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Career Changes?

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Career Changes?

Post by milspec6 on Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:50 pm

I am starting to get the Spring calls for cleaning now that we hit mid-50's today, although it will be snowing tomorrow so it isn't quite that time of year yet. I was also out canvassing some commercial prospects and ran into a strange situation. One of the prospects is a prep-school which has only been around for a few years yet is very well funded and Nationally ranked as one of the best in the US. Well, into my sales pitch, they countered by asking me if I would consider joining their staff as the Custodial Manager?

This caught me by surprise, but I agreed to meet tomorrow to discuss it. It is that old choice again of going with a steady paycheck and running the business on the side part-time, vs staying full-time and riding the roller coaster. The end of winter always leaves me very depleted financially and that creates more worry even though the Spring is about to kick off. I do have a friend who is losing his job in a few months and he has asked if he could come work for me. That guy has been one of my on-call guys for years and so maybe I could have him run the daytime residential routes while I continued to take care of the commercial side in the evenings while holding down the day job?

I am actually torn on this one. As you know, I am still trying to grow this business and thus far it hasn't been setting the business world on-fire. This isn't the first time that I have flirted with the idea of a steady paycheck with benefits, but the timing of it coming after a winter with very little income for a couple of months makes it seem pretty good. Good enough to at least sit down and talk to the place about anyway.

It doesn't come with great pay, but the benefits are outstanding with nearly free medical compared to my $1300 per month that I need to pay now. The biggest hurdle is that I will not be able to take residential work except for evening hours and weekends and that could be a big loss of money and stifle growth. I just wish there was a way to accomplish both, but that occupation doesn't really exist.

Really going to have to wrestle with this one tonight so I know what my response will be if they make the solid offer.

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Re: Career Changes?

Post by Freemind1 on Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:45 pm

Well, if it were me, I'd pass on the job. Low pay but good benefits? Not even a consideration for me.

Yeah, that 1300 sucks, but you can make a lot more money in your business, then you can in a job. Overall, you have to compare what you'll earn over 12 months.

Having a "guy" during the day might be nice, but you and I both know how that usually turns out. No one cares about your business more than you.

IMO, you'll never build the resi unless you are there to do it. You can bang out commercial like you did before part time, but the resi will be VERY hard to grow.

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Re: Career Changes?

Post by milspec6 on Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:11 pm

Thanks for the reply and you echo what one side of my brain is telling me as well. I agree that the safe bet will never result in anything more than "getting by" money-wise, but it does insure that the bottom doesn't fall out as well and I end up losing everything.

Everything comes down to the residential market. I know how to get commercial, but thus far my residential has been very weak. My base customers are very loyal and continue to refer me, but I am starting to believe that the market just isn't here like I had thought going in. That certainly might continue to grow, but if it doesn't I will continue to struggle and I don't think I can do that a whole lot longer.

Still, I would much rather continue as a gun-slinger on my own than pushing a mop m-f for low pay...I just don't know if it will ever sustain me. I was told going into this full-time that you must have 2 attributes to be successful. You have to remain confident that it will work and you have to be too ignorant to realize that you are risking everything.

I never gained that ignorance and only confident when things are going well. Each time I come out of winter where there is no work for months, I lose that confidence and it quickly gets replaced by fear of losing everything again.

I really don't know what I will say tomorrow if the position gets offerred.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by ACE Services on Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:47 am

Rob
You have to be the one that makes that call.
You know what my story is, I know from school that it takes 2 to 5 yrs to get a business going. I am at a disadvantage because I am in a small specialized field. It's not like I can advertise or send fliers out. I have to work on word of mouth mostly. But the company is in its 7th yr now. One of the things I look at is how much freon I use. It was talking about 16 to 18 months to use a tank. In 2016 I had to buy a new can the week before Christmas, that hurt the Christmas budget. But then in 2017 around May I had to buy another one. Then in October another one. Now in 2018 I just bought a new can 2 weeks ago. I have already used a 1/3 of that one. Going through the invoices has shown that business doubled from 15 to 16. And it doubled from 16 to 17. And now we are looking at putting up a bigger shop, instead of just working out of the basement and working on TM'S outside. As you can see from my other post we are taking on bigger jobs, fixing things that the big shops like ILS, SB can't do. If God continues to bless and the company grows. The company owner may can quit her job and come home to run her business, instead of someone else's. In the next 1 to 2 yrs buy then we'll have more things paid off and the company will be bigger. Just something to think about.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by milspec6 on Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:13 pm

I appreciate your story ACE and glad it is working out. My business has been around for 12 years now, although this will only be my 3rd season on a full-time basis. I understand that it takes time, but the growth just isn't happening fast enough to stay ahead of the bills during the slow periods. I have exhausted my savings over these last couple of years and there is no cushion left....things either pick up or I go broke.

