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What I Learned Operating A Commercial Cleaning Company

Grinder20

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I hope this helps someone, somewhere...

A little background…I owned and operated a non-franchise commercial cleaning business for almost 10 years and sold it recently (New role will be business development as a 1099 (only way I would) with an upfront commission and backend reoccurring/residual component that survives the company even if the new owner sells it. (“I built this city!”) FU MONEY! =)

Previously to owning a cleaning business, I have been in sales and/or marketing in some form or another, and like MJ, I held almost every job under the sun for the better part of a decade. If job hopping was a sport, I would have been a f*cking Olympian! Looking back at it, not only was I pay-whore for a couple dollars more an hour, but I had a complete contempt for authority, go figure. Then life kicked me in the a$$ and I realized it was high time to grow up or burn out.

Light that f*cking blow torch!!!...

Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle…a destiny…and dream made into a reality.

It all starts with a clear vision and an unwavering burning desire.

If you’re a poser or wannabe, Karma and/or time will serve you. You better come proper!

You need a why.
Do some soul searching…you need a “why” like nobody’s business.

My Why. One of my best friends said to me (during the job hopping era)…”You know what your problem is, you never finish anything you start!”…Oh, f*ck him! It hit me like a ton of lead and it took everything not to knock him out…but deep down, I know he was right. It took quite some time and reflection to wrap my head around this, but nonetheless it was a turning point in my life (yes, we’re still good friends). Enter responsibility and accountability.

This is where I ended up…

You are where you’re at in your life because of you. Ain’t that a bitch?

My FU Moment. After my “buddy” had no problem telling me “what’s up,” I took an inside sales job downtown Chicago, smiling and dialing (Daily quota: 120 calls, 2 hours of talk time). No regrets. Great city, great people, great food, and the worst winters ever… and I grew up in Michigan. There’s just something about waiting for the EL at 5am for 30 minutes at -20 that makes me all warm inside (sarcasm). (Not to mention the cost of living/wage ratio, that would cause a spontaneous nose bleed on the most humid days). Speaking of nose bleeds…I was one of the top producers at the company and the coked up owner decided to rage on me by calling me out during a meeting among my peers because I didn’t “hit the numbers,” (he’s right, I destroyed the actual sales numbers, you know, what really matters!), despite the fact that I religiously supplied the fuel for his Maserati Vanquish and nose candy for his helpless soul (no more grudges, I swear). Needless to say, at that moment, I said to myself, “self, I will never ever, ever, ever, work for anyone ever, ever again. If this douchebag can run a multi-million P.O.S, then I sure as hell can too.” “FU, I’m out!!!”

Back to Michigan…

Don’t listen to anyone you wouldn’t exchange shoes with
(I wish I originally penned this, not sure who did), that includes your girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse, parents, friends, and anyone who hasn’t accomplished something in the business world. Be prepared for the backlash (my dad was really not happy with my decision. Mind you, this is coming from a retired gym teacher –sorry, physical education instructor), its real and it will test your fortitude. Hold your ground.

Find a spouse that is understanding. Entrepreneurship is like oil and water to marriage due to financial scarcity and the ups and downs of business. If you’re lucky enough to be dating or married to someone whose parents are entrepreneurial or self-employed, you’re already ahead of the game. If not, it’s a serious sit-down conversation and/or revaluation. Just being real.

Low on cash? A service business is the absolute best sweat equity business model that exists. I am aware it doesn’t necessarily pass the CENTS test, however, it is a completely viable business that someone will eventually purchase if it is operated correctly. It’s also, so, so, scalable with great margins. Most business owners that launch a cleaning business start with residential because it’s safe (they don’t know how to estimate larger buildings –making the barrier to entry higher) and it’s what they know and the majority of them eventually make the switch to commercial because the margins are better and clients pay on time (or pay in general).

