In this blog post, we are going to discuss the downsides of relying on paid marketing to grow your cleaning company. At Homeer we've decided to halt all paid marketing in 2021. As a "newish" local cleaning company this can seem like a risky move, but to explain you first need to know who I am.
My name is Chance Herriage and I am the founder of Homeer. At Homeer we operate with one simple mission: To give our community a chore-free home-life. It's difficult for most cleaning companies to operate with this mission. The long list of things to each day can steal the business owners entire day. But at Homeer we have the help of modern-day technology. Still though, there wasn't enough time in the day for everything to be done at the quality I expect.
For example, all our reminders are automated, all our quality assurance for managers is automated, all our scheduling is automated. Now it's not our goal to automate everything simply to say it's been automated. The goal is to automate tasks to unlock time that was previously unavailable. By reclaiming this large amount of time we can focus on the quality of our services.
For the last five years, I've shown up to work with the primary focus to give all my team members a better work-life. By offering a better work environment we can deliver a higher level of work to more clients. Knowing this, instead of creating a 2021 budget for Homeer paid marketing, we've created a 2021 team member budget. This means that instead of focusing on building the next ad campaign, we are focusing on giving our team members and clients a better experience while trusting that our work will speak for itself and bring natural growth.
We are now ready to start from the beginning of this journey: Realizing we had a problem that was fixing to stop all the growth of Homeer.
Before we hop into the juicy bits we first need to know what types of marketing a local cleaning company has at their disposal. Let's start by looking at the daily marketing checklist that Homeer operated with at the start of 2020:
As you can see that is a lot of things to write and post every single day. That means that I immediately lose access to the first four hours of my day, every single day. That's not a winning formula...
There's a common saying thrown around business owners that goes:
"Work on your business. Not in it."
In my first years as a business owner, I wanted to believe it was possible to be successful while still working in your business. I was so wrong though. I was stuck working in my business instead of on it and doing so was creating new issues every day. I didn't have enough time in the day to make sure every team member had what they needed. I didn't have time to make the quality assurance calls I needed to. I didn't have time to do anything, much less clean my own home. I'm not the smartest when it comes to personal problems though so it took me literal months to realize that I needed help.
This is where any half-decent marketing agency would tell the business owner that they need help, but I disagree. I believe an entire idea shift is necessary. Without shifting our idea of local cleaning services marketing it will be unrealistic expecting to get anything worthwhile out of doing your marketing or using an agency.
So, what is that shift in thinking?
This idea being the business owner must truly understand the needed tone and largest pain-points within this industry while maintaining the ability to communicate the solutions in a very simple manner. This is necessary because there are several truly massive cleaning businesses that all local cleaning businesses must compete with. Those businesses include Merry Maid, Molly Maids, and more, but the important thing is not their name or size. The important thing to notice when you're competing with a behemoth of a company is the way they talk to their existing clients and how new clients are found and converted.
They don't tell you who.
They don't tell you what.
They don't tell you when.
They don't tell you where.
They don't tell you why.
Most importantly. They don't tell you how.
They are primarily focused on convincing you that they are the best cleaning service.
There's a difference here isn't there?
Merry Maids has grown so large they don't believe they need to answer their clients' questions. We cannot guess the reason for which they've chosen to take this tone with their audience but we do know the outcome. The outcome being that their home cleaning clients have to sign contracts to avoid future miscommunications or issues. Instead of putting in the time to answer the questions, they'd rather just force a contract and move on.
The difference is incredibly obvious when you look at it, but what do most local and worldwide cleaning companies continue to do? They focus on the same list of things that deliver the same results we've all seen before.
Those are just the basic ways to digitally market a cleaning company. The list grows even longer when we start considering the physical marketing aspects. Suddenly our list of marketing campaigns goes from four things to a list of countless items that could be added...
It's important to note that I'm not judging any company that does any of the above. Quite the opposite. The scale of franchised cleaning companies can be intimidating and can easily create an image of statements that appear to be factual and best-practice.
This is best exemplified by the fact that the majority of cleaning services are running ads very similar to Merry Maids. In general, you are hard-pressed to find a city that has more than two or three great local cleaning services. Yet in 2021, many in the cleaning industry are falling behind the curve. In most cities, the only cleaning company even running ads on Facebook is Merry Maids. Homeer was one of the few local cleaning companies I know that was using Facebook paid marketing.
But, as we became more successful with our digital paid marketing the issues became glaringly obvious.
There is a step known as "scaling" your marketing campaign which comes after you've found the proper media, tone, and offer to include in an ad. With the scaling, we increase the budget to spread our reach at the same respective cost per person. But, that's not what happened. Instead, it was impossible to increase our spend while keeping our costs to a sustainable level.
I knew there had to be more to the picture than I was seeing and that resulted in one of the most heartbreaking discoveries I made in 2020.
In 2020 Merry Maids spent upwards of $70 thousand per month on paid marketing and the traffic received only accounted for 1% of their total website traffic. Merry Maids can spend hundreds of dollars convincing a single client that they are the best option. A local cleaning company doesn't have that luxury though.
Plus, with the other 99% of Merry Maids traffic coming organically they are essentially including this spending budget to keep the local companies small. Merry Maids is not getting any more of the pie, they are simply blocking other cleaning companies from being able to compete unless you have bags of money.
