I'd like to start by sharing a little bit about myself with you. My name is Shawnk Hanks, I'm married to my best
friend Tiffany, and we have four beautiful children; Kerri, Madison, Ethan and our youngest, Judah. My faith and my family are my entire world. A close second is my passion for helping others to succeed in business. I have helped countless people realize their dream of owning their own business. I have helped countless people take the business they own and truly excel within it. I have helped seemingly dead companies by completely turning them around. I love, love, LOVE the business world, succeeding in it, and helping others to do the same. I truly am a perfectionist as well; I believe in doing things well or not doing them at all.
I have been in the commercial cleaning business for over a quarter century. I have hired, fired, trained, and managed countless numbers of employees at every level of the business. I’ve spent numerous hours actually cleaning myself, and know every aspect of what makes a successful commercial/janitorial company inside and out.
I originally got my start all those years ago by answering an ad in a local newspaper, looking for some part time cleaning help. It was the summer of 1988, and I just started college and had just been laid off from my job as a landscaper. Our area was experiencing a severe drought; no rain meant no work for me.
I answered the ad and was hired on the spot; I was told to report to my first account that same evening. I briefly met my manager, who walked me through the building and then promptly left. I had never even cleaned anything aside from my room before! To make a long story short, it turned out that I had quite the hidden talent; I excelled in cleaning that first building and was on my way to a very promising, lucrative, rewarding career. I can help you attain these same results for yourself. In fact, that's why I created moneyfromdirt.com. To help people become successful in this business, just as I have.
Here at moneyfromdirt.com, I walk you through every aspect of starting a commercial cleaning business. I use examples from my own personal life and experience to help put everything in context. I go through some common commercial cleaning/janitorial pitfalls, how to properly bid cleaning/janitorial accounts and win them, how to hire effective personnel for your business, what to say to clients and vendors, what not to say to those same people, and anything else I can think of that will help you become more successful in the cleaning business.
At this point, you’re probably interested in seeing some proof of my claims; I fully understand, I would too. Now, I’m not trying to be arrogant, but I'm very proud of my accomplishments and my industry knowledge. Cumulatively, I have been able to apply my knowledge to sell over $75 million in janitorial annual service contracts over the years – with an impressive average of ~$3 million per year.
I have taken cleaning companies from zero billing to $5 million in sales in less than three years on four separate occasions; this demonstrates that my system produces results that can be replicated. Are you curious how I did that? I’ll share with you the number one factor in making a cleaning company successful:
Focusing on Your Sales.
Now it’s common sense that janitorial sales are important; after all, no company can live without sales, right? Some of you are probably already writing me off, thinking I grew my business by underbidding all of my janitorial contracts. Actually that couldn’t be further from the truth; in fact, I was the highest or second highest bid the vast majority of the time. Keep in mind I grew my company in a major market with over 300 plus janitorial competitors!
Honestly, I only ended up realistically competing with two or three other companies, most of the time. If I truly wanted any given cleaning contract, I usually got it. I made all these sales by truly pulling out all of the janitorial marketing stops, and doubling down in terms of customer service. Consequently, our company did quite well in terms of profit. Turning a nice profit enables you to treat your employees and customers well, which helps to perpetuate the whole system. I have been with the majority of my customers for over 20 years now; I must be doing something right!
So what, specifically, am I doing well? Now, I’d love to share all my secrets with you right here, but I obviously want you to buy my Money From Dirt program.
So to wet your appetite I’ll share just a few short tips with you.
What's in a name? – In a word, everything! Just for examples sake, let’s pretend that you have purchased the Money From Dirt program, or that you are currently involved in the janitorial/cleaning world. If you have chosen a name based on your initials, or allowed your six year old daughter to name your cleaning company,then chances are you won't be successful. Choosing a successful name fine-tuned to your clientele and location is absolutely essential to running a successful, modern janitorial company.
Some of you might have already tuned me out because I offended you. If that is the case, maybe you need to be offended; after all, if your business is not currently successful there has to be a reason why. It might be your management, it might be your name, both, or something else entirely.
The point is that you need to keep an open mind, and consider making real changes, if you want to successfully adapt your business to the modern world. Picking a name is very important, because that’s all the majority of your customers are really ever going to hear about you or your business.
This is one big reason why buying an existing commercial cleaning franchise for their name isn't so important - more on that later. Pick a name that sounds professional, one you would be proud to have embroidered on your shirt. Gimmicky names like “Do it Right” Janitorial Services, or “Mop Till You Drop” aren't a great idea. Neither are initials. Things like S&T, B&M, G&H might be important to you, but only communicate to potential customers that you're an amateur.
The single most important part of any business. Sales! The decision of who sells for your company is very, very important. The name of your company might get you an initial look, a ‘foot in the door’, so to speak, but that door will be slammed shut if you have an idiot for a salesperson, or a sales force that's may not be idiots but simply can't sell.
Again, no offense, but sales work isn’t for everyone. If you get offended at being rejected, look out of sorts, stumble over your words, or aren’t quick on your feet, then selling just isn't for you. It takes a very unique person to sell anything, let alone commercial janitorial services.