Don’t buy a franchise and don’t take out a loan. People want an easy button. No business worthwhile is easy, franchise or not. This my experience at least in the dirty, dirty, franchise cleaning industry. I’m sure there are some decent ones (cleaning or non-cleaning), but by in large, they are selling a business system on loan to unsuspecting, would be buyers that have no experience in the industry. They tell you what you want to hear (security) and they sell you on the idea/promise of their ability to secure business and/or leads which are usually complete B.S., rung of the litter accounts with very little profit. Then they of course expect you to shell out their outlandish monthly royalty and marketing fees (as the contract states), or anything else they can gouge you for when you’re most likely already operating in the red (not a good place to be when you’re just starting out). Likewise keep in mind that they can change the game and the rules anytime and you have to get approval from corporate for almost anything—are you ready for that? You’re NOT in control.

Take a white collar approach to a blue collar industry and you will stick out like a sore thumb. Stay organized and be professional.

You don’t need a partner. Entrepreneurship can be scary and no one wants to do it alone. That’s understandable, however, what no one tells you in the beginning it’s a honeymoon phase where everything is peachy and “we’re all best friends and in this together!” Then when bills come due, people all of the sudden have different priorities, arguments become daily occurrences, and then one partner tells the other that they think the business should go another direction, while the other partner wants to stay on the straight and narrow and they split ties and/or the business shuts down.

Find a mentor. If you don’t have the specific knowledge of the industry you are intending to start a business, find a mentor – it will cut your learning curve in half to siphon the wisdom of someone who has already chartered the choppy waters and save you from repeatedly and unnecessarily banging your head against the wall. It would of course be great to find someone that would offer his/her expertise for free, but by paying you at least have them on the hook for whatever time frame you negotiated. For me, it was $5K and it was the best money I spent (assuming you properly vet them – ask for references). The gentlemen I worked with was in the commercial cleaning industry for 25+ years and managed his business from another state. WTF? Yup, pretty legit!

Keep your overhead as low as possible. Do NOT fall victim to the bullshit mainstream thinking that you need an office, you absolutely don’t. No one gives a crap, especially your customers and employees and you’ll save a lot of money in your infancy which could make or break you. That extra money can be stowed away for a rainy day and/or allow you to confidently increase your employees pay/bonuses without putting a choke hold on your finances.

Save as much money as you can (cut cable, eat at home, and cancel as many subscriptions as possible ((Yes, this includes Amazon and Netflix)).

Serve one market, one niche, and deliver better service and follow up with your customers, OMG…follow up! (You can add other services or go wide later…concentrate on perfecting one).

Know your business inside and out – Every. Single. Detail. (Get your hands dirty, literally!)

Implement systems (the process). Write down everything down from A to Z and put it in a 3-ring binder. Do this for everything. New account? New binder. New position? New binder. New manager? New binder. The point of this is to create a well-oiled machine that can run on its own, allowing you to eventually remove yourself from the business (E-Myth). Take a trip for 2 weeks, get paid. Go see family across the country, get paid. Leave for an emergency situation for a month, get paid. This is all done at an arms-length using KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) when talking with your management team. It takes some upfront time and work to set up, but it’s more than worth it and it pays dividends financially and time freedom (options to do what you want, when and where you want). Collecting checks (the event) never gets old (oh, the itch!).

Learn to say NO. Trust me, your income will explode. Swallow your pride and tell the potential client that you’re not ready for that BIG account (if you have to think about it, you’re probably not). They’ll respect you and remember you (call you later) and you’ll save your reputation. On the other hand, you have to start somewhere, so you can’t be too picky in the beginning. However, you eventually you must fire your smaller clients (my opinion). It was never an easy conversation, especially with business owners that first gave you a shot and were your first customers. However, if you have a good relationship with them, and you tell them in person, they will most likely understand (at least my clients did – it’s just business).

Stay focused. There endless business opportunities to get distracted by the shiny object syndrome. Don’t fall for them. Stay the course and stay focused at the task at hand – building your business. You cannot simultaneously run 2 businesses successfully that both demand your time. Maybe later, but not now.

Take a breath. When your nose is on the grindstone for so long, sometimes it’s difficult to pick your head up long enough to see the big picture. Take a breath…relax…and take a step back. Where were you last year this time? Did you learn something? Did you grow personally/financially?

