May/June 2018 Foreword: Identity Crisis

Young adult discovering his personality.

The following is the foreword to the May/June 2018.

By Jeff Cross, executive editor

Do you ever suffer from identity crisis, perhaps wondering, “Who am I?”

I don’t mean to imply you aren’t sure of your name, who your family is, where you came from… What I mean is, in a professional sense — as an entrepreneur — who are you? Let me explain.

Back when I owned my cleaning and restoration company, I specialized. I offered the very best (Don’t we all?) carpet and furniture cleaning services and light restoration, mainly water damage, work for my client list of 1,000 faithful consumers. I was busy, and there was absolutely no need to diversify into hard surface care, tile and grout cleaning, natural stone care, duct cleaning, wood floor refinishing, area rug cleaning, you know… all the stuff most companies today offer their clientele.

Today, that same business model seems to be a thing of the past. Today, most business owners must “offer it all” when it comes to services their clients need. No company wants to clean a carpet for a client only to find out that its competitor got the job the next time because that company also takes care of marble floors, which your now-previous customer has, and she didn’t want to deal with more companies than she needed to. She simplified, and you lost out.

Whether you offer just a few services or a dozen of them, you must excel and be an expert at them all. And that’s not easy. It takes work.

Here are three ways to make it happen.


Clearly define your target market and what you will do for them, and avoid the futile attempt of being all things to all people. You should be a specialist, a company that excels at all it offers. Avoid the knee-jerk reaction of taking anything that comes your way — although I get it that at times you may be in survival mode during lean times.


Your client needs to see the value you bring to them. Communicate the benefits of using your company as well. Here’s an example. When you pull a piece of furniture away from the wall to clean the floor, take an extra five seconds to wipe the baseboard. Upon completion of the job, inform the client what you did. They will get that warm, tingly feeling, and you are a hero.

Be consistent

Consistency is the franchise model, which you can imitate. Each job should have the same level of expertise and dedication, and your clients should come to expect it, just like you expect the same great, consistent service and products from your favorite franchise locations. Oh, like Starbucks, for example. Or Southwest Airlines. I’m biased, obviously.

So, think about this, and often ask yourself, “Who am I?”

Don’t do it out loud, though. People will think you are weird.

Please send your comments, thoughts or article ideas to Jeff Cross, executive editor of Cleanfax: [email protected].

Jeff Cross

Jeff Cross is the ISSA media director, with publications that include Cleaning & Maintenance Management, ISSA Today, and Cleanfax magazines. He is the previous owner of a successful cleaning and restoration firm. He also works as a trainer and consultant for business owners, managers, and front-line technicians. He can be reached at [email protected].

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