I run a building maintenance company and would like advice on how to grow my customer base.

Ryne Cleaning


I would begin by thoroughly understanding the characteristics and, given your type of business, the desired location of your target market. Next, I would take every opportunity to get to know my current customers and then mutually explore opportunities for additional services. Asking for referrals within large companies or encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations can also leverage the trust you've developed in the delivery of your first order of business, uncompromising excellent service. Make the most of your personal networks.

Social media and interactive marketing are also powerful tools, but are, unfortunately, beyond the scope of this response. My recommendation here is to conduct further online research or, better yet, seek out an expert in this area for further consultation.

Collaborating with other businesses that deliver noncompeting products or services to your target market may also generate new business prospects. Obviously you will want to make sure that you trust and have confidence in the partners that you collaborate with for this purpose.

You may also consider checking with local government offices to see when new business licenses are being requested or issued — it may provide useful leads for your business. The presumption here is that these companies may have not yet contracted for building maintenance, giving you a first-mover advantage.

I would also look at developing new services that build on current strengths to offer to your current target market. Looking at what your competition is doing may give you ideas or, better yet, closely listening to and observing your customers can generate profitable opportunities.

There are, of course, many other ideas that could be generated, so my best advice is to stay focused and make sure that you do a good job of exploiting whatever approach you take to develop your customer base.

About the author

Richard Rexeisen is a professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.