It’s never as bad as you think. As entrepreneurs we always think of the worst case scenario, because we have to. However, it really isn’t as bad as you think it is. Until it is. LOL! No, seriously it really isn’t.

Time and energy. The most important aspect of your life and business is time –it is the ultimate equalizer. In order for you to have peace of mind and your own sanity, you have to find ways and/or tools to work smarter not harder.

Logistics. Time and logistics go hand-in-hand. Find business that are located close to each other as possible. This cuts down on travel time between buildings and makes things more centralized and streamlined for everyone.

Small or big accounts? When you’re first starting out, you will not be calling on something massive such as 100,000 sq. ft., but more like 5,000 sq. ft. You will be cleaning smaller buildings for a while, adding employees and using your references and your reputation to get the opportunity to bid bigger and bigger buildings. However, know this: it takes the same amount of energy to start a big account as it does a small account. Would you prefer 30 big accounts or 300 small accounts? Again, logistics.

Always have a backup plan. That goes for hiring and on-boarding new employees as well being prepared to start cleaning a new business. We had a great track record with our clients, but employee turn-over is real and part of the business, and that is something that has to be budgeted for.

Don’t put up with anyone’s bullshit. You get what you allow. Shit attracts shit. People will test you. Be true and consistent, but fair and you’ll naturally attract better employees and clients.

I never regretted firing anyone, I only regretted not doing it sooner. They’ll never get any better, they’ll only get worse. Trust your instincts.

Take a vacation(s). Don’t ever work more than a year without taking some time off and get away if you can. I went 3 years without a vacation when I first started the business, it was way too long.
 

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Grinder20

Grinder20

Contributor
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Read Millionaire Fastlane
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May 28, 2019
43
67
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Michigan
Wow, this was an awesome post.
Gave me alot of value.

Can you explain how you started? I mean did you clean the houses by yourself at the beginning or you had some employees since day1?

Thank you
Hey Kusneak,
Thank you, I appreciate it and I'm glad you found value in the post.

I started out by opening the phone book (remember those?) and making cold calls to local businesses to set appointments. I also sent out direct mail pieces (contact info from InfoUSA database - free at most libraries) and would follow up with them 3 or 4 days later.

It took me 3 months to land my first client. I did all the cleaning until I couldn't handle it by myself and then I hired my first employee and grew from there.
 

Real Deal Denver

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Loved every word of your post. If anyone truly loves business and is not afraid to do every little detail, your post is textbook material.

I can't help but think that if it were me instead of you, I would have opened branch offices and expanded to the hilt. Why did you sell the goose that laid the golden eggs?
 

NursingTn

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Your post came at the right time.

God, marketing to businesses is harder than to individuals.

Props to you for succeeding in a B2B venture.
 
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Grinder20

Grinder20

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43
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Michigan
Loved every word of your post. If anyone truly loves business and is not afraid to do every little detail, your post is textbook material.

I can't help but think that if it were me instead of you, I would have opened branch offices and expanded to the hilt. Why did you sell the goose that laid the golden eggs?
Real Deal Denver,

Thank you , I appreciate it!

There were a couple of reasons why, but the main reasons were an unsustainable business model and we grew to the point that I would have had to hire an operations manager/GM that would have required a hefty salary and benefits.

Our business model was a little different than most. When I worked for someone, I used to hate not getting direct answers from the top and being fed a line of b.s. from management with the he said/she said red tape, so I decided with my company that employees could come to me with anything. When I sold the company we had 15 employees and 3 managers. Instead of me managing 3 managers, I was managing 18. Additionally, the clients and any issues we'd may have there.

From an employee and customer service stand point, it was great, but for me it was exhausting. I suspect the new owner may change the business model.
 
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Grinder20

Grinder20

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FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
May 28, 2019
43
67
111
Michigan
Your post came at the right time.

God, marketing to businesses is harder than to individuals.

Props to you for succeeding in a B2B venture.
NursingTN,

You're welcome, glad I could help!

What kind of business are you running?
 

Envious

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I hope this helps someone, somewhere...

