Foreclosure Cleanup – How to Make Money Today With Your Business

Years ago, I had an office in New York City, right down from Madison Square Garden. My little office was on the fourth floor of a small commercial building. There were several small businesses housed on my floor. My small business neighbor was also my accountant. I’ll never forget the words Tony the Accountant said to me one afternoon when he peeked into my office for a chat. He said, “Always ask yourself, what can I do to make money TODAY?”

Your Primary Task Each Day: I’ve gone back to that statement over and over again throughout the years. Sometimes as business owners we get so mired in running our business, that we forget to consistently make money at what we’re doing. It may sound crazy, but it’s true. The bills have to be paid (money going out); the marketing pieces have to be prepared; the uniforms have to be washed; the truck has to be dumped; the equipment has to be repaired; etc.

But when you first get up in the morning, running around like a mad person to start your daily business tasks, stop and ask yourself that same question that Tony proposed to me: What can you do to bring in a dollar today in your foreclosure cleanup business? Whatever else you may have on your plate should really take a back seat until you have done the primary task that will add money to your bank account that day.

If you don’t succeed, you will have put out a ton of feelers that may turn into cash the next day or later in the week.

What Services Do You Offer in Your Foreclosure Cleanup Business?

Are you offering services that will allow you to bring in cash on a daily basis? Are these services within your immediate control? Or, are you, instead, offering services that make you sound good, official, but that require you to depend on others to perform those tasks? Can you personally winterize, change locks, handle repairs, do the gutter cleaning, handle the painting? Or do you need a crew to assist you in getting those jobs done TODAY?

Take Inventory of Your List of Services: If you are a new foreclosure cleanup business, take inventory of the list of services you have included as part of your foreclosure cleanup business. Do you need to scale back to be in control of making money TODAY?

As your business grows, of course you will add more and more services to your cache of foreclosure cleanup duties, and you will add more workers. But, when you’re just starting out, consider offering only those services that you know you can handle yourself. Why? So you can wake up knowing you can put money in your pocket TODAY, all by your lonesome, if you have to.

Your business won’t seem as big, but you will be making more money. And that’s what business is about: making money, profit, being able to pay yourself a decent salary, consistently.

Take Action Today: For example, using Tony’s question (What can you do to make money today?), you can wake up on a Saturday morning and decide you want to put $300 in your pocket before night fall, all by yourself, in your new real estate and foreclosure cleanup business. Put your lawn mower on the back of your truck (a truck that should hold your company’s magnet signs), and hit every home and business within a ten mile radius, offering a Special Today Only rate for lawn care.

Worst Case Scenario: Those eventual customers that may say no today will now know your business name and have your company flier, which should list all of your real estate and foreclosure cleanup services.

Remember, you should already be targeting your primary foreclosure cleanup client base via email, snail-mail, phone, and through your online marketing efforts. But, keeping in mind your primary focus of making money TODAY, if your price is right, you will be busier than you can shake a stick at with just lawn care — and you will come home with that $300 bucks in your pocket!

Plan of Action Example: If you specialize in interior cleanup, get on the phone and plan to call 500 realtors today. Yes, it will be a lot of calls, and you may not make it through even a quarter of the list, but if your Today Only Special is low enough, and you strategically target your list, you will get cleanup business. Always remember that business is simply a numbers game: the more prospects you target, the more business you will get.

If you want to specialize in exterior cleanup and you know the dump yard only charges you $37 for exterior debris dumping, call 200 real estate brokers and offer an incredible Weekend Only deal on exterior debris removal to the broker’s list of realtors. Make it a special they can’t refuse and see what positive results you have.

Greasing the Pipes: Remember, as a business owner, you must concentrate on how you can make money TODAY to survive. All the while you will be greasing the pipes (a term my multi-million dollar small business mentor used quite often) for future foreclosure cleaning business.

Many wishes of great success in your foreclosure cleanup business!

The Bare Minimum Needed to Start Your Foreclosure Cleanup Business

One of the quickest ways to start a foreclosure cleanup business is to 1) decide you want it, 2) do a little planning, 3) and jump right in. If you think about it too long, you’ll scare yourself to death and will get stuck in the thinking phase. But with a business like foreclosure cleanup, the industry is wide open. All the numbers point to a booming enterprise for 2010 and beyond.

Top Economists’ Predictions

With top economists labeling the rise of foreclosures among prime borrowers the “third wave of trouble,” businesses offering foreclosure cleanup services are poised for tremendous growth. In 2010 alone, well over four million homeowners will receive foreclosure notices; over half of those will go through foreclosure.

Further still, $2.5 trillion in risky loans are expected to reset in 2010 and 2011. It’s predicted that many of these loans were given to people who couldn’t afford the payments from the outset, which will make for an even more congested foreclosure market.

