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Started Over

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Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Wed May 23, 2018 12:09 pm

I just got the notification today and accepted the  assistant carrier position with the USPS.  This is not what I had in mind 2 years ago and I would rather keep cleaning full-time, but I just haven't been able to maintain any volume with the business this year.  I was told to expect 32 hours each week with additional hours likely as needed.  That likely means getting worked to death every week, but right now being very busy sounds good.  I have also been told that during the holiday season, expect to work 6 days per week for about 6 weeks, which again sounds good since I don't do any business generally during December anyway.

So, I will gain some income, get into shape (walking all day), acheive a nice tan, and get to learn all the neighborhoods within a 50 mile radius while still working commercial during the evenings and squeezing in a residential here and there as needed.  It isn't ideal and certainly isn't my dream job, but finding work when you are pushing 50 is not an easy thing to do.  At least I have my bases covered for a little while anyway.

It is funny though, when I was growing up I used to watch tv shows like "Barney Miller" and "Cheers".  Growing up, I always identified with Dietrich, but I became Fish.  I also saw myself like Dr. Crane, yet I have now become Cliff Clavins.  Life is a funny thing.

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Re: Started Over

Post by Mo on Thu May 24, 2018 8:30 pm

It's going to be nice getting that steady paycheck. You may.as well hand a postcard at the door while you're there Smile
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Re: Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Thu May 24, 2018 11:20 pm

I just finished fingerprinting and signing all the employment papers.  The Postmaster said that she has never had an applicant's background checks go through so fast and then suggested that I enjoy the weekend, because she expects me to be REALLY busy very soon due to shortages of carriers in my area.

The steady work and steady pay will feel really good right now.  Sure, there will be a ton of walking in this area (10-12 miles per shift likely) but I am already walking about that now each day for exercise, so not much changes except somebody pays me to do it.  They do have a 42% turn-over rate in the first year, so a lot of folks don't like this job, but I have certainly done far worse ones to pay the bills in my life so I am ready for it.

I am expecting to be on the clock by June 1st.  Anybody want to wager that the cleaning market will explode shortly after? Very Happy
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Re: Started Over

Post by Matt; My carpet cleaner on Fri May 25, 2018 10:04 am

im glad to hear the good news.
hope you hang around here.
Mo, you beat me to it about handing out flyers on the delivery route.

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Re: Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Fri May 25, 2018 10:52 am

Believe me, the flyers thing crossed my mind as well. I mentioned it before, but I will get to learn more about every neighborhood than probably anyone could ever dream of. The contacts and information that I will acquire by walking all these routes will vastly surpass any other means of research. I will know exactly what areas to advertise in and that would have to be beneficial down the road.

I am not going anywhere Matt, you will still see me here and I will still be cleaning as often as possible.
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Re: Started Over

Post by Matt; My carpet cleaner on Mon May 28, 2018 7:38 pm

Feel like I'm starting over too.
As things have been dragging and I havnt done much advertising the last 5-6 years; unfortunately im starting to see the affect of my neglect.
I've doing postcard with a HVAC Co. Sending out 1200+\- ea week. Scheduled 2 from the postcards last week, both postponed. C***
Gonna do a flyer in the town N. of me.
Gonna send out Pcard to churches.
Reached out to a theatre I've done in the past; remember the "serve yourself butter bar"? Did that today. The butter bar area turned out pretty good, some of the others areas were so-so. I was disappointed in some areas, gonna have to go back. Yearly work $ is large.

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Re: Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Mon May 28, 2018 8:06 pm

I love doing theaters Matt, some of my best jobs came from them. Unfortunately, around here they started switching to laminate floors and vinyl chairs so I became obsolete. Seems that has happened a lot to me lately.

If you can afford it Matt, I think the best advice anymore is to just hire a marketing company. The old saying is true that the owner should never be the smartest person in the business. You surround yourself with better people and do your best to stay out of the way. Sort of like driving a stage, it is the horses that really do the work while the driver just points them in the right direction.
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Re: Started Over

Post by Freemind1 on Tue May 29, 2018 4:13 am

Along the lines of Rob's thinking, maybe consider hiring a company that specializes in social media. Don't sign long term contracts though, and hold them to results.

I'm also thinking of hiring one to do my stuff. I don't want to nor have time. My wife doesn't seem motivated to do it for me, at this point.

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Re: Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Tue May 29, 2018 11:24 am

It is costly, but I think that is where I went wrong 2 years ago when I could have afforded it. DIY is fine sometimes, but we are not experts at this stuff, often just following someone else's practices and hoping it works. We don't build our own machines and we don't do major repairs to our vehicles for a reason, the same is probably true with marketing.

Just look at the franchise cleaners. They often have poorly trained techs and poor customer service practices yet they have name recognition and strong marketing. Or look at the classic example of McDonald's, they are ranked near the bottom in food quality yet always at the top in sales. They figured out a long time ago that it was the marketing that was most important for a business to be successful.

