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January 2008
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March 2008

Are You Mentally Prepared For Your Sales Calls?

When you go to meet a potential cleaning customer, do you prepare yourself for the meeting or do you just "wing it"?  If you suffer from pre-meeting jitters, then mental preparation is just what you need.

The first step to mental preparation is to visualize the result of your meeting. Just what is it you're hoping to accomplish? A building walk-through? The chance to bid on cleaning the building? Top athletes use visualization all the time - they picture themselves pulling away from the pack and crossing the finish line first.

I'm uncomfortable at networking events, so I always visualize walking up to a stranger, sticking out my hand and introducing myself. I practice what I'm going to say, and think about pasting a smile on my face. Since I've replayed this scenario over in my head several times, it makes it much easier to actually put it into practice. It may sound silly if you've never done it before, but try it -- it works!

Should You Have an Advisory Board for Your Cleaning Business?

When you start a new business, you often hear that you should have a Board of Directors, or at the very least an Advisory Board of experienced people who can help you grow your business. But how do you go about finding the right people and then asking them to be a part of your board?

Before you get started you need to give some thought as to why you want an advisory board and what types of people you need on your board. Also think about how often you should meet, for how long, and how you will compensate your board.

Many people enjoy being on boards for a variety of reasons. Some enjoy giving back to others who are getting started, while others may have a vested interest in your business (such as your accountant), so they may view serving on your board as a way to increase the chances that you'll succeed.

Compensation may involve giving each board member a fee for the meetings they attend, or simply paying for their dinner. For a cleaning business just getting started, paying for dinner will probably suffice.

One thing you need to keep in mind if you decide to have an Advisory Board, is to take it seriously and to take the advice given to you seriously.  People want to know that their advice is being considered and they want feedback if you've taken their advice and put a plan into action. They need to know that their time has been well-spent, and that means letting them know the action steps you're taking and the results of taking action.

Also have a plan for each meeting - your advisors won't stick around long if you don't have a plan and specific questions for what you're trying to accomplish.

Who do you ask to be on your board?  Start with your accountant, attorney, banker and insurance agent. They know your company best and would make good partners for your board. Next start asking everyone you know about contacts they may have that would fit your needs. Networking groups and Chambers of Commerce are also good resources for searching for prospective board members.

If you have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board, please click on the Comments link below to share your story of how you chose your board and how it's working for you.

Dirty Buildings Give Clues

Last Friday we had our monthly Telephone Discussion Forum with members of The Janitorial Store. Before the call officially started I was chatting with one of the members who shared a story with me.

She made a routine stop into the bank and started looking around at how well it was being cleaned. She was surprised at how dirty it looked - dust everywhere and visible soil that was very obvious. She asked the teller if they had a cleaning service to take care of the building (she assumed they didn't, it looked so bad...). The teller said yes, they have a cleaning service but weren't very happy with them at the moment. Needless to say, this simple question led to the opportunity to bid on cleaning the bank.

How many times have you walked into your bank, dentist office, financial planner, or any number of other businesses and really looked around? Are you checking to see how well it's being cleaned?  If you're not doing this, you're missing out on a great opportunity to get your foot in the door. And chances are, if you've stopped in to do business rather than sell your cleaning service, they'll be even more receptive when you ask the simple question, "by the way, do you have a cleaning service?"  If you've noticed the cleaning needs help, then chances are the customer is also aware. This is a prime opportunity to let them know you provide cleaning services. And if you're one of their customers, they just might ask you to bid!

Have you ever walked into a place of business, noticed the cleaning wasn't up to par and asked if they have a cleaning service?  Tell us your story by clicking on the Comments link below.

Should You Pay to Get Contracts?

We've had several new cleaning business owners ask us if they should pay a marketing service to get leads or contracts for them because they're anxious to get new accounts.  A very successful cleaning company owner shared his take on the question:

I would be skeptical of any company wanting to charge $2,500.00 for marketing.

