Sunday, December 16, 2012


Have you ever made a presentation where you "just knew" that you were going to get that account? Your proposal presentation went excellent, all the buying signs from the prospect were there and you left confident that you would be selected to perform the service or at least as confident as you can be in today's business climate.

Then you really get pumped up when the prospect calls and gives you a glowing report on how professional your proposal looked, how great your presentation was and then they proceed to explain that you came in second. You ask the obligatory question of why you were not chosen and they explain that your competitor was a few dollars less per month and they felt obligated to their stockholders etc. to be good stewards of their money and select the lower price. Sometimes they will even tell you the amount you were "too high" and of course your natural reaction is we could have done it for that. I've learned, as have you, that in the real world, second place doesn't pay anything. In professional sports the second, third, and maybe fourth place finishers get some payment, but not in the world you and I live in. 

My question to all BSC's is, do you really know what it costs you to perform an hour of work? Many contractors will use industry averages or some form of estimate for their costs. For example, if you are paying $10 per hour for a technician, do you really know what your loaded cost per hour is or do you say it's about 15% or 20% etc. Let's see, 

One hour of labor---$10.00

State Unemployment tax--Varies by state and dependent on your history.
Federal Unemployment tax-.80%
Workers Compensation Insurance--Varies by state and also dependent on your history
General Liability Insurance--Also varies by state

In addition, the Federal and State unemployment taxes are on the first "x'" dollars of an employees wages each year. Once you get over that amount, you don't have that cost to load in anymore.

Some states have special assessment taxes to help compensate for the high unemployment rate over the past few years. The regular state unemployment rate can be one half percent up to several percentage points. The workers compensation rate is also dependent on your safety record and number of accidents etc. 

Do you know the rates in your state? You can control many of these rates and by doing so can be much more competitive when the need arises. You see, an hour of loaded labor might cost you $11.00 and then again it may cost you $13.00. What is your exact rate? About the only rates mentioned above that you can't control is the FICA and Federal Unemployment tax. The rest depend on the effective or lack of effective management of your business. 

The issue is basically the same with material costs. Many companies just use a pecent like 5% and then make that their proposal price. What is your real cost? Is there something in the proposal you are presenting that would cause material costs to be less or more. What about equipment? Will you have to buy new or will you be able to use equipment that has already been depreciated which gives you an opportunity to reduce your costs on this particular job. 

I recall a contract we secured several years ago for $24,000 per month when all of our competitors were at $30,000 or above. We were laughed at but we had done a very thorough job of making sure our labor, supply, and equipment costs were very accurate. In addition, we did a detailed workloading of the facility and then priced out each floor for our own budget purposes. The interesting thing was that we ran that account at 48% labor and then later added 2 day porters at a very handsome profit. Our competitors never had the opportunity to say "we told you so". Now that I have bragged about our expertise, I will also tell you we missed a couple down through the years.

Many times I hear from contractors that they weren't successful on a proposal and that their competitor priced it so cheap that they won't be able to do it for that. Are you sure? Maybe that contractor did price it too cheap but could it also be that he or she knew their exact costs of doing business and will make a reasonable profit at their price---maybe even more than you would have made at your price because they had a better understanding of their costs? I don't know the answer to that question but I hope you will be motivated to check and double check your costs so that as you price your proposals in the future you will know you gave the prospect your best shot. With the new year right around the corner, there will never be a better time than right now to make sure you know what you costs of doing business really are. Try to avoid those "you came in second calls". 

This year is just about history and I hope you have received some benefit from our weekly writings. Let us know what you think--if they have been helpful  or not. We want them to be worth our time to create and your time to read and act upon. We are so pleased with the number of readers we have each week in so many different countries and we want to know what you want to hear about. 

Till next time.


Thursday, December 13, 2012


A few years ago I was conducting an all day supervisor's training workshop in a large southern U.S. city. One of the key exercises we do in our workshops is one entitled--BUILD THE PERFECT SUPERVISOR. 

In that exercise we have the participants list all of the traits they think a great supervisor needs to have in order to succeed in their career and be perfect, if you will. As each roundtable group gives me their list I put them on a large sheet of paper which we then hang on the wall. It's a fun exercise that gets the whole room involved and more importantly, gets them thinking about their position and do they have the traits to be a strong. positive supervisor. 

In this particular exercise we had probably 5 or 6 pages filled and placed on the wall with traits such as,

--Technical knowledge
--Positive attitude
--Understands the company policies and procedures
--Safety conscious
--Does paperwork on time
--Understands discipline procedures
--Knows what to do in case of injury
--Has good customer interaction skills
--Good trainer
--Good planner
--Handles emergencies effectively
--And many more

We were just about ready to complete this portion of the exercise when an elderly gentleman in the back of the room stood up and asked if he could mention a couple of important traits that had not yet been listed. In fact, he said, if a supervisor doesn't have two important traits, the rest of the traits don't matter. And the two traits?----



He went on to tell us that if the person he has representing his company in front of the customers and employees doesn't possess these two traits, it really doesn't matter how much of a shining star the supervisor is. The supervisor is the one person who represents the company and if you can't trust him or her to be honest in all of their dealings with everyone they are in contact with, you don't need them on your payroll. THEY WILL DESTROY YOUR COMPANY if they are not honest was his major theme as he continued. 

In addition, every supervisor should be one of high integrity. He proceeded to explain that integrity is something you have when no one is watching. I learned later that both of these traits had been lacking at one time with the people he had in charge of his operations.

Stop and think about it. It's true isn't it? Don't we want people representing our organizations that are honest in ALL their dealings with employees and customers? We also need to have them have the highest integity as they carry forward with our company name and do daily business as representatives of our company. 

I talked with this gentlemen after the session and found out he was 72 years old and had been taken advantage of by some of his family members who he had turned the business over to run on his behalf when he had reached 60. The idea was to provide them a company and provide him a retirement income. Unfortunately for him, they sucked the company dry and then gave it back to him when he was 70 and now he was having to build the company back up so he had something to eventually sell, but more importantly, he needed the company to put food on his table each day. This man really was an expert on what honesty and integrity meant. He lived through an ordeal of dishonest and immoral family members so he could speak from actual experience. While the gentleman had been taken advantage of, he was very optimistic of building his company back to its glory days. Not sure how many people I know would embrace the same attiude this gentleman had. 

What about you? What traits do you look for in a supervisor for your company? Let me suggest you conduct this exercise with your key people and see what the answers are. You learn a lot about the people representing your organization. Hopefully honesty and integrity will be two of the first words put on the paper as you list the traits your staff thinks are the important ones. If you don't have a staff of several supervisors, do the exercise with yourself. It's a great thinking exercise and will help you later as you begin interviewing for supervisors. 

This year is rapidly coming to a close and I hope it has been a good one for you. Hopefully some of our blog subjects have been helpful. Let us know what you think about the blogs and we want to wish you the very best for 2013. We have a couple of more writings to bring you in 2012 to close out our first year of weekly musings. 

Till next time.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Back in 1988, in the midst of the only year I lost money in my BSC business, I decided to attend a 4 hour seminar conducted by Zig Ziglar. I thought, what can a man talk about for four hours? Boy did I find out. This native of Yazoo City, Mississippi had plenty to say. He held the room of 400+ spellbound with his formula for success and more. 

I left there and purchased the Zig Ziglar See You at the Top/Strategies for Success program with the idea of making it a part of our management training program. My wife and I went to Dallas, spent a week learning how to teach the program, and came home excited as "certified trainers" of the course. 

We did indeed make it part of our management training. The 15 week 3 hour per session training classes became an integral part of our staff's professional growth and development. I watched as class participants had tears running down their cheeks as they told of how the course had transformed their lives and made them better parents and spouses as well as better managers for our company. I would be lieing if I told you there weren't a few tears rolling down my cheeks as well as I listened to their stories. What a profound difference Zig made in our lives. 

No one human has influenced my life more than Zig Ziglar. If you have read some of my work or attended any of my workshops or convention presentations you will no doubt know that every session generally has a Zigism or two incorporated into it. I can't help it, he has been that much of an influence. 

