The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

NOTABLE! [Progress] Growing a Cleaning Business

OP
OP
nzott

nzott

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 9, 2016
50
265
165
I am hoping either @Andy Black or @nzott may be able to help me here.

I have been trying to run a successful AdWords campaign for my product (e-commerce site selling physical product to mommies). My AOV is $19 (roughly 2 units) but I can't seem to get conversions cheap enough to justify spending in adwords.

I am dying to have a consistent budget towards the site to bring in more consistent revenue but it just is not working.

I know that is really vague but do you have any suggestions?

Great progress @nzott . Keep crushing it!
Thanks @Nik Krohn.

I have an ecommerce site as well, but haven't been able to figure out adwords with it either. It's taken a back seat and I literally spend 0 hours on it now.

In regards to paying for traffic, It will depend on your conversion rate and AOV (As you probably know). If it's 20%, then you'll find a ton of profitable marketing routes. If it's currently only 1-2%, you'll have a far tougher time going that route for most keywords/products.

Hustle at this stage as much as possible. Send some samples to popular blogs in exchange for a review. Depending on the product, this can be huge. Youtubers, Bloggers, Instagram influencers, whoever you can get your product to. Put your product everywhere imaginable. Ebay is a super cheap option to get some steam. Include a postcard with every shipment that provides a discount code for a re-order on your website. Amazon and Bonanaza are others that you can make some headway on. If it's a "custom" or "hand crafted" type product, even Etsy can be a good option. Create some unique craigslist ads and post your products on local selling sites. It not sexy or cool, but the goal is just to get the product into as many hands as possible by sheer hustle, not overspend. I'd be running all of these channels in unison, while I tested my website copy to increase my conversion rates. Only then would I pay for traffic.

The goal is to create a trickle that develops into a small flow from each of these avenues that together add up to a flood of highly tailored traffic to your website that'll convert higher than usual.

The only reason I can justify ad overspend in my local service business is due to recurring revenue. The lifetime value of a recurring client to me is $1500-$2k. That gives me a lot of room to screw up and test different advertising routes. I found that to be far tougher with my ecommerce site.

So while I wouldn't take advice from a guy who's ecommerce business is his red headed step child, that's the route I would take if I had put all my effort into the ecommerce business as opposed to the local service business which is what I chose to do after leaving my job.
 

Become a Fastlane INSIDER to view the forum ad free.

GuitarManDan

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 28, 2017
307
1,322
413
Scottsdale
If any questions come up, I'm happy to help. What area of the US do you work in IB?

Corporate world was incredibly draining for me. Stayed up til 3AM every night reading books just to prolong going to sleep since it was a fast track to going back to work the next day. Outside looking in my situation looked great. Decent salary w/ bonus, couple vacations overseas each year, bills paid, made more than most of my friends back home, but couldn't stand it.

Some seek those things out and I don't knock them, but I knew within a month of starting my job that corporate life wasn't going to be for me. Sad part was I assumed no matter what I did or where I went I'd feel the exact same way. Friends and family would just say "Go find another job. The reason you feel this way is you haven't found a job you love". So I'd make a half hearted effort at looking for other jobs just so friends and family thought that was my way out. My sister is very successful in the corporate world. Went to Harvard Business School, and makes a boat load. She sends me jobs that she thinks fit me a few times each month. It's incredibly hard for me to explain to successful people in the corporate world that It's just not for me without making them out to look bad. So, I'll say thanks, do a quick google search about the job and respond with something that shows I looked at it. But I never actually do it.

I can't say I thought running a local service business was going to be my transition out, but I was and still am seeking freedom, not any specific business. If it produces great cashflow and won't take any intellectual ability to operate once it's established, I'm all for it. Could care less what the actual product or service is.

Sorry for the litany!
Hey Nzott,

I honestly felt like I was reading something I typed up! This perfectly describes the situation I'm in at the moment. I work for a large investment bank on the wealth mgmt side in New York City. To follow what you said, I also have a great salary (compared to my friends my age), I've been able to go on a few awesome trips to Europe, and I'm making much more than I need for my expenses (I'm a pretty frugal person, so besides rent and food my expenses are low). People on the outside look in at my situation and think I have it made and that I'm "set for life". Yet, I'm miserable going to work every day.

My family has also told me that if I'm unhappy I should either go to grad school or find another job I "love". I worked at one investment bank for 3 years and got very complacent because things were just okay enough that I could justify telling myself "my friends have it much worse, I'm lucky". When I moved to my current role (been almost a year), I realized I fell into a toxic work culture where everyone is extremely paranoid/miserable all day. I feel so fortunate that this kicked my a$$ enough to venture out and find some alternatives which luckily landed me to these forums and MJ's book.

Lately I've been in a similar pattern that you were in as well (reading and researching after work until the last possible moment that you have to go to sleep). It's really inspiring to hear your story to know that I can fight my way out of this spot I'm in and make a better life for myself.
 

Andy Black

Any colour, as long as it's red.
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 20, 2014
8,167
34,637
4,306
Ireland
www.andyblack.net
Hey Nzott,

I honestly felt like I was reading something I typed up! This perfectly describes the situation I'm in at the moment. I work for a large investment bank on the wealth mgmt side in New York City. To follow what you said, I also have a great salary (compared to my friends my age), I've been able to go on a few awesome trips to Europe, and I'm making much more than I need for my expenses (I'm a pretty frugal person, so besides rent and food my expenses are low). People on the outside look in at my situation and think I have it made and that I'm "set for life". Yet, I'm miserable going to work every day.

