Monday, May 28, 2012


As we close out May 2012 and move into June we are also closing in on the halfway point of the year. If your company is on a fiscal year you have already passed the halfway point. you doing on your projections and goals for this year? Let's take a look,

Sales---Have you reached the half way point in what you projected your sales would be? Are you on target with contacting the prospects you put on your list to focus on this year. Each year we would target a group of suspects that we wanted to become prospects and then customers. We would send them periodic "hit list" mailers that really got there attention and then we followed up with a phone call to ask for a 20 minute appointment to discuss how we could mutually benefit each other. We always kept that initial appointment to 20 minutes unless the they asked us to stay. In fact, I took my watch off and laid it on the desk and told the prospect I asked for 20 minutes and would not stay past that time unless they asked me too. I only had one person ever tell me my 20 minutes was up and I could leave. I did.

Our mailings ranged from a baby metal trash can with our message inside to a pill bottle with a prescription to contact our company for relief, to a small first aid kit for the summer sun and insect bites. All of these grabbed their attention and most always got us "in the door" for an appointment. Our book, Selling Contract Cleaning Services 101 describes in detail each of these mailings and their effectiveness. If you have not tried such a campaign let me recommend you start thinking about doing it. It works. We had a criteria established for a suspect to make our list such as gross volume, profitability projections etc. Not only are these mailings effective at bringing new business in the door they are fun to do.

Operations--How you doing on keeping your labor expenses on budget? Do you have a budget? Are you monitoring the labor costs EVERY DAY or do you just look at the profit and loss each month and then cry? If you have several accounts I am suggesting that you create a report EVERY DAY that will give you the over and under on each account. Looking once a month at the labor is to late. This is your biggest expense and you need to monitor it every day.

Now, how about your supplies? I realize this is a small amount compared to labor and many contractors don't really pay much attention to this item. But, if you are running 5% and the average is 3%, what could you do with an additional 2 points on your bottom line. Two percent of a $250,000 per year contractor is $5,000. Great shopping money or look at it this way. $5,000 will pay your expenses and then some to attend the annual BSCAI convention and ISSA trade show so you can learn more about your industry.

Speaking of money and the convention, have you checked into the BSCAI Purchase Advantage Program through NSA. From what I have seen it can save you SUBSTANTIAL dollars in your supply and equipment purchases. I picked up some price comparison information at the recent Executive Seminar in Scottsdale and was really impressed at the savings available through this program. I suggest you check it out at your earliest convenience by going to the BSCAI web site and clicking on the proper icon. They provide monthly webinars where you can get the information and see if it will work for your company. It's certainly worth investigating.

Looking at the numbers is not always fun but extremely necessary. If you aren't into budgeting I want to suggest that you work hard to establish one for the upcoming year. You will learn a great deal about your own organization. I went through the process every year with each one of my district managers and thought I knew what was going on but learned something new about my company every time I did the process. You'll also find that you get better at it each time you do it.

So check your numbers and your processes. If you're not where you want to be there is still time to make a u turn and get on the right track. This business is exciting as well as fun but does need your constant attention to make sure it is doing what you want it to do for you. Your future may depend on it.

Till next time.MAKE IT A GREAT DAY.

Monday, May 21, 2012


In my previous blogs as well as in my books and DVDs you have heard me discuss the importance of an ongoing marketing and sales program for prospective and current employees, as well as a systematic method of tracking the applicants. Another very important part of the selling process is the facility where you interview and process new employees, especially if you are in the cleaning business.

Stop reading for a moment and take a walk to the front of the building where you ask prospective employees to apply for a position with your company. When they drive up, what do they see? Nicely painted building, accurate well positioned signage, well lighted grounds, neatly mowed and maintained? Please make a note of any improvements that need to be made and who will make them promptly.

Next, walk in the door that applicants enter to complete their applications. Okay, so we have a few cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and we haven't had time to vacuum the carpet for a week but we've been busy starting a new large account. I understand completely but I want to remind you that if you are in the cleaning business and your business is to keep things clean, isn't it important that we begin at our own office so our prospective employees get the message loud and clear that we provide first class, quality, professional service and satisfaction to our customers and expect nothing less from anyone joining our team? You see, the prospective employee probably doesn't know you started that large account and so they judge your quality expectations by what they see in the application room.

