While many companies tempered their sales efforts in response to the bleak economy to achieve success, others proactively engaged customers in discussions about how their company could support their clients through budget challenges.
Some companies went above and beyond what was expected of them to meet the needs of clients across the nation and, as a result, witnessed record revenues.
Through willingness to creatively help clients get the most service for the price they could pay, proactive companies helped increase client retention rates while executing aggressive expansion plans throughout the country.
I run my company based on biblical principles, including honesty, integrity and hardwork, and I am convinced that these core values are paramount to success and can set any company apart from the competition.
Here are 10 tips and some advice to help your cleaning business become stronger and more profitable.
1. Be forceful about stopping customer attrition
Many contractors have been surprised by the number of cancellations over the last 18 months and have quickly discovered that the same old, complacent service does not keep customers these days.
Great customer service used to be a competitive advantage; now it is a survival strategy.
I have seen many contractors lose customers and blame the cancellations on the economy.
However, while it is a fact that the bad economy does force many customers to cut costs, it is often the relationships the customers have with their contractors that help them choose which costs to cut.
2. Reduce debt and dependence on banks
The banking crisis is not over, so you should be careful about making any company decisions that depend on your bank sticking with you.
Many times, the local people you know lose control of those decisions.
3. Execute the fundamentals
Define accountability within your organization and how results will be measured and rewarded.
Accountability should become as much a part of your culture as honesty and integrity.
4. Be proactive in your customer relationships
Call your customers before they call you because you need to know what they are thinking.
If you leave customer satisfaction to chance, the odds will be against you and you will likely lose business to another company that shows how much they care.
5. Upgrade your staff
There are a lot of good people out there looking for work and it is your duty to find them.
Now is not the time to hang on to those employees who don''t care about your company, only think of themselves and bring down morale.
I have noticed that the good employees have stepped it up a notch and asked where they can help.
Everyone knows what is going on in the economy and your team players will want you to win.
And, for those who do, instill confidence in them that everything is good and going to get better if you all work together and stay focused on accomplishing your company objectives.
6. Don''t get caught in the victim mentality
We can spend all day talking about how the government is not helping small businesses or we can use that time to get out there and grow.
Be positive: Your employees and customers want to be part of a winning team.
7. Talk to your industry peers
We can learn a lot of valuable information from each other''s insights.
There is enough business to go around, and one of the best ways to learn how to get that business is to talk to others who have figured it out.
Success begets success: If you want to hang out with whiners, chances are you are one too.
Organizations like the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) and other associations can provide good connections for you.
8. Pay close attention to accounts receivable
Not collecting your money makes the rest of your operations somewhat moot.
We have added the equivalent of a full-time staff person in the last year just to help make sure our franchisees collect their payments on time.
9. Don''t cut back on your sales efforts
The days of cruise control are over: Even the best customer base is going to fade away if you are not constantly adding to it.
Put on more of a consultant hat when selling and help those prospective customers solve their problems.
10. For those of faith, pray
Don''t get swallowed up by your circumstances, as how you respond to your circumstances is more important than the actual circumstances themselves.
Remember, there are people — family, staff, friends, peers, etc. — who are watching you and your decision-making process.
Hold on to your integrity and walk a straight path.
Todd Hopkins founded Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services in 1992. Office Pride is the most admired brand in the commercial cleaning industry with 115 franchise locations throughout the United States. For more information about Office Pride, visit www.officepride.com or call (317) 738-9280. Todd, author of three Christian-based business books, The Carrot Chaser, The Janitor and Five Wisdoms for Entrepreneur Survival, is a recipient of the Walter L. Cook Award for Distinguished Service to the building service contracting industry.