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August 2009
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Cleaning Business Owners - Are You Happy?

This week I had the privilege of seeing Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos talk about his company's culture and how Zappos became famous world-wide for providing a memorable customer experience through customer service.

But it was the end of his presentation that really caught my attention. Here he talked about what makes us happy, and it occurred to me that most of us are chasing carrots. You know what I mean -- dangling the carrot in front of the horse's nose so he's always focused on chasing immediate gratification. 

Tony calls this type of happiness Rock Star (always chasing the next high). If you're a cleaning business owner it might be something like, "if only I could make a half a million in sales I'd be happy, (or a million, or whatever that  number is for you). Or "when I achieve _____, I will be happy". But are you really happy when you've reached that goal? Or are you now on to the next carrot?

The next stage of happiness is called Flow (engagement - time flies). During this stage of happiness you are more engaged in what you are doing and time just seems to fly by. Isn't it fun when business is booming and cash is flowing into the company? Yes, you're happier, but not quite there yet. Suddenly you need to hire more people to handle the extra business and the quality of work starts to slip... Is happiness only fleeting?

The third stage of happiness is called Meaning/Higher Purpose (being part of something bigger than yourself). Ahh, now it's starting to make sense! When have you truly felt happy in your life? Was it when you did something that had meaning or a higher purpose than your own self-gratification? Is it any wonder that people who do charitable work seem so happy? It's no coincidence.

Tony Tsieh discovered that when he defined his company values and culture, it translated into happy employees and customer satisfaction. Suddenly he was a part of something bigger than himself. If you could create your own company culture and transform it into something bigger than yourself, would it make you happy?

Share your thoughts by clicking on the Comments link below.


Frustrated With People Who Think My Prices Are Too High

A cleaning business owner shared her frustration:

I recently gave a bid for a 3200 sq with 4 bedrooms 3.5 baths. All 3 baths are used daily, sheets need changing on 3 beds. There was lots of wood and tile. I told the lady it would be $120 for weekly and $145 biweekly.

She thinks this is much too high. Now her last girl was charging $85 weekly and she wasn't happy with her cleaning. As she walked me through the house she wiped her finger across the blinds and said she doesn't dust here and she doesn't dust here. Plus they let her go because some of their pain meds went missing.

What do these people want? Do you think these prices are too high? I am so tired of cleaning homes for nothing! 

Another business owner offered the following advice:

No need to be frustrated, this is an excellent opportunity for you to demonstrate the old "you get what you pay for" principle!  Now, you may not win this bid, who knows, but it's living proof that you are right on target with your pricing.  Allow the customer's experience to give you new confidence that you are pricing your jobs correctly. 

They are looking for a better service and they've found one.  Now it's up to them to make the change and "get what they pay for".  Of course, it helps if you get better and better at demonstrating how your service is different and why you are worth more (explain about insurance, bonding, payroll taxes, quality, trust!).  Share with the client how quickly her "savings" will evaporate if instead of meds, the cleaner had stolen a watch or diamond ring.  Leave it at that. 

Sometimes we give bids to the wrong prospects.  People who are not willing to pay for quality are not really good prospects for you.  So, it's not that your pricing is all wrong, it's just that you are either talking to the wrong prospects (people who want something for nothing are not good clients) or you need to work on how you demonstrate the difference between your quality services and the low-cost bad services out there.

Do you have advice for this frustrated cleaning business owner? Click on the Comments link below to share your thoughts.

Cleaning Company Owner Shares Success Story

A member of The Janitorial Store shared this success story.

I belong to my local Chamber of Commerce and was able to get a set of mailing labels for free. (Most Chambers charge a small fee for mailing labels of Chamber members)

Next I bought some postcards from Staples for $25.00.

It cost me $42.00 for bulk mailing charges.

Four days later I was awarded a $500 a month account ($6,000 a year). I also got a $250 one-time clean, a window washing job and the opportunity to submit a proposal on a floor care account.

Please share YOUR success stories by clicking on the Comments link below.

Is the REAL Money in Commercial or Residential Cleaning?

This question has come up occasionally from both residential and commercial cleaners. People in residential cleaning hear there is more money to be made in commercial cleaning and to a certain degree this is true; primarily because commercial cleaning companies can grow to a tremendous size - in the tens and hundreds of millions in sales a year. Many of the most successful residential cleaning companies have grown to $2 to $5 million a year in sales. To do more than this in residential cleaning is rare. So from a sales perspective, yes, it is feasible to make more money in commercial cleaning.

But what is your definition of "REAL" money? Is it making $100,000 a year? $150,000 a year? $300,000 a year? ...more?

Here is something to consider that is besides the idea of how much money you can make in a cleaning business, no matter what kind of cleaning business you own. When we had our first really successful year in terms of income, it hit us that the old statement "money can't make you happy" is very true. We were finally making the kind of money we had always dreamed of, yet we were so stressed out that we couldn't take the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Yes, our company was growing, but we didn't take the time to automate our business so it could run smoothly without us being there every single day. Because our company depended on us so much, we had a hard time taking time off and enjoying life. Sound familiar?

So what do I mean by automating your business? I'm talking about putting systems into place for everything you do in your business -- from hiring to training to home/building inspections to scheduling work. Yes, we had a policy manual that covered many of these things, and yes, we had certain systems in place. But what we did NOT do was document, step-by-step, each of these systems so that our key employees could duplicate what we did without us being there. This is where the REAL money is, because as you put systems into place you'll find you're spending less time spent fixing mistakes, handling complaints, and writing up poor performing employees. Instead you'll have more time to enjoy the lifestyle you really want to live because your company is learning to run without your constant presence.

You can certainly make REAL money in whatever type of business you choose - residential cleaning, commercial cleaning, carpet cleaning or selling widgets! The key is to choose a business you are passionate about and then systematize everything you do to maintain consistency throughout your company so your business can grow successfully. Before you know it, you'll not only make "real" money, but you'll be enjoying the lifestyle you've been dreaming about.

Please share your thoughts about this post by clicking on the Comments link below.