11 Warning Signs Your Window Cleaning Company May Be Failing - And What To Do About It - Part 1 of 2

Is your business failing?

Hello again. This is Jim DuBois from WindowWashingWealth.com. There’s always something to talk about when it comes to marketing but also when it comes to protecting your window cleaning company. If you’ve ever been on the brink of failure or had a lack of funds to sustain operations comfortably, it’s no fun. I know, I’ve been there. There are things you can instill into your operation today to help prevent the inevitable from happening.

There’s often a very thin line between a company that is failing and one that is simply experiencing a temporary cash-flow shortage or a seasonal decline in sales. We’ve all been there – large company or small company. Sometimes it’s lack of revenue or simply financial mis-management. Either way it needs to be addressed.

According to the Small Business Administration, about half of all newly established businesses last 5 years or more. Only one third makes it to the 10 year mark. Window Cleaning companies that possess the stamina and skill to endure the early years of growth sometimes flounder as the business matures. Why? In all too many cases, window cleaning business owners disregard warning signs.

Businesses in general do not fail overnight. Instead, in many cases, there is a gradual and almost imperceptible decline that business owners miss, particularly when they’re unaware what some of the symptoms of a failing business might be.

In this Business Builder article, we will identify some of the common signs to determine if your business could be failing or on the brink of failing. If you recognize one or two of these signs in your own window cleaning business, then you could be experiencing a temporary glitch or something more serious that’s only just emerging. Better to know now so you can act. However, if you recognize more than a couple of the warning signs, then I want you to email me at jim@squeegeepros.com. If struggling, let’s turn your window cleaning business around, and keep it alive.

So, what are the obvious symptoms of a failing business?

Is your company healthy?

Late payments from customers are one of the primary reasons businesses are unable to pay their bills on time. If you offer unnecessary long payment terms or do not have an established collection procedure in place, you could experience a cash shortfall that impacts your business’s ability to operate effectively. Fortunately, our residential division has very little past due receivables. With that, we do get customers that do not pay in a timely fashion. Our system is real simple. When the job is done, we expect payment. If payment is not made in a reasonable time frame (a few days) we professionally but relentlessly call, text, and email until we get paid. If we are still not paid, we send our Residential Supervisor to the home.

Account Receivable

Our commercial division can be another story however. Our company services almost 4,000 storefronts and yes, we have many customers who do not pay on time. Just like residential, we start calling and emailing, then the commercial supervisor goes to the store. No matter residential or commercial, if payment is not made, we threaten small claims court. We, like you, need to get paid! Most pay after the small claims court threat. If not, we see them in court and provided you have a paper trail of emails and signed work orders, you will win like we do… most every time.

Work Orders

Every business has payments that must be made, whether it’s to landlords, employees, utility companies, suppliers, or financing providers like the banks. Although it is not unusual to struggle to make the occasional payment, particularly for smaller businesses, if you are regularly receiving payment requests from creditors in the form of threatening letters, phone calls, and emails then it could be symptomatic of a serious cash-flow problem. Ignoring this type of contact from a creditor can lead to more serious action being taken, which could be the beginning of the end for your window cleaning business if you can’t afford to pay.

Contract Making and Enforcement

Perhaps you have a cash flow setback. It’s great that your profit-and-loss statement may show an upward trend in net income. But that’s not the whole story. For example, you might have customers who aren’t paying their invoices in a timely fashion, causing you to struggle to cover payroll and accounts payable. As the old saying goes, “Cash is king.” Uncollected accounts receivable won’t pay the bills.

If sales and revenue are the lifeblood of a window cleaning business, it is because of cash flow. After sales, the next financial indicator of a healthy business is how well you manage your cash flow. Oftentimes a Profit & Loss statement may show that a company is profitable, yet the company is struggling to survive. Why? The answer lies in cash flow.

Successful small window cleaning businesses become successful large window cleaning businesses when they understand that cash is king and actually focus their business on generating, and preserving cash.

What is Cash Flow?