Foreclosure cleanup is the perfect opportunity to start a business, and, with a little planning, your doors can be open in a few weeks, ready to capitalize while offering a much-needed service. And, it’s a business that can be started part-time while still working a job.

Planning Your Foreclosure Cleanup Business

Decide to take two weeks to plan your foreclosure cleanup business. Write a business plan (outline format is fine with detailed notes) so you have a direction, a path, for your business as it relates to services, pricing, equipment and marketing.

Figure Out Which Services to Offer

During your two week business planning stage, you will figure out which services you will start out with. Foreclosure cleanup services can run the gamut. You can offer everything from debris removal, cleaning, lawn care, pressure washing, gutter cleaning, interior cleaning, painting, winterization, window and door boarding and replacement, locksmith services, inspections, and more. If you’re not careful, you’ll be all over the place, so you’ll need to be really focused in choosing the services you want to start out with in your new business.

TIP: Keep it simple in the beginning. Start by offering only those services you know you can handle in-house — and only those services for which minimum equipment purchases are needed.

Setting Your Pricing

After you create a services list, do a little research and set up your pricing guidelines. These will change often based on various factors as jobs come in, but have basic pricing guidelines already setup before you open your doors. Call “like” services to see what they are charging for, for example, lawn maintenance, debris removal, gutter cleaning, etc. Set your prices competitively based on what they are charging, the job factors, what you are putting out, and how much you want to clear off the job.

Getting Your Foreclosure Cleanup Business License

Make sure you call your County Clerk’s office to see what kind of licensing you will need and register your business formally. Go to the IRS’ website and sign up for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, so you are right with Uncle Sam’s reporting requirements once the money starts to roll in.

Getting Insurance for Your Business

Next, call around and get insurance quotes. You’ll need basic liability for your business and the proper insurance for your vehicle. It’s easiest to start out as a janitorial/maintenance type service. That’s a category that’s easiest to get insurance under; but note, you can only offer services for which that insurance covers.

Setting Up Your Website

Then, set up a quick website. There are various website templates online for a little of nothing will allow you to setup a quick webpage. Visit template sites where you can setup a website cheaply or for free.

At minimum, you will want to list information about your company, its services and your contact information on your new website.

Ordering Your Business Cards

Next, you will want to order your business cards. Try to have your business cards match the theme and/or colors of your website. This is another good reason to use printing type websites for your web page. You can order cards that will match your website’s theme easily.

Some sites even allow you to order “free” business cards if you keep their company name on the back of your cards. Not a bad tradeoff to cut costs in the start-up phase of your foreclosure cleanup business. You will wind up paying for shipping of the cards, however. (One such site will send you 100 “free” business cards and you will pay only a few dollars in shipping for the cards. Not bad.)

Create Your Marketing Material

Order some matching postcards online for your foreclosure cleanup business, and create some fliers on your computer that you can print out. Then, take them to a copy shop and duplicate — and start papering your surrounding community.

Pull Together Your Call List

Next, you will want to pull together a call list of realtors in your areas (foreclosure realtors!) as well as a list of REO assets managers at banks, a list of larger property preservation companies, and a list of landlords and real estate investors. Then you’ll want to jump right in calling them and seeing how you can service them with your new business.

Come up with a special promotion to peek especially the realtors’ interests. Also, offer them a discount if they belong to, say, NAR (National Association of Realtors). Many realtors will be coming out-of-pocket for foreclosure cleanup expenditures on their listings and will be waiting to get paid from the banks. They will appreciate a price break from your company.

Create a Phone Script for Your Business

Write a phone script so you will already know what you want to say when you call potential clients.

TIP: Make sure you get your company name and your company’s services in there. If you get a voicemail when calling, be sure to include the best time a potential client can reach you, your phone number, and your website address so they can learn more about your company.

The Basics!

These are just the basics to get your business off the ground quickly. Do a little industry research and get started planning today! As your business grows, you will become more formalized and add more policies and procedures that will ultimately benefit you, your business, and what is a growing cache of foreclosed homes.

Good luck out there on the front lines of the foreclosure cleanup industry!

How Much Food Should You Have In Your Longterm Food Cache?

So the SHTF and you have successfully bugged in or bugged out according to your contingency plans. Now what? Is this going to be a longterm crisis due to war, asteroid strike or solar flare EMP? What is longterm for you…a couple weeks, months or several years?

I suggest that there are three distinct duration intervals for which you should stock supplies:

72 Hour Events

Something has happened while you are at work, school or stuck at home. It may be a riot, power outage or minor earthquake. You may need to use your BOB, GHB or GOOD kits to get home or stay at home until the crisis passes. Most people already have food and beverages at home to make it through a three day event. Of course food is just one supply that is needed to survive. In winter, sufficient heating is critical and power, lighting, communications are important at anytime.

