Friday, April 28, 2017

BUSINESS IS GOOD, NO BAD, WHICH IS IT?

If I asked you how business has been so far this year, what would your answer be? Good, bad, lousy, terrific?

Over the past 30 days I have kept track of the answers I received when asking that question. Right now the good is 52% and the bad is 44% and so so comes in at 4%. 

I started this little survey because of a story I heard Zig Ziglar tell about when he addressed the Michigan realtors association in Detroit several years ago. During the first break he asked a gentleman standing next to him how his business was. The response was "terrible, just terrible, you know General Motors is on strike an no one is buying a house while their company is on strike. Zig goes on to say he wished he had never asked the question because the gentleman just wouldn't stop talking about how bad things were. Zig said he was never going to ask that question again. 

Well, another break comes and he forgets himself and asks a little lady standing next to him, who he later learned had spent a lifetime in the real estate business, how business was.  Her answer was "Well, you know that General Motors is on strike", and Zig is thinking here we go again. 

The lady then says that with GM on strike, people have plenty of time to look for the exact home they want. They can spend all day looking. She proceeded to tell him that we all know that GM employees will return to work at some point and then they can sign their contract for a new home. 

Zig says the lady then asked him if he had any connections to make the strike go longer because she would like to take advantage of the time people have for looking at homes just a bit longer.

What a contrast. Two people in the same market with totally different perspectives on how business is. One sees a temporary obstacle as a negative, the other sees it as a positive.

So, what about you? Which one of these business people are you? Remember that old phrase, "If you think you can or you think you can't, you're right". 

Two thirds of the year is still left for us to accomplish our 2017 goals. Let's make sure we are approaching the remaining time with a positive, can do attitude. It's your future, you know. Remember we have a lot of resources to assist you in reaching those goals. Just click on www.consultantsincleaning.com. 

 Till next time. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

ANY PLANS FOR THE SUMMER?

As summer approaches, and the children out of school, many people are planning their summer vacations and other events. It's the thing we do, right?
 
Well, how about planning an employee event for them and their families. It can be so much fun and it gives you the chance to interact with the employees and their families and visa versa. Here are some the things we did that gave me the opportunity to see many of the people we impacted doing the course of their employment with us, 
 
Hired a face painter for the children as they arrived.
Hired a magician to put on 2 or 3 shows during the day.
Hired a clown to be with us most of the day to make animal balloons etc . for the kids. 
Rented a ball pit similar to the ones at McDonald's playland locations. 
 
You probably noticed that each of the items above say hired or rented. That doesn't mean we did them all each year. Usually one each year. We had several branches and the managers were each given a budget and then could arrange the function as they wanted to. 
 
We found in every city where we operated there were amateurs that were very capable and willing to do the clown, face painting, and magician parts for a very small fee. I found many times that for the magician acts the adults were seated in the front row being children all over again.
 
We did them on a Saturday so more people could attend and always away from the office, usually in a park where we could rent a picnic area etc. 
 
Our policy was to provide all food such as hamburgers or hot dogs or ethnic food where we had a majority of different ethnic staff. I learned to eat and like foods from other countries, especially when prepared by the people from those countries. After the first year, in almost every location, our employees started preparing their favorite dish that was not American and wow, what great cooks we had. Each year we seemed to get more dishes. In fact they started asking if it was okay if they prepared their favorite dish. I loved it (and the food).
 
In addition, we always had some sort of small giveaway to the children and employees that marked the event. For example on our 25th anniversary all employees received mugs highlighting the anniversary. 
 
We also found it effective to present anniversary awards to our employees with 1, 5, 10 years of service etc. It really helps to create a more positive feeling toward the company when their family sees them getting an award for years of service. 
 
I could go on and on with details but the purpose of this blog is to encourage you to consider an employee day event. It really helped to create better attitudes toward our company but maybe just as importantly it helped me to get a better understanding of the great people we had working hard to satisfy our customers. 
 