Zig Ziglar died last week at the age of 86 still influencing people's lives and encouraging them to follow the path to success. I want to spend the rest of this blog listing some of my favorite Zig sayings. I want to encourage you to read each of them carefully and see how they apply to your life and then follow his advice. I assure you it will be well worth you time and effort. 

Starting with what was probably his signature saying,

+++++You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want. 

+++++Your business is never really good or bad "out there". Your business is either good or bad between your own two ears.

+++++The real opportunity for success lies within the person and not in the job.

+++++It is easy to get to the top after you get through the crowd at the bottom.

+++++If we don't start, it's certain we can't arrive.

+++++Obviously, there is little you can learn from doing nothing.

+++++Obstacles are the things we see when we take our eyes off our goals.

+++++Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days. 

+++++Remember, you can earn more money, but when time is spent it is gone forever.

+++++The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now. 

+++++If people like you they'll listen to you, but if they trust you they will do business with you. 

+++++Ability can take you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there. 

+++++When we do more than we are paid to do, eventually we will be paid more for what we do. 

+++++Some people find fault like there is a reward for it.

+++++The price of success is much lower than the price of failure.

+++++Remember there is plenty of room at the top--but not enough to sit down. 

+++++You don't "pay the price " for success--you enjoy the benefits of success.

And I could go on and on. Which ones are your favorites? It's hard to choose, isn't it? 

Rest in peace Zig Ziglar, you transformed a lot of lives and your work will continue to transform many more. The angels are rejoicing now to have you among them. 

Till next time.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Recently I saw a billboard that really got me to thinking. It read, What happens when your company doesn't advertise here? Then in capital letters at the bottom of the billboard was the word----NOTHING. 

I couldn't help but apply that billboard to our business and what is ahead in 2013. With the average BSC losing 17% of their business per year for all kinds of reasons--price, poor work, friend of the buyer, new buyer wanting to make a name for themselves, downsizing of the customers business etc., I think it is more important than ever to have a plan for adding new business in 2013. Just think, if you want to grow by a meager 10%, and you have the average lost business of 17% you will need to add 27% new business next year. For the company doing $500,000 in annual revenue that means adding $135,000 in new business next year. Are you ready? Do you have a plan? If you have a plan, is it designed to bring in enough business next year to meet your desired growth. 

Let me offer a few suggestions that may be helpful in saving advertising dollars and getting your name AND YOU in front of the right buyers. First off, I think it is important that you and your staff answer a few questions about your business such as, 

1. What types of accounts do we service now? Size? Frequency? Time of day or night?

2. Which accounts are we best at servicing?

3. Which accounts that we now service are the most profitable? Do we have 20% of our accounts taking 80% of our time and we find out they don't produce a satisfactory margin? Some accounts make a lot of noise and take a lot of time but when you analyze their profitability you may find they actually contribute very little, if anything, to the bottom line. Be diligent in checking each of your accounts to see which ones are really producing your profits and which ones are just taking up your time.

4.  What hours do we provide the best supervision? If you are best at 6-12 PM, it makes little sense to pursue the local newspaper for cleaning after midnight. It will just consume your time and you put at risk your profitable accounts. Large accounts do not necessarily translate to large margins. In fact, quite often the reverse is actually true.

5. What are the market segments that fit our supervision hours that we are not servicing now and why are we not servicing them? 

6. Make a list of all the prospects in your area that fit your size, frequency of service, time of service, profit potential, and supervision coverage. I suggest you will be surprised how many accounts are out there that you haven't pursued.

I recall doing this exercise with a client recently and he proceeded to tell me that there just weren't any prospects left in the category that he was best at. In fact, he was suggesting if would be best if he opened a branch in another city so he could experience the growth that he wanted. Since he had just picked me up at the airport the day before I suggested we just get in his car and drive back to the airport and see how many, if any, prospects there were between his office and the airport. As we drove I pointed out buildings that were suspects in the category he was wanting. By the time we got to the airport we had 42 new buildings on his list to pursue. The problem was he was so familiar with his city he had become unfamiliar with his city and was driving right by prospects that could be turned into customers.

How about you? Have you become so familiar with you city that you drive right by buildings that could possibly become prospects? Let me suggest you use some gas and just drive with the express intent of "will this building fit our profile"? You may surprise yourself.

Once you have created the new list, call or visit them to find the buyer's name and then begin sending a series of targeted information packets each week--say 10-20. This will vary by size of city and size of prospect list. Mail them on Friday and then call the next Wednesday to ask for a 20 minute appointment to discuss how you can be mutually beneficial to each other. 

What should go in the information packet you ask? Well, I am going to tell you. You want to explain to them that your company is a viable alternative to what they have now. Include points such as, 

1. Any software you may have that is unique to the industry--Team, CleanTelligent etc. 

2. Training programs that set you apart from your competition. Maybe even include an agenda from a recent training class that you held. (I am assuming you have an organized training program).

3. If your turnover is below the industry average, explain how you keep it so low.

4. Include pictures of key staff members and maybe even their years of service to you and/or the industry. Maybe even highlight individuals that would be responsible for their account.

5. If you are the key staff member, highlight the personal service that you, the owner, can provide that larger companies maybe can't.

6. Include a brief outline of all the services that you offer. This is another way to catch their eye if they aren't interested in custodial service right now.

Place the information in a file type presentation folder, NOT IN LETTER FORM. Mail the information in a 9 by 12 envelope so it gets to the desk of the buyer. DO NOT ADDRESS ANYTHING TO BUYER OR TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN. Always have a name to mail to. 

Some key points to remember,

A. Be consistent in your mailing. MAIL THEM EVERY WEEK.

B. Do not fail to call the following Wednesday or Thursday for an appointment, no matter what "fires" need to be put out at the time.

C. Ask for a 20 minute appointment and be sure you stay only 20 minutes unless the suspect asks you to stay. 

D. As for the opportunity to present a proposal, not bid.


I realize in today's business environment, the thing to do today is e-mail marketing etc. but I will tell you I still use this system of initial contact with my clients to obtain new business and IT WORKS. 

From these mailings you will be able to determine which suspects will become prospects and then you take the next step and place them on your "hit list" but that is a subject for a later discussion. 

So let me suggest you begin TODAY to start a targeted sales process for 2013. I believe it is critical to the success of an organization to have a systematic ongoing sales program at all times. Customers can't buy from you if they don't know you exist and just being a nice person doing quality work doesn't bring you enough business in today's world. 

Till next time. By the way, you can now sign up at the bottom of our web site's front page and have these blogs come directly to your e-mail each time they are published. That is  Don't forget to listen to our free weekly pod cast at


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


This week I want to spend time visiting with you about one of my pet peeves in our industry---the disorganized, unclean janitor's closet. This was the first area I visited when I went to one of my accounts. You see, I had a wise customer of mine, early in my career tell me that if I couldn't keep my janitor's closet clean, how could he expect me to keep his building clean? He was right. Our business is one of KEEPING THINGS CLEAN and yet many of us have the dirtiest looking janitor's closets known to mankind. 

So as you start thinking of new year's resolutions, I would like for you to consider resolving to make sure all your closets are neat and clean for the new year AND that they stay that way all year. Look in each closet. Do you have a bunch of hand written notices tacked up on the wall? If they need to be there how about making nice signs with the wording on them and then tack them up on the wall? 

How about the specifications? Do you have them on the wall somewhere for everyone to read? What is the date on them? 1997? How about replacing all specifications of the work to be done with nice laminated sheets tacked on the wall or in a nice binder? Do you have the emergency numbers posted in a place where both your employees and the customer can see them. ARE THEY UP TO DATE? Do your employees know what to do in case of an emergency or in the case of an injured employee? Are the procedures and phone numbers posted in each janitor's closet?d

 I have relayed to you in an earlier blog how I secured a large account because a building had an emergency on Christmas Eve and all 3 numbers listed for the BSC were either disconnected or the person no longer worked for the BSC.  Is that true with your emergency numbers posted? Are they even posted? This is important. 