Granted, we are about to enter March which is always my best month and then my view might change, but right now I just see bills and worry that if I wait too long, the decision to return to a day job will no longer be mine to make.

It is a moot point for now as this job didn't pan out anyway. The school is way out in the boonies (40 min drive down several miles of county gravel roads) and the pay was not very good. The campus is huge and felt more like a junior college than a prep school so I want to go back and pitch them on services this week when the right staff are available. So, I am back to sitting by the phone nervously awaiting for it to ring. I have a bank waiting to schedule, one commercial building at the end of the month, and 1 home so far for March....not really a blistering pace yet.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by Matt; My carpet cleaner on Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:43 pm

So the question I see is: can you work that job and do commercial in the eves and weekends? I can understand the steady check and benefits.
-maybe your biz is all about comm. work. Nothing wrong with that.


Last edited by Matt; My carpet cleaner on Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:46 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Career Changes?

Post by milspec6 on Wed Feb 28, 2018 9:27 pm

That is what I did for over a decade Matt, worked a day job and took care of the commercial in the evenings and weekends. It worked out well enough until the plant closed and my job disappeared. The issue always was that I had to turn down residential requests unless they were willing to schedule it on the weekend or early evening which most would not.

My thinking 2 years ago was that going full-time frees me up to make a run at the residential market to round out the business, but it just hasn't worked out that way. I recieve nothing except praise for my work, received tips on every job, and continue to get referrals, but there just isn't much there....3 in a week is a busy week for me and also rare. The breakdown is normally 4 commercial jobs and about 6 residential each month during peak times. It brings in about $6500 gross with a lot of free time on my hands and although it is better than a lot of day jobs I will ever find, it is not enough to carry me through the slow times.

I am just starting to believe that this area does not value residential cleaning and the market just isn't there to begin with. If that is true, then all I am doing is trying to grow crops in bad soil and will never find success...only financial failure. The flip side is that going back to a day job insures that I will never get to find out for certain.

I am going back to that school in the morning to pitch some services and who knows, if they increased the pay to something around $19 - $20 /hr, maybe I will take it instead of having a heart attack at the end of each month over the stress.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by milspec6 on Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:32 am

The more that I think about this, the same issue keeps popping up....I am still not very visible on internet searches. I just looked today and I am tough to find on generic searches for carpet cleaners...even home maid services are ranking higher in my area. I really don't know what else to do other than start cranking out videos or something. I have written large checks to companies to imporve my presence and still nothing. They just keeping telling me the same thing...that I need a commercial shop and time. Well, I can't fix either of those things right now.

Commercial requires none of that stuff, just a good sales pitch and a positive meeting. That I fare well at doing. It is this residential stuff that just eludes me again and again. I know that there is only 1 competitior in one of the small towns that I service (population 8500) and he has basically been closed for 3 years, yet he dominates the searches. That just makes no sense to me.

As a result, nearly all of my customers have come by referrals which are up to about 22 to date. They have been very loyal and supportive, but even they ask me why I don't advertise on the radio or something to be more visible? I really need some help on this matter if this is going to work, but I can't afford to spend thousands on consultants right now either. Sort of a Catch-22 really and darn frustrating. Heck, I helped get a friend of mind started as a guitar instructor and he is number one in the listings out of 12 instructors, yet the same advice has done very little for me. Just don't see why?
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by Matt; My carpet cleaner on Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:22 am

As you made the switch to go full time, I was with ya.
As we heard about the lack of pH calls, I was with ya.
During the hard winter weather and slow comm work, I was with ya.
As you talk about little to no residential work, not with standing your efforts to get the word out, I'm with ya.
After afew years, and little results;  now standing at a cross road opportunity to redirect your business, we are with ya.
From long distance; I think everyone here has said a little prayer that things will work out. That the jobs will flow on.
So do what you think will help you .

Do they have a security office on the campus??? Ask them about a position there, its up your alley.

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Re: Career Changes?

Post by Mo on Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:55 pm

What ever you do make sure you ask that they give you a day to think about it and sleep on it before you make a decision.

They do know that you operate a business so maybe they can work on a schedule with you that would allow you to block off some time to do residential work ie: four 10 hour days with one week day off, work weekends two days off in the week, or daily schedule where you can get off early enough to do a residential job etc.