Cash flow refers to the inflow and outflow of cash within a business. That is; the flow of money – where is it coming in from: account receivables and where is it going out to: account payables?

Managing your cash flow properly is ensuring you never run out of the financial resources necessary to sustain your business. A business that runs out of cash is a dead business!

Business Cashflow

If you’re struggling to pay your employees and you have not taken a salary from the business for a few months, then that could be a sign the business is failing. Even if you’re waiting for a big payment to come in, it may not be enough to correct the situation over the long-term. Again, keep your business as lean as financially possible – in bad times but also in good times. When we run our Profit and Loss each month, we are forensically looking for money holes. We pay attention to every expense line item – utilities to truck repair, what can we cut and where can we save? My company also has a separate savings account. Every week starting in April through December, we deposit X number of dollars. This very healthy account is our emergency cushion just in case a financial crunch or unexpected expense were to occur. We are cash strong just as you should be.

Build a Strong Business

If you have reached your borrowing limits on things like bank overdrafts or business or personal credit cards, and have been refused further financing, you need to ask yourself why. Rather than trying to acquire additional funding, you should reassess your cash situation and take a long hard look at whether your company is in decline. What costs can you cut? Where is there waste? Are your profit margins high enough? Something needs to give because you may also be on borrowed time! You need to make changes now!

Changes made to your company

Until now, the warning signs discussed above focus mainly on your business relationship with your customers. That is, what customers expect from your business and what you expect from them. Now it’s time to shift the focus to the people who provide the services you sell to customers –your employees!

Provide great service

How are they? How is your relationship with them?

Understand, they are the first people your customers see of your business and the second perception created. The first being how the customer found you making them decide to call on your services. Now the employees have to follow through on that perception delivering the experience the customer expected.

Employee turnover is an unavoidable part of running a business. Even the most successful window cleaning companies lose employees all the time. However, if your employee turnover rate is particularly high and you cannot limit the turnover, then it’s a sure sign all is not well in your business. Poor staff morale can be caused by a number of factors such as low pay, substandard working conditions, or ineffective management. The result is low levels of productivity and high costs associated with recruitment and training.

If you’re routinely replacing and training new staff, you may be headed for trouble. Besides the added cost of recruiting, interviewing, and educating new employees, high staff turnover can adversely impact customer service and sales. Too many unhappy customers and your once-thriving business may begin to falter. If you are struggling with turnover, email me today at jim@squeegeepros.com for a free report entitled:

The Hard-Learned Secrets to Limiting Turnover To Keep Good Help-

A business with high employee morale is a healthy business. So, to know how well your business is doing, check how well your people are doing, and what kind of turnover you have.

Every failing business including window cleaning businesses send out certain warning signs before the eventual downfall. For the observant entrepreneur, this disaster is avoided by taking certain strategic measures. But for the non-observing entrepreneur, this disaster creeps in suddenly.

Just as there is no such thing as overnight business growth, there is no such thing as overnight business collapse.

Business growth takes time

Don’t let your business FAIL! If you really grasp this information that I've shared with you today, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition. There's no doubt, if you will take control and become your own business expert, your business will boom. Until next time…

Jim DuBois is founder of Squeegee Pros, Inc. out of Mooresville, NC. He is the creator of WindowWashingWealth.com, which specializes in aggressive marketing tactics, the importance of internal company systems, and how to dominate your window cleaning/pressure washing marketplace. All things a serial window cleaning entrepreneur should know to build a huge business. Visit the site for a free marketing report. Do you have questions you’d like to see answered in this column? Email them to me directly at jim@squeegeepros.com or call my office at 704-799-0313.
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Preparing to Sell your Business
You are, no doubt, a skilled professional window cleaner. But as a business owner, you have also invested a significant portion of your life building and maintaining the business…not just cleaning. Rightly so, you probably have an emotional attachment to it. So, to say goodbye in a sale it may feel like you are losing a member of the family and if those emotions are left unchecked, they can have a real dollar impact on the outcome of your business sale. As much as possible, you need to find ways to remain objective, making a good business decision.