Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Most Important Question For Your Housecleaning Service

What does your company do to ensure my satisfaction?

Your bathrooms are important. Your kitchen is important. But none of that matters if the company's employees are careless. The employees assigned to your home must care about your satisfaction. They must know that your total satisfaction is the ultimate objective.

A reputable company can offer you tangible evidence. No clever sales pitch. No flashy brochure. Just hard facts. This is how we do it.

Ask the question and watch what happens. They can't answer it. They can't answer it because they don't know how to ensure your satisfaction.

High turnover. High absenteeism. Insubordinate employees. These are the typical problems that a housecleaning service tackles every morning before they head out to your home. How can a manager worry about your satisfaction when the main concern is just getting an employee to your home?

I know all of this because I lived it. Managing a typical housecleaning service is best described as survival. Fighting through the same problems over and over again. I lived it and I hated it.

That's why I changed it. Ask us how we maintain your satisfaction.

Of course, you don't have to ask us. You already know.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Failure

The typical scenario is for a person to set a goal. Success or failure is based on the attainment of that goal. The problem is that nobody really fails at anything. You only quit trying.

A marketing idea bombs. A new product flops. A new business dies. It happens every day, every hour. It's possible that your project is simply a bad idea. But, it could be that your bad idea can be improved into a better idea. Or, maybe even a great idea. Only one way to find out. Keep working.

The Dyson vacuum is quickly becoming the most trusted vacuum cleaner in the world. It didn't begin that way. Nobody wanted it and nobody bought it. James Dyson could have quit. He could have got a real job. Instead, he kept working. The rest is history.

There's a little Mexican restaurant down from my home. They held a grand opening about two weeks ago. The doors are closed today. They must have had a less than grand opening. They quit trying. They failed.

You can't fail if you're still trying to succeed.

Monday, November 21, 2005

They Hate Us

They hate us because we get their best employees. They hate us because we get their unhappy customers. Simply put, they hate us.

The big guys hate us because we're emptying their feeding trough. The food's always just been there. No struggle, no fight required. All of sudden, the trough is getting bare. Where are all those customers going???

The little guys hate us because we're defeating their purpose. Big companies aren't supposed to care. Big companies aren't supposed to measure customer satisfaction. All of sudden, a big company cares. Where are all those customers going???

Of course, they're going to us.

We've got a lot of work still yet to do, but man........things are getting really exciting. We're getting tons of new customers every day. We're making tons of current customers happy every day. We're on the verge of opening our third location. The sky's the limit and they know it. Boy, they really hate us!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

TwoMaids Katrina Fund

Thanks to you, these four children will have a Merry Christmas. Each child received $250 from Two Maids & A Mop this week. Each family has relocated to Pensacola as a result of Hurricane Katrina.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Boring Makes It Easier

We don't manufacture circuit boards. We don't know how a semiconductor works. We don't have "dot com" after our name. We clean houses and we're boring. And that's the main reason we're successful. Nobody pays attention to boring industries.

Boring industries have been around forever. A company can dominate a boring industry for a long time because nobody else wants to enter the industry. It's hard to get a bunch of venture capitalists excited about lawn care, plumbing, or housecleaning.

I was at an entrepreneur club meeting recently and witnessed this first hand. It was an open meeting and the club was looking for new members. Of course, I eat this kind of stuff up. I decided to attend and network a little bit. I walked into the room and started mingling with the current members. I talked about our history and our plans for the future. I thought that totally reinventing an industry seemed pretty exciting. I was wrong.

The conversation was redirected to another group that was speaking to another potential new member. The other guy had just started a new company with a fancy technical name. He talked about his plans for the future and his current situation. The members went crazy over this guy. I've never seen business cards exchanged quicker. Anyway, the meeting started and I sat next to this guy. Turns out, he doesn't even have a customer yet. Better yet, he doesn't even have a product to sell yet. About the only thing he does have is a fancy business name.

People like being smart. People feel good when other people tell them that they're smart. It's hard to act smart when you clean houses for a living. That's fine with us.

It's easier for us to succeed when nobody else cares. Boring makes my job easier.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Perfect Business

The perfect business has low turnover. The perfect business has lots of happy customers. The perfect business provides reliable products or services. But, the perfect business isn't perfect.

Everybody slips up. Mistakes happen. Sometimes they're hidden. Sometimes they're not. Nobody's perfect. The perfect business isn't measured by its quality control department or sales force. It's measured by the company's culture. A company's culture creates the perfect business.

