How to Grow a Facility Service Company

Rob Snyder
May 1, 2019

In an industry with extremely tight margins and no room for error, rapid growth can be challenging. Facility services is a notoriously competitive landscape, where even a small roadbump can have serious consequences for customer satisfaction and an operator’s bottom line.

We’ve spoken with facility services operators who are actively growing, and many more who are seeking growth opportunities. And we’ve asked them two questions that every operator should have top-of-mind:

  1. How will you maintain your current business while focused on acquiring new customers and delivering to new accounts?
  2. How well will your current processes scale if your business grows by 25%? 50%? 100%?

When we ask operators these questions, it’s clear: These are top-of-mind issues. Unfortunately, for most of our conversation partners, it’s not clear that they have clear plans ahead to ensure they can retain existing contracts while delivering excellent service to new contracts. In other words, what we hear back tends to be: “It’s going to be tough, but we’ll just work harder and figure it out.”

Let’s start with contract retention. After all, if you’re unable to retain your existing contracts, growth doesn’t help. Plus, when your company gets a reputation for contract turnover, winning new contracts gets much more difficult.

What do your current customers want?

To keep today’s customers satisfied, you need to deliver consistent quality at a fair price.

This combination of quality and price is of obvious value to current customers and is likely the reason they chose your business in the first place. In order to ensure they will not switch to competitors, customers must continually perceive that their needs are being satisfied - without any disruptions in their confidence in you. This brings us to one of the biggest challenges of facility services: turnover.

Across professional cleaning services, the average turnover rate is 200%. This means that over the course of any given year, a typical cleaning company will replace every single person in their crew - twice. While this may seem disconnected from the question of customer retention, it is important to remember that employees are often the only regular point of contact a customer will have with your business. In other words, they represent your business - they are your business in the eyes of your customers.

With high turnover and absenteeism rates, there are four main risks:

  1. Your customers receive variable service quality, and are frustrated that some days the job is done exceptionally while other days it’s not
  2. Your customers realize they have a different cleaner coming every day of the week, and assume that your company doesn’t treat its employees well
  3. Your customers don’t receive service at all - something falls through the cracks and employees don’t show up when they’re supposed to
  4. Fourth, that your supervisors, managers, and admin staff are so consumed by backfilling open shifts that there’s no time to do the work that matters - the work that enables your company to grow!

Of course, no operator wants to have high turnover and absenteeism, or see managers waste 10-20% of their weeks making calls to fill shifts. It’s the unfortunate “ normal” in this industry, however - even for those facility services companies who aren’t actively trying to grow. Low unemployment, a difficult job, and downward wage pressure makes this almost inevitable.

For companies that are trying to grow, this is devastating. It’s hard to plant trees and harvest orchards when most of your time is spent fighting fires.

Plus, as you grow, these issues just get more difficult. There are more employees and customers to retain, and your already slim admin staff gets overstretched. More and more of their time gets spent filling holes, and you’re at even greater risk of disappointing your existing customers. Stress is the new normal.

This is why automating replacement staffing is so crucial for fast-growing facilities service companies. If you don’t implement an automated system to replace workers when they’re absent, on vacation, or simply leave, your processes and people will strain under the pressure of growth. In the end, your customers and managers suffer the most.

Interested in learning more about systems that enable facilities services companies to grow effortlessly, without the organizational strain? Let’s talk:

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