ICS Magazine

Connections? Who Needs Connections?

September 15, 2003
Propping up your business is a team effort.

I have often heard the cleaning industry escribed as being comprised predominately of independent owner-operators, a collection of “One-Man Bands,” if you will. It’s been my experience that, more often than not, these “independent” cleaners are really not totally self-sufficient. In fact, they actually work within a very carefully structured network of specialists, contacts, and connections.

You’ve probably heard it said that it is often “who you know” instead of “what you know” that makes a difference in business. Let’s look at some of the areas where having the right connections might have an influence on your success.

While it is certainly important to be technically proficient in every aspect of the services you offer, all that technical knowledge is of little use unless you can apply it. In the service-business arena, new business is very often dependent upon referrals, contacts, and connections. Smart service business people work hard at creating comprehensive plans to maximize referral and repeat business from happy customers. Such a plan would include:

  • Follow-up mailings and customer incentive programs related to successful completion of work,
  • Membership in business leagues or leads groups,
  • Community involvement to maintain a high level of name recognition,
  • Regular contacts with retail outlets, insurance claims offices, or other potential sources of direct referral business,
  • Membership in local property management associations, and
  • IICRC-certified firm registration.

    Another area where having the right connections can pay off in a big way is in the area of specialized problem solving or a need for special technical expertise. Knowing where to go to get answers to cleaning challenges, equipment breakdowns, technical training, or specific products can be the difference between profitable business and disaster. Some of the best places to stay technically connected include:

  • Membership in regional and national industry trade associations,
  • An ongoing working relationship with your local supply house or distributor,
  • A subscription to industry technical journals and magazines,
  • IICRC certification,
  • CEC training, and
  • Industry Internet bulletin boards and list serves.

    It is also critical to have specialized professionals available to advise and assist you in working your way through the maze of business-related issues. These specialized professionals include:

  • Certified public accountants
  • Attorneys
  • Computer specialists
  • Graphic Artists and printers
  • Bankers
  • Employment agencies
  • Mechanics
  • Marketing specialists

    In fact, in this industry of predominately “independent” businesses, it is absolutely critical to realize that independent does not mean isolated. Attend as many functions as you can, both inside and outside of our immediate industry. Rub shoulders with successful people and listen when they describe their success. Keep a list of valuable contacts and offer your services to others in areas where you have special expertise. The successful independent businessperson surrounds him or herself with contacts and connections in every single part of business from marketing to administration to production to follow through. None of us operate in a vacuum.

    Who needs connections? We all do. We need them for business, we need them for motivation, we need them for success. Never underestimate the power of “who you know” and never pass up a chance to make a new contact or renew an old one. It often makes the difference between success and disaster.