Making Cleaning Businesses Successful: Interview with Tom Watson

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Tom Watson of Cleaning 4 ProfitTom Watson helps cleaning businesses become successful. That’s right. His books and services are aimed at helping cleaning businesses become more effective, and of course, marketing is a part of this. Let’s ask him about online marketing for cleaning businesses.

My questions and comments are in bold.

So how is marketing for cleaning businesses different? (Or is it?)

I don’t think marketing a cleaning business is all that different from marketing any other type of business. At the end of the day the name of the game is spreading the word about who you are and how you can help others solve the problems they face. A balanced approach of joining business associations, performing direct mail campaigns, getting involved in your community, attending networking functions regularly, and working the online channels will yield good results over time when done properly.

I notice that you focus on four social media sites in your social media guide: Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Does that mean these are the best social media sites for cleaning businesses, or simply the most popular?

I think it’s a combination of both. You want to spend you time where the most of your potential customers are, and these sites give you the best bang for your buck. I also think getting in good habits early on is beneficial, so carving out some time for social media regularly will pay dividends over time.

Which of these social media platforms do you think is most effective for cleaning businesses?

That’s a great question… I might have to choose LinkedIn on that one. Not so much because it will create a direct path to more sales, but because you can position yourself as a leader within your field better than the others. You get to tell a story about who you are, plus you get to join different groups within LinkedIn that build credibility within your field, which in of of itself is key for getting sales.

What social media platform do you personally like best?

I think I understand Facebook the best, so I would have to go with that as my choice. I also enjoy the casual nature of the conversation that happens there.

Does a cleaning business need a blog?

For those that can write, a blog would be huge. A total game changer in my opinion. The amount of traffic that a blog can generate over time is immense, plus you get the added benefit of being able to position yourself as an expert on various topics. You would definitely need a long-term vision when implementing one though, as it takes time to build a head of steam, but it would be time well spent.

What are your favorite online tools – social media, productivity, or anything else?

Well I’m a big fan of the WordPress platform, as that is what I use for all my websites. It’s very easy to use and allows for one to appear extremely polished and professional, which is a big part of the online appearance you present to others.

We love WordPress too! But speaking of tools, there are so many tools and social media platforms that ostensibly make things easier, and there is so much expert advice on what marketing activities a small business should be doing. Based on your experience, what do you think is the most important marketing activity a small business should focus on?

That’s a tough one, as all the different activities you can do each serve a different purpose in some ways.  I always view marketing as a “river”. The strongest and most powerful rivers in the world all have many smaller rivers, streams and tributaries feeding into them. It’s that synergy that makes you strong and powerful, so I can’t pick just one.  You need a little of each with a focus on the ones that give you the best return on your time invested.

Small businesses often struggle to make sense of their data… what’s the one marketing metric do you think cleaning businesses should keep an eye on?

You need to ask everyone who ever contacts your company the following question… How did you hear about us? Knowing the answer to that question tells you a lot about what you are doing right, and what you are doing wrong.

What sites do you recommend for small-business marketing advice?

Well, your blog at Markitty would be a great start for people to get a good sense of what marketing a business is all about. I enjoy the diverse set of topics and get to learn a lot of lessons that I otherwise would have never been able to.

Thank you: that’s very flattering!

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a business-owner?

I’ve had a few over the years, as I’ve been in business for about 13 years now. If I had to pick one I would have to say that I wasn’t entirely prepared for the success that came my way early on. It wasn’t so much that it was overnight, because it took a year or two to gain a head of steam, but once the business  did get momentum it was more than I was comfortable with for a while.

I was still learning on the job in a sense yet having to balance a workload that kept getting bigger. I chalked it up to being part of the process, but I’m happy to say I’ve gotten better at getting my work done in the most effective way possible.

What’s the one thing you hate doing but still force yourself to do every week?

I guess it would have to be reviewing the financial numbers for the past week. This would include what came in the door, what’s owed to me among other details. I know it needs to be done, I just have a hard time getting motivated to do it. With that said, I always do it because I like knowing where I sit financially at all times.

What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give a small-business entrepreneur?

“Keep moving forward.” It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by all “you don’t know.” It can seem scary, and quite frankly it is scary at times. But that is the price you have to pay in order to get the reward you’ll have coming to you by sticking it out.

I’m a big believer in making the best decision you can with what you know at the moment. You may be right, you may be wrong, but at least you’ll know soon enough. However when you do “nothing”, that’s the moment when whatever momentum you have going for you grinds to a halt. That’s when dreams die. You can’t have that happen, so just push through it.

That’s very inspiring. Thanks for joining us here, Tom!

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