A little background…I owned and operated a non-franchise commercial cleaning business for almost 10 years and sold it recently (New role will be business development as a 1099 (only way I would) with an upfront commission and backend reoccurring/residual component that survives the company even if the new owner sells it. (“I built this city!”) FU MONEY! =)

Previously to owning a cleaning business, I have been in sales and/or marketing in some form or another, and like MJ, I held almost every job under the sun for the better part of a decade. If job hopping was a sport, I would have been a f*cking Olympian! Looking back at it, not only was I pay-whore for a couple dollars more an hour, but I had a complete contempt for authority, go figure. Then life kicked me in the a$$ and I realized it was high time to grow up or burn out.

Light that f*cking blow torch!!!...

Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle…a destiny…and dream made into a reality.

It all starts with a clear vision and an unwavering burning desire.

If you’re a poser or wannabe, Karma and/or time will serve you. You better come proper!

You need a why.
Do some soul searching…you need a “why” like nobody’s business.

My Why. One of my best friends said to me (during the job hopping era)…”You know what your problem is, you never finish anything you start!”…Oh, f*ck him! It hit me like a ton of lead and it took everything not to knock him out…but deep down, I know he was right. It took quite some time and reflection to wrap my head around this, but nonetheless it was a turning point in my life (yes, we’re still good friends). Enter responsibility and accountability.

This is where I ended up…

You are where you’re at in your life because of you. Ain’t that a bitch?

My FU Moment. After my “buddy” had no problem telling me “what’s up,” I took an inside sales job downtown Chicago, smiling and dialing (Daily quota: 120 calls, 2 hours of talk time). No regrets. Great city, great people, great food, and the worst winters ever… and I grew up in Michigan. There’s just something about waiting for the EL at 5am for 30 minutes at -20 that makes me all warm inside (sarcasm). (Not to mention the cost of living/wage ratio, that would cause a spontaneous nose bleed on the most humid days). Speaking of nose bleeds…I was one of the top producers at the company and the coked up owner decided to rage on me by calling me out during a meeting among my peers because I didn’t “hit the numbers,” (he’s right, I destroyed the actual sales numbers, you know, what really matters!), despite the fact that I religiously supplied the fuel for his Maserati Vanquish and nose candy for his helpless soul (no more grudges, I swear). Needless to say, at that moment, I said to myself, “self, I will never ever, ever, ever, work for anyone ever, ever again. If this douchebag can run a multi-million P.O.S, then I sure as hell can too.” “FU, I’m out!!!”

Back to Michigan…

Don’t listen to anyone you wouldn’t exchange shoes with
(I wish I originally penned this, not sure who did), that includes your girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse, parents, friends, and anyone who hasn’t accomplished something in the business world. Be prepared for the backlash (my dad was really not happy with my decision. Mind you, this is coming from a retired gym teacher –sorry, physical education instructor), its real and it will test your fortitude. Hold your ground.

Find a spouse that is understanding. Entrepreneurship is like oil and water to marriage due to financial scarcity and the ups and downs of business. If you’re lucky enough to be dating or married to someone whose parents are entrepreneurial or self-employed, you’re already ahead of the game. If not, it’s a serious sit-down conversation and/or revaluation. Just being real.

Low on cash? A service business is the absolute best sweat equity business model that exists. I am aware it doesn’t necessarily pass the CENTS test, however, it is a completely viable business that someone will eventually purchase if it is operated correctly. It’s also, so, so, scalable with great margins. Most business owners that launch a cleaning business start with residential because it’s safe (they don’t know how to estimate larger buildings –making the barrier to entry higher) and it’s what they know and the majority of them eventually make the switch to commercial because the margins are better and clients pay on time (or pay in general).

Don’t buy a franchise and don’t take out a loan. People want an easy button. No business worthwhile is easy, franchise or not. This my experience at least in the dirty, dirty, franchise cleaning industry. I’m sure there are some decent ones (cleaning or non-cleaning), but by in large, they are selling a business system on loan to unsuspecting, would be buyers that have no experience in the industry. They tell you what you want to hear (security) and they sell you on the idea/promise of their ability to secure business and/or leads which are usually complete B.S., rung of the litter accounts with very little profit. Then they of course expect you to shell out their outlandish monthly royalty and marketing fees (as the contract states), or anything else they can gouge you for when you’re most likely already operating in the red (not a good place to be when you’re just starting out). Likewise keep in mind that they can change the game and the rules anytime and you have to get approval from corporate for almost anything—are you ready for that? You’re NOT in control.

