The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses of all types and sizes all around New Zealand. Even the commercial cleaning industry has taken a hit, as its very nature involves human contact. As soon as the government declared COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 and 4, all non-essential businesses were required to stop. Cleaning businesses that do not support essential businesses were only allowed to resume operations recently when the country moved to Alert Level 2. The significant impact of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods that resulted in an increase in unemployment rates also meant that fewer customers are availing of cleaning services.
It’s perfectly understandable — even logical — if you feel concerned about financial stability in this global economic downturn. The question, therefore, is not merely how to keep your doors open through the pandemic. Rather, you should also ask and explore how you can recession-proof your cleaning company. Nobody wants another global pandemic to happen anytime soon, but it’s also true that it’s best to be prepared for any scenario. Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling for your cleaning company.
Take Care of Your Employees
The first step to recession-proofing your cleaning business is to focus on your employees. Remember that happy employees are loyal, productive employees and thus are more likely to stay on even during times of hardship. Invest in their professional development, even before recession strikes. Having a good franchise system also helps; establish a clear organisational chart to ensure that each department’s needs are well taken care of. Most importantly, develop a crisis response plan that’s centred on your employees. In particular, figure out how you can reallocate staff. Lay-offs should be your last resort.
Develop New Services
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. For example, COVID-19 has triggered an almost-obsessive instinct in people to keep things as clean as possible. Moreover, essential businesses that are allowed to operate during the pandemic have heightened cleanliness requirements. Consider this an opportunity to expand your services to meet the demand. In particular, consider developing and offering a deep cleaning service to these essential businesses. Of course, make sure that you provide extra training for your staff in handling chemicals and new equipment.
You should also consider upselling your services to both domestic and commercial customers. This can help recoup your losses in the long run.
Maintain the Quality of Your Services
Suffering economic losses, pandemic or not, is no excuse to deliver sub-par services. Your customers will definitely notice; they’re also reeling from the effects of recession and are thus more particular about the quality of the services they receive. Simply put, they want to get the most out of their hard-earned money. Deliver above and beyond, even if the rewards aren’t immediately appreciable. Spend an extra 15 minutes for a one-hour job, for example, if you have the time to spare. Your clients will appreciate it and this appreciation will surely carry over once the economy stabilises.
Explore Ways to Add Value
As earlier mentioned, customers are looking for services that offer the best value for their money especially in times of crisis. As such, it’s important to engage your customers and find out where you can add more value to your services. Consider uploading infographics or how-to videos of cleaning tips on your website and social media pages. You may also want to start a dedicated chat helpline, where you can offer cleaning advice. There will inevitably be a slow-down in the influx of your clients; make use of the lull to think of new ideas that will make your business and services more valuable to your customers.
Keep in Touch With Your Clients
One of the best ways to retain your customers is to have a CRM plan during crisis situations. Communication is the most important component here; touch bases with your clients regularly, even if they are not currently availing your services. Indeed, your clients aren’t only your clients during the good times. Keep a polite tone, maintaining professionalism but also adding a touch of empathy. Do this whether the customer is domestic or commercial in nature, and no matter the amount of money they bring into your business.
Think of the Long Term
Sometimes, the only solution to recession-proof your cleaning company is to cut back. If you can, offer lower rates for reduced services. You can also cut down on the number of appointments to those clients that need continuous cleaning services. If necessary, suspend but don’t cancel your contracts with clients who are currently struggling. Doing these can certainly result in lower revenues. However, these measures can also ensure that your business can hold out until the recession is over. It can also help build loyalty with your customers because it shows that you’re willing to work with them during a crisis.
The good news is that New Zealand appears to have flattened the COVID-19 curve and is posed to eliminate the virus entirely. Still, this is no time to be complacent. In fact, you should already be making plans on how to recession-proof your cleaning company in the future.