Is your cleaning business a “leaky bucket”?

manage-carpet-cleaning-business-efficientlyThere’s an amusing story about an old fellow in the Kentucky hills (My apologies to all our SFS site readers from Kentucky!) who was notorious as the town drunk.  And despite repeated efforts he just couldn’t get his life together.  But every time the local church had a revival or a new evangelist came through town he would be there.

Like clockwork, this old reprobate would respond to every invitation to be “saved”.  He would stumble down the aisle, fall to his knees, raise his arms toward heaven and yell, “Fill me, Jesus!”  However, in a week or two he would be back to his old shenanigans!  Revival after revival, again with great fanfare he would get publicly “saved” again.

So yet another traveling tent revival meeting came to town.  And once  again our town drunk was there, coming down the aisle again in response to the “get saved” invitation while shouting, “Fill me, Lord Jesus!” However, a loud voice from the back of the church interrupted, “Don’t do it, Jesus!  He leaks!”

Well, let’s face it, we all have “leaks” of one sort or another, don’t we?  And so do our businesses.  All my consulting clients know that I constantly admonish them to “look for the leaks in your business bucket”!  Then we can get to work fixing them.  To be sure, there are many different kinds of leaks.

There are “operating efficiency leaks” caused by producing too little income in too many hours. (The carpet cleaning industry is famous for this leak!)  There are “production leaks”- using too much material/time on the job.  Many struggle with “communication leaks”- caused when we either don’t let our people know what’s going on or when we “confuse talking with communicating”.  And, of course, all of these leaks ultimately lead to one sad but inevitable result- the dreaded “profit leaks”!  When profit leaks are too big (or continue hemorrhaging cash for too long) we run the risk of losing the bucket altogether!

When things aren’t going so well in our cleaning or restoration businesses it normally is easy to find the leaks.   Usually because they are BIG leaks!  Unfortunately, big leaks are usually expensive and painful to repair.  However, most business leaks don’t start out big.  Usually they start out as small trickles.  But over time even a tiny dribble will erode the hole in the bucket until until it becomes a “gusher”!

You see, when things are going well and our businesses are just kind of cruising along it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking our company is leak-proof.  That’s when it’s important to dig down and seek out the leaks that aren’t so obvious. Don’t worry- ALL businesses have leaks.  Your job is to identify and fix them while they are still small and inexpensive to repair.

The important thing is to fight the subtle enemy of complacency.  Never, ever  stop looking for the leaks in your business bucket…even when you’re afraid of what you might find!  And just like the poor fellow in the story above, never become discouraged when you continue to find more leaks.  We all have them.  We just have to keep looking for ways to patch them up.  Even when the voices in the back of the room remind us that we “leak”!

Chuck Violand (more about Chuck)
SFS Instructor
CEO Violand Management Associates

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