“What’s in it for me?” This expression is frequently heard in businesses everywhere. It’s become the general way of doing business for countless companies. Of course, we are all in business to make a profit. But when a business becomes a “giver” rather than just a “taker” it prospers in many ways. Last month marked our 19th year in business. I’d like to share a principle with you that we have tried to apply in our business. This principle has shaped the way we run our company. But let me tell you a little bit about our company first. I started Pioneer Maintenance back in 1982 out of the trunk of a twenty year old Ford Falcon. In the beginning, I did all types of cleaning services. I even shampooed a few carpets. The following year a friend introduced me to commercial carpet cleaning. I grew to love commercial carpet cleaning and it has become our specialty. Today we run 3 trucks and our business is steadily growing.
Now back to the subject of this article. Back in 1982, I decided that I needed to find a way to make my company stand out. I wanted to run an honest business. So I recognized that if a person hired our service, then I obviously would need to give them what they paid for. To put it another way, if the customer paid for a dozen, I knew I would need to provide them with a dozen. But then I came up with this simple idea.
Why not give them more than they bargained for the old baker’s dozen? While I saw many of my competitors shaving the quality of their service, I made it my goal to give more. In other words, while many of my competitors were providing service that fell short of a dozen, I was offering my customers thirteen (or more). I later learned that the principle of being a “giver” company is also taught by several respected business authorities.
Giving more really has worked for us. My customers have come to appreciate the little things that we do to keep them happy. A free bottle of spot cleaner. A thank you card. An area cleaned at no charge. A gift certificate for a store in the mall. Presenting ourselves as friendly professionals that the customer will enjoy having around. These are just a few of the things that we have regularly done to give our customers more than they expect.
But the biggest way that we give is in our actual service. We make certain that our services are as close to perfect as we can get. I have spent a great deal of time, effort and money trying to find better ways to provide our customers with quality carpet care. We’re not perfect and occasionally we do goof up. That’s why we guarantee every job we do. So we’re able to assure every customer that they will be completely satisfied. We would rather give them the service for free than have them unhappy with us. This kind of giving costs very little, but it yields very loyal customers.
I also like to keep in mind that we are not just cleaning their carpet. We are improving the quality of their life. Now you may be saying, “Whoa Rick, you’re getting a little bit hokey here”. Well think about it. A person spends 8 hours a day at work; that’s a third of their life. They likewise spend more time than that at home. When we consider that we’re making their environment cleaner, brighter and healthier then we have improved the quality of their life. When I keep this in mind it helps me to feel good about what I am doing. And, it causes me to want do the very best job that I possibly can. Trying to
maintain a “giver” company has been personally as well as financially rewarding.
This principle also extends into our relationships with our employees. We make working for us as easy as possible for our crew. We use excellent chemicals and efficient equipment. We also provide them with free uniforms. We train them thoroughly and help them to feel comfortable using a simple system that works. And then we pay each of them at least $20 per hour. Here again the principle of trying to be a “giver” company really pays off. I wouldn’t be able to reasonably expect to receive very much from my employees if I was not willing to give them something of value first.
Now let’s consider an example of a “taker” company. I know a cleaner in my area that is a taker. I’ve watched him through the years. In his business he only looks out for his own behind. And as a result he always seems to be getting bit in the behind! His customers are always unhappy. His employees are miserable. His trucks and equipment frequently break down. He only uses cheap chemicals. He doesn’t have a system for his crew to follow. Man, does he have a stinker for a business! As a result, his close-fisted business operation produces a constant state of chaos and worry. That’s no way to live.
The simple truth is “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving”. That applies to every aspect of life including business. I’ve seen it work in my business during these past 19 years. Applying this simple principle to your business will help you to enjoy a smooth running, satisfying and profitable business.
A final thought:
If you join the new Low Moisture Carpet Cleaners Association (LMCCA) you will also be “giving” something back. You will be helping to level the playing field in our industry. You will be contributing to the promotion of a sensible carpet cleaning alternative: (Low Moisture Carpet Cleaning). And, you will be in a position to improve your own business while you are at it.
The benefits of being a giver far outweigh those of being a taker.