Try it you'll like it. If you have any questions just go to our web site at www.consultantsincleaning.com and send us a message and we'll get right back to you and discuss in greater detail this employee bonding event.
 
Till next time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

WE CAN DO THAT

Not long ago I had the privilege of providing assistance to a company on developing their administrative procedures and then placing the information on the intranet and on paper as a guide for their managers. 

But what struck me about that visit was several times during my first day there my client would take phone calls and almost every time he would say "We can do that". Finally I asked him what was it he was telling his customers he could do.

He said, "Dick, some time ago you and I talked about how the industry was changing and how our customers are more and more wanting to buy as many services as possible from one vendor. Well, I took you seriously and today we do just about anything our customer wants. For example we, 

Move furniture
Lease lunch room micorwaves
Have contracts for repair of office equipment (We subcontract it out)
Offer light maintenance such as unstopping commodes, replacing washers in faucets etc. light electrical that does not require a license but if it requires a license we have contracts with electricians to do the work. 
Exterior work such as snow clearing, landscape service, trash removal (most of this work is subcontracted).
Provide the opportunity for the customer to purchase all consumable products from us. This item alone is a huge profit producer"

and his list went on. He told me he took it on faith that my idea would work and, by golly, it, according to him, has turned into a very nice profit center for his company. 

Our whole philosophy on doing all these things is to have our customer contact us FIRST and not think about going to someone else. The major issue is that all of a sudden missing a trash can or having a dispenser empty is not as important as it would be if that was all you were doing.

When I was active in the BSC business, I had several customers that we did these additional services for. One large manufacturing plant that we had started out with just janitorial service, then mat rental service, then landscaping for 40 acres, then parking lot striping, sweeping and snow clearing, etc. When competitors approached the customer with wanting to present a proposal they were asked if they performed all of these services and never once was a competitor able to respond in a positive way for them.

So back to my client. His customer retention rate he told me was about 99% since he started telling his customers "we can do that". We got his administrative manual completed and he kept adding business with his can do attitude. 

I really believe that the BSC who will spend the time to interview prospective subcontractors and have them ready to go and then start marketing the additional services to their customers will have a much higher customer retention rate than the BSC that provides only janitorial service. 

Are you ready to be a full service provider? Can you think of other services than those above that you could provide?

If you want to discuss further just visit our web site at www.consultantsincleaning.com and click on the contact us icon. 

By the way, don't forget to listen to our free pod cast every Monday at www.kleancast.com. You can also access it on you tube at kleancast.

Till next time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

I ONLY HAVE 10 MINUTES

You're excited! You finally got an appointment with that major prospect you have been attempting to see for umpteen years. You asked for and got 30 minutes to extol the virtues of your company and you have practiced what you are going to say and have made notes to prompt you along the way. Your nerves are a bit on edge but this is your opportunity. 
 
You get to the appointment and the suspect (they are suspects before they become prospects) informs you they are really busy and can only give you 10 minutes instead of the 30 minutes promised. NOW WHAT? What's the backup plan? Now you are really nervous.
 
Let me suggest 5 questions to ask if you ever find yourself in that predicament. I know I found myself in that situation several times over the years. As time went by I developed a series of 5 questions that I would ask them in the 10 minutes they granted me and those 5 questions almost always engaged them in a conversation that led to them giving me more time than that 10 minutes they said they had. I had to improvise somewhat but the questions generally went something like this,
 
1. What issues are you currently struggling with?
 
2. What quality issues are you most concerned with?
 
3. If you could add 1 extra service that your current provider is not doing, what would that be?
 
4. How are you currently handling that service?
 
5. What criteria did you use to select your current provider?
 
Did you notice that none of the questions are yes or no questions? Each one requires an answer that allows you to probe deeper. For example, if they were to say I am not currently struggling with any issues you can respond by saying you really appreciate that and the main thing you try to accomplish is to provide companies with a "viable alternative" so in the event issues do arrive in the future they know who to call etc. etc. 
 
