BSC Authors And Books: Trading A Mop For A Pen
“Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words,” wrote author Tom Clancy. “If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.”
Some building service contractors know this same feeling of success because they too have written books. While their words may not stack up to the latest thriller, BSC writers are still catching their colleagues’ attention with their advice to running a successful cleaning company. Here is a look at four BSC authors, their books and what motivates them to pick up a pen.
Above all, cleaning should be fun, argues Don Aslett, president of Varsity Contractors, Pocatello, Idaho. This theme runs through many of his books, including “How to Upgrade & Motivate Your Cleaning Crews,” which contains tips on hosting fun activities for employees, such as a vacuum drag race or a musical concert using tools designed for cleaning.
Aslett began wielding a pen 45 years ago at his high-school paper in Diedrich, Idaho, and did some freelance writing during the first years of his marriage. One project his wife found for him — to write a brochure with cleaning tips for 600 members of their church — was the foundation for “Is There Life After Housework?” which landed on The New York Times best-seller list and sold 1 million copies in its first edition.
His desire to write a book paired well with his wanting to communicate differently from Martha Stewart and Mary Ellen Pinkham, who focus more on aesthetics than practicalities.
A combination of legal pads and pens — useful when flying between Hawaii and Varsity Contractors’ office in Pocatello, which he does often — and a manual typewriter are his tools. At present, Aslett has written 40 books.
“I don’t even go into the shower without writing,” says Aslett. “And I keep a notebook in my pocket. If you don’t record it you won’t remember it.”
Bill Griffin, president of Seattle-based Cleaning Consultant Services, has written somewhere around 400 articles within the last 10 years. Since taking a janitorial job while a sophomore in high school and later becoming an industry consultant, his mind has been brimming with story ideas. In fact, the reason behind the company’s launch in 1973 was to market his first book, a training manual for professional cleaners.
Because so many things are evolving in the contract-cleaning business, he says, he never runs out of topics to write about. His latest two books are “How to Sell and Price Contract Cleaning” and “How to Start and Operate a Successful Cleaning Business.”
“They bring useful and easy-to-understand information for people who want to understand the subject better,” says Griffin, adding that his goal is to only give readers what they need — in other words, leave out the “fluff.”
“I’m a meat-and-potatoes writer,” he says. “I like to give them facts and info…not necessarily what you would need to read in a college class, but what you need to do the job well.”
While he enjoys writing books, online publishing is a new interest for Griffin.
“It’s becoming the book of tomorrow, the Web site,” he says.
“I highly recommend to anybody, if they have a story to tell, to write a book,” says Todd Hopkins, founder and president of Franklin, Ind.-based Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services. “It reinforces what you believe in.”
Hopkins definitely follows his own advice: his first book, “Five Wisdoms for Entrepreneur Survival: Practical Experience & Biblical Perspective,” combines Bible teachings with business strategy.
“My primary reason (for writing the book) is to share the Gospel with the reader, and second to share the culture, and third it’s good for you, to help people understand you,” he says.
Hopkins carried the idea for “Five Wisdoms” around in his head for a year until finally sitting down to write. It took four months to finish.
Now after three months of aggressive writing and another six months to let it all sink in, Hopkin’s second book, “Janitor Bob,” is ready to publish at the end of this year or early next. The book is a Christian business parable that tells the story of Bob, a part-time elderly janitor who teaches a CEO to live life to the fullest.
“The next thing you know he’s providing counsel on the building he’s cleaning,” says Hopkins.
It could be said that Ron Piscatelli’s affinity for his mom’s meatballs is what kicked off his writing career. His first book, “Pasta Fazool for the Soul,” showcased his mother’s authentic Italian recipes along with family memories and stories.
Piscatelli is also the president of Global Building Services in San Diego, and writing about the cleaning industry is important to him, too. “Coffee Break Wisdom On Starting A Successful Business” and “Jump Into Janitorial” both provide inspiration and lessons in how to make it as the owner of a cleaning company.
“A lot of times when people get into this business they get poor advice,” Piscatelli says.
Piscatelli is an advocate of self-employment and the empowerment it can bring, and enjoys coaching others through it with his books. One skill he preaches is the ability to listen well. At Global Building Services he takes extra time to learn about his employees’ personal passions and hobbies, as well as clients’ concerns. Piscatelli has already started writing a book on the power of listening.
“When you listen you end up building very good rapport,” he says.
Piscatelli is also a dedicated children’s book author. In the last 18 months he’s written six books, and featured his children as characters in all of them. His goal is to write a total of 24 children’s books.
“I read a lot and so I always have books in me. Once you (write) one it’s so easy to do more,” he says.
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer in Milwaukee.