Tuesday, June 30, 2015


My wife and I are avid golf enthusiasts. Neither of us can hit the ball straight but love to watch the professionals on the weekends battle it out for the prize money. 

This past weekend I watched two golfers go extra holes to see who would win the Travelers open in Connecticut. Oh, how I wish I could hit the ball the way they do. 

Now why am I talking about golf? Watching them play and then see the winner pocket over $1.1 million and the runner up get about $600,000 made me think about how slim the difference can be between winning and losing. 

It also made me wonder how many BSCs put everything they have into preparing a proposal for a prospect and then give everything they have when making the presentation. To take it even further, in our business we don't get anything for coming in second. We either get first or we get nothing. 

So let me ask you. Do you get all the facts when doing a walk through and then THOROUGHLY prepare a proposal that extols the virtues of the prospect doing business with your company? So many times we hurriedly throw a proposal together, send it in or leave it at the front desk hoping that we are the one they will choose.

Golfers have to study each shot and make the right club selection or they don't make the shot they need to. How about us? Shouldn't we study every account we are offering a proposal to and then select the right information to place in our proposal to convince the prospect we are the company they should select and that we can best do what it is they are asking to be done?

So many BSCs are willing to just give a "bid" for service rather than finding out the details of what are required for the potential customer and their facility and then preparing a proposal that fits those specific needs. 

Let me suggest that you review the information you have in your proposal and see if it really tells your story or is it just filler to make the proposal look big. Even though I had certain information that went into every proposal, we worked hard at presenting information that was germane to that particular prospect. We didn't always succeed but we were right much more than wrong. 

Take the time to prepare a first class proposal. Don't settle for just dropping it off and then hoping. Be proud of what you have to offer but be sure the prospect even knows what you have to offer. What are the benefits of hiring your company over a competitor? Determine what they are, hit them hard in your presentation and go for the sale. Remember, we don't get paid for being close. We don't even get a cigar.

On another note, this is blog number 150. That's a lot of messages we have sent over the past several years. We would be interested in hearing from you as to their significance and if we should continue doing them. Let us know. 

Also, as a reminder we post a FREE pod cast each week on our other site,www.kleancast.com. Hope you are watching those. No advertising, just free information.
Till next time.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Ever had a customer call and say they were visiting with the cleaning tech who relayed one or more of the following?

1. They just don't give me enough time to do this job.
2. My equipment is always broke and they don't fix it.
3. We don't do that, it's not in the specs.
4. They don't pay me enough money.
5. Will you call my boss and tell him I need more time?

Most BSCs I know have at one time or another had one of these calls and then have to deal with the employee on the issue.

Most companies have some sort of initial orientation or training program that gives the employee an overview of how to use the products and equipment needed to clean the facility but I find very few have a training program that addresses how to talk with the customer when approached about an issue or complaint they want corrected. 

Worse yet, if you have an employee that goes to the customer with one of the issues we addressed in items 1 through 5 above. This can leave the customer with the impression you are not managing you company efficiently and those are the impressions that get customers thinking that maybe they should begin searching for another vendor.

So, how about your company? Do you train your line staff on how to handle each of these issues? What are your employees trained to say when talking with a customer? 

Customers can be lost if your staff doesn't have the right training on how to talk with a customer. We spend countless dollars and time in securing a new account and all can be lost in a just a few minutes by an employee who doesn't know the procedure to follow. 

Let me suggest that included in your initial orientation you include a session on talking with the customer. What should or should not employees say to a customer? What do you want them to say? Have you trained them in this very important area of customer relations?

You see, while you or your sales department may have secured the account, your cleaning techs, more often than not, will have more interaction with the customer once the account is up and going. 

Let me suggest you take some time to design a training program for all employees on the things they should and should not say when encountering a customer. It may just save (or lose) an account for you. 

Till next time. MAKE IT A GREAT DAY.


Sunday, June 7, 2015


It should come as no secret that we have the most diverse workforce today than we have ever had. Think about the different generations,

--Baby Boomers
--X Generation
--Y Generation
--Z Generation

That group then is made up of Commanders, Stars, Diplomats, and Scholars. This complicates the issue even more.Then, combine that with the different cultures we have from other countries working for us everyday.

So, how are you training your staff? ARE YOU TRAINING YOUR STAFF?

It is a known fact that effective training will lead to,

--Reduced turnover
--Retention of existing customers
--Getting more new customers
--A safer working environment
--Lower labor costs
--Lower material costs
--Reduced equipment repair and replacement

If you are still training like in the "olden" days you may not be hitting the mark. Let's list some of the ways we can train in today's more modern world.

In house produced videos
Short training videos on youtube
MP3--3 minute instructional lessons
Ipad for short reviews and refresher courses
Send videos to cell phones for their review
Weekly pod casts
Timekeeping call in reminders
Inexpensive DVDs and CDs
Your company web site

Each of these is a topic all its own but the purpose here is to get you thinking of creative ways you can reach today's workforce in a  way that is effective. If I detail each one here you will never finish reading the blog.

You see, having everyone come into a meeting room for a boring lecture of do's and don'ts and thou shalt and thou shalt not will, more than likely, do a great job---of putting them to sleep. 

With today's technology it is easy and convenient to take the training to the field to review different procedures. Having problems with an employee cleaning a restroom to quality standards? Take a video to them in the field and do training on an ipad or smartphone. It works. Manufactures and distributors can help develop this process.

Before anyone gets the idea that I am suggesting that the orientation and training procedure of new employees need not be done so it can be done in the field, I want to squash that idea. The orientation and initial training BEFORE they go to the field is critical to their (and your) long term success.  

