Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Few Reminders on Networking

A couple years ago I had the privilege of getting Jason Evers to be a keynote speaker at the Midwest Cleaning Conference. Jason is one of the most positive and enthusiastic guys I know. A genuinely friendly person who wants everyone around him to succeed. While I can't remember everything he spoke about back then I do remember 5 action steps he outlined when it comes to networking.

1) Network with the right people - including your competitors (so many people waste time          networking with a group of people they have nothing in common with)
2) Be prepared for a networking event (have a list of people you want to meet, do research on their  company)
3) At any networking event (have at list of at least three questions you want answered, research  companies that impress you)
4) Use the two foot rule (talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere, you never know when you are going to  meet the ideal customer)
5) Most Importantly - Have fun! (Enthusiasm, laughter, and confidence will always draw a crowd -  people want to be surrounded by these traits)

As Jason said these are action steps. Without effort on your part NOTHING happens!
I have to admit I have been remiss in applying many of these points and have become a bit complacent in developing my business in the way I should. I plan to use this slower winter season to work on these points as well as others to get back on track. How about you?

Thanks for the great advice Mr Evers!

For more information go to A New View Exterior Cleaning

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Best educational event comes to Iowa again

The 6th Annual Midwest Cleaning Conference will be held in Des Moines, Iowa again this year. On July 18th and 19th we will hold what has become the best educational event of the summer in the mobile cleaning industry. What will happen at this year's event?
Topics -
We will have some similar topics to last year. We will be discussing sales, safety, add ons, marketing, and equipment maintenance. New topics this year include carpet cleaning and kitchen exhaust cleaning.

Demonstrations -
We will have demonstration times each day and will have water fed pole, softwashing, pressure cleaning, and new this year carpet cleaning demos.

We have several returning sponsors as well who make it possible for the attendees to come get this great educational experience for free. Because we highly appreciate that each day will conclude with vendor appreciation time. The meeting room setup will be identical to last year and you will have time before, in between, and after the sessions to visit the vendor room.
I'm very grateful that Doug Rucker will be doing a full day class the day before the event on July 17th. Last year those that took his class had nothing but positive things to say. If you are looking to move into pressure, soft, or roof cleaning then you need this class.
If you want to take your business to the next level or reignite your passion for what you do, this is the place to be. To get location information and register to attend go here

For more educational topics go to Window Cleaning Institute

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Be Careful With Social Media

For a business owner few things can be as effective as social media for getting your message out quickly to a large group. If you set up you contact or "friends" list right you have an almost instant way to send specials and sell new services. Not to mention that unlike a passive advertising like a website social media can be used to actively seek sales.
While that's great it doesn't come without risks. The contact and information flows both ways with social media. It's just as easy for "communication" you don't want to get out to do so. What do I mean? Think about what many people do when they enter social media. Often they set up a personal page and then a business one. Why? They can use the personal page to talk to friends and family over great distances, exchange photos or videos, join groups they are interested in, and even play games if they so choose. This is where it gets problematic. Even if you only have your customers on your business page odds are they know your name and can search FB for your post. They may even be friends with others you are friends with and know they can see those not so flattering pictures you (or more likely your friends) posted of you that one time you did something you wish you never had. Let's face it everyone has a smartphone with internet access now and in seconds you can become internet infamous.
So if you intend to use social media for your business make sure that you keep your personal page and posts as professional as you want your customers to see you. If you are in groups and they are "open" make sure what you post isn't a rant about that one customer who just drives you up the wall. That is, unless you don't mind losing them when they see it on there newsfeed.
I know it's not fair but right or wrong we as business owners are held to a higher standard because these people are letting us in their homes and around there family. They need a certain sense of security and we need to provide that in order to stay in business.

For more educational topics go to Window Cleaning Institute

Sunday, March 2, 2014

What makes the best water fed pole?

It's one of those questions where you have manufacturers come out with ratios and numbers. Some just claim to be the best. Others just keep doing what they've always done and let the end user determine the issue. 
Are their ways a beginner can make a good choice they won't regret? 
Here are some things to think about. How high are you going to work? What is your budget? How often are you likely to use the pole and for how long? Will it be for after a softwashing or will you be doing first cleans on some dirty windows?
After you decide that you can figure out what will work for you.
For soft washers up to 2 stories a hybrid pole (a mix of carbon fiber and fiberglass) will be just fine.
For first cleans you may want something stiffer and lighter so a full carbon fiber pole will be great up to 3 stories
If you are doing commercial work up to 4 stories on a regular basis you should look in to a Hi Modulus carbon fiber pole.
In all of this you want to find the lightest, stiffest pole you can afford to make your work as easy as possible.
As far as tests the one I find most compelling is a simple angle test where the poles are put in a rack and extended to see how far they will droop under their own weight. I've posted a video of one such test. While not all poles are in the test the two that others most often compare themselves to are (the Gardiner and Unger nLite series) so you should be able to make a solid determination with this.