Recently I had a client of mine send me a Company Standards poster that he places in each of his buildings that includes the following,

1. The company dress code

2. The Janitorial Closet procedures

3 The chemicals used in that account and how to use them

4.The microfiber cloth color coding reference chart

5. An employee handbook pouch

6. The cleaning specifications for that building

7. The emergency phone numbers 

8. Pay day procedures

With his permission I am going to list what they posted as the closet procedures.

1. All trash shall be taken out every shift with none left for the next shift.

2. At the end of each shift, always organize and restock your janitor's cart and prepare it for the next shift.

3. Shelves should be organized so that chemicals are stored together, paper supplies together, liners together, etc. 

4. Dust mops and brooms are to be hung up and stored standing upright. To keep them in good condition you should never leave the mop or bristles on the floor.

5. Wet mops should be rinsed in clean water each shift. Never store them in the mop bucket. They should be hung over the mop sink or draped over and fanned out over the mop bucket. 

6. The mop bucket should be emptied and rinsed out after each use as well so buildup doesn't accumulate. Keep the bucket clean at all times. 

7. Vacuum bags should be emptied at the end of each shift and checked at the beginning of the shift. 

The way you keep your janitorial closet, or the place we keep our supplies and equipment is a direct reflection of you and our company. 

There were some other items of a confidential nature on the list but the above list gives you an idea of what should be posted in every janitor's closet you have. Agree? You, no doubt, may want to have different items listed or word them in a different way but the point is to have a procedure to follow in the closet every day.

Many times we share a closet with our customer so they have the opportunity every day to visit the closet and see how organized or disorganized we are. If the closet is a mess, it just might encourage them to take a tour of the rest of the facility to see how the cleaning is. If your customers did that today, would you be proud of how your closets look? Would it prompt them to take a tour of all the cleaning you do? What would be the result? 

There is no better time than right now to take the steps to clean and orderly closets. It just might save an account or three. 

Till next time.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Several years ago I heard Tom Peters, maybe the foremost management expert in the United States, make the following statement

"If the other guy's getting better, then you'd better be getting better faster than the other guy's getting better ---or you're getting worse".

That quote always stayed with me and kept me on my toes. If I was feeling like we were really good, I would remember this quote. Once you are in the race you cannot rest. It is imperative to constantly be improving your company and yourself. Always be looking for ways to take the lead in new niche markets or how to become more proficient in the markets you are currently serving. 

There are more and more "sharp" business people entering our industry and I always tried to remember that just because we have been in business for a number of years does not mean we know it all. You see, some companies can be in business 30 years but it is just 1 year repeated 29 times over. Which one are you? It is my belief that many really small companies that have been in business for many years are not there because that is where they really want to be. They haven't taken the necessary steps to get better. 

So....HOW ABOUT YOU? Are you getting better faster than the other guy's getting better. There are a tremendous number of opportunities today to get better and become a leader in not only your market area but in the industry. Let me just mention a few opportunites for you to get better. 

How have you embraced professionalism with your staff and yourself. Have you pursued getting your Certified Building Service Executive (CBSE) designation? What about the middle managers in your organization? If you are one of these have you pursued the Registered Building Service Excecutive (RBSM) designation?  Both of these display to your customer, friends and industry peers your desire to become more professional in your chosen profession. To get more details on these designations you can go to There you will find all the details for proceeding. 

How have you embraced green cleaning and sustainability? Have you really studied what it all entails and then taken the steps to become the expert you will need to be in order to get better faster than the other guy's getting better? It is not going away you know.

To list just a few opportunities---

Green Clean University is an outstanding opportunity for learning and displaying to your customer your expertise. David Holly the chancellor has developed an OUTSTANDING curriculum for becoming the expert you need to be. 

Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) is an excellent way to show the world that you think enough of your organization to certify your company. Better hurry, your competitor may already be pursing the certification and then who has the competitive advantage? 

ISSA Cleaning Expert (ICE) available as an opportunity for you to show your customers and prospects that you have personally taken the time and expended the energy to become a true professional in this industry.

All three of these opportunities can be researched at You owe it to yourself and your organization to explore these opportunities. 

I can also tell you that I have clients who have pursued the LEED Accredited Professional designation and have obtained business that their competitors couldn't touch. Check out all the opportunities to learn and become a green cleaning expert. This is not a fad that is going to disappear. It is here to stay and that is good. 

Add to all this the numerous opportunities you have each year to attend the BSCAI convention and ISSA trade show, the BSCAI CEO conference and Executive Seminar along with the helpful educational webinars produced ongoing by each of these organizations and there really is no excuse for not getting better faster than the other guy's getting better. Don't forget, our vendors produce a variety of outstanding webinar learning opportunities throughout the year. Take advantage of these and involve the appropriate people in your company as well. They will appreciate it and help your company become more professional.

How about taking advantage of the talent you have in your own organization and conduct quarterly supervisor and management workshops. Another excellent way to improve is to bring in regional or national experts in the industry to conduct one and two day in house workshops for your company. I did this in my company and my staff grew immensely in knowledge, self esteem and confidence. Can you think of additional ways to get better? I'll bet you can and there is no better time than now to get started putting together an education plan for you and your staff. 

So what will it be for you? The year of 2013 is approaching rapidly. How about making yourself a promise that you and your company will expend the effort to get better faster than the other guy's getting better? Determine what path you want to take and then go for it. 

The reality of business today is that you just may not have a choice. Those that continue to make the effort to improve and progress are the ones that will prosper in our industry and those who chose not to are the ones that have 1 year experience many times over and will be asking "what happened"?

Which will you be? 

Till next time. 



Sunday, October 28, 2012


As I write and post this week's blog we are about to enter the last quarter of  2012. It also ushers in the busy time of the year with Halloween, Thanksgiving and then the Christmas and New Year holidays. Lots to think about and lots to do. It can have your head spinning in several directions. 

Most of us begin to think of the new calendar year and make plans on how we will attack the market so we can grow our sales and profits and this is certainly a very important aspect of planning the new year. Some of you may even pull out your business plan, blow off the dust and see what it says and review how you have done (or haven't done). You may even find some things in your business plan you forgot were there. 

Talking about forgetting, there is one thing I want to remind you to not forget---YOUR EXISTING CUSTOMERS. So often we get so busy trying to add new customers we forget about the ones feeding our families at the present time. The month of November in the United States brings us the Thanksgiving holiday when we are to pause and give thanks for all the wonderful blessings we have. Let me offer a couple of suggestions that may just help you keep those valuable customers you already have. Remember, it costs much more to bring on new customers than it does to retain the existing ones. We so often forget that in our fast paced, get new business environment. 

1. Why not send a letter to each of your customers, PERSONALLY SIGNED, thanking them for their support and business this past year and telling them how much you look forward to serving them in the future. It is common practice to send holiday greetings at Christmas time wishing everybody a happy holiday season but sending a letter to our customers at Thanksgiving time can be much more effective because they don't get that type of correspondence often, if at all. How many Christmas cards do you get? 100? 200? more? How many Thanksgiving letters do you receive? 5? 10? NONE? Exactly. 

We started this process several years ago and many of our customers called to thank US for thinking of them. I thanked them but the personal phone call gave me a chance to reiterate what we said in the letter that they were greatly appreciated. Almost of all them said they got hundreds of Christmas cards each year that they didn't read but a Thanksgiving letter caught their attention and was greatly appreciated. I almost always would add a personal note as I signed the letters I was responsible for, offering a special thank you. 

If you choose to do this, let me suggest you have the letter signed by the person most familiar with the customer. I think it makes it much more personal to do it this way but the important thing is to let the customer know how much they mean to us. 

2. A procedure that may even be more effective than the letter might be having you and your staff visit EVERY customer in person during the month of November to do nothing but say "THANK YOU" for the business. Some of your customers may be shocked to see you visiting them for something other than requesting a price increase (hopefully I am just kidding). A sincere thank you can go a long way in solidifying a customer relationship. You never know, you may even be able to get some new business while you are there but always remember the purpose of the visit is to let the customer know how much you appreciate them. 