Training is an ongoing process. Doing it with the variety of tools available today helps improve the learning process of the multitude of generations and cultures you have in your workforce. 

In future blogs we will attempt to go into further detail on effective use of these technological methods. In the meantime, start developing a comprehensive way your company can utilize these tools.

Hope you are watching our weekly free pod casts at www.kleancast.com. They are non commercial, to the point, concise subjects that pertain to our industry. 

Till next time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


There are several aspects in delivering a sales proposal that need to be done correctly or you might find yourself coming in second. Here are some ideas to ponder.

1. Always ask for the appointment to deliver your proposal at the time you are doing the walk through. This commits the prospect but also forces you into getting to work on the proposal. If it is a sizable account you may want to remind the prospect that your presentation will be in power point and do they have a conference room to use for the presentation? This also lets them know this is a big deal and we don't just drop off proposals. (See point number 4)

2. Always ask for the names of all of the people who will be attending your presentation and then prepare a complete proposal for each one of them. If they are going to be attending your presentation, they are part of the decision making process and deserve all the courtesies you can provide.

3. Ask for one hour to make your presentation. If they won't give you that much time, ask for 45 minutes to present the Readers Digest version. Remind them of the importance the project has to both parties and enough time needs to be taken to thoroughly discuss the information.

4. Unless there is no alternative, don't just drop off the proposal. If they ask for that, mention that their business is extremely important to you and it really is important that you are with them to review the information in person. Internet quotes/proposals are getting more and more popular but I still subscribe to the theory that person to person presentations carry an enormous amount of weight in closing the sale. I, for one, want to observe the body language of the prospect as we are reviewing the proposal.

5. Try to sit next to the prospect. In that way you can control the turning of the pages during the presentation. If you know the prospect is only a price buyer, one tactic to use is to not put a price page in the proposal. After you review the specs and they agree to them, then pull out the pricing from your briefcase. Or, you can tell them after they have agreed to the specs that you estimate the price to be ? give or take 10%. How does that sound, Mr. or Mrs. prospect? That may get them to give you their budget and you can adjust from there. Just a thought. I used this approach many times---successfully. 

6. Emphasize the things that make you different. The prospect already knows you clean good or you wouldn't probably be there in the first place. What are the systems and processes that set you apart from your competition? If it's a unique training program, invite the prospect to attend a session. Chances are your competition won't do that, if they even have a training program. 
If it is a one of a kind quality control software, demonstrate it to the prospect and show them how it will benefit them.
And the list goes on, but be sure you do what you say you do. 

There you have 6 tips on delivering your sales proposal. Hope it helps. There are more but I am making a conscious effort to make these blogs shorter and more concise. Won't always succeed in shortness but am continuing to make the effort.

By the way, you will notice I used the word proposal, not bid, throughout this blog posting. If you are asking to bid on the work, then you are really telling the prospect that you are a commodity and can hopefully beat everybody elses price. If you are really wanting to be a viable vendor to the prospect, you will deliver a proposal and then during the presentation process, will show them the value of doing business with your company which in turn takes you out of the "bidding" process and into the realm of a legitimate provider of needed services for your prospect.

Till next time and MAKE IT A GREAT DAY.

Monday, June 1, 2015


Well, here we are in June and almost halfway through another calendar year. I thought the timing is right to remind everyone that this is a good time to look at some areas that are important to us in moving our companies forward. 

1. The time is now to look at your entire operation to see if you are where you want to be at the half way point in the year. That means doing a complete audit of your accounts to see which ones are profitable and which ones need more attention. I suggest you do a re-engineering of each of your accounts to analyze where you really are. We have a FREE form on our web site at www.consultantsincleaning,com that you can download under the worksheets icon and scroll down to the operations/human resources section and click on account re-engineering worksheet. We used it every six months and it helped us tremendously on bringing our accounts into focus. 

2. The time is now to bring all of your staff in for paid refresher training on how you want everyone to be cleaning etc. This is a valuable exercise to do. You will find some of your cleaning techs have got into some bad habits and this is your opportunity to correct those bad habits.

3. The time is now to go to our sister site, www.kleancast.com and sign up for our FREE weekly pod cast on different subjects that pertain to our industry. I realize the sign up form asks for your phone number but we promise not to call you and harass you on anything. Any phone call we have will be initiated by you the viewer only. Our first OFFICIAL kleancast is being posted on June 1 so we hope you will join us each week to see this concise, to the point, short message on a subject pertaining to our industry. The pod casts will be archived so you can watch older ones as you see fit. We have even archived some of the older tripodcast videos for you to review.

4. The time is now to begin thinking about attending the 50th anniversary BSCAI convention in Las Vegas, October 22-24. This convention is preceded by the largest trade show in the industry sponsored by ISSA. www.bscai.org and www.issa.com are the sites to gather more information on these two great learning events. Thousands of your peers, managing and owning all sizes of companies, will be attending to share information with you not to mention the 700+ booths that will be at the trade show providing you the opportunity to see what is new in our industry that can improve your operation.

Take advantage of these opportunities in Las Vegas to learn and ask questions and move your company and yourself forward in this great industry. The dollars invested will come back to you in many ways. I am still reaping the rewards of things I learned many years ago by attending these events. 

So there you have 4 things you can do at this midway point of 2015 that will enhance your company (and you). 

MAKE IT A GREAT WEEK. See you on Linkedin. 

Monday, May 18, 2015


This past week I had the opportunity? to fly 4 times on an airline that I had not patronized for a few years. Here was my experience.

When told at the car rental center that I could check my bags there for return flights so I wouldn't have to load them on the bus and struggle with them at the ticket counter I was excited. The car rental company told me the process so I took off excited about the service the airlines were providing.

