The Value in Being Perceived as a ‘Premium Provider’

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross In recent years, the profit margin available to power sweeping contractors has been squeezed by a number of different factors. A central driver of this phenomenon has been the rise of third-party vendors, which have increasingly become middlemen in the industry. They have not only inserted themselves as the negotiator for many national chain stores, but have also often made unrealistic promises and are, of course, extracting a portion of what should rightfully be the power sweeping contractors’ profit. Not only do they have a strong tendency to select contractors only on the criteria of low bid; in addition, the pricing they offer often has little profit potential. Contractors often find negotiating with them difficult, so many have just walked away from that segment of potential prospects. Even when contractors do choose to work with these third party companies, many times the contracts that are offered have clauses that can spell doom for the contractor. Even though the extreme difficulties of the “great recession” have now been left behind, the retail sector has been slow to revert back to the relatively higher sweeping frequency that was in place prior to 2008. A frequent contractor complaint is being requested to sweep at a lesser frequency per week — but at the same price per sweep. As will be known to most of you reading this, that means you are collecting the same amount of debris but doing so on fewer nights per week. To agree to do so is often a recipe for economic disaster. One way to offset the above negative trends is to position your company as a “premium provider.” As may be seen in the accompanying graphic, premium providers are perceived in a far more favorable light than a company that has not attained that status. Although the chart shown below is actually information that was generated for products, rather than services, most will agree that the same basic concepts apply to the service sector. Perhaps the most significant advantage of being seen as a premium provider is it allows your company to transcend the low bid process much more often. Of course there will always be clients who see low bid as their only criteria. However, the more ways you can find to separate yourself from other contractors in your market area, the larger will be the percentage of prospects who will consider your company’s “premium elements” even when your bid is not the lowest.
  • There are a host of ways to develop a premium status for your company. A number of these are shown in the chart. For sweeping, this can also include items like:
  • uniformed employees,
  • GPS availability,
  • well-kept and clean equipment,
  • name, phone number, logo, etc. on sweepers and other rolling stock,
  • answering the phone when it rings,
  • periodic customer contact just to “check in,”
  • providing multiple services besides sweeping,
  • being knowledgable about the environmental aspects of sweeping,
  • your idea goes here…
Do you have a decent website, one that is kept up-to-date? Have you made sure there are no spelling and/or grammar errors, or broken links? Has someone in your company been detailed to become involved in social media on behalf of your firm, like generating and updating Facebook and LinkedIn profiles? Since most of you will have a smart phone in your pocket as you read this, these days it’s easier than ever to keep your website and brochure photos current. It is well known that Google provides higher rankings to websites that offer video. Your smartphone also allows you to produce brief videos showing the quality of your work. Take them, upload to a Vimeo or YouTube account, and then link them on your website and/or social media. In terms of your membership at the World Sweeping Association, do you have the WSA logo and WSA Ethics in Power Sweeping Initiative logos showing and linked on your website and handout materials? Are you utilizing the many pre-made handouts available here in the Forms section of the WSA website? Do you stress to prospects and clients the value your company chooses to receive by being a WSA Member including, for example, receiving a frequent professional update that contains ways to improve your business operation? By implementing the types of actions outlined above, you will be able to position your company as an expert in the field of power sweeping. The most effective way to do so, though, is to actually become an expert. For example, at the time this article was written in January 2017, there were a total of 453 educational articles, covering over 20 topic areas, on the WSA website. This included nearly 100 audio podcasts and articles with successful sweeping contractors. Since the majority of the website is password-protected, your access to this information provides you with a clear advantage over any company that is not a WSA member — if you have taken the time to read and understand the available information. The World Sweeping Association offers more educational information than any power sweeping Association in the history of the industry. Unless you take advantage of it, though, the only benefits you will receive from your WSA Membership are through the purchasing discounts. Even though these can be significant, you will not be receiving the full value of your membership unless you use the educational material we provide so you can truly become an expert on power sweeping. Doing so will allow you to “talk the talk” and, combined with some of the other ideas discussed above, you will be well on your way to positioning your as one of the elites in the power sweeping industry: a Premium Provider.

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