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.