How long are you willing to push residential before you consider it a lost cause? Four years, five years, 6 years? Making that decision and that will allow you to pursue other opportunities like more commercial work or a full time job.

What's the worse that could happen if you take that job? You residential business blows up and you have to quit the job.

I started the business cleaning after 3:00pm but my service area was close, may be that could work for you.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by milspec6 on Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:43 pm

My pity party is over. That job wasn't going to work, the pay was too low for that distance of commute. Besides, I should be able to make this work. I drove around my market all day and can't imagine not being able to find enough work in there. I just need to give up on the internet ranking crap and go back to basics with face to face contacts. I should be able to dominate every one of those areas, I just have to make it a point to introduce myself to as many as possible. If that doesn't do it, then I will give up on residential.

At least the regulars are calling today, had 2 of them book for next week to include the furniture. What I have is a very loyal bunch and it only took the one cleaning to do it. I don't lose customers ever, I just need to get more of them. I might have to host an event cleaning rugs for free in a busy parking lot or something to draw attention.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by Matt; My carpet cleaner on Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:27 pm

So whose your comp and how far away are they???
If your the main/only close option.... Tell them.

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Re: Career Changes?

Post by milspec6 on Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:40 pm

Tomorrow I start barn-storming, starting with every daycare center (28 of them) in my service area. No phone calls, no flyers, just a friendly knock on the door and inroduction. My strength has always been a friendly talkative personality, it is just time that I put it to more work. After that will be the churches (18 of them) and then on to the private offices and waiting rooms.

It might just irritate people and I end up with a reputation of being a pest, but at least they will be talking about me. I have given myself March and April to decide my future. If I can make a good splash this month and ride the currents through April, it might work out yet. If not....well, I will confront that if that day comes. It shouldn't be this difficult to get traction in an area that I grew up around, but it sure has been so far.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by Freemind1 on Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:37 pm

Well, you got ripped off on your SEO. I did my own (being uneducated about it) and I got much farther then you did. Not to tick you off or anything, but just to say your results with the website are because the people who did it, didn't put any effort in. They just took your money.

Keep driving your facebook (consider paying for ads). Think about doing fliers and having them inserted into the "free" papers that newspaper companies distribute once a week. Postcards/fliers in the newspaper boxes work good. Business cards on the public boards like at gas stations and laundry mats.

You'll do fine Rob. You just need to find what works for you.

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Re: Career Changes?

Post by ACpower1 on Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:47 pm

Hey Rob, been a while. Sorry to hear about the rough winters.

It may be that you need to really hit it hard in the warm months then either just vacation or have a seasonal winter job.

I dont know what its like to run a business in your climate, but it seems tough. GL man.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by milspec6 on Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:31 pm

Thanks gang, I do think a winter job will become standard practice in the future, but I still need to work this out and make smart decisions. Until now I thought I had been and that things would come around in time, but that just isn't the case. Anything can haapen, I still have a couple of banks looking to schedule at some point which are good tickets and my main commercial should start ramping up as well. I think this month will be a good one, but I still need to find some answers going beyond it.

I also agree, all that money shelled out for SEO support was a complete bust, just wasted a lot of money. Better standing on internet searches would certainly make a difference in this quest, but that isn't going to change over-night either no matter what I do.

I will feel better once I start getting more work and we are just beginning the new month so anything is possible. Worst case scenario I just pack it all in and sell everything including the house...become debt free again with about $50k in cash and move to the beach. The world could use more Lewbowskis as well.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by dp1 on Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:37 am

Contact that competitor that went out of business and ask him if you can buy his listing for $ 1000, go in there, change the password and change the company’s name and phone number to yours.
Delete your own listing, google hates double listings.
Good luck Bob.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by Freemind1 on Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:41 am

P.S. a google search for "carpet cleaning blair ne" put you 7th on page one results and 3rd place on the maps that pops up on page one.

You are ranking. You are page one.

I don't mess with social media. IF I did, I would pay for a few facebook ads. It's pretty cheap and you can target your audience. It should be something you can easily do yourself.

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Re: Career Changes?

Post by milspec6 on Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:08 pm

It depends on the search engine though, bing and chrome are different.

I contacted 25 day care centers today.  Nice people and they seemed interested, but the only immediate job I got from it was the local Legion Hall which I have for Monday.  I think there will be some daycare centers soon though.

So, it is a start with 3 out of 5 days with work next week.  We have another cold front mid-week so people still aren't fully thinking Spring just yet.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by Freemind1 on Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:23 am

So let me ask...
Since you want to build the resi side of your business, what is the plan?

