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Success or Failure More Warning Signs To Watch For - And What To Do About It. Part 2.

Businesses come and businesses go. And unfortunately, some of them “go” because the owner / president of the company becomes complacent and assumes the company will just continue to plug along no matter what happens. Not true. You must always keep your radar or attention on your business even if it is in auto-pilot mode. In fact, perhaps even more so. You need to know your numbers, know the ‘vibe’ your employees are putting out to your customers, and consistently be ahead of or at least staying with the curve of changing times.

Potential for Failure

Hello again. This is Jim DuBois from WindowWashingWealth.com . Protecting your window cleaning company from failure is an important Business Builder topic that your top people should be discussing every quarter or six months. If you’ve ever been on the brink of failure or had a lack of funds to sustain operations comfortably, it’s no fun. I know, I’ve been there. There are things you can instill into your operation today to help prevent the inevitable from happening tomorrow.

Take this two-part article and put it into bullet points for regular meetings with your leadership team. It will serve you well in the short and long term.

My company is in the mature auto-pilot stage now. Do I need to come to the office? No. Do I? Yes. Two days a week. Why? 1) I love my business and the people I work with and, 2) To look at reports, financials, and to stay in the loop of what is happening. 3) To stay away from the brink of failure. Let me take that a step further:

Today…
  • I work on marketing & testing new campaigns
  • I work on strategies to save the company money
  • I work on strategies to make the company money
  • I work on continued branding & company outside perception
  • I work when I want & take off when I want
  • I invest in other businesses
  • I started WindowWashingWealth.com
  • I work on making Squeegee Pros as valuable an asset as possible
So what are more warning signs to look for as you build your company to the auto-pilot stage? Continued from Part 1…

6. You're trying to be all things to all people vs. focusing on your business’s core.

Businesses often diversify their services to grow, but moving too far away from your core business will often increase your costs, open you up to new competition, and cause you to lose the competitive advantage you worked so hard to build. An overly diverse portfolio can be a sign of a struggling business that is desperately seeking new sources of revenue. I began to see a lot of this happening during the market crash of 2008 and 2009. You probably did too. Some companies flourished, others sustained, while many others went out of business. During this time, my company did only commercial window cleaning. I decided to add a high end residential division to offset my commercial losses until I could rebound. It was a great decision even though it had a slow but steady start. My company also did quite a bit of new construction, large commercial, and mid to high rise. I realized we were starting to spread ourselves too thin getting away from our core business – commercial storefront route work, medium size commercial buildings, and residential services. We decided to stop pursuing everything but our core business, doing what we do best, and doing so our business flourished.

Lesson learned: Don’t be all things to all people. Concentrate on what you do best and become the biggest in your market, dominating it.

7. You’re constantly fighting fires.

If your working day is spent moving from one problem to the next rather than focusing on the big picture of running your business, then there could be some serious issues at play. It’s very easy to get caught up in micro-management, but being so bogged down with the day-to-day running of your company can mean you’re failing to identify and tackle the root cause of a problem. Or it may mean, you just don’t have any systems and processes in place holding each employee accountable for their specific job duty. Every business is going to have fires to put out, but if you are constantly putting out the same fire, well that’s a problem too. Sometimes the fire can be an employee that needs terminated.

8. No Innovation – No Differentiation. 

Your business will always be at the front of your customer’s mind if you regularly innovate – and come up with new things. Here’s the big question: when was the last time your business introduced something new into the market? This year we introduced a new service and made a huge announcement to introduce it across many marketing channels. And it is not only the introduction of new services. Anytime we participate in a charitable event, we make an announcement. Bring on a new manager, we make an announcement. New anything, we make an announcement. When there’s nothing new about your business, you bore existing customers. Keep them engaged with your company.

Be careful of making the mistake that innovation is the same thing as differentiation though. New (innovation) and unique (differentiation) are never the same. New = latest in town. Unique = different from others. Differentiation is about having a competitive edge above your industry peers. What’s unique about your business in comparison to your competitors?

9. Low Sales and Revenue.

What to do About Low Sales

This is the most obvious sign of a failing business. Why? Because sales is the lifeblood of every business. Without revenue, there is no cash flow and without cash flow, there is no business continuity. Sales is to a business what blood is to humans. We need both to survive!

Depending on the season, when you begin to notice a period of low sales in your window cleaning business, be on the alert, your business may be in trouble! So, the first step to take is to diagnose or trace the source of the problem. Meaning, take the time to find out what is responsible for the low sales you are currently experiencing in your business. Look at your marketing. Are you doing any? Are you doing enough? Are you tracking it so you know you are not throwing money out the window? Look at your profit and loss reports comparing this month to the same month last year and the year before. Is it telling a story? How is your gross profit and net profit trending?