Don't stop what your doing in the QC department and don't stop what you're doing the R&D department. You guys are important. You've got fancy degrees and extensive knowledge about your industry. But, your company's culture determines your product's success.

A positive, caring culture creates happy employees. Happy employees create superb products and services. Superb products and services create happy customers. Happy customers create happy employees. The cycle repeats itself.

That's the perfect business.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Maid Man Gets His Hands Dirty

My wife and I kept waiting and waiting for our food. Thirty minutes passed before we realized that our waitress wasn't coming back. The manager had just informed us that she had quit during her shift. He also said that she had never placed our order and our food wasn't close to being prepared. He looked beaten and embarrassed. We left the restaurant. We never returned.

I've told that story a lot over the years. It gets a good laugh every time. Today, we had an employee quit during a housecleaning. She walked out; no notice, no warning. My story doesn't sound so funny now.

Right now, I feel like that beaten and embarrassed manager. Try explaining this to one of your best clients. Try explaining this to a brand new customer. I'm not a good liar, so I told the truth, just like that manager.

The brand new client sighed and declined to be rescheduled for another housecleaning. One of our best clients sighed and declined to be rescheduled for another housecleaning. Just like me several years ago.

Why am I telling you all this? Because there is something to be learned here. At the end of the day, we have rescheduled those two clients. We've turned a terrible situation into a great experience. We've shown both clients why people rave about our company. What did we do?

We did two things. Number one - we told the truth. It wasn't the most politically correct thing to say, but we told the truth because that's what we believe in. Number two - we showed the customer that we care. They know that we care because we proved it by our actions. We cleaned both houses, me and my wife. We were a little slow, but we did it. We made two families happy today. Of course, neither customer paid for today's service. And, they wont' pay for another cleaning this year. They hated us at noon and loved us at 5.

I'm better at leading a team. I'm better at marketing. I'm better at selling our services. I'm better at a lot of things, but I cleaned today because I had to do it. There is no such thing as absentee ownership.

Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

You CAN Make Everybody Happy

The easy way out is to say, "You can't make everybody happy". It's an escape clause. No excuses needed. People will be people, right?

I say no. I say there is a way. I say even the most challenging person can be made happy. The recipe is simple.

Give a hoot.

It's obvious that most people don't give a hoot. Bad customer service occurs so often in our lives that we barely remember them. Of course, the good customer service experiences are so rare that we always remember them.

The housecleaning business is designed for failure. We've yet to perform the perfect housecleaning. If you look hard enough, you'll find something. Most people understand this. Some people don't. And that's ok. Our goal is to make everybody happy, one way or the other. We follow the "give a hoot" principle with every customer. Customer complaints never go unheard. You cry and we jump. Our customers know that we care about them because we jump higher than anyone else when they complain. From broken items to missed areas, we fix it all with ridiculous speed and urgency. We care. They know it.

An unhappy customer reacts with either anger or sorrow. Your reaction to the problem defines the level of satisfaction from that point forward. You can make it worse by yelling back. You can make it worse by not doing anything. Or, you could just give a hoot and show the customer that you care.

Mistakes are forgiven when you give a hoot. Even downright subpar performance is forgiven when you give a hoot.

It's take lots of patience and lots of great employees, but.......you can make everybody happy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Warren Buffett Sat Here Once

Right here in this chair. Right where I'm sitting. It was a while back, several billions dollar ago. But he sat right here. And he sat in your chair too.

Every successful person starts where you start. The probability of success is defined by the person, not the situation. Your biggest obstacle is yourself.

Everybody loses, nobody wins all the time. Warren Buffett lost lots of money on airline stocks. He was forced to close a failing convenience store. But his biggest failure turned into his main reason for success. Berkshire Hathaway was the merged company for two fledgling textile companies. Both companies were losing money, fast. Buffett had bought a tired, old company with no future. This is where most people quit. Of course, Buffett didn't quit. He quit pouring money into the two companies and used that extra money for other investment opportunities. The rest is history.

You don't need to be Warren Buffett in order to be successful. Success is measured by one person: you. We all start in the same place. Your distance from the starting point is up to you.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom tells us to take it slow. Don't rush into anything. Think about the risks involved. Be cautious. Don't fail.

That's the problem with convention. The real risk is not risking. There can't be a reward if there's no risk. The real failure is to not risk anything.

