A reader writes: “I am just starting in the cleaning service and a competitor called me a "Mom and Pop" service since currently it is only myself, my wife and my oldest son. How do I respond to such an insult?”

Welcome to an exciting field that is full of opportunities for many who want to start their own business. One standard joke is to ask is “why work for someone else when you can work for yourself at double the hours and half the pay?" The retort is “I wish I could at least get half the pay.” (just a joke)

Many of us started out as Mom and Pop companies and struggled due to cash flow issues, insufficient knowledge on bidding or cleaning and the embarrassment of being considered a “janitor.” Although this is not designed to discourage you, please consider the following points:

  1. You are a Mom and Pop company for now so accept that reality. The key is “for now” since you need to put in whatever sweat equity is necessary to give your customers excellent service. You actually have to provide better service than a larger, established company just to stay in the game.
  2. Learn how to bid correctly since the only thing worse than not getting a contract is getting it for the wrong price. Many of us experienced the pain of realizing that we underbid an opportunity that was costing more to clean than we were making, especially as we added staff.
  3. As soon as possible, become a manager and a marketer so that you can grow the business while protecting cash floor.
  4. Beware of subcontracting unless the numbers work. You need to get beyond having a low paying job and start looking for a good profit margin on each contract.
  5. Keep accurate records and identify a professional bidding system as well as accounting package that can help with invoicing. It is not fun if you do not get paid.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.