- THE MAGAZINE
You might have heard the quote, “Those who can’t do, teach.”
That’s hardly the case in the cleaning and restoration industry. Not only do many of the industry’s training programs offer information that’s relevant and helpful to growing, marketing and boosting profits for any business that takes the time and effort to implement what they learned, but such programs are also taught by those that have walked the walk.
“In order to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.”
Now that’s a more accurate description of the instructors and training programs in this industry.
While it was impossible to profile each and all of the training programs, here’s an overview of four of the biggest in the industry, told from the perspectives of the people who have attended the courses and seen their businesses benefit accordingly:
Strategies for Success
Chaotic. No policies. Running to put out one fire after another.
That’s how Mike Lamunyon of Lamunyon Cleaning & Restoration (Hutchinson, KS) described his business prior to taking Jon-Don’s Strategies for Success training program in 1999.
Lamunyon’s business began in 1973 as a window cleaning business, but soon evolved into carpet and hard floor cleaning. Today, it also performs fire and water damage restoration, mold remediation and HVAC cleaning. But it was managing a business that Lamunyon was really struggling with. He had no written policies, no company manual and, arguably, no idea how to properly manage a business.
Enter Strategies for Success (SFS), the five-day training program led by industry expert Steve Toburen.
“We needed to put on our customers’ eyeglasses and see things through their eyes, particularly as they experience the emotional trauma of a dreaded fire or water loss in their home,” Lamunyon says. “We had to initiate a procedure and policy handbook for our employees.”
Lamunyon returned from SFS with a policy handbook, which he says was immediately personalized and implemented. Company employees were then sent to the one-day Valued-Added Service for Technicians (VAST) class, which highlights many of the SFS principles.
Today, Lamunyon Cleaning & Restoration has 20 employees and has sales nearing $2 million per year. The office staff is well-trained and organized to meet the needs of its customers.
“I have personally attended (SFS) three times… and have learned something new each time,” he says. “I have also sent most of our staff, probably upwards of 12 to 15 different people over the years.”
Planning to Win
Planning to Win is a marketing-specific program for restoration professionals that instructs how best to cater to customers and increase dominance in their markets.
To get an idea of how Planning to Win can work for you, we spoke with David Runkle of ASJ Emergency Restoration & Cleaning (Hanover, PA), who entered the industry by fluke nearly a decade ago. He attended the program in March 2012 and has been reaping the benefits ever since.
“This is what they teach at Planning to Win – nobody cares about your company,” Runkle says. “You don’t care about my company, you care about you. Whatever your job is, that’s what you care about. So, for me to be a go-to guy for you, I have to be a valuable source for you.”
Runkle says he learned how to best market to insurance agents as well as to pinpoint his market to others that can help generate business (i.e. plumbers, adjusters, property managers, etc.).
“If you’re an insurance agent, you don’t care that I have the best equipment and the best, cleanest cut crew and the state-of-the-art anything – you could care less,” he says. “That should be the standard. What Planning to Win did is say, ‘Don’t focus on that stuff, that’s what you’re supposed to do. How about you focus on what’s important to them – more sales, retaining their customers, keeping their claims ratio lower.’ (Planning to Win) changed the focus on what everybody else does.”
After attending the program, Runkle says he was able to make an immediate connection and get all the leads from the first client he spoke with.
It’s also worth mentioning that while we were speaking with Runkle about his Planning to Win experience, the emergency phone line at ASJ Emergency Restoration & Cleaning went off, signaling a job coming in. On the other line was a plumber.
“Planning to Win teaches you to pinpoint that market down,” he reiterated.
Before David Gargan, Owner of Eco Clean Carpet Solutions (Knoxville, TN), began attending training programs offered by industry expert Howard Partridge, he says he struggled to make ends meet.
“I was running one van, doing all the work myself as well as answering the phones, doing the marketing and any other task needed,” he says.
That changed with Partridge. Gargan says he’s been an “Inner Circle” member now for eight years and still attends Partridge’s weekly webcasts and up to three of his live events each year. Here’s what else Gargan had to say about benefiting from this training:
On the biggest things he took away: What I learned from Howard that had the biggest impact on my business was making sure I charged enough for my services, so I could make a good profit, and how to attract and keep clients willing to pay higher prices for the services I provided.
On how this instruction was implemented: By adding more value to my services and learning to give the customer a service experience that blew their socks off enabled my business to grow and change more. We did this by setting up policies and procedures for every aspect of the business. Nothing was left to chance. Everything we did reflected back to our mission, which is to provide the most outstanding service experience possible.
On business today: My business today is much different. It runs with little daily input from me. We are running four vans now. I have six employees who implement the systems I set up years ago. My main projects now revolve around helping my employees reach their goals and building community within our business.
Joe Polish, Piranha Marketing
Len and Annette Hume are the owners of Professional Carpet Systems (St. Catharines, ON, CA). They attended their first Joe Polish event in 2004 feeling burnt out. While they were grossing between $430,000 and $450,000 per year, Len Hume says “We were not being paid well enough for the amount of work we were doing and we were lost on how to grow the business or even if we wanted to grow it.”
Enter Piranha Marketing and Joe Polish.
“The first thing we discovered was that much of the problem was between our own ears,” says Len Hume. “We had been toiling in a vacuum and not exposing ourselves to bigger ideas about the potential we had as entrepreneurs.”
Among the things that Len and Annette took away were that ideas are just potential unless you implement them, the success of educational direct response marketing, how to define their company’s future and other marketing tools. After completing the program, they put together a strategy of implementation.
“Today we are in our own building that we were able to buy in 2009,” Len Hume says. “Our annual revenue is in the $900,000 to $950,000 with three truckmounted units and an in-plant rug cleaning facility. Our business mix is approximately 50% commercial and 50% residential. We are consistently profitable now and have managed to become mostly self-financing.
“We do have plans for more controlled growth and now know that we can do it as long as we continue to implement.”