We should be doing the same thing.....if one could afford it. When I tried to hire a well known SEO company around here it was $1,500 per month at the cheapest. I couldn't see paying that amount and it would have been painful to do, but then I might not be in the situation that I am today if I had.
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Re: Started Over

Post by Freemind1 on Tue May 29, 2018 2:07 pm

My two cents?
SEO can be done by anyone. The caveat is as LONG as you are in a smaller market without TONS of competition. Yes, it IS easier to hire someone, but too many times, a guy sees practically no results from all that money paid. Finding a "guy" that does good work that gets results AND is priced decently, is not an easy thing to find.

Last winter I wanted to hire a "guy" to come up with some new postcard designs. This "guy" has built a following and a good sized business. The thing that bothered me was, I wanted a UNIQUE card. Not one that's reworded a bit and is the same that someone else 2-300 miles away was using. We have a lot of snowbirds here, and I want to stand out not look like someone else they may or may not like.

You are right, we really SHOULD be paying someone else to do our marketing. It's not just that simple sometimes. Mistake or not, the results don't come with any type of guarantee. If they did, I think a lot of us would be more willing to get off the cash. For you, business could have exploded. Or, you could have closed your doors in a few months.

It's all about calculated risks. 500 buck won't kill you. A 1500 a month contract for a year, might.

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Re: Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Tue May 29, 2018 4:18 pm

That is the cruxt of it really....business comes with a lot of risks, but it is often the big risk takers that are the most successful. Take small risks, expect small gains. I am not knocking it as I did that as well and the budget doesn't always allow an option, but it really is the big risk takers that either go down in flames and bankrupt or take off and become wildly successful. The rest of us operate in the safe zone where we neither take off, but hopefully avoid the cliff as well.

Sometimes I wish I would have just gone "all-in" 8 years ago and either sunk or soared rather than the slow death that I fought with the whole time. Business did just pick up a little on the commercial side starting this weekend, but I should have been roaring the past the 5 months. Proabably the toughest thing for me is always wondering about the "what if's" in my approaches to date.

Thankfully, I read the book about Shackleton's adventure aboard the ship "Endurance". You read that book and you understand the value of addressing your current situation and ignoring the past. A remarkable story and a highly suggested one.
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Re: Started Over

Post by Freemind1 on Tue May 29, 2018 7:11 pm

The amount of people who make it big, is very small, compared to those that ended up in the line. Everything has to click just right, and you have to have the RIGHT people on your team.

We all might like to be the next stinky steamer, but I think all of us would be happy with steady growth. For me, I'd prefer steady growth to explosive growth.

Marketing, from all I have learned so far, is more important than the product you are selling. Look at McD's... Rated as some of the worst hamburgers, but sell more burgers than anyone else.

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Re: Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Tue May 29, 2018 9:31 pm

Yup, marketing is the key. Every business is just a sales business regardless of product or service offerred. Unfortunately, that is also the hardest and most expenisve part of the equation. Also why I now feel that it requires hiring the right person to do it.
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Re: Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Thu May 31, 2018 12:14 pm

Well, I start with the USPS on June 11th for good or bad. I am starting to see a little increase in cleaning the past 10 days, but not enough to turn down the job offer. I suspect that the two will butt heads at times until winter, but I do like the idea of having gainful employment during the winter when the cleaning stops. That part will remove a lot of stress from my life.
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Re: Started Over

Post by ACpower1 on Fri Jun 01, 2018 6:00 pm

you definitely should not hire a local social media company in nebraska.  

Hire one out of a big tech city like seattle or silicon valley and they will blow your competition away.    

its very true what you said about marketing,    stanley for the most part does sub par work but their marketing is top notch.    

we have local cc companies here doing 5 million + per year and their work is also pretty sub par.    

its easy as a cleaner to get caught up in some 15 step process thinking the customer cares that much about the cleaning,     the honest truth is they dont even want you in their house that long lol.

I realized this about 4 years ago and business has never been better, far from where I want to be but I only pick up a wand about 1x every 2 weeks now.

small town markets are a completely different animal though and there really is no sure fire recipe to staying busy.
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Re: Started Over

Post by theecoguy on Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:16 pm

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread guys, enlightening, thought provoking and humbling to say the least. For my two cents worth I would suggest using a local SEO company as opposed to using a company from further afield. Local SEO is rewarded by Google, yes they really can tell whats happening to your website and where it's happening from!
Milspec good luck in your new en-devours.
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http://www.theliverpoolcarpetcleaner.co.uk/

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Re: Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:34 pm

Local SEO company makes sense to me as well. Thanks for the well wishes, hopefully it stabilizes things until I can get off the mat for the rest of the fight.
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Re: Started Over

Post by dp1 on Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:13 pm

First of all, congrats on getting that job, usps job sucks but it pays the bills AND their pension plan is really good I hear.

