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February 2007
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April 2007

Are You Giving Up On Your Cleaning Business Too Soon?

This week we've had two cleaning contractors tell us they've had their cleaning business for 2 months and are getting discouraged because they don't have any clients yet. Seriously...are you giving up after 2 months??

One of our members had some great words of wisdom. Here is part of the advice he shared:

I know it seems discouraging now, but strangely enough you have to be patient on this one. Like Jean suggested, you have to get your name out there & begin meeting with people as much as possible. They can't refer who they don't know. A lot of business in this field comes from referrals & if you have someone speaking on your behalf to another party, because they know you, you're in!

Check this... When I meet with a fair amount of people in a day & get to speaking to them in depth, when I come home & my wife how was your day? Any business? I'm happy to say that the day was productive! Why? Because I left a buzz in those peoples ear. They may not need me now, but I don't know who is in their rolodex & who may need my services. When they run into someone, they'll think of me! You're not gonna get business everyday, but keep planting that bug. It will come. Trust me. I just joined my local BNI group this morning. Just by going to their meetings as a visitor back in NOVEMBER, I received 2 commercial accts & a handful of small jobs. When I visited again today, after not being there since November, they remembered me & my business...because I made that impression on the first time around. Talk, talk, talk about your business to anyone who's willing to hear. When you meet someone, take their card. Ask them "what's a good referral for you?" Help build other people businesses, because that helps you build a relationship with them, which then opens you to their rolodex. Trust me....givers gain.

Chamber of commerce, church, volunteer at a school, auto zone, aamco, wherever you go, ask "Who does your cleaning?" It gets people talking. I don't ask for their business, I just simply ask "who does your cleaning?"

And then I added to the discussion with the following reply:

GREAT advice! You have the perfect attitude for gaining new business - givers gain.

What you're doing is called "attraction marketing". You're "attractively" marketing your business. You're not being pushy or forcing yourself on people who really don't care. Instead, you're finding out about them first to see how you can help them. Believe me, people notice that! They aren't going off thinking, "jeez that guy was pushy. Who cares about his dumb cleaning business?" Instead they're thinking, "what a great guy. He really took an interest in my business." And people LOVE to talk about their own business. So what will happen? When they need your services or know someone else who does, they're going to think about YOU, because the meeting was memorable to them.

A friend of mine used to always say that she was "planting seeds" when she would go to networking events, and she's right about that. Eventually those seeds start to grow and over time you'll see a huge difference because of the connections you've made. Are you ready for it??? :-)

If you'd like to join our very active online discussion forum and learn from owners of cleaning companies from all over the world, then join us as a member - we'd love to have you!

New Major Account Follows Loss of Another Major Account

Recently one of our members at was seeking advice because she had a large account that was becoming a real pain in the you-know-what. She really wanted to get rid of the customer, but because it was a major account, was concerned over the loss of income. It's a scary thought when you don't know how long it will take to replace that income.

She received lots of advice and shared experiences from other members, and most said the same thing. When one door closes another will open. I've found this to be true over and over again. Whenever I decided to get rid of a client that was no longer serving me, I "fired" that client and replaced them quickly with a better, more profitable client.

Well our member decided to go for it and fired the customer. She recently reported back that within a very short time she had replaced the old customer with a new and better one! Turns out one of her existing customers referred her to a drywall contractor who needed a cleaning company to do drywall dust clean up. They are now using her company exclusively, and include her company information on their marketing materials.

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Do You Sell to Help?

I'm often inspired by some of the newsletters I read. One of my favorites is Jeffrey Gitomer's Sales Caffeine. In the last issue a reader wrote in to share one of Gitomer's early quotes, which has stuck with him over the years. The quote says, "Whenever you realize that your product or service cannot help them or their situation, leave them alone. However, if you know you can help them, never give up!"

I challenge you to make a new intention when selling your cleaning services. SELL TO HELP! Get that thought out of the back of your head that's telling you how much you need this account. Instead, do what the experts know to be true - make it about THEM, not YOU. If you can't help your prospects, then leave them alone. If you CAN help them, then never give up!

