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August 2006
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October 2006

Membership in Chamber Pays For Itself Quickly

One of our members at TheJanitorialStore.com recently shared that she joined her local Chamber of Commerce and within a week her membership had paid for itself! On of the members referred her to someone who needed help with move-out cleaning. It was a $400 job. From that job, she's going to receive additional referrals.

This is an excellent way to grow your cleaning business. Join your Chamber or other networking groups, meet the members, share what you do, and before you know it, they'll start referring you.


Testimonial From Former Employee

A few months ago I wrote a post about one of our former supervisors who moved from Boise to Brainerd to come work for us in our new company. He enjoyed working for us so much that he decided to move across the company to come work for us again!

This past week we received an email from another former employee. He found our new web site on the Internet and gave us an update on his situation. He added the following P.S. to his email:

"You are still the best employer I think I have ever had and there has been a few."

What a great compliment to receive from a former employee! If you have employees or plan to have employees in the future, what are you planning to do to ensure they think YOU are the best employer they've ever had??


New Commercial Building Unveiled

We've been very busy these past few months building a new commercial building for our cleaning and janitorial supplies business. It's something we'd always dreamed of, but didn't know if it would ever really  happen. Well I'm happy to say it DID happen, and we're all moved in to our brand new space. Click on the picture for a bigger look:

Bldgdonesm

Here's a link to more pictures: http://www.brainerdlakes.biz/building-pics.htm

How did we do it? Well it took almost 20 years and two cleaning businesses, but the key for us was to continually invest our money back into our businesses. After the first cleaning business sold, we had enough money to get the new business up and running. We also had enough to invest in a great piece of property. We've spent 4 years building the second cleaning business and finally reached the point that we could afford to have the building built for us.

This may not be everyone's dream for their cleaning business, but it just goes to show what you can accomplish with hard work, dedication, and the desire to make it happen.

What is your dream?


How to Get Over Your Fear of Rejection

If you've ever had to sell anything, chances are, you've felt the fear of rejection. For some of us, that fear can be overwhelming. Why is that? Well mostly, it's all in our head! Now it could be that you've felt rejection in the past and are afraid to try again. Or maybe you feel you don't deserve good things to happen to you so you've convinced yourself that you're going to be rejected.

Have you noticed the "mental chatter" going on in your head before meeting with a prospective customer? This is your fears getting in the way of having a successful meeting. What you need to do is get rid of these negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. Here are some tips:

  • Think of a past success you've had and remember the feelings you felt at that time. Replace that sense of fear with the feeling of success.
  • Nervous? Do some deep breathing exercises before meeting your prospect and turn your nervousness into anticipation and excitement of getting of a new customer.
  • Instead of doubting yourself and your abilities, think of yourself as a winner. Picture yourself in an energetic conversation with your prospect where you're at ease and confident.
  • Replace thoughts like, "I just don't know if I can do it" to "I know I can do it!"

Start changing the way you think before your meeting. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Put on a smile and go get that next customer!


30+ Convenience Stores - Floor Care Account

When I first got involved in floor care with my cleaning business, I used to rent floor machines occasionally to buff or strip and wax the floors in the office buildings I took care of. Once I got the hang of it, I realized that floor care is a pretty profitable service to offer customers. Since it's specialized work, you're able to charge much more than you can for general cleaning.

So I started paying attention to floors wherever I went. One day I stopped at a convenience store and the floors were filthy.  I could tell the tile was in good shape, it just wasn't being maintained. So I asked the clerk who I would talk to about the floors and she referred me to her manager. The manager agreed that the floors looked terrible, but didn't have any control over hiring a contractor, so he referred me to the corporate office, which happened to be in town.

I was able to get my foot in the door and talk to the person in charge of all the stores in the area. He started out by giving me 3 stores. The managers were thrilled with how the floors looked and told the corporate office how pleased they were. Eventually we got all the floors. We were on a weekly buffing program at each store and quarterly stripping and waxing.

Not only that, but the corporate office decided to have us clean their office, and they eventually referred us to their sister corporation. The sister corporation was an office/kitchen/warehouse that made all the food for the convenience stores.

Needless to say, this was an amazingly profitable account. It was not an easy account to care for however, because convenience stores are difficult to maintain. But the secret is to get the stores on a regular maintenance program of sweeping and mopping, using the proper chemicals.

When you see opportunities, sometimes all it takes is a simple question - "who do I talk to about your floors?"


Do You Offer Any Benefits to Your Cleaning Employees?

We're at the point in our business where it's time to look at offering more benefits to our employees. We met with our accountant last week and decided to set up a SIMPLE IRA Plan. It's actually quite "simple" (pun intended ;->).

It's not only a great benefit for our employees, but for us as owners too. So if you'd like to set up an investment plan, this is a great way to do it, and take advantage of the tax benefits as well. We set up some basic parameters. First, we wanted to reward our long-term employees so it's only available to those who have been with us for 2 years and earned at least $5,000 each of those two years.

The employees get to choose the investment plan to put their money into. We gave the eligible employees form 5304-SIMPLE from the IRS, which they take to their bank or investment advisor. Then they choose the investment they want, and bring us back page 3, which lets us know where to deposit the money. They also fill out how much they'd like to have deducted from their paycheck each pay period.

As the employer, we will match their contribution up to 3% of their gross wages. We'll make the contribution once each year. This contribution is tax deductible for our company.

If you'd like to find out more about SIMPLE IRA Plans, check this page: http://www.irs.gov/retirement/article/0,,id=137825,00.html, or ask your accountant. He/she should be able to advise you.


One Size Fits All Bidding System?

We recently had a new member of The Janitorial Store drop his membership after only 10 days. I like to find out why some people decide not to remain members, because feedback is helpful to see if there's anything we're not providing our members. The response I received from this particular member was a bit disturbing to me. Here is his reasoning for leaving:

"I needed help with bidding accounts and your calculators don't help me. If I knew the amount to charge for cleaning a sq ft I wouldn't need help .  Someone needs to publish the industry standard so we can all bid competitively.  I have been in business for 5 years and have yet to see the so called experts come up with a bid system.. "

Besides the fact that we offer WAY more than bidding calculators, does he really think there could ever be a "one size fits all" standard for bidding? I've seen other published surveys on bidding averages and every year the numbers are different. Here is my response. See if you agree...

"Thanks for letting me know why you decided to cancel. Unfortunately, there are no across the board industry pricing standards for bidding and there probably never will be. The closest thing I've seen is a huge report that BOMA sells for $400 a year, and that isn't the best either because it focuses on average square foot pricing for larger office buildings.

Even if you had average prices, you have to take them all with a grain of salt because there are so many variables to consider when bidding - type of facility, frequency, specifications, square footage (3000 vs 50,000), productivity of your workers, and the list goes on and on. You need to adjust your price depending on these factors. Price isn't even the deciding factor in many cases. Just having a professional bid packet, answering their questions, and having a good rapport with the prospective client is enough to win a bid in many cases.

We offer the bidding calculators as just one tool to use when bidding on buildings. We have lots of discussions about bidding in the online discussion forum and we talk about it on our telephone discussion forums. We have also helped many members over the phone with bidding questions and have helped many members win accounts. We also have articles on bidding here:
http://www.thejanitorialstore.com/members/department143.cfm

All members have to do is ask for help and we're there to help. And we add new information every single week to the site. We are totally committed to helping people become successful in their cleaning business. We hope you reconsider -- you're welcome to re-join us any time."

I'd like to hear other people's comments on industry standards for bidding.  Just click on the Comment link to post your thoughts.