We're going headfirst. The mistakes will be there. The failures will probably be there also. But there's going to be some rewards as well. Those few failures will be remembered because we must learn from our mistakes. However, the rewards will be remembered the most.

Nobody talks about our 1000% turnover level anymore. Nobody talks about our failed night shift anymore. And nobody talks about our lousy pricing structure anymore.

A lot of people talk about our devotion to customer service. A lot of people talk about our professional employees. And almost everybody talks about our bright future.

We buck conventional wisdom because everybody else follows it. We may have failed more than we've succeeded. But our successes have outweighed our failures every time.

Following conventional wisdom makes you conventional.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Do What You Say

I had been in the cleaning business for about five days when I figured it out. It was a day after my first in-home estimate. I had spent about 45 minutes talking about my new company with the potential customer. I spoke about our cleaning abilities, our rates, and our arrival times. The customer liked what she heard and agreed to a one-time cleaning.

We arrived the next day and cleaned her house. No big deal. Just another house. We did our job and took the money. We called her the next day to see how we did. That's when it happened. She was amazed. Really amazed. She couldn't believe the level of professionalism that we had shown. Uhh?

She praised our cleaning team for arriving on-time for the appointment. She praised our manager for calling to receive her feedback. And she praised me for spending so much time with her. That's when it dawned on me. Nobody else did it.

Nobody did what they said. Was it really this simple? You bet it is.

Doing what you say goes along way. The vast majority of service companies don't adhere to this policy. It's a lost art. Everybody's too busy trying to make more money. They all want to make the next sale.

The first step in making a customer happy is simple. Do what you say.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Change The Rules

Glen Bell changed the world. He managed a little hamburger diner before it happened. He opened a marginally successful hot dog stand before it happened. It finally happened one day. It happened because he finally figured it out. To win, you have to change the rules. You have to make new rules.

It started out as a tiny taco stand, tucked away in a bad California neighborhood. It wasn't done back then. In 1952, you either served hot dogs or hamburgers. All other food was served in full-service restaurants. No way was this going to work. Of course, it did work. Of course, we're talking about Taco Bell.

Taco Bell seems status quo today. In 1952, it was revolutionary. Customers lined up for the tacos and burritos. Glen Bell couldn't open enough locations. It didn't work because the food was superior. It didn't work because it was located in a great location. It worked because it was different. Taco Bell changed the rules.

Taco Bell spawned all sorts of alternative fast food chains. It created a new category. The food was fast, good, cheap, and way different than any other fast food restaurant in town.

Glen Bell tried to compete with the market leaders of his time and it didn't work. You can't catch a speeding bus when you're traveling at the same speed. You can either lag behind or quit chasing. Glen Bell quit chasing. He started his own race.

It takes courage, skill, hard work, and a little luck to make it happen. But, it's the only way. Quit following and start leading. Change the rules.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The State Of The Housecleaning Industry

Stuck. Motionless. Boring.

That's where the housecleaning industry is today. There's not many forward thinkers, not many pioneers. Not many people are trying to improve anything. No reason to fix what ain't broke.

But it is broke. I hear it over and over again from other people's clients. They all complain about the same things.

The service starts out great, but gets worse and worse over time. The cleaners never arrive on time. The cleaners made mistakes and the owner didn't seem to care.

I'm not kidding. I hear these three complaints every time I enter a home that is currently being serviced by another company. I've memorized my response to each complaint because I hear them so frequently.

The housecleaning industry is broke. Too many people are doing the same things and they're doing them wrong. That's good for us, right?

Not really. We want to people to perceive the housecleaning industry as a professional trade. We want people to respect our services and our employees. That will never happen as long as the housecleaning industry remains in inertia. People will continue to view a housecleaner as a low-level commodity and low-price leaders will continue to attract new clients.

People respect medical personnel. People respect attorneys. People respect electricians. People respect them because they perceive them as professional. Nobody selects a doctor based on price. Nobody selects an electrician because he's cheap. People select these professions based on quality workmanship.

That's where the housecleaning industry needs to be. People need to select a service based on quality workmanship. Unfortunately, we're a long way away. The majority of people select a housecleaner because he/she is cheaper than the next person.

People cancel their cleaning service for one of two reasons: 1) They found a cheaper alternative, or 2) They found a better alternative.

It's easier to be the cheaper alternative and that's why nothing gets changed.