Take a white collar approach to a blue collar industry and you will stick out like a sore thumb. Stay organized and be professional.

You don’t need a partner. Entrepreneurship can be scary and no one wants to do it alone. That’s understandable, however, what no one tells you in the beginning it’s a honeymoon phase where everything is peachy and “we’re all best friends and in this together!” Then when bills come due, people all of the sudden have different priorities, arguments become daily occurrences, and then one partner tells the other that they think the business should go another direction, while the other partner wants to stay on the straight and narrow and they split ties and/or the business shuts down.

Find a mentor. If you don’t have the specific knowledge of the industry you are intending to start a business, find a mentor – it will cut your learning curve in half to siphon the wisdom of someone who has already chartered the choppy waters and save you from repeatedly and unnecessarily banging your head against the wall. It would of course be great to find someone that would offer his/her expertise for free, but by paying you at least have them on the hook for whatever time frame you negotiated. For me, it was $5K and it was the best money I spent (assuming you properly vet them – ask for references). The gentlemen I worked with was in the commercial cleaning industry for 25+ years and managed his business from another state. WTF? Yup, pretty legit!

Keep your overhead as low as possible. Do NOT fall victim to the bullshit mainstream thinking that you need an office, you absolutely don’t. No one gives a crap, especially your customers and employees and you’ll save a lot of money in your infancy which could make or break you. That extra money can be stowed away for a rainy day and/or allow you to confidently increase your employees pay/bonuses without putting a choke hold on your finances.

Save as much money as you can (cut cable, eat at home, and cancel as many subscriptions as possible ((Yes, this includes Amazon and Netflix)).

Serve one market, one niche, and deliver better service and follow up with your customers, OMG…follow up! (You can add other services or go wide later…concentrate on perfecting one).

Know your business inside and out – Every. Single. Detail. (Get your hands dirty, literally!)

Implement systems (the process). Write down everything down from A to Z and put it in a 3-ring binder. Do this for everything. New account? New binder. New position? New binder. New manager? New binder. The point of this is to create a well-oiled machine that can run on its own, allowing you to eventually remove yourself from the business (E-Myth). Take a trip for 2 weeks, get paid. Go see family across the country, get paid. Leave for an emergency situation for a month, get paid. This is all done at an arms-length using KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) when talking with your management team. It takes some upfront time and work to set up, but it’s more than worth it and it pays dividends financially and time freedom (options to do what you want, when and where you want). Collecting checks (the event) never gets old (oh, the itch!).

Learn to say NO. Trust me, your income will explode. Swallow your pride and tell the potential client that you’re not ready for that BIG account (if you have to think about it, you’re probably not). They’ll respect you and remember you (call you later) and you’ll save your reputation. On the other hand, you have to start somewhere, so you can’t be too picky in the beginning. However, you eventually you must fire your smaller clients (my opinion). It was never an easy conversation, especially with business owners that first gave you a shot and were your first customers. However, if you have a good relationship with them, and you tell them in person, they will most likely understand (at least my clients did – it’s just business).

Stay focused. There endless business opportunities to get distracted by the shiny object syndrome. Don’t fall for them. Stay the course and stay focused at the task at hand – building your business. You cannot simultaneously run 2 businesses successfully that both demand your time. Maybe later, but not now.

Take a breath. When your nose is on the grindstone for so long, sometimes it’s difficult to pick your head up long enough to see the big picture. Take a breath…relax…and take a step back. Where were you last year this time? Did you learn something? Did you grow personally/financially?

It’s never as bad as you think. As entrepreneurs we always think of the worst case scenario, because we have to. However, it really isn’t as bad as you think it is. Until it is. LOL! No, seriously it really isn’t.

Time and energy. The most important aspect of your life and business is time –it is the ultimate equalizer. In order for you to have peace of mind and your own sanity, you have to find ways and/or tools to work smarter not harder.