10. No Referrals and Testimonials or Positive Word Of Mouth.

Are people talking about your window cleaning business, and your services? If yes, what are they saying? If no, then that’s a problem. When customers no longer talk about your business, then you don’t matter. Businesses that matter get talked about by their customers. How do I know? By the number of referrals, reviews, and testimonials my company gets. For us this past week, 18 positive Google, Facebook reviews and surveys, and referrals all came in as of this writing. How many referrals and testimonials has your business generated this year, this month, this week? If your customers aren’t talking about you to their family and friends, watch out. They aren’t talking because something is wrong causing your company to not be WORTH talking about. To make them talk, give them something worth talking about –innovate, differentiate, engage! Wow them with customer service! Just get out there!

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11. No continued education.

Quote about the Willingness to Learn

Innovate. Differentiate. Change and grow or fail. Learning and development is the secret of competitiveness in business. The moment you stop learning, you start failing. This is as true for individuals as well as for window cleaning businesses. Your capacity to innovate is dependent on how much you learn and develop. Your capacity to differentiate is dependent on how much you learn and develop. So, to do more, learn more. To be more, learn more. To have more, learn more!

Every failing business including window cleaning businesses send out certain warning signs before the eventual downfall. For the observant entrepreneur, this disaster is avoided by taking certain strategic measures. But for the non-observing entrepreneur, this disaster creeps in suddenly.

Just as there is no such thing as overnight business growth, there is no such thing as overnight business collapse.

Tip: Why Do Businesses Die?

Negligence:

Negligence is not paying adequate attention to your business. Negligence is about being too busy ‘working in’ your window cleaning business that you forget the importance of ‘working on’ it. What’s the difference?

Working in your business is working the day to day tasks like in the field. • Working on your business is the art of truly building a business: designing marketing plans, implementing systems, managing managers who manage employees.

Inexperience:

Inexperienced Employees...

This is the next area of failure in most window cleaning businesses. How do I mean? Inexperience is not an excuse for failure. It is true that the best teacher is experience. But it doesn’t always have to be your own experience. Leverage on the experience and expertise of others ahead of you in your business. That’s why smart entrepreneurs always surround themselves with mentors, consultants, coaches, and other professionals generally smarter than them on specific areas of their business.

Tip: You Cure Inexperience with Borrowed Experience.

This is the essence of WindowWashingWealth.com . Two decades of trial and error, learning and implementing built a 7-figure window cleaning operation that is now on auto-pilot. Window Washing Wealth is a Business Building Coaching program designed for self-study, to on-call consulting, to a full blown “copy-my-business” licensing program... 

Greed:

Greed is not good and does not lead to good things.

  • Your business will eventually suffer if you give customers less value than they pay for.
  • Your business will eventually suffer if you give your employees less than they contribute.
  • Your business will eventually suffer if you think your own needs are far more important than the needs of others.
The effect of Greed on your business.

You cure greed by following the golden rule of life; “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Many businesses in general fail because they ignore this universal truth. What they have failed to realize is that the same principles that govern life are the same principles that govern business.

In review, here are the…

Warning Signs To Watch For To Be Sure Your Window Cleaning Company Is Not Failing

  1. You are slow to get paid and are trapped in the ‘late payment syndrome’.
  2. You are having a difficult time paying your bills on time.
  3. You’re still not getting paid from your business.
  4. You are maxed out and have reached your borrowing limits.
  5. You can’t limit your employee turnover.
  6. You're trying to be all things to all people vs. focusing on your business’s core.
  7. You’re constantly fighting fires.
  8. No Innovation – No Differentiation.
  9. Low sales and revenue.
  10. No Referrals and Testimonials or Positive Word Of Mouth.
  11. No continued education.

Don’t let your business FAIL! Take these points to heart and you will be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition. Until next time…

Jim DuBois is founder of Squeegee Pros, Inc. out of Mooresville, NC. He is the creator of WindowWashingWealth.com , which specializes in aggressive marketing tactics, the importance of internal company systems, and how to dominate your window cleaning/pressure washing marketplace. All things a serial window cleaning entrepreneur should know to build a huge business. Visit the site for a free marketing report. Do you have questions you’d like to see answered in this column? Email them to me directly at jim@squeegeepros.com or call my office at 704-799-0313.
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