I’m a big fan of keeping the conversation positive around here, but from time to time we have to dip into unpleasant topics.
So today we’re going to chat about a few of the main reasons why cleaning companies fail. But to put a positive spin on it, if you avoid these pitfalls you’ll be just fine.
Why cleaning companies fail
Not enough “push” from day one – What is “push” you ask? That’s my slang for MARKETING EFFORT. When you are just starting a business you need to create momentum, and the only way to do that is by working every single day to spread the word you own a cleaning business.
This effort includes direct mail, marketing to realtors, handing out goodie bags and creating flyers that will ultimately get distributed to your target market to name just a few ideas. No one way is the best way, instead a collection of all those approaches working in harmony will provide the best results.
I can’t begin to tell you how many people call me and say they have a hard time getting accounts, but let’s just say it’s a lot. My first question to them is usually “what have you done marketing wise?” Many times they reply they have given out a “few dozen flyers” as if that is all you need to do to be successful.
That tiny little effort will get you nowhere! You need to distribute hundreds of flyers and or sales letters per month (400 would be a bare minimum in my opinion) to get the phone to ring regularly. The more…. THE BETTER. So even when you are sick and tired of marketing, KEEP GOING!
Poor presentation – At some point all your marketing and promotion efforts will pay off, and as a result your phone will ring with inquiries. This is where the rubber meets the road for the new business owner, and you need to focus on making a great first impression.
That great first impression is made easier by dressing well, having professional business cards available, arriving in a positive mindset and asking the right questions. Once you check those off your list you need to create a professional cleaning proposal that gives you the best chance for landing that cleaning account.
Not charging enough – While it’s great to obtain a new cleaning account, what’s really important is making sure it’s a profitable account. Far too many people short themselves by bidding the job on the low side. This leads to having a whole bunch of accounts that don’t make you any money.
As a measuring stick to go by, you should be charging somewhere between two and three times what you pay an employee. So if you pay $9.00 per hour, you should be charging the customer somewhere between $18.00 to $27.00 per hour. Lots of variables to consider, but that is a ballpark range.
Bidding too high – This is the evil twin of not charging enough, just going in the opposite direction. Bidding too high means you’ll rarely get hired. So if you are preparing a lot of bids and not getting hired, then this is one of the first places to look for problems.
As my old mentor used to say… “If you get hired after every bid you are bidding too low. If you never get hired after making a bid then you are too high. Aim for the middle”. That is advice that will never go out of style so make sure to put it to use in your bidding mind-set.
Lack of consistency – This problem rears its head after your company gets hired and starts cleaning. While it’s easy to come in and make a difference in the first week or two after getting hired, maintaining that consistency is much harder. Well… I shouldn’t say “it’s hard to do a good job” because it’s not. It’s just being disciplined enough to do a good job every time out.
The customer doesn’t “know you” – When you are “invisible”, it makes it easy for the customer to fire you. Why? Because they don’t know you, and they have no vested interest in you. To prevent this from happening you need to stay in touch as much as they will allow. Call and ask how things are going. Build that relationship! Make it strong!
Not paying attention to accounts receivables – This is just being lazy as far as I’m concerned. I know some people feel “funny” calling and asking where their check is, but that’s YOUR JOB. All you have to do is call, making sure to be very nice, and ask when you could expect to receive payment for the invoice in question. That’s it!
Poor training of staff – The initial training you give employees will set the tone for how well they will perform for you. From there you need to provide ongoing training to drive home and reinforce what they already learned. Point out what they are doing right and provide guidance on where they can make improvements. If you do that, you’ll be better than most other companies.
Took foot off gas pedal – This gas pedal I’m referring to is the marketing you do for your business. Far too many people slide into a comfort zone and stop marketing altogether. This is dangerous because even if you do a good job, you can get fired for a variety of reasons. If that happened you would be behind the eight ball so to speak and risk financial hardship as a result.
I’m sure I left some other problems off this list, but the major ones are covered in my opinion. If you think you are messing up on one or more of these issues, don’t beat yourself up over it (nobody’s perfect), just put your hardhat on and get to work at fixing it. If anyone else would like to chime in, feel free to add your comments and get the conversation started.
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