Do’s and Don’t’s for Small Shop Operators

Ellen Rohr
Bare Bones Biz

This month, I’m opening up the files.  Get ready for lots of great business tips gleaned from the smartest business people I know.  I spend much of each day on the phone, talking business.  On the seminar trail, I meet lots of folks who love to tell me what works for them…and what NOT to do.  I’d love to share this wisdom with you.  So here is a collection of Do’s and Don’t’s for every area of your business.

DO read this list.  DON’T neglect to do things that will make you more money!

Taking Charge!  Leadership Do’s and Don’t’s…

  • DO join a trade association.  Shop around first, and find one with a mission and philosophy that matches yours.
  • DO find exceptional performers within the professional cleaning industry and copy them.
  • DO find a successful business owner with whom you don’t compete, and offer to become his or her mastermind partner.  Commit to help each other improve as business people.
  • DO read at least one book per week.  Alternate between classic novels, humorous fiction, and business books.  Listen in the car when time is short.
  • DON’T miss your kid’s football game because you choose to work instead.
  • DO commit your hopes and dreams to ink and paper, or computer bytes.  Keep a journal.
  • DO handle the issues that keep coming up and spoiling your success.  Talk to a friend or a minister.  Go to the desert for forty days and forty nights.
  • DON’T lie.  Even “white” lies chip away at your integrity.
  • DO say, “Tell him I’m busy right now, and I will call him back later.”
  • DON’T say, “Tell him I am not here!”
  • DON’T just look for service standards within our industry.  Go to Disney World and watch how they do it.
  • DO lead by example.
  • DON’T talk so much.
  • DON’T imagine that you are irreplaceable.  My husband’s partner’s last words to me were, “If I don’t do it myself, it will never get done.”  He died two days later.  Things got done.
  • DO go on a ride-along with a team member at least once a week.
  • DO make a sale yourself every once in a while.  Just to show the rest of the team that you still got it.
  • DON’T enter into a 50-50 partnership.  There is no such thing.
  • DO find ten things that are going right…and congratulate the people responsible.
  • DO find something to laugh about and share it with someone.
  • DO read the autobiography of Christie Brown.  It will keep you from feeling sorry for yourself.
  • DO your best to keep your family together and communicating.
  • DO it today.

Making Money!  Financial Must Do’s and Mustn’t Do’s…


  • DO understand that you are in business for the MONEY.
  • DON’T be ashamed about that.
  • DO run a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow report every WEEK!  Once a month is NOT enough!
  • DON’T trust industry averages for budget and performance comparisons.  If most businesses stink, and they do, what can you learn from industry averages?
  • DO base your selling price on YOUR costs of doing business.
  • DON’T pay any attention to what your competitors are charging.  What do they know?
  • DON’T forget what you really sell…time and know-how.
  • DO remember that the know-how takes time to deliver.
  • DO track billable hours.  It’s the variable with the most impact on your financial position.
  • DO create a line item in your budget for “customer satisfaction costs.”  Allow 1-2{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} of total sales.
  • DO understand that the proper selling price is the first and most important step in making more money for yourself and your employees.
  • DON’T spend money on marketing, uniforms, new trucks, computer systems, and new employees until you have raised your prices to cover the new costs.
  • DON’T call me if you are convinced you can’t raise prices in your neighborhood.
  • DO call me if you want to discuss how to do it.
  • DO learn about real estate.  8 out of 10 self-made millionaires have significant real estate investments.
  • DON’T forget you live in the most fortunate time in history.  This is a renaissance age.  What are you waiting for?
  • DON’T forget Warren Buffet’s rules for business.  Rule #1: Never lose money.  Rule #2: Never forget Rule #1.
  • DO grow rich in a niche.
  • DO something NO ONE else does…and charge a LOT of money for it.
  • DO pay your employees much better than anyone else.
  • DON’T forget that there is more than one way to make a living.

