Thursday, January 31, 2013


Most BSC's spend a considerable amount of time making sure that their customers are happy and stay customers and that is how it should be. We have all been taught about the old adage--There are two rules in dealing with customers,

Rule number 1--The customer is always right.

Rule number 2--If you ever think the customer is wrong, refer to rule number 1. 

How many times have you been told that and passed it on to your employees. Customers are the lifeblood of the business and without them we wouldn't have a business, right? By the way, I know people that strongly disagree with these two rules but to each his own.

But...what about our employees? Where do they fit into this equation? We are in a labor intensive industry and yet we many times take the labor for granted. Think honestly about how much time you spend really being involved with your labor. When was the last time you REALLY paid attention to the individuals that work hard every day to provide, not only their income, but yours as well.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a conference where my friend David Stein was also in attendance. David is President and CEO of the highly successful company, Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Service located in Tyler Texas. As we visited about keeping customers he brought up the subject of what do we do to keep employees? Great question, isn't it? David then went on to explain a survey he conducted among his employees that really gave him and his staff some great insight to the workforce he had keeping his customers happy. It is an easy 5 question survey that takes about 5 minutes to complete. I asked David to share it with me and he gave permission to share it with you. Here were the questions he asked,

1. What do you like best about working for this company?

2. What is something you think we do very well as a company? 

3. What is something you think we could do better?

4. Part time work provides extra income that helps you do something (i.e. car payment, medical bills, help make ends meet). Would you mind sharing with us what this job helps you do?

5. Tell us something about yourself we can share that most people probably don't know about you?

NAME ____________________________.

Pretty simple questions aren't they? But look at them again. See how much you can learn about your valuable assets just by having them answer 5 easy questions. David said he got almost 100% participation. 
Think about it. You can find out your company weaknesses, why people are working for the dollars, what they think are your strong points. 

I particularly like question 4 inasmuch as you can build a recruiting campaign etc. around the more popular reasons people are working for you. And look at number 5, think of how valuable that information  can be. You may find people that have the talents you are needing in a full time person as you build your staff. After all, you are looking for career minded full time people as well as part time workers.

Let me suggest you do something similar in your company. You may just find some real talented people you didn't even know you had.

David learned a lot about his employees and I bet you can do the same. I want to thank David for sharing this information with us and if you decide to do a survey such as this, drop me a line and tell me about some of the interesting information you found that helped your company. 

Till next time. MAKE IT A GREAT WEEK. One last thing. You can sign up at the bottom of our home page at and our blog will come directly to your e-mail box each time one is published--NO STRINGS ATTACHED.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013


One of the most frequent discussions I encounter when talking with contractors is, how many references should I include in my proposal? The real question I have is, should they be included at all in the proposal? Let me give you my point of view.

I did not include any references in my proposals unless they were a requirement in a request for proposal. Here is my thought process. 

As I presented my proposal in person I would do "name dropping" of current clients that I had. For example, When discussing our customer call center I would make a reference something like, "ABC company has found this to be a tremendous benefit in our relationship" or "DEF company was skeptical of our systematic training program until they attended one of our classes and found that we really do what we say we will do". I would make 5 or 6 references like this in my presentation and almost always the prospect never asked for a reference list. I should mention, however, that I was never adverse to providing references if they still wanted them after the presentation and here is how I handled their request.

My response was always, "I will be happy to provide references, how many would you like? I will be happy to bring them by at your convenience. How about 10 AM tomorrow morning"? The usual response was for me to just fax or e-mail them over to which I would reply, "I am sure you can understand the confidential nature of this information so I would like to personally bring it to you". Now why did I proceed in this manner?

By bringing them by I had another chance to close the sale. It gave me the opportunity to ask if there were any additional questions that the prospect had or did they need any additional information. It was also an additional day the current contractor had to screw up. Quite often they would tell me to just drop the references off at the front desk. When I brought them back to leave at the front desk I would always ask if the prospect was in and could I see them to hand deliver the information they had requested. More often then not I was able to see them and again attempt to close the business. It worked quite often, certainly worth the effort of doing it this way. 

