Cleaning & Restoration Association News

Do's and Don'ts for Small Shop Operators

October 10, 2007
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This month, I’m opening up the files. Get ready for lots of great business tips gleaned from the smartest business people I know. I spend much of each day on the phone talking business. On the seminar trail, I meet lots of folks who love to tell me what works for them and what doesn’t.

Here’s a good place to start:
  1. DO read this list.
  2. DON’T neglect to do things that will make you more money!


Taking Charge! Leadership Do's and Don'ts

  • DO join a trade association. Shop around first, and find one with a mission and philosophy that matches yours.
  • DO find exceptional performers within the professional cleaning industry and copy them.
  • DO find a successful business owner with whom you don’t compete, and offer to become his or her mastermind partner. Commit to help each other improve as business people.
  • DO read at least one book per week. Alternate between classic novels, humorous fiction, and business books. Listen in the car when time is short.
  • DON’T miss your kid’s football game because you choose to work instead.
  • DO commit your hopes and dreams to ink and paper, or computer bytes. Keep a journal.
  • DO handle the issues that keep coming up and spoiling your success. Talk to a friend or a minister. Go to the desert for forty days and forty nights.
  • DON’T lie. Even “white” lies chip away at your integrity.
  • DO say, “Tell him I’m busy right now, and I will call him back later.”
  • DON’T say, “Tell him I am not here!”
  • DON’T just look for service standards within our industry. Go to Disney World and watch how they do it.
  • DO lead by example.
  • DON’T talk so much.
  • DON’T imagine that you are irreplaceable. My husband’s partner’s last words to me were, “If I don’t do it myself, it will never get done.” He died two days later. Things got done.
  • DO go on a ride-along with a team member at least once a week.
  • DO make a sale yourself every once in a while. Just to show the rest of the team that you still got it.
  • DON’T enter into a 50-50 partnership. There is no such thing.
  • DO find ten things that are going right and congratulate the people responsible.
  • DO find something to laugh about and share it with someone.
  • DO read the autobiography of Christie Brown. It will keep you from feeling sorry for yourself.
  • DO your best to keep your family together and communicating.
  • DO it today.


Making Money! Financial Do's and Don'ts

  • DO understand that you are in business for the money.
  • DON’T be ashamed about that.
  • DO run a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow report every week! Once a month is not enough!
  • DON’T trust industry averages for budget and performance comparisons. If most businesses stink – and they do – what can you learn from industry averages?
  • DO base your selling price on your costs of doing business.
  • DON’T pay any attention to what your competitors are charging. What do they know?
  • DON’T forget what you really sell...time and know-how.
  • DO remember that the know-how takes time to deliver.
  • DO track billable hours. It’s the variable with the most impact on your financial position.
  • DO create a line item in your budget for “customer satisfaction costs.” Allow 1%-2% of total sales.
  • DO understand that the proper selling price is the first and most important step in making more money for yourself and your employees.
  • DON’T spend money on marketing, uniforms, new trucks, computer systems and new employees until you have raised your prices to cover the new costs.
  • DON’T call me if you are convinced you can’t raise prices in your neighborhood.
  • DO call me if you want to discuss how to do it.
  • DO learn about real estate. Eight out of 10 self-made millionaires have significant real estate investments.
  • DON’T forget you live in the most fortunate time in history. This is a renaissance age. What are you waiting for?
  • DON’T forget Warren Buffet’s rules for business. Rule #1: Never lose money. Rule #2: Never forget Rule #1.
  • DO grow rich in a niche.
  • DO something no one else does and charge a lot of money for it.
  • DO pay your employees much better than anyone else.
  • DON’T forget that there is more than one way to make a living.


Getting it Sold! Sales and Marketing Do's and Don't

  • DO whatever it takes to make a customer happy, even if it means giving them all their money back. If you honestly think you are being taken advantage of, then...
  • DON’T work for that customer again.
  • DO spend more time asking questions than pitching your product.
  • DON’T make a sale if it isn’t in the best interests of the customer.
  • DO create a bulletin board of all your marketing pieces. Everything should “match” and reinforce each other. Make sure you are presenting a consistent, clear image.
  • DON’T forget what they are really buying: Time. Their time. Because of you, they don’t have to spend their time worrying, wondering, calling around, shopping, or cleaning it themselves.
  • DO ask the customer for feedback. Send a report card, or follow up with a phone call.
  • DO ask for the sale every time.
  • DON’T worry when they say, “No.”
  • DO ask if you can ask them one more question.
  • DO ask, “What made you say, ‘No?’” and see if you can fix it.
  • DO feel free to say “No” to customers who won’t let you make a profit.
  • DON’T discuss poor performance in a crowd.
  • DO acknowledge great performance in front of as many people as possible.
  • DON’T underestimate the power of a handshake, a smile and a sincere, “Well done!”
  • DO anything and everything that will make you stand out in the crowd.
  • DON’T use low prices as your selling advantage. The advantage disappears the moment someone dumber than you offers a lower price.
  • DO switch to Flat Rate pricing (instead of Time and Materials) because your customers want to know “how much” before they buy.
  • DO feel free to call it something other than Flat Rate. Up Front Pricing. Or Contract Pricing. Or No Surprises Pricing.
  • DO offer service with a smile. Look around at all the wrinkled, frowning faces in this world. Smiling is a nice thing to do. Customers will respond to it.
  • DO keep score in the sales game. Competition is good fun and good for you.
  • DO read a Zig Ziglar book. Zig is the Godfather of Sales.
  • DO listen to old people. You are going to be old someday, if you’re lucky. And you’ll want the plumber to listen to you.
  • DON’T gossip.


Getting it Done! Tips for Delivering the Goods

  • DO work on your own attitude towards work and life.
  • DON’T discuss anyone else’s attitude with them. It’s none of your business, and there is nothing you can do to change someone else’s attitude.
  • DO it right or...
  • DON’T do it at all.
  • DO call if you are going to be late.
  • DO reschedule if you can’t make it, as soon as you realize it.
  • DON’T discriminate when hiring. Women make great service professionals. Kids today are wonderful.
  • DO take a mental health day once in a while. Go to the park or to the movies. Just don’t go into work.
  • DO aim for a company that runs without you. Picture receiving financial reports via email at your Maui beach house.
  • DON’T assume that telling someone to do something means it will get done. Put it in writing and follow up.
  • DON’T assume anything.
  • DO provide everyone with an “IN” basket. Empty the “IN” basket by the end of the day. Work gets done, filed or delegated.
  • DON’T pay team members on a “commission only” basis.
  • DON’T reward every employee the same way regardless of performance.
  • DON’T give raises every year just because.
  • DO create a compensation plan that combines hourly wages with spiffs for stellar sales and/or production.
  • DO recognize that the labor shortage is directly related to our unwillingness to pay skilled workers what they are worth.
  • DON’T fool yourself. The talented kids out there are not interested in $10 an hour for uncertain, seasonal, dirty work with no benefits.
  • DO create an Operations Manual. Every job in writing. Everyone accountable.
  • DO get input from the folks affected when you are putting your Operations Manual together.
  • DO encourage puppies and babies visit the office, as long as they are housetrained or wearing a diaper.
  • DO apologize if you are wrong.
  • DON’T hold a grudge.
  • DO more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

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