A short list of critical mistakes for new cleaning business owners to avoid

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1. Too much talking and not enough listening.  It’s easy to get so caught up in the excitement of our new businesses that we want to tell the world about all the great things we’re doing!  Hold that thought… people don’t want to hear what you’re great at doing until after they’ve had a chance to tell you what they need.  Sometimes not even then.  They want to tell you they’re really picky about their floors because they have a baby.  What they’re really telling you is that they are looking for the company that talks about cleaning floors so that they’re safe for babies.  The best way to make sure that’s part of your spiel is to listen! The company that can best do THAT gets the business!
2. Thinking quality is everything.  While there’s little dispute that the quality of the service we perform is important, there is also no doubt that the larger audience is looking for something other than just good cleaning.  Consistency, customer service, price, and ease of doing business are all considerations for today’s Client. Quality is no longer the market advantage it once was.  With so many companies easily providing quality service the wise business owner will look for the combination of services that can best meet the increasingly demanding Clients’ needs.

3. Emotional pricing.  Pricing your service is not an art; it’s a science.  It may feel like a good idea to give little old Mrs. Smith her $125 cleaning for just $90 because she’s on a fixed income and can’t afford any more.  Or to decide that Mrs. Jones gets her 3rd bathroom added on for free because we only do it every other time anyway and it’s just a favor.  Or to clean for old Mr. Johnson for free just this one time because his wife died and it’s so sad.  But the truth is that feeling good today is not going to feel so good tomorrow when you have to close up and get another job.  Your pricing needs to follow the rules of your business – the expense rules and the cash flow rules.  Build in some “feel good” work if you want to, but do it with numbers and logic, not emotion!

4. Trying to do it all yourself.  As you begin to grow and get busier, you will need to hire people to help you out.  The longer you hold off on this step, the longer you will have to wait to see success.  Hire to your personal weaknesses.  Get help doing the things you don’t do well, and let other people’s knowledge take you to the next step in your business.  You don’t have to do it all; you just have to make sure it all gets done!

5. Thinking it has to be perfect before you can move to the next step.  There will be times when something needs to be done perfectly and it all has to be ready before you can move to the next step, but the majority of the time it just needs to be done. Take informed action!  Stop planning every nuance of every next step if it’s holding you back.  Find out what the best practices are and do that NOW.  You can evaluate and tweak your performance to best meet your personal style after you’ve begun. Market NOW.  Hire NOW.  Get out of the field NOW!

Liz Trotter is founder of American Maid Cleaning as well as an entrepreneur and leadership trainer based in Olympia, Washington. She is also a former ARCSI board member, creator of the Culture Circus employee development system  and a charter member of Cleaning For A Reason.