Some may say that Merry Maids just has good business sense. And to that, I would agree on face-level. They are a company that's grown to a massive scale and that cannot be denied or argued. But, what I don't like about the approach they've taken is that instead of improving themselves, they've chosen to chain those that have. Still, as a business owner, I can respect the move, but I will never be a fan of the "be brutal to death" approach many carry when leading a business. This is entirely a personal attribute of mine, but I have gone into great depths talking about the way Merry Maids operates in my blog post: Merry Maids: The Easy Way To Lose Control of Your Home as that's not what we're here for today...
Being a local cleaning company we are left with the one option of doing things differently. If we operate with the same tone and idea we simply cannot compete. Merry Maids, Molly Maids, and all these other massive companies will always have more money to spend on ads that will reach far more people.
It can be difficult to stand out from companies that have grown so large. But it's not. It's incredibly easy. Especially because both Merry Maid and Molly Maids are extremely outdated in the age of 2021. It's easy to stand out because these large companies are making little to no effort in keeping up with the industry. They are solely focused on keeping their market share and their tone reflects that all too well.
At Homeer, we've chosen to stand out by answering the questions that you and many others interested in cleaning services have had for years. Both Merry Maids and Molly Maids have been around for over 50 years. Yet when you go to find the answers to the most frequently asked questions you cannot find the answer anywhere.
When doing this type of research you come across countless other cleaning business owners asking "How do I find consistent clients for my home or commercial cleaning business?" It's incredibly difficult for any local cleaning company to keep pace with the big dogs.
So what have many resorted to?
They've started pouring money into "marketing courses", "cleaning company gurus" and "marketing agencies". I put each of those things in quotations because realistically 99% are quite garbage.
We have marketing courses very popular in the industry that cost thousands of dollars a month all while teaching the business owner to work in their business.
We have cleaning company gurus that charge cleaning business owners thousands of dollars a month while sharing absolutely nothing proprietary or life-changing.
We have marketing agencies that will do lower quality work than would've been delivered having done it yourself with a ticket price coming in at multiple thousands.
The cleaning industry has been fragmented since the day it started, but these three things are modern-day issues that make the fragmentation even worse. Especially when it's put in the hands of business owners that are devoting incredible amounts of effort into the wrong ideas with the wrong goals.
Not every company found within those niches are despicable. However, most end up introducing a higher level of risk while doing more damage than good. So even after having paid for "expert-level" teaching of this are paid marketing just doesn't appear to be the best avenue for 99.99% of local home cleaning services.
Let me just break it down...
To take advantage of paid marketing, every single campaign created must follow the below checklist at a minimum:
Testing the words and tone used
Testing the media (videos and images) used
Testing the audiences and interests of those audiences used
Creating a way to accept purchases
Creating an instant feedback loop to confirm completion to the user
Implement conversion tracking
Test multiple variations of all of the above
Scale to ideal revenue rate
Going through this checklist can take one person months. I don't mean months of waiting for results. I mean months of work every single day that must result in quantifiable improvements. But we have left out one key thing. We're still assuming you have all of the knowledge needed to create a proper paid marketing campaign. Without that, it's impossible to make any profitable actions. More importantly, to get to that point one has to invest hundreds of hours. This is not feasible for the majority of business owners...
This incredible barrier of entry means many local companies never have the opportunity to expand. Most local cleaning companies are constantly strapped for cash. Most local cleaning companies don't have control over the rate at which they grow their client list and team size.
What fixes this then?
Stop using and trusting paid marketing. Off the bat, this may seem like we're accepting failure, but it's far from that. We finally have taken control of the growth your company experiences.
But how can we continue to communicate with and grow our audience without facing a huge bill? There's only one. Answering the questions our clients have with complete transparency. Any other method will result in wasted time, effort, and money.
Instead of spending money to talk to people that don't even care about our home cleaning services we've chosen to refocus our efforts. Now instead of running an ad, we will release a full-length blog post answering a question one of our existing clients has asked.
By following this method we gain the ability to bring in free and constant organic traffic from others that have similar questions. Plus, doing this has opened a doorway of feedback between Homeer and our clients. Now more than ever we are getting valuable feedback that can be immediately acted upon.
The cost isn't the only thing that changes here though.
Now, Homeer is finally in control of our messaging and who our message is spread to. Previously when we were bound to our Facebook page we would spend countless hours crafting a post or video only to have it seen by a handful of people. Of course, we can pay and have it shown to the rest of our audience, but that's not ideal or sustainable.
Instead, we know that our blog post will remain on our website for as long as the information is relevant. Plus, we don't have to worry about our clients not being able to find the answer to the question that we had previously given! Leaving social media is an exciting time because it's similar to the chains being unlocked.
Another side effect of answering questions more transparently is that you will get more clients. With a website that doesn't answer the questions of your clients, it will be very difficult to get any bookings unless you've talked to them personally. That's not good. Wouldn't it be nice if you could wake up from a good night's sleep to seven newly scheduled bookings? Wouldn't you be excited to wake up to thirty home cleanings scheduled online overnight?
I would and that's precisely why Homeer has chosen to head this direction in 2021.
Plus the final major benefit that comes out of this is that we now have an increased budget for our team members. Not only do we have a larger budget to deliver the quality you and I expect, but also to offer a better quality of life to my team members. After all, it doesn't matter how great our website is if our team members are not amazing. So, at Homeer we start with a livable wage and focus on giving our team members a higher quality of life.
Do you think this approach is possible for your cleaning business?
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👀 Views: 27
📝 Written By: Chance Herriage
🗣 Published: 01/07/2021
⏰ Updated: 01/18/2021
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