enabled options. So what does automation look like for consumers shopping for a cleaning service? A no-fuss estimate for service, usually acquired online without having to go through the extra steps of dialing and waiting and listening to someone’s sales spiel. Home services referral sites like Homejoy and Care.com have really embraced the online quoting and booking demand and provided consumers with a one-stop shopping location.
For business owners, a first step into automation may be using available cloud services to make the marketing and early sales process a (mostly) hands-off procedure. This frees up more time for the phone and face-to-face sales representatives to do their work – the close. This is another way automation can help a business improve the customer’s life experience.
Several online estimating tools exist and several are in testing to empower a cleaning business to customize and offer this price-shopping option to website visitors. Such a system helps to weed out the price-shoppers (aka bargain shoppers) and educate those who aren’t. Just think, after 3-4 online quotes that all come in pretty similar, the common price shopper is likely to either adjust her thinking about the value of home cleaning and place a call or stop shopping for services she can’t or won’t afford.
Beyond the sales and scheduling process, automation is now encroaching on the services themselves. Leading retail automation experts at AVT have developed a new system for Rug Doctor to facilitate carpet cleaning equipment rental at stores:
Now, instead of waiting for a store employee to assist with a carpet cleaning rental system – which hassles both the customer and the worker – now anyone can get the machine with a simple swipe of a credit card. A door opens up, the machine is accessed, the customer is happy. Returns are equally as easy. This automated system has fundamentally changed the way people rent and return carpet cleaning equipment.
This is becoming an increasingly common way to empower the Do-It-Yourselfers, especially if it’s hard for them to get the services priced and scheduled using the existing traditional methods.
Image-centric Marketing Generates Higher Response
Question: have you looked at Facebook’s 5:1 rule for ads and promoted posts? That’s the ratio of graphic to words allowed on a paid ad on Facebook. The reason is simple. Facebook’s internal metrics show that that’s the kind of advertisement (aka marketing) that consumers are responding to. Facebook enforces their rule because it makes them more money even while it’s leading more money-spenders to you!
So here’s the short of it. In everything you place in front of consumers, focus on a “less is more” visual appeal:
- Revise your main webpages, email marketing, even printed marketing pieces to emphasize the visual – more pictures, fewer words.
- Begin designing your marketing with the graphic – for cleaning services, a “before,” “after,” or resulting life experience graphic is likely to do the trick.
- Expand your outreach to one or two of the more graphic-focused social media outlets: Pintrest, Instagram, Tumblr. This has the added advantage of helping you create more backlinks to your website, which further strengthens your SEO and website rankings.
Perhaps an article by Forbes about trends said it best: “There is a sense that from the hyper-connectivity of our highly-digitized lives to the bright, flashy, complicated sensory input we’re fed everyday, there is no way to continue at this pace.” This movement forward creates space “where the most successful marketing strategies will be ones that are not only simple in nature, but promote goods and services that serve to simplify the consumer’s life, or even just their customer experience.”