You can create a response to each of their answers beforehand and you will come across as someone who is experienced in the industry. Another example...if they answer question 2 with "I don't have any quality issues", you can respond by saying that is always the goal and one of the things you do in each of your accounts is create a detailed checklist of the areas of greatest concern to your client and train your staff accordingly. What you have done is started the prospect on thinking about all the times they have had to remind the current vendor of that area in the President's executive wing that never gets the attention it deserves.
 
You see, if the prospect didn't have some concerns somewhere they would not have you in their office in the first place. In today's business environment most people are too busy to give you 10, 20, or 30 minutes just to have a nice chat. It is your job to find the door that is cracked open and squeeze in that door. 
 
You may find yourself saying if it were only that easy. It's not easy, but the point of this article is to encourage you to always be prepared for the time that suspect throws you a curve. If you have created some predetermined questions and answers you can learn a great deal about the suspect in a short period of time and hopefully have them become a prospect and then customer.
 
Just some thoughts that we hope will trigger some ideas in your mind and even different questions than those above that you can ask. Just remember, too many questions and they will indeed invoke the 10 minute rule. Happy selling. 
 
Let me also remind you of our special pricing on the new, 6 DVD, 12 lesson training program entitled, The BSC's Guide to Effective Supervision. The release date is around March 1 but you can pre-order at a very friendly price. Check it out at www.consultantsincleaning.com.
 
Till next time.
 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

WHAT ABOUT THE BANKER?

In our last session we discussed where we fit in the BSC industry. You may recall that if you have a 100 employees or so you are in the upper 2% of the industry in volume. 

That makes one feel really good but the group of BSCs that have around 100 employees or less, is also the group that usually has the most difficulty growing to the next stage and the major reason is a shortage of cash and credit. 

What about you? Do you have a relationship with a bank that would allow you to add 50% or 75% to your volume. Here are some helpful hints that just might allow you to grow without cash restrictions. Space is somewhat limited but we will highlight here the main points.

1. Establish a relationship before you need to borrow--When you choose you bank, borrow a small amount, for say 90 days, and then pay it back in 60 days. Then borrow more and pay it back before the maturity date. In this way when you go to ask for some serious money, you have a track record they can look at. Since the issues of the 2008 and 09 recession, banks are under stricter guidelines than in the past so start that relationship as soon as possible.

2. Meet with your bank regularly--Let me suggest you treat you banker just as you would a key client. It can be argued that the bank is just as critical to continued success as additional clients. You may just need the bank to get additional clients. I met monthly with my banker and that relationship led to him loaning me money when I wouldn't have loaned me money, but we had established an open relationship and we did what we said we would do.

3. Provide the bank with professionally prepared current financial statements. They like to have some background on your performance when you go to get that serious money. I recommend at least quarterly, I did it monthly. Please note, I said professionally prepared, not a bunch of number scribbled on a napkin.

4. Keep the banker informed---Chances are that at sometime during the life of your business, cash flow is not going to go as planned (how about right now?). When that occurs, meet with the banker and tell him or her the situation before it becomes painfully apparent. Believe me, I had that opportunity on several occasions during the nearly 35 years I owned and managed my own company. 
Present a payment plan, in writing, that makes sense. They are more prone to work with you when they see you are working diligently to "get back on track". Remember, always PRESENT THEM WITH FACTS, NOT THINKS. If you aren't being realistic they will find it out soon enough. 

Now before we put the bank on too high of a throne, it is important to remember that they make their profit by loaning us money. They need our business just as we need their help. They rent their money and we want to rent some from time to time. 

How about it? Do you have a relationship with your banker that if you secured that big account you are chasing, you could call and have the money deposited in your account? If not, might want to consider starting now. 

Just a reminder, we are here to help you in growing the sales, infrastructure and profits in your business as well as discussing a plan for your banking relationship. Check us out at www.consultantsincleaning.com.


