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Forecasting your revenue stream and accurately predicting trends in business pays large dividends.
Let''s take the seasons of the year. We all know they''re going to happen, but we''re not sure exactly when they''re going to happen.
We may not know the exact day or week that fall turns in the winter, but predictably so… winter happens!
Just like the seasons that we are all familiar with, carpet cleaners also know that there is usually a slow time that occurs about the same time every year.
If you look at industry bulletin boards, such as found on www.cleanfax.com, you will always find a post during the wintertime that goes something like this: "Business is really slow! What can I do to get some commercial work?"
The answer is that you can do many things to get commercial work, but the problem is, most often, you are too late to effectively change your current slow situation.
Your business may have just experienced a great spring, summer and fall, not allowing you time to think about winter, much less take action to change the foreseeable trend of slowing business.
An easy prediction
Honestly looking at our industry means we can predict that a slow time will affect many carpet cleaners during January, February and March.
These slow times can and do have devastating effects on many of our fellow carpet cleaners.
This article is intended to help you see the trend early and give you some ideas on how to stop the trend for early 2011.
It would be easy to say "just market more", but more importantly… to whom do you market to, and what do you market?
This column is dedicated to commercial work, and rightly so, as commercial work is the number one way to fill in this slow time.
If you are reading this article and you already know that you are going to need more business in the first part of 2011, you know you need a quick way to fill in this void and get through the upcoming slow season.
Remember that there is a distinction between ongoing maintenance and one-time work.
At this point, it is too late to set up enough ongoing maintenance cleaning for this winter, as that takes longer to accomplish. But not all is lost. There is still plenty of time to obtain one-time commercial work, which can then easily turn into ongoing maintenance work.
The winter-preparedness action plan
Depending on the size of your company, start with 30 or more accounts that you will "flash market" to.
Flash marketing consists of a three-month active plan of mailings and direct calls targeting your chosen accounts.
What''s different about this from regular marketing is that you do not have time to develop relationships by going to meetings and networking events.
You are going to contact each potential customer six times during this three month period.
Develop a mailing for each potential account.
First, obtain the name of the contact and then mail two handwritten letters, followed by a telephone call.
Follow the first two letters with two more letters spaced two weeks apart, with another follow-up telephone call. You could call this a "2-1, 2-1 marketing blitz".
Two of the letters will be on carpet cleaning, suggesting to the contacts that cleaning carpet during January, February and March are great months to clean carpet because the holiday season is over. Plus, the customer still has time to put the work into the budget. And a benefit you can mention is that the carpet dries very quickly because of less humidity in winter.
Your follow-up telephone call will address the two letters you sent, and you will ask if you can come set up a time to inspect their carpet and give them a proposal.
The two other letters will be directed at upholstery cleaning during the same months of January, February and March.
Your letter should highlight the importance of keeping their indoor air quality at a high level by removing dust and allergens. Again, follow these two letters up with a telephone call, offering to inspect and give a proposal.
Any business that you obtain as a direct result of this marketing blitz will most likely result in long-term ongoing maintenance and, hopefully, next year you will have some of that ongoing revenue that is so important to get through some of our traditionally slow periods.
Fred Geyen is president of the Geyen Group (www.geyengroup.com). His background includes commercial product sales and program development for residential, commercial and disaster restoration with ServiceMaster. He has a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED-AP) designation and is on the board of directors with the LMCCA. Geyen can be contacted at (612) 799-5111.