A few years ago, there was a commercial on television where the owner of the company called all of his managers into a meeting and gave them each a plane ticket to go and visit their customers. It was a commercial for an airline but it was powerful in that his comments were that we have all of these wonderful electronic things like internet, cell phones, go to, etc. etc. but we should not forget the importance of making visits in person to thank our customers. Your competitors are visiting your customers, don't you think you should as well? Thanksgiving time is a perfect time to visit them eye to eye. Try it, you'll like it.

Hundreds of  people in 14 countries read this blog each week and many thousands more listen to our tripodcasts every week so I can't personally visit each of you but I can say THANK YOU VERY MUCH for all the support you have given us. This year of 2012 is BY FAR the best year we have had. Our DVD's, CD's and books all have set records for sales made and our business to business consulting service has more than doubled this year over last year. Again let me say THANK YOU. We look forward to 2013 with great anticipation. 

Till next time. 


Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I spent last week in Chicago at the BSCAI convention and the ISSA/Interclean trade show and what a great week it was. Lots of people, lots of exhibits, lots of new stuff, and lots of discussion. 

Let me list some of the most prevalent conversations taking place that were different from some of the previous years. 

1. More than ever I heard people talking about training and asking about different ways to effectively do that training. I was involved in 3 sessions on employee training that had every chair full and some great discussion. It is obvious that the idea of how to train the different age groups and cultures in the work force is really becoming important to contractors if they want to be effective in their training programs. My old saying of "On the job training is a recipe for on the job failure" was a frequently used phrase (by me) and was accepted when people really thought it through. Many admitted they had not been in the field to double check how that old time employee was really training that new recruit. I'm confident many went home to check that out this week.

In addition, the subject of electronic means of training was discussed many times over. More contractors are beginning to use the internet for training with pod casts, MP 3 players, you tube, i phones, tablets etc. Many contractors I visited with were planning to take steps to implement new ways of training and more consistent, frequent training. The industry is really beginning to understand the tremendous investment we make in recruiting new people into our organizations and we need to give them the support and training to become successful. Hooray!

Our company had a table in the solutions pavilion at the BSCAI portion of the week and more than ever we were asked what CDs, DVDs, or books we had on training. I realize it was good for our company sales but more importantly it signals the emerging belief in the value of training and training of all generations. 

2. I heard more and more companies talking about the need to become facility services companies rather than cleaning companies. Our customers are looking more and more toward wanting to use one service provider to take care of cleaning, landscaping, trash removal, pest elimination etc. Many companies are already doing this and have for years but I see more and more companies finally taking the plunge to REALLY service their customer or find themselves on the outside looking in. How about you?

3. Perhaps the most dominant theme this year was the part that information technology is now playing in making a BSC successful. Many exhibitors were present to display their wares on customer communications technology, inspections, timekeeping, and an array of other ways to become more successful in obtaining and retaining customers as well as just running a much more efficient organization. I LOVE IT.  

All of this coupled with new technology in training as I discussed above and have in other blogs and magazine articles is really bringing our businesses into a new era and we need to enter that new era with excitement and positive energy. Are you ready for that new era? Chances are your competitor has or is jumping in with both feet. I was really intrigued with the countless number of applications that BSCAI partner Sprint displayed in the BSCAI booth. I hope you took advantage of learning about all that can be done today with the tools available. The distracted driver application may just save an employee's life. Check it out. I know it sounds like a commercial but Sprint, Team, CleanTelligent, and a host of others are working daily to help us improve our businesses and when we attend a show like the one in Chicago we get the opportunity to really look at how we can improve our businesses in this new technological age. 

I met many new people in Chicago and thanks for introducing yourself. What was really gratifying was the large number of people that approached me to say they were listening to our FREE weekly tripodcasts. In fact, one man from Australia told of how he appreciated the various speaker tripodcasts leading up to the event so he could plan which sessions to attend. Thanks to all of you and we'll do our best to deserve your continued listening. In 2013 we will be having some experts from our industry as guests from time to time on the tripodcasts. These are people who really know their subject and will bring a fresh perspective on a particular subject when they join us. 

I've attended the BSCAI conventions since 1970 and never get tired of meeting new people and making new acquaintances. This year was no exception. 

Till next time.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Have you ever found yourself in a situation where a good customer asks if you can do some service that is outside the actual scope of janitorial service? Did you answer "We don't do that", or did you say "We can do that"?  You see, so many (you?) BSCs see themselves as a janitorial service provider rather than a facility service provider and in the long run that is going to hurt their growth opportunities and possibly lose some of the business they currently have.

Many of our customers today are looking to consolidate vendors so they don't have to deal with so many people and write so many checks each month and the more services we can provide the more solid our relationship becomes. And a major side benefit---if you are performing several services for your customer it becomes much harder for them to terminate you for missing a few trash cans if they are committed to you in several different service areas. 

Let me give you a few examples I am aware of where BSCs were able to solidify their position with a customer by saying "We can do that". In fact, some of these examples are the company I owned for 34 years.

One customer was having a difficult time with their entrance mat rental service. The service was irregular, the mats weren't laid now clean and many times in the wrong area etc. Overhearing the frustration, the BSC said "we can do that" and they negotiated an addition to the contract for 150 entrance mats per week. Here is the really great part. The customer provided the space for the BSC to clean the mats etc. How cool is that? 

Some months later that same customer was getting ready to take proposals for maintaining the grounds on their 40 plus acres which entailed mowing, fertilizing, trimming, planting and maintaining flower beds etc. Guess who they ended up negotiating the contract with because the BSC said "we can do that". We didn't really know how but we hired people that did know how. Following that came parking lot sweeping, striping, and snow clearing. How did all this get done by a BSC that started out as a janitorial service? Finding reliable sub contractors that could provide a quality service on those services we weren't proficient at.

Now, when the time came to take proposals for facility services it became pretty easy to renew the agreement with the customer because the incumbent was the only "qualified" vendor that could provide all the facility services the customer needed. The last time I checked the BSC was in their 23rd year of providing service to this customer. 

Another case in point. One customer got the approval from the home office to purchase 2 fork lifts for their warehouse. Neat, huh? To show you the wisdom of the home office, they would not authorize the funds for the customer to hire operators for the fork lifts but gave them authority to hire help through a temporary help agency. "We can do that" was the reply of this BSC. They provided the fork lift operators and had a nice profitable add on service for years. By the way, if you're only doing the front office areas of manufacturing plants you are missing out on a tremendous profit opportunity. The "real" money is in the plant areas themselves. You can provide aisle sweeping and scrubbing, rafter cleaning, equipment cleaning during shut time times etc. 

One contractor I know actually invested in the vending machine business and provided all the vending machines and related services to their clients. Wow! What a profit center that was for them. In fact, that eventually became a larger percentage of their total business than the janitorial business. Interesting, isn't it?

Okay, okay, some of you that are smaller size contractors are probably saying, "That takes a lot of money to gear up for some of this work". Let me suggest you negotiate into the agreement that if the customer cancels for ANY reason, they agree to purchase the equipment from you. Not possible to negotiate these terms you say? Happens all the time except maybe in the vending machine business. You don't get what you don't negotiate. 

Here's an unusual one. A customer was getting ready to purchase about 25 microwaves for break areas and lunch rooms throughout their factory. An aggressive BSC said to their customer "we can buy those, place them were you want them and maintain them for you for a monthly service fee. The customer bought the service. And with the price of microwave ovens these days if one does go bad you can usually just replace it almost as cheap as trying to repair it. 

These are just a few of the services I am aware that aggressive BSCs are providing for their customers today. If provides an additional profit opportunity for the BSC but just as important, and maybe more so, it makes it much more difficult for the customer to replace you for a minor slip up in service OR  if you get that new purchasing agent or property manager that wants to make a name for themselves by saving a few dollars on the janitorial service by "going out for bid". 

Start making you list today of the services in addition to those listed about that "we can do" such as 

Pest elimination
trash removal
stocking of shelves
temporary help services 
scheduled light bulb changing and lens cleaning
minor repairs
furniture moving
what other services can you think of?

Start being more observant of the needs of your customers besides the janitorial services you provide.