When I got to the level where the bags were to be checked I was told by a customer service? agent that the counter was at the far end of the building so I proceeded to go there. I could not find the check in area so I went to the information? counter to ask what the procedure was. The person told me he didn't know that the service was available and if it was they probably wouldn't start that service until later in the day and he thought it was at the opposite end of the building. My question to him then was, "So you don't really provide information at the information counter". His reply was "not really" so I put my bags on the bus and went to the terminal ticket counter. 

It got me to thinking about how many times we as BSC's leave our customers without answers. Do we tell them, it's not in the specs or we don't do that?  Do we tell them when we have a new service to offer or do we go out with a great marketing campaign only to leave our existing customers not knowing we have a new service? 

Have we asked our customers if there is a service that we could bundle with the cleaning so they don't have so many checks to write? Even if the invoice amount is the same, we save them soft costs that reduces the number of checks they have to write or the multiple phone numbers they have to keep handy. By the way, you don't have to self perform the additional services, just have people lined up that can.

I should also mention that in the four flights I took with this airline last week, not one was on time, 2 of the flights were cancelled without notifying the passengers and the other two changed gates at least twice. I should mention in fairness that one of the flights was a weather delay that they could not control so they only really had 3 chances to make a positive impression and they didn't do it. The only way I knew the flights were cancelled or that a gate change had occurred was I checked the airport monitor. 

What about you? If you have promised your customer a special service and then have a glitch, do you let them know immediately or do they find out when they come to work the next day? Most customers are very tolerant and understanding if they are kept abreast of what is going on. 

I remember sitting in a client's office a couple of years ago and during our time together he told about 5 phone calls from customers asking him if he could handle something that was out of his normal scope of work. His answer? We can do it or we'll handle it for you. 

After he had answered these calls I asked if he did all these things and he said he did not but his customers knew he knew somebody who did. His philosophy was that he was in the customer satisfaction business and he wanted to satisfy his customers if at all possible. Plus, he said, if I can handle it my competitor doesn't have an open window to come in. 

So we started talking about customer retention and his was nearly 100% and had been for years. Think his philosophy was paying off? You bet it was. 

Back to my airline experience. One thing that was apparent. You can change the name of your company and merge with other companies but if you don't change your employees attitudes and your end service delivery you are still the same old company. 

How about doing a study of your company? How do your treat all of your customers? Are there services you could provide that would solidify your relationship?

Don't forget to sign up to receive our FREE weekly pod casts starting June 1. Go to www.kleancast.com and click on the sign me up icon and you'll get an email each time one is posted. We promise not to call you or harass you with sales material. It's just a pod cast that we hope will help you in your company. Most will be in the 5 minute range so you can watch and get on with your business. 

Starting in September we will be producing daily audio podcasts featuring the speakers at the upcoming BSCAI convention and ISSA trade show in Las Vegas in October. More details to follow as the time gets closer. 

Till next time and have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day holiday. 

Monday, May 11, 2015


Sometimes no matter how many electronic keys you hit nothing goes right. Our earlier blog on our launch just didn't want to cooperate so we are going to try it again. 

We have been telling you for a few weeks about a couple of new and exciting things we were ready to launch which we hope will help our industry. Well, the first one is about ready.

As of now our new companion web site www.kleancast.com is open and ready. This site will be in addition AND a companion to our existing site, www.consultantsincleaning.com.

Kleancast.com is where we will be posting our weekly pod casts that became so popular when they were known as tripodcasts. Each Monday morning, BEGINNING JUNE 1, 2015, we will post a short, concise, usually 5 or so minutes in length, unless I get carried away, video of a subject that is related to what we do every day. We try to cover all the areas of sales, human resources, operations and administration with an occasional one on just being a better leader and manager. 

We have posted several of the old tripodcasts for you to review now on the kleancast site so you can get a flavor of what we are talking about. Those of you that were subscribing to tripodcast will recognize some of them but they may be good for review. 

While investigating the new kleancast.com site, let me suggest you click on the sign me up icon and register to receive an email from us every time one is posted. We promise not to call you or harass you with emails to buy something, other than our regular constant contact emails that go out usually one time per month or so, and even then you can unsubscribe anytime you want.

We're excited to bring you this FREE weekly information. We enjoy doing it and hopefully it helps someone along the way. Again, it is free and we don't use your sign up as a way to push sales. We do hope, however, that when the time arises when you need educational and/or training information that we are one of the sources you consider. There, the sales pitch is out of the way. 

By the way, I will be at the BSCAI Executive Management Conference this week in Scottsdale, Arizona. If you have any subjects for the pod casts you would like covered in the future let me know and we'll try our best to post one on the subject. 

If you're not coming to the conference you can put your suggestions in the comments section of the sign me up icon. Remember, our new postings begin JUNE 1. 

So there you have announcement number 1. By the first of July we hope to be in a position to provide you with another major story coming out of our Consultants In Cleaning, LLC office. We are really growing and enjoying our work. 

Look forward to your input. Till next time.

Monday, May 4, 2015


Have you ever heard someone say "That's not my job" or have you ever said that when asked to perform a certain task? It's a phrase most of us can say we hear nearly every day---sometimes every hour.

So if it isn't our job, who's job is it? It is my belief that we have really only one mission in the business world and that is to SATISFY THE CUSTOMER and if you subscribe to that philosophy, every job is your job.

Providing great customer satisfaction is different than providing great customer service in that customer service is a concept that nearly every business embraces. We hear it every day---We give good customer service or we have a customer service department. Go to a grocery store or department store and what do you see---a customer service counter.

Customer satisfaction on the other hand, is a demonstration of customer service. Ever lost an account when you thought the building was clean or even cleaner than when you got the account in the first place? I know I did. 

