Reaching customers in a tech-enabled world means learning to like technology.
“The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades.” 
– John P. Kotter, Leading Change

[EasyDNNnewsToken:Left Justify Embed 300 x 250]The Move to Mobile

I have been writing a lot in the Cleaning Business Today LinkedIn group about the changes I see coming to our industry in the next three to five years. New companies like Homejoy and Handybook have entered the market as existing players like Angie’s List and have started to add the ability for consumers to schedule and pay for services on their platforms. This change is largely being driven by consumers switching from using PCs to mobile devices – phones and tablets. These companies have all seen an opportunity to enable the consumer to interact with businesses on mobile devices using their platform. It is not too different from what Google and Apple did with music and software.  

Huge Opportunities
This can all seem quite scary at first and several people on the message boards have accused me of preaching doom and gloom. I find it quite the opposite; big changes in consumer behavior and technology offer huge opportunities. Not too long ago, most consumers found their cleaning services via the phone book and several large companies in most areas paid to have large, full-page advertisements. Even if you could match the spending of the larger companies, the phone books would put the people who advertised the longest with them first, making it very hard for a new company to break through. With the rise of internet and search engines, it was suddenly much easier for a good company to be found regardless of age or advertising budget. These new changes are not all that different. As with all progress and innovation, the old order is changing and it offers both threats and opportunities.

It is important to study these new companies and services and learn what they do right. I personally believe online quoting and scheduling is going to be one of the big areas of opportunity. Consumers are able to purchase more and more on their mobile devices, and they will want to do the same with their cleaning services. However, it does not end there.  

Enabling Superior Customer Service
How can you enable superior customer service using technology? Some companies now not only send reminder emails but also send pictures and bios of the cleaners before they arrive. Other companies are doing surveys after cleaning that are very smartphone-friendly and only require one click to give feedback, which then kicks off a whole series of automated activities if the client is unhappy.   

Find what delights you as a consumer of these services and imagine how you can bring the best of them into your companies. I encourage you to not only look at cleaning companies, but also other best-in-class service providers using mobile devices to improve the consumer buying experience. Use companies like Uber, AirBnB, and even subscription services like Pley. I love that Uber lets me track my driver in real time. I can watch the car in real time as it moves towards me. Imagine if your consumers could do the same. Pley ships Lego sets to my home, which my daughter builds and returns. We rarely have a set more than two days. Pley is genius in how they have built a community to enable my daughter to load pictures of her creations online. She no longer collects Lego sets; she collects pictures of the sets she has built and shared online. They have turned it into a competition for her to build the most and best creations possible.   

Imagine if you could somehow turn cleaning into a game for your employees in the same way. They could upload pictures of the most amazing things they have cleaned. Those who can combine the best service in the home with the best experience on a mobile device will experience rapid growth as they quickly take the lead in this new environment. Yes, change is in the air, but change is good because it allows for new leaders to emerge.

Derek Christian is founder and owner of My Maid Service, Cincinnati’s largest, independent professional cleaning company. Prior to that, he spent thirteen years at P&G working on household cleaning products