Getting it Sold!  Sales and Marketing Pitfalls and Windfalls…

  • DO whatever it takes to make a customer happy, even if it means giving them all their money back.  If you honestly think you are being taken advantage of, then…
  • DON’T work for that customer again.
  • DO spend more time asking questions than pitching your product.
  • DON’T make a sale if it isn’t in the best interests of the customer.
  • DO create a bulletin board of all your marketing pieces.  Everything should “match” and reinforce each other.  Make sure you are presenting a consistent, clear image.
  • DON’T forget what they are really buying:  TIME.  Their time.  Because of you, they don’t have to spend their time worrying, wondering, calling around, shopping, or cleaning it themselves.
  • DO ask the customer for feedback.  Send a report card, or follow up with a phone call.
  • DO ask for the sale every time.
  • DON’T worry when they say, “No.”
  • DO ask if you can ask them one more question.
  • DO ask, “What made you say, ‘No?’” and see if you can fix it.
  • DO feel free to say, “No” to customers who won’t let you make a profit.
  • DON’T discuss poor performance in a crowd.
  • DO acknowledge great performance in front of as many people as possible.
  • DON’T underestimate the power of a handshake, a smile and a sincere, “Well done!”
  • DO anything and everything that will make you stand out in the crowd.
  • DON’T use low prices as your selling advantage.  The advantage disappears the moment someone dumber than you offers a lower price.
  • DO switch to Flat Rate pricing (instead of Time and Materials) because your customers want to know “how much” before they buy.
  • DO feel free to call it something other than Flat Rate.  Up Front Pricing.  Or Contract Pricing.  Or No Surprises Pricing.
  • DO offer service with a smile.  Look around at all the wrinkled, frowning faces in this world.  Smiling is a nice thing to do.  Customers will respond to it.
  • DO keep score in the sales game.  Competition is good fun and good for you.
  • DO read a Zig Ziglar book.  Zig is the Godfather of Sales.
  • DO listen to old people.  You are going to be old someday, if you’re lucky.  And you’ll want the plumber to listen to you.
  • DON’T gossip.

Getting it Done!  Tips for delivering the goods.

  • DO work on your own attitude towards work and life.
  • DON’T discuss anyone else’s attitude with them.  1.) It’s none of your business.   2.) There is nothing you can do to change someone else’s attitude.
  • DO it right or…
  • DON’T do it at all.
  • DO call if you are going to be late.
  • DO reschedule if you can’t make it, as soon as you realize it.
  • DON’T discriminate when hiring.  Women make great service professionals.  Kids today are WONDERFUL.
  • DO take a mental health day once in a while.  Go to the park or to the movies.  Just don’t go into work.
  • DO aim for a company that runs without you.  Picture receiving financial reports via email at your Maui beach house.
  • DON’T assume that telling someone to do something means it will get done.  Put it in writing and follow up.
  • DON’T assume anything.
  • DO provide everyone with an IN basket.  Empty the IN basket by the end of the day.  Work gets DONE, filed or delegated.
  • DON’T pay team members on a “commission only” basis.
  • DON’T reward every employee the same way regardless of performance.
  • DON’T give raises every year just because.
  • DO create a compensation plan that combines hourly wages with spiffs for stellar sales and/or production.
  • DO recognize that the labor shortage is directly related to our unwillingness to pay skilled workers what they are worth.
  • DON’T fool yourself.  The talented kids out there are NOT interested in $10 an hour for uncertain, seasonal, dirty work with no benefits.
  • DO create an Operations Manual.  Every job in writing.  Everyone accountable.
  • DO get input from the folks affected when you are putting your Operations Manual together.
  • DO encourage puppies and babies visit the office, as long as there are housetrained or wearing a diaper.
  • DO apologize if you are wrong.
  • DON’T hold a grudge.
  • DO more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Bare Bones Biz is offering an amazing new program.  It’s all about less stress and more success.  Focusing on the right things, one step at a time.  And you can try it for $1.  Check it out at

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