This is part two in the blog series “Marketing Basics for Power Wash Companies.” Find part one here.
You’ve done your SWOT Analysis and figured out your USP. You’ve researched and identified your target customer and made Customer Personas. Now it’s time for the fun part, planning your marketing strategy and implementing your plan!
Begin by addressing what kind of market you are going after, is it commercial or residential? These different markets will have very different marketing strategies.
If you are planning on servicing businesses, Micheal Hinderliter, the internationally recognized “Dean of Power Wash,” says, “On the commercial side, a lot of times cold calling works well or finding and joining business groups that are for specific industries. Those are good ways to go after them. Generally, cold calling is one of the best tactics.”
On the other hand, if you are planning to service primarily residential accounts, one good option is the traditional every door direct mail method or mass mailers. Don’t be afraid to be creative when reaching out to a residential customer though and using some offbeat tactics!
Hinderliter says, “I've even heard of guys driving through neighborhoods and throwing Frisbees in people’s front yards.” Of course, make sure all your contact information is correctly printed on a Frisbee or any other material you use to market.
Once you have your type of market established, combine that information with your customer persona. If you did thorough research you will find that marketing to a specific, ideal customer is a lot easier then marketing to “everyone.”
Begin planning your marketing activities to meet your target customers where they are. Get a FREE media planning template to help you stay organized as you manage your marketing here.
Identify the social media platform they are using (Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter...etc.), place online ads on websites they visit, tailor your email campaigns to include graphics that resemble them, and subtly pivot your writing to appeal to them. Get a FREE social media planning template here to help with this task.
Pew Research Center is a great resource to help with planning which social media platform will give you the greatest return on investment. Read their report here.
Most importantly, regardless of the type of customer you are trying to reach, having a strong, consistent online presence will do wonders to help potential customers find your business.
Hinderliter says, “You need to have a presence online because I have found that before you even get the first call, customers are researching you and it's more likely that they've made a decision before they ever picked up the phone to call.”
The final stage is implementation. Begin running ads on Facebook or Google, sending mailers, or scheduling social media posts. The most important thing you can remember here is to be patient, consistent, and don’t give up! Rome wasn’t built in a day and your business won’t be either (we wish!).
Finally, remember to track and measure your campaigns and be flexible enough to pivot and redirect resources away from a tactic that isn’t bringing the expected returns into a tactic that is. For example, maybe your social media campaigns are doing great but your printed ad in a newspaper isn’t generating enough leads. Learn from this, stop using the newspaper (or change the ad) and start directing your time and energy into the places where your voice is heard! You are an expert at power washing but marketing is a skill, and like all new skills, it takes time and practice to get it right.
Hinderliter says, “I think the stress of running a business can be very daunting, and I would encourage you to just stay calm, stay focused on your goals, and to give it time. Don't give up so easily.” That’s great advice for anyone starting a business.
You have the proper training, state-of-the-art equipment, and a ‘can-do’ attitude. You are ready to get to work, but the phone is silent and your inbox is empty. It’s time to rethink your marketing strategy.
Good marketing campaigns are built on three things: research, planning, and implementation. But remember, good marketing campaigns also take time to work, so move steadily and don’t get discouraged if leads don’t come pouring in the first day your Facebook ad goes live or your email campaign begins.
First, you need to do some good old fashioned research. To begin, you need to figure out where you are currently positioned in the market and how it compares to your competitors. Next, figure out your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Finally, create your ideal customer persona, this will direct your future marketing efforts. But, if you don’t know how to go about all that, don’t worry, we’ve got some ideas for you.
A quick SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a simple yet effective way to begin analyzing your place in the market. Be as honest as you can about where your company excels and where it falls short. Place your ego aside for this and (if possible) enlist an employee, a trusted friend, or business partner to help you brainstorm.
Get a free template to guide your SWOT Analysis here.
To figure out your unique selling proposition look back to your SWOT analysis. What strengths does your business have that no one else does? Keep in mind that if a competitor can truthfully say “me-too” then it’s not your USP.
Micheal Hinderliter, the internationally recognized “Dean of Power Wash,” suggests certifications/training, the quality of your staff, and your business’ involvement in the community as possible USP’s.
Hinderliter says, “The one thing you've got to keep in mind is that everybody wants to do quality service, everybody says they're going to be the best price, everybody has uniforms. If everybody can do what you do, they're probably going to do it. You're all fighting over the same things.”
The final part of the research stage is to create your ideal customer persona. Start with listing basic demographic information about the people you are trying to reach and then expand your research to be as specific as possible. The goal here is to create an imaginary person that embodies all the core characteristics of your ideal customer. The more complete a profile you create, the more effectively you will be able to target your marketing efforts. A good way to start is by looking at who your current customers may be, or if you are new to the business, who do you see that’s hiring other power washers. You can then use the demographics and characteristics of those people to determine who are typical customers, i.e., where do they live, what kind of homes do they live in, how old are they, and any other details you can identify about them.
