Getting more customers, whether new or returning, will keep your company alive. And it’s no different for building maintenance service businesses. Managers and owners are going to tell you that “selling more” is their top goal. At the same time, it’s important to think about how you sell, and ensure that you have a clear and long term strategy in place.
This is why today we’re talking about the best tips for building maintenance service pros!
When you’re just starting your building maintenance business, quick sales are great because you can easily build capital and then re-invest in the company to hire more people and get better tools.
However, once you’ve established yourself, built a solid team both in the field and in the office (wherever the office may be nowadays), and invested in management software (even if it’s just a simple one, no bells and whistles), sustainable growth becomes more of a priority.
Sustainable growth means striking a balance between acquiring new customers and earning repeat business, as well as finding a medium between large commercial buildings and smaller projects (e.g. shop chains). Basically, make sure to never put all your eggs in one basket.
Imagine if 90% of your income came from maintaining hotel heating installations in your area. With hotels taking a big hit during 2020, that source of income might have dried up completely, forcing you to pivot. Diversifying is great, but you want to do it on your own terms rather than being forced by circumstances.
So, to make sure that’s never the case, let’s have a look at these 4 tips for sustainable building maintenance services business growth:
1. Figure out your unique selling point when starting a building maintenance company
A unique selling point (or USP) is pretty much Business 101. What is something that only you can offer customers? Most of the decision-makers who hire companies like yours for building maintenance services aren’t service experts themselves, so your unique selling point has to be relevant to them.
For example, whether or not you’ve invested in Honeywell Sensepoint gas detectors is irrelevant to a factory floor manager. Most likely, they have no clue whether that’s a good, bad, expensive, or cheap detector, and, let’s be frank, they probably don’t care.
What they want is assurance that the product does the job so that any potential gas leak will be detected and fixed swiftly with as little disturbance to their business as possible. So one of the best tips for building maintenance selling is to state the benefits for the customer, rather than the attributes of your business.
Additionally, there’s one USP you’ll want to brag about: convenience. What every building manager wants to hear–whether they oversee factories, hotels, offices, etc.–is that your company can ensure there will be as few headaches for them as possible. From offering them an automatic booking portal where they can arrange appointments without phone calls and back-and-forth emails, to professional digital quotes for non-contracted work, and finally smooth consolidated invoicing, this USP will put you way ahead of any competitor.
At the end of the day, every customer, big or small, residential or commercial, wants the best for themselves. So, whenever you approach a new customer or bid for a maintenance contract, ask yourself: What is that person’s biggest headache? Your goal is to show how you can make it go away.
2. Demonstrate your knowledge of THEIR customer journey
On that note, it’s easy enough to talk the talk of understanding your customer, but walking the walk is a totally different ball game. That’s especially true if you decide to diversify your services; you might be faced with a variety of different types of customers, each with their own specific needs.
One need that they will all have in common, however, is their desire for frictionless customer journeys.
Basically, the sum of all your interactions with a customer (from booking an appointment to receiving payment) can be an individual customer journey. Putting them all together is how you end up with the overall customer experience. Naturally, your aim is to have positive customer experiences that help you sell more services in the future and net you repeat business.
The problem with that is only the customer has the final say on their overall experience and whether it was positive or negative, regardless of your final outcome. For example, you might have respected the letter of your building maintenance service agreement, but a customer can still be unhappy if you went against its spirit and delayed setting up service appointments until the last possible minute.
Another great tip for building maintenance service contractors is to get used to using a customer journey map (like the one we delve deeper into here). This can help you demonstrate to potential customers—whether in a proposal or in a face-to-face meeting—that you understand every single phase they go through. Not only that, but you can also indicate that you’re ready to go above and beyond to make it as easy as possible for them to do their own job, uninterrupted.
To be understood, especially when it comes to details, is what every person wants, regardless of the situation. Imagine the impact you could have if you told a building manager that you understand perfectly well how time-consuming it is to receive, record, and pay hundreds of small invoices for each job.
