Show Me the Money!

“Show me the money! Show me the money!” shouts Tom Cruise as Cuba Gooding Jr. taunts him into an incredible motivation frenzy in the classic movie scene from Jerry Maguire.

Business is all about the money. It’s not about being the best at what you do or having the best equipment; it’s all about whether or not you can make money.

Even the IRS will judge businesses by their intent to make money. If you aren’t focused on earning a profit, the IRS considers your project a “hobby.”

Companies struggle when they take their eye off of this crucial goal.

For a cleaning business, money comes from customers. Without lots of customers there is no profit. Every action an owner makes should be based on increasing and improving the company’s customers.

From a startup to a growing company and finally to a well-established and profitable business, the focus of each decision should be on building a solid clientele — which creates cash flow.

‘Be good at your job’

The educational system of this country trains us to be good employees. That’s about it. From preschool on, we learn to arrive on time, sit still and do what we are told. We are rewarded for fitting into a mold and punished when we fail.

If you are good at your job, that’s good enough.

This “employee mentality” of being good at only a small part in a larger business, is incredibly dangerous when it carries over to starting a company. The owner must instead have a much larger vision, which includes building the entire business and getting customers.


When new owners maintain employee mentalities, they generally put too much of their time, energy and money into learning their skill and getting the best tools. They ignore the other important parts of a company.

The most difficult and important hurdle to success is getting customers. If there is not enough money and energy focused on getting customers, the company will never get off the ground.

When funds are limited, new owners must constantly ask themselves in every startup decision, “How will this bring me closer to the end-goal of getting customers and making money?”

Every dollar spent on training and equipment must be evaluated by whether or not it helps solve the immediate challenge of getting paying customers. Asking this question helps owners find the critical balance of investing their limited resources. Maybe taking every class offered in the industry during the startup phase of business isn’t the best use of limited resources.

Growing companies

The phone does not spontaneously ring with new customers on the other end of the line. No matter how good the service might be, there is no way for consumers to know it’s there without getting some help. It is up to owners to make sure that consumers are aware of the services they offer.

Precious resources must be invested into this critical part of the business. This is what marketing is all about.

There are only 20 to 30 primary ways (sources) from which consumers find service companies (door hangers, coupon mailers, Yelp, Google, referrals, etc.)  It is crucial to determine what these sources are and to test each in order to find the unique combination that works best to produce a steady flow of profitable customers.

Every successful company has had to go through this process.

Established companies

Even mature companies must continue to stay focused on the people they serve. Repeat and referral customers are usually the main sources keeping the flow of money running for these established businesses. Loyalty is the key to keeping these valuable clients happy.

Loyalty grows when people feel they are receiving outstanding service and performance for the price they pay. Increased loyalty produces enthusiastic referrals to friends and also creates the opportunity for you to raise prices.

Loyalty grows by providing consistent and attentive service. Staying in touch with clients via a follow-up system is a small investment when compared to the increase in loyalty and referrals it generates.

Consistently providing extras such as booties, corner guards, bottles of spotter and extended warrantees generates a big “wow” factor for customers. Adding services like these can cost the company very little but generates valuable rewards for the owner.

Companies tend to plateau and allow profits to shrink when they lose focus on building value for customers. Attempting to save a few bucks by cutting back on some of the “little things” or saving a couple of minutes by not bringing in corner guards can quickly reverse the momentum of growth.

Show me the customers!

Focus must be kept on customers who, in turn, produce money. It does not matter which stage of growth your business is in; the moment attention slips away from customers is when the money starts to disappear.

Just as Cuba Gooding Jr. made Tom Cruise focus on money in the movie Jerry Maguire, we too need to be reminded that our business is all about the same. So start building the class of clientele to make that happen.