Here’s a question I got recently from a client I am coaching to help him build his company (he’s a successful cleaning business owner). He’s growing his commercial cleaning business and wants to make sure he has the staff needed to service his new accounts: “When hiring new employees, what is the best way to conduct a background check? I don't have a big budget, and don't want to waste money on someone I would not hire.” Here’s what I recommend: Depending on where you get your worker's compensation insurance, they may have an arrangement with a provider to offer this at a discounted rate. I would check there first. Also, I'd look into joining a self - insured worker’s compensation (WC) group (kind of like a credit union) for WC insurance if you haven't already. That way you all have the same goals, and they will be motivated to help you with this as employees with clean criminal backgrounds usually mean less WC claims as well. Here are a few other tips that can streamline your process and also help you reduce your exposure and expenses: 1. Establish a simple written policy for your company that describes what types of convictions are...

Today’s successful cleaning business owners are busier than ever. Here’s a time management tool you can implement to increase productivity and improve personal organizational skills. It may take a little time to learn and master, but it pays big dividends in greater efficiency / effectiveness in all areas of your life. Not only that, but you eliminate forever the strain of keeping things in your head, trying the keep track of everything and the self-defeating attitudes that result when you inevitably miss something. If building and growing your cleaning company is your goal, you’ll need some specific tools and strategies to help you meet your business goals in record time. At the same time, you don’t (nor do you want to) work 24/7 and you have a personal and family life that needs to be balanced with your work activities. Life has become much more complex in the 21st century, here’s how to stay on top of it all with driving yourself insane: Use a Time Planner (Preferably Electronic) The first time management technique I recommend is a time planning system. The key is to use something that contains everything you need to plan your (business and personal) life and improve your...

I recently received an email from a commercial cleaning company owner experiencing growing pains due to rapid growth. Because of this, he wondered how common it is in our profession to ask for payment before the service has been performed and how he might manage this. Here’s my response: This is an excellent question and I will give you my answers based on 19 years of experience as the owner of a (fast growing) janitorial company in a fast growing town (Las Vegas, NV) When you first start your business it’s not unusual to double your business repeatedly in your first several years. For example: if you gross $30K in your first year you could very conceivably double that to $60K in the second year and then again to $120K in the 3rd year. Because the dollar amounts of growth were only $30,000 and $60,000 respectively it’s easier to do this in years 1-3 than it is to maintain it for the simple reason that if you continue at this percentage rate of growth (100% annually) by year 10 not only would your revenues be over $15M, but you would have had an increase in revenue of over $7M in one year. Sounds great right,...

Clients of mine (cleaning business owners) frequently talk about the need for more prospective and actual clients and also lament how little time they have to spend looking for them. What if you could hire an unpaid sales force to get new clients and prospects for you? Wouldn't that be great? One of the best ways to do this is by forming strategic alliances with other professionals who speak to the same “market” you do. Do you take time to form strategic alliances in your business? Strategic alliances partners are people who share the same target audience or clients as you do, but whose company or service doesn't overlap with yours. Strategic alliances are usually your best referral partners and, in many cases, you'll have many different ones. For commercial cleaning business owners these might be: 1. Provider of office supplies 2. Supplier of vending/coffee products 3. Pest control companies 4. Window washers 5. Payroll providers or HR consultants For residential cleaning business owners how about: 1. Pest control companies 2. Pet sitters 3. Pool servicers or landscape companies 4. Real Estate agents and brokers 5. Carpet cleaning companies I recommend taking time out on a regular basis to identify potential strategic alliances. List ten potential strategic partners. Include their profession and their name. If you...

Let's face it; you have no business doing stuff that's not directly related to your BIG goals. For cleaning business owners this would be things like: a. Cleaning your buildings (more on this later) b. Picking up/dropping off supplies at your accounts c. Going to the bank to make deposits d. Balancing the business checking account During your busy workday, remember to ask yourself, "Is what I am doing, this minute, moving me measurably closer to my goals?" (I have this on an index card next to my computer, to remind me often.) Just the simple act of asking yourself this question several times a day will dramatically increase your productivity. If it's not moving you forward toward your goal, making you money or attracting clients, why are YOU doing it? Granted, it may be important, but a much better usage of your company’s most precious resource (YOU) can be much more effective elsewhere. Drop it or delegate it now. (Please take a moment now to write that same question on a sticky note or index card and tape it to your own computer and phone.): So, let’s examine the examples above one by one: 1.  Cleaning buildings This is an area where many cleaning business owners make a mistake...

