Saturday, January 28, 2012


Hardly a week goes by that I don't have one or more BSCs ask me where they can find good prospects. I always discuss the standard ways such as the local chamber of commerce, business mixers, friends, referrals,BOMA and IFMA directories and the like.

The next step is making sure they are linked to the social media sites such as facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc.

I then proceed to provide them with some of the other sources I found extremely helpful in developing our business. Keeping in mind our emphasis was on manufacturing, medical, and education (not public), I mention the following,

1. Manufacturers News Directory- This provides all manufacturing facilities in each state, their size, number of employees and the contact names etc. You can purchase a directory for each state or all states. This became our source for manufacturing prospects and it worked very well.

2. Higher Education Directory- This provided us with all the colleges and universities in the United States along with their location, enrollment, contact names, etc. etc. We could then pick and choose which ones we wanted to place in our data base for follow up. I chose only those institutions that were not public as we did not want to go through the politics usually associated with public run institutions. We wanted an opportunity to SELL NOT BID.
Of course, we also worked at tracking down all private K-12 schools again avoiding public schools. Having said that, one of the best accounts we had for 10 plus years was a public school that was more or less negotiated and not bid each year. Great people to work with.

3. The National Medical Management Association-This provided us with the medical facilities in our areas of service. We did not do major hospitals but focused on clinics and one day surgery centers.

There are other sources such as Dun and Bradstreet, Black's Guide, etc. but we focused mostly on the three mentioned above.

After I have given them this information I provide them with what I believe is the best source of prospects and that is the one you build yourself and then focus on them. For example, determine which accounts in your area you REALLY WANT TO SERVICE and then find out everything you can about them and make them your "hit list" for the next year and focus your mailings in a specialized form to them.

Now what do I mean by specialized mailings? Let me give you two examples

A. While not all of your prospects are avid sports fans, most of them have heard of and at least have a passing interest in the NCAA men's ad women's basketball tournaments in March of each year called "March Madness".
You can purchase a plastic backboard with rim and net and basketball that fits on an office trash can. On the backboard you can imprint your company name, logo, web site address, phone number and the words, OUR CLEANING TEAM IS NUMBER 1. Then include a brochure in the mailing with the following message,

"March madness, what does that mean to you? Enjoying the NCAA women's and men's basketball tournament or "madness" and frustration over the unacceptable performance of your current contract cleaning provider? Call the #1 team. We have a team of trained champions ready to provide NUMBER 1 CUSTOMER SATISFACTION for you. Call today at ___________or visit our web site at _______________. DO IT NOW...We'll go overtime to satisfy you.

B. A miniature trash can is perfect for our industry. We purchased small metal trash cans that stood about 6 inches high.
Inside the trash can we placed, along with a business card, a crumpled up 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper with our logo and the words

"Feeling down in the dumps(ter)? Do your current cleaners miss trash and other tasks and then give you a bunch of garbage excuses? At _______________we don't sit on our can. We work hard at being a valued supplier and provide a 24/7 communication system so you're never out of touch---and we clean great too."
Dump your trash
Clean your restrooms
Vacuum your carpets
and do your dusting.
Call us at _______________or visit our web site at _________________. We'll both be glad you did.

These were just a couple of the successful focused mailings we sent to those customers we REALLY WANTED TO SERVICE. We usually sent 4-6 per year and the list changed from time to time. Oh yes, and we closed many of these "hit list" prospects.

Hopefully I am helpful to those BSC's that have contacted me and hopefully this information will be helpful to you as well.


Sunday, January 22, 2012


In my travels throughout the country working with Building Service Contractors to help them establish a sales program or working with them to "jump start" their existing program, I always insist we start with a half day workshop with their key staff before we determine how to move forward.

The first question I ask is, "Why should someone buy from your company"? The most common answers I get are,

"We've been in business 20 years and that makes us one of the oldest companies in this area". My response? "Longevity has little bearing on success". We have to ask ourselves if we really have 20 years of experience or 1 year experience 19 times over. Our industry has countless 20 year old companies doing very little business. Most of them are not small because they want to be.

"We do the best job in town". My response? "Everyone says that , how do you prove it before you are their service provider"?

"We have trained personnel". My response? Really, let me see your training area and let me interview your training director". They usually respond back, "We train on the job so they can see the work area they will have". In other words, little or no training takes place.

I have a saying that on the job training is a recipe for on the job failure because are you SURE that the person the new employee is training with is doing it the way you want it done?

If by this time if they have not fired me as their consultant we go to the next step....

What is it that makes your company unique---real measurable, quality training? Substantially lower turnover than the industry standard? If so, what do you attribute this to and how can we use it as a sales advantage? Do you have systems and processes that are user friendly for the customer's benefit? Do you have special software designed for the customer? Do you have customer call center?

After we have made a determination of what makes us different, we then can set out to determine what we need to do to refine those qualities and make us even stronger. A simple 8 step process will get the entire group thinking on how to make the company better. Those steps are

1. Identify the quality or qualities you want to focus on. I suggest you work on no more than 2 to begin with.

2. Discuss how your company will benefit from focusing on and developing these qualities. How will you as individuals benefit?

3. How will your prospects and customers benefit from these qualities? Are they qualities what will set you apart from your competitors in the marketplace? How will they set you apart?

4. What special skills will you need to develop to advance these company qualities? What training will be required and for which members of your staff and where will you get the training/direction. THIS STEP IN THE PROCESS IS CRITICAL.

5. What are the major obstacles your company and its staff will have to overcome to professionally develop the qualities you have decided to focus on?

6. Who are the people or organizations that can help you develop these qualities such as BSCAI, ISSA, peer groups, industry specific consultants etc.?

7 From all of these discussions develop a step by step plan of action. This means assigning responsibilities and time lines for completion of each step.

8. Decide on an overall completion date as to when you will be ready to announce to the world the reasons a prospect should buy from you.

So in closing, determine what it is that sets your company apart from the competition, then define it further, refine it further and make it a part of your every day life and sales presentation.

Let me add one more thing. The facility service business had changed considerably over the last few years. Prospects and customers now assume you know how to clean. What they want to know is HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR ORGANIZATION. In a later blog we will address this subject in greater detail.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Have you ever asked a prospect "When do you go out for bid'? Or,"The next time you go out for bid, may I have the opportunity to give you a price"?

If you have said that or something similar, you have just placed yourself in the world of selling a commodity and commodities are usually purchased at the lowest available price after getting bids. For example:

If I were to purchase 10 cases of 12 ounce cans of caffeine free diet Pepsi, I would most likely check Wal-Mart, Target, Sam's and maybe a few other likely suspects. Then what would I do? I would buy from the place that gave me the lowest price. Pretty easy decision, don't you think? Diet Pepsi is bottled the same way in every state and delivered to the stores the same way and then sold at whatever price the store chooses to place on the product. They decide how much profit they want to make. They may even sell it at a loss, because they want more of my business (probably not). Sound like the contract cleaning market?

When you ask a prospect if you can "bid" on their building, what you have said in effect is,


"But our company isn't like all those other guys" you say. How would your prospect know? You are telling them you want to "bid" their work and that certainly implies you are the same as if you were selling Diet Pepsi.

Now having said that, there are certainly plenty of opportunities for you to "bid" work in the marketplace. Most government contracts are awarded based on "bids". If you have chosen to pursue government work as your market, you know what I mean.

For the rest of you, the time is NOW to begin offering proposals to your prospects feel your organization is just like all the others and offers no unique features that would benefit the customer.

I'll bet you have a quality company and let me encourage you to make 2012 the year you offer quality proposals to your prospects. Let the other guys "bid" the work and go broke.