Getting Clear on Your Customers and Your Brand.
The moment you’ve decided a maid service business provides a startup opportunity with minimal investment and a world full of houses that need cleaning, you’ll be faced with an onslaught of potentially crippling questions.
- How much does it cost to get started?
- How much should I charge?
- What’s the best way to find maids?
- What are the legal hurdles?
- Do I want contract or employee maids?
- Which supplier should I use?
- Which vacuum cleaner?
Start with Who
Before you disappear down the question rabbit hole, relax a moment. Breathe. Let’s talk about the two most important questions of them all:
- Who will you serve? (hint: the answer isn’t “everyone”)
- And, what will you serve them? (another hint: it’s not “everything”)
Another way of looking at it is to think about who your service is for and what your service is for. These questions will help steer you in the right direction for answering the other questions. More importantly, they will help you with the two most important activities of your launch: hiring and sales.
Finding your clients and finding the right people to serve them is at the heart of a successful maid service business. And both parties need to be clear on your brand before they can see themselves benefiting from it.
The people in the business deal are always more important than the business deal itself. So let’s explore your “who.”
Question #1: Who are you for?
The nature of a maid service business is that it will be limited by geography. You only make money when houses are being cleaned. Everything you do should maximize the amount of time your maid teams spend cleaning homes. The more time they spend driving, the less cleaning they will do. So your service coverage area is a primary consideration.
The next consideration may run counter to your instincts: who are you not for? One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to decide your maid services are for anyone and everyone who needs a house cleaned.
There’s a productivity rule that says when everything is a priority, nothing is. You simply can’t be all things for all people. You want to get very specific.
The process is a mix of science and art. The science could be around median income or homes in a particular price range. The art will include exercising your empathy muscle, as in understanding your ideal client’s specific wants and needs, and how you can shape your offering to accommodate them.
Things like child care and work schedules and time preferences all have to be taken into consideration. Think in terms of the problems your customers face. This is the best way to begin crafting your promise.
The better you know your customer, the more compelling brand you can create
“Brand” is a favorite term among marketers, and perhaps a bit overused. A better way to think of it is in terms of your promise. In other words, what is your promise for that specific person you’ve singled out to serve?
Question #2: What are you for?
A knee jerk answer might be that you’re for making houses clean. But this is where the empathy muscle comes in again. “We clean houses,” is not all that compelling, is it? To take it a level deeper, ask instead, what are the particular problems my customer has that I can solve with my service in a unique way? Use this to form your promise.
Problems are an attention-getter. If your ad or sales pitch begins by accurately recognizing the problems your customer is dealing with, you will have a much better chance of continuing the conversation.
Your promise should offer a solution to what you perceive as their defining problem.
For example, say you’ve decided on an upper-middle-class neighborhood. Odds are, it will be a dual-income family where schedules are packed with professional and family obligations. So timeliness will be key.
Begin with the problem, and some empathy, then close with the solution. It may sound like this:
When you’re pulled between dentist appointments, soccer games, and business calls, the last thing you need is to be waiting for a maid to arrive. Our well-trained staff and easy scheduling app, make for on-time arrival and quick completion.
In the example above, the answer to “What are you for?” is arriving and finishing in a timely manner. This is the beginning of shaping your brand. Can you see how it ties your promise to your client’s problem?
This promise will determine who you hire, where you advertise, how you advertise, and how you design your website.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be something you’ve completely developed before you can make your first sales call. Remember, this series is called Launch & Learn. It’s the beginning of a process.
As Dave Loria, Owner of Squeaky’s Cleaning, puts it, “Your brand will evolve as you go. Get out there and start selling! Start with a minimum viable product and build your brand around it.”
You go Squeaky’s!
We’re just saying, start with a minimum viable brand to get the ball rolling.
The process for deciding who you’re for and what you’re for will help you adjust as you go. Call it version 1.0. It’s like software, right? There will be updates…
And by all means, do get started selling (more to come on that)!
To wrap up this topic of getting clear on your customer and your brand, we’re adding a twist. That is, to get clear about who you’re for you’ll also have to be clear about who you’re not for. For example, you might not be for doing dishes and cleaning Airbnb flips. Be willing to say ‘no’.
Are you beginning to see the pattern here? Yes, there will be homework each week, but you’re not answering to us, you’re answering for yourself.
Did you spend some time this past week thinking about what success looks like for you? It’s not too late. Have a conversation, take some notes. Trust me, (I have AI) this stuff is important!
So here’s this week’s assignment:
- Check out three maid service websites and see if you can easily tell who they’re for and what they’re for. How might they do it better? What might be the headline for your website? In case you didn’t guess it, that’s the topic for next week.
- Write an email to, or have a conversation with, a trusted friend or advisor explaining who you’re for and what you’re for with your startup. Do they get it quickly? Is it compelling? Can they think of the kinds of problems your promise addresses?
By the way, take a minute and give yourself some credit. This stuff isn’t easy. But then, you wouldn’t be here if you were willing to settle for “easy,” would you? Every successful entrepreneur has felt the same pressures and fears that come with starting a business.
Keep going. Keep learning. You’ve got this!