The problem that I find is that most business owners worry too much about what the "other guy" is charging and not enough about what they need to charge in order to cover all of their business related expenses and proposed profit margins.
By following the other guy, often comparisons are not done Apples to Apples therefore the penny pincher (both business owner and consumer) often ends up either cutting corners or allowing for corners to be cut. This often equates to taxes not being paid, poor if not nil insurance coverage and improper equipment being used.
I realize that it is hard to look at the company down the road who appears
to be doing so well despite the fact that they are running their business illegally, however longevity is the key factor to consider. Not only will that business not last long, they are also risking losing alot more in the scheme of life when something major happens and they cannot afford to cover it due to their short sided business plans.
Start asking around when you hear of someone having problems with any type of contractor, ask if the person or company was licensed, bonded, insured? Ask did they charge something in the medium to higher range of bids or were they the rock bottom bid? I think that you will see a trend.
Every so often I do a comparison with my competitors actually inviting them to do estimates for a friends/ family members home, then I carefully compare all of the factors. Not to be cruel but I have to say, I have gotten very good at predicting the failure rate of these businesses based on their prices and business structure. Face it, the cleaning business is one of the easiest businesses to open, however that does not necessarily make it one of the easier businesses to keep open.