This reminds me of one of my long time customers who also became a long time friend. Part of the customer satisfaction process was for me to do a monthly inspection tour with him which, if things went well, culminated with a lunch (I bought).

I should mention that this was a large industrial facility sprawled out over many acres and we cleaned the administrative areas, factory offices, lunchrooms, restrooms etc. with a sizable staff around the clock. When I would arrive for my monthly tour, my customer's first order of business was to walk to the main supply closet in the factory and check its condition. If everything looked neat and clean, mop buckets and trash barrels empty, mops hung up properly etc., he would say, "Ollek, looks to me like your crews are doing a great job, let's go to lunch". By the way, my part of the deal was I could not alert my crews as to the day I was coming. I kept my word on that issue although I sometimes wish I hadn't.

On the other hand, if he found anything out of order such as our equipment dirty or mop buckets standing full of water with a mop in them, we would spend the rest of the day walking the entire facility (without lunch). You see, his philosophy was if we couldn't keep a 20 by 20 supply closet clean, how in the world could we keep his large plant facility clean? Agree?

You see, it does hold true. If we can't keep our own facilities clean and inviting to our prospective employees, how in the world can we expect them to keep our customer's facilities clean? WE set the example in our office as to what we expect in the field.

It is also critical that the person greeting new prospective employees great them with a smile, thank them for coming in, and give them clear instructions on the process of completing the application and the ensuing interview. There should be no question that they are welcome.

Let me share some of my ideas as to how the application area should look in addition to being clean,etc.

First, I suggest you have a TV or other means of video playing continuously that talks about your company. If you don't have a full blown orientation video or sales video, a short welcome video done in house will do just fine running on a loop all day. Let me suggest if you have some training videos that you use, such as one on backpack vacuuming or scrubbing and recoating of tile floors, have it run as well. Not trying to make experts out of them while completing their application, but we want them to be fully aware of the business we are in.

We had large placards made with the outline of our line worker training program on them so as to give them an idea of what they could expect if they joined our team. And yes, we had it in different languages to reflect the different nationalities we had on our team. Made for full walls in some branches. Yes, some applicants walked out of the building after seeing what we expected but I would rather have them walk out of my building than out of a customer's building.

There are other inviting things you can do such as a popcorn machine for them and candy for the children if they come along with their parents etc. We always had an abundance of children come along with mom or dad to fill out applications. May as well make them feel welcome as well, as they may be future employees. Grocery stores learned this long ago by putting small carts in the stores so the children could push their cart along with mom and dads. They realize that these little ones will some day be grocery shoppers and I figured these little ones that came along with parents to fill out applications might just some day be a star team member for us.

I don't want to belabor the point but I cannot over emphasize the importance of presenting a clean, neat, and appealing first impression for people who enter you premises. Never know, a prospective or current customer just might decide to pay you a personal visit. How do your facilities stack up?

Don't forget to listen to our weekly pod cast at We try to keep them around 5 or 6 minutes so you can listen and get on with your day.

Till next time--MAKE IT A GREAT DAY.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Last week we talked about letting others control your destiny. This time we want to discuss just how good is good enough.

Several years ago a friend of mine sent me some information on just good enough quality and even though it has been around for a while, I want to share it with you just in case you forgot it or haven't had the privilege of seeing it. So here goes,


**One hour of unsafe drinking water per month

**Two unsafe landings at Chicago O'Hare airport each day

**500 incorrect surgical operations performed by doctors each week

**19,000 newborn babies dropped at birth by doctors each year

**22,000 checks will be deducted from the wrong bank accounts in the next 60 minutes

**315 entries in Webster's dictionary will be misspelled

**18,322 pieces of mail will be mishandled in the next hour

**Your heart will fail to beat 32,000 times each year

I was always concerned that what if my heart quit beating those 32,000 times all in a row?

Let me take this concept a step further and include the phrase "we are done". If I walked into a building that we cleaned and saw the crew sitting and visiting 15 minutes or so before their shift was to end I just wanted to take them to lunch and buy theirs to go. You see, in the business of cleaning it is my contention you are never "done". There is always something you can do that will enhance the appearance of the facility and strengthen your relationship with the customer.

What really made my hair stand on end was if they told me "this is the first time we have ever finished early". Right! Maybe we need to look at the budgeted hours for the building and reduce them. Whoops, all of a sudden there are several things that need to be done.