What happened? Someone did not provide quality customer satisfaction. The building was clean but someone didn't do their job to make sure the customer was comfortable doing business with your company. It may have been a "simple" thing like not answering the phone in a pleasant way or not getting the monthly billing correct after several calls from the client to get it corrected. 

You see, it is everybody's job to provide customer satisfaction. When we answer the phone the customer is judging us. When we call on the customer in person we are being judged. When we invoice the customer incorrectly we are being judged. Everything we do provides an opportunity for us to provide quality customer satisfaction, not only the concept of customer service. 

Did you notice that nothing that I referred to above had anything to do with providing the on the job cleaning schedule? All of the issues discussed had to do with customer satisfaction at different levels within the company. 

I have an "Ollekism" that applies to what I have been talking about in this blog and that is, 


Think about that. When you are asked to do something to provide customer satisfaction and you tell someone that isn't your job you are really putting a dent in the company's opportunity to retain a customer. 

It may not be your job directly but the important thing to learn is where you can get the help or who can you direct someone to or take them to that will assist them. You don't have to know everything about everything but the customer wants you to help them solve a problem and saying that it isn't your job only compounds the problem and brings them one step closer to finding another vendor.  

It might be a good idea to have a group session to review the important part everyone plays in satisfying and retaining customers. While you are doing that, you might suggest the phrase "that's not my job" is no longer an acceptable phrase in the company.

Let me know your thoughts. 

Look for 2 major announcements coming from us in the next 30 days. We're excited. 

Till next time.   

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


In my previous blogs as well in my books and DVDs you have heard me discuss the importance of an ongoing recruiting program for prospective and current employees as well as a systematic method of tracking your applicants. Another important part of this 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 application. 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 we expect nothing less from anyone joining our team? You see, the prospective employee 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 term customers who also became a long term friend. Part of the customer satisfaction process was for me to do a monthly inspection tour with him. If things went well, it culminated with a lunch that I bought. 

I should mention 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, part of my deal was that I could not alert the crews as to which 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 equipment dirty or mop buckets standing full of water with a mop in them or a trash barrel still full of the last shifts trash, 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.

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

If you haven't already done so, take a tour of your facilities. What kind of a message do they send to prospective employees and customers, or current customers? 

Hope to see as many of you as possible in Scottsdale at the Executive Management Conference on May 14-16. Should be a great learning experience and I am really looking forward to it. 

Till next time. If you have any comments or suggestions just contact us  at 573.374.1111.

Watch for news on a brand new site, in addition to our regular one that we should have up and running within a month. We're excited about it and will give you more details as we get closer to launch. MAKE IT A GREAT DAY. 

Monday, April 13, 2015


As much as we hate to admit it, most of us will have a customer complaint at one time or another. If someone tells you they don't have complaints, take their temperature and get them to a hospital immediately.

While it seems simple as to how we should handle complaints, as I travel the country I see many ways NOT to handle complaints. Doing it wrong is the surest way to lose a customer so let's review my suggested way to handle that call that will inevitably come.

1. When you first hear of the complaint, arrange a meeting as soon as possible---within a half hour if at all possible.

2. DON'T MAKE EXCUSES.  Listen to the customer and acknowledge the complaint. You see, the customer doesn't care if you had 3 people out last night or if your vacuum doesn't work or if you were short of supplies. They hired YOU to solve these problems. If they have to handle the problems they don't need you. Making excuses is one of the ways some contractors try to talk their way out of a problem. Making excuses only makes you look worse so don't do it. In the eyes of the customer, if you are making excuses, you are not managing your organization and their account. You have just made it easier for your competitor to take the account. 

3. Take notes and get all the facts you can from the customer. Inspect the area with the customer if possible. Know EXACTLY what the complaint is. 

4. Tell the customer WHAT you are going to do and WHEN you are going to do it. Then---DO IT. 

5. Follow up with the customer the next day, IN PERSON, to make sure the customer is satisfied. Thank them for calling it to your attention. 

6. Always ask the customer if there is anything else you can do for them. 


Remember, each time you come in contact with a customer you have the opportunity to solidify your relationship and potentially get more future business. On the other hand, not handling a complaint in a satisfactory manner, or having to handle it again the next day because it wasn't done or done right, is also an opportunity to lose business and in today's business climate we should be doing everything we can to keep our customers. 

It may be necessary to conduct some training with your staff to be sure they know how to do the work correctly that the customer was complaining about. With today's technology you can conduct training quickly and efficiently with the staff right on the job. 

The saying from years ago still holds today---




I have had people challenge me on the saying above. My answer is always the same. You most always have 2 choices--you can follow the rules or cancel the customer, the choice is yours. It is that simple. 

I plan to be in Scottsdale Arizona next month for the BSCAI Executive Management Conference. I hope to see a large number of contractors there to learn and take home ideas that can grow their businesses profitably. If you want more information on the conference you can visit the BSCAI web site at www.bscai.org 

Till next time. Let me know your thoughts on this post. Happy April 15 tax day.    

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


One thing I have learned for sure in this industry is that if we aren't constantly learning and improving we are falling behind our competition.

A great learning opportunity will be available for BSC's on May 15 and 16 in Scottsdale, Arizona provided by BSCAI. The event is the 2015 Executive Management Conference to be held at the Firefly Resort. I have stayed at this property and it is excellent for holding a conference. Here are some of the topics that will be addressed,

Friday the 15th,

Work Smarter Reduce Your Stress, and Lead By Example

Execution: Get More Done in Less Time

Learning How To Use Your Mobile Equipment More Effectively

Marketing for Revenue Growth: How to Increase Sales with Simple, No-Cost Marketing Techniques

Mindset, Marketing and Action: A Workshop on Thinking Bigger and Selling More

Saturday the 16th,

The Oz Principle: Experiencing the Power of Personal Accountability

 Based on the above topics there will be a lot to digest and learn to take back to your company to grow your business.With one exception every contractor I have visited with has wanted to improve their sales and profitability. This may just be the opportunity to do that.

