Friday, August 26, 2005

The Problem With Domestic Services

We all need them. Plumbers, painters, carpenters, and of course, housecleaners. A home needs constant attention and most homeowners don't have the time or skills necessary to complete every project. So, we hire someone else to do it for us.

The biggest complaint that people have with these types of businesses concerns customer service. They don't return phone calls, they're late for their appointments, they don't correct mistakes, and some decide to just not show up. How can an industry that is entirely dependent on customer satisfaction be so bad at it?

Because there's a lot of great carpenters out there, but not a lot of great managers. A domestic service business is born everyday. John loves to fix things. He's so good at it that his neighbor hires him to do some side work. He repairs his dishwasher, unclogs his sink, and even paints his office. John's neighbor is thrilled with the work. He's so thrilled that he tells everyone at work. Of course, everyone at work has had terrible experiences with previous handymen, so they all call him for help. He agrees and the tree starts growing pretty quickly. This is where it happens.

John can't keep up with the work. But, the money's good and he doesn't want to turn it down. So, he hires a friend and starts delegating responsibilities. The friend does a decent job, but the work keeps pouring in. Finally, John has so much responsibility that he can no longer spend a day in the field working. Instead, he spends his day estimating jobs, purchasing supplies, coordinating work schedules, answering phone calls, paying bills, hiring employees, resolving problems, and supervising everything. He's now become a full-fledged manager.

Is John ready to become a manager? Does he have the skills necessary to create customer satisfaction? Maybe, but only time will tell.

This happens everyday across America. People are fed up with their current service provider and they want something better. It's a crazy cycle. These great tradesmen have to become great managers overnight. The vast majority can't handle the responsibilities and that's why most people complain about their domestic service provider.

I didn't know how to clean anything before I bought this business. Ok, the secret's out. But I learned pretty quickly. I did know how to please a customer. My number one goal from the first day was to create a great customer service experience. I think that we have a great model right now. We make mistakes. We know that. But nobody can claim that they work harder than we do to create 100% customer satisfaction. My roots are in customer service and that's why we excel in that area.

I wonder how different things might have been if I had great carpentry skills?

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