Let’s say that you decide jump into this business with both feet based on your strong managerial skills. Being a great manager is great; however, that doesn't make you a great sales person! Maybe that salesperson is your spouse; perhaps they can hardly manage a bedtime story, let alone a multi-million dollar commercial cleaning service. But, importantly, they have the gift of gab that you lack, and can talk anyone into anything. That's your salesperson. Maybe that person is your son, daughter or best friend. Regardless, you need to find a salesperson somewhere, in order to succeed. They need to be polished, articulate, professional, mannered, project a wholesome demanor, and believes wholeheartedly in what you're doing and what they will be selling.
When I buy a car, I'm not buying the salesperson - I'm buying the BMW, and what that manufacturer stands for. However, in selling janitorial contracts the decision maker actually IS buying your salesperson; so invest in a good one. They are the only person in your company that actually brings in revenue; all other aspects of your company consume it.
Bidding Janitorial & Cleaning Contracts
Keep in mind that I have been bidding janitorial cleaning contracts for over 25 years now - I know what I'm doing, and I'm very, very good at it. I can spot a profit killer or dead-end contract within minutes of walking into a building. I can accurately estimate how long it takes to clean a building to within a few actual minutes of labor.
Now that we have established the fact that I know how to bid janitorial and cleaning contracts lets touch on some of the common industry pitfalls. The first and most important is to not trap yourself into a bargain-basement mentality where you feel you have to win contracts and slash your rates in order to do so. Doing this will see your profit margins erode quickly, and will only prove that you are clueless as a businessperson; your company will suffer as a result.
You see, low bid cleaning contracts leave you no room for a decent profit margin. This means your employees can't be paid top dollar, you can't invest in the proper equipment, and you won’t be putting any money away for a rainy day. You don't ever want to be the low bid on any contract. Instead, your goal is to be in the middle to high end of the pack. There is one thing a potential customer knows, and that is how much money it takes to clean their facility well. If your bid is too high they will think you're trying to take advantage of them, however coming in too low can cause them to assume you don't understand the janitorial bid specifications and immediately toss your cleaning proposal in the trash.
There are services you can use to help calculate your janitorial bid proposals. Some of them use what is called a “method bid”. A method bid is created using a time study which calculates how long it should take to perform a particular task. As an example, it should take an employee 8 min to dust mop a 1500 square foot VCT floor using a 36 inch dust mop. These time studies are done on every aspect of cleaning a building. From the time it takes to clean a faucet to polishing the interior of an elevator.
However, method bids aren’t perfect; here's my issue with this process. You see, time studies are done in a controlled environment using above average people. The building you are bidding and submitting your proposal for might have variables not addressed in a controlled environment. The design or layout may be non-standard and thus take more time to clean, or you may be forced to use one of your newer crews on the job who don’t work as fast as your #1 team.
Using a method bid isn't terribly bad when bidding small cleaning contracts, because there simply aren’t enough moving parts in the equation for things to get too complex. But for larger projects I find them unrealistic and usually way off on the actual time it takes to clean a building. For larger projects, make sure you customize your bids accordingly.
The bottom line is that you have one and only one opportunity to bid the cleaning contract correctly. Learning how to recognize good accounts and successfully bid on them can make or break janitorial companies. Make sure you take your time and do it properly.
To franchise, or not to franchise?
Another consideration for your business is whether or not you should franchise. In my opinion, for many businesses, franchises are great! They give you a blueprint for success and instant name recognition. For example, if you purchase a Subway franchise you're guaranteed all of the above, right? Commercial cleaning franchises must also be a great deal then, yes? Absolutely not! You see, franchising just doesn’t help cleaning businesses in the same way it helps other businesses. What's the point - name recognition? I dare you to name one commercial cleaning company you have consistently heard of on a national level. The vast majority of people will not be able to. If you did name a company such as Service Master, Jani-King, or Janpro, etc. you likely knew of them from personal experience or research. However, the general public won't have a clue as to the existence of any of these companies.
This means any money paid for name recognition or money spent on goodwill of an existing operation is effectively being tossed out the window. There are other significant downsides to cleaning franchises as well; limited territory, paying a percentage of your profits in fees, having little say in business decisions, and being locked into methodology are just a few. Then there is the cost; to buy a commercial cleaning franchise you're looking at an initial outlay of $30k on the low end all the way up to a whopping $140,000 dollars on the high end!! Keep in mind this is often just to buy the franchise itself, it doesn’t account for equipment, product, personnel, or training.
If your argument is that buying a franchise offers training, I would reply, so do I. Having the correct paperwork and forms you’ll need to do business on hand is another benefit, but again I offer all startup and ongoing paperwork you will ever need. Ongoing support can be another concern, but I’ve got that covered too. The unique thing about my system is this: if you don't need me anymore, you don't pay me. I don't receive any of your billing or profit. I know this sounds a little too good to be true. However, do your research, and you’ll find out that it’s all true.
I could write on these subjects for hours. Actually, I have! My “Money From Dirt” program contains everything you’ll ever need to know to start your own commercial cleaning company. I also make the program available for a reasonable price; it’s about the same cost as filling up your tank with gas and enjoying a dinner out. This is my business now, I'm out of the day to day operations of janitorial companies - my goal now is to help others succeed and enjoy the benefits that I have earned with my success.
In closing, let me ask you one question:
What would your life be like if you bought the program, did what it said, and found it worked?
Think about the answer for a moment. Really; what would you do? What would your life look like a year from now, being your own boss, and making six figures? One thing is for sure, if you don't explore the possibility, you’ll never know one way or another.
God Bless, and thank you for taking the time to read this.