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December 2009
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February 2010

How Many No's Do You Hear Before You Get a Yes? Do You Give Up Too Soon?

A cleaning business owner recently shared his first success story. He followed some advice from Dick Ollek's book Selling Contract Cleaning Services 101, and researched prospects he wanted to connect with. After sending out something in the mail, he followed up by phone.

He contacted about 30 people before he finally got a "Yes, you can come do a walk-through." After submitting a proposal he had to wait quite a while before they finally made a decision, but he did get the account.

How many "no's" do YOU hear before you finally get a "yes"? Are you giving up too soon? I've talked to many people who contact us in frustration because they can't get their foot in the door. Many people will tell you it's simply a numbers game. I do agree for the most part. First, you need to make sure it's not something in your presentation that is turning people off. Assuming that's not the problem, it really does come down to numbers.

No one can make a sale to every prospect, but if you are persistent and target the RIGHT prospects, your closing rate will steadily increase. Don't give up too soon!

Do you agree? Share your thoughts by clicking on the Comments link below.


Online Safety Training Now Available For Cleaning Companies

The Janitorial Store and EMPO Corporation proudly bring you the convenience of OSHA Compliant, online safety training for cleaning companies.

All workplaces have hazards. Employees must be educated—in advance—about the potential hazards in their work environment. Employees who work in the cleaning industry deal with safety hazards every day. Some of the potential hazards include exposure to toxic cleaning chemicals, exposure to infectious agents and bloodborne pathogens, electrical and equipment hazards, and more.

Hazardous Communications, also known as an Employee's Right-To-Know, covers both identified and potential hazards in the workplace, specifically chemical hazards, physical hazards, noise hazards, and infectious hazards.

Hazardous Communications also introduces employees to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and the information the documents contain, so employees know how to use these documents to keep themselves safe when handling chemical products.

Learn more about OSHA Compliant Online Safety Training for Cleaning Companies

Cleaning Business Owners: Learning To Manage Stress

There's no doubt about it -- owning a business is stressful, and owners of cleaning businesses have their own set of stress factors. A little stress isn't a bad thing; in fact it can sharpen your senses and productivity. But too much stress can be harmful to your health. Do you have any of these signs of stress?

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs
  • Frequent illness
  • Cold hands, rapid breathing, rapid heart beat, achiness, muscle tension

Here are some things to help you manage stress.

  • Express your feelings openly before stress builds up.
  • Have realistic expectations of yourself and others.
  • Accept that you can't control every situation or decision.
  • Get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, eat well-balanced meals.
  • Make time for activities that help you relax (ie: listen to music, read, take a walk).
  • Try to look for the best in yourself and others.
  • Learn to accept change and be flexible.
  • When things get tense, close your eyes, relax your body, and breathe deeply. You'll be surprised how much it helps.
Do you have any tips for managing the stress you feel as a cleaning business owner? Click on the Comments link below to share your thoughts.

How To Respond To A Cleaning Customer That Says, "Wow, That Price Is High!"

A cleaning business owner asked the following question:

We had an estimate this past week for a potential residential client. When speaking with the homeowner at the time of the walk-through, we explained that we take everything off of counter-tops, dressers and we clean under and behind things, etc. We also told her we perform thorough cleanings each and every time, basically top-2-bottom cleaning every time time. When we called and gave her our fee's - Her response was, "Wow, that price is high!" Also, she asked - "How did you come up with those figures?" - What would you have said? 

Another cleaning business owner offered this advice:

It can be pretty frustrating when all someone wants to talk about is the price; missing the point about quality and security. Here are a few tips that might help you in the future and save you some time and aggravation:

1. Do a little "pre qualifying" by phone before taking the time to go out in person. At least warn them of your minimum start up pricing (like "my first time cleans start at $150 and go up from there depending on the condition and needs of your home", or whatever it is). This could save you from the person that thinks cleaning is only $50.

2. Be careful to talk about all the things you will do for them as you do the walk through as a part of your presentation before you pitch your price ("I will do this, I will do that, we only use this, etc."). Continually lay the ground work for what's so valuable about hiring you over "those cheaper services".

3. Offer options, give people a choice. Offer a "deep clean" for one price. If they need it try to press them to do it. Offer a "general clean" for if they won't go for your deep clean. Make sure you make it very clear what you won't have time for if they choose the "lesser" option (so it doesn't come back at you as a complaint). Let them pick what fits their budget, but only if you know you can address their needs (don't bid low to get their business and then not have enough time to do a good job).

4. If they still say you are too expensive I would tell them you stand behind your work, your quality is the best and your references are impeccable. "There are plenty of cheaper services out there, and they should be" and you hope they will give you a chance to show them how terrific it is to come home to a clean house........In other words stay away from defending your prices. Focus on how good your service is. The security of your staff, the quality of your work. Stick to your prices and don't haggle, although you can offer that "$10 off coupon" or something like that to motivate them to buy! Just keep focusing on your great qualities the more they focus on price!

How would YOU answer the customer's questions? Click on the Comments link below to share your thoughts.


Hiring Tips From A Cleaning Business Owner

One of our members shared the following strategies he uses to hire new employees:

My partner and I have been working with a business coach and he has helped us build a system for hiring.  What we do is advertise a job posting with a link to our website that has a detailed -- and I mean detailed -- job description.  It also breaks down how they get paid.  We start at $9 per hour and give a $1 raise and up to a $200 sign on bonus after a 90 day probation and evaluation.  The job description also tells them how to apply, which for us is by email only.  They have to use a job code in the subject heading of their email.  This helps us fish out the people that can't follow directions!  If they don't use the job description in the subject line, it's the delete button for them!

We then save the emails that we like and call them for a phone interview.  We use a spreadsheet that has about 8 questions that we ask.  They are open ended questions, such as:

  • 'What do you find attractive about this position?'
  • 'Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker?
  • 'What did you do to handle the situation?' 
We then grade their answers from 1-5; 5 being the best answer.  We make all the calls at the same time and then look at the total scores for the phone-interviews.  The ones with the highest scores are then called back and we set up an in-person interview.  The in-person interview is just to meet them and make sure their appearance is good, that they have good grooming habits, and to make sure they have an upbeat, good attitude.

We then hire the person we like most.

This has really helped us build a great team that works well with each other.  We still have some turnover, but it has greatly improved.  We keep on about 2 out of 3 people hired this way.  Also, making them jump through a few hoops to get the job lets us know they are serious about the job.  You don't want to hire people that want to 'get one over' on the government or whoever.  That means they'll do it to you too!

For more information about hiring and human resource topics, be sure to visit The Happy Cleaner Blog!