By Kent Anderson
The cleaning industry has long recognised the need for training and education of its staff. The smart businesses, however, are now realising the key to survival is the training and educating of its owners.
The statistics don’t lie: 80% of businesses fail in within the first five years, and of the 20% that survive, another 80% will close in the next five years. So when 96 out of 100 businesses fail within the first 10 years it is easy to see why the many cleaning companies are turning to business coaching to sharpen their game.
The main reason for this failure is not necessarily businesses going broke, it is burnout and this burnout can be put down to a lack of education and training amongst business operators. Owners get so caught up in frantically trying to hold their businesses together that they can no longer keep up. They forgot why they excitedly decided to open a business in the first place and are completely dejected.
So how does this happen and how can business coaching and training solve the problem?
So many people in the cleaning industry understand the cleaning trade but not the ins and outs of business itself. They will understand the physical skill required to get the job done but have not been taught the business nous to succeed. It’s as though they are expected to just ‘wing it’ on the vital categories of business and finance.
All of a sudden the owner is confronted with accounts, stock control, HR, compliance, hiring and firing. On top of this, he/she is so caught up in the day to day running of the business that they ‘don’t have time’ to properly address these aspects. They are tied to the business, they work long hours, the owner is suffering, the business is suffering. Disaster is looming and more often than not, the owner doesn’t even know it.
It is often dangerous if business slows down but interestingly, it can be even more dangerous if business picks up – if you are flat out and the business is bursting at the seams now, how are things going to be when sales increase?
Having a business coach is to have a completely removed, educated set of eyes on your business week in, week out. A coach will walk you through the different sections of a business and help you discover what you will need to know. In contrast to a consultant, a business coach does not do the work for you. The point is for a coach to educate you so you can spot the problem before it occurs and know what to do about it. If you go to a gym you will get better results with a personal trainer. But this personal trainer will not get down and do the push ups for you. You have to do it for yourself – coaching works off the same philosophy.
The goal for any operator or owner of a cleaning company should be to have a profitable business that runs without you in it. In the cleaning industry, however, it can be particularly challenging to achieve this. With such a heavy reliance on staff, there is much greater margin for inconsistency and error.
A good business coach will ensure you document and implement set systems, processes and procedures, KPIs etc to ensure staff can perform without constant supervision. You will then learn how to monitor these performance levels continuously and raise the bar to outplay competitors.
When leverage of systems, technology and time is achieved, it gives the owner time and energy to focus on sales and marketing. When an owner gives this much focus to finding where tomorrows money is coming from, businesses experience massive, rapid growth.
This is a crucial reason why education and training sees businesses experience such rapid increases in sales.
There are many other aspects of the cleaning industry that make it particularly suited to receiving business coaching.
The peaks and troughs of business activity and the need to urgently respond to crisis situations means being taught time management is extremely beneficial.
The cleaning industry also lies in what is referred to as a ‘Red Ocean’ market (as opposed to the ‘Blue market’ category). This is a market of fierce competition whereby businesses are all battling to feed from the same trough. In order to survive in such an industry one must seek outside training – quickly!
Cleanfit Australia is one company that took such action. After two former rugby league players, Bryan Fletcher and Simon Woolford, set up a cleaning business with Sydney businessman Craig Markham, they found that while business was booming, they knew little about business and felt things were starting to spin out of control. “Our business grew quicker than anticipated, issues kept popping up we did not have the answer for, which resulted in a drop in productivity and efficiencies,” noted Markham. [see image]