After writing my first article for the VLM Central E-zine, I received e-mails from half way around the world (the land down under) and many from the U.S. Everyone who e-mailed me seemed to want a quick and easy way to instantly get tons of business. They wanted me to give them some magical formula that would work instantly.
It soon became apparent, after asking some questions, that there was no way they could approach the commercial market (in my fashion) with such limited knowledge of its inner-workings. So, for that reason, I will (in this article) cover the most important steps to gaining a piece of the commercial market. It is worth the effort. If you have ever worked in the corporate world, you are already ahead of the game!
You need to speak and understand their language, using phrases such as “proactive vs. reactive”, “life cycle cost”, “how do we extend the years of service”, etc. You must be prepared to tell them what they need to know. After all, you are the expert!
This is very important to them. Their very existence depends on staying within it. They have to do 1-year, as well as 5-year, “projections”. They are looking for a sound return on their general-expense dollars. You can help them with this. I have rarely seen a sound Carpet Maintenance Program in any large facility. In a large office building, you will probably never clean all of the carpet (outside of spotting). If you do not understand this concept, you need to take an IICRC course on Commercial Carpet Care.
Potential commercial clients will be looking very hard at your company, and you will not even get to first base, if you do not have adequate:
#2) Workers Compensation.
#3) Various Workmanship Warranties.
Most, if not all, commercial accounts are only acquired after several, “one on one” meetings. Invite the Facilities Manager to lunch (go to a top-notch restaurant).
dress like him (wear a suit and tie, if required). You can also invite several Facilities Managers to a “lunch/demo/presentation”. This is a 1 to 2 hour get-together after you put together your “dog and pony show”! :o)
I am not trying to discourage anyone from going after this lucrative market. However, using my method may take you longer to get a contract, but you will have it for years. I had one commercial contract for over 9 years and collected over $500,000.00 for my effort! (Yes, I said, 1/2 million dollars!)
Do your best to reach the company’s “decision maker” and ask that person to lunch (do not waste time on a person who cannot make the decision). You can learn so much, this way.
One time, I was having lunch with a Facilities Manager; I was asking him what else I could help him with. He mentioned that he was having trouble with “over billing” by one of his current Contractors. He said that, many times, this particular Contractor would not even show up to do the job! Bear in mind, this Facilities Manager was in charge of 55 Bank branches in the Atlanta area and the contractor in question was pressure washing all the drive-thrus once a month (a piece of concrete 9’x25′). That made for 147 of them, total.
He asked me if I was interested in cleaning them. So, I asked him what he was paying per drive-thru, and much to my surprise, he told me $50.00 each! That’s another: $7350.00.
I immediately went into the pressure washing business. Additionally, that led to sign cleaning for this account (55 signs x $148.00 each) as well as tons of other business from just this one Facilities Manager! That’s another: $8140.00.
To sum it all up, my advice to you, is to:
* Do your homework.
* Get certified.
* Go get the business.
It’s out there and someone is doing it right now, why not you?
Ray “Rambo” Moody