Logistics. Time and logistics go hand-in-hand. Find business that are located close to each other as possible. This cuts down on travel time between buildings and makes things more centralized and streamlined for everyone.

Small or big accounts? When you’re first starting out, you will not be calling on something massive such as 100,000 sq. ft., but more like 5,000 sq. ft. You will be cleaning smaller buildings for a while, adding employees and using your references and your reputation to get the opportunity to bid bigger and bigger buildings. However, know this: it takes the same amount of energy to start a big account as it does a small account. Would you prefer 30 big accounts or 300 small accounts? Again, logistics.

Always have a backup plan. That goes for hiring and on-boarding new employees as well being prepared to start cleaning a new business. We had a great track record with our clients, but employee turn-over is real and part of the business, and that is something that has to be budgeted for.

Don’t put up with anyone’s bullshit. You get what you allow. Shit attracts shit. People will test you. Be true and consistent, but fair and you’ll naturally attract better employees and clients.

I never regretted firing anyone, I only regretted not doing it sooner. They’ll never get any better, they’ll only get worse. Trust your instincts.

Take a vacation(s). Don’t ever work more than a year without taking some time off and get away if you can. I went 3 years without a vacation when I first started the business, it was way too long.
Awesome post. Great writing and great value given! Rep++
 

CPisHere

Silver Contributor
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Sep 17, 2011
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Louisiana
Love it!

Questions:
What was your niche?
If you could go back, what would you do differently? Would you change your business model?
What did you move on to after selling this cleaning business?
 
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Grinder20

Grinder20

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Michigan
@CPisHere,

Thank you, I appreciate it!

Great question...

It would have been preferable to have full-time employees (less overall employees) vs. part-time employees and maybe it would have gone a little smoother, but maybe not. However, with absences (planned or unplanned) once you get too big, you will not be able to physically cover all the cleaning. This is when we hired a Supervisor/Trainer, that would train new employees, supervise/quality, check the buildings each night, and cover employee shifts when necessary.

We had 3 supervisors (all salaried) and they were usually in charge of 5 buildings each. Obviously, not every employee would call-off on any given day, so it was manageable. My main thing was high quality, making sure their weren't any missed cleanings, and minimum customer complaints.

When someone would put in their 2 week notice or simply quit on the spot (it happens), we had to find someone to replace them ASAP. Sometimes we had someone ready to go right away and other times, it could take weeks. So, our supervisor for that building would have to cover the shift ranging anywhere from 5:30pm - 11:00pm and then they would have to check the rest of the buildings, meaning they could be out until 2:00am or later (it is not an easy job, very physically demanding - we work 6 days/week as well, but I paid them very well too!! )

Remember, this is covering for one part-time employee. Imagine if that same supervisor had to cover a full-time employee or two in evening. It wouldn't be sustainable.

I rattled it around in my head for a very long time prior to selling the business, trying to come up all kinds of alternatives. Fom hiring another supervisor, hiring a GM, hiring a temp service (rate breakdown, if you pay your cleaners $10/hr., they will charge you $5 per hour that the temp worker is covering a shift...yikes!)
Facility managers like consistency in the cleaning staff, the less turnover the better.

I told the new owner if he can figure out this aspect of the business better than I could, while maintaining the quality, then he will blow it up and I will be right there to buy the first round of drinks!!
 
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Grinder20

Grinder20

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@CPisHere, we cleaned commercial buildings. Although we did have some national clients or clients that weren't headquartered in our city, our bread and butter were mostly locally owned white collar businesses. They were just easier to clean and easier to keep employees in and happy!!
 

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bmcer1

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May 20, 2019
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This this was an amazing post, thanks for sharing, very informative and inspirational. The quote about not taking advice from somebody who you wouldn't trade places with is spot-on.
 
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Grinder20

Grinder20

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Michigan
This this was an amazing post, thanks for sharing, very informative and inspirational. The quote about not taking advice from somebody who you wouldn't trade places with is spot-on.
@bmcer1 , thank you, I appreciate it! Glad I could help you out and you liked the quote!
 