You see you don't have to be proficient in all of these, just be able to locate and work with reliable, professional sub contractors. You pay the subs and add on a 15% or so amount for you. Remember, the sub probably would not have that business if it weren't for you so they should be willing to discount their service to you which in turn results in no additional expense to your customer by having you handle all the services. An additional selling point to your customer is one check per month, one phone call to one location gets the service they need. This dramatically reduces their overall cost of doing business.  

Like I said earlier in this blog, start making your list today of the services you see your prospects could use and let them know "we can do that".

Till next time.



Tuesday, October 2, 2012


At the time I am writing this there is about 2 weeks left before the BSCAI convention and ISSA/INTERCLEAN trade show in Chicago. I hope you have been listening to our daily tripodcasts highlighting the various speakers and partners that will be there. 

With the new session additions, this year there will be outstanding learning opportunities like never before. For example,

I count 24 general and concurrent sessions taking place at the Radisson Blu hotel on Friday and Saturday, October 19 and 20. Nearly all of them are by professionals IN THE INDUSTRY managing their business in the trenches just like you. These are not sessions on theory but on real life every day happenings. I am privileged to speak on Saturday morning at 9:45 on the subject of SUCCESSFUL HIRING PROCESSES FOR SERVICE WORKERS. In addition to the power point slides that you can download on the bscai site at, I will have a separate handout for those in attendance. 

In addition, something entirely new this year is that BSCAI will be having sessions ongoing in their booth (number 4619) during the trade show on the 17th through the 19th. Sessions every hour that discuss green cleaning, talent management, time and attendance, increasing profitability, workers compensation costs, revenue generation, peer groups, bar coding, mobile device management, THREE sessions on the new healthcare reform law that will affect BSCs dramatically. There will be a total of 15 SESSIONS IN THE BOOTH ON THESE 3 DAYS. 

I will be presenting a session on Employee Training at 4 PM on Wednesday the 17th. I have a passion for this subject and hope you will come by. If not to attend the session, just say hi and let me know what you think of the weekly blogs and our tripodcasts and give us ideas of what you would like to read, see and hear in the future. 

On Thursday afternoon beginning at 1 PM there will be a series of BSCAI roundtable discussions at McCormick place on a variety of subjects with attendees being able to rotate to the different tables. I will be moderating sessions on Employee Training  with some handouts that you can take with you. 

I count over 40 sessions for you to learn from people who have been in the industry and can give you real usable information that you can implement the day you get back to your place of business. Think of it, 40+ sessions and I haven't even discussed the trade show. That is a lot of learning opportunities crammed into a few days. 

In addition, I encourage you to register to attend the Green Cleaning University half day workshop presented by my colleague, David Holly on Tuesday the 16th. He truly is the expert in GREEN and has a lot of knowledge to impart. You can register at

On Wednesday, the 17th you can also register to attend the Bidding and Estimating seminar presented by BSCAI. Year after year this workshop continues to reach high attendance levels.

You also have the opportunity to take in the 3 day trade show that will feature over 1600 booths full of new technology, equipment, supplies, and a myriad of other "stuff" that you can use. There is a green pavillion and a book store where you can buy all sorts of helpful information (including my three books). 

What a week of learning we have the opportunity to attend. I sincerely hope you have made plans to attend the sessions you want and take in the trade show. Never before that I can recall have we had so many learning opportunities in one place of information we can use immediately. 

So...LOTS OF LEARNING will take place in Chicago October 16-20. I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity. Come by the BSCAI booth and say hi or come visit us at the vendor pavillion on the 19th and 20th at the Radisson. 

Till next time.


Saturday, September 29, 2012


Have you ever stopped to think about all the things that go into your company's customer relations. Many people believe that if they hire a customer relations representative to visit the customers during the day everything will be fine. Well not so fast mopping man.

Let me give you my definition of customer relations---EVERYTHING WE DO, OR DON'T DO, THAT AFFECTS THE CUSTOMERS IMPRESSION OF OUR COMPANY.  Think about it, that includes a lot of "stuff". To demonstrate what I mean let me suggest you do a quick activity--

Think of a situation where you have had bad service. Maybe a restaurant, cleaners, service station, grocery store etc. Stop and think about it for a few minutes. 

Now let me ask you a couple of questions about that experience,

1. How did you feel?
2. Was the problem resolved?
3. Did you go back to that place of business?
4. Did you tell others about your experience?

Do you see how one experience can affect an organization especially if you tell someone else?

So let's list some of the things that we BSC's do or don't do that affect the customers impression of our company,

1. Our personal appearance--clean uniforms, bath every day, hair neat and trimmed etc.
2. Our cleaning equipment/closet appearance
3. Our company vehicle appearance
4. Complaining about the company in front of the customer
5. Arguing/fighting on the job when the customer is present
6. Sitting down on the job
7. Complaining to the customer about equipment you are using 
8. Complaining to the customer about "not enough time" to get the job done 
9. Complaining about other employees
10. Knowing what to do in case of emergency
11. Being honest in all of our dealings, i.e. reporting all breakages etc. 
12. Knowing how to handle special requests
13. Knowing the cleaning specifications of the building you are cleaning
14. Knowing how to clean to company guidelines
15. Always being polite around and to the customer
16. The appearance of your facilities inside and out

These are just a few I think of as I write this blog. How about gathering your staff and doing this exercise and see how many you can come up with. More importantly, how many do you come up with that you are doing well for everyone concerned. In fact, let me suggest you also do the first exercise that I started with. This will show the relationship to what customer relations is and how it can affect your organization. 

You can see that a lot goes into assuring the customers impression of your company is a positive impression. Always do your part. Good customer relations also must include the following,

1. Thorough technical training
2. A good attitude by the cleaning techs and supervision toward their work
3. A good attitude toward the customer--what are we without customers
4. Being neat and clean on the job (repeated here on purpose)
5. Knowing how to handle complaints (Be sure that your company has trained everyone on this)

I sincerely hope you understand that good customer relations is not hiring someone to visit customers and smiling. It entails EVERYONE IN THE COMPANY. In fact, you may recall I have mentioned in other sessions one of my favorite sayings by Tom Peters--If you have to have a customer relations representative in your company, what are the rest of your people doing? I agree whole heartedly. I did not employ a customer representative in any of our branches because I really believed, and still do, that it is everyone's responsibility and I should not have to hire someone to visit my customers to tell them so. 

In the spirit of good salesmanship I should mention I have a DVD available on my web entitled "Customer Relations Training For Supervisors and Cleaning Techs". So much for selling. 

Don't forget to listen to our FREE pod casts at We are nearing the end of our special daily pre-convention pod casts. I hope you have been listening and noting the sessions you are wanting to attend. Remember also that if you are a tripodcast subscriber you are able to get a 30% discount on your registration fee just by entering the code SMD30 in the promo code box on the registration blank at 

MAKE IT A GREAT DAY. Till next time.


Monday, September 17, 2012


As we are writing this, the third quarter of the calendar year is drawing to a close. For those on a fiscal accounting year, September 30 ends the year and your year is nearly complete. So how are you ending up this year? Did you meet all your goals? Did you even set any goals?

I thought this would be a good time to remind everyone that a retuning of our company might be a good idea. So let's look at some of the major expenditure areas and see how we are doing.


Have we hit the goals we set out to accomplish? Do we need to revisit the expected monthly volume we need to add next year? Do we need to be looking at the types of accounts we are chasing and look at new market segments or maybe discontinue pursuing some of the market segments we are chasing now? How are we trying to bring business on? Should we be looking at targeting certain major customers, maybe developing some customer/prospect luncheons, or sending out weekly executive briefs to our prospect list?

Should we be more aggressive in the telemarketing arena? Do we need more training for the individuals making our sales calls and proposal presentations?

These are all questions we should be asking ourselves as we enter a new year. If we haven't got the results we wanted, does it make sense to keep doing what hasn't worked? There is no better time than NOW to analyze the way we are going to the marketplace with our sales program.


So in this down economy do we have all the RIGHT people we want in the right places? A slow economy is the perfect time to be putting into place the recruiting and training procedures to assure that we are doing the right things to recruit and train the people we are bringing on board and retraining those that are already with us.

