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Recommended Reading for Cleaning Companies

This week a newsletter subscriber requested that we make a recommended reading list of books for cleaning business owners. There are so many good books available for entrepreneurs these days that our list could be miles long, but here are a few of our favorites. The first couple are available at our website and the rest you should be able to find on Amazon.com or at Barnes Nobles.

  • Selling Contract Cleaning Services 101, by Dick Ollek
  • Finding, Training and Keeping GREAT Service Employees 101, by Dick Ollek
  • The Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly
  • How To Sell When Nobody's Buying, by Dave Lakhani 
  • Get Off Your "But", by Sean Stephenson
  • The EMyth Revisited, by Michael Gerber
  • Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh
  • Little Red Book of Selling, by Jeffrey Gitomer (and all his other books too!)
  • Conversations With Millionaires, by Mike Litman and Jason Oman
  • Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, by Seth Godin
  • Green Cleaning for Dummies by Stephen Ashkin and David Holly
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't, by Jim Collins
Please share YOUR favorite books by clicking on the Comments link below.

"Life-Long Learners" Make For More Successful Cleaning Business Owners

"Life-Long Learner" -- you hear that phrase being tossed around these days. But what does it really mean and what difference does it make for a cleaning business owner?

When I was in my mid-20's, after spending most of my life in school, I really had no desire to learn any more - I just wanted to go out and make my mark in the world! So I did what most people do; I went out and found a job and started a new career.

The problem with my new career is that I had to work 60 - 80 hours a week! That didn't leave me much time for anything else but trying to get some sleep and finding time to go out and have some occasional fun. After spending too many years in a career that brought me no joy, I decided to join the world of the self-employed. Wow, how that changed my world!

As soon as I realized that I could start leading my life on my own terms, I started my journey of being a life-long learner. I devoured books and magazine articles on anything business-related and cleaning-industry related. I suddenly became a sponge and couldn't seem to get enough of learning whatever I could about becoming successful as a business owner. Fast-forward several businesses later, and I still spend most of my waking hours devouring material that will help me learn more about the cleaning industry and living the life of a successful entrepreneur.

I know many people just like me. They also get energized and motivated by learning and applying what they've learned. But I also see people who are NOT just like me when it comes to having a voracious appetite for learning. Instead, I see people entering the industry without a clue; little or no experience, expecting people to hand them a magic potion that will instantly make them successful.

Now I'm not saying that you can't be successful with little or no experience. What I AM saying is that no matter what your experience level is (in the cleaning industry or as a business owner), it is YOUR responsibility to take control of your own life and business and do the hard work. Read, read, read, and read some more; attend workshops; join online communities like TheJanitorialStore.com and MyHouseCleaningBiz.com. And by the way, if you DO join a community like this - it only works if you spend time READING and APPLYING what you've learned.

There are dozens of other ways you can learn about the industry and owning a business, but the point is, if you don't consider yourself a life-long learner, your business will probably stagnate and die. Those with a thirst for learning also take ACTION. And as I always say, INACTION may feel safe, but ACTION can move mountains!

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


Large Cleaning Companies May Not Be As Well-Run As You Think So Don't Let Them Intimidate You

I was talking to an branch office manager of a very large cleaning company recently. He was working on scheduling special services like hard floor care and carpet cleaning. He said they had emailed him a spreadsheet and was told to get it done. Problem is, some of the work was already done and no one was keeping track of it! And working with the spreadsheet wasn't going well.

I asked why he wasn't using software like Team Financial, which makes the process easy and automated. He wasn't familiar with the software, even though the company is using Team Financial's timekeeping module.

This got me thinking about what in the world was going on in this company, which has locations in several states. How could they grow to this large size and not have good systems in place for something as basic as scheduling floor care?

It also made me realize that this is a huge opportunity for smaller cleaning companies who might be competing against this company. Many small cleaning companies are somewhat fearful of going up against a large cleaning company or franchise, especially if they are somewhat inexperienced. But knowing that some of these companies do not have the best systems in place in my opinion, opens the door for a small, well-run cleaning company.

Do YOU ever compete with large cleaning companies? How do you feel about it - are you intimidated or energized by it? Please share your thoughts and experience by clicking on the Comments link below.


How Can I Increase Profits In My Cleaning Business?

This is a question that most business owners are asking themselves these days, including those in the cleaning industry. With businesses and individuals cutting back, oftentimes cleaning is the first thing they cut out of the budget.

But just because sales may be down, doesn't mean profits must follow suit. Here are some things you can do to increase profits in your cleaning business.
  1. Figure out which services you offer are most profitable and increase sales in those areas.
  2. If you have unprofitable accounts; a) figure out ways you can re-work the specifications to increase profit; b) raise the price; or c) replace the client with a more profitable one.
  3. Increase productivity. The more productive your employees are, the bigger the bottom line. Now is the time to observe and adjust (observe employees at work and make adjustments if there are more productive ways of doing things).
  4. Make sure you are pricing your services profitably from the start. You aren't doing yourself any favors by going in so low that you can't make a profit. 
  5. Manage supplies more effectively. Make sure all employees are trained on how to properly dilute chemicals so they don't waste them. DON'T "stock up" on supplies and chemicals if it's going to affect your cash flow. DO stock up if the vendor is offering discounted prices or free shipping.
  6. Cut back on unnecessary expenses. Take a closer look at your profit and loss statements to see if there are areas that are being wasteful. For example; wasting money by upgrading seldom used software; not combining errands into one trip; exessive use of utilities like air conditioning or heating.

There are many ways to increase profitability in your cleaning business, but this is a good place to start. If your business is not profitable, you won't be able to stay in business. And if you are struggling with profitability, start taking the steps necessary to save your business today!

What are YOU doing to increase profitability? Share your thoughts by clicking on the Comments link below.


Why Should I Buy YOUR Cleaning Services Over Your Competitor's?

How do you answer this question? Most people anxious to sell their cleaning service will launch into a sales pitch about all the reasons to use their service.

Here is what I suggest you do instead. Rather than you talking about your great cleaning service, turn the conversation around and put it right back into the prospect's court. Say something like this: "What I'd like to do first is find out from YOU, what your biggest concern is with your current cleaning service and what you are looking for in a new service."

You want to find out the desired outcome first, and then respond with your solutions.

If what you want out of the meeting is to get the opportunity to present a proposal, then make sure you create it with the customer's concerns in mind. For example, if the customer was concerned about supervision of the cleaners, you might mention this in the cover letter. Tell the prospect the name of the supervisor and how many times he/she will be checking the building each week.

When you address their concerns in the proposal, they'll know you were paying attention to what was important to them. And they'll also know that you took the time to specifically address each issue. This will lay the foundation for a long-term relationship with the prospect.

How do YOU answer this question? Share your thoughts by clicking on the Comments link below.