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February 2008
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Top 5 Burning Issues Facing Cleaning Company Owners

I was talking with Debbie Sardone, residential cleaning expert, and she shared what she feels are the top 5 burning issues facing cleaning company owners:

1. Finding and Retaining Staff. In order to do this we need to offer top pay for employees, a work culture of respect, dignity and values, and we need to treat our employees like VIP customers. We also need to have a predictable work environment for our employees (routine/repetitive systems and processes).

2. Pricing and Bidding Correctly. We must price jobs correctly to effectively pay employees and maintain net profits. We need to have a price structure based on systems and process have the confidence to price our jobs knowing our company is the best.

3. Maintaining Quality of Work. Do this by utilizing systems and processes, repetition and routines, communicating effectively with customers to prevent complaints, clearly define what work is done.

4. Control Expenses and Net Profit. Keep an eye on where your money is going. Also, you'll find that when you bid correctly, maintain the quality of work, and put systems into place, it will be easier to control your expenses. 

5. Systems and Processes. Phone quotes are important and we should always push our first time cleaning and spring cleanings as our most popular. Explain what is done on these cleans before ever mentioning price. Then and only then mention what is offered on general/maintenance cleans. There should be a system and processes for every aspect of your business, including phone quotes, to provide consistency with employees and customer expectations.

Did you notice the theme running through this list?  Systems and Processes - this is a key component of being successful in business. What are your thoughts? Do you have systems in place? Click on the Comments link below to post your thoughts.

If you're a member of The Janitorial Store, you can listen to the interview, where Debbie goes into more detail.

If you're not a member and would like to join, click here.

Have You Made These Common Sales Mistakes?

We often hear from cleaning business owners who can't quite figure out what they're doing wrong when marketing their business. When digging deeper, we often discover five common mistakes that are holding them back.

1. Not Doing Your Homework.
Are you pre-qualifying your prospects? Too many business owners spend too much time talking to prospects who are unlikely to buy. Or they spend their time talking to a person who isnt' the decision-maker. Before marketing to a prospect, do some homework to find out if this is a good prospect for your business. If so, do more research to find out who the decision-maker is and then target your phone calls and marketing materials to that person.

2. Expecting Immediate Results. Marketing takes time. Remember that selling your services is YOUR priority, but it's not your prospect's priority. Even if you made a good connection with the prospect, it takes time to get the ball rolling. People are busy so they may not get back to you right away, so it's your job to remind them of the value of doing business with you - and that takes time.

3. Giving Up Too Soon. Usually it's the people who fall into the trap of #2 (Expecting Immediate Results), that end up giving up too soon. As I mentioned, selling your cleaning services takes time. Some people are lucky enough to have a large network of people to market to. These people may be able to build their business faster than those who do not have a large network and need to start from scratch.

Think about the network of people you currently know. If it's small, then you need to get out there and start networking and building relationships. Before you know it, referrals will start coming your way.

4. Doing the Same Things Over and Over and Expecting Different Results. Are you used to doing things the same way? Is it working for you?  If not, then it's time to think about making some changes. If you're marketing your business by making phone calls and you're not having any luck, why keep doing it? Unless you can change your results by changing your technique, you're better off trying something new.

5. I'm Afraid. Selling your cleaning services probably means that you need to get out of your comfort zone so you can get your name out there. If you want to find clients you need to get over it and do what you have to do to market your business. If cold calling isn't your thing, then join networking groups and focus on meeting people and building relationships with them. This should make the thought of marketing your business easier.

Have you made any of these common mistakes? If so, we'd like to hear your story. Click on the Comments link below.

It's Not Who YOU Know, It's Who Knows YOU - Part 2

A few weeks ago I posted a topic called It's Not Who YOU Know, It's Who Knows YOU.  This post is going to expand on this idea of getting out there and building your network so people will remember you and think to refer you when the opportunity presents itself. One of our members at The Janitorial Store shared these thoughts:

The best way to get your face out there is to join networking groups or events. We have had great success with our local Chamber of Commerce. There are also many, many small business associations and groups who hold networking events. Get out there and meet other people!

Have your 30-second introduction speech prepared and get to know other business owners in your area -- I mean really get to know them -- who they are, what they like, etc...they're people too, and they have businesses and want to succeed just like you. So you already have two things in common with them.

It's a little awkward at first at the meetings, but the more frequently you attend, the easier it becomes, because you see a lot of the same faces at many events and you actually do get to know these people and see them as more than "that guy who could be my next client". He is now "that guy who reads the same books I do," and "that lady who gave me the great pumpkin bread recipe".

You have to put your face out there so people will associate who you are with what you do. If you're just a name on a piece of paper to them, you're a nobody. But if they see you and associate you with your business, they'll be more likely to call you when they have a need for your service. Or they may remember you if they hear someone else is looking and they'll say sonmething like, "Oh, you're looking for a new cleaning service? I know this lady..." and then your name is out there!