By Dave Frank

Dave Frank is a 30 year industry veteran and the president of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences, an independent third-party accreditation organization that establishes standards to improve the professional performance of the cleaning industry.
Competition is inevitable in business. While it is important for business owners to study competitors, it is not enough to do what everyone else is doing. Customers looking for cleaning services today have many choices. Building service contractors must differentiate to give customers a reason to choose their businesses over others.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer on how to differentiate your business. If you have a baseline of services to offer and a menu of items that can make your business distinct, you are off to a good start.

The best way to discover what your customers want and what competitors are lacking is to ask customers directly, using specific questions. You can put together a simple survey or questionnaire to get feedback and ideas. Ask them, “What does the perfect BSC look like to you?”

Listen to what customers want and determine whether or not you can meet their needs and still run a profitable business. New and different ideas are healthy for business. Even a small, simple change can significantly increase profits if it targets your customers’ needs. Just do not promise anything you cannot deliver.

With customers’ feedback, you can create a distinct position in the market by delivering special values to customers through a unique blend of products and services.

Pinpoint your business’s differentiating elements and make them a part of your business’s core strategy. Company owners and executives must communicate and highlight these elements and plant them within each employee. Get employees excited, engaged and motivated about your new strategy. The goal is to make these elements part of the company’s culture.

Execute the strategy
A good differentiation strategy is useless without execution. Stay focused on performing activities on time, completely and as promised.

To ensure you are staying on track, you need to provide proof that you do what you say and say what you do. This will help you build trusted, long-lasting relationships with your customers. Identify, document and communicate the value you promised to provide. Find ways to prove that you actually followed through with your promises.

If you measure your progress against your goals using accurate data and customer feedback, you are showing your customers that you are serious about providing them with the service they requested and expect.

Finally, the differentiation strategy needs to be ongoing. Be open to adjusting your business’s core capabilities, values and new ideas according to customer value requirements over time. Realign your strategy to match changing customer needs and competitive forces.

Differentiation makes your business memorable and credible. By working with your customers to find the most profitable ways to leverage your capabilities, your business will stand apart from the competition.