Net profit averages in large BSC firms is between 2% to 4% of revenue. What that means is that to be able to afford a $2,500.00 marketing program one would use all of ones profit (if that profit were at 3% NET) from $83,500.00 of revenue.

A smaller business working at a 10% NET profit would have to have $25,000.00 worth of business just to be able to afford to spend that much money. It would be all of your profit for one full year.

There are other ways to develop new business. We have been growing ours in the following way:
  1. Create a "hit" list of prospects that you want to work for. This list should be realistic in size and location of accounts.
  2. Contact prospects by phone to find out who in their company makes the decision on cleaning.
  3. Plan a schedule when you are going to contact them for the next twelve months.
  4. Put together an outline for each contact for example: something green for March-St. Patrick's Day, something red, white and blue for Independence Day, what are you going to write on your letterhead, etcetera.
  5. Contact a promotional goods salesperson to help you find items within your budget that can be personalized with your logo. You can keep your average cost under $6.00 each per prospect per contact.
  6. Start contacting them seven times a year with a letter and the small promotional item. Your letter needs to tell them why they need your service and what your company can do for them. Be sure the letter short and sweet. No more than 5 short paragraphs. Have someone else proof read the letter.
  7. Deliver to your list of prospects. Dress business casual.

It may take four to six deliveries to have prospective clients calling for a proposal, but if one can get the right message out to one's targeted prospects business will soon be coming in.

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Larry Winget's Millionaire Secrets

Do you ever watch Danny Deutch's show, The Big Idea on CNBC? I do, and it's amazing what ordinary people have been able to accomplish by following their dreams.

The other night Donny had Larry Winget on the show, telling his "Millionaire Secrets". Larry is the author of You're Broke Because You Want to Be: How to Stop Getting By and Start Getting Ahead. He really makes some great points that I thought I'd share if you really want to be successful in your cleaning business:

  1. Clearly define your expectations in advance. People don't put enough thought into what they want their business to look like. Especially in the cleaning business, I find people just jump right in because it's one of the easiest businesses you can start on your own. But you need to put some thought into questions like: Are you going to have employees? Do you need investors? Where will you buy your supplies and equipment? Who will do your bookkeeping? What kind of insurance will you need? Will you be selling your business some day?
  2. Passion/love/excitement can be your enemies. His point is not that you shouldn't have passion for your business - of course you should have passion for your business!  HOWEVER, don't be so passionate about your business that you start making bad decisions. Some people love what they do so much that they don't think things through. Success comes down to 2 things: hard work and excellence. You are not paid for your passion, you are paid because you're amazing at what you do. Don't just have the passion - become excellent at what you do and work hard at what you do. Donny Deutsch disagrees somewhat - he believes that when you have the passion to start with, it drives you to be fearless and go the extra mile. So passion is the beginning, but you need also be excellent and work hard in order to become really successful.
  3. Study, study, study. People start a business and don't do anything to prepare themselves - no research, no reading books on what it takes to be successful in business. They don't know how to set up their business, haven't studied the competition, haven't studied what other people with similar successful businesses have done (why reinvent the wheel?). And don't stop studying once you've started your business. Keep studying throughout the life of your business - become a lifelong learner. Study sales, customer service, leadership, and management.
  4. Don't forget your obligations. Many people quit their day job to start a new business. Not a smart thing to do unless you have a lot of money saved to keep the bills paid for several months. You have obligations - house payment, car payments, utilities, clothing for your kids, etc. Don't set your obligations aside to pursue your passion. And don't sacrifice your credit score to go after a new business. You can start part time and make sure it's financially sound before giving up the day job.
  5. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Every good idea might not be the best idea or it might be the wrong timing. You need to be ok with that and move on. You might have to start over. Don't give up, just try the next idea, or try it in a different way (maybe a different niche?).

Larry makes some great points. This is one reason we started The Janitorial Store - to help people who are thinking about starting a cleaning business (and those who are struggling with their cleaning business). Our site is an information site, filled with everything you need to learn and study, so you can follow your dream and become successful.

Please post your thoughts by clicking on the comment link below.