Sitting in the back of a training program recently, the questions from the students were fast and furious.
“Can''t you just give us the information so we can just do what you did?”
“Is there a way to just get forms, business templates and a list of services so we can just duplicate what you did?”
“Can you show me exactly how to act during the inspection of the flooring, the complete sales process, with scripts and what the final customer surveys look like so we can just go to market?”
These typical questions seen at many industry educational events are not a group of questions designed to understand the process of selling or servicing customers; they are a “shortcut” to simply get the procedural steps without a basic understanding of how the steps work in sequence or how the steps need to be adjusted to the types of customers upon which you have chosen to build your business.
These types of questions are also known as, “How to find the “magic bullet.”
Every one of us wants to have the magic bullet to be successful, but the magic bullet is not something you can just purchase from someone else, whether it be a competitor, trainer or received by attending a trade show and conference.
It is human nature to be impatient with the path to success, but one must understand the path to success is actually a voyage.
Crossing a path usually takes a certain amount of time to complete the journey.
No one can cross the path without actually walking down the path.
The act of crossing is measured in the actual time it takes to complete the expedition.
The crossers that actually have a map of the path will arrive first.
Mapping Out Success
The map of your path to success is a business plan.
It is amazing how many cleaning companies have not thought of a simple planning phase to start their journey down the path.
They have no idea which customers to target for services, which services to offer and at what price.
When asked for specific information on basic job or procedural costs, most companies have no grasp on their actual costs.
When asked which types of customers, buildings or services are the most profitable for their company, they shrug, guess or justify to themselves why that type of information is not important to their company.
When asked which types of potential customers offer the most potential for profit for their specific company, they simply do not know.
High-level discussions within management groups need to take place to begin this planning phase.
An outline of the current state of the company has to be developed so it can be used as a starting point of planning for what the company will look like in the future.
Many successful companies use a one-year, two-year and five-year planning structure.
This will give management and labor a direction from which to make decisions that will not be based on emotional feelings, but rather from a knowledge of which direction the company is headed.
Planning is the basic structural need for any company destined for success.
Too many companies just follow the path that the customer dictates to them.
Once customers feel that they control the vendor/customer relationship, they begin to assert themselves in other areas like pricing and such.
Having a basic plan in place eliminates the need for the magic bullet.
A company that knows exactly where it is headed is less likely to be searching for a single tip or nugget of information to define success.
They are also less likely to actually need one.
A company on a successful path already knows what the magic bullet is: A great business plan.
Dane Gregory is the commercial sales manager for Bridgewater Corporation, which owns Interlink Supply. He works with commercial cleaners to help them build their businesses by adding services without a lot of additional cost. He also helps them with technical aspects of cleaning carpet, tile and grout and stone surfaces. Gregory instructs classes for each floor surface as well as the Commercial Cleaning Initiative, which covers all these floor surfaces. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.