Get to the Source – part one


Today you found one new customer. Yesterday you found none. The day before, two. The day before that, none. At this rate, how will you reach the number of customers you need to turn a profit?

It is time to learn about a new and reliable, step-by-step process to profitably fill your work schedule in a matter of months. The old approach for acquiring customers has been a complete flop. It results in four out of five new companies failing to accumulate enough work to survive.

Source-based marketing, however, shifts the attention away from the traditional focus on the need for individual customers. Instead, attention is to be placed on the profitable sources from which customers come and the speed at which these can be found.

Ineffective quest for customers

When owners focus on getting customers, they are faced with an overwhelming challenge. It typically takes 600 customers per year to fully schedule a service truck. That is a terrifying number. This same need will repeat the next year. Unfortunately not all of those customers are going to want to repeat, so the search for even more customers goes on. An owner has little control over if and when individual consumers will use their service.

Complete control over sources

In contrast, the sources from which you get customers rest firmly under your control. You are able to choose these sources, and you can decide how fast you acquire them.

What is a source? It is the way consumers hear about your company. It is the answer they give to the question “How did you hear about us?” Their answer could range from, “I have used you before” to “My friend Mary said you were the best” to “The Internet,” or possibly, “Yelp.”

A successful new company generally needs only 10 to 20 profitable sources to provide a large enough flow of customers to keep the schedule fully booked. This is a much more manageable number than 600-plus.

Hundreds of sources

There are hundreds of marketing and advertising opportunities available in every community. They range from sky writing and posted flyers to internet marketing and social media to customer referrals and repeats. There should be no limit to the number of options available for you to consider. It may help to ask around the industry to find out what is working for other service companies.

Each company is different

The sources that work for you may not be the same as what works for another company. Each company is unique. Your service area, company image, skill level, personal age, method of cleaning, target market and pricing are just a few of the variables that can affect the results and profitability of different customer sources. Your job is to test each viable source to determine if it will work for you.

The process

Source-based marketing is a simple process for finding the customers you need to succeed. These are the steps of that process:

  • Determine how many customers you need per month.
  • Brainstorm to create a master list of source options. Let your imagination go free. Start listing every conceivable way that you can remember a company getting new customers. You need not be critical of any ideas that come to mind during brainstorming. Write them all down to create a master list, and add to it whenever a new idea comes to you.
  • From the master list, choose the top 10 options you think will have the best potential to produce profitable customers.
  • Determine the amount of time and money needed to test each source in order to find what its return on investment will be.
  • Actually test the sources to determine how many customers they can produce each month and their profitability.
  • If the first 10 sources do not produce the number of customers you need, repeat the process on the next best 10 options from the list. Continue until enough profitable sources have been found and implemented.

Time is the biggest expense

Time is your biggest enemy. Few people understand this, and the results for those who don’t are devastating.

By far the single biggest expense a new company faces is time. Every day you and your company exist costs money. Until the company can produce enough revenue to pay both the business and your personal bills, your investment money is dwindling.

If that investment money gets depleted, the business fails. If the monthly shortfall for a startup company is $5,000, then each month you can eliminate from the growth period saves you that much money. This is where the money comes from for testing the potential customer sources.

You do not have the luxury to wait for results. You must start testing the next potential source immediately. Ideally you would be testing 10 sources all at the same time. The worst thing that could happen from this approach is you end up with too much work. The objective is to find many good sources from which to choose the best.

It’s a procedure

Source-based marketing is a process that allows a new company to quickly fill its schedule. Once that is done, the goal is to continue searching for more profitable sources.

In most cases, repeat and referral customers, who are not readily available for startups, will eventually grow to represent the most effective way to keep a schedule profitably filled. But until that happens, other marketing sources are needed to keep the company growing.

In upcoming articles, I will go into more depth discussing how to select the source options to test, testing procedures and how to analyze both the quality of customers and which sources are profitable. If you want to improve your chances for success and greatly improve the speed at which you can attain it, consider shifting your focus to source-based marketing.


Steve Marsh is a 40-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an instructor and a Senior Carpet Inspector. He helps home-service companies quickly establish profitable clienteles and then progress on to serve higher quality customers. To help companies achieve these goals he created the step-by-step programs Single Truck Success and Be Competition Free. For more information, visit


Read part two here.

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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