Giving Up On Your Cleaning Business Right Before The Floodgates Open

A member of The Janitorial Store just posted this in the Discussion Forum:

"This week has been a rush. I had 7 appointments, submitted 4 breathtaking proposals (this is what the prospect said), and got 4 more for next week. I just needed to share that with my thejanitorialstore.com family. I am getting excited about how things are starting to come along. Its been a slow 4 months but now I am getting a rush. Thank you Steve, Jean and everyone else who contributed to the site to help my business grow."

I've seen SO many people struggle with their business for a few months and then decide to hang it up. It's pretty easy to do in this industry because it's fairly inexpensive to start a cleaning business. So if it fails, "Oh well, I didn't have that much invested in it anyway".

A certain percentage of these people never put much effort into it to begin with. But there ARE people who work hard marketing the business for months but see little return on their time investment. What some of these people never realize is, they gave up right before the floodgates were about to open! What if they had stuck it out just a little longer? As you can see by our member above, a wave of prospects came to her after a very slow 4 months.

I've seen lots of examples just like this one. It happened to us when we started our second cleaning company. We finally got our first client after 4 months, and after 6 months the floodgates finally opened. Within a year we had momentum and a steady stream of prospects.

So for those of you considering giving up, re-think that notion if you KNOW you've been putting in the effort to network and get your name out there. Your success could be just around the corner!

If you have a similar story, please click on the Comments link below to share your story.


Is Fear Holding You Back From Succeeding In Your Cleaning Business?

It seems ironic that people would be fearful of succeeding in business. After all, aren't we all in business to succeed? I don't think too many people want to invest time and money into a business that is doomed to fail.

Yet many of us ARE fearful of success, and there are many reasons:

  • the responsibility that goes with success
  • lack of self esteem (I don't deserve to have success in my life so I'll settle for less)
  • fear of making a fool of myself
  • if I make a mistake my business will fail so it's easier to stay on the safe path

Most people consider Michael Jordan the most successful basketball player in history. Yet he's missed more than 9,000 shots in his career, lost almost 300 games, and 26 times he attempted the winning shot and missed. He once said, "I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed."

Keep in mind, failing does not mean you're a failure -- unless you fail to learn from your mistakes. It's better to be willing to try new things, even if it feels out of your comfort zone. If you're going to fail, it's better to fail quickly. And if you DO fail, figure out the lesson, learn from it and either don't do it again or figure out how to do it differently so it works.

So what is holding you back? If it's fear, get over it. You never know what success could come from your next failed attempt. Think about what you could do today that you have been putting off out of fear. Then go ahead and give it a shot. You've got nothing to lose!

Share your thoughts, fears and successes 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.


Are You Ready to Take On Larger Cleaning Accounts?

When most of us started our commercial cleaning business we started by cleaning small offices, maybe 2000 - 5000 square feet in size. Most of these offices don't need cleaning services very often, so we might go in once or twice a week, taking a couple hours to get the job done.

The good news is, this is a great way to get started in the business, plus this type of account can be highly profitable. Not to mention you don't have all your eggs in one basket so if you happen to lose an account it's not going to be devastating to your business, as it's fairly easy to replace an account like this.

However as your business grows and you start hiring employees, you soon discover that managing all these little accounts becomes somewhat challenging for a number of reasons:

  1. Employees may have to travel from one building to the next, which costs you more in travel time compensation and possibly gas expense 
  2. Employees may have to transport equipment since some offices don't have a storage room and it may not make sense to store equipment for a once a week account.
  3. It becomes more difficult to schedule employees to make sure all the accounts are cleaned at their scheduled time.
  4. It becomes more difficult to follow up on employees and accounts since they're scattered all around.
  5. It starts to feel as if that $250 a month account is just more trouble than it's worth considering the small amount of income it's generating for your business.

Pretty soon you start to think about getting larger sized accounts that pay more. A nice 15,000 or 30,000 square foot office building that is cleaned 5 days a week is starting to sound really good. And you're right!

By getting into larger sized buildings, you will quickly generate more income for your business (several thousand dollars per month versus a few hundred). Plus, you'll find they are actually much easier to manage.

  1. Your employee turnover will likely decrease because people like to report to one location for their shift rather than traveling from building to building.
  2. It's much easier to supervise your employees if you have perhaps 3 to 6 employees working in one building. There is more camaraderie amongst you and the team working in the building.
  3. As you grow your business, you'll be able to hire a supervisor to help you manage these larger accounts, enabling you to continue growing the business.
  4. Your cash flow will improve (provided your clients pay on time).
  5. You'll be invited to bid on more larger sized buildings, which will help your company to grow faster.
  6. Your personal income with increase along with the growth of your business!

Are you ready to take on larger accounts? Is the thought of taking on a large account of this size scary to you or are you up for the challenge? Post your thoughts by clicking on the Comments link below.


40th Cleaning Account

A couple weeks ago we received a phone call from an attorney's office. They happen to be located next to a bank that we service. They were impressed with the cleanliness at the bank and asked who did their cleaning. Isn't that a great way to  get an account?  Word of mouth is the best advertising - and inexpensive too!

I started counting up all our cleaning accounts and realized that this is our 40th account!  Not too bad considering we started this business only 2 1/2 years ago. With our first cleaning business, the growth was much slower, which we did on purpose, so it took several years to get to the level we're at right now with our second cleaning business. 

I hope this offers encouragement  to those of you who are just getting started.  I started my first cleaning business with a mop bucket, vacuum cleaner and a lot of ambition. It takes a lot of hard work, years of commitment, and and the desire to be successful -- but it can be done.


What were your cleaning successes in 2005?

I'm happy to say that we had many cleaning successes this year, so this last day of 2005, I'll be giving thanks for an amazing year. I'm very proud to say that sales in our cleaning business rose by a whopping 75% this year!  Needless to say, that's not common, and we don't plan on repeating that in 2006 (after all, that's a lot of work!), but it's proof that our plan for growing our business is working.

When we started our second cleaning business we moved to a new state and new community - didn't know anyone!  We chose to relocate to Brainerd MN for a number of personal reasons, but business-wise, it was a conscious decision based on the tremendous growth happening in this area. And we were right.

Like many small towns, Brainerd seemed to have a "good 'ol boys club", which we found hard to break into at first. But we stuck with it and kept active with our local Chamber of Commerce. After two years of slow, steady growth, we suddenly had an explosion of growth this year. And it's due to two things:

  1. Capitalizing on the growth in the area. Several new office buildings and banks were built this year and we went after every one of them. Because it's a fairly small community our reputation preceded us and we easily won every account we bid on.
  2. Nurturing the relationships we built over the past two years. The number one way we've found to grow our business is to build relationships with people. This year, the referrals started pouring in and it's all due to the relationships we have in the community.

We'd love to hear your successes for 2005 - simply comment on this post or send an email to success@thejanitorialstore.com and we'll post your story for you.

Here's to your success in 2006!