Our custodial supervisors communicated the revised plans via customer meetings and electronic messages. The goal was to build a shared understanding of the service level change.   

I often ask myself: What is the reason some companies succeed and others fail? Why do some cleaning companies stagnate and never break through the next growth ceiling, while others soar upwards, seemingly unhindered? While I don’t have a silver bullet answer to these questions, certain characteristics pop up repeatedly. High-growth, high-profit owners and their companies share certain qualities often lacking in their peer counterparts.  

In the last issue of Contracting Profits, I mentioned four personal qualities these high-octane owners seem to possess: grit, commitment to growth at all costs, having an owner mindset, and a habit of lifelong learning. In addition to these, there are six company-related qualities I have found essential. Let’s look at three of those here.  

The first company success ingredient is a commitment to professionalism in all areas of the business. When our company was small, we felt a certain intimidation competing against some of our larger peers in the industry. However, from the vantage point of the prospect, we could look just the same.  

There was no reason we couldn’t “feel” like a big company even though we had one less zero on the end of our revenue number. The way we acted, talked and carried ourselves in every aspect of the business was aimed at appearing like the company we aspired to become. While I don’t believe you can speak your business into success, there is a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy that happens when you act like what you want to be.  

The second ingredient of success is very practical, but frequently missed: pick a niche, make a list. Small companies often take a shotgun approach to sales. They fire a scattershot of marketing material and will accept whatever business it hits. There is little intentionality to how they grow so long as they grow. But this is counterproductive.  

Different types of customers have different needs and require different approaches. Faster, more profitable growth happens when you pick a customer type and target them with laser focus. If your sales, marketing and operations are aimed to serve this ideal client, you will grow faster, incur higher margins and deliver better service.  

The third ingredient of success is a commitment to 100 percent customer retention. Keeping clients is much easier — and more profitable — than acquiring new ones. During the early years of growth, keeping your existing customers, even the hard ones, is worth the effort. That revenue lays a foundation to grow upon. Those hard customers frequently become sources of referrals, but more importantly, they help refine your operation, making you ready to take on larger, more complex clients.