Several of these topics have piqued my interest and I am looking forward to hearing the professionals lead us through each session. This conference is designed for you to bring your entire management team and learn together so you can move your company forward in a profitable and stable manner. 

More details are available at www.bscai.org and clicking on the events icon and scrolling to the Executive Management Conference section.  I hope you will bring your team and learn. This is a great learning experience for anyone in the Building Service Contracting business. 

One of the things I have learned by attending these conferences in the past is the great learning that can take place by visiting with other BSC's from around the country. Many times you can pick up one thing from another contractor that will pay for your trip many times over. I know it has for me and I anticipate that will happen again this year in Scottsdale. By the way, Scottsdale's climate is great this time of year. Oh! and I almost forgot their will be a reception on Friday night so you can spend time with other professionals like yourself socializing and learning.

So let me encourage you to take advantage of this learning experience to help propel your company forward. It will be dollars and time well spent. 

Till next time., 

Monday, March 16, 2015


Well here we are nearing the end of the first quarter of 2015. Remember back in late 2014 when I was suggesting you establish quality, attainable goals for 2015? Well, are you one fourth of the way to the goals you established? Did you establish any 2015 goals? Here are some areas you may want to pay particular attention too,

1. SALES--Have you made the volume goals for the first quarter that you established? If not, maybe we should be checking things like,

   A. Are we making enough calls to secure enough proposals to close enough sales? What type of accounts are we calling on? Do they fit the profile of the type of customers we want? Do we know how many calls we have to make to secure one proposal and next do we know how many proposals we need to deliver in order to close a sale? What is our average sale amount so it follows how many of those do we have to have each month to make our goal? These are all numbers we should be keeping accurate track of because, after all, sales really boils down to a numbers game most of the time.

   B. Are we focusing on the profitable accounts that produce not only top line volume but bottom line profits or are you "bidding" anything that comes along and hope you are the "low bidder"? You may remember my Selling DVD talks about the difference between bidding and proposing. We are not a commodity so we shouldn't be "bidding" our service.

   C. What type of promotion have we done to our prospects to call attention to our ability to provide their service. Have you done focused mailing with follow up calls or are you waiting on the phone to ring? Be aggressive with the prospects you want to close. 

2. OPERATIONS--Have you reviewed your new employee orientation and initial training to make sure it is up to date? Are you doing any initial orientation and training? No? Start now to make it happen. Remember, sending a new recruit out to "learn the ropes" with an experienced employee is not the way to train. That experienced employee may just be very experienced at unsafe shortcuts and poor overall quality. Being with you as an employee a long time does not necessarily mean they know how to do it right.

Have you held a quarterly training meeting with all of your supervisors and project managers to remind them of your detailed policies and procedures for cleaning a building? Better yet, establish the date and schedule and then assign several supervisors or project managers to train on the various subjects so you can see what really is being done in the field. Don't embarrass them if they are wrong but coach them in the way you want it done. You'll probably learn more about you company with a meeting like this than you ever wanted to know but you need to know. 

What type of retraining has taken place with the regular cleaning techs? Had a refresher? 

How about retuning each of the accounts to see if you can reduce labor and or supplies and equipment in the buildings? Remember, 15 minutes a night in a 5 night a week account at $10 per hour loaded rate is $55. Ten accounts like that will pay your way to the convention in Las Vegas in October. (Not accounting for gambling losses).

3. ADMINISTRATION--One thing I have really noticed over the last several months is that many BSC's are letting their receivables slip. Might be a good time to review your billing and collection procedures. After all, ours is a payroll cash flow business. Just a reminder, your receivable collections in this industry should be around 22 days. To make that even clearer that means if you billed $20,000 this month, at the end of the month your receivables should be no more than about $14,500. How you doing on that program?  Hopefully everyone by now is billing at the beginning of the month for that month's service but if you aren't, get started now. We can help develop a schedule for you so the customer is not inundated with 2 bills at once while you are converting. 

We can go on and on with benchmarks to be checking on at this first 2015 first quarter review point but I hope you will check the things we have mentioned and add  a few of your own.  

THANKS to all of those that attended our Selling Contract Cleaning Services workshop in Orlando, March 6. We had a great group and you can review some of their comments on our home page at www.consultantsincleaning.com. 

Our next workshop on this subject is July 24 in St. Louis MO. and we just added Walnut Creek CA. on September 10. Over 4 months out and we have several registrations already for St. Louis. Looking forward to it. MAKE IT A GREAT DAY.   

Monday, February 23, 2015


This week we want to continue on with the subject of why your people quit. As we stated last week, in this session we want to discuss the 5 major reasons why your employees leave.

1. NOBODY TOLD ME WHAT TO DO--This is not to be confused with "nobody trained me on what to do". This goes deeper to the root of the problem. This says that when an employee was hired, they were told something like "Go to the ABC building and do janitorial work, you'll find everything you need in the closet". That's about the same as in an interview asking the applicant about their experience and having them tell you that they vacuum their home once a week and take the trash to the curb every Thursday so we all agree that must qualify them for the job.

What about your company? What do you say to your new recruit that you just invested hundreds of dollars to find, interview, and put on your payroll?

2. NOBODY EVER COMPLIMENTS ME--This reason should come as no surprise. People working in the service business usually hear about something when there is a problem. What about you? Is the only time you communicate with your staff is when there is a problem?

