Monday, February 24, 2014


Recently I had the opportunity to listen to a man give a brief history of the leaning tower of Pisa in Italy. He spoke of how it was built on soft sand and actually started leaning as it was being built a thousand years ago but the builders kept right on building. Then as the years went by, engineers tried to pour concrete on the side not leaning in an effort to help it tilt back but that didn't work. Seveal other attempts were made but in this 21st century the leaning tower of Pisa is still leaning.

I don't know if all of the history the gentlemen gave us is actually accurate but I couldn't help but relate the issue to our industry. How many of us just started trying to build our business without a real plan of attack and if it wasn't working, we just kept shoveling and shoveling hoping that by doing the same things over and over again we would get different results?

Many times the companies that are really small after many years of operation aren't that way because they want to be. Oh I know, some people want to be small and I commend them for that and wish them all continued success. But most companies start up wanting to grow into something larger but the problem is many don't take the time to build their company on solid ground. For instance,

1. Has a solid sales plan been established? Do you know EXACTLY the segments of business you want in your portfolio and how to secure those accounts. What is the plan if you hit a bump in the road?

2. Are you building a SOLID Human Resource and Operations staff? Are you recruiting the kind of people you need and want for long term success or are you just hiring to fill slots as they occur and hope the people you hire will make it to their first paycheck?

3. Along with item 2 above, have you developed a CONSISTENT orientation and training program for your staff and I don't just mean the cleaning staff?  Do you have a path for success for the mid level management staff so they continue to grow and develop as you grow and develop your business?

4. How about your admnistrative system? Do you have an accounting system that will tell you what is really happening with the numbers on a day to day basis or do you put everything in a shoe box and take it to your brother-in-law at the end of the month to try and sort everything out when he gets time? And if he doesn't have time this month?

Let me encourage you to do a checkup TODAY of all phases of your business. Is your sales program working the way it should or is there just as much going out the back door as there is coming in the front door? Or worse yet, is more going out the back door than is coming in the front door? If so, what are we going to do about it. Hiring another sales person is not the answer. I remember talking recently with the branch manager of a large national company who told me his branch had put on over $2 million dollars in new business the previous year but had lost over $2 million in business. When I asked him what he was doing to correct the situation he said he had just hired a new sales person to bring in more business. That was not the answer. There has to be a reason he is losing $2 million in business every year. I am guessing he will probably lose $3 million in business this year as his new sales person brings on a million in new business.

Is your training program up to date and being utilized as it should be? Have you embraced electronic media to assist you in enhancing your training? Are you sending your mid level staff to management classes to help them improve?

Do you know EXACTLY what your financial status is on a daily basis? Are your receivables current? Are you invoicing on a timely basis? Are you checking your labor every day for overages and underages and making needed corrections?

Managing a business today to keep it from leaning is not easy. It can be very rewarding but not necessarily easy. It is critical to make sure all the moving parts are moving in harmony with each other and in the right direction. If one department begins to lean too far it can affect the entire organization.

So, let me ask you. Is your business leaning today---in the wrong direction? If so, take steps NOW before it sinks into the soft sand being spread at your feet by your competitiors. I wish you the very best in your building process. There is no better time than TODAY.

Till next time.

Monday, February 17, 2014


You no doubt have heard many times the old saying that "proper practice prevents poor performance" or affectionately referred to as the 5 p's. So what do I mean, practice---practice what?

I am convinced after listening to some BSC's make presentations to large prospective clients that some of them did not practice their presentation prior to delivering their proposal. Here they are making what may be their largest presentation ever and they appear unprepared for the event.

Let's think for a moment about the sporting world. Here in the United States we just recently had the football super bowl played between Seattle and Denver. Imagine the hours and hours of preparation that took place by each team to play that game. Think of all the time they prepared for each game during the season so they could get to the super bowl.

At the time I am writing this the Olympics are being conducted in Russia. If you have watched any of it you know that the athletes have practiced and practiced and then when they finished they practiced some more. All for the opportunity to compete and try to show they are the BEST. Think of all the hours of practice that have taken place and some of the events only last a few minutes. That is dedication.

As a BSC, you spend considerable time, dollars and energy advertising for clients, convincing that prospect to let you present a proposal and then------. Do you rehearse the night before a proposal presentation? I think we should go into each presentation with some of the following information at hand,

1. How long do we think our presentation will take. Have we asked for the time we really need to make a thorough presentation and if we didn't get all the time we wanted, have we adjusted our presentation so that all the really key points are covered in the time we are given?

2. Have we taken the time to make a list of objections we might expect and how we plan to answer them like,

  a. Tell us about the last 3 accounts you have lost.
  b. We would like to interview the supervisor you have planned for this account.
  c. What is your turnover rate?
  d. You guys are all alike, you start out great and then in 6 months its bad again.
  e. Let us think it over.
  f. You're too small or you're to big.
  g. We want to visit a training class that you do for your people.
  h. Your price is too high.
   i. You haven't been in business long enough.
   j. We want to visit some of your current client's sites.
   k. Others?


3. Have you prepared information for everyone in the room so they can follow you during your presentation?

4. If you have co-presentors, i.e..a vendor, is everyone in synch as to what to say and how long they have to say it?

5. What are the key points to cover if time is all of a sudden cut short? (see 1 above).

6. Follow up date?

I know there are more, but the point I am trying to make is so many of us become complacent in our business. We make a few presentations and maybe even get a hot streak where we close several in a row and then we begin to think we have the technique down pat. We stop practicing and doing the things that made us successful. That is why I usually ask the contractor who says they have been in business 15 years or so if they have really been in business 15 years or is it really 1 year 14 times over? Are you doing the same thing today you were doing 15 years ago? Are you saying the same thing in your sales presentation that you were 15 years ago (or even 6 months ago) and are wondering why you're not closing enough business?