Are you recruiting people for career positions or just hiring to cover the turnover of the day? There is a difference you know. Remember, the attitude projected by your people most of the time reflect the attitude you are reflecting toward them. Your cleaning technicians and supervisors are your "inventory". What is the quality of trained inventory you are putting in the field to represent your organization? They are a reflection of the culture you are developing in your company. Happy with what you have? If not, you can change it. What systems do you have in place to assure that they continue to receive the training on the latest products and equipment you are putting in the field? Have you trained them on how to meet and greet the customer when they meet them in the buildings?

The HR and Operations department are critical to your success. As this year closes is a great time to assess what you are doing and make changes to be sure you have the best trained and finest staff in the field.


This is an area so often overlooked when retuning a company. Have you checked lately to assure you have the most economical phone system available? What about cell phones? Have you checked prices lately on different plans? Even things like office supply pricing is important to double check at least one time per year.

How about insurance? Do you just accept what the agent brings you or do you request proposals at least every couple of years? Remember, your customers are always checking the market to see if your pricing is competitive and you owe it to your organization to do the same on the products and services you purchase.

I could go on and on with retuning processes and procedures we should be doing at this time of the year---paper products, cleaning supplies and equipment, fuel companies, uniform suppliers, etc.

You get the idea. This is by no means a complete list but my objective is to get your thought process started so you can begin the procedure and add to the list as you become more involved in doing this important task of streamlining your company. I was constantly amazed in my company how much money we saved each year just by doing some of the things mentioned above. So often, we think just add more sales and we'll make more profit when many times there are hundreds or thousands of dollars available to add to the profit line just by retuning the procedures we have in place. Trust me, there are dollars there.

Let me encourage you to do this process and have a HAPPY NEW YEAR with the dollars you will find by just double checking how you do things.

Hope to see many of you at the BSCAI convention next month in Chicago. Don't forget to tune into our free daily pod casts leading up to this great event. You can hear them at

Till next time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


This week, switches from its normal weekly pod cast to daily pod casts that feature the various speakers, sponsors, and executives of the upcoming BSCAI convention in Chicago, October 18-20.

We had a great time recording these and I can tell you this is going to be an outstanding convention. In addition, ISSA will be conducting their annual trade show on the 17th through the 19th. What a week this will be.

But let me get back to the pod casts. On Monday of this week we talked with Chris Mundschenk the Executive Vice President of BSCAI as he outlined what all will be happening. Let me just outline some of the sessions that will be available,

--Measuring Your Team's Performance

--Managing Your Sales Force

--Top Grading Personnel--Constant/Continuous Improvement

--Peer Groups: The Secret of Successful Contractors

--What everyone Should Know About Accounting

--Is It Time to Buy, Sell or Both? Mergers and Acquisitions in the BSC Industry

--Preparing Your Company for Growth

--How to Organize Your HR Function to Grow

--Effective Workloading

--Expanding Services--Stop Accounts from Going Out To Bid

--The Successful Hiring Process for Service Workers

--Green Sustainability and Health

--Social Media to Enhance Your Business

--Make the Impossible Sale

--Budgeting, Planning and Rewarding Profitable Performance

--Successfully Navigating Through Disaster

--Group Purchasing--It's About More Than Just Price

--De-commoditize the Business Through Innovation

--Service Needs from the Customer Perspective:How BSC's Create Value for Their Customers

In addition there will be a Productivity Seminar, Bidding and Estimating Seminar, and a Supervisor's Seminar.

This year the popular roundtable discussions have been expanded. I know I will be at these. Let me suggest you go to and check out all the details of the convention as well as housing etc. I'll be there all week and hope to see as many of you as possible. In fact, why not come by our Tripod Learning Associates table in the vendor pavillion on Friday and Saturday, say hi, let us know what you think of these blogs and give us your ideas for subjects you would like to know more about.

In the meantime, the daily pod casts are there to spark some ideas of what you want to accomplish at the convention---ARE YOU LISTENING?

Till next time.

Monday, September 3, 2012


I don't remember who told me or where I read the title to this session but it is very true. You can have the nicest office, the greatest equipment, a trained technical staff, but until you have a customer you don't have a company. Don't ever forget that.

That is a major reason why good salespeople are highly compensated and they should be. The key, of course, if finding good sales people and keeping them. Many people try to convince you they are good sales people but many times all they have sold is you (or me) on hiring them.

After making many wrong hiring decisions on sales people, I established a policy that no sales person would be hired in our company without a thorough personality profile test. There are several good companies that produce them and they are well worth the money.

I can recount many times where someone in our company was totally convinced that they had found "the person" to bring on more business than we knew what to do with. I would be told, "we don't need to test this person. They are solid and really professional and we may scare them off by wanting to test them. It will be an insult to a real professional". My response? If they are a real professional they will welcome the opportunity to take a personality profile to prove their professionalism to us. We eliminated countless sales people "wannabes" by using this method of screening and it sure cost a lot less dollars in the long run.

By now I hope you are aware that the first book I published was entitled "SELLING CONTRACT CLEANING SERVICES 101". Even if you are not aware of that, it still was the first book I published. If you haven't yet read it let me suggest you purchase a copy and use it as a blueprint for growing your sales profitably.

What follows is an idea from that book that can help you grow successfully. It is not in the detail explored in the book but it still will help you with some ideas on growing. I believe strongly that a systematic process is essential to your success. So here goes.

Determine what it is that you do best and then go after those accounts that fit your strategy. For instance, if you are best equipped to do 5 time weekly accounts between 6 and 10 at night using part time people, determine what types of accounts fall into that category in your market area. If you attempt to be everything to everybody all of the time, soon you will be nobody to everybody all of the time.

Once you have made the decision on what types of accounts are best for you, a data base needs to be created so you can begin contacting these prospects.

So, let me outline just one of the successful methods I used for contacting those prospects and still use today with the clients I work with as a consultant.


I consider this an extremely effective way to reach your target audience. It certainly is a good one for those contractors on a limited budget. It actually is a combination direct mail, telemarketing approach without all the negative baggage that can be associated with either one of them.

In short, this is a program of sending a designated number, usually 25-30 or so, information packets to your prospects each Friday and then calling them Wednesday or Thursday of the next week to ask for a 20 minute appointment to review the information in person with them.

My company used this system very successfully for many years. Today we are assisting several other companies who want to create a substantial growth in their sales and profitability. I talk about this being a great system for growth if you are on a limited budget but it is a great system for marketing your services no matter what your budget may be.

In the packet you want to include information that you have determined sets you apart from your competition. Do you have specific systems or processes that are unique to the industry in the markets you serve? If so, highlight them. If you are a new or emerging company, highlight the fact that you can give personal service unlike anything they have ever seen.

Include pictures of the key staff members and maybe their years of service. Maybe even highlight the individual(s) that would be responsible for their account. If you are the key staff member, say so. Emphasize the personal service ownership can provide. This was my key selling point for years. You will also want to include a brief outline of the additional services you offer. This is just another way to possibly catch the prospects eye in the event that janitorial service is not what they are interested in at the present time.

I recommend you develop a file type presentation folder and place the information in the folder with a cut on it just like a regular file folder only this cut will have the name of your company on it. I suggest this because a standard response from most prospects is, "I will put your information in the file with the rest of the information I have on contract cleaners". Well, if you provide the file for them, then when they decide to reach for the information, your folder will be the one they reach for.

Some other key points for your assistance if you decide to follow this path to sales success:

*****Put the mailing in a 9 by 12 envelope. Your chances are much greater it will get to the recipient than with a regular letter sent in a regular envelope. By the way, NEVER send an envelope to "buyer" or "owner". Always have a name so it truly does get to the right person.

*****Be consistent in your mailing. Mail them EVERY WEEK.

*****Do not fail to call the following Wednesday or Thursday no matter what "fires" need to be put out at the time.

*****When asking for the 20 minute appointment to discuss your services, when you get to the appointment, take off your watch and lay it on the table or desk and remind the prospect you asked for 20 minutes and you will not stay past your allotted time unless they request you to stay. I only had one person in all the years I did they process tell me my time was up.