In the building service business, the usual procedure is for the supervisor or manager to come to work and ask the question "Any complaints today? What problems am I going to face tonight? Who isn't coming to work tonight and not even call in"? Sound familiar?

Let me ask you, "When was the last time you went to work and made a conscious effort to compliment your staff on a job well done? Today? Yesterday? Last week? Never? It's a jungle out there. True, but the compliment you give your employee today or tonight may be the only good thing they hear today. They may have spent the entire day fighting off creditors or arguing with a spouse or child. Try giving a compliment, you'll like it and so will they.

Why not create a file of your employee's birthdays and the anniversary date of their employment and make a conscious effort to call them or stop by their work station on those important dates and congratulate them. 

I know of managers and supervisors who will pick up pizza on Friday night and deliver it to a crew if they have gone a period of time without a complaint or no one was absent. Create your own reason for doing something like this. By the way, stay and enjoy the pizza with them. Amazing what it will do for strengthening your relationship with them and you may even learn something. 

 3.THERE DOESN'T APPEAR TO BE ANY ROOM FOR ADVANCEMENT--This reason is really interesting. At the time your employee is leaving your company because there is no place to advance, you are shouting to the world that you can't find any good supervisors or managers. Sound familiar?

In my job as a consultant to many companies, I get asked frequently if I know of any good managers, etc. anywhere in the country. Most of the time I answer "yes, in your own company". They really are there most of the time. We just need to locate them and give them the training and opportunity to succeed.

The current supervisors will generally tell you that they have no one to promote because if they give you one of their good people, that means they have to go to work and train a replacement. Bummer. They have their building running smooth and don't want to have to work harder so the answer is you have to dig deeper and become more familiar with the second level management. In my book "Finding, Training, and Keeping ,GREAT Service Employees 101", I go into detail how we developed that next level of supervision and created a stable of available site managers. Just as importantly, we had fun doing it and got to know a lot of good people. 

4. NOBODY TRAINED ME--This reason is a continuation of the first one where they said nobody told me what to do. When I talk training, I am not talking about where someone is hired and then sent out with a current employee to "learn the ropes". These may be the very ropes you want to get rid of. The current employee may only show them a series of WRONG ways of doing what it is you want done. My philosophy is ON THE JOB TRAINING ONLY IS A RECIPE FOR ON THE JOB FAILURE.

I know of many companies who justify on the job training by saying they want the new employee to see how it is really done out in the field. In many cases, that's the problem. It's being done WRONG out in the field and if you don't have a formal, written training program you only amplify the problem by sending out new employees to learn how to hang themselves with that rope you are needing to get rid of.

Create a training program, commit the resources to it and make it happen ASAP. You WILL see positive results. 

I know of and have worked with companies where we have focused their efforts on these 4 of the 5 issues and have seen turnover rates go from 325% to as low as 40%. Most settle in at about the 75% number. To a company such as a law or accounting firm that number will seem high, but if you are in the Building Service Contracting business, having a 40%-75% turnover rate is real progress in the grand scope of things.

5. BENEFITS/PAY--I fully understand that benefits and pay are very important issues and I have always tried to keep them in focus with the first four. The reality is this...many times service employment such as contract cleaning, food service, retail clerks and similar positions are considered entry level positions and benefits and pay will always be an issue until staff members are trained to a point where they can move up the ladder and make it a career. Career opportunities abound in the service sector but we need to tell our story and make the commitment to recruit and train a primary focus of our individual company's growth. The GREAT people are there, we have the responsibility to recruit, train, and keep them. 

In the meantime, I tried my best, not always successfully, to be at the top end of the pay scale for the positions I had in my company. We tried to be sure that if someone committed to our industry as their career, we would be at or near the top in pay and benefits. You always want to put yourself in the position of having the best trained and compensated people. Believe me, this will pay dividends in the long run. Remember, we are offering careers, not just jobs. 

Hopefully this information has been helpful to you. There is so much to say on this subject and I am very passionate about recruiting and training and keeping GREAT employees that I could go on writing forever but you probably don't want to go on reading forever, if you even made it this far. 

Next week we will be in Orlando conducting our Selling Contract Cleaning Services seminar/workshop. Still time to register at www.consultantsincleaning.com 

Till next time.    


Monday, February 16, 2015


I wish I had a dollar (or 2) for every time I have been told by a BSC that they don't have time to train their employees. The most common statement goes something like this, "Why should I train them, they'll leave in a week or two anyway?"  And my answer is, "You bet they will leave if that is the attitude you take toward the most valuable asset you have, YOUR EMPLOYEES".

There is no question there are a certain number of employees that will grab a paycheck and run or will take a job and not show up for work the first night or walk off the job after they get there. I suggest to you that more often than not, the reason these events occur is because of our failure to communicate properly the requirements of the job, the training needed, and the important part these play in providing customer satisfaction.

Let me spend some time here making a case for taking the time to hire properly, train properly, and communicate properly. The points we make will be extremely critical to the success (or failure) of your business and we'll discuss them in greater detail in the next blog session. 

Retail stores and manufacturing facilities have a tangible product as their inventory to sell to their customers. Our inventory is the employee we place in the customer's facility to clean it for them on a regular basis. I don't mean to compare a human being with that of physical inventory in a store but the analogy is important in order to illustrate the importance of the employees you have in your organization. 

When you walk into a grocery store you expect the inventory to be top quality. Don't your customers have a right to expect the same from you?

In the contract cleaning industry, the average turnover is approximately 325%(I was told recently that is is 350%) per year which means for the employer that has 100 employees they will make 425 W-2s at the end of the year. Pretty overwhelming, isn't it? What about your company? Take the time to check your turnover rate. I'll wait until you come back.

