The first truth likely should be that there are far more than five truths that cleaning business owners must embrace in order to be successful, but let’s focus on a few that are not discussed nearly often enough.
Change Is Inevitable
It may seem obvious on its surface, but everything is constantly changing and constantly adapting to changes is easily one of the biggest challenges faced by a cleaning business owner. There are the easy to see changes such as costs of supplies going up or staff turnover. There are also less perceptible changes such as what the cleaning industry is experiencing in 2021 with labor shortages. Do we eventually navigate the challenges and find ways to continue to grow our staffs so we can grow our businesses? Or does the industry shift more toward a “luxury” model where our average client is more high-end and we can maximize profitability with a more limited, yet higher paid, staff? Is it a short-term or long-term change? The jury is still out.
The most visible example of how change impacts a cleaning business is something we witness almost daily in the our coaching programs. Our coaching clients are almost immediately asked to look inward and examine how their approach to their business can improve based on our proven processes for growing a cleaning business. Some changes may be procedural. Other changes may be a matter of shifting a mentality. One truth we see over and over is that the business owners who embrace change see their lives and their businesses improve. Those who find it difficult to embrace a new – or even modified – approach rarely realize true growth.
You Cannot Do It Alone
When you first start your cleaning business, it is common that you basically do everything. You buy supplies, take customer phone calls, do the cleaning. While you likely are over-worked, it is simpler to manage everything because you have your finger on the pulse of every aspect of your business. But what happens when you run out of hours in any given day? It doesn’t take a start-up long to hit a ceiling in terms of growth. You just simply cannot do more. Your cleaning business is stagnant UNTIL YOU GET HELP. In business lingo, we’re talking about scalability. Scalability requires that you learn to delegate and learn to manage. The transition from doing everything to managing everything is a challenge for many cleaning business owners, but it is absolutely critical for continuing to grow your business.
The Bigger You Get, The Harder It Is To Maintain Profitability
Profitability and gross revenue do not always grow in parallel. As previously discussed, growth requires that you delegate. To delegate, you must hire. The more you hire, the larger your payroll gets. Initially, your staff will handle things directly related to revenue because they will be the ones actually delivering your services. However, the more you grow the more you’ll find you need to hire office staff and eventually a management team. Additionally, the bigger you get, the more inefficiencies in your systems will become apparent and the more they will impact your profitability.
Our coaching clients hear this mantra all of the time, but as you grow it becomes imperative that you KNOW YOUR NUMBERS. How much does it cost to get a new client (marketing ROI)? What does it cost you per hour to deliver services? How do soft costs and your overhead affect profitability? It’s great to become a Mop-Free Millionaire on your way to your first $100,000 month, but are you profitable enough to truly enjoy hitting such a milestone?
Our signature coaching program, Cleaning Business Fundamentals, delves far deeper into analyzing and improving your processes and profit potential than we could possibly cover in this post, but keeping an eye on your numbers including cashflow and profit is a great start.
Your Reputation Matters
In the Internet age, your reputation is readily measured and visible. It has never been so easy for people to publicly share their opinions about you and your business. And these opinions affect future prospects and the likelihood that they will do business with you. While you can’t control whether someone posts a complaint online, you can take steps to control your overall online reputation. Make sure you claim your profiles or listings on top online review sites (ie – Yelp, Google, Facebook, Nextdoor, etc.) and make it a habit of asking every client for feedback.
Your online reputation is quite literally a numbers game and you have to take steps to juice the numbers. Think of it like this…
If you stop by your favorite fast food joint for a quick lunch and the service and food is precisely the same as what you have come to expect time after time, do you take the time to speak to the manager and share your satisfaction? What is something about your experience is subpar or even outright bad? Happy customers are far less likely to take the time to share their satisfaction. Unhappy customers tend to scream their discontent from the not only the highest mountain, but every mountain.
If you do enough business, it is inevitable that you will experience a bad review. People have bad days, whether it is a client, a staff member or even you, the owner. To insulate your business from the rare negative review, you must have a history of positive reviews so that the negative proves to be the exception rather than the norm.
Equally important to your reputation is how you react and respond to a negative review. Do not get defensive or personal. Simply share that you are sorry the client had an experience antithetical to your goals of providing exceptional service and invite the client to reach out to you to see if you can resolve any outstanding issues.
Remember, “the customer is always right”…in their own mind. Which bring us to our final truth:
Gaps Between Perception and Reality Can Have a Huge Impact on Your Business
In business as in life, our perception of something often has a bigger impact on things than the reality because it affects how we approach and handle various situations.
The best example that is all too common in 2021 is when we hear: “We can’t hire enough people because too many are too lazy to work.” This is a convenient excuse, but is it based in reality or is it simply a perception? From big brained think-tanks and our lawmakers all the way down to the person on the street, do we even know the reality of what is causing labor shortages across a huge swath of industries in this country? One thing is for certain, the excuse is not going to lead to improved hiring.
Perhaps you perceive yourself as a generous and nurturing boss, yet you continue to have low morale and high turnover. The gap between your perception and the reality of the situation hinders your ability to recognize and address any underlying issues.
What if you hear too often that your prices are too high, but you know for a fact that you are competitive? Perception is adversely affecting you despite reality. It is time to improve your sales processes and the descriptions of your services on your website and in email. Time to do a better job of establishing the value of what you do to combat the perception that your services are expensive.
Narrowing the gaps between perception and reality can help you to become more efficient, avoid pitfalls and remain nimble as the landscape continues to change.
Embrace change, unleash your growth potential through effective delegation and keep tabs on everything from profitability to your reputation. Cut through the fog that can envelop you amidst the daily chaos of operating your cleaning business and learn to create and manage an efficient, growing organization on which you are proud to stake your future.
Not sure where to begin? Check out Cleaning Business Fundamentals, the signature business coaching program developed exclusively for residential cleaning business owners.