***** Ask for the opportunity to present a proposal (not bid).


This is a very effective way to secure new customers and I recommend you consider it seriously as you move forward. Remember, NOTHING HAPPENS UNTIL SOMEONE SELLS SOMETHING.

Next Monday, September 10, we will be starting our daily pod casts leading up to the BSCAI/ISSA convention and trade show. Our first very special guest will be Chris Mundschenk, Executive Vice President of BSCAI. This is a great interview and you won't want to miss it. Join us at and by subscribing to the free pod cast you can get 30% off on your convention registration just by entering the code SMD30 in the promo code box when you register at

Till next time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


In the service industry today, no subject receives more discussion and less results than does training. Nearly every proposal that I have seen in the contract cleaning industry will have a section on how they employ trained personnel---POORLY TRAINED, that is.

Just in the last week, I have had 5 BSCs contact me with employee issues of poor work out on the job, some to the point of losing an account. My first question---DESCRIBE TO ME YOUR TRAINING PROGRAM. In each case the answer was that they send them out to work with a current "experienced" employee. My next question is "experienced at what"? When was the last time you checked the procedures your experienced employees were following? You've heard me say this before but it bears repeating--On the job training will lead to on the job failure unless you have a systematic way of checking the work of the experienced worker.

When I conduct workshops on the subject of training, one of the exercises we have the participants do in groups is to list what better training of the worker means to them and the company as a whole. Let me list some that come to my mind.

----REDUCES TURNOVER--At the rate of $500 plus per employee to put someone on the payroll, it doesn't take a genius to determine that this benefit comes near the top of the list. Let me suggest you review the number of W-2's your company provided for everyone that worked for you last year,determine the excess over your normal payroll and you'll see the dollars you wasted. You may want to get some nausea relief pills before you do this exercise.

----HELPS RETAIN CUSTOMERS--Ever had a customer tell you when they canceled that the main reason was your high turnover? Most service companies, if honest, will admit they have, at least once been told that. So factor in the sales cost you have in finding new prospects and turning them into long term customers and you have another big number and big reason to provide a quality training program in your company.

----HELPS OBTAIN NEW CUSTOMERS--One of the questions being asked often today by prospective customers is, "What's your turnover rate"? I have seen service contractors eliminated through this process. I have also seen service contractors become extremely creative in how they determine their turnover rate when they have to answer this question. Be creative if you want to the prospect but you still have the high turnover when you get back to the office.

----LOWER LABOR COSTS--You, no doubt, have heard or said the phrase , "Why is their never enough time to do it right the first time but always time to do it over"? Well, with the proper training, there are fewer times the job has to be done over. Make sense? Not to mention when a customer has to call you to complain that a job was not done correctly, you have lost credibility with that customer which brings you one step closer to making them a former customer.

I can go on and on with such things as lower material costs by using the products correctly, less equipment repair by knowing how to run and take proper care of the equipment etc.

I remember at one of our quarterly supervisor's management meetings, one of my key managers was explaining for the umpteenth time how to properly empty a vacuum bag. As he was going through the process, one of the participants asked, "Bill, how many times are we going to have to hear how to properly empty a vacuum bag?" " I will continue to repeat this process until we learn how to do it properly" was the reply. You see, as fate would have it, Bill had taken the vacuum he was demonstrating the procedure with from the building where the questioning participant worked. We did not embarrass this person in front of his peers but did talk with him after the meeting that it was his vacuum we were using and that it would be best if he listened more and talked less and then followed the correct procedure. We then invited him to take the vacuum back to his building and begin operating it correctly.

I can go on with this exercise but I have probably hit on the major reasons for doing training that most impact the profitability of your company. Do you see how you are wasting substantial dollars every day if you don't develop and implement a systematic ongoing effective training program at all levels of your company? Let me suggest you conduct this exercise with your staff and then build a training workshop around the answers and the ones you want to discuss that they may not have listed. Try it, you'll like it.

By the way, if you are interested in receiving a free sample copy of the training program we used, you can contact me through our web site at the "ask Dick Ollek" section.

Don't forget to tune into our free pod casts at Soon we will begin broadcasting daily sessions highlighting the BSCAI convention speakers and sponsors. Also, by signing up to receive an e-mail whenever a new pod cast is posted, you can register at the BSCAI website for the October convention and receive a 30% discount just by entering the code SMD30 in the promo code box. Heck of a good deal. Hope to see you there.

Till next time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Soon many of us (and I hope you) will be heading to Chicago to attend the ISSA/Interclean/BSCAI trade show and convention. As I reflect on previous conventions I am reminded of some of the great speakers we had as either keynoters or general session presenters. Let me share a couple of points that I heard that stuck with me over the years.


This saying hit me right between the eyes. At that time I had been in business for myself for 7 years and was still opening the mail every morning to "see what has come in".

I don't know what exacting I was looking for. I guess I needed to see who had paid us and who was cancelling service---not! I took the deposit to the bank every day. What, no one else knew how to drive? Mr. Connellan's presentation made me take a look at how we were doing everything, especially how and what I was doing in the company. I found myself doing many things that could just as well be done by someone already on staff and frankly, they could do it much better and faster.

That statement was framed and has hung on my wall ever since. This one thing probably did more to keep me focused down through the years than anything else that was told or shown to me. Let me ask you, what are you doing in your company that you should not be doing at all? Check it out, you will probably be amazed. The time you are wasting can not be recovered.


This one always stuck with me as being particularly appropriate for our industry. So often I hear contract service owners and managers talk about how they have "customer service representatives" visit customers to discuss the quality of cleaning being done. The reality is we shouldn't have to do that because we should know on a daily basis what level of cleaning we are performing.

I realize we must maintain regular customer contact to develop and maintain a relationship. No question about it. That is why I believe you should have area supervisors or managers who work from early afternoon to 10 or 11 at night. Afternoons should be spent visiting the customer and developing that relationship and evenings can be spent in the field with the cleaning technicians.

Those afternoon visits should be augmented by regular monthly or quarterly partnering meetings as I have discussed in earlier writings. That is where the owner and/or top management can be involved in a formal meeting and they will know soon enough if the customer is comfortable with how everything is progressing.

Now having said that, I want to emphasize that the owner/manager must ALWAYS be available to visit with customers. I made random visits all of the time to see my customers. My routine was to visit with the customer on a social basis first, with a comment or question as to if they were comfortable with my staff and they would volunteer comments if they weren't satisfied which was my clue to get more involved. Oh, and by the way, I always made sure I checked random janitor's closets to see how we were doing in that department. I had a customer tell me early in my career that his evaluation of a cleaning company was if they kept their janitor's closets clean. He felt, and rightfully so, that if we couldn't keep our janitor's closet clean, how in the world could we keep his building clean. How are YOU doing in that department?

Having account reps to manage an account is one thing but to have someone to just go to the accounts to check quality is not something I subscribe to. By the way, if you have someone going during the day and they have cleaning issues with the night crew and the crew doesn't correct those issues, the service representative has to face the customer the next day and eventually you have an internal war on your hands that can easily spill over to the customer. Enough said on that issue for now.

These are just a couple of the important sayings that influenced my business career. I hope they will be helpful to you as well.

Don't forget our weekly FREE tripodcasts at In mid September we will begin daily ones highlighting the speakers and sponsors at the upcoming convention. I hope you will plan to listen as there are some really good speakers this year. Also, if you are a subscriber to our tripodcasts you can register for the convention at and enter the promotion code SMD30 and get a 30% discount on your registration investment. Check it out.

Till next time and MAKE IT A GREAT DAY.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


In this session it is not our intention to provide you with a library of quick witted, slick all American sales phrases, but we do want to provide some helpful hints and phrases to listen for that gives you a hint the prospect is considering becoming a customer. Maybe we can provide some possible answers to questions that just might help close the sale.


1. You are preparing proposals for your prospect, NOT BIDS. We bid commodities and I would hope you are aware the service you provide is NOT A COMMODITY.


3. Remember to set the time for the proposal presentation at the time you do the walk through.

4. If possible in a one on one presentation, sit next to the prospect so you can control the turning of the pages as you make the presentation.