 Till next time.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

WHERE DO YOU FIT?

I recently was given a 2014 report from the US economic census that provided some really interesting statistics on the BSC industry. While I was aware of much of the information, I was again taken back by some of the numbers. For instance, DID YOU KNOW? 

---There are 54,663 cleaning companies in the United States.

---Over 75% of the companies have under 10 employees, 60% have less than 5 employees.

---Only 1,297 firms have over 100 employees.

---46% of the entire industry is controlled by 294 firms.

---Our industry employs right at 1 million employees.

Think about those numbers. Where do you fall? If you employ 100 0r more people you are in the upper 2% of the companies in size in the United States. 

In most areas the largest accounts are generally serviced by a large regional or national BSCs. They like to focus on those large accounts to make it "cost effective" to operate. Think of all the business that leaves for the rest of us. The reality of business is that there are thousands of more smaller prospects than larger ones in the marketplace. 

I had firsthand experience dealing with this issue. In one of the large metropolitan areas where I operated (Phoenix), I had two well known national competitors. Well, let me clarify that. I saw them as competitors, they saw me as just a guy to be nice too. One of the companies had a policy not to service any account under $20,000 per month and the other one had a lower threshold of $10,000 per month. 

 Do you know how many $8,000 and $9,000 a month potential customers there were (are) in the Phoenix market? I didn't know either because there were so many I didn't get to all of them. I enjoyed advertising that we were the company that could service them because the well known name brand companies didn't take anything that "small". We were able to secure several very nice, profitable $8,000 per month accounts. My competitors did me a huge favor. 

So, where do you fit? Let me suggest you find your slot, develop a sales strategy and "go for it". As usual, Consultants In Cleaning, LLC stands ready to help in any way we can. We offer a personal service as well as a myriad of training materials on a variety of subjects. The clients that work with us on a personal weekly or every other week basis are enjoying nice double digit sales increases AND profit increases. Just click www.consultantsincleaning.com, then click the "ask a question" icon and we'll get back with you promptly. Also, while you are on the site, check out all of the training material available. By the way, VERY SOON we will be announcing a new training package that will be a great addition to your training library. Watch this space as well as our weekly Kleancast at www.kleancast.com.

More details to follow soon.  HAPPY NEW YEAR. Till next time.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

THE CHINESE BAMBOO TREE

By now probably everyone has heard of the Chinese bamboo tree and how you take a small seed, plant it, water it, and fertilize it for a whole year and nothing happens.

The second year you water it and fertilize it and nothing happens.

The third and fourth year you water and fertilize it and still nothing happens. Discouraged yet?

The fifth year you continue to water and fertilize the seed and then----sometime during the fifth year, the Chinese bamboo tree sprouts and GROWS 90 FEET IN SIX WEEKS. 

So it is with our businesses. We need to continue to water and fertilize our efforts and yes, become discouraged, but if we are consistent in our efforts and do not let up, we do reap the rewards.

In our business of Building Service Contracting it is a fact that many times a suspect will not even talk face to face with us until the sixth or seventh contact of some sort. If you have a system of making some sort of contact with them every 3 months, it can be a year and a half to two years until the fruits of your labor gets you the opportunity to extol the virtues of your company. That can be discouraging, but remember the story of the Chinese bamboo tree.

Maybe we can help get you in the door faster. Through our training materials, webinars, books and personal guidance we can assist you in getting in front of that suspect (prospect) quicker than you might otherwise be able to. 

Check our our Selling Contract Cleaning Services book as well as our numerous sales training DVDs at www.consultantsincleaning.com, or give us a call at 573.374.1111 and talk with us about personal assistance. Our clients enjoy outstanding sales and profit growth when working with us on a personal level. 

Here's to a successful 2017 and continuation of watering and fertilizing your business for future rewards. Call us, we'd love to help.