How to Expand Beyond a ONE MAN SHOW

The cleaning business is chock full of owner operators - people who do the work themselves. The one truck operator. The one-man show. Does that describe you? If so, you have probably thought of expanding. You may have dreamed of being off the truck. Maybe you don't really like the physical work that much. Most entrepreneurs dream of having a big business. We want lots of trucks (the cleaner's term for toys), lots of employees (the naïve entrepreneur's "yes" men), and lots of money! WOW! The Entrepreneurial Dream!

Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way

Many cleaners that have added their second truck have struggled with a multitude of issues that they never could have imagined in their worst nightmare. Faced with dealing with employees, organizing the office, maintaining two trucks instead of just one, keeping the schedule full, and wearing all the hats so to speak eventually gets the best of them. They have finally thrown in the towel because they don't really understand what has happened to them.

The reason they fail is they haven't planned their growth. They thought they were just taking the next, natural step in their business. What they didn't realize is that the dynamics of the business changed, their role completely changed, and now everything is very different. Before, everything was under control. Now, mistakes threaten their reputation, and the stress is overwhelming.

It doesn't have to be this way!

Why have some expanded their companies successfully and others haven't? While some are experiencing numerous problems, others are taking multiple vacations per year. One of my favorite sayings is "What one man can do another can do!". I believe (and have experienced) that anyone can expand their business successfully if they learn a few important lessons. I learned these valuable lessons through trial and error and the good ol' school of hard knocks. I started my company from the trunk of my car in 1984. Over time, with some help from others, I was able to expand it to a ten truck company producing in excess of $2 million in mostly residential cleaning. My company employs 33 people.

The tried and true lessons of expanding properly can be learned in advance of making the mistakes that myself and many others have made. By understanding and applying a few simple steps, you can avoid wasting thousands of dollars, and keep yourself from experiencing a multitude of heartache.

The Required Mindset

The first thing to think about is why you want to grow. I know it may be as simple as being too busy to handle all of the work. It may be that you have done a good job selling your services, and people like what you do, so now you are having a hard time keeping up. This could be the worst reason to grow and should not be the primary reason that you expand.

Maybe you want off the truck. Maybe you want a different lifestyle. Maybe you want to grow a business that's saleable. Maybe you want to make more money than you are currently making. Adding another service vehicle may or may not bring in more money, and it may or may not give you a better lifestyle. It depends on how much profit is associated with the extra sales. So ask yourself what it is that you are really after.

I often say in my seminars that your business exists for one reason and one reason only: To help you achieve your life goals. In other words, what do you really want out of life? Most entrepreneurs go into business so that they can "work for themselves" or have more "free time". Unfortunately, most business owners show up to a "job" every morning. There is no real goal. No real mission. No real life plan. Just make the business bigger. That is not the best way to think about your business. Before expanding your business, list the reasons that you want to do it. Write down how much profit you are anticipating. Write down how many hours you will work. Do your goals require expansion? Or could you increase your price and do less work? Next, realize that by getting off the truck, or adding a second truck, you will become a manager instead of a cleaner. You may be required to remain the cleaner as well. So now you have two roles instead of one. Probably the biggest challenge for entrepreneurs is learning how to lead and manage people. Unsuccessful expansion is usually the result of not being skilled at managing others. To be successful as a two truck operator, you will be required to learn that much sought after skill. The good news is that my system can guide you through that entire process.
More on this subject another time,

Howard Partridge
Phenomenal Products, Inc.

voice: 281-634-0404

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