I recently attended the 2019 PWNA National Convention, where I was reminded that are some extremely successful companies in this industry that are grossing in the millions each year. Again, that’s millions – with an “s.”
What’s interesting to me is that rarely did these guys go to college to study business, then sit down, look at the marketplace, and determine that an exterior cleaning business was the means to their million-dollar dreams. In fact, most were guys just out of high school or between jobs who had no idea of what they wanted to do with their lives, so they bought a pressure washer, or a mop and squeegee, and started cleaning to earn an honest living. Over time, that owner/operator “honest living” grew into something much, much bigger than they ever imagined.
- They were willing to let go. As owner/operators, entrepreneurs often start out doing it all themselves. Sometimes it can be hard to let go of control, but it’s necessary for growth. As an example, when it’s time to start hiring, Vickie Eubanks of South Shore Building Services had this to say: “You need to have the emotional intelligence to know where your strengths and weaknesses are, then hire your weaknesses.”
- They were willing to sacrifice to grow. Growing pains hurt, and they can be costly. Adding a new employee — especially one that isn’t directly bringing in money — is an investment and it may require some financial sacrifices before it pays off. As AC Lockyer of SoftWash Systems vividly described, “It’s like you’re the short fat kid who is going to grow six inches over the summer. You might take a beating for a while, but you’ll come out ahead in the end.”
- They were willing to invest in their employees. What does “investing in employees” really mean? In his talk, Brandon Vaughn referred to a poll of 600,000 employees that were asked what they wanted out of the job. The top four answers, in order, were as follows:
- To be appreciated and recognized
- To have a feeling of belonging
- To have a positive working environment
Did you notice what wasn’t on the list? Money.
Brandon had a few key things to say on this topic. First, be willing to “get rid of cancers” – i.e., negative employees – even if they are your top producers. Second, become a headhunter. Always be on the lookout for employees with good attitudes, and interview them whether you’re currently hiring or not. Finally, find ways to help your employees achieve their dreams, even if that means they may eventually move on to other things.
- They were willing to learn. This is what Brandon Vaughn referred to as humility – i.e., “never thinking you’ve made it, and always working towards improving and learning something new.”
Learning. That’s what these folks at the PWNA Convention were doing – even those who had already made their millions and sold their businesses. And you know what? It paid off, big time.
As the the former publisher of eClean Magazine and past editor for Cleaner Times Magazine, Allison Hester has been writing for the exterior cleaning industry since 1994. She is now a proud member of the J. Racenstein marketing team.
If you have ideas for topics you’d like Allison to embark on, please send her an email at [email protected].