Let me suggest to you that the next time you think the work you are doing for your customers is "good enough" or you are a supervisor or cleaning tech that thinks the job is "good enough", ask yourself, how many babies can a doctor drop?

On another subject, I just returned from the BSCAI Executive Seminar in Scottsdale, Arizona where I had the chance to interact with many BSC's and great vendors. If you were there you know what I mean. If you weren't there, let me suggest you make plans to attend the convention in Chicago, October 18-20. That, coupled with the ISSA trade show, the 17th through the 19th makes this the premier event to attend each year. Plan on it, it will be worth your time.

Don't forget our weekly free tripodcasts at

Till next time. MAKE IT A GREAT DAY.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Today we complete our series on Focusing on Leadership. The last quality we want to discuss is,

DON'T ALLOW OTHERS TO CONTROL YOUR DESTINY--This is a big one. As a leader it is your responsibility to set the course of your company and your personal life. The culture of your company is your responsibility. Some of the ways you can control your own destiny or have others control it for you are...

Overall Customer Quality--While relationships are critical in the service business, poor quality of work will eventually destroy most any relationship. This means it is up to YOU to decide the standard of work that is acceptable. Even though you may have supervisors and managers checking the work and training (hopefully) the cleaning staff, it is still ultimately your responsibility. As a friend and mentor of mine once told me, "At some point you have to lift up the bull's tail and look him right in the eye". A bit crude, I admit, but it makes the point rather succinctly.

Let's take the issue of quality a step further. You can lose business even though you think you are doing a great job. Well, quality entails more than just the cleaning. It entails your entire organization and every encounter you have with the customer.

You see, it is my belief that quality is what the customer says it is. I know of many companies who do regular inspections and use a rating system of 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 or some even use a score card like in school. This building got an 88 this month or this building got a B this month or this building was 90% of the norm or 110% or the norm.

That is all fine and good but if the customer is not satisfied with the overall performance of your organization, it doesn't matter what your score is. I just was never a strong proponent of the kind of scoring that I mentioned above. I know that I had customers that required it and we certainly complied with their request because it fell under the umbrella of total customer satisfaction, but as far as I was always concerned, we either passed or failed. Now I know many will take issue with that rationale but isn't that really what it is all about? The customer is either happy or not. If they are luke warm or so so, they are unhappy about something and we better find out what it is. Luke warm or so so is just not good enough.

Managing Time--As you build your business, managing your time and the time of your staff becomes more and more critical. Many people are pulling you many different directions and your day can become one of frustration. Your time management is one thing you will struggle with constantly.

One area that requires your tight control is the actual cleaning budgets in each building. Let me emphasize you need to be monitoring these at all times and doing every 6 month account retuning audits. You will find as your crews become more familiar with cleaning a facility they learn where to reduce time and in most cases are not going to be forthcoming in telling you to reduce the time in the building.

One of my pet peeves has always been one of wasted time when we clean facilities. We live in a competitive environment and try to budget the time as accurately as possible and when we are wasting time in the building, chances are, something is not being cleaned to the level we committed to the customer.

Do you know that if you have 10 employees that waste 5 minutes a day and you pay them $10 per hour that equates to lost dollars of $2,520 per year. I am guessing you have some employees that waste more than that. Do you? If you go to my web site at and click on the DVD section and then click on the DVD support material icon you will find a complete chart on what 5 minutes of wasted time equates to at different pay scales and with different numbers of employees.

I remember showing this chart to a contractor at a BSCAI convention and it made him physically ill. You see, he had 3,000+ employees at an average wage of $15 per hour. That equates to $1,134,000 per year.

So there you have it. I know there are many traits and qualities to focus on in leadership. What I have shared with you are just a few that I consider paramount to success in our industry. Do you have some others? If so, add them to this group.

Well, I am off to the BSCAI Executive Seminar in Scottsdale, Arizona. Hope you are planning to attend. If you are, introduce yourself to me and let me know what you think of these sessions. If you like them, I am responsible, if you don't it must be someone else's fault.

Don't forget to tune into our free Monday morning pod cast at

In addition, in about 2 weeks we will be releasing our new training DVD entitled--Customer Relations Training For Supervisors and Cleaning Techs. This is an interactive DVD with the participants doing pen and pencil exercises to help them understand their important role in customer relations.

Till next time.