Pretty much speaks for itself!

For more information go to A New View Exterior Cleaning

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Milestone for Unger

In a small industry like window cleaning not many companies last, let alone celebrate 50 years in business. To achieve that you need good people, loyal clientele, and a great product line. Unger has evidently accomplished all three. This year marks Unger's 50th Anniversary. To celebrate they have released a limited edition set of tools as well as a limited edition clothing line. Both can be found here
I've used many products as a window cleaner and at the beginning of my business I didn't use many Unger products. That has changed over the years and I now use mainly Unger products on my tool belt. In fact the Ninja squeegee handle, stripwasher sleeves, T bars, and microfiber cloths have become mainstays in our business.
At many networking events Unger unselfishly donates free product for attendees. Having something to try out in this way can be vital to a business owner just starting out. They often don't have the disposable income to try every new item that comes out. It may seem simple but many times it's the simple things that mean the most.
So a big thanks to Unger for supporting this industry for 50 years. Happy Anniversary!

For more educational topics go to Window Cleaning Institute

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ladder Safety and You

One of the most profound statements I’ve ever heard when it comes to ladder safety is – “there are two kinds of ladder users, those who have fallen off a ladder and those that will”. While you may not like the either-or scenario of that statement, it is sadly all too true. If we use ladders long enough we can find ourselves on the wrong side of an accident. But as professional cleaners, ladders are an essential part of our equipment. What can we do to minimize the risk?
Location, Location, Location!
While most of us would recognize this adage as something to do with real estate it is a vital element of ladder safety. Where we place our ladder is the most important step we take in using it safely. We need to make sure that the ground we are setting our ladder on is solid. The ladder should also be set at a 75 degree angle. How do we know if we have it right? There are simple ways to check. To establish the angle simply set the ladder where you need it, now with your arms stretched out straight, your hands should land on the rung straight in front of you, then you have the proper angle. As for the stable ground, when the ladder is set, simply stand on the bottom rung and bounce a little. If the ladder doesn’t sink unevenly or deeply then you’re ready to think about climbing. What about uneven ground or getting on a roof?
Every Ladder Needs These
I have found 2 ladder accessories to be invaluable when it comes to ladder safety – a standoff and the Pivit tool.
We use a Werner quick click standoff (some guys call them bullhorns) every time we set up the extension ladder. It keeps the top of the ladder away from the wall, which gives you a better angle to clean. It also gives more stability to the top of the ladder which is especially beneficial when going from the ladder to a roof. We also use the Pivit tool which looks like a big black wedge. It is designed as a leg leveler as well as a plank support for interior scaffolding. Whatever you use, a leg leveler is a must when you need to make sure the ladder is always straight, never climb a ladder that is leaning to one side, even if it’s only by a couple of inches.
Other concerns
If you live in an area where you may need to use a ladder in the winter, you may run into snow or ice where you need to set up. If there is no other option, then make sure to clear the surface of any snow or ice before setting your ladder. Of course there are other options for certain types of cleaning, like extension poles or using different techniques to clean the exterior from the inside when doing windows.  Another great way to reduce the risk of using ladders is to not use them. We use water fed poles as often as possible to keep ladder use to a minimum in window cleaning. Or if you are soft washing a house can you use a longer wand or telescopic pole to get the solution to a setback dormer?
Training is Essential
One thing we also should discuss it the need for training. While climbing a ladder may not be rocket science it’s dangerous and as with any dangerous activity training can reduce those dangers. Most fire departments have training classes so check with your local one to see if you can take a class. There are networking events for cleaners around the country and some may have safety courses and/or demos that you can attend. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) have online classes (OSHA 10 and OSHA 30) that will help you with the classroom aspects of ladder safety if you take the ones for the construction industry.

To Use a Ladder or Not

Whatever you decide no job is worth taking an unnecessary risk with a ladder so really analyze your options beforehand, apply any and all safety devices for the ladder, be willing to walk away from an unsafe scenario, and remember the only safe ladder is the one you never use!

For more educational topics go to Window Cleaning Institute