The Seven Deadly Sins


For our industry, you can, no doubt, think of more than seven business decisions or mistakes you hate (and unfortunately sometimes make)… those decisions or mistakes that have a deadly impact on your company.

But for the sake of this article, and for your plans to grow your business in 2016, Cleanfax went to the street to compile from readers their top list of mistakes companies make and how to avoid them.

Sin #1: Underpricing your services

Pricing our industry’s services is always a hot topic.

As Kevin Bunch with Allklean in Coeur d’Alene, ID, says underpricing is a cleaner’s biggest mistake. “They buy into the lie that they can’t get more in their market. They spend years and years with no money for expansion or equipment. Raise your prices!”

Raise your prices and you may lose some customers, but your bottom line should remain healthy. It’s all about the math.

Rich Brown with Alpine Cleaning and Restoration in Boone, NC, understands pricing it’s difficulties. As he puts it, sales volume isn’t profit, and “I’m doing 90 percent less sales volume than in 2003 and making more profit. It’s not what you do… it’s how you do it.” If you are committing the sin of underpricing, change your habit for 2016.

Sin #2: Underpaying your staff

Jason Szoke in northeast Ohio knows getting good employees is tough, but the key is appropriate compensation.

“Underpaying leads to poor attendance, poor attitude and poor work quality. Pay your employees a fair wage with incentives to get the most out of your money and employees!” Szoke stresses.

Your employees, whether in the office or in the field, are the backbone of your company.

If you are committing the sin of underpaying your staff, change your habit for 2016.

Sin #3: Not knowing modern technology

Gary Arndts, with, says that having a website created by a graphic designer without marketing experience is a huge problem.

“I see this all the time. Someone has just spent thousands of dollars to get a website created. If it was created by a talented graphic designer, it may well be a thing of beauty,” he explains. “But there’s no phone number above the fold. There’s no call to action. … Target cities aren’t mentioned. Customer benefits are hidden in long paragraphs that will never be read. The site may be expensive but at the same time, worthless.”

Besides that, cleaning and restoration companies don’t add to their website appropriate photos and videos. And when they do, they are so large it takes time to load, for which the search engines punish you. Arndts recommends creating and optimizing each page specifically for the service offered and the city serviced. Add quality content, and keep it fresh by updating it regularly.

Sonny Ahuja with adds companies be mobile optimized to remain competitive. “You must rank on page one of Google in mobile search results through SEO or PPC so prospects looking for services you provide can reach you quickly and easily,” he explains.

He adds “re-marketing” campaigns will target previous and new prospects with Google and Facebook, providing more repeat business and an higher closing rate.

If you are committing the sin of Not knowing modern technology, change your habit for 2016.

Sin #4: Not keeping records

As Brian Asher with Friendly Cleaning Services in Kansas City, MO, says, “I should have kept a mailing list from day one!”

If you are reading this and have hundreds of customers and don’t have a contact list for each, such as email and physical address, you can easily access for marketing purposes, you may feel a little chagrined. Keeping in touch with those who used your services in the past should be an elementary marketing strategy.

Just think about it. If a customer or potential customer reached out to you, and you ignored them after that… this is a sin worthy of this list.

If you are committing the sin of not keeping good records of your customers, change your habit for 2016.

Sin #5: Not having a business plan

Perhaps most important and one of the first exercises you should have engaged in when starting your company. It’s definitely one of the most ignored.

Creating a solid business plan is extremely important but only as long as you follow the plan.

That being said, Peter Crosa, an independent insurance adjuster, says “Never fall in love with a business plan so that you are blinded to indications it is failing.” Good advice. He adds that a business plan always needs modification, correction and adjustment, and that requires vigilance, measurement and a cool head.

Your all-encompassing plan should handle all issues from staffing to marketing and more. If you don’t have a plan, as the cliché goes, you are just planning to fail.

If you are committing the sin of not developing a business plan, change your habit for 2016.

Sin #6: Not hiring top employees

Industry consultant Fred Geyen puts it succinctly: Hire the person, not the resume. As he says, if you hire the wrong person based on a good resume, you may end up admitting, “I hired your resume, but I got you.”

Admittedly, it can be a challenge for small business owners to find good employees. Yet there are services, such as “headhunters,” to find them for you. Or speak with some of your peers in non-competitive marketplaces, and you will find viable solutions.

Show your appreciation for the good employees you do find. “Underappreciating good employees, those who step in when difficult things need to get done,” is only going to hurt your company, says Larry Galler, a business coach for the cleaning and restoration industries.

If you are committing the sin of not hiring top em – ployees, change your habit for 2016.

Sin #7: Not engaging in training

Saving money is at the top of virtually every business owner’s mind. Saving money by avoiding training is, in the short term, an easy decision.

“This is a short term gain but a long term loss in employee satisfaction and quality,” says RSA Education Manager Kevin Fisher. Some owners fear to train their employees who may then become their competition. But failure to train is worse than new competition.

Besides this, having better techs in the field is actually a cost-saving strategy. According to industry trainer Richard Driscoll, “If you have trained technicians working for you in the field, you get a better work product, which means less mistakes and better margins.”

If you are committing the sin of not training your employees, change your habit for 2016.


Jeff Cross is the executive editor of Cleanfax and is an industry trainer and consultant. He can be reached via email at [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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