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. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

SOME THOUGHTS FOR THE NEW YEAR

As we enter a new year it seems like most of us always have a few things we want to do different that will change our life in some way. Our businesses are no different and we usually start out with a full head of steam but for many that steam runs out very quickly. Something happens and we revert back to our old ways. 
 
I thought it might be interesting to rely on our old friend Zig Ziglar to provide us with some phrases and thoughts for starting a new year. I will post several of them in hopes that you will take the one(s) that catch your thinking and post it where you can see it all year long to prop you up when the going gets a bit tough. Here goes Zig,
 
1. Your business is never really good or bad "out there." Your business is either good or bad right between your own two ears. 
 
2. The real opportunity for success lies within the person and not in the job.
 
3. It is easy to get to the top after you get through the crowd at the bottom.
 
4. The most practical, beautiful, workable philosophy in the world won't work, if you won't work.
 
5. Obviously there is little you can learn from doing nothing.
 
6. You must manage yourself before you can lead someone else.
 
7. Obstacles are the things we see when we take our eyes off our goals. 
 
8. Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24 hour days.
 
9. Remember, you can earn more money, but when time is spent it is gone forever.
 
10. Failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night.
 
11. If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you they will do business with you.
 
12. Ability can take you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.
 
13. Some people find fault like there is a reward for it.
 
14. Success is not measured by what you do compared to what others do, it is measured by what you do with the ability God gave you.
 
15. Don't be distracted by criticism. Remember---the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you. 
 
16. Remember there is plenty of room at the top---but not enough to sit down. 
 
17.The price of success is much lower than the price of failure.
 
18. Be helpful. When you see a person without a smile, give them yours.
 
19. You don't drown by falling in water. You only drown if you stay there.  
 
20. Kids go where there is excitement. They stay where there is love.
 
So there you have 20 of Zig Ziglar's sayings. There are many more.  Which one(s) struck a cord with you? If any did, why not print them, frame them and put them on a wall where you can see them all of the time to remind you that you can attain success. 
 
I wish you a wonderful, successful 2017. Don't forget to watch our weekly pod cast at www.Kleancast.com or you tube at kleancast. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

THE CONSTANT LABOR ISSUE

If you have followed my writings and in person workshops through the years you have heard me talk about the issue of turnover in our industry. The fact remains it costs at least $525 to replace a BSC employee. With the average turnover in the industry bordering on 350%, that number can have a monumental effect on your bottom line. 

Generally we spend considerable time and dollars recruiting employees to interview. I continually get calls on how can we find people that want to work? I try to assist wherever I can but I also find that many times after we get them in the door, we blow it in the interview. How so, you may say?

The interview is the opportunity for us to "sell" the benefits of working for our company. If you are positive and demonstrate that you have career opportunities available within your great organization you have a much better chance of securing valuable long term employees. After all, if you don't extol the virtues of your company and this industry, who will? 

The people that walk in the door are the customers of the Human Resources department and should be treated with the utmost respect. if they don't return the favor you have just eliminated them from the list of applicants. 

One thing I have learned in all the years I have been in this industry is that employees and prospective employees will mirror your image of the industry and your company. Think of them as only someone that can fill a slot because you figure they will leave soon anyway and you have the recipe for high turnover. Do a thorough interview with the benefits of the position and the important part they will play in providing a sanitary facility for the end customer and you will see their attitude change as well.

A lot more can be said on this subject and I encourage you to purchase our book, "Finding, Training, and Keeping Great Service Employees" to 
get a deeper understanding of this subject. Also, in the book we talk about different ways to recruit, what you can and can't say in the interview, how to conduct the orientation process as well as the initial training of a new recruit. We also discuss dealing with different nationalities and generations that is really important in today's business environment. You can obtain a copy by going to www.consultantsincleaning.com.

As 2017 approaches I want to encourage you to make a concentrated effort to do the things that will reduce your turnover. After all, the money you save may be your own or as Yogi Berra said "you can save lots of money and that's as good as cash. 

Have a wonderful holiday season. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I WANNA QUIT


Did you know, that according to surveys done this past year that over half of the workforce would like to quit their job? It is even higher in the under 25 age group. Startling fact isn't it. 

Now factor into that the number of baby boomers that are approaching retirement age and our industry could be facing a severe employee crisis in the next few years. Half want to quit and the other half are ready to retire. What are we going to do about it? Have you thought about what your work force will look like in the next 5 years? Have you given thought to how you will be addressing the issues as they arise? Could be some really major issues to address.

According to a Gallup survey conducted last year there were 12 factors that made employees want to stay and grow with a company, They are,

1. I know what's expected of me.
2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
4. In the last 7 days I have received recognition or praise for doing a good job. 
5. My supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person.
6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
7. At work, my opinion seems to count.
8. The mission or purpose of my organizations makes me feel my job is important. 
9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing good quality work.
10. I have a best friend at work.
11. In the last 6 months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
12. This. last year, I have had opportunities to learn and grow. 

So, how is your organization doing in accomplishing these 12 items. I personally believe addressing these issues in the coming years will have a huge role in the success or failure of a BSC. In the weeks to come we will be, through our blog and through our Monday morning Kleancasts, be addressing these and offer discussion points and suggestions regarding retaining our most valuable asset---our employees.

In the meantime, let me encourage you to order our DVD entitled "Dealing with Generational and Cultural Differences in the Workplace"
.  You can find it at www.consultantsincleaning.com.
It may just be the best employee relations training investment you will make this year. This DVD has been our best selling product this year.

By the way. you can access our pod casts at www.Kleancast.com.

Till next time.