Okay, now that you are back, what is your turnover rate? For those of you considering starting in this business or have an emerging company, this area can cause you a lot of headaches and heartburn. 

Let's look at the economic impact high turnover has on our companies. Studies have shown the cost of turning over ONE employee in our industry costs about $525 computing all of the expenses involved with recruiting, orientation, and training, etc.

Now going back to the illustration of 425 W-2s needed to staff 100 employees at 325% turnover, the cost to your bottom line is $170,625 per year. That's a pretty big number no matter who you are. 

Okay, so you only have 10 employees and made 42 W-2s last year. It only cost $17,062. Getting the idea that turnover is expensive?

So what's the answer to reducing turnover and providing quality, stable "inventory" for our customers? Studies have revealed that the major reasons that our employees leave are,

1. Nobody told them what to do.

2. It appears that there is no room for advancement in the organization.

3. Nobody ever compliments them on a good job.

4. Nobody TRAINED them on the specifics of their job. 

5. No benefits.

Did you notice that pay is not at or near the top? Surprised?

In our next blog we will address each of these items and how we can solve the problem in order to reduce turnover and increase our bottom line AND customer satisfaction.

Later and MAKE IT A GREAT DAY.  Hope to see many of you at our Selling Contract Services workshop in Orlando March 6.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Recently I read a saying that went something like this---Many people don't move forward in their life or business because they are too busy looking backward. Pretty telling statement isn't it?

It reminded me of a BSC that I talked with a while back that told me that he didn't need anymore training and didn't need to go to conventions and workshops because he had a business that had been successful since the 60's and he saw no need to change where he was going now. If it was good enough for the forefathers it was good enough for him. 

So I asked the logical question of how much revenue was he doing and he told me. My next question was, "How does that compare with what you were doing 10 years ago". The answer was astounding. His reply was that he was actually doing about 25% less than 10 years ago but didn't I realize that the economy had been terrible these last several years? 

I couldn't resist the next question which was how did he explain that so many BSC's were thriving even though the economy had been less than great? And of course the reply was that his marketplace was different than any place else. Really? I wish I had a nickel for every time I have heard that statement. I hear it especially from contractors having a hard time finding and keeping employees. When I suggest some ideas that have proven to work for other BSCs in all parts of the country the answer usually goes something like "but my area is different".

You see, this BSC that I referred to above was stuck in "how we used to do it" and wasn't thinking of how it could be done differently, and better, moving forward. 

What about you? Are you busy looking back at where you have been and not looking forward to where you can be? We are in a wonderful business where we can go and find prospects and convince them that we should be their service provider. We aren't a retail business where we have to hope people will come in and buy. We hold our destiny in our own hands. 

We owe it to ourselves and our staff to create and execute a solid plan of moving our organizations forward profitably or we will be left behind. Most BSC's I know that have been the same size the last several years are not that way by design, they just haven't developed a sound plan for moving forward and then sticking to the plan. Employees will leave an organization that they feel is not progressive in wanting to be the leader in their market. 

I remember years ago when I left my employer and started my own company, within a few months nearly all my former employees were applying for a position with us. I asked one gentlemen in particular who had been an outstanding building site supervisor for me in my previous employment why he wanted to leave my old company and join us as a new, young company. His answer was really telling. He said "Richard, even a rat deserts a sinking ship and the old company is sinking". That is not to imply he was a rat but the statement was very telling about a company not wanting to move forward. I hired him and he stayed with me 20 years before he retired. 

Then we have the "yeah buts". These are the people that whenever you suggest trying a new process or product etc. will say, "yeah but, we tried that a few years ago and it didn't work". The yeah buts are all around us. They are still looking backward as a company tries to move forward.  I have encountered a countless number of people in this category, even some of my clients that have to be indoctrinated into the 21st century of marketing, human resources, client relations, and training techniques needed to deal with the different cultural and generational differences in the work force that we employ. 

It's fun to be nostalgic on occasion and talk about when we used the old pagers, Pantaloon paste wax, paper time sheets and the like but that is all it should be--a fun nostalgic conversation, not a longing for going backwards. 

What about you? Are your 2015 goals firmly in place? Do you have a systematic program for bringing on new business and KEEPING existing business? What about your training program? Still just showing a video and sending the new recruit out to work with an "old hand" to "learn the ropes". Many times the old ropes they are learning are the wrong ropes and can eventually hang us and lose customers.

I am completing my 52nd year in this exciting business and never have I been more enthusiastic about what the future holds for us in this industry. How about you? Are you still concentrating on looking back to where you were instead of looking forward to the great opportunities that lie ahead. I certainly hope you are looking forward. The life of your business may just depend on which way you are looking. Remember the old saying--If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there or as the great American Philosopher, the former great New York Yankee catcher said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it". Which road are you on?

Till next time. Hope to see many of you in Orlando March 6 at our Selling Contract Cleaning Services one day workshop. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015


It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that the largest expense (investment) a BSC has is labor. Ever wonder if there is any wasted time in your organization? Without DAILY control of our labor expenses we can sink into a loss on the bottom line very rapidly. 

I remember a few years ago I had a client that was constantly complaining about "little" things we weren't doing in her building. I talked and trained at length with my 4 person crew and to no avail. They kept telling me they just didn't have enough time to do all that was required. They said if they could just have 15 minutes more per person per day I would not have to worry about complaints in the building any more.

I gave in and asked the client if I could talk with her about an increase in our monthly fee. She said it's 5 o'clock and I am ready to leave but I'll wait on you to discuss the issue. I hurried to her office and sweat blood and maybe some tears to convince her that 1 additional hour per night in her building would solve the problem. 

