Automating your business may be about the last thing on your mind if you are a chimney sweep today. In this article we will challenge you to consider your business role in a different light. It has been our experience that the American chimney sweep seems to be the quintessential small businessman plagued by traditional operations headaches. But he doesn’t know how plagued he is. He has a profitable trade, a niche market, and he is the go-to person in town for anything chimney cleaning or sweeping related. But nothing is automated in his business yet. The sole proprietor is the automation.
In this article we suggest two areas of instant business automation that we can provide to you the sole proprietor. Someone will still need to clean the chimneys and sweep the flue- but that is already your expertise. Once your business is automated, the business can “run itself” to a certain degree, allowing the business owner to concentrate on upselling, improving procedures, new product development or to simply to take a “real” vacation! Automation is the key.
What Does “Automating Your Chimney Business” Mean?
By “automating your chimney business” we don’t mean having a robot to drive to customer’s homes, sweep the flue and measure clearances to combustibles. We do mean, however, that you should have a procedure for doing this part of your business. You should consider outsourcing the stuff your no good at-typically marketing and the quoting and scheduling of customers.
This procedure should be well documented and should be able to be understood by anyone you hire (or yourself) for that particular task. In fact, there should be a procedure for running your entire business, a “Business Operations Manual” that we will discuss further below.
Why is “Automating Your Business” Important?
The most consistently successful type of business is the franchise. You see them all around you: McDonald’s, Oxifresh, Pep Boys, H&R Block, 99 Cents Store, Jiffy Lube, etc. These businesses almost always succeed no matter where they are opened or who runs them. Why is this?
Because each of these franchises have a “franchise manual” and training program that allows virtually anyone to learn their internal procedures and deliver a consistently good product or service. Everything you would want to know to run that particular business, from training employees to marketing and cooking a hamburger is written down in the “franchise manual”.
This is an important lesson for the small business owner. Even if you don’t currently intend to expand to other locations or open up multiple offices, a well-written “Business Operations Manual” and outsourcing your least competent skill sets can help you operationally and practically:
- Easier management and growth; you can focus on perfecting your in house upsells.
- Hire staff with relatively little experience, they simply follow the tasks outlined in your “Business Operations Manual”.
- Manage the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program provided to you if you outsource it.
- Manage the call flow and proposals coming in if you outsource it.
- Manage your marketing plan if you outsource it.
- Focus on “Big Picture” things instead of being overwhelmed by repetitive daily tasks.
- Take a real vacation!
How Do I Start Automating My Chimney Business?
We’ll assume you already know how to sweep chimneys. The next step is to document those sweeping tasks in a “Business Operations Manual” and possibly look for someone to handle your phones and CRM and marketing for you.
Determine which part of your business you can outsource to achieve the greatest results at the least expense.
Do you want to keep sweeping chimneys and drop the customer management side? Think it’s impossible? Think again. Numerous chimney sweep businesses have switched, and you may simply not be aware of it. When a chimney cleaning business does switch to an all-star outsourced phone answering and scheduling service few if anyone will notice.
Do you really like doing social media posts twice a week while understanding Facebook dark posts and Google AdWords campaigns? If you are like most, the answer is no. So if you are not the best in the world at it, and you are not passionate about it, how will you make money at it? It might be time to outsource some of the marketing. Did you know that there are ways to accomplish this today without compromising quality and integrity? You simply may not have heard of it yet, check our resource list at the end of this article.
Research your vendor
Do they have experience in chimney sweeping phone calls? Dryer vent cleaning ad-ons?
Do they have experience in marking a chimney sweep business? Do they know the keywords? What is trending? Will they comprehensively approach Google Adwords, Google Plus, Google My Business, Facebook, Angie’s List, Instagram, Twitter, and regular blog posts with your passion about chimney-related keywords?
Watch testimonials. Check every detail of their pricing structure. Call existing customers/franchisees. Go into it with your eyes wide open!
Give it time and stick with it
Nothing pays off like persistence. Pick a new path and stick with it. You are basically dramatically changing your small business. You may even have chosen to convert your chimney sweep business to a franchise so that you have all the business operations manuals, phones, scheduling, and marketing help from a big corporate brand. Automate your Chimney Business and enjoy the results. “Burn the ships” after arriving in the new world like Cortez did, and do not look back. You are going into charted territory and now endurance is the way home!
Recommended Resource for Chimney Sweeps to Automate their Business:
- The E-Myth by Michael Gerber(amazon.com) — discusses creating an organizational chart and a Business Operations Manual.
- Good to Great by Jim Collins (amazon.com) — provides in detailed review of 15 companies that surpassed their competitors and sustained above-market-rate growth for 15 years after an event in the company. Read the book to find out what the event was
- Midtown Chimney Sweeps Franchise Opportunity— (midtownsweeps.com) provides a local chimney sweep business with all of the resources indicated in this article.