How to Keep Cleaning Supervisors Motivated

A cleaning company owner is having problems with keeping his supervisors motivated. The problem is, they start out doing a great job, but just when it seems he can trust them, their performance goes downhill. He's also wondering if there is something that makes them have the same interest that you do as the owner?   

Here are some tips I offered to this cleaning business owner:

  1. First you need to realize that no one will ever do things just like you, which means we'll never be able to find a clone of ourselves -- it's something we have to learn to deal with. Know what the strengths and weaknesses are of each of your supervisors or lead people. In their "strong" areas, be sure to give them plenty of praise. In their "weak" areas, be sure to continually follow up.
  2. It's our job to set the tone and follow up to make sure our supervisors are staying on top of things. Even the supervisors let us down at times so we need to stay on them.
  3. Try to find supervisors that complement each other. If one is lacking in a particular trait, try to find another that is good at that - for example, maybe one isn't comfortable with firing employees, so they have another supervisor be a witness to back them up.
  4. I don't know that it's possible to find someone who has the same interest that we do as the owner. I think the only way to make that happen is to either 1) find someone you can hire as a manager who has a lot of passion for the business and isn't afraid to jump in and help when needed, or 2) give someone some ownership in the company. It could mean buying into the business or setting up a stock ownership plan. They don't necessarily have to buy into the business, but maybe some type of incentive program or commission would work.

One of the things we did was develop checklists of everything we look for when walking through a building - we're very picky and it seems that even the supervisors forget certain details. So we gave the supervisors these forms and told them to study them because this is what we look for and this is what they should be looking for too. Members of The Janitorial Store can download them for free here:

Supervisor Checklist

Quality Assurance Guidelines

Do You Sound "Salesy" On Your Cold Calls?

I was reading Wendy Weiss' latest newsletter the other day and one of her readers sent in a question. Seems whenever she starts a conversation with a prospect, she sounds "salesy". She wants to know how to be business-like and friendly at the same time.

I liked Wendy's response.  The first thing she pointed out is that the reader has judged herself and found herself to be inadequate. But Wendy is wondering if in fact she really is inadequate. It could be that since she's new to selling, she's just nervous and is having to speak differently than she's used to so it makes her uncomfortable. Wendy also points out that this is OK - when you get started in business you have to learn new skills and different ways of being.

So what advice did Wendy give her reader? She told her to ask herself the following questions. If she answered "yes" to the questions, then she knows she's acting with integrity.

  • Do you believe in the value of your products and/or services?
  • Do the products and/or services provide a benefit to your customers?
  • Do you believe in the value of what you are selling?
  • Are you doing the best you know how to ensure that your customers get what they need?

I've always believed that if YOU don't believe in yourself and the value of your cleaning service, then no one else is going to believe you either! And why should they?  Ask yourself these questions. Do you believe? Then show it when talking to your prospects!

Creative Ways to Market Your Cleaning Business

The owner of a residential cleaning company recently shared some creative ways she's marketing her business. Sometimes "thinking outside the box" is what we need to jumpstart our businessess. Here are some of the things she's recently done to gain new customers:

  1. Made flyers and hung them up at all the stores they could think of. But instead of just listing their phone number (so people have to dig for a pen and paper to write down the information), they took some thin plastic and taped it onto the flyer and then put their business cards in it.
  2. Visited senior citizens homes and asked if they could put up a flyer offering a 20% discount. They realized that many friends, family members, and other seniors visit residents and also participate in some of the activities at these locations.
  3. One of the senior citizens homes asked if they'd be willing to do a drawing for a free two-hour cleaning. They decided to say yes and landed 4 new accounts. Another reason they decided to say yes was because they realized it would be a great publicity opportunity. So they not only got their name in front of the senior citizen community, but the local newspaper did an article about the free cleaning, which is great FREE Advertising.
  4. They're working with the school board to do an essay contest for Mother's Day.  The children will write why their mom is the best, and the winner will receive a free two hour cleaning for their mother. They've already gotten two new accounts from teachers who learned about this.

This cleaning company is actively thinking of ways to get themselves involved in the community, and so far it's working!