My family has also told me that if I'm unhappy I should either go to grad school or find another job I "love". I worked at one investment bank for 3 years and got very complacent because things were just okay enough that I could justify telling myself "my friends have it much worse, I'm lucky". When I moved to my current role (been almost a year), I realized I fell into a toxic work culture where everyone is extremely paranoid/miserable all day. I feel so fortunate that this kicked my a$$ enough to venture out and find some alternatives which luckily landed me to these forums and MJ's book.

Lately I've been in a similar pattern that you were in as well (reading and researching after work until the last possible moment that you have to go to sleep). It's really inspiring to hear your story to know that I can fight my way out of this spot I'm in and make a better life for myself.
Go to the opening post of this thread and you can hear myself and @nzott chatting about his background and his current endeavours.. .
 
OP
OP
nzott

nzott

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 9, 2016
50
265
165
Hey Nzott,

I honestly felt like I was reading something I typed up! This perfectly describes the situation I'm in at the moment. I work for a large investment bank on the wealth mgmt side in New York City. To follow what you said, I also have a great salary (compared to my friends my age), I've been able to go on a few awesome trips to Europe, and I'm making much more than I need for my expenses (I'm a pretty frugal person, so besides rent and food my expenses are low). People on the outside look in at my situation and think I have it made and that I'm "set for life". Yet, I'm miserable going to work every day.

My family has also told me that if I'm unhappy I should either go to grad school or find another job I "love". I worked at one investment bank for 3 years and got very complacent because things were just okay enough that I could justify telling myself "my friends have it much worse, I'm lucky". When I moved to my current role (been almost a year), I realized I fell into a toxic work culture where everyone is extremely paranoid/miserable all day. I feel so fortunate that this kicked my a$$ enough to venture out and find some alternatives which luckily landed me to these forums and MJ's book.

Lately I've been in a similar pattern that you were in as well (reading and researching after work until the last possible moment that you have to go to sleep). It's really inspiring to hear your story to know that I can fight my way out of this spot I'm in and make a better life for myself.
Absolutely man, I feel for you. I'm in NYC as well. Great part about where we're at is the opportunities are endless. The city allows what would be traditionally considered a "slow lane" business, fast lane potential because of the sheer number of people you're able to impact. Not that I recommend opening a food cart, but I guarantee there's a multi millionaire in NYC who operates a fleet of food carts solely in NYC.

Andy's right, I go into a bit more detail about my background in our opening chat back in December. The interview was soon after leaving my job, living off a dream of what I felt I could make happen if I just stuck with it. Financially it was the dumbest short term decision I could make. As you know we aren't in cheapest place in the world. So, I became a hermit for a few months and focused solely on my business. Buckling down and giving 100% everything I had just to survive another month and pour all my funds back into the business for faster growth. I tell Andy about how I was posting on craigslist offering to build websites on wordpress for people. I'd literally show up at their office and spend all day with them making little tweaks to wordpress for $25/hr. I'm no expert and would literally youtube how to do something while I was sitting there. But it made rent for the next month and allowed me to keep all the business revenue inside the business. If I hadn't done that, the business would have never made enough to support me, and it'd take years to grow to any sustainable level.

The route I've taken is to live like a peasant for the next 6 months and plow everything back into the business. I made a spreadsheet back in January drafting out all the different marketing channels I was using. Average revenue from each channel, their corresponding cost, conversions rates, and overall retention rate. Then I extrapolated this out for the next 12 and 24 months. This gave me a sense of how long and how much I'd need to invest back in the business before I reached my goals.

January Estimate = $8,788
February Estimate = $10,816
March Estimate = $12,844
April Estimate = $14,872

January Real = $8,533.65
February Real = $9,619.65
March Real = $12,319.12
April (Currently Booked) = $11,390.55

It blow's my mind that just using simple math I could so accurately predict my growth pattern. Sure it's only 4 months, but it makes me feel so much better when I'm putting money back into the business because I know if I just do it X more months, revenue with then be 50% higher or whatever the case may be.

Since we're obviously close by, I'm happy to chat over a drink some time.
 

GuitarManDan

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 28, 2017
307
1,322
413
Scottsdale
Absolutely man, I feel for you. I'm in NYC as well. Great part about where we're at is the opportunities are endless. The city allows what would be traditionally considered a "slow lane" business, fast lane potential because of the sheer number of people you're able to impact. Not that I recommend opening a food cart, but I guarantee there's a multi millionaire in NYC who operates a fleet of food carts solely in NYC.

Andy's right, I go into a bit more detail about my background in our opening chat back in December. The interview was soon after leaving my job, living off a dream of what I felt I could make happen if I just stuck with it. Financially it was the dumbest short term decision I could make. As you know we aren't in cheapest place in the world. So, I became a hermit for a few months and focused solely on my business. Buckling down and giving 100% everything I had just to survive another month and pour all my funds back into the business for faster growth. I tell Andy about how I was posting on craigslist offering to build websites on wordpress for people. I'd literally show up at their office and spend all day with them making little tweaks to wordpress for $25/hr. I'm no expert and would literally youtube how to do something while I was sitting there. But it made rent for the next month and allowed me to keep all the business revenue inside the business. If I hadn't done that, the business would have never made enough to support me, and it'd take years to grow to any sustainable level.

The route I've taken is to live like a peasant for the next 6 months and plow everything back into the business. I made a spreadsheet back in January drafting out all the different marketing channels I was using. Average revenue from each channel, their corresponding cost, conversions rates, and overall retention rate. Then I extrapolated this out for the next 12 and 24 months. This gave me a sense of how long and how much I'd need to invest back in the business before I reached my goals.

January Estimate = $8,788
February Estimate = $10,816
March Estimate = $12,844
April Estimate = $14,872

January Real = $8,533.65
February Real = $9,619.65
March Real = $12,319.12
April (Currently Booked) = $11,390.55

It blow's my mind that just using simple math I could so accurately predict my growth pattern. Sure it's only 4 months, but it makes me feel so much better when I'm putting money back into the business because I know if I just do it X more months, revenue with then be 50% higher or whatever the case may be.