5. Never speak ill of a competitor.

6. Choose your words carefully as you present. A small mistake can result in a big lost sale. For instance, your wife or girlfriend likes to hear a phrase like, "When I look at you my dear, the hands of time stand still". Beautiful words aren't they? But try saying, "You have the face that would stop a clock". Or look how one day on the calendar can make a difference if you say to your spouse, "Looking at you darling is like the first day of spring", versus, "Looking at you is like the last day of a long hard winter". See how one day can make a big difference. Anyway, you get the point.

7. Dress appropriately for the event. Learn in advance the proper dress code of the company you are wanting to work for and then be sure that you and everyone on your presentation team is in step.

8. ASK FOR THE ORDER. As a matter of fact, you should be attempting to close the sale throughout the entire process with the information you present and in the way you answer their questions. Some statements or questions provided by prospects just naturally lend themselves to closing such as:

Q. I don't like being invoiced at the first of the month.
A. When would you like to be invoiced? If we invoice on the day you want, will you award us the contract? We can start as early as _______________.

Q. Do you usually start on a weekend?
A. We can start when you want. How about on the _______________?

Q. How much room do you need for your supplies and equipment?
A. Why don't we walk to the closet and double check the room you have and I can give you a better idea?

Q. Would you be keeping the current employees?
A. Are there employees that you would like us to keep? We will guarantee each of them an interview (you will notice I didn't say guarantee a job).

Q. You're too high (This one comes into play if you have not reviewed the specifications without pricing and got them to agree).
A. Can you give me an idea of the dollar amount in your budget? With that number we can together discuss the specifications and arrive at some frequency adjustments that can meet the budget you are planning.


The facts of life are that no matter how professional you appear and how professional your proposal is, there will be many times that you get that phrase, "I want to think it over". You then have another opportunity to close by asking,

"So that I can prepare the information you need, just exactly what is it that you are wanting to think over? You see, I want your business and it is important that I present you will all the facts so you can make the correct decision". Their answer then dictates where you go next. You have to be prepared to provide the information for them and set another appointment for delivery of that information.

As I said we are not providing fancy, can't miss pressure sales closes. Where I come from "pushy peddlers" are pushed right out the door so I prefer the conversational approach to closing the sale. IT WORKS.

My wife sold a few years for my company and she was our top producer. The two reasons I feel she was successful is that she followed the order of our proposal to the letter when making the presentation, and maybe more importantly, she came across sincere to the prospect. I heard her use the phrase many times, "The one thing I can promise you is that our company is going to make every effort to provide the service outlined in this proposal to your satisfaction, and if we make a mistake we will correct it immediately". I had customers tell me later that is all they really want. Do the work you promise to do and when you make a mistake correct it with no excuses.


Don't forget our FREE weekly tripodcast at You can subscribe by entering your e-mail at the site and then hitting the subscribe icon. In addition, if you subscribe you are entitled to 30% off on your BSCAI convention registration fee. Just go to to register and enter the code SMD30 in the promo code box. Believe me, that is a real worthwhile investment, take advantage of it today. Soon we will begin our daily tripodcasts featuring the speakers and sponsors of the convention. You won't want to miss that.

Till next time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Finally, after all the work you have done the prospect allows you the opportunity to provide a "bid". Hopefully you have responded by indicating you provide proposals, not bids.

Let me also clarify that the comments that follow are based on the fact that you were able to secure a walk through on a proposal opportunity and not a "cattle call" where you have 25 people from 20 companies walking with you and the "low bid" gets the job.

With that in mind our purpose here is to provide you some information of things to do and look for which many times create difficulty once you have secured the account.

Let's start with what may appear elementary but accounts for many lost opportunities in our industry. BE ON TIME FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT. If you are stuck in traffic, call the prospect and explain the situation. Better yet, be an hour early and wait in the lobby

Before starting the tour, ask the prospect for a copy of the current specifications being performed. This will help you determine if the frequencies are adequate and also provides a basis for fact finding discussions with the prospect as you are walking. It provides a great opportunity to ask questions about the specifications that you probably already know the answer to but it draws the prospect out with their perspective of the type of service they would like to have. Well placed questions on the walk through will often times give you the answers as to what REALLY is the reason why they are considering a change.

Even though you are presenting a proposal and not a bid, price, most likely, will be a major factor in your prospects decision making. During the walk through I found it helpful to ask questions such as "Does the current vendor have some employees that you think would be good for me to consider keeping"? "What hours do you have them working? Are they coming in at 6 PM or does the supervisor come in at 5:30 and the rest come in at 6? Do you have a time they have to be out of the building? Oh, so you have a crew of of 5 people working 4 hours per night"? If you couch the questions correctly, many times you can elicit the answers you are wanting.

Sometimes the prospect will say to you that they are not going to give you any information. They will tell you it is your job to determine how many hours to be working and you can interview the old crew if awarded the contract and decide for yourself if you want any of them.

My response to that was, " I am happy to hear you say that because in our efforts to provide you with a proposal that will fit the needs you are expressing and cover the specifications you provided to us, I would not want my analysis to be clouded by trying to make my recommendations fit into a predetermined budget. I realize you still must have financial considerations in your decision making, but it is best for us to present our suggestions based on the needs you have expressed first and then, if need be, we can discuss alternatives".

What that response says to them is that we are going to present a proposal for their review, BUT, we expect to negotiate if need be and not just present a bid and that's it.

Here are some things I found down through the years to be important, not only in endearing yourself to the prospect as being thorough in your analysis, but also assisting your company in performing the work once you have secured the account.

1. As you do your walk through, do not make negative comments about your competitor. Your prospect already has their opinion of them or you wouldn't be there. I do, however, recommend you ask questions of the prospect as you are walking as to what their concerns are and then have general positive comments on your policies and procedures in handling those situations.

2. I try to find out from them if they know the amount of hours currently being expended every day. I always found it helpful to ask to see the janitor's closet to "review the types of products needed and to see the amount of space I will have to store my equipment". Oh my goodness, lookie here, the time sheets are posted in the closet. Let's see, 5 people, 4 hours per night---hmmm! You still need to put your own thoughts and pricing together, but as we stated earlier, it is nice to gather as much information as possible.

3. This is also the time to gather all the information needed for the actual operation of the account that often times is overlooked but creates all kinds of budgeting havoc once you have started the account. Here are some of the things I wanted to know,

A. Determine where all the janitor's closets are, how big are they and do they have water and a sink. Is there space to store equipment and supplies etc.

B. Where are all the light switches. More importantly, where are all the breaker boxes so when you are burnishing the lobby floor the first night and you blow a breaker you don't have to call you new customer at home? This is experience speaking.

C. Where are the outside trash dumpsters? Trying to put an accurate labor budget to an account can be adversely affected if you failed to notice that the trash had to be taken 100 yards to the nearest dumpster which adds 15 minutes each time you have to make the trip.

D. Determine who is responsible for restroom consumables. Does the customer purchase and you install etc.?

I always found it helpful to talk about keys during the walk through process. Remind them that you need one set for the technicians, one set for the supervisor, and one set in your locked, secure safe/vault at the office. A good reason to ask this question now is it begins the sales close process. When you ask for 3 sets of keys and they say that maybe you can have only 2, you know they have started the process of considering you as their service provider. You are always looking to ask questions that indicate a buying signal from the prospect.

We created a form that was filled out that detailed all the things we needed. I outline it in my book--Selling Contract Cleaning Services 101.

As you complete your tour with the prospect there are some important information points to cover before leaving:

1. Request permission to call for clarification on any points left unanswered.

2. Ask for the opportunity to tour the facility on your own or with you operational staff if you so desire.


4. Ask for 1 hour to make your sales presentation when you return with the completed proposal.

5. Request names of all those that will be attending the presentation so you can have a full proposal for each of them.

The information gathering process of the sales process is critical to assure that you are able to price the service competitively and as completely as possible. Don't be bashful or afraid to ask the questions for which you need answers.

Remember to tune into our free weekly pod cast at If you are a subscriber and want to attend the BSCAI convention in October you qualify for a 30% discount on your registration fee. Tune in next Monday to hear the details.

Opportunities are usually disguised by hard work, so most people don't recognize them----Ann Landers.

Till next time.