Chapter Three: Weaknesses & Opportunities
In chapter two we took a deep dive into the middle section of the S.W.O.T. Analysis — the weaknesses and opportunities. There we talked about the differences between weaknesses and threats; specifically how weaknesses are internal and threats are external, and how to identify your weaknesses. From there we looked at opportunities, which are typically external, and how to turn them into competitive advantages for your cleaning company.
Now, we’re on the last letter of the S.W.O.T. — Threats. Sound scary? Most threats are only scary and unpredictable if you never take the time to identify them in advance, and be proactive about how they could affect your business. By doing a S.W.O.T. Analysis, you’re already ahead of the game.
Threats: Where to Look & What to Consider
We want to help you identify potential threats, within reason. While it is always important to have general emergency (and contingency) plans in place for your business, when you look at external threats in the context of a S.W.O.T. Analysis, you want to be realistic (and specific) to your industry and geographic area.
Appropriate Threat Example: A New Cleaning Company Opens Near You
Inappropriate Threat Example: A Natural Disaster
Something like a natural disaster can be devastating, and would definitely affect your business, but it would also affect everybody else. The threats we want you to identify here are more specific to your cleaning company or your industry as a whole, and are situations where you can take steps to either avoid the threat completely, or at least make the best of it.
You can’t control if another cleaning company opens shop in your area that will be going after similar clients. However, you CAN keep up on competitive reviews of other cleaning companies, read business news to be the first to know when they’re coming in, and research their strengths in advance to make sure you’re offering something better than the competition.
To identify the right kind of threats start by asking, (and finding answers to) some questions specific to your geographic area, and your industry.
- Are new competitors moving in? How often?
- Are competitors trying to recruit cleaners from your company?
- Are competitors offering better rates or wages?
- Is your employee benefits package competitive?
- Are there ever threats to public transportation for your workers? Strikes?
- Are there external safety threats that stop your cleaners from showing up?
- Are there outside threats that compromise the quality of your work?
- Has a new product or technology emerged, making your service less valuable?
- Are there ever supply shortages that stop your cleaners from doing their jobs?
Threats: How to Deal With Them
Depending on the threat, a solution could be as easy as simply having a backup supplier on call for certain products. Others, aren’t so easy. In the example of an impending public transit strike, you would need to be proactive and put together a contingency plan, ideally that stems from chatting with your management and supervisory team. Get everyone together to brainstorm how to tackle these threats — after all, you and your team know the business better than anyone.
If you’re having difficulty coming up with certain solutions, it may be helpful to call in a consultant who specializes in the affected aspect of your business. For example, if you’re really not sure how to do a competitive review of other companies’ wages and benefits packages, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a human resources (HR) consultant to help complete that task and tighten up any other HR-related issues for your cleaning company (like employee handbooks, onboarding, etc). Bringing in professional help can give you a serious leg up on the competition.
I’ve Completed the S.W.O.T. — Now What?
Congratulations — you’ve taken the time to analyze your business in an effort to improve and move forward. That’s a super important first step. Now, it’s time to further strategize based on what you learned completing the S.W.O.T.
Looking at ways your janitorial company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats interact with each other is the next step to building strategies on how to improve and grow.
A table like the one below (usually referred to as a T.O.W.S. Analysis) will help you start thinking up these new strategies:
How can we use our strengths to take advantage of our opportunities?
How can we leverage our strengths in order to defend against the threats?
What opportunities can we take advantage of to minimize our weaknesses?
Are there weaknesses we can improve upon in order to avoid any of our threats?
Answering these questions will help you to build a strategic plan. We recommend that the strategic plan has clear goals, tasks delegated to both yourself and other team members, and set deadlines to review everyone’s progress. Monthly or quarterly reviews are a great way to track your progress and measure your success.
And now we come to the end of our guide to SWOT Analysis. We hope you’ve found this to be, not just helpful, but aspirational for you and your business.
Swept is dedicated to highlighting stories that touch everyone in the janitorial industry. Having started as a commercial cleaning company ourselves, our hearts go well beyond the janitorial software we offer. Want even more info on avoiding potential risks and identifying advantages in your commercial cleaning company? Check our guide on using quickbooks to increase your profitability, and prepare better for the future. And to be prepared for those big contract wins, check our Guide to bidding, and our Complete Guide to Cleaner Retention.