This is why you’ve done your research and acquired tools to allow for consolidated invoicing, where the customer receives a single invoice with all the essential details, but which saves them a lot of time and stress, rather than going through loads of individual ones at a slower pace.
3. Offer multiple service plans when maintenance selling
Another sales strategy that comes down more to customer psychology is thinking of ways to make them feel in control of the process. Just like allowing managers to book their own appointments or pay their invoices online, offering multiple options when you’re tendering for contracts allows the decision makers to feel like, well, they’re making a decision. The opposite situation is serving them with a cold hard number and calling it a day.
In business terms, this is a classic “good-better-best” or GBB pricing strategy. Alfred Sloane used it to differentiate Buicks and Chevrolets from Oldsmobiles and Cadillacs, AmEx uses it to sell gold, platinum, and black credit cards with different benefits. You can use it to package your services so customers feel in control and are able to tell why one option is better than the other. Enabling them to make comparisons when maintenance selling will actually help you to sell more.
After all, you wouldn’t know if Coca-Cola was in indeed the best Coke without the Cherry or Vanilla versions. And at the end of the day, regardless of the service plan they choose, they’re still doing business with you, so it’s a win no matter what.
“Companies can dramatically lift margins by creating a high-end Best version that persuades existing customers to spend more or attracts a new cohort of high spenders. In my work with companies, managers consistently underestimate customers’ willingness to spend and the number of customers who might upgrade to Best, even at prices that were previously unthinkable. Across a range of industries, it’s not unusual to observe up to 40% of sales landing on the Best option.”
4. Help customers visualize your service plans
Creating service plans basically comes down to having multiple quotes on hand and a way of presenting them so that the customer can clearly see the benefits and associated costs.
The easiest way to do it is either with a dedicated quoting software like PandaDoc, or, if your software has one, the built-in quoting feature. Ideally, this feature would make use of your inventory data as well as technician rates and shifts in order to account for out-of-hours work or more specialized jobs.
Designing an amazing quote should be a top priority when you’re maintenance selling. All your competitors will send in a proposal that includes a quote, and it’s likely that certain aspects of the document look very similar company to company. To stand out, it is of vital importance that your design is optimized.
In short, your estimate should be:
Distinctive from competitors’
Something people actually want to look at
If you’re still unsure about what a great quote looks like, we have you covered. Check out this comprehensive communication guide to lead your business to another level. And then be sure to download your free toolkit below!
Next, let’s talk about color – another one of our tips for building maintenance service that doesn’t get nearly enough attention.
The difference between a color document and black and white is more significant than you may think. In fact, people’s desire to read content increases by80% when there are colored visuals. Adding a color enhances the design, making it more visually interesting. With work order management software, you should be able to decide which color accents your estimate.
Software should also give you a spot to add photos at the footer of your document. This is helpful if you want to show the faces of the business or any relevant licenses. Beyond that, it can add a pop of color!
The good news is, once you have a template set up, you’re able to go ahead and use it for as many jobs as you wish. You can make templates for all the services or types of jobs you offer.
The takeaway on tips for building maintenance service
The more interconnected devices take over both professional and personal lives, the more property managers will expect maintenance contractors to use these tools and provide a smooth, digital experience in addition to high-quality service. The trend will follow the disruptive effect that companies like Uber had on the taxi industry, where the experience is worth more than the product.
At the end of the day, Uber did not come up with anything new–taxis have been around for centuries–but they did revolutionize the experience to make it as easy as possible for the customers.
It’s important that you create a building maintenance business plan that follows suit. After all, if you want to sell more, you’ll need to stand out from the competition. Focus on your unique maintenance selling points, industry knowledge, and prioritize creating a seamless sales process for customers. If you’re able to achieve this trifecta, winning business will become exponentially easier.
I'm here to bring you next-level strategies to the field service industry. When I'm not working on the best tips to grow your business, I'm on the lookout for sci-fi novels and cookie recipes.