When I had my commercial cleaning company, I had a target customer.
I chose my target customer based on the size of the office that needed to be cleaned.
The offices I liked to clean were about around 1,000 – 2,000 square feet.
I could get these offices cleaned quickly and effectively because I had a standard cleaning routine.
In my city, there are office complexes with office condos.
The beauty of this situation was that I was able to get a number of customers in the same office complex.
This worked well because I was able to reduce my travel time, which was important because I didn’t get paid for driving.
When I worked on selling my cleaning services, I always looked first to office condo complexes that were close by my existing customers.
I recognized that I couldn’t be all things to all people
I recognized where I was able to do a good job for my customers, and then I sought to clone the customers that I liked.
That worked approach worked well for growing my commercial cleaning company.
I learned over time that there were some customers I was not particularly eager to work for.
I remember that one of my customers was a construction contractor.
Their employees were constantly working in the field and would come into the office we cleaned with mud on their boots.
It took considerably more time to get these offices cleaned than it did some of my other clients.
The big mistake I made with this customer is I priced his cleaning services similar to my other customers who were not dirty.
I should have charged a premium for cleaning their offices because it took more work to clean their offices.
When I started my accounting practice, the target customer market, I chose was small business owners.
I chose small business owners as my target customer market because I was a small business owner.
I figured I would be valuable to them because I knew what it was like to be a small business owner.
I cringe now when I think about my lack of focus in choosing a target customer.
Small business owner is very vague.
Some people consider a business that earns $50,000 a year a small business.
Other people consider a business that earns $50 million a year a small business.
My point is sharing this is when I told people I wanted to work with small businesses I revealed that I didn’t have a clue about whom I wanted to work with.
I was too broad in my approach to selling my services.
I then narrowed my focus by choosing my city as a target market.
This was my idea of getting focused.
There are enough businesses in my city that this wasn’t a narrow enough focus for me to be effective.
About five years after I started my accounting practice, I reviewed my customer list, and I noticed that the industry I served the most was Realtors.
I considered focusing on working with Realtors.
However, I didn’t want to be that focused because I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to do work with other businesses.
This situation reminds me of a story I heard once about a boy who was at the beach throwing starfish into the ocean.
The night before, an unusually high tide washed thousands of starfish onto the beach.
An older gentleman was walking along the beach, and he saw the young boy picking up starfish and throwing them back into the ocean.
The old gentleman walked up to the boy and comment, “Young boy, there are thousands of starfish, and there is only one of you. There is no way you will be able to throw all the starfish back into the ocean.”
The young boy picked up a starfish, tossed it into the ocean, and replied to the old gentleman, “Yes, but I’m making a difference for this one.”
This was the situation I found myself in when I was only seeking to work with small business owners.
I was awash with thousands of customers that I could help.
I had the opportunity to help people here and there, but I ran into a few challenges as a result of working with businesses in many different industries.
Whenever I got a client that worked in an industry I was unfamiliar with; I had to go through a learning curve to understand their business and determine the best way to serve that customer.
I had to develop new systems to ensure work was done correctly for that customer.
While I was going through the learning curve, my profitability decreased because it took me more time and effort to serve that client.
About a year ago, I decided to choose a target customer market.
I made a list of all my customers and included the following data points for each of my customers:
- Annual Revenue
- Likability Factor (I noted this by a smiley face of a frowny face)
Then I reordered my list by highest annual income to lowest annual income.
As I reviewed the list, I noted that the clients I liked working with the most were the clients that paid me the most amount of money.
I also noted that most of my favorite clients were in the Realtor industry.
Then I made the bold decision that Realtors would be my target customer market.
I was surprised by how clarifying this bold decision felt to me.
Suddenly, I realized I had just made everything incredibly easier for myself.
Now I could focus on getting to know my target customer intimately.
By understanding my target customer intimately, I was able to learn where they struggled and needed help from me.
I also realized that now it was much easier to market my services.
I was able to create marketing material that directly addressed the needs that my target customer wanted and needed.
I started to attend training for Realtors, so I could be a fly on the wall and learn the specific lingo they used.
When I presented proposals to new Realtors, I was able to speak their language and demonstrate that I understood their business.
By choosing a target customer, I was able to get better at replicating my best customers.
Now when I talk with my customers, one of the first questions I ask them, “Who is your target customer?”
Taking the time to understand and define my ideal customer clearly is one of the best changes I’ve made in my business.