“It’s Never Too Much To Ask”

Roby Harris
Roby Harris III
President, CFI
2020-2021

My mom always said, “It’s never too much to ask”. My ask, to all CFI members, is, do you know what your best referral was for the year 2020? Do you know where your referrals are coming from and are you keeping up with your referral sources?

Twenty-eight years ago, my wife and I started a janitorial business with just a few business cards, business licenses, flyers, and a small ad in the phone book. We quickly added carpet cleaning, and the rest is history. The problem we faced was how do we set ourselves apart from the rest of the cleaners? Angela and I had a lot of hopes and dreams to move our business to the next level, but we always ran into stumbling blocks, very few clients with no way to reach people without the phone book. Angela and I were up against 40 to 50 cleaning companies in Ma Bell shouting, Pick Me, Pick Me.

Angela and I tried all types of different ways of advertising, from flyers to radio with no such luck, not even a call. We spent countless amounts of money and no return on our investment. A wise man once said, to do the same thing over and over again, with the same results is insanity. We came to an understanding if we did not make a positive return on our investment then never do it again. Angela and I were at our wit's end when a business investor invited us to a local business networking group. Within the networking group, there were all types of different businesses, from plumbers, contractors, flooring contractors, to the dentist, lawyers, and doctor. A whole group of business professionals who were willing and ready to give business to one another with the understanding of building relationships first before trusting you with their friends, family, and coworkers.

Once a week as a group we would receive weekly training to better build our group and confidence in our own businesses. Giving the best referral to help our teammates get into the door with two steps ahead of their competitor. One of the best trainings I have received in twenty- eight years of business is what I am going to share with you now. Make sure you take out a pen and paper and write this down.

  • What is your “dream” referral? The referral you always wanted to land; one you would pay out in large sums of money. You have to dream high and go for it and do not settle. You may have had your eye on large retail or a group of designers, or a rug-dealer who works with high-end clients. You might want to be known to them as the expert in your field or for your niche cleaning skills that you may have over your competitors, or even your approach and procedure of cleaning that sets you apart from other cleaners in your area. The goal is to be the go-to guy or gal, the professional that holds the written standard of the industry.
  • What is your “cream” referral? That referral you receive once or twice a year that pays out and gives you more referrals from that one cream referral. You may have been looking at that high end gated community, with very large homes that one job could take you all day or even to come back for a second day or even you may have to come back to pick up all their high-end area rugs that you have to take back to your shop for specialty cleaning. If you do mostly commercial cleaning, you may have your eye on that large Law office of partners with lots of employees that can become a mainstream of referrals just from the employees who work in the office. Like I said a few paragraphs above, dream high and go for it. What do you have to lose? What can they say, NO? I have come to my own conclusion that a simple ask, you can win your way into speaking to the right people that will get you in the door before your competitors.
  • What is your bread-and-butter referral? This referral keeps your doors open, keeps you in business. The referral that you need for everyday cleaning whatever you do.

The referral source keeps your bills paid and your crews working. For example, a large residential community filled with people over 55 years of age. My wife and I work for a large community of mobile homes and every month we are in the park working. Your ask should be, who is the owner, or the name of the property management company that manages the community?

I hope you all have taken what I have given you as a spark and boost to your business. To just go for it, look into a referral group that fits your business. Nowadays groups may be slowing down due to Covid19, however, Zoom Meetings are the way most business meetings are conducted. My goal for all the members of the CFI is simple; To give members the ability to have the resources to be successful through education and camaraderie.

I have an open-door policy. My email is President@cficonnects.org and my cell number is 530-941-7390. If you have a question or if you just want to talk please feel free to email or call.

Roby Harris III
President, CFI
2020-2021