"Be yourself. There is something that you can do better than any other. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that." – Unknown According to the US Small Business Administration (SBA), there are several hundred thousand commercial cleaning businesses currently operating in the U.S. Does that mean that you should close up shop? Absolutely not! What it means is that there is an incredible opportunity for you to do something that you are the best in the world at … be yourself! Yes, there’s a certain amount of standardization in our industry but even with something as simple as emptying a trash can, you can do it (or train your staff to do it) in a way that reflects the pride you take in doing your job, running your business and serving your customers. How often do you clean the inside of the can? How about the outside? Do you replace it exactly as you found it? Do you line it up with the side of the desk or is it aligned with the chair? How you do what you do says more about you than you realize! How do you respond to customer complaints? Do you thank them for bringing their...

We would all like to insist that our lack of progress is because we are innocent, random victims. This is much more appealing than the thought that our problems or “lack” is due to our own mental or emotional chaos, or that we are, in fact sabotaging our own success. But in truth it’s not so much what’s happening to or around us that is the problem, but rather what we say to ourselves about our surroundings that is the real culprit. I believe sometimes we have burdens to bear because we’re demonstrating a lesson to others. Sometimes our lack is due to our own inability to learn an important lesson. But most of the time, our suffering is the result of our negative, limiting or dysfunctional thinking. A negative or limiting belief creates a negative or limiting vision, which inspires negative or limiting actions, which produce negative or limiting results. Where do these thoughts come from and what can we do about them? Much research has shown that limiting thoughts usually originate in our childhood – usually through messages we receive from our parents or society- either spoken or unspoken. While solutions decades ago pointed to digging up these messages and examining...

Cleaning business owners in today’s competitive environment must have a well-rounded and comprehensive marketing plan that consists of a variety of components all working in tandem. No one magic bullet will bring you all the prospective clients you need and some methods work for short term gains, while others are more of a long term strategy. But here’s the truth: To build and sustain a successful cleaning business for yourself and your family, you’ll need to develop and implement consistently -even when you’re doing well and have all the customers you need. To create a marketing plan for your cleaning business you don’t need to hire a highly priced marketing or advertising company and you certainly don’t want to depend solely on subcontracting as the way to get your clients and prospects. Here are 2 simple things you can add as parts of a complete marketing plan for your (residential or commercial) cleaning company: 1. Public Relations Radio: Offer to appear on a local business radio show or even host your own. Most communities (with 1M in population or more) offer both of these options and it’s a great way to get exposure and practice in the media field for your cleaning company’s...

by Bev Gray of Exhibit Edge Bev Gray is the founder and CEO of Exhibit Edge Inc., a trade show exhibit design and consulting company in the Washington, DC metro area. For more information about their trade show services, visit ExhibitEdge.com or email info@exhibitedge.com. Bev is a co-author of this post. Today’s is the final installment of this 3 part series designed to get you set to succeed in your first trade show exhibit. In the first installment we talked about booking early and publicizing your attendance at the event. In the second installment we defined some of the key industry terms, examined the impact of fine print and learned how booth design can impact your success on the trade show floor. The last 2 critical tips are: 6. Seek Out Expert Help Be sure to seek out experts in the exhibit industry or people who have exhibited many times to help you through your first experience. Exhibiting at a trade show is admittedly difficult, so having someone guide you through the process can significantly reduce the number of issues experienced, dollars wasted and headaches incurred. You’re an expert cleaning service provider. You are most likely not an expert in graphic design, booth floor layout, writing content, or...

Today’s topic is how to hire effectively. The most important ingredient in a great team building strategy is hiring people who are naturally good at what you’re not. In this article I’m talking primarily about people on the team other than cleaners. Hiring good cleaning people is covered in a separate article. I’m going to be really transparent with you on this topic: I have employees that have been working with my company for over 7 years, which is great. However, a lot of the people that I've hired are no longer working for my company. That’s because for a long time we hired very ineffectively. They were (mostly) great people; they just weren't the right people. One of my favorite pieces of hiring wisdom is from the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. He talks extensively about getting the “right people on the bus and in the right seats.” But he also talks about letting the “C” players in your company be set free so they can become “A” players for someone else. That’s a concept I love! If you want to leverage your business and multiply, you have got to get some help. You cannot continue to do everything yourself. We all have that...