Since we're obviously close by, I'm happy to chat over a drink some time.
Just finished listening to your chat with @Andy Black and it was very informative and cool to hear about your background/story. After reading through a bunch of gold posts on here, the common theme seems to be take action, any action just to hit the ground running. I've been researching like crazy and I want to make sure I don't fall into the classic trap of analysis paralysis.

I'm fortunate enough that I've been working for a few years so I have a decent amount saved up for when I do leave the 9-5. My plan at the moment is to start something on the side to get some practical experience and keep getting a paycheck while I figure out what I want to do.

The challenge I'm facing now is just deciding what I want to get behind 100% to start my first venture into my own business. I don't want to ask the typical question every new member poses such as "what specifically should I do?" but I'm working to identify any opportunities/unmet needs in my daily life and haven't found that inspiration yet. How did you decide to go into the rug cleaning industry for your business?

Really appreciate the offer too, I'd definitely be up to get a drink!

Thanks again
 
OP
OP
nzott

nzott

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 9, 2016
50
265
165
Just finished listening to your chat with @Andy Black and it was very informative and cool to hear about your background/story. After reading through a bunch of gold posts on here, the common theme seems to be take action, any action just to hit the ground running. I've been researching like crazy and I want to make sure I don't fall into the classic trap of analysis paralysis.

I'm fortunate enough that I've been working for a few years so I have a decent amount saved up for when I do leave the 9-5. My plan at the moment is to start something on the side to get some practical experience and keep getting a paycheck while I figure out what I want to do.

The challenge I'm facing now is just deciding what I want to get behind 100% to start my first venture into my own business. I don't want to ask the typical question every new member poses such as "what specifically should I do?" but I'm working to identify any opportunities/unmet needs in my daily life and haven't found that inspiration yet. How did you decide to go into the rug cleaning industry for your business?

Really appreciate the offer too, I'd definitely be up to get a drink!

Thanks again
We actually do interior home cleaning. We've just now begun offering exterior window cleaning and pressure washing as well to take advantage of the spring cleaning rush.

My first job in high school was for a window cleaning company in Michigan. The owner was a crappy marketer, but was able to build a decent size business over the course of 20 years via word of mouth. I saw so many things I felt I could do better that I wanted to give it a shot on my own at some point. Fast forward to getting my first job, and that sort of fell by the wayside. I came across a guy who was doing lead gen for a snow plow service in the Boston/New England area and thought I could emulate that since I was working full time. I'd get the jobs but outsource the work. Unfortunately I didn't go about it the right way, and it just kind of fizzled out.

About a year later I came across this reddit thread: DAY 26: From Zero to Website Launch-A recap of everything that got us here! • r/EntrepreneurRideAlong

This guy had built a home cleaning company from 0 to $2 Million in just a few years. He used lead gen, but operated the actual cleaning service as well. I reached out to him directly and he was so incredibly open and willing to offer advice it blew my mind. Since I was in such a big market, I figured I could emulate his process and operate the same model where I was located. Literally any local service business would work using what he laid out. His 26 day process will take you from 0-60 in no time. It's up to you to take it from 60-100. I built the entire site using Weebly.com for free in a single weekend, just to test the concept, and had my first booking from Adwords that Monday. The second booking didn't come for quite some time, but it seemed promising.

I set up a basic Adwords campaign and sort of let it sit. I didn't market anything else extensively and just managed the few bookings that came in each month. I was working full time, so stepping out to take phone calls, questions, complaints, was intimidating. It wasn't until I left my job that I put my full weight behind growing the business. I knew the concept worked, but underestimated the amount of hustle it takes to get it off the ground.

The guys I see that start this and fail fall for that same mistake. They underestimate the amount of brute force effort, time, and money it takes to get the ball rolling. Most give up before they can create that momentum.

I think there's huge value potential in the local service space. Read up on Brian Scudamore, the founder of 1-800-Got-Junk. He took a fragmented local service business, Junk Removal, and built a system that focused 100% on delivering a highly customer-centric experience, then franchised it out to the rest of the country. He's now doing the same for Painting with WOW 1-Day Painting, moving with You Move Me, and exterior home cleaning with Shack Shine. The guy is a high school drop out worth $250 Million.
 

GuitarManDan

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 28, 2017
307
1,322
413
Scottsdale
We actually do interior home cleaning. We've just now begun offering exterior window cleaning and pressure washing as well to take advantage of the spring cleaning rush.

My first job in high school was for a window cleaning company in Michigan. The owner was a crappy marketer, but was able to build a decent size business over the course of 20 years via word of mouth. I saw so many things I felt I could do better that I wanted to give it a shot on my own at some point. Fast forward to getting my first job, and that sort of fell by the wayside. I came across a guy who was doing lead gen for a snow plow service in the Boston/New England area and thought I could emulate that since I was working full time. I'd get the jobs but outsource the work. Unfortunately I didn't go about it the right way, and it just kind of fizzled out.

About a year later I came across this reddit thread: DAY 26: From Zero to Website Launch-A recap of everything that got us here! • r/EntrepreneurRideAlong

This guy had built a home cleaning company from 0 to $2 Million in just a few years. He used lead gen, but operated the actual cleaning service as well. I reached out to him directly and he was so incredibly open and willing to offer advice it blew my mind. Since I was in such a big market, I figured I could emulate his process and operate the same model where I was located. Literally any local service business would work using what he laid out. His 26 day process will take you from 0-60 in no time. It's up to you to take it from 60-100. I built the entire site using Weebly.com for free in a single weekend, just to test the concept, and had my first booking from Adwords that Monday. The second booking didn't come for quite some time, but it seemed promising.