Get a free template to guide your customer persona here.
Often you will find that you have several ideal customer types. That’s great! Focus first on your strongest customer base and then move onto secondary and tertiary demographics.
We’ve given you a lot to think about. Start doing your research and building your customer personas. You can use the free templates we’ve provided or build your own! Keep in mind these are ‘living documents’ so they will grow and change as your business evolves.
You aren’t done quite yet! You know how and what to begin researching, in our second part of this blog, coming next week, we will help you begin planning your strategy and offer best practices for implementing your campaign to reach your goals!
In the meantime, we suggest checking out these other blogs on marketing.
Generate More Leads From Your Website - https://www.powerwash.com/blog/tips-to-generate-more-leads-from-your-pressure-washing-business-website/
Crafting a Better Auto-Response Email - https://www.powerwash.com/blog/is-your-auto-response-email-missing-an-opportunity/
How to Hire a Professional Photographer for Your Website - https://www.powerwash.com/blog/how-to-hire-a-professional-photographer-for-your-pressure-washing-website/
Once you find, hire, and train a new employee your work isn’t over quite yet. It is important that you retain that person. You can do so by implementing a dynamic, ongoing process.
The key lies in maintaining a strong, supportive company culture.
According to industry expert Michael Hinderliter, “If you've got a good culture where employees can feel secure, so they're comfortable working there, if you have a lot of transparency in your organization, and if you have good core values in place so they feel like they're doing something that is for a good reason, employees are more likely to stay with you.”
A strong, supportive company culture can be one of the hardest things for your organization to define, but it also can become its most valuable asset. It looks different in every company and can look different from year to year.
Start by defining your core values. These are the values that you measure success for both the individual and the company as a whole by. They are not hard quantitative metrics but rather qualitative measures.
Hinderliter says, “If you don't understand and you don't really stand behind your core values no one's going to ... they're just going to be a piece of paper on the wall and it doesn't mean anything.”
For example, at Powerwash.com our core values are
- Growth Oriented
- Results Driven
- Safety Minded
- Environmental Stewardship
Once you have your core values in place you need to live them! Lead by example and make sure that employees at all levels of the organization are held accountable. This includes yourself!
There are no cut and dry formulas for creating or enforcing core values. They exist in a grey area where each situation is completely different, but that’s a good thing! This means you have the opportunity to create the core values that are right for you and your organization.
Remember, most importantly, you are asking your employees to build your dream with you. Make sure you are giving them the tools, knowledge, and motivation to do the job right and see it all the way through!
Now that your new employees are hired and ready to work. It’s paramount that they are trained consistently and up to your high standards. They are the face of your company out in the field when you are not around. In order for your company to maintain a reputation of high quality services, they need to be trained to do things right.
“When you go out and actually do the work yourself, it can be helpful to document how you're doing it, step by step. You can also find a resource that can systemize and be able to create the training for you,” says Michael Hinderliter, a leader in the Texas Power Washing industry and employer.
Write it down, take pictures, make videos, maybe do a screen grab. Whatever works best for you and your specific job/industry is the best way. Make sure you document every part of the process. A new employee won’t intuitively know where to find things or where things go, so make the process as simple as possible to follow.
Ask yourself these questions when making training resources:
- What are the exact steps, as detailed as possible, to do this job?
- Where do I get the resources needed?
- How do I utilize the tools needed?
- What constitutes an emergency? Who do I report to if there is a problem or concern on this specific project?
- What did I wish I knew the first time I did this?
This is when details matter, no matter how mundane or obvious they may seem to you. Now is also the time to note any shortcuts that are tempting and spell out in your training documents why they are a ‘no’ for your company. (Especially when they are concerned with safety procedures or procedures regulated by law.)
Hinderliter says, “No matter how you approach it, you need to take the time to train each employee in the same method, so that as the next guy comes in, they're all learning the same way of doing it.”
If you don’t standardize your training procedures you risk your company standards slipping. If every employee just trains the next one, then shortcuts get taken and some employees may never actually learn the “right way”. This leads to discipline, work integrity issues, and major headaches for you later on.
“It's always good to have someone train with a supervisor so that as they're going through the process, that supervisor can watch them and tweak what they're doing, so they get that corrective action as they're performing the service,” explains Hinderliter.
He continues, “If they get off track, the supervisor brings them back on track, and if they've got questions, they can answer those questions, and monitor the way they perform.”