By the way, I always put the references on a sheet that had the words "CONFIDENTIAL" embedded in the stationery. That added an element of importance to the entire process. Incidentally, I used the same type of stationery for our maintenance service agreements. 

Another reason for not including references in your original proposal is that it keeps you from providing a prospect list for a competitor if the prospect is just shopping and is a close friend of the incumbent contractor. I know, because I had customers who did that for me many times and, I might add, I never asked a customer to do that for me but some of them felt an obligation to do it and who was I to turn down the list when they gave it to me?

I always had the attitude that if I was doing the job for my customer it didn't matter if my competitor had my reference list because you should be putting on your list only those customers that you know will give you a positive reference and are not a threat to leave. By the way, I remember securing a very large account several years ago where we were required to provide three references with the proposal. My prospect told me later that I was awarded the contract, even though I was a higher price, because my competitor has listed 3 customers who all were in the process of terminating his services. Talk about a dumb move by a contractor that was out of touch with his customers. What are the odds of listing 3 references, all of which are ready to terminate your services? This contractor is no longer in business. 

Let me add one more thing. If you are insistent on providing references with your proposal, let me suggest you include only 3 maybe 4. I have seen proposals where contractors have included a full page, sometimes 2 pages of references. You don't need that many to prove you have satisfied customers. Furthermore, by listing so many you run the risk of having at least one off that long list being mad at you the day your prospect calls. Just a thought. 

I hope you watched or listened to our tripodcast this week as we interviewed the new BSCAI president, Kevin Rohan of Cavalier Services in Fairfax, VA. If you haven't watched, you can see it by going to where you can also sign up to receive an e-mail each time we post one of these FREE tripodcasts. Kevin will be an excellent president for the association. 

Till next time.




Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Have you ever received a call from a customer that complains that you didn't correct the problem they complained about yesterday? If you haven't received such a call I am suggesting some day you will. 

You talk to the supervisor and their answer is I told them to take care of it.  What is wrong with this picture? First of all, if all the supervisor is going to do is tell them to take care of it, I question whether you need that supervisor. I remember several years ago I had a supervisor that did just what I discussed above. He would take the issues we had in his area each day and "tell them to correct them". It didn't take me too long to determine that I can pass messages myself and he was an excellent candidate for me to take to lunch and buy his to go.  Let's examine though, a couple of things that may have gone wrong when the customer has to call the second time on an issue.

First, what should the supervisor do beside "tell" them to take care of the problem? They should examine the area first to make sure they understand the issue. Then they should take the employee to the area and CONDUCT A TRAINING SESSION on the proper way to correct the issue so that it doesn't happen again. That brings me to another major issue---When was the last time you had a refresher training class for supervisors to make sure they are following the company approved system of cleaning? I suggest a training class for EVERYONE, including supervisors, at least two times yearly. Make it mandatory and pay them to attend. We all get into bad habits and many times we find that the supervisor may have the best intentions but is conducting a training class in the field on how to do it WRONG.

I might add this is my objection to companies having their training program for new employees be one of sending the new employee out to work with a long term employee or a supervisor so they can learn.  My concern is that the new employee is learning allright--learning how to do it WRONG. 

Second, make sure you are communicating to the employee in language and verbage they understand. In today's multicultural workforce we many times have different nationalities that have different meanings for words we take for granted in our vocabulary. I have given this illustration in an earlier blog posted in 2012 but it bears repeating. Do an exercise where you as your employees to give their meaning for words such as 





Each of us may have a different definition of these words and unless we agree on a common definition, we are positioned for trouble.

Recently I conducted a workshop for a client where we had employees from 4 different countries attending. I decided to use the exercise where I asked each of them to define what the words listed above and some others that I included, meant to them. We then posted them on the board for everyone to see and WOW, what a variety of definitions we got. I had made my point. When you tell someone to "take care of it" we need to be sure everyone understands EXACTLY what it is they are taking care of and how they are to take care of it.