I left her office at 6:20 and decided to go to the basement where there was a break area that I could get a soft drink to congratulate myself on a sales job well done. 

As I walked into the break room, lo and behold ALL FOUR of my technicians were sitting and visiting. I counted to 10 and then reminded them I had worked hard to secure the extra time they requested and here, 20 minutes past starting time they had not yet begun to work. Let's see, 20 minutes times 4 is 80 minutes and they had just wasted nearly an hour and a half of precious time. I kept my composure and explained the importance of going to work on time. I wanted to explode but I would have cleaned the building myself that night and I didn't want to. I then left the building and started making plans to replace the crew, which I did. One of my old sayings--I took them to lunch and bought theirs to go.

The point here is a few minutes wasted each night on the job can be the difference between customer satisfaction and customer lost. How about you, checked up on your accounts lately?

I have a chart that shows what only 5 minutes lost each day can cost a company. I reviewed it at least once each year with our staff, not to brow beat them but to remind them that the time spent or lost can be the difference between a customer kept or lost. You are welcome to download this free chart from our web site at www.consultantsincleaning.com then click on the worksheets icon and scroll down to the "It's only 5 minutes" title and run it off. Maybe it can be helpful to you as well.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


As a leader of your company, whether you like it or not, your employees look to you to provide leadership in the direction the company is to go. What type of leadership are you providing? It's very important you know. The people are looking to YOU to give them direction.

For example, what is the dress code in your company? Do you allow jeans to be worn at all times or do you require a suit and tie for men and business attire for women? If you require business attire or a suit and tie, try wearing jeans to work for a couple of days. It won't take long and everyone is wearing jeans because you have set the standard. They are watching you every minute of the day and that is not a bad thing if you are setting a good example.

Let's talk further on this discussion on leadership. As we go through some ideas, think about your organization and how it is or isn't performing and if you need changes to occur. 

First, the definition of leadership from the dictionary--The art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal. 

There's that word "goal". Have you established them for your company? How about yourself? That's a subject for another blog.    

I think it is important that we not confuse leadership with managing. You see, there is a major difference and a successful company will make sure they have both. I think the best definition I ever heard or read on the subject is attributed to former first lady Rosyln Carter who said, "Managers take people where they want to go , leaders take them where they NEED to go". 

Think about that. As a leader of your company you are charged with the responsibility of taking you people in the direction that is needed to accomplish the goals you have established for the organization. This is not always comfortable. You see, it is more fun and much easier to try and please everyone, isn't it? You'll probably have a great time but you won't accomplish your objectives. 

Another way I have heard this managing vs. leadership dilemma explained is that managers do things right while leaders do the right things. As I stated earlier, your company needs both and you need to find those people who can do the things right once you have determined
what the right things are your company should be doing. 

Most entrepreneurs are great idea people and know what has to be done but don't ask them to do the details. They will mess up the details almost every time. They do the right things but need key people to be sure that they are done right. Guilty as charged. 

It took quite a staff to keep up with the ideas I created but they hung in there with me. It must have worked, I had many staff people who were with me 15-25 years. I guess they wanted to see what challenge I would present next.

So how about it, do you have leaders AND managers in your company that can move you forward. Which one are you? If so, who are the others in your company that can compliment you? Do an assessment, then TAKE ACTION. 

 On another subject, I hope you will plan to join us in Orlando, FL. March 6 as we conduct a jam packed one day workshop on SELLING CONTRACT CLEANING SERVICES. You can check out all the details at www.consultantsincleaning.com The information is right on the home page with details of our day. See you there?

Till next time. 

Monday, January 12, 2015


Usually when we think of the silent majority we are thinking in terms of voters and politics. We hear so much about it every political season which now seems to go on forever. 

But what I want to talk about today is a different silent majority---THE CUSTOMER. 

Recently I saw a sign posted in a business that, while it was one I had seen before, had a profound effect on me when I read it again. It said






Now I am sure some of you are saying something like, I have heard that one before or so what else is new. You may have heard it but have you listened. Lost any customers lately? 

One thing I have noticed in the BSC industry that I have spent my lifetime in, is that most of us are really good at explaining away a lost customer. We say something like, 

They went out for bid and I got underbid. 
The  new contractor can't do it for that, I'll get it back.
They we too hard to please, I'm glad they are gone.
They are down sizing and got a cheaper price. Had they contacted me I could have given them a better price. 

But maybe, just maybe, they were one of the 93% that didn't complain and just got tired of poor work or poor (or no) customer relations on your part. Just as bad, or worse, are they one of the 13% that will tell 20 others how bad their relationship with you was? Just a thought.

Let me suggest in this new year that we make a concerted effort to make sure we have a positive relationship with all of our customers so in the unlikely event there is a complaint about service performance we are aware and handling it immediately. I for one, want to keep all customers and want a positive relationship with them. Set yourself a goal that you or someone in your organization is intimately involved with every customer you have. The investment in obtaining new accounts is SO much more expensive than retaining the ones we have that we need to focus on keeping what we have. Agree?

Sometimes we have small volume customers and I have heard the comment that the customer is so small I just can't spend a lot of time on them. My response is that if a customer is large enough to sell too, it is large enough to give your full attention too. If you don't want small accounts, don't sell them, it's as simple as that. Our company had a limit as to how small an account we would pursue and in the event we got a call from a prospect that didn't fit the profile we would say to them we would rather turn them down than let them down and then go on to explain what we meant. 

The average lost business in our industry hovers around 17% per year meaning a BSC has to add 25% new business just to net an 8% increase. I know, I know, you do better than that and I congratulate you, but the point is the more we keep the better the bottom line. 

Are you ready? Let's set a record for retaining customers in 2015. 

Till next time.