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August 2013
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December 2013

The Cost Of Growing Your Cleaning Business: How To Fund Expansion

We just had a discussion in the member forum about being financially able to expand a growing cleaning business.  One member commented that his business is growing but he's concerned about the lack of capital needed to fund the expansion.

For commercial cleaners in particular, this can be a real challenge as you get into larger sized buildings. There can be a significant equipment investment as well as large payroll runs as soon as you take over the new account. If you have your clients pay BEFORE service starts each month, it will help your cash flow immensly. But what if that is not quite enough?

Another member joined the discussion and suggested getting a line of credit. The original poster said it goes against all of his thinking because he despises debt. I do see where he's coming from, because we were lucky enough to be able to self-fund our growing cleaning business. We had a little help from our janitorial distributor in the beginning, who let us pay for equipment over 90 days if we needed a little extra time.

My response to our member who is averse to debt, was to suggest that he look at a line of credit in another way.

"Don't look at a line of credit as debt. Look at it as building credit and building a relationship with your banker.

We had a $30,000 line of credit that we didn't necessarily need. But every time we made an equipment purchase that was $2000 or over, we used it, even if we could afford to pay cash. We simply made the monthly payments until it was paid off. That helped our corporation establish its own credit - in case you ever really DO need it."

If you are struggling with how to fund the growth of your business, consider the three options suggested above. It just might make it a smoother road to growth!

One Cleaning Business Owner's 4-Step System For Handling Complaints

We recently had a member post a question in the Discussion Forum about how to handle a particular complaint he received from a client. Another member shared his 4-Step System for handling complaints in his cleaning business.
  1. Apologize (I'm so sorry)
  2. Empathize (I can understand how frustrating it is when your trash is overflowing)
  3. Ask for forgiveness (Please forgive us)
  4. Take action (Here is what I'll do...)

These are four important steps. If you miss one of them, the customer will feel as if you really don't care. And regarding #4, be sure you do what you say you'll do and do NOT make empty promises. If you have a recurring complaint on your hands, examine what is happening behind the scenes. Chances are, it's a system failure and until you fix the system, you'll continue to have complaints and lost clients.

One other tip he shared to help avoid complaints, is that he has employees send a text message to their supervisors so they know what needs attention, or what might have happened that night (ie: couldn't get into an office to empty trash, etc). This helps you to be be proactive first thing in the morning to alert your contact person at the account.

What is YOUR system for handling complaints? Do you have one? Please share by clicking on the Comments link below.

Networking Follow Up Has Changed - Are You Falling Behind Your Competitors?

This year I joined a women's networking group so I'm meeting lots of new people. As you know, one of the keys to effective networking is in the follow up. And what I've noticed is that these days the follow up method has changed. It used to work like this:

  1. Gather business cards and send an email, but just to the people you think would make a good prospect, or that might make a good referral partner. 
  2. Set up a time to meet for coffee. This sometimes works, sometimes not, due to people's busy schedules. If they don't see an immediate connection with your business, chances are they'll put you off.

These days, email is occasionally still used, but I'm seeing a shift to connecting via social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook. What I like about this is that when you send an invitation to connect, you'll almost never get turned down. Just be sure to remind them that you met at the recent event in case they don't remember who you are.

In my case, what I've noticed is that usually within a day of attending one of the events, I get at least two or three invitations to connect with someone I met, along with a short follow up message. I also look up people I met but sometimes they find me first. When it comes to Facebook, I send a "Friend" invitation and also "Like" their business page. Now their posts show up in in my news feed and I can begin interacting with them, expediting the "get to know you" process that used to take much longer.

This past week I connected with five of the people at my table of eight, and have already begun interacting with them on Facebook and LinkedIn. I've also scheduled three meetings -- one by phone, and the other two I'll meet before and after the next networking event. I find that scheduling meetings this way saves us each a lot of additional travel time and expense (for the coffee or lunch).

People are busy these days so connecting online may not always seem like the best way to build a business relationship, but when you can see each other at the events and stay in touch online in-between, you've found the best solution for growing your network.