I QUIT. I worked at it, I analyzed it, I was done.
What am I done with? MY business.
Starting this past January, I started up a janitorial cleaning business. I knew this industry well enough through my prior job running a janitorial supply company and thought I’d give it a shot. My partner and I had worked out a $30,000 a month account and when I crunched the numbers, and it was too good to pass up. So we drew up a contract with this new client and got everything finalized for us to take over cleaning their buildings.
I started with 14 employees between 8 buildings to get our feet wet with this account. We thought we had done enough preparation to have this thing go without many hiccups. Boy, was I wrong. Throughout starting up this business we knew the work it would take to train our crews, and the capital it would take to start up. We checked the box on both of those, and thought we were good to go with a good crew manager.
We started and went on our way into the business. Night 1 – total nightmare. Night 2 – worse. And so forth. Nothing seemed to go right. But that’s expected in a start up, especially one so labor intensive as this. So we fired our crew manager, fired half of the crews, made adjustments and hoped for better results. As days went on, things got better, our crews improved with training, but the stress was a constant.
What was the problem with the crews and crew manager? The problem was that they both went against what they were hired to do. The manager canceled meetings, didn’t show up to manage the crews, and didn’t establish any semblance of consistency in these buildings. He didn’t last a week. When it comes to cleaning crews, they wouldn’t do the job the right way unless you were to micro manage them and follow their every move. If you were with them one night they would do great, if you were to let them run solo the next, they would do terrible and the customer complaints would flood in.
The result? Be with the crews every night to ensure the job gets done the right way.
This is what I saw – literally and figuratively every morning and night. A dark and gloomy road block. The road block figuratively, was how this business, albeit profitable, was driving me crazy and keeping me away from my goals in life. Literally, this sign was a road closed right outside where I live where I had to take a “detour” that increased my drive an easy 5 minutes. It doesn’t seem like much, but trust me, at the end of the day or beginning of a long one, it messes with your head!
Let’s recap real quick:
Within 1 week we fired our crew manager, and half of the crews because they deviated from the plan. We hired new crews who did the same thing if they weren’t managed. As days went on, the crews stayed the same. The job was all peaks and valleys, peaks depending on if we were present to monitor or not, like-wise for the valleys.
OK. That’s some serious turnover.
I began asking myself…
Did I want to succeed? You bet! Did I want this to consume everything about my life? Absolutely not!
As the quality of the work continued to be abysmal when we weren’t around (satisfactory when we were), it became increasingly obvious that it was time to get in and commit to cleaning every night, or get out.
I decided to let the business fail. I recognized the chaos in this industry is normal, and decided that even if this business were to succeed further (keep in mind it is already earning over $30,000 in revenue) the chaos and stress would not subside. Keeping this business did not inch me any closer to my goals in life.For a free goal-setting template, click here!
The money was great, but the body of work that produced the money wasn’t worth it.
From that day forward, we made moves to dissolve the business and offload our buildings.
The thing about the cleaning industry when it comes to medical office buildings, is that it is a hard and thorough clean. It is physically demanding, stressful, and has a high employee turnover. These are not what I want in my life, even if I was to be paid as handsomely as I was.
Let’s breakdown the failures, success, and further why I decided to let it fail.
Despite me quitting this business it was very successful for how long I had it running for. Most businesses can’t get the sales I had in their first 1-2 years. We broke ground on a new industry while being very similar to the supply side and stayed above water. We hit profitability in month two after repaying shareholder contributions and paying off equipment purchases.
We hired and implemented crews to clean 8 different buildings ranging from 12,000 square feet up upwards of 50,000 square feet while starting them all on the same day. We succeeded in organizing the chaos and establishing our selves as a cleaning company to be reckoned with.
In my opinion, there are more failures that successes. I say this because there were several things we could have done different that would have changed the trajectory of the company, although my feelings about it would not have changed.
When we first bid the account, and eventually won the bid, we didn’t do our due diligence on it. We offered what we knew would make us money while saving the customer enough to give us the business. The problem is, we didn’t know exactly how critical the tenants in these buildings were. If you missed a trash can, missed refilling a dispenser, let alone failing to clean a section of the facility, you were chastised as if you robbed them blind. The clients were by far the worst and we didn’t even have the foresight to find out their specific requirements on a per suite basis. We knew what the customer needed in the grand scheme of things, but many of our issues stemmed from their tenants who demanded more than our customer did. Due to this, complaints occurred way more than anticipated. The tenants worked us into the ground demanding us clean and do things that were beyond the scope of our bid to this customer. We didn’t have to abide by these requests – but we did to make sure we kept the account. Let’s call this strike 1.
In not doing our due diligence, we also hired (and fired shortly thereafter) our crew manager whose job was to find, implement, and maintain the crews for the entire account. He procrastinated and waited until the day before we started to ensure the crews were ready to start. Keep in mind we had months to prepare our crews for this as we knew well in advance of when we needed to start cleaning these buildings. The crew manager was in no way, shape, or form prepared. Because of this the crews were most definitely not prepared either. We fired almost all of them after this development. This in turn caused my partner and I to have the be present with these crews, both new and old, to make sure the job was done to our expectations.
Why I let the business fail
In summary, I let this business fail because it didn’t align with where I wanted my life to go. And as you read further, you will learn why.
My goals in creating a business, is to succeed of course, but in building to that success I want to have more time freed up to allow me to do what I want with my son, my wife, and myself while making an income to satisfy all of our needs. When I say more time, I mean that I want to have something built where my time doesn’t directly impact the money I make. I want a business model that has as much passive income as I can build it to have. But remember, all passive income streams still require time and effort. I understand that I’ll need to put in a lot of time and effort to start up, but once built my time will be mine again to do with it what I want.
I knew that this business would not meet any of my goals no matter how hard I fought for it to. It is a stressful industry that requires more time and effort that I was willing to give up, because the time and effort expended would not result in my time freedom. It would result in substantial money. This money came at a cost though. The cost being my life being consumed by this business that I did not even enjoy. I’m not willing to work myself to death to make money for a business I loathed.
That was another reason I let it fail, I hated it. I went into it for the money, and I left the money to take back my sanity.
If there was one thing I took away from this above all else it is that I need to whatever will align with my goals and eventually guide me to meeting them.
This business was not it.
Because we are all about testing, I feel it would do you no good if I didn’t write an article on if I were to take a do over and what I would do different going into the contract I secured.CLICK HERE to get it!