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October 7, 2006, 06:03 PM

Thanks for ASKing about partnerships.

I am seriously considering starting an office cleaning business with my sister and her husband.

Do NOT do this for a few reasons...

Reason # 1: It is your sister - a sibling. I don't care how good you Think you get along, you will bring Sibling Rivalry into the business.

Reason # 2: There are Three people in this. Two people, free of coercion or Outside influence, can come to an agreement unless one of them is looking to get values for nothing. Three people cannot. What will happen is, two join forces to over-ride the third. In your case, two have already joined forces and gotten married.

Even if you decide to Only go into business with your sister, Her husband has her ear all night long at home. And you cannot argue/debate/discuss points when issues are the issues of the invisible Third Party.

Two people can do business with each other. Three cannot. It WILL end in disaster. And, in fact, all fights and the like are the result of an interfering third party. You have been informed. No you can make an Informed Decision.

When the business is up and running the plan would be for the three of us to be paid wages, based upon how much we each actually get directly involved in the cleaning.


Do you think The Donald gets paid for how much he is Directly Involved in building?

The largest cleaning company in Australia is Tempo - they do supermarkets as well as 50 storey office buildings. Do you think the owner is paid for how much he is Directly Involved in the cleaning?

If you want to keep the business small and do all the cleaning yourself, then just get yourself the gear and begin marketing - sounds simple, doesn't it. Do it All yourself. Only get Other People in - as hired Subcontractors - As You Need Them.

A word or many on marketing...

It is somewhere in the archives but I'll paraphrase it here...

A person/business will only hire a cleaner for a few reasons...

Reason # 1: They are unhappy with their existing cleaner and want a new one. They will only look for a cleaner at that point.

Reason # 2: They have been doing it themselves and are finally fed up with it or have become injured. They will only look for a cleaner at that point.

Reason # 3: They are smart business operators stating a new business and want to hire a cleaner from the get go. They will only look for a cleaner as the time draws near.

You will Not Convince a business/individual to use yor service over someone else's, if they are happy with who they have - even if you lower the price (there are Some exceptions to lower prices, but why would you want to compete on that, and why would you want a customer who goes with Price Only as the next lower price will see you lose that customer).

You will Not Convince someone to use your service instead of doing it themselves, Unless they are already fed up with it.

And the other category - new start up - cannot be convinced to use a cleaner unless they have already decided to. Remember, in the beginning, a new start up can have a Cash Flow Crunch going on and money is tight.

What this boils down to is, people will use you when They decide the time is right. Because you do not know that time, your only choice is to keep marketing until They need a cleaner. At which point in time they see your marketing.

Case in point of the above... I sent a letter - now lost somewhere on my computer on one of my hard drives (shrug) - and three or four months later I got a call from the business owner about doing the cleaning of their business. They kept the letter that entire time and called me because they were finally fed up doing it themselves.

Having actually run a cleaning business myself for Many years - both doing the work and having others do it for me - I feel I am in the Best position to offer this advice.

Should my sister and her husband be treated as one half of the partnership, with me as the other, having the profits being split 50/50? Or is it more equitable to spilt the profits three ways?

You cannot have Three Bosses. See comments above about Partnerships - I have Multiple first hand experience in these too. Successful ones and not successful.

If you - assuming YOU are THE boss - want to Pay money, then decide an hourly rate and pay it - though I prefer that a Job is Worth $X regardless of how long it takes. Otherwise, you'll find people working slow and racking up the hours. But splitting profits three ways sees your sister's team - her and her husband - making twice as much as you. Thus, with 66% of the money, THEY are the bosses, right?

Final word, if you have never done cleaning for money, then get yourself a job as a cleaner first. Get paid to learn - learn what to do, how long it takes, etc. You'll find out whether this is cut out for you and whether you can handle it on a physical level. It is far more physical than you think.

Also know this...

Domestic clients - and many business clients - keep a cleaner on because they like the person themselves. They are hiring the Person.

Now questions for you... is this Partnership Your idea or your Sister's idea? Have either of you run a business of your own before? Why do you want to go into business?

Michael Ross

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