You have went the website and SEO route, with not so good results. What is the next move for resi then?

I ask because you seem to be like me. You don't really want to pay or rely on someone to drive your marketing. I'd like to see you have some satisfactory results this year.

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Re: Career Changes?

Post by milspec6 on Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:21 pm

My plan is sort of a 40 year old one. My service area consists of 5 small towns with a total population of about 50,000 people. Because they are small towns, I am counting on them operating like the same small towns that I grew up in. That means when you need to hire someone, you hire the one that you went to school with or who is the relative of someone else. Basically, you hire by name / relationship and avoid the strangers.

I went to high school in one of those small towns and my brother remains a business owner in that town for the last 35 years and seems to know everyone. So, I plan to make myself seen in that town and remind people that I am from that town originally. So, that means doing a lot of shopping in that town in uniform, dinners in uniform, sponsering the little league, attending functions, etc. That will only help in one city, but becoming dominant in that area would go a long ways to becoming very busy.

The others will take a different approach and that means targetting those that the existing companies ignore. Most of my competition in the neighboring areas will not do small commercial and will not do rural jobs. I am going to target the rural homes, small commercial, and non-traditional job holders. I am the only cleaner that will work evenings, weekends (esp Sundays) without an added charge. I am trying to get the message out, but that will take some effort or else signing large checks which I cannot write at this time.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by dp1 on Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:38 pm

@milspec6 wrote:my brother remains a business owner in that town for the last 35 years and seems to know everyone.  So, I plan to make myself seen in that town and remind people that I am from that town originally.

Have you put some business cards at his work / office / workshop ( if this is the brother that own a boat shop ? ) ?
Have you asked him to tell everyone that goes into his shop about you ? If you can’t get him to do that, make a poster and ask his permission to post the poster on his window ? Make a winter special that expires in 30 - 60 days and post that on the poster ?

We calculated the math on the population vs service provider but now you don’t have competition, you should be busier, I would seriously look at someone that can fix your google listing, the honest SEO person will charge you a one time fee instead of monthly, unfortunately most of them charge monthly for something they do once pretty much.

Put yourself in customer’s shoes, if you google carpet cleaner, how many would you call and ask prices ? 3 maybe 4 ? I might not make those calls in order, I might call the 5th or 6th listing if their name or picture catch my eyes, but being 7th is unfortunately not good at all.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by milspec6 on Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:11 pm

Excellent points Dp. I do have my business cards on display at my Brother's shop. One of the biggest issues is that nobody knows him by his name, just the nickname that he has been using since high school. I think if he went by his actual name, everyone in town would know who I was and the phone would ring.

As for putting myself in customer's shoes...that is what I always try to do. When I made the jump 2 years ago, I looked at who showed up in a google search and realized that most didn't even have a website in one of the towns, so I targetted that one believing that people would likely gravitate to a business that had a website and then I added a video to make sure there was some kind of personal connection to those that landed on the page. I believed that would be enough to move to the head of the class, but it didn't. Even as a couple of those other cleaners faded away, I still didn't get there....cleaners from the large city 35 miles away took over the top spots.

I still get asked by many of my customers why I don't advertise on the radio like "Zero" does in this area? If I had that kind of cash laying around I would, but those numbers didn't look good when I considered it last year.

If I have a strong March, I might look into hiring a new SEO manager and try that route again, but right now it is more important to keep the lights on.
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Re: Career Changes?

Post by Freemind1 on Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:09 pm

Well, it's your plan. I hope it is successful for you.

But to be honest, I have my doubts just appearing will do much to drive your business. People have already said in the past, they didn't know you even did resi. To me that says people need to see ads/education from you to tell them who you are, what you do, and you are ready to serve their needs.

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Re: Career Changes?

Post by milspec6 on Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:17 am

@Freemind1 wrote:Well, it's your plan. I hope it is successful for you.

But to be honest, I have my doubts just appearing will do much to drive your business. People have already said in the past, they didn't know you even did resi. To me that says people need to see ads/education from you to tell them who you are, what you do, and you are ready to serve their needs.

That is very true, but I don't see any other way to educate them without spending a lot of money...which is no longer an option. Will it work? I don't expect it to, actually, I haven't expected this to work out since last August. It is like riding a spooked horse, you know you are in big trouble, but you can't find a way to jump off safely so all you can do is hold on tight and hope things end okay. I am probably just buying time, but there is always the hope that something good could still happen. I still have some hope right now, unless this month bottoms out. If that happens....well, no sense in thinking about that right now.
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