Remember that your training processes and documents are not set in stone. They are a living document and should be updated consistently as industry standards, technology, or work place practices change. Whenever you update your policies ALL employees should be re-trained.
Stay flexible and be open to suggestion. We know you worked really hard to make a comprehensive training program but be open to ideas on better ways to do things from employees and outside resources.
Remember, these keys to successfully training a new employee whether it’s your first or hundredth.
- Document EVERY step of the process.
- Train every employee the same way and be sure they are using your training processes each time.
- Re-train ALL employees any time a process or policy changes.
- Training documents will need to change as innovation and law changes in your industry.
Finding employees can seem like a really daunting task. There are so many avenues to try and find candidates, how do you know where to look? And when you do start having interested applicants, how do you know if they’re right for your team?
Before you start sorting resumes and scheduling interviews, here is some advice from Michael Hinderliter. Over his 30 year career employing people in the power wash industry, he has tried many different ways to recruit employees. But he usually finds the most success when he returns to the basics.
Place an Ad Online
Take advantage of social media, job listing services, and even Craigslist to get the word out there that you are hiring. Spread your net wide because you are trying to catch A LOT of fish so you can find the RIGHT one.
Try These Online Services
An important factor in catching the “right” one is to be completely honest about what the job entails in your ad. This will help you automatically filter out people who aren’t right for the kind of work you do, if you are honest up front. While you may be worried it will scare off potential employees, this may actually be a good thing! With some job descriptions, what some candidates consider a negative, others may consider a huge bonus. For example, in Hinderliters case, letting candidates know that the work involved for his company is primarily independent work and outdoors is really appealing to certain people who appreciate that kind of work.
Tips For A Better Job Posting
Offer an Employee Referral Bonuses
One of the best ways to find talent is to network with your own team. You have a strong group of talented, motivated people right next to you. Utilize their network and grow together! Employees who are highly invested and motivated within your company will generally not give a bad recommendation and risk their professional reputation. Make sure and compensate them for valuable hires either fiscally, with time off, or other rewards.
Ideas for Compensation
Carry Business Cards
Did you get great service somewhere?
Did somebody really impress you with their knowledge or other skills?
“Whenever you find someone who you think would be a good fit,” Hinderliter says, “give them a business card and let them know, ‘We're hiring!’ Maybe they won't think of you at that moment because they're content, but things are always changing.”
Always Have These Elements on Your Business Card
Even if they are not looking for new employment right now you could be planting a seed in their mind and they will remember you when they are looking for work.
Good employees ARE out there! A little hard work at the beginning will pay dividends as your company grows.
Remember, utilize online services and the existing network within your organization. Don’t forget to compensate employees for bringing in the right people! Lastly, always carry your business cards with you and keep your eye out for the right people regardless of what industry they are currently in.
Up next in our four part series, “Training Once, Training Twice…”, advice on how to train your new-found employees for long term success!
Your employees are your team. They wear your company name and represent its values and ethics, especially when you aren’t present. With so much at stake, the responsibility of finding the “right” team members can be daunting. As a business owner, you need people who not only represent your company well but also fit with your company culture, have good work ethic, and exhibit the technical skills required to do the job. In this 4 part series, “Finding and Keeping Great Employees in a Hectic Industry,” we refer to Michael Hinderliter a 30 year veteran in the power washing industry for expert advice on recruiting workers and best practice for keeping them for the long run.
By some, I’m considered an expert in rust stain removal. What did it take for me to become such?
It started in August 2000. When I was trying to get rust stains off canvas awnings in Omaha, Nebraska. My awning cleaner didn’t touch those ugly rust stains.
What to do? I knew I could be a hero if only I could clean those off.
I started asking questions of other contract cleaners. Finally, a carpet cleaner told me how he removed rust stains from carpets. I immediately went to a carpet cleaner supplier and bought 16 oz of their rust stain remover. They charged me $20 for those 16 oz.
I went to those rust stained awnings and applied a few drops of this precious fluid. I followed the instructions on the bottle and within 10 minutes I knew I could fix rust stained awnings!
We’ve all heard it. Maybe we’ve all said it. Sadly many of us may have had it said directly to us. And of course ‘it’ is, ‘it’s not personal, it’s just business’. Well I say BS. It’s a lie.
I say everyone should stop saying it. I say everyone should quit using it as an excuse. Because the fact is, it is personal. Maybe the ‘business’ or specific ‘leader’ doesn’t see it that way, and if they don’t, then they are part of the problem as well.
Bleach is used in the roof washing process to kill moss, algae, and lichen with low pressure. When the bleach used to kill organic matter on the roof runs off onto the landscaping, it can also kill the plants and trees. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to protect plants and shrubs when soft washing.