I set up a basic Adwords campaign and sort of let it sit. I didn't market anything else extensively and just managed the few bookings that came in each month. I was working full time, so stepping out to take phone calls, questions, complaints, was intimidating. It wasn't until I left my job that I put my full weight behind growing the business. I knew the concept worked, but underestimated the amount of hustle it takes to get it off the ground.

The guys I see that start this and fail fall for that same mistake. They underestimate the amount of brute force effort, time, and money it takes to get the ball rolling. Most give up before they can create that momentum.

I think there's huge value potential in the local service space. Read up on Brian Scudamore, the founder of 1-800-Got-Junk. He took a fragmented local service business, Junk Removal, and built a system that focused 100% on delivering a highly customer-centric experience, then franchised it out to the rest of the country. He's now doing the same for Painting with WOW 1-Day Painting, moving with You Move Me, and exterior home cleaning with Shack Shine. The guy is a high school drop out worth $250 Million.
It's amazing how a guy lays out the exact steps required to start your own local services business and it only gets 26 upvotes on Reddit! Just reinforces the point in MJ's book and some other posts on here that people would rather pay thousands for a "get rich ASAP" seminar instead of doing research and trying things out that are free online.

This is awesome and honestly much needed after another long day at work. I'm going to look into this and really digest it. Also a great point about how NYC is such an enormous market, even starting off by following what someone else does can be enough to get your business off the ground because there's just so many potential clients.
 

Andy Black

Any colour, as long as it's red.
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 20, 2014
8,167
34,637
4,306
Ireland
www.andyblack.net

Become a Fastlane INSIDER to view the forum ad free.

Andy Black

Any colour, as long as it's red.
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 20, 2014
8,167
34,637
4,306
Ireland
www.andyblack.net
It's amazing how a guy lays out the exact steps required to start your own local services business and it only gets 26 upvotes on Reddit! Just reinforces the point in MJ's book and some other posts on here that people would rather pay thousands for a "get rich ASAP" seminar instead of doing research and trying things out that are free online.
Shhh.... don't let the cat out of the bag. There's NO money being spent by local service businesses to get more leads and sales. Move along now, nothing to see here.
 

GuitarManDan

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 28, 2017
307
1,322
413
Scottsdale
Great conversation.

This might interest you both too:
Really interesting stuff, I just watched the video and read through the comments on that thread. I'm taking a lot of notes as almost all of this info is foreign to me.

Appreciate all of the suggestions! So my basic understanding is that your primary business is a consulting service to businesses to help increase their leads and sales. Whereas Nzott is utilizing Adwords as a tool to increase his own service business' leads and sales.

Does Google's algorithm change frequently? Just curious how often you have re-evaluate some of your usual tactics to help increase page rankings and other items.

Thanks again for all of your help.
 

Andy Black

Any colour, as long as it's red.
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 20, 2014
8,167
34,637
4,306
Ireland
www.andyblack.net
Really interesting stuff, I just watched the video and read through the comments on that thread. I'm taking a lot of notes as almost all of this info is foreign to me.

Appreciate all of the suggestions! So my basic understanding is that your primary business is a consulting service to businesses to help increase their leads and sales. Whereas Nzott is utilizing Adwords as a tool to increase his own service business' leads and sales.

Does Google's algorithm change frequently? Just curious how often you have re-evaluate some of your usual tactics to help increase page rankings and other items.

Thanks again for all of your help.
Yes. I generate leads for other businesses. @nzott generates and fulfils his own leads.

Check out the call I had with @Pittman09 where he's starting what I'm doing and asked me about my particular business model.

Check out @IceCreamKid 's thread where he runs his cleaning company for more info too.

This is paid search rather than SEO. The algorithm for page ranking doesn't matter.

EDIT:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

GuitarManDan

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 28, 2017
307
1,322
413
Scottsdale
Yes. I generate leads for other businesses. @nzott generates and fulfils his own leads.

Check out the call I had with @Pittman09 where he's starting what I'm doing and asked me about my particular business model.

Check out @IceCreamKid 's thread where he runs his cleaning company for more info too.

This is paid search rather than SEO. The algorithm for page ranking doesn't matter.

EDIT:

The biggest takeaway I've had on the forum so far is how many limiting beliefs I subconsciously held that have been completely knocked out. I would've never expected that a carpet cleaning business would be a fastlane venture.

I also had a chance this afternoon after work to listen to your interview with @Pittman09 . Thanks for providing the links, much appreciated. It seems like the common thread between your story and Pittman's is that you both started out by simply trying to help a friend/family member (you with your friend the electrician and Pittman with his father's business). In both stories, the offer to help turned into a learning experience and helped open the door to potential opportunities. I think it's a really powerful lesson that can be applied to my life to seek out who I can help.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
OP
OP
nzott

nzott

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 9, 2016
50
265
165
The biggest takeaway I've had on the forum so far is how many limiting beliefs I subconsciously held that have been completely knocked out. I would've never expected that a carpet cleaning business would be a fastlane venture.

I also had a chance this afternoon after work to listen to your interview with @Pittman09 . Thanks for providing the links, much appreciated. It seems like the common thread between your story and Pittman's is that you both started out by simply trying to help a friend/family member (you with your friend the electrician and Pittman with his father's business). In both stories, the offer to help turned into a learning experience and helped open the door to potential opportunities. I think it's a really powerful lesson that can be applied to my life to seek out who I can help.
You got it man. Finding who you can help is the name of the game. As you do that, little connections and conversations with start to mold together in your mind. Ask specific questions about what problems they are having or what they wish they could have if they could wave a magic wand and make it happen. Do this enough and a huge opportunity will present itself to you. No brainstorming ideas, no testing, just asking the market what it needs, then delivering a product or service that solves that need.

