To say these last few weeks have been challenging is an understatement. Our company has temporarily lost well over $1200,000, in monthly revenue, and despite our greatest efforts, our hands are completely tied due to the closure of many of our client’s facilities.
A large portion of our clients are daycares, schools, dental offices and gyms. All these types of facilities have been given mandatory orders to temporarily close their doors. Many of our offices that we clean have either closed, or significantly reduced their services. It happened so fast, within less than two weeks, we had client after client contacting us, letting us know they are closing their doors or reducing services. It literally felt like the sky was falling.
Our office manager was overwhelmed with all the emails, and communication, and our Business Development Manager was overwhelmed by all the addendum’s he had to make on such short notice for all those clients adjusting their service.
My business partner and I have been overwhelmed by the financial pressures of losing so much, so fast, while carrying considerable overhead in management costs. We sadly had to approach our management team to come up with some financial solutions. We gave them the option of either taking a temporary, voluntary leave, or take a much lower salary. Although, all our managers completely understood, and handled it extremely well, it was still the hardest day of my business career (Side note. We are now looking at Government support options, that may help a lot here).
We are panicking because we are struggling to get proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for our custodians to wear when they clean. Masks have been incredibly hard to come by, and our custodians are starting to say they don’t want to risk cleaning anymore.
I realize this sounds like a lot of doom and gloom, and that’s not my intention. My intention is to let you know that we are going through these challenges too, and that we can relate with those cleaning companies who are also getting hit hard by COVID-19.
3 Reasons for Hope
Having said all this, there is so much hope to be had for us janitorial owners. Here are my 3 reasons why I believe, as janitorial owners, we have a lot of amazing things to look forward to, despite the short term challenges.
Cleaning is no longer a last thought
I keep saying to our team, there are two scenarios that can play out here. Scenario A – Businesses will eventually reopen, and our clients will need us to return; Or, scenario B- Businesses won’t reopen and, well…. it’s the end of the world.
Scenario A is a much more realistic option and really the only option we must consider. Although, we don’t know when we will come back, we must bet that it will be no later then July (my personal hunch is it will be more like mid to late May). If we can make some smart financial moves, and ride these next few months out, when it’s time to get back to business, you better believe our clients will care more about cleaning then they ever have.
Because of this, it is so important that you take care of your clients incredibly well. We must be there for them through these hard times. We must show them we truly care, and understand their challenges, as we are with them through this unprecedented, scary time. I, personally, have sent a few emails to our clients, updating them on how we are doing, and how we can help. We have not forced anyone to our contract cancellation terms, as we are assuming each of them will reopen.
My estimate, once everything reopens, our business alone will experience a 10-15% increase in yearly sales, before we add any more new clients, solely because our clients will now want to invest more into our services. We are already seeing certain client demographics, who haven’t closed, increase our services tremendously.
When we come back, we are going to come back with a bang!
Testing the durability of our business
Another point I continually bring up to our team is, this will one day be a story we will tell our grandchildren. We will look back at this relatively short period of time and say, “our business survived the Coronavirus.” It will simply be a memory and a story to tell, and that is it. We WILL recover, and we WILL get back to normal.
I can say, for us, it is testing our business to it’s greatest capacity, and if this is the worst that we will ever see, I know we are in the right business, with a solid business model.
This is a great time to revisit your business plan and make adjustments. Or, if you haven’t made a business plan yet, it’s definitely time! It’s a good time to review your financials to identify areas of improvement and strengths. It’s also a good time to review your branding and positioning in the market.
Take this time to assess all aspects of your business, it’s health, and durability. If you can get through COVID-19, you can get through anything! So, fight through this, and prepare yourself and your business, as our industry is about to get a face lift like we’ve never seen. If you are properly prepared, business will never be better for you in the coming years!
It’s time to give back
Because we know business is coming back, and stronger than ever, we have to take full advantage of this time. Despite losing a significant amount of revenue, now is not the time to think about making a short-term dollar. Now is the time that you build your businesses legacy as an ethical, community-oriented company that truly cares about helping others. I suggest offering, as we have been, to help your community in anyway you can.
We are reaching out to seniors facilities and offering a free disinfect service of their common areas. We are also providing that same service to 22 affordable housing complexes for free.
You want to look back on this moment and be able to tell the story that you and your company contributed to making things better in the community. You want your community to know that you are authentic and care very much about them. Do these little acts of charity now, and you will define your brand for years to come as the company who brought light in these times of darkness.
We must remember that us janitorial companies are an essential service, and this horrible COVID-19 virus will pass. If we remain vigilant and make the smart strategic decisions during these challenging times, we will not only bounce back, but we will see tremendous growth in the months to come.
My company is now strategically planning how we will handle the resurgence of business that is about to pour back, once businesses reopen. I recommend that you do the same. Hang in there janitorial owners! We are in this together!