It seems that there are two distinct camps this time of year in the power washing industry. One camp is slammed with work and booked several weeks or even months ahead. Life couldn’t be better. The other camp is asking how to make the phone ring and struggling to keep a full-time schedule. Worry or doubt may be setting in. Why such a drastic difference?
For some, sales and marketing comes naturally. For others, the struggle is real. Trying to figure out what works for them, they deal with endless research, ideas, and promises that seem to be a never-ending rabbit hole. Unfortunately, “what works for you” is not an easy or straightforward answer. There is a lot of information out there, and I recommend that you become a student of marketing trends and ideas, join networking groups (both locally and nationally), read books, Google “small business marketing,” and find a mentor. From there, make a plan. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a marketing plan. Once you are confident in your plan, commit to it.
When I first started in the pressure washing industry in 2002, direct mail postcards was my marketing media of choice. A good friend and mentor told me, “No matter what, make sure your postcards go out weekly.” Although it was difficult at times, I made that commitment. My first money in went right back out to my mailing campaign. That meant my cable was turned off (even my power was turned off once) and I had to eat peanut butter and jelly. I was committed, and it wasn’t long before I started seeing results (although during that time, it seemed like an eternity).
These days, direct mail can be just as effective, but there are many approaches to marketing. If you are struggling to get work, don’t over complicate it. You may not have a huge budget to commit to a marketing plan, but inexpensive plans will work. The key is commitment. The committed marketer will find work.
It is also extremely important to figure out who you are and what you are trying to deliver. You cannot be all things to all people; not everyone is your customer. Define your ideal customer and make sure your approach is reaching that customer. Be as specific as possible when defining who you are and who your ideal customer is. We all grow and change, so your ideal customer may be different five years from now. If you’re new to the business, you may struggle to define. Don’t use this as an excuse to stop trying. This is unacceptable if you truly want to succeed.
Don’t take it personally when things don’t work, and don’t be afraid to redirect when you figure out your ideal customer isn’t buying. If nothing you’re doing is working, maybe you’re doing it wrong. Don’t blame your competition or your market. You control you and your business. Those who blame other things are the first to shut down shop and give up. If that’s not you, get out there and do something about your thin schedule.
Marketing is not magic, and although some people and companies luck into contracts at times, the majority make their own luck. They made a plan (specific, targeted, time-based, and measurable), they committed to the plan even when it was uncomfortable, and they executed the plan.
To succeed, you must be passionate about your company and the endless possibilities that exist. Find a local networking group (Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start). Look for the next free social event — maybe they offer something like Coffee and Contacts (AM), Business After Hours (PM), or a luncheon that may cost you the price of lunch. These free events can bring you out of your comfort zone. Go share your passion. Make your business known to your community. Offer your ideal customer something of value through Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. Work hard on these. Share quality information. Don’t make it about you; make it about your ideal customer. Your customers care about them, not you.
Don’t get discouraged when you see the success of other pressure washers. Be encouraged. It means you can do this and success is there to be had. Make it happen.