2nd of all, be careful dropping your fliers into customer’s mailbox, I’ve done that a long time ago and when usps found out, they called me and told me that’s a big No No, mailboxes are usps property ( what I was told by him ) even though customer bought the box, it’s still legally usps property.
You can talk to lots of people about what you do and spread the words that you’re a carpet cleaner, that’s a free advertisement, however down here, the mail carrier carries a device that tracks their movement, my carrier told me he can’t talk to me for too long otherwise he will get “paged”. Hopefully they don’t do that there, but even if they do, you’re a runner anyway, if you talk to someone for a few minutes, you can run to the next 10 homes and that should make up the time you spent in talking to that person Very Happy

Regarding advertisement, I don’t think you made a mistake not paying the guy $ 1500 / month, that’s a little too much for SEO service.
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Re: Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:02 pm

I know DP, and it is true that the mailbox is postal property so I will not rock the boat. The large cities due make the carriers carry a cell phone so that they can be tracked and if you are not moving for more than 3 minutes without being on break, they will contact the carrier to ask why? It is one of those jobs where the clock counts and you have to get your routes done in the allotted time or you will be looking for another job.

You do walk 10-12 miles per day and have about 6 hours to get the route done. I can cover a lot of ground being long-legged so 12 miles is about 2.5 hours for me judging by what I did today in the 96 degree temperature. Granted, I was not carrying a 30 lb mail bag and I didn't have to walk up to each house, but I still don't see it taking more than 3.5 hours unless in foul weather.

I am mostly in a smaller market so I am expecting less strict controls, but I will know soon. I still can't get over the fact that I have to spend 3 days on a driving course that includes an obstacle course and a road course before I will be allowed to drive one of those tinker-toy trucks. I realize that the right hand drive probably freaks people out, but I spent months driving in Europe so I don't see it as a concern.
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Re: Started Over

Post by dp1 on Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:28 pm

Well, 3 minutes is enough for you to talk for a bit and hand over a business card Very Happy
I think you should stretch that 3.5 hours to say 5 - 5.5 hours, gotta make some extra $$ from the government, lol.
Btw I hope your future boss don’t read this thread laughing
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Re: Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:54 pm

I have already been told the same thing by the Union..."don't finish the route too quickly or else they will just lengthen the route and the others will hate you".

Stil, I think there will be ample time to exhange a little banter on the route.
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Re: Started Over

Post by dp1 on Sun Jun 17, 2018 5:33 pm

Have you started with usps yet Bob ? How’s it going so far ?
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Re: Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:01 pm

I finished the first week of training which included 3 days of "death by powerpoint", a full day shadowing a carrier on their route, and then the 1-day driving course on the RH drive trucks. I can honestly say that being a letter carrier is a very tough job. The USPS delivers a ton of packages and very little real letters. Agreements exist where the USPS delivers the final leg for UPS and FedEx and of course Amazon, so the truck is really pretty full of packages in addition to the newspapers, flyers, magazines, bills, etc. Even with me helping the other carrier, we still came back to the Post Office 30 minutes late and we hustled all day in 97 degree heat.

The truck was a lot of fun to learn to operate. Training started with an obstacle course laid out by traffic cones where we had to parallel park, back into stalls from both the left and right sides, approach mail boxes, left turns, etc. then there was a road course where we had to drive through the city. In my case, we were downtown near the stadium for the College World Series driving. Dense traffic, thousands of jay-walking pedestrians, construction, and other road hazards all made for an interesting drive. Luckily, I drove in Europe for a couple of years so the RH drive wasn't too weird for me, but it was quite a fight for my classmates. Europe didn't prepare me for the reality that these tin cans are just easy bake ovens with wheels.

I go back for another week of training and then I will be on shift Saturday running the business delivery route which is all walking. I have a good shop, but they all keep asking why in the hell I wanted to do this job? They also told me that it will really be rough the first month and that most quit during that period either from the 60-70 hour weeks or the conditions so I have something to look forward to I guess.

If nothing else, I really have a new appreciation of what it takes to be a carrier. Houses not addressed according to the road that they face like they should be, no clear house number visible, people parking on the street blocking the mail box, and even one house had 2 completely different addresses which makes no sense at all. Try to make things easier for them gang, it is a tough job that they do.

I still feel cautious yet excited to get going on the routes. It might end with me joining the statisitcs of quitting in the first month, but it would take a lot to convince me to do that since business remains mysteriously flat. The College World Series used to provide a lot of business for me over the years, but the phone hasn't rung at all this year. I might be out of cleaning by default so I will need to work somewhere.

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Re: Started Over

Post by Mo on Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:49 pm

They driving part of the training sounds like fun. If it's busy now I can just imagine the hours you'll be clocking for the Christmas season
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Re: Started Over

Post by milspec6 on Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:59 am

They tell me that Christmas season is 7 days per week, 10-12 hours per day for about 6 weeks. Sounds like a rough time, but at least you bank well.
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