If you don't have the technical know how to solve the need, but you know what needs to be done, craft a plan and do consulting work. Consultants are literally paid to do research on big problems, present what that person should do, and leave.

If you have the technical ability or are willing to learn them, you can do it yourself.

Either way it's about getting out into the marketplace and asking real people what problems they have.
 

BlakeIC

Silver Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jan 9, 2014
844
819
293
Not Washington
Hi @nzott , since beginning your short journey, what have you learned in regards to clients relations that you did not know compared to when you first started it?
 

Andy Black

Any colour, as long as it's red.
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 20, 2014
8,167
34,637
4,306
Ireland
www.andyblack.net
The biggest takeaway I've had on the forum so far is how many limiting beliefs I subconsciously held that have been completely knocked out. I would've never expected that a carpet cleaning business would be a fastlane venture.

I also had a chance this afternoon after work to listen to your interview with @Pittman09 . Thanks for providing the links, much appreciated. It seems like the common thread between your story and Pittman's is that you both started out by simply trying to help a friend/family member (you with your friend the electrician and Pittman with his father's business). In both stories, the offer to help turned into a learning experience and helped open the door to potential opportunities. I think it's a really powerful lesson that can be applied to my life to seek out who I can help.
Bingo.

Learnings from 700+ PMs with fellow forum members

Notable! - The biggest reason websites suck
 
OP
OP
nzott

nzott

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 9, 2016
50
265
165
Hi @nzott , since beginning your short journey, what have you learned in regards to clients relations that you did not know compared to when you first started it?
The biggest transition was developing a way to handle complaints and issues that didn't depend on my natural people skills. It's simply not scalable for me to field all complaints and issues that arise.

We do a follow up email after each cleaning that rates our service. Good, Bad, or OK. Anything that isn't rated Good, gets a phone call. You're against the ropes in these situations because your entire reputation is built on that client not blowing you up publicly.

It wasn't until I sat down to draft out how to train others to handle complaints that I realized what I was doing. It's an insanely simply process, but followed correctly mitigates nearly any client services issue you come across. This process is actually what Disney uses for it's client relations.

1. Take Ownership - Never pass the buck. Your sole purpose in life in this moment is to solve this customers issue. Doesn't matter if you personally will be the decision maker, or not. You'll be the one to get the answers and solve the problem and ultimately deliver the solution and follow up to make sure they are happy.

2. Hear them out - Keep your mouth shut. Any time they pause, count to 3. Make sure they are done venting before you respond. People like to be heard. Be their sounding board.

3. Empathy - Never assume the client is lying or over exaggerating even if they are. Put yourself in their shoes. This isn't just saying you understand where they were coming from, it's mirroring their emotions and matching their tonality. If they are loud and angry, be loud and angry as you say "That's completely unacceptable, I'd never want that to happen to me. There's simply no reason for it. Oh I'll get this fixed alright, you better believe it.". If they are nice and reserved, but you just dropped the ball with this visit, match that soft voice and say "I know how important it is to me when I get the same service time after time. I love seeing the same smiling face each week, and understand we let you down. I want to make it up to you any way possible" - This is where client relations usually falls short. Call a big company's phone support and you'll hear in the most robotic monotone voice "I am sorry for the inconvenience, I can definitely help you out with that problem you are having". It sounds completely disingenuous and just eats at you.

4. Apologize - If you're the business owner, it's your fault no matter what, so let them know this. Even if it's a blatant mistake by an employee, tell the client it's on you, and you should have trained that employee better.

5. Resolve - Use these exact words, "What can I do to make this right". 3, 4, and 5 all come in quick succession. Match and mirror the client, let them know you sincerely apologize and need to make this right, and finally ask how you can do so. Our offer is always to come out and re-clean at no cost. Or, we give some money back. Worst case, we give all the money back and I send a hand written letter and small gift.

6. Diagnose and Correct - Once the client interaction is done, work backwards to find out the root reason why this mistake occurred. Put a process or system in place to make sure it doesn't happen again. It's important you do this without pointing any fingers.

Hope that helps
 
OP
OP
nzott

nzott

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 9, 2016
50
265
165
Update:

It's been another 60 days since my last update. Things are continuing to grow rapidly, and the chaos that surrounds a growing business is in full swing.

So April blew me away with the growth since March when we broke my goal of 10k. We rounded out April with $18,196.00 in revenue. This was the first month we completed over 100 bookings.

I thought there was no way we'd be able to maintain that, and just wanted to stay level in May. Again, we not only hit the previous months revenue, but exceeded it and booked $19,361 in credit card sales, and another 1k in Cash. Didn't expect to hit my next goal of 20k so quickly, but looking maintain $20k+ in June.

Biggest change from April to May was I launched a new service offering to complement interior home cleaning. I now offer Window Cleaning and Pressure Washing/Soft Washing of homes exteriors. I built one additional landing page for Window Cleaning and started driving traffic there via Adwords. Also added both services to Yelp, and figured I'd take care of these jobs as they came in, then hire help when justified. I was fortunate that my first job in high school was with a residential window cleaning company, so I already knew what basic equipment I'd need, and how to do the job well. Soft washing I learned from Youtube/Forums and the process is beyond easy. The equipment to get started in window cleaning is less costly, but the learning curve to do the job is higher. Since my site overall was already ranking well organically on Yelp and Google, inquiries started coming in very quickly. I priced high so it'd be worth it for me to take on, but heard more "Nah that's too expensive" than I otherwise would have if I just wanted to get the ball rolling fast. Yelp ended up being the best source for the first few bookings with this. My business networking group has been the other big source of these jobs. I now have a guy on call to tackle these jobs with me as they come in. Once he's proficient, I'll either make him a team lead and provide a vehicle, or bring on another crew member to train and do the same. Goal is to take myself out within a month or so with a team of two guys handling at least 5-7 jobs per week. Obviously would prefer more, but that's about the minimum to justify taking myself completely out of it and paying the guys.