If you haven't done so, let me suggest you try this exercise with your staff and see the different definitions of the words you get. It may surprise you and also help explain why some of the issues you have in the field aren't being taken care of in the manner which you would like. Sometimes we find it hard to understand, but most employees want to do a good job, but they need to receive training in a systematic, formal way--in the way that you want it done. That's why it is important to have the refresher course every 6 months so you can correct any flaws, introduce new procedures and products etc. Have your supervisors conduct some of the training so you can see if they are doing it the way you want it done and politely correct anything you see that is contrary to your way of doing it. Don't embarrass anyone, make it a fun learning session. 

We can avoid that second call on the same complaint if we make sure we have the systems and processes in place that communicates in a process and language that everyone understands. Try it, you'll like it. 

Next week on our pod cast we will be showing the interview I did recently with the new incoming president of BSCAI, Kevin Rohan. I invite you to look in on it at where you can also sign up to receive a notice each time a new pod cast is posted I think you will find it very interesting. Kevin is an outstanding BSC and has a great company and I believe he will be a super president for the association.

Till next time.   






Wednesday, January 9, 2013


The other day a friend of mine, knowing I liked unusual attention getting items, sent me what they dubbed as my survival kit for the new year. As I looked at it, I couldn't help but think that it is very appropriate for our business. Let me share what my survival kit contained. 

A toothpick--This is to remind us to pick out the good qualities in everyone, including yourself. When was the last time you complimented a co-worker or a cleaning technician on the great job they were doing. Our business is one where we so often spend our day taking care of or looking for the negatives that need attention. Wouldn't it be great if you spend time each day finding someone to tell them they are doing a great job? Most of them are doing a great job, you know. It just seems that we have a tendency to focus on what's wrong rather than what's right. As we start this new year, why not make a concerted effort to pick out the positives.

A rubber band--This is to remind us to always be flexible. Things may not always go exactly like we want them to, but in most cases we can work them out. Are you one of those people that is rigid in doing the procedures because "we have always done it that way". Sound familiar? Maybe the way you have always done it is the WRONG way. If you attended the ISSA/BSCAI trade show and convention last October in Chicago you learned that there are many new ways and new products to do things in 2013 and the "way we always did them" will leave your company way behind. By the way, why not make plans to attend this years show and convention in Las Vegas in November? I am sure that you will find even more products and procedures to help move your company forward in a positive way. Remember, be a rubber band and be flexible.

A band-aid---This is in the packet to remind us to heal hurt feelings, either our own or someone else's. Sometimes we get so focused on what we are trying to accomplish that we forget that we have involved others to assist us and they have feelings and we just proceed to step right on them and we become the big loser when this happens. GUILTY AS CHARGED. Being the type A personality that I am, one of the biggest problems I have always had is to concern myself with what others, who want to help me succeed, are thinking. I know where I am going and what I am doing, but forget to involve those around me. I think I have got better at it as the years have gone by, but I still have to be reminded we are a team and not a one man golfer. 

An eraser---This was sent to remind me that everyone makes mistakes. Making mistakes is part of gaining the experience we need to become better at what we do. How about yourself? Do you let others make mistakes along the way, as long as it doesn't jeopardize the organization so they can learn or do you micro manage every step they take. You will never build a quality, growing, dynamic organization if you don't let go of the reins and let people make some mistakes. The key is not to keep reminding them forever. Erase the mistakes and go on. Remember, there is no use doing well that which you should not be doing at all, and if you are intent on doing it all the only one being hurt is you. 

A mint--This was sent to remind me that I am worth a mint to my family and to my organization. A great reminder. Get yourself a bag of mints and keep them close by. A lot of people are depending on you, love you, and want to help you. Have a mint.

Bubble Gum--This was sent to remind me to stick with my game plan and that I can accomplish anything I want to accomplish. How about you? Do you have a game plan for your company? For your life? Keep some bubble gum handy on your desk and in your car and when things get a little tough, chew some gum and keep going. This may be a simple suggestion but sometimes the most simple suggestions can reap the biggest rewards. I bought some gum yesterday. 

