"When we go out and bid the sweeping service for a shopping center, the chances of me getting the bid are slim because I put in a number where I get a 10% to 15% profit if I get the job," he says. "Nine out of 10 times I lose on a one-to-one bid."
Where East Coast does well is on larger chains who are trying to consolidate some of their services.
"Having said that, I still have to compete with the guy from the national end (national service providers) and they bid very low," he says. "So it's a double-edged sword. So I'm working out my relative advantages."
He has repositioned East Coast to fit between the markets he gets most competition from.
"I try to work my relative advantages in between those two markets. My relative advantage is I am a large regional player, a self-performer who can cover five states," he says. "Our customers can talk directly to one person who certainly does the work. That keeps the quality up. They don't have to talk with someone who then has to make a call to talk with a subcontractor."
He says East Coast currently has about a dozen regional accounts ranging from a dozen up to 80 properties.
"We're very focused on customer service. The successful company in today's market has to have a big focus on customer service, whether you use customer retention calls, customer appreciate events, newsletters (East Coast recently started one), an interactive website, or other customer-focused activities," he says. "The customer service end of the business has become increasingly important over the years."
Over the years East Coast has developed its own Customer Relations Management (CRM) system that it relies on. The CRM system compiles all the communications that have ever been done with every customer, from phone calls, to lunch meetings, to complaints and presentations.
"When the customer calls me and tells me he talked with our director of operations I can go to the CRM and see what that conversation was all about," Ben-Yashar says. "I can do it right then and resolve any concerns right immediately. That makes the customer happy and it means he doesn't have to call back or wait for a call to get an answer."
"We realized over the years the importance of customer service because ultimately people buy from people. They buy services or product, but because they do have a choice, it's a people business at the end of the day. And the more you realize that and focus on it the more you can be a successful business."