Todd Hopkins

My favorite business book is "Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do To Increase The Value Of Your Fast-Growth Firm" by Verne Harnish. While I love many business books, this is the one I go back to often to help me with business planning, strategy and accountability. This book could be one of the most practical "how-to" business books for entrepreneurs ever written.

Our leadership team uses much of what Verne teaches in this book to help train our Office Pride franchisees on how to be better and stronger. There is no theory here, only reality. Verne runs with the best and most successful entrepreneurs in the world and he is gifted at sharing best practices. For me, revisiting and reading this book year after year has been time well invested.

Todd Hopkins, Founder and CEO
Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services
Franklin, Ind

Bob Croft

In a soft economy, with customers not buying, it's tempting to expand by acquisition or merger. In "Billion Dollar Lessons," Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui detail the pitfalls.

With an acquisition, one forecasts profit — above that currently generated by the targeted firm, from either cost savings (overhead reduction by combining departments) or enhanced revenue (cross-selling if acquiring a firm in a similar industry).

Those forecasts can fall short, however. For example, you combine customer service or inspection operations, but still spend the same time per client, or you've acquired a landscaping firm, but cannot sell much landscaping to your janitorial clients, and have to train and motivate your sales staff to sell landscaping.

Firms for sale have often been "gussied up." The owner wants to sell for a reason, perhaps not apparent. Further, cultures clash, systems are incompatible, people resist, and so on.

"Billion Dollar Lessons" is a virtual check list of what can go wrong — and a fun read.

Bob Croft, President
CBN Building Maintenance
Phoenix, Ariz.

Travis Ryan

I have enjoyed numerous business books. One that stands out is "The Dream Manager" by Matthew Kelly. I particularly liked this book because of its tie-in with the janitorial industry. The book tells the story of one company's journey to improved morale and reduced turnover by helping employees fulfill their dreams.

The fictional janitorial company deals with real problems of turnover and low morale. Management investigated why turnover was so high and what really drove their employees. They discovered simple things like getting to and from work can lead to turnover out of frustration and embarrassment. After figuring out that bigger paychecks and lofty job titles weren't key motivators they determined what was truly important to their employees.

People, at every level, need help and encouragement to attain their dreams. We were reminded that we're in the people business. We have adopted several ideas from the book and are implementing them at EnviroTech.

Travis, Ryan, General Manager
St. Cloud, Minn.

Next month: How do you find new customers?

If you’d like the opportunity to share your opinion, send an e-mail to Dan Weltin