Customer Profiling Anyone?


#1

This can be a touchie subject for some but I assure you I mean no ill will to any race or background of people.

That said, I was wondering if anyone has taken a good hard look at their customers and graphed out a profile analysis. Who are your clients, money/social status, race, religion, country of origin or family roots, political affiliation, gender, age, etc.

The reason why I mention this is because many cities/counties provide demographic information for residential areas/communities that can be very helpful. I can only speak from the point of view of someone who has lived in Toronto, a very multi-cultural city. But if I was to look at my clients background for the last 6 months I could immediately tell that the majority of them are from a British background followed by other European countries.

The English have had window cleaners as part of their day to day life for more than a hundred years. Many are part of a monthly or bi-weekly route. So it makes sense that the concept of hiring a window cleaner here, across the pond as they say, is not a hard sell. You just need the right timing (before the competition beats you to it) and the right sales pitch along with some personality.

The opposite may hold true for other backgrounds. I know from my experience in other businesses that those from East Indian or Middle Eastern background have a natural tendency to bargain. It’s not that they’re cheap, it’s just the way business is done back in the old country. Their market places are all set up for haggling. There is not set price. If you’re one that can handle this type of selling/negotiating, than there may be an opportunity in these communities because other window cleaners may purposely avoid it to save potential headaches.

In Toronto where I’m from, there are many wealthy communities but some have a distinctive cultural background and knowing the community may save you some time in the way you do business.

I mention in another thread that I can do a ‘reverse address lookup’ to find names and phone numbers on any particular street. Seeing the names, I can already get an idea of the racial profile of the neighbourhood. This info can be quite advantages to someone who wants to know how to market to this area.

If you find a distinct background to an area you can see if there is a local cultural centre or newsletter where you can advertise.

There are so many things that can be discussed on this subject but please remember that I’m not judging people, I’m just looking for ways to get my service to the right customer, the right way.

Please discuss.


#2

Beautiful view, this is a well thought out piece. I really enjoyed reading it.

You spoke about the different cultures and their cultural centre where you can advertise. That is a very good idea. Putting a poster in their cultural centre is a good idea. As well if you can ask happy customers to refer you to their friends, and thus tap a perhaps hidden market. It will be easy to get their friends since them referring you means no advertising costs on your part and their friends will trust their recomendation.

You are right about cultures and their idea of price and cleanliness. It is true I find that those of British, and those of European descent (Italian, Portugeuese etc) are generally more concerned with cleanness and regularity. Middle eastern people I find clean too, but many like to haggle. It’s not that they want you to work for blood, but they don’t feel satisfied unless they haggle. It’s satisfying for them. You would see hints in their vocabulary when they ask you for a price that they want to haggle. Of course do as many of their sellers do and inflate the price expecting that it will be haggled down. They will be happy, and you will still get the price you want. Very good point there.

There are cultures that are not prone to see the value of clean. I can’t speak for residential, but I know some first generation Chinese establishments don’t generally have clean business windows, and are not concerned that their windows are dirty. Sometimes second or third generation Chinese have a different viewpoint, and when they are going after upscale markets they might want clean windows. I’m not being stereotypical, but that is from observation and canvassing in those Chinatown markets. They might have you clean the windows once a month, as opposed to once a week, and they might consider $1 or $2 a good deal, as some Chinese window cleaners work for peanuts. I’m speaking from personal experience. I knew of one that charged that much.

The Canada411, and in the states I belive it’s www.555-1212, is a great resource. I use it to get all my addressess of my customers in my program. And names do easily tell nationalities but not always. Singh is usually Sikh. Many long names that end with AM are Tamil. Chow, Chang are Chinese. Fisher, King, simple names are often British or American or Canadian and so on.

You bring up excellent points, and great places to think outside the box and advertise. I think you will do very well in window cleaning in the next few years.

Mike


#3

I would have to say that my customer base is as diversified as the area I live in. I have customers from all backgrounds except those that are economically disadvantaged.


#4

It’s true that many companies will have a variety of customers from different backgrounds. But I’m sure if you look hard at the demographics of your target market area you will see ways to fine tune your advertising to achieve a better return of investment.

As an example, many folks like to get their windows cleaned right before the holiday season. But which holiday season, the Christian ones, the Jewish ones, Muslim, Sikh? If you find a particular neighbourhood and they have a large Jewish community and an important holiday is coming up, it might be time to hit that area hard with your fliers.

Another example is when we look at high end neighbourhoods. Some are made up of mostly ‘old money’ while some are made up of predominantly ‘new money’. I’m sure there are different sales approaches to these two groups. With ‘old money’ they may be getting their windows cleaned year after year from the same people, so what can you do to get them to switch? ‘New money’ folks will probably be younger and live a faster pace life. Here you can market in a way to show you can help with the house chores freeing them up to play more.

I’m just thinking out loud about ways we can fine tune our marketing approach. It won’t be the same for other cities in North America. But a good way is to examine what works for you now and most importantly, who’s responding to your current advertsing?


#5

I get where you’re coming from. I will say as I thought about your new money, old money comment I realized I don’t have any of the old money clients. In my old market I had a few. I think it’s because old money people still have the first buck they ever made. As a result they are (in my experience) more likely to be picky and want to haggle over price. I steer clear of old money as I don’t need those hassles and if I get a difficult client I raise the price when I call to schedule the next service.


#6

good topic beautiful view. I enjoy reading your posts. Did you get the pm I sent you?


#7

got it, read it, responded to it! Thanks


#8

Most of mine are white upper middle-class

but this is the midwest… we are all very white


#9

I just bid the job the same way I always would. When they ask me if “I can do better” I raise the price. Then I point out that I forget to include transom windows or the front door, which I would normally do anyway, and charge the same price as I always would. When I do the job I always make sure to take my shoes off, be polite, and do an awesome job. I have a lot of customers of Indian descent and I just respect them and treat them like I would be treated. I do not expect a tip but I have had some tip me in the past. Sometimes they drive me crazy but i always tell myself to be grateful and do the job. I try to make my $$ on work ethic, job preparation, and a proper estimate and calculation of problems to come.
I could get very politically incorrect discussing how I bid jobs…but no, that’s between me and my brother.
If I see an “Impeach Bush” sign in the yard of a million dollar house I make sure I bid to the max, no freebies, everything is fully detailed in my estimate…
I get about 60% of my estimates and I am now cleaning almost 600 residential customers a year. I also am charging more than my primary competitor but charging less than the franchisee with a bigger ad in the phone book, but as experience has shown me, they will dissapear and I will remain.
Keep an open mind, some of the people who seem the cheapest nitpickers will tip you.
You just have to get a feel for people, and charge accordingly, win some lose some, the cream of the crop always rises to the top…