I honestly find the work relaxing and it's only a few days per week. I schedule every job I take for 8:30AM, so it gets me out of bed and makes for a great workout. I'm back home working by 12:30PM, so I still have most of the day to work on other items. This would be far tougher if I was the guy fielding calls and scheduling bookings.

Which brings me to the next big change:

I hired a US Based virtual assistant. She is paid $1k for every 40 hours of production time worked. There's a log for every text, phone call, email, ect. , and I pay for that production time. Averages to about 80 hours per month. So $2k additional expense on this. This will drop a bit as she becomes more proficient with the Q & A's, and quoting bids, so her responses are then faster and won't need to come to me with questions.

Hiring an assistant, while costly, has been so incredibly amazing for myself and the business overall. I no longer need to field calls, follow up with clients, manage teams, schedule, etc. I do just the higher level building building and strategic activities. My assistant is based in Alabama and clients for whatever reason absolutely love talking to her.

Going forward my main focus is on building a core group of teams that can take us to the next level. Most of my teams are solid, but have their quirks that I deal with for the time being. Continuing to hire quality people will always be a consistent challenge, but one of the most important for further growth.

I stopped paying for Thumbtack bids. This was costing me about 800-1k per month. Back in January it was providing a consistent source of clients. That recently fell off a cliff. No idea why, as I have 20 5 star reviews, and the entire page is incredibly strong compared to competitors. I could very well just be too expensive for the platform, and unwilling to clog up my pipeline with low paying customers. This will save me money going forward and I'm happy I don't need to pay for the bids or someone to actively monitor the page.

Other items I stopped is Yelp adds. This was 800 per month, but the CPC went from $7-8 in February, to $12 most recently. Only 66 clicks to the page came from this ad spend in the previous month and that doesn't even bring them to my website. 180 clicks came organically thru yelp, so I was comfortable shutting this down entirely.

I might have a minor drop in bookings for June since I stopped these two items, but it'll help the business overall. Ultimate goal is to be independent of any paid ads, so as organic bookings from Google and Yelp grow, my overall ad spend will drop. I have a solid base of 5 star reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook, and Angie's list with one exception on Angie's List and Facebook. I've actually had a better response from clients since the one bad review. There was also an onslaught of positive reviews provided to me from passed clients when they saw the negative items the guy wrote about my personal character. That was great to see. The bad review is now buried, and should have a negligible impact on future growth.

Goal for next update is a 30K month in combined revenue from interior home cleaning, window cleaning, and pressure washing. With the early growth in Window Cleaning and reviews growing at a faster and faster rate, I'm confident we'll hit this in July.

Happy to answer any questions anyone has. I'll continue to be an open book.

Onward
 

1825tulane

New Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Feb 20, 2013
15
17
26
Atlanta
Great update Neal.

I have a few questions: you mentioned that you're getting more traffic organically now, and your goal is to move away completely from paid. How much of your current traffic is organic vs paid, and how much has it changed from one to the other over the last 6-12 months?
 

Become a Fastlane INSIDER to view the forum ad free.

OP
OP
nzott

nzott

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 9, 2016
50
265
165
Great update Neal.

I have a few questions: you mentioned that you're getting more traffic organically now, and your goal is to move away completely from paid. How much of your current traffic is organic vs paid, and how much has it changed from one to the other over the last 6-12 months?
I made a change a few months back regarding adwords. Basically implementing what @Andy Black told me to an even more direct level. Each Ad has it's own landing page built with Unbounce. I have a few different headlines for each running to split test, and the page is incredibly simple overall. Basically a headline that matches the ad headline, and space to gather lead info. Name, Email, Phone, and message regarding what they need done. Before I had different landing pages for each, but it was just a small variation in headline that added the city specific to where that lead was from. The landing page was just my homepage and client had to ultimately book on their own. I could only track direct conversions then as opposed to phone calls. Now, I encourage them to call the business (Since I have someone who answers full time).

When it was just me, answering phones, while insanely important, hindered the other things I needed to hustle and do. Constantly following up took time away from the other items that were necessary. Bringing on the assistant completely took this off my plate and she's been crushing it.

Cost per conversion (Leads that give me their contact info): $16.28. Cost per customer won (Leads that ultimately book): $133.93, Lead to customer conversion rate: 14.10%. 32% of customers won via PPC are recurring. April ROI 155.39%. May ROI 238.62%. We get about 10-15 new clients from this per month. 3-5 new recurring clients.

Goal here is to maximize ad spend in this channel. Try to figure out where the diminishing margin of returns lies. If I can spend 10k per month on Adwords before reaching that point, I'll do it in a heartbeat. Once I've found the maximum, I'll let it run at the point in perpetuity. Even if organic was bringing in a ton of business each month, there's no reason to stop a profitable paid channel. The channel I stopped was Yelp and Thumbtack because even accounting for retention, these were no longer profitable long term.

From May 1 to June 15th, Analytics shows Organic traffic was 510 New Users 4.3% Conversion rate to Bookings for 22 New bookings in that time and a little over 4k revenue in that time. Adwords 85 New Users, 2.35% Conversion rate to Booking for just 2 New Bookings. This does not calculate the number that land on our page and call, then we book them on the back end. Obviously that figure is a ton higher and shows how important it is to get someone on the phone.

