- THE MAGAZINE
Grab a piece of paper and take a little test. See how you measure up in my list of 10 things that you need to be successful in the carpet cleaning/restoration industry; it should be a good measuring stick to see how your business is doing.
1. The Right AttitudeNothing is more important in being a success than having a positive, can-do attitude. Many times I have talked to my friend and mentor, Howard Partridge, about what is the difference between those that make it and those that don’t and it usually boils down to attitude.
Do you have a burning desire to be a success and are you confident in your abilities to lead a company forward? Are you willing to learn, be educated, read motivational books and listen to successful people? Are you a visionary and do you look at a glass as though it’s half full or half empty?
2. CapitalYou are in business and not running a hobby, hopefully, and successful businesses have plenty of capital with which to work. Sure, you may have started out on a shoestring budget but have you grown the company so that you have access to capital?
I started my company twenty years ago with a Kirby vacuum cleaner that had a shampoo and door hangers were the extent of my marketing. Certainly a low budget beginning but I grew the company over the years and have had access to capital by being profitable and putting money aside and obtaining lines of credit from banks.
An example of why capital is important happened last year when a company that was going out of the water damage business called me and asked if I wanted to buy their equipment at a huge discount. I was able to because I had the capital available and companies can grow a lot faster when they have access to ready cash. Money is a tool.
3. Work EthicObviously, you are not going to be successful if you are unwilling to work your tail off. Bill Gates said that the key to success is to “Be in the Right Industry at the Right Time and to Take Massive Action.” Are you taking massive action, mediocre action or next-to-no-action? If you are not cleaning you ought to be marketing and any business owner that is working less than fifty hours a week is really working part-time. Unless, of course, your company is making gobs of money and you don’t have to work much.
4. MarketingWhen I ask this question to groups of carpet cleaners usually less than10% say they have a written marketing plan. I am not talking about the plan that you have in your head, but the one that is written out and you could show it to someone and explain it very simply. I know that quite a few of the articles that I write mention this problem but it just doesn’t seem to get resolved by most companies. Take three to eight hours once a quarter and write out your plan. Until you do this, you will not be successful. Period. End of story.
5. SystemsOnce again, just like the marketing plan, this is a matter of being proactive and taking the time to write things down. Can your technicians refer to a procedure manual when they have a question about a cleaning question? Does your company have a policy manual that covers sick leave pay or vacation pay or cell phone use or waste water disposal? How about written job descriptions for each position in the company or written scripts for the people answering the phone?
Systems are a never ending task as new issues always come up and need to be added to the policy and procedure manual for your company. Do you have a policy and procedure manual and does it cover most areas in your company?
6. Great PersonnelIf your company has low performers (you know who they are) then you need to score yourself low here. You must get rid of the low performers as they will be a cancer to your company. Read them the riot act and give them thirty days or less to fix their act or ship them out. Once your company gets rid of them and has only good and great performers, watch out, you will go places. While you’re at it, why not have all great performers. It can be done, if you have the right attitude!
7. GutsAre you willing to take a chance? Considering going into the Oriental rug cleaning business or wood floor resurfacing? Takes guts to make those choices just like it takes guts to hire someone. I asked another mentor of mine, a multi-millionaire who owns thirty different businesses, including steel mills and plastic factories, what it takes to be a success. His answer was, “It takes vision, capital and guts.” Loved his answer.
8. IntegritySure there are a few successful folks who are scoundrels but for the most part, successful people have great character, morals and ethics. In our company we make every employee sign a behavior standard form that includes signing a pledge to put the customer first, the company second and themselves third. If you ever think about cheating a customer or breaking something and not telling the owner for example, you will probably never make it. As Mark Twain once said, “Always tell the truth and you won’t have to remember what you said.”
9. AccountabilityIs there someone to whom you must explain yourself and your company’s actions? As business owners, we can do nothing or little to nothing and seemingly get away with it. That is not a good situation.
Our company has monthly management staff meetings and weekly meetings with our sales and operational management teams. I am meeting every week with my operational manager to help me be accountable plus I pay a business coach who I meet with weekly. Accountability is huge so make sure that you are accountable to someone!
10. CultureI heard a successful person once say that culture will beat strategy every time and that the two together are unbeatable. Does your company have an aura of success? Are the vans cleaned daily? Does the person answering the phone have a pleasant voice and sound excited? Do your techs make good money and stay with you for years and years? Is the company profitable and growing every year? Does your company call every client after the job to ensure satisfaction?
There are many ways to measure culture but you probably can grade yourself on this item through a gut feeling. How’s the culture in your company?
If you score over ninety, wow, you are doing great and give your self an A. If you are in the eighties, that’s pretty good, too, but there is room for improvement. Give yourself a B. A score in the seventies will give you a C so that is OK but you need to work on some areas. Below seventy is not so good but don’t fret and get to work on your weak areas.
Start with that right attitude and be determined to improve your score every quarter until you can honestly score your self in the nineties.