In a preceding article, we touched on the challenges to a small business and dealt with concerns about filling in for absenteeism and the type vehicle necessary to cover a small route. Many of us started with a handful of accounts and cleaned them ourselves until we grew large enough to hire others.

My first job in the cleaning business was working for a great man who shared with us how he struggled the first few years of his business. When I knew him, he related how he could not eat certain foods anymore since he had only been able to afford to eat a very limited diet. He was also proud that in the twenty plus years he still had his first account. He taught me more about integrity and perseverance than anyone I have ever knew. He has now passed on but his legacy continues in many of us who worked under him. Thanks Skip M.

Another point to consider for a small company working a route is to be careful about the distance and services you provide. In the first few years of my business, all of my accounts were within five miles of each other. This created efficiencies that were lost when I grew to five counties spreading over hundreds of miles. As I picked up bank branches, I had to be creative in covering small accounts that were hours away from each other. I also had to have a check in/out system that allowed me to cover any no-shows which happened on a regular basis.

Another challenge was to provide contracted services such as floor work including carpet and hard floor care that required equipment, chemicals and other tools not used in the day to day cleaning. Early on, I did my own floor work with a crew and never considered outsourcing to others; however, a new company may look at ways of partnering with floor specialists who can provide those services. Always look at your ROI (return on investment) to help determine what is your best approach.

We will look at other Small Business Tips in future articles.

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