Over the last 6-12 months so much has changed it's hard to compare apples to apples. 12 Months ago I was working full time, running a crappy adwords campaign, and breaking even each month. Flat line growth month over month. I think the biggest component here is Adwords and other paid channels are a snowball effect. I can't spend $50,000 next month on adwords and take my business to 40k per month. There's not enough searches happening each month. Instead, I spend $2,000 and get a $3,500 bump in revenue. Of which, $1,050 stays with me. Extrapolate that out for a few months and you can see where that snowball starts to get big.

I think this also goes to show the importance of delivering an insane level of service to each and every client. Your growth is in keeping these people. If you just look at them as a single transaction, and not a lifetime of value, you'll stagnate. That's where I see a lot of other small businesses come up short. They'll bicker with a client over $50 additional item, make that $50 but lose a recurring client. Instead, I'll throw in that $50 item no questions ask, but educate them on why we charge what we charge and how it allows us to provide an incredible level of service with each visit. Now I have a recurring customer who will make up for that $50 over and over and over.

Hopefully that answered your question and provided a little more context overall. My point boiled down is as long as a channel is profitable long term, I'll run it. After maximizing the highest ROI channels first of course. Organic will grow to be my biggest revenue contributor, but I'll never stop paid ads until they show a low or negative ROI.
 
Last edited:

Andy Black

Any colour, as long as it's red.
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 20, 2014
8,167
34,637
4,306
Ireland
www.andyblack.net
R + R = Profit

Too many people only look at the initial transaction when determining if AdWords and other paid channels are profitable for them.

I prefer to think of the first purchase as a test.

Great update @nzott ... rep.
 

Andy Black

Any colour, as long as it's red.
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 20, 2014
8,167
34,637
4,306
Ireland
www.andyblack.net
Marked Notable and thread renamed.

Well done @nzott, and thanks for your detailed updates.
 

jclean

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 9, 2016
41
60
124
Belgium
pro-cleanteam.be
@nzott

Thanks for the thread.
Gained a lot off insight in adwords.
Congrats with the rapidly growth.
I have a window and pressure washing business In Belgium
We are currently making 10k a month in revenue.
I am systematizing my business but find this extremely difficult to do.
do you have any tips or thoughts ?
Thanks !
 
OP
OP
nzott

nzott

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 9, 2016
50
265
165
@nzott

Thanks for the thread.
Gained a lot off insight in adwords.
Congrats with the rapidly growth.
I have a window and pressure washing business In Belgium
We are currently making 10k a month in revenue.
I am systematizing my business but find this extremely difficult to do.
do you have any tips or thoughts ?
Thanks !
Give me a little background on your services. What's the process when somebody calls the business? Who answers and how is it scheduled?

How many people are working for you and what are their roles?

Do you manage your own equipment and supplies?

How are leads currently generated and how is this tracked and what sort of follow up is done?

Do you have a process in place for getting reviews?

I wrote earlier about creating mind maps then breaking these down into actionable processes that I stick to. I recommend you do this as well.
 

IceCreamKid

With Great Power Comes Great Electricity Bill
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jun 8, 2010
897
17,913
3,723
California
Wow. Not sure how I missed this awesome thread. Thank you for sharing your journey. And thank you @Andy Black for helping as well.

Question, I paid for Yelp ads a while back and ultimately cut the service too after much testing concluded that it wasn't worth it. Immediately after cancelling, many of my positive reviews disappeared. I called Yelp to ask what was going on and they claimed that their algorithm automatically filters out reviews that they deem potentially fake. All of my reviews are legit. I spoke to other biz owners and they experienced something similar too.

Did Yelp use any mob tactics against you too?
 

jclean

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 9, 2016
41
60
124
Belgium
pro-cleanteam.be
Give me a little background on your services. What's the process when somebody calls the business? Who answers and how is it scheduled?

How many people are working for you and what are their roles?

Do you manage your own equipment and supplies?

How are leads currently generated and how is this tracked and what sort of follow up is done?

Do you have a process in place for getting reviews?

I wrote earlier about creating mind maps then breaking these down into actionable processes that I stick to. I recommend you do this as well.
Give me a little background on your services. What's the process when somebody calls the business? Who answers and how is it scheduled?

How many people are working for you and what are their roles?

Do you manage your own equipment and supplies?

How are leads currently generated and how is this tracked and what sort of follow up is done?

Do you have a process in place for getting reviews?

I wrote earlier about creating mind maps then breaking these down into actionable processes that I stick to. I recommend you do this as well.
Thank you for your answer.
We do mainly:
window cleaning 85%
Solar panel cleaning 10%
Roof cleaning 5%

When a potential customer calls me i pick up the phone and deal with the appointment/scheduling.

My younger brother works for me.
He does a lot off the ground work.
I make estimates, do the scheduling, follow ups, administration, ground work..

We dont need that much supplies, once every two months we go to the store for them.
Equipment is managed by me.

Leads are generated by:
Mouth to mouth.
Organic thru website.
But the main source are two leadgeneration companies.
In the early days (2014)
We did a lot off flyers this worked very well but costs a lot off time.

I send the leads always a short email.
And ask them for an appointment or photos to give a quote.

I now reviews are a big thing in the us an uk but here in Belgium it is currently not that important for a service business. I am sure this will change in the near future. I have a couple reviews from happy customers thru mail didnt use them in my marketing

I installed a mind map app on my phone going to put my time in this.

I see @IceCreamKid has joined the thread. Your threads are also pure gold ! Always a good reminder to keep me on track. Want start a business read his threads.

Finally some thoughts
I see a lot potential in this forum, people trying to do ecommerce,copywriting, shiny things
A service business doesnt appeal to much people. But it is definetly a great learning process.
When you put in the work you can grow this quick !
look in this thread @nzott is growing really fast. Dont waste your time thinking/action faking or askholing here.
Dont now what to do ? Start a service business and learn on the go...

Thanks !
 
