Running a small (or large) cleaning business can be exceptionally rewarding, providing the opportunity to be your own boss while creating jobs for others. But it is also incredibly difficult, and success or failure is yours to bear alone.
What is the secret sauce? Everyone loves to ask me the question. Not everyone, however, wants to listen or learn from the answer. None-the-less, sometimes the answer is clearer than others.
After a successful career that has spanned nearly 40 years that has included serving as both the employee and the employer, the short answer I offer you is to “Do what you love; Love what you do.”
This can be taken in all aspects of the business be it financial or administrative or operational or internal / external relations or marketing / advertising. For success follow the sixteen points below as a roadmap to create, evolve and grow your cleaning business.
- Creating something that stands out and that everybody who is involved is really proud of and it will go a long way.
- Taking action. Bottom line, your businesses cannot evolve and grow if it never gets started in the first place. Although it may not be perfect, start it anyway. Then once started, allow yourself and your team to learn as you go. The process of trying, fixing, and trying again is how small business owners figure out what their customers really want and what it will take to deliver against those expectations. This is why we have successfully developed our most popular product, the Fluffy Microfiber Duster by CleansGreen®.
- Sweating the details. In starting a business it IS a blessing to be BOTH the person-in-charge and the proverbial janitor. As a result you, as the owner, will learn to understand ALL aspects of the business. As soon as revenue can support securing additional staff you are welcome to hire out those aspects of the business that are not your favorites, but because you started by sweating those details your business will be stronger. You as owner, will know how to run all aspects of the operation. Continuing this practice of “doing it yourself” whenever you add something new to the practice will similarly pay off.
- Planning your exit before you start. This is counter-intuitive, but will lead you to develop systems. Systems that are repeatable. Systems that enable you to improve your operations. Systems that make training easy and effective. After all as humans we do not want to work harder, rather we want to work smarter. Systems help us do just that.
- Going back to basics. This includes treating everyone as your customer, whether they are an employee, a supplier, or a community leader. In this day of ever increasing technology, it is those that go back to the “old fashioned” methods of talking (not just texting or emailing) to others and think about everyone as their paying customer that proves to be their secret weapon.
- Preparing your mind. Everything takes longer than you think, especially in the beginning. The process of starting and building a new business is slow and deliberate, without immediate rewards. Know it and plan for it.
- Asking yourself “Is your service easy-to-use?” Easy-to-use does not guarantee success, but I assure you, a “hard-to-use” model will be a recipe for disaster
- Learning to say “No.” At first you may want to start by chasing every shiny penny that you see on the sidewalk. Great if you start with this strategy, but for success you must quickly convert this into a specific and focused vision. If not the business will evolve yet flounder. It will not thrive and it will not be where you want it to be. Simply, you cannot be everything to everyone. There is tremendous power in focus.
- Being visible. This is so important as a business owner and a leader of your organization, no matter the size.
- Figuring out how to organize and prioritize your day. It is what separates the successful business owners from the others. Without the skill, time will evaporate away.
- Respecting everyone. This includes your team. Do not ever forget the success of your business is directly related to the quality of your team members. Treat them as such. Remember, if talented people are in your organization despite you rather than because of you, sooner or later they will be somewhere else and not on your team. Do you want them to become your competition?
- Practicing leadership, not just how to direct. Ask yourself what are the characteristics that you admire in a high quality leader and emulate it (or build your skills to do so) in your business.
- Appreciating one and all. Oftentimes a simple “thank you” is one of the most valuable tools you can use! This works with your customers, but also is tremendously powerful with your team members, service providers, and suppliers. Bottom line, people flourish if they are praised.
- Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. Do you receive the service / product you want? Are your expectations of excellence met? Are you fun to work with? Do you receive a memorable experience?
- Preparing for the unknown. Despite the best laid plans we cannot plan for everything. In this situation, it is more important how you react becomes than what the specific action plan that is developed.
- Learning from everything. In my green cleaning products business, I am focused on serving the ecofriendly minded community and find that I receive inspiration from John Muir’s quote, “In every walk with nature one received far more than he seeks.” We learn from success, as much as we learn from failure. We learn from our own experiences as much as we learn from what happens to others. We can learn from what we see and hear today as well as from history. Leveraging all we learn into a culture of continuous improvement and eliminating waste will enable your business to stand above others.
In the end, if something is not working in your cleaning business, do not let it be your demise. Just get back up and try again. This is what ultimately leads to your success!
Once started your cleaning business is never finished. It constantly evolves so keep going back to basics … “Do what you love; Love what you do.” This is how my company, Green Cleaning Products LLC, has been able to grow and thrive to what it is today. It has been a fun ride. My wish is that you are able to find the same to be true for you.
Zequek Estrada says
Rae Ann, thanks for sharing your insights for a more successful cleaning services. You’re right when you said that sometimes you just need to get back up and try again. I think one thing I would enjoy about running a cleaning business is the experience of being my own boss.
I would love to hear more about marketing strategies. This was really helpful, and made me really comfortable about making this huge step.