Several years after starting my cleaning business I attended a seminar that revolved around growing your business the right way from day one.
This seminar lasted one week and I learned a lot about a ton of different topics. Everyday we had one or two new speakers that zeroed in on a particular aspect of running your own business.
For instance some speakers discussed how to effectively price different services you offer. Others talked about creating an operations manual that made your business run smoothly. Still others talked about the technical aspects of the cleaning industry.
Though the topics centered around the carpet cleaning industry, what they were teaching were applicable to any type of business, so needless to say I applied much of what I learned into my cleaning business.
Going to that seminar was one of the best investments I ever made in my personal development as far as being a business owner is concerned. In fact I credit much of my success to that one week where I spent eight hours per day learning from others who had been down the same road as I was going.
In fact one of the best pieces of advice I ever learned about running a business came from that seminar. Near the end of the day a speaker walked up to the front of class and asked if anyone heard of the Pareto Principle. We all just looked at each other and asked what he was talking about.
He went on to explain that the Pareto Principle is the observation (not law) that most things in life are not distributed evenly. For example It can mean that: 20% of the workers produce 80% of the result, or 20% of the customers create 80% of the revenue or perhaps 80% of consumer complaints come from only 20% of the total customer base. It’s pretty interesting concepts if you stop and think about it.
Most people just call this line of thought the “80/20 rule”. Anyway the speaker spent the next few moments sharing how this 80/20 rule applied to the cleaning industry. Keep in mind this is coming from a person that ran a multimillion dollar per year operation, so he knew what he was talking about.
The speaker than wrote on the eraser board in the front of class the following: 80% of how happy a customer is with your company is based upon how they feel about those who are doing the work and of the company itself. 20% of how happy they are is performance based.
For a cleaning business owner this is powerful stuff. Basically it means that if the customer likes you they will think you clean better and if they don’t like you they will think you clean poorly. That is a huge difference folks! By just taking the time to cultivate a good working relationship with the client they will view you in a much more positive light.
For the cleaning business owner this means you need to do two things right away. First, do your best to have a good solid professional relationship with all of your customers. Some will allow you to and others won’t as much, but get as close as they will allow you to.
Secondly, and this is key, pay close attention to who you hire and how they appear to the customer. While many accounts may not require you to see the customer when you are cleaning some will. And on those accounts you want to make sure that whoever you send into that home or office is aware of how important their appearance and demeanor is to the customer.
They not only need to look normal and dress normal, but they need to have good interpersonal skills. While these attributes many not be available in every recruit, make sure you send your best staff into accounts that have the customer present while you are cleaning.
These small tweaks to how you run your business will yield big dividends over the long haul. And I can say that from first hand experience. In my experience, whenever I sent staff that had poor attitudes or interpersonal skills into an account where the person who hired me was present bad things always seemed to happen.
For instance I would suddenly get calls that revolved around the cleaning not being as good as it once was, or some other complaint that was negative in nature. This would happen even if the cleaning crew actually was doing a decent job! This was because the customers directly tied how they viewed the staff I was sending in to the performance of the cleaning.
This may not seem fair, but it plays out all the time in the cleaning business. The more they like you the more they will like your work. Case closed! Keep in mind this also works in reverse in a sense. For instance I’ve had employees that didn’t really clean all that well yet get nothing but praise from my customers. They got that praise because they were delivering out of this world interpersonal skills to the account.
They were all smiles and happy while performing the work. They got along with the staff. They knew the customer management part of the equation real well! These little details do matter, and they matter in a big way. So if I were you I would keep the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) in your mind as you go forward in your business career.