CPisHere

Silver Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Sep 17, 2011
746
779
319
Louisiana
It would have been preferable to have full-time employees (less overall employees) vs. part-time employees and maybe it would have gone a little smoother, but maybe not. However, with absences (planned or unplanned) once you get too big, you will not be able to physically cover all the cleaning. This is when we hired a Supervisor/Trainer, that would train new employees, supervise/quality, check the buildings each night, and cover employee shifts when necessary.

We had 3 supervisors (all salaried) and they were usually in charge of 5 buildings each. Obviously, not every employee would call-off on any given day, so it was manageable. My main thing was high quality, making sure their weren't any missed cleanings, and minimum customer complaints.

When someone would put in their 2 week notice or simply quit on the spot (it happens), we had to find someone to replace them ASAP. Sometimes we had someone ready to go right away and other times, it could take weeks. So, our supervisor for that building would have to cover the shift ranging anywhere from 5:30pm - 11:00pm and then they would have to check the rest of the buildings, meaning they could be out until 2:00am or later (it is not an easy job, very physically demanding - we work 6 days/week as well, but I paid them very well too!! )
In case in anyone is curious, here's how I'm addressing this issue in my commercial cleaning business.

I hire part-time employees for 2.5-4 hours/night, enough to make it worthwhile but capable of picking up more hours when needed.

I pay $1/hour more than our competition, but have no "supervisors", employees train each other & fill-in for each other.

Currently, my business is small enough that I bring supplies myself during day time visits to clients (every 2-6 months, depending on account size). It gives me a reason to stop by.
 
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Grinder20

Grinder20

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In case in anyone is curious, here's how I'm addressing this issue in my commercial cleaning business.

I hire part-time employees for 2.5-4 hours/night, enough to make it worthwhile but capable of picking up more hours when needed.

I sacrifice gross-margin by paying $1/hour more than our competition, but save on overhead as I have no "supervisors", employees train each other & fill-in for each other (eventually I will have a supervisor for hiring & managing schedules but do it myself now). My turnover& absences are insanely low compared to the industry.

Currently, my business is small enough that I bring supplies myself during day time visits to clients (every 2-6 months, depending on account size). It gives me a reason to stop by. My supply costs are 3% of revenue, so a $1,000/month account only needs $30/month of new supplies - easy to bring by & worth having a few months on-hand.

Edit: Also, in this industry you can get away with a light cleaning, taking half as much time as it usually takes, while keeping appearances up for a while. Instead of using this regularly like some companies do, we only make use of it when necessary for fill-ins. That allows us to keep clients happy while not over-taxing employees or needing supervisors.
@CPisHere, great numbers, sound good. Congrats, keep trucking along!
 

Walter Hay

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Don’t buy a franchise and don’t take out a loan. People want an easy button. No business worthwhile is easy, franchise or not. This my experience at least in the dirty, dirty, franchise cleaning industry. I’m sure there are some decent ones (cleaning or non-cleaning), but by in large, they are selling a business system on loan to unsuspecting, would be buyers that have no experience in the industry. They tell you what you want to hear (security) and they sell you on the idea/promise of their ability to secure business and/or leads which are usually complete B.S., rung of the litter accounts with very little profit. Then they of course expect you to shell out their outlandish monthly royalty and marketing fees (as the contract states), or anything else they can gouge you for when you’re most likely already operating in the red (not a good place to be when you’re just starting out). Likewise keep in mind that they can change the game and the rules anytime and you have to get approval from corporate for almost anything—are you ready for that? You’re NOT in control.
I abhor franchises that are set up without any concern for the ongoing prosperity of the franchisees. See my post My recipe for success as franchisor . I am aware that the cleaning industry is particularly prone to rogue franchise operators who sell worthless franchises based on a customer list that is the result of severe under-quoting. The franchisees are doomed to fail.
I can't help but think that if it were me instead of you, I would have opened branch offices and expanded to the hilt. Why did you sell the goose that laid the golden eggs?
Branch offices require capital and staff. Selling franchises can provide both, but it must be done ethically. See: Rapid Scaling a business by franchising

I don't recommend buying franchises.


Walter
 

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