OP
OP
nzott

nzott

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 9, 2016
50
265
165
Wow. Not sure how I missed this awesome thread. Thank you for sharing your journey. And thank you @Andy Black for helping as well.

Question, I paid for Yelp ads a while back and ultimately cut the service too after much testing concluded that it wasn't worth it. Immediately after cancelling, many of my positive reviews disappeared. I called Yelp to ask what was going on and they claimed that their algorithm automatically filters out reviews that they deem potentially fake. All of my reviews are legit. I spoke to other biz owners and they experienced something similar too.

Did Yelp use any mob tactics against you too?
Thanks for the kind words, happy to provide any value I can.

I've heard similar horror stories regarding Yelp and this exact scenario. I've been fortunate to this point that they haven't hit me with anything noticeable. I currently have 15 5 star reviews, with an additional 8 that are hidden. I'll update if I see a noticeable shift happen.

I may run a lower level of ads ($100) and update the phone number to track everything better. Having the separate phone number will help me get conclusive data on the clients we receive from Yelp, while also paying a small bribe to not get penalized. Wish it wasn't necessary, but I'll play their game if I have to. Even with strong profiles on other ratings sites, Yelp overall is still super important to the business.
 
OP
OP
nzott

nzott

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 9, 2016
50
265
165
Thank you for your answer.
We do mainly:
window cleaning 85%
Solar panel cleaning 10%
Roof cleaning 5%

When a potential customer calls me i pick up the phone and deal with the appointment/scheduling.

My younger brother works for me.
He does a lot off the ground work.
I make estimates, do the scheduling, follow ups, administration, ground work..

We dont need that much supplies, once every two months we go to the store for them.
Equipment is managed by me.

Leads are generated by:
Mouth to mouth.
Organic thru website.
But the main source are two leadgeneration companies.
In the early days (2014)
We did a lot off flyers this worked very well but costs a lot off time.

I send the leads always a short email.
And ask them for an appointment or photos to give a quote.

I now reviews are a big thing in the us an uk but here in Belgium it is currently not that important for a service business. I am sure this will change in the near future. I have a couple reviews from happy customers thru mail didnt use them in my marketing

I installed a mind map app on my phone going to put my time in this.

I see @IceCreamKid has joined the thread. Your threads are also pure gold ! Always a good reminder to keep me on track. Want start a business read his threads.

Finally some thoughts
I see a lot potential in this forum, people trying to do ecommerce,copywriting, shiny things
A service business doesnt appeal to much people. But it is definetly a great learning process.
When you put in the work you can grow this quick !
look in this thread @nzott is growing really fast. Dont waste your time thinking/action faking or askholing here.
Dont now what to do ? Start a service business and learn on the go...

Thanks !
Most logical step I think is to outsource your phones. You want to do whatever you can to take yourself away from working "in the business" to "on the business". Michael Gerber discusses this in his E-Myth book.

The way to do this is to map out exactly what you say and do when a call comes in.

For example:

When we answer the phone we say "Hi, thanks for Calling XYZ Windows, what information can I get for you?"

Then the call can go in a variety of direction:

Schedule Service
Estimate
How your pricing works
Call Back
Team is late
Cancellation
Complaint
Telemarketer
Etc

You need a specific line of questioning and responses for each scenario. Basically a FAQ's page as a phone reference. This is where the mind map comes in. Draw out each scenario to it's conclusion.

Now, you personally don't need this document, but in order for anyone to be successful taking over your role, they do. This will take a long drawn out crappy process and turn it into a productive couple weeks before they are operationally strong.

There's multiple answering services out there, so I'm sure a quick Google search should show you some options in your area.

Once you've taken this off your plate, you can draft out all the other things you do to run the business. Use the exact same mind mapping process. Then follow this "system" every day and make minor tweaks as you see fit. When the business can support it, hire a full time administrative assistant to take over everything. Your goal is to be able to hand them a binder or send a link to a google doc with everything they need to run your business and off they go.

It's easier said than done, but first step is to free up your time to allow you to focus on this. For me, that was getting away from answering the phones as quick as possible.

Hope that helps.
 

jclean

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 9, 2016
41
60
124
Belgium
pro-cleanteam.be
Most logical step I think is to outsource your phones. You want to do whatever you can to take yourself away from working "in the business" to "on the business". Michael Gerber discusses this in his E-Myth book.

The way to do this is to map out exactly what you say and do when a call comes in.

For example:

When we answer the phone we say "Hi, thanks for Calling XYZ Windows, what information can I get for you?"

Then the call can go in a variety of direction:

Schedule Service
Estimate
How your pricing works
Call Back
Team is late
Cancellation
Complaint
Telemarketer
Etc

You need a specific line of questioning and responses for each scenario. Basically a FAQ's page as a phone reference. This is where the mind map comes in. Draw out each scenario to it's conclusion.

Now, you personally don't need this document, but in order for anyone to be successful taking over your role, they do. This will take a long drawn out crappy process and turn it into a productive couple weeks before they are operationally strong.

There's multiple answering services out there, so I'm sure a quick Google search should show you some options in your area.

Once you've taken this off your plate, you can draft out all the other things you do to run the business. Use the exact same mind mapping process. Then follow this "system" every day and make minor tweaks as you see fit. When the business can support it, hire a full time administrative assistant to take over everything. Your goal is to be able to hand them a binder or send a link to a google doc with everything they need to run your business and off they go.

It's easier said than done, but first step is to free up your time to allow you to focus on this. For me, that was getting away from answering the phones as quick as possible.

Hope that helps.
I read the E-myth, fantastic book.
Good tip the FAQ for the phone.
Will definetly make such a script.

A whole lot off work indeed,
Thanks for the reply !
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Post New Topic

Please SEARCH before posting.
Please select the BEST category.

Post new topic

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top Bottom