The biggest problem for me in the commercial cleaning industry has been getting clients. It is definitely a numbers game and there is a lot of "luck" involved. By that I mean 99% of companies are currently not needing new cleaners, so the only way to find out which companies are currently unhappy with their current cleaning providers is by contacting as many companies as possible. You WILL eventually find someone who will want you to come bid their facility immediately, but it just takes time and perseverance.
What I have done is compile an Excel spreadsheet that list my prospective customers, their contact name, phone number, date of contact, follow-up date, and additional notes. I have over 500 prospective customers in my current list and I try to contact at least 50 of them every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Out of those 150 weekly contacts I almost always get at least 5 bids set up...some are immediate but most are a few months down the road. From there I keep updating my Excel spreadsheet and adding more prospective customers as necessary.
Cold calling is definitely the way to go, but whatever you do - NEVER LEAVE A VOICEMAIL. Keep contacting that company until you receive the decision maker's name and phone number. I would only recommend "door-knocking" if you are a regular customer of the company or if you personally know the decision maker. I also advise against emailing and mass mailings unless you are a VERY established cleaning company ($3mil + revenue).
When cold calling, what I have found to be most effective is keeping things as simple as possible and being as passive as possible (aggression will just get the phone hung up on you). I have yet to have anyone hang up on me or get angry with me - worst thing that happens is the person who first picks up the phone says "I'm not sure who the decision maker is, but you are welcome to mail us something". This is how 90% of my phone calls go:
Customer: Thank you for calling ABC Corporation, this is Jane speaking, how can I help you today?
Me: Good morning Jane and thank you for taking my call. My name is John Doe and I was wondering if you would be able to help me with something.
Customer: Sure! What can I help you with?
Me: Excellent. Would you be able to put me in touch with the person who is in charge of hiring cleaning services for ABC Corporation? I am interested in becoming involved in your next bidding process.
Customer: Let me see...I'm pretty sure the person who is in charge of that is Bob. Would you like me to transfer you to his phone number?
Me: That would be great.
Customer: Ok - hold on for just a moment.
Me: Thank you very much Jane for your help today and I hope you have a wonderful afternoon!
Customer: Thank you! You too - I will transfer you over now.
Customer (Bob): Hello, this is Bob
Me: Hi Bob - my name is John Doe and your wonderful receptionist Jane thought you would be able to help me out with something.
Customer (Bob): Haha Jane sure is a sweetheart isn't she? What can I help you with?
Me: Well, Bob...I own a cleaning company in your area and I would love to be able to be included in your next bidding process for cleaning services.
Customer (Bob): Alright. We currently have a cleaning company and I think we are under contract for the next 6 months. However, if you would like to stop by and drop off some information I will be sure to keep it on file.
Me: That sounds good. I will stop by tomorrow with a business card and a flyer. Would it be ok if I contacted you in about 4 months to touch base?
Customer (Bob): That would actually be perfect. We try to get bids from other cleaners at least a month in advance before our current contract is up. That gives us enough time to prepare everything if we end up going with a new cleaner.
Me: Perfect. I really appreciate your help today and I look forward to seeing you in a few months.
Customer (Bob): You are welcome and I am glad that I could help you today. Good luck with your business and I hope to see you in a few months as well.
Me: Thank you. Have a good day!
How does everyone else's cold calls compare?