A pencil---This was included so that I would write down on a daily basis everything I have been blessed with--family, health, friends, business, etc. There are days we think everything is in the dumper. But stop--grab that pencil and write down your blessings. I assure you they will outnumber the bad things. Get yourself a special pencil and mark it the blessings pencil and keep it in a place where you can easily see it so when you look at it you can be reminded--YOU ARE BLESSED.

A tea bag--This is for taking time each day to sit down, have a cup of tea, relax and start listing all the positive things going on in your life. List all of those blessings I mentioned in the pencil section above. As a matter of fact, why not try listing right now all of the positive things in your 
life even if you don't have a tea bag to make some hot tea. Try a soda or even a bottled water will do in a pinch. 

So...what do you think about the 2013 survival kit my friend sent me. I want to challenge you to make your own kit and use it this year. I'm betting it will make for a much better year, certainly a much better attitude. Remember, 









A reminder to tune in to our weekly FREE pod casts at for short, concise ideas to help you in your everyday life of managing your business. This is one of the blessings I have as I watch our listenership increase each week. 

Till next time.   

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Well, 2012 is history and we now are over the holiday season and it is back to managing and operating our business. So, will 2013 be a new, exciting and dynamic year for you or will it be a repeat of 2012? You may recall one the messages I convey each year is---are you a 20 year old company or are you a 1 year old company 19 times over. Some companies continue to do the sames things that haven't worked in the past over and over while others are always looking for exciting new innovations to move their companies forward. Which are you?

Let's look at each of the departments in your company and see if you moving forward or just rehashing last year.


What new and innovative ways have you created to bring in new business in 2013? 

1. Have you worked hard at finding new prospects in the market segments you do best?
2. Have you designed a sales campaign that will interest those suspects into becoming prospects?
3. What are the new points that you can present that make you different than your competitors?
4. Have you planned a systematic mailing or calling campaign and made the committment to follow through, no matter what?
5. What training are you providing yourself and anyone else responsible for calling on prospects that wow! the prospect when you call on them?
6. Have you researched additional market segments that may be a profitable growth opportunity for your company?


1. Do the people that interview your prospective employees have the attitude that employees are the most important asset you have and should be treated as such or do they treat them as a necessary evil and interruption for their day?
2. Is the place where applicants come to apply neat and clean and inviting so a prospective employee will WANT to work for you?
3. Do you have a thorough orientation and initial training program for new employees so when they leave the office to go to the work site they feel great about their job?  
4. Are you up to date on what you need to know about the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act?
5. Have your HR people been brought up to date on what they can and cannot ask in an interview in 2013?


1. Have you created a schedule to make sure ALL employees receive a refresher course in your companies way of cleaning?
2. Do you have a company way of cleaning?
3. Have you discussed with your suppliers any new supplies and equipment that could help you do your job faster and better?
4. Have you re-engineered each job to assure that the hours budgeted are correct and the right amount of supplies and equipment are in the facility to perform the job professionally?
5. Have you scheduled additional training for your supervisors?
6. Does everyone know what to do in case of an emergency?


1. Have you researched to assure your accounting software is the best for your company? 
2. Do you have software to assist you in effectively managing the numbers?
3. Have you established what reports are necessary to support Operations and Human
Resources and what schedule is needed to provide the reports for them to manage?
4. Are you making sure you are collecting your receivables promptly?
5. Is your billing going out promptly and not laying on someone's desk to send out at the end of the month?
6. Have you scheduled regular meetings with your banker to make sure the relationship is sound so when growth funds are needed they will be there without delay. 

It is impossible for me to list all of the items needed for you to get 2013 rolling on a positive note but my purpose for listing the items above was to get you to thinking. It is my desire that your company will be one that experiences an exciting new year and not JUST ANOTHER YEAR. 

What will it be for you? Keep me posted. 

Don't forget to sign up for our FREE weekly tripodcasts at 

Till next time.