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Management Training Option #5: Affordable Services — “High Tech vs. High Touch”

June 28, 2000
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Reviewing the last few editions of this column will reveal how strongly I feel about the overwhelming lack of available business management help for “micro-businesses” like ours in the professional cleaning service industry.

While our industry has made tremendous strides in developing technical expertise and has an overflowing supply of affordable technical training available, the area of business management that determines success or failure in a business, is a barren desert!

The reason is pretty straightforward: The distribution network in our industry has discovered that technical training is good for product and equipment sales. Because of this, the distribution chain has heavily subsidized technical training to the point where carpet-cleaning businesses have come to expect inexpensive training. The problem is that equation only works when supply purchases follow the training, but collapses when there is nothing to sell.

The Problem: You have plenty of business and you deliver high quality service to your customers, but somehow you still aren’t making any money. Your supplier just tells you to raise your prices, but you suspect in your gut that your level of frustration is only going to get worse. So you do nothing.

Fact: You cannot expect any sustained level of business management training from, or even sponsored by, your suppliers for basic economic reasons.

Solution: Find economical “High Tech” help using 21st century electronic media tools instead of the less affordable, or as is usually the case, unaffordable “High Touch” services of a small business consultant.

Note: The “High Tech” business consulting (coaching) approach should not be expected to equal the results of the “High Touch” services of a good micro-business consultant. However, the investment of both your time and money may finally allow you to get the help you need.

Costs

The highest costs are associated with the “High Touch” consulting services. Some major national companies target small and micro-businesses, such as cleaning services, with packages in the $20,000 range. These generally sell a “needs analysis survey,” followed by a high-powered sales presentation to close the package deal. I recommend extreme caution with these services. Once their service is rendered, they are gone! However, also available in our market are some excellent independent consultants who charge about the same, but include continuing service (for over a period of a year), in their packages.

The most affordable are the High Tech” consulting services, referred to as “Business Coaches.” These services on average charge a monthly fee from $300-$600. Their services usually can be cancelled at any time.

What is a Business Coach?

A “Business Coach” is an experienced businessperson who provides practical advice uniquely tailored to individual businesses.

The business coach should be able to do the following: help define business and management goals and help set objectives to get there; dramatically increase your personal productivity; reduce stress; help develop financial structure for the business; better use of buying/borrowing strategies; Plan and prepare for taxes; understand insurance better; invest for profit; help develop proven sales strategies to increase sales; help monitor progress in achieving objectives once established; and much more!

The next “Training Corner” will continue this topic, including a 10-point review to see if you would be compatible with the “High Tech” coaching concept.

Continue to send your suggestions to me via e-mail to cleanlee@aol.com or express your views via the ICS bulletin board at www.icsmag.com.

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