Multi-Week Events

Recently there have been several events affecting people in the United States that impacted their lives for weeks and months at a time. Winter blackouts have lasted for weeks on end and are often combined with lack of running water, no heating and impassable secondary roads to suburbs. Floods and hurricanes often destroy houses, clothing, vehicles and much needed supplies such as food. These events often call for relocation to a BOL (Bugout Location) where you have put away supplies in advance or to a prepared relative’s home several hundred miles away from the impact area.

Longterm Events

The devastation of war, catastrophic natural disasters and economic collapse can make your current home and lifestyle into nothing more than a memory. The Tsunami of 2004 and New Orleans Katrina Flooding are two examples of events that leave the survivors with nothing but the clothes on their back and no choice but to relocate and start over. This migration and rebuilding can take years to complete and many survivors will be refugees relying on others for assistance for much of their lives.

How do you prepare for a longterm event? Can you trust that your supplies will be safe and available in your current home? Should you split your supplies across several locations to hedge against the impact of the possible disaster? What can you do now to prepare for the recovery and rebuilding of your life?

Those with unlimited financial resources, can buy bunkers and stock them with all imaginable types of supplies to last for decades. But for most people that work just to get by with perhaps only a paycheck or two between their current lifestyle and bankruptcy, each decision and purchase towards longterm preparation has to be beneficial by cost and ultimate value.

Ideally, you should have a bugout location already identified and stocked with basic supplies. This could be a vacation property, family farm or the home of a relative. The bare minimum supplies for a bugout location are food and water to support the number of people and length of time needed.

For just a family of four over a year’s time, that will be a lot of food and water. It’s possible to buy and put away that amount of food but it is costly and actually takes some room to store. Can you live off of stored food indefinitely? Obviously, no you can’t. If the infrastructure that you use to acquire food is broken or unavailable to you, how do you feed yourself?

Well, we can look to the 19th century for the solution. Small scale farming and keeping of animals will be the lifestyle post-SHTF.

If you are at your BOL longer than a year and committed for the near future to that location, then gardening and farming should become your new occupation. A couple of acres of land can produce a great deal of food. You should plant a variety of foods to take advantage of seasonality and nutrition.

Now if you start farming and raising animals in year two of your new life, there won’t be much food produced until the following year. If there is bad weather, flooding or disease you might lose most of the production from that year.

You should prepare to live off of your food cache for at least two years to give your new farming and ranching efforts a chance to bear fruit. The first year of cache is just to get you over the initial devastation of the longterm event and the second year is to feed you while you are busy transforming your BOL into a self-sustaining farm.

What should go into your two year cache? It turns out that an adult needs over 2,000 calories per day to maintain their current weight and health. If you are active during the day, you should actually double that requirement.

How do calories equate to the volumes of food that you can purchase by the pound or gallon? Well, it varies by the food type, but generally a serving as documented on food packaging is about 250 calories. That would be two and half cups of rice, or a cup of beans, or a can of chili. Each of those servings is about one pound in weight after preparation.

Here’s a good food storage calculator provided by the LDS:

http://lds.about.com/library/bl/faq/blcalculator.htm

As you can see, a single adult requires about five hundred (500) pounds of varied food per year. If you focus equally on white rice, pinto beans, rolled oats and canned meats, you should have the right mix of food staples to survive.

In order to add some variety and supplement your required intake of nutrients and minerals, you should also include a case each of real maple syrup, domestic honey (not from China), iodized salt, black pepper, assorted spices and powdered drink mixes.

This food cache needs to be purchased and stored at your BOL ahead of time. Most of the items I suggest have near indefinite storage lengths, if kept cool, dry and airtight. Rice and pinto beans will last for decades, while honey and salt have been discovered to last for THOUSANDS of years.

You can supplement your food staples with freeze-dried and nitrogen packed foods that come in various flavors and meals. These are often more expensive than the bulk staples, but may be worth it to you by providing some mental and emotional health benefits. Macaroni and cheese or tuna casserole are great comfort foods that the family can enjoy while settling into their new lives.

Given that a one (1) pound bag of rice or a can of chili seem to be going for about a $1.00 nowadays, it is reasonable to estimate that the cost per person per year will be about $500.00. If you look for sales and buy in bulk, you should be able to come down from that by as much as 25% or more.

You don’t have to buy all of that food at once! Get into a routine of double buying when you go to the grocery each week. Look for sales and deals and buy then. If you keep at it, you’ll be surprised how soon you will have six (6) months or even a year stored up already!