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December 2006
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February 2007

When Cleaning Customers Understand Your Value, They'll Happily Pay Your Price

One of our clients recently built a new, larger building. When discussing the cleaning services, they  asked if we provided building maintenance services like minor repairs, changing filters, and coordinating sub-contractors -- things cleaning companies normally don't handle. We've done some building maintenance for other customers, but not extensively. We were up to the challenge and decided to bid on this service as well.

After turning in the bid we scheduled a walk-through with the sub-contractors for plumbing and electrical. Shortly before the walk-through my client said he was ready to sign the contract for the cleaning but wanted to discuss the building maintenance proposal because he thought the price was high. I said sure, we can discuss it after our meeting with the sub-contractors.

About half-way the walk-through, our client seemed to be overwhelmed with all the maintenance involved with the new building. He turned to me and said, "I'm ready to sign that building maintenance proposal now...your price doesn't seem so high after all!"

Have you ever had a customer that said you were priced too high? Perhaps you didn't demonstrate the value of your service. Walking through the facility and explaining just what they're getting for their money can go a long way towards gaining the confidence of your customer. If their perception of the value they're paying matches the service they're getting, then they're more than happy to pay your price!

Grow Your Cleaning Business by Offering a New Service

One of our members at The Janitorial Store just shared a recent success story about her business. She's owned a residential cleaning business for about 20 years and had always considered herself quite successful. She decided to run a small newspaper ad, which hi-lighted the fact that she pays attention to the details.

After running the ad, a property management company contacted her and asked if she'd be interested in cleaning apartment vacancies at a number of buildings that they manage. She was hesitant at first, because up until now, she'd done all the work herself. Taking on this type of work meant hiring employees and taking her business to the next level.

After some persuasion, she decided to go for it, and hired a crew to take care of the apartment buildings. She's done such a great job for this property management company that now her phone is ringing off the hook with referrals. With one small ad that had just the right message, she's created a referral machine for her cleaning business!

Highest Bidder Wins!

Last month we were talking with the owner of a cleaning company who shared that he was struggling a bit when it came to competing against some of the franchises -- they always seem to bid low in order to win the account.

This month he let us know that he just picked up two new large accounts. He was competing against 10 bidders, he turned in the highest bid, and won the account! What a turnaround from the previous month. We asked what he thought the difference was, and he replied that it was the presentation.

First, he used the Bid Estimating Worksheet we have, which helped him record all the information he needed to make an accurate bid. Then he used the Bid Packet template to impress the customer, which did the trick. They felt he had the best presentation, which won the bid...price was not the issue for this account.

This week we talked to another cleaning contractor who had also been struggling with getting new accounts. In this case, he decided to clean up his "personal" presentation. He bought some nicer clothes to wear, better shoes, and basically cleaned up his act. It must have done the trick, because he recently gained three new accounts!

Don't discount the importance of presentation - both your personal presentation (appearance and communication skills) and your bid packet presentation. Both go a long ways towards winning the account.

If you're a member of The Janitorial Store, you can download our Bid Estimating Worksheet and Bid Packet Templates for free. If you're not a member, you can purchase these bidding forms here.

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Part 2: Do You Have Too Much To Do In Your Cleaning Business?

In the last post I talked about how most of us tend to spend too much time on things that have little or no value, and not enough time on crucial and important things. For most of us, the problem is that we really don't know how to manage our time efficiently. 

Here are some time management tips that might help:

  1. Spend one week tracking everything you do. It sounds like a lot of work, but you'll be amazed when you discover how much time you waste. And perhaps you'll discover a pattern, or a set of activities that you should really delegate to someone else. This will free up your time to handle more important tasks.
  2. Plan each day ahead of time. Don't just schedule the cleaning jobs, but schedule ALL your activities -- business AND personal. Once you've done that, make a commitment to your schedule. That's not to say you can't be flexible, but get used to checking your schedule before making commitments.
  3. Keep your calendar with you at all times. As mentioned above, you need to schedule both business AND personal activities on your calendar, or you just might forget about important family events.
  4. Prioritize all your activities. Stephen Covey says we should categorize activities in this way: 1) important/urgent, 2) non-important/urgent, 3) important/non-urgent, 4) non-important. Be sure to take care of the important/urgent tasks first.
  5. Don't be afraid to say NO. If you over-commit yourself you'll end up frustrated and resentful. Sometimes adding just one more thing to your to-do list means working an extra hour or so. Ask yourself if you really have the time and energy to handle one more task. Don't guilt yourself into it, especially if you'll feel resentful later, for having done it.
  6. Be realistic about how long it takes to get things done. Block out a reasonable amount of time on your calendar, especially if it's an appointment where there's driving time to consider, or if you're estimating how much time it will take to clean a number of buildings.
  7. Schedule time with yourself, without interruptions. If that means closing your office door and letting your voice mail take phone messages, then that's what you need to do. Do this at your most productive time of the day. Are you a morning person? Start your day with some quiet time by yourself, when you're the most productive and focused. Then tackle those important/urgent tasks.
  8. Combine like tasks. If you have a lot of phone calls to make and bids to create, then make all of the phone calls first, then tackle the bids. Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking really isn't very productive. People are much more productive when they're allowed to focus on one task at a time.
  9. Use waiting time productively. When waiting for an appointment or traveling, catch up on reading trade magazines, writing correspondence, or jotting down creative ideas for marketing your cleaning business.
  10. At the end of each day, plan for the next day. Write down tomorrow's to-do list, prioritize it, and then clean off your desk.

If you'd like more time management tips, then I recommend the following resources:

  • Julie Morgenstern's book, Time Management from the Inside Out.
  • David Allen's book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
  • For time management tools, check out or

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Do You Have Too Much To Do In Your Cleaning Business?

I recently read the following quote: "Few, if any, reach the top of the ladder without being exceedingly efficient; the higher you climb the more crucial efficiency becomes." -- Winston Fletcher

What's that old saying? Too much to do , too little time

Are you feeling stressed lately because there just seems to be too much to do? Don't worry, you're not alone. Just ask your friends and family members. Seems everyone is overwhelmed with too much to do!

So what's the answer?  Well there's no single answer to this growing problem, but one thing you can do to free up more of your time is to become better at time management. Believe it or not, most people really aren't very good at managing their time. In fact, time management is actually a skill that can be learned.

Most people have heard of the 80/20 rule, which can be applied to many different situations. Did you know there is also a 10/90 rule?  This rule says that if you devote 10% of your time to planning, then you will save 90% of the effort needed to complete your tasks. Just taking the time to plan your work in advance can dramatically reduce the amount of time you actually need to do the job.

Have you ever wondered how some people manage to climb to the top of their field, seemingly effortlessly?  For these people, it's not so much that it's effortless, but it's the ability to manage their time effectively and work more efficiently.

Going back to the 80/20 rule. According to the Productivity Institute, 20% of the average workday is spent on crucial and important things, while 80% of the average workday is spent on things that have little or no value. Is this the way your typical workday goes? Here are some questions to consider:

  • How much time do you spend planning your days, weeks, months?
  • Do you use a calendar to plan your appointments?
  • Do you schedule your top priorities in your calendar, or do you just start each day by deciding what you'll do depending how you feel at the time?
  • Do you know how much time you waste every day and exactly what you're wasting your time doing?
  • Do you let others dictate how you will spend your day?
  • Are you taking steps to figure out how to work more efficiently?

The next post will offer time management suggestions and suggested reading that you can do to improve your productivity.

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