Are you practicing your delivery? Are you updating it as you improve your organization? Are you improving your organization? It's okay to stand in front of a mirror and deliver your presentation or to bore you family with it. You want a real honest opinion? Ask your family to listen to your presentation.

So that is what I mean by the 5 p's. We live in a very competitive world. Every day a new company starts up that wants some or all of your business. Are you prepared to fend them off and continue to build your business by adding new profitable accounts to your portfolio? Why not review the presentation you plan to make next and practice so you are armed and ready to go and WIN. Then practice some more and then some more. Proper practice will prevent poor performance and more often than not will yield the rewards you seek.

By the way, this is blog number 100. We hope some or all of the 100 Richard's writings have been informative and helpful. As always, we welcome your comments.

Till next time.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


This month all of the world is focused on the Olympics taking place in Russia. Thousands of athletes have been training for years for the chance to compete and represent their country and hopefully take home a medal signifying they are the best at the sport they have trained so hard to compete in. One slip up and they can lose their chance at that coveted medal.

As I thought about it, I couldn't help but think that we are in our own olympics every day of the year. We compete in the business world and work at securing profitable accounts and then maintaining those accounts. Our medal is keeping satisfied customers, making a profit and building a business we can be proud of. No, they don't play the national anthem everytime we secure an account that our competitor had but they don't have too, we know we won.

To take it a step further, I wonder how many of us really keep training to be the best at our profession. Do we take advantage of educational opportunities that arise to help us increase our professionalism? Do we attend that webinar on that new communication tool? How about the webinar that helps us brush up on our selling skills? How about the webinar put on by a manufacturer introducing a new floor finish or piece of equipment that will reduce labor?

Let's take it a step further. Are we doing the best job we can at training our cleaning techs and supervisors so they can become better professionals at what they do which in turn makes our entire organization more professional? Do you do follow up training with them so they can continue to enhance their professional status?

The olympics you and I compete in every day are a bit different than the ones going on in Russia. You see, we only get one medal---GOLD. We either get the gold or we get no medal. There are no second or third place medals in the competitive business environment we compete in. We either secure the account or we don't. When a prospect calls and says they really liked your proposal and you came in second, you may as well have come in 50th.

Having said that, it becomes even more critical that we do and continue to do the training necessary to WIN at what we do. We have to be sharp every morning when we get up to greet the world and compete in our olympics. There are no silver or bronze medals---only GOLD.

Now is a great time to do a company audit to see if we are performing at the highest level possible. Is our sales proposal a winner? Do we have a winning employee orientation, training and re-training program so we stay at the top? Are we taking advantage of all of the available training programs, workshops and seminars for ourselves so we can lead our organization and have it become the LEADER and remain the leader in our market area. If you consider yourself the leader now, what do you need to do to keep that leader status?

So let's all enjoy the olympics as they play out this month, BUT, be sure you do the things necessary to assure your company is the gold medal winner at what you do. There is no better time than right now to make the changes needed.

As always, we welcome your comments. Don't forget our weekly pod cast at

Till next time.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I just finished writing an article for SERVICES magazine with the theme being how to set up an effective training area even if you are crowded for space. It is scheduled for the March/April issue I believe.

I didn't mention that so you would read the article (but I certainly hope you will) but to touch on the some of the alarming facts I found doing research for the article. Here were some of the statistics I found as published by various research firms,

1. Among workers under the age of 25, 40% would love to quit their job.

2. It is anticipated that 22% of all workers will try to quit their job this year.

3. A large number of corporations are starting to recruit part time help for positions that evolve into permanent part time positions. I am sure if you have followed the news regarding the Affordable Health Care Act you have heard about how many employers are cutting hours of existing employees to below 30 per week. That could also have some bearing on the numbers in item 1 and 2 above. Whether it does or doesn't, the fact remains that as large corporations recruit part time help and train those workers, where does that leave a Building Service Contractor also trying to hire that part time worker? HERE IS A QUESTION,


That's a question we should probably have had an answer for a long time ago and maybe you do, but it could be even more important to you as more "players" enter the market for the same work force we recruit.

4. More and more large corporations are holding career days or participating in career days at HIGH SCHOOLS. They are trying to interest them at an earlier age to start thinking about what they plan to do. I am all for that and am happy to see business more involved in the school system. The question---WHAT ARE WE DOING AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL TO ENCOURAGE STUDENTS TO CONSIDER CAREERS IN OUR INDUSTRY?

So...are you prepared to meet the challenges that may face you regarding labor in 2014? If so, congratulations. If not, you might want to give some thought to how your company will compete.What advantages does your company offer? What should you be doing that you presently don't do?

It could be a tough year for those companies that do "business as usual". Then again, who knows, the surveyers and prodnosticators may be all wrong. I am betting that at least some of what they say will happen. And if we prepare and it doesn't happen we have just put ourselves in a very nice competitive position.

You may have noticed the surveys said the corporations plan to hire AND TRAIN part time workers. Maybe one of the places we should start is to make sure we have a sound, consistent, effective training program in place. You may recall one of the major reasons we lose our employees is that they don't receive adequate training.

This whole work force subject of part time vs. full time will receive a lot of attention in the months and years to come. Some will be true, some speculation, but all of it can help us become better at our business. Remember, successful business people are those that not only sit up and take notice, but get up and take action. Will you?

As always I welcome your comments and questions on my writiings. I hope your year is not a tough year but one in which you prosper.

Don't forget to listen to our weekly pod cast at This week we talked about garbage.

Till next time.