Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sometimes They're Just Better Than Us

But most of the time, they're not. They're not better because they do so many things wrong. Like spending only thirty minutes in your 3000 square foot home. Like showing up late all the time. Like not showing up at all. That's why people select us. Because we do those things right.

But every now and again, somebody's better than us. Here's how another maid service can beat Two Maids & A Mop.

You can beat us by cleaning all the homes yourself. You can't hire anyone. You can't depend on anyone but yourself. And you've got to really enjoy the challenge of cleaning. Making that house look clean has really got to get you going. That's it. That's how you can beat us.

The good news for us is that you can't clean every house in town. The good news for us is that you are rare. And the best news is that you're not our competition. Because we can't compete with you. You're better than us.

Our competition is everybody else. Like the ones that show up late all the time. Like the ones that get pregnant and have to quit cleaning. Like the ones that get married and move away. Like the ones that miss the same things over and over again. Like the big, franchised maid service companies that spend more money on advertising than on payroll.

They're the ones we're trying to beat. Better yet, they're ones trying to beat us.

Sidenote: If you live in North Dakota, call these people. They're better than us.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Rise Of Pay For Performance Programs

No need to explain this article. This quote says it all....

"The majority of companies have realized that only through performance-based awards can an organization effectively motivate and reward employees for helping achieve their goals," says Ken Abosch, a consulting business leader for Hewitt Associates. Variable pay plans, as opposed to holiday bonuses, clearly connect employees to company performance."

Click Here To Read The Article

Thursday, December 21, 2006

One Sentence That Says It All


"I'm not a cleaning lady anymore", proclaimed Jody Crane after she received her bachelor degree in Leisure Studies recently.

That one sentence says it all. Nobody wants to do what we do. Nobody is proud of it. Nobody likes it. Nobody thinks they'll be doing this forever. And that's exactly why the average turnover rate for a cleaning business is over 300% annually.

So what makes this job so bad? For one, you gotta clean dirty toilets several times per day. No matter how you dress it up; cleaning a dirty toilet stinks (pardon the pun). Secondly, the job has no future. It really doesn't. Sure, you could work you're way up to quality control manager, or team leader, or whatever else some companies call those positions. But you're not really going anywhere. Because you're still cleaning those same dirty toilets everyday. You're really just making a little more money. Third, the job pays crap. Imagine cleaning your house three times a day and then getting $40-$50 for your day's worth of work? That's what your cleaning lady is doing. She's working at or near minimum wage. That's a lot of work for not a lot of money.

And these are the reasons why Jody Crane hated calling herself "cleaning lady". Cleaning homes for a living has a negative persona surrounding it. It's not something you can be proud of. Not like a college degree in Leisure Studies. You can be proud of that. Even if you're not making any money with the degree yet. Because your neighbors now can look up to you. Instead of down to you.

These are the problems that we face everyday. Now we can't change the fact that you're gonna clean toilets everyday. That's what we do. But we can do something about the other two problems.

You see, money talks. Our pay for performance plan talks. You don't have to make minimum wage if you don't want to make minimum wage. In fact, you can make more than a lot of people if you want to. We've got several people that make more than $11 per hour every pay period. And while we can't offer unlimited career advancement opportunities, we can offer more money. We offer four levels of employment. Each level allows you to make more money. The top level allows you to make more than $12 per hour.

That's nearly $25,000 annually. And we're not in California, or New York, or even Orlando for that matter. We're in northwest Florida. Where the average median income is only $24,000.

Yes, our employees are cleaning ladies. Yes, they clean your toilets. But stand up and take notice. They may just be making more money than you.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An Unequal Playing Field


There are two ways to start a professional cleaning service. Imagine that you're looking to get into the business. Which of these two ways would you pick to get started?

The Legal Way
County Occupational License - $40
City Occupational License - $50-$100
City Business License - $100-$300
General Liability Insurance - $2,000-$5,000 Theft Bond - $100-$200
Workers' Compensation - $1,000-$3,000
Payroll Taxes - $15,000-$????
TOTAL $18,290 - A BUNCH OF MONEY

The Illegal Way
Nothing, zero, natta, zippo...
TOTAL $0

Now which way do would you get started? Keep in mind that these expenses are recurring costs that you'll need year after year. In fact, the busier you get; the more money you'll need. But not if you run your business like the majority of cleaning services.

Nope. You get to operate out of your spare bedroom. You get to pay yourself under the table.

And you also get to run and hide when you damage an expensive piece of furniture. You get to sleep in when you don't want to work. You get to steal money when you know that you're about to move out of town. You get to do all these things because you're cheaper.

You're cheaper than Two Maids & A Mop. You're cheaper and that's why it's so easy to find work for your new cleaning business. Because most of your new customers think that every cleaning business is the same. Because it's just cleaning after all. Anybody can do it.

Now what if you're a customer? Which one do you want inside your home? The answer seems obvious; doesn't it?

Until you have to pay the money. Then it becomes more difficult. After all, your neighbor uses the same lady. What are the chances that you'll end up like these people?

Chances are you won't end up like those people. Then again, do you want to place your house on a roulette table? The choice is yours.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Closing The Doors


No, we're not closing our doors. But there's a dry cleaning business in North Carolina that's just closed after 50 years of service.

Now, most people don't care when your business closes. In fact, some people may even be glad your business is closing. But Gene's customers are sad. Even his competitors are sad.

Click here to read the article.

An important question to ask yourself if you own a business..........

Would anybody care if I closed my doors today?

An important question to ask yourself if you are a customer.......

Would I be upset if this business closed its doors today?

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Birth Of Competition

A New Competitor Is Born

And this how the competition gets their new cleaning business started. Next stop, Wal-Mart. Time to get that mop and bucket.

Watch out Santa Clara. There's a flier coming to your mailbox in the near future.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fort Walton Beach Customer Advisory Board Meeting Notes


Click on the link below to read notes from our most recent Customer Advisory Board meeting in Fort Walton beach.

Customer Advisory Board Notes

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006

Someone's Got To Do The Work

Click right here if you want to see the ugly side of the cleaning business.

Click right here if you want to see the pretty side of the cleaning business.

Mowing grass, washing cars, picking up trash, laying brick, cleaning toilets. All jobs that you need in order for your day to go. These jobs don't require education. These jobs don't require anything other than two hands, two legs, and a willingness to work.

Willingness to work. That's the key phrase. You can pay anybody $40 to clean your house, or you can pay a real business a little more to clean your home.

For some, the choice is obvious. Click here to see what happens when you hire the wrong maid.

For others, the choice is just as obvious. Click here to see a list of professional cleaning businesses in your area.

Your house isn't a roulette table. Is the risk really worth it?

Friday, December 08, 2006

'Tis The Season


To lose business. Yep, we lost business this week. Six customers in all. And they all had the same reason for canceling our service. Simply put, they weren't satisfied.

Not being satisfied is a dirty phrase at Two Maids & A Mop. Nothing else triggers a bigger reaction. So our reaction was to conduct an investigation into each of the six cases. The investigation didn't take long to conclude because there was one common theme.

Our customers weren't satisfied because we kept making the same mistakes over and over again. Fair enough. So went dove into each of the customers files. And we found another common theme. Only one of the six customers had ever contributed feedback. And the one customer that did contribute feedback provided nothing but positive feedback. In fact, her most recent cleaning was rated a 10. In other words, we thought that she was completely satisfied. Her response, "I didn't want to get anybody in trouble".

But you did. We lost your business. Which means we have less work for our employees. Which means that our employees make less money.

The moral of the story. We desperately need your feedback. Your feedback is what makes us different. Your feedback is what makes us better. Without it, we're just like everybody else.

If you don't plan on providing feedback, you should cancel our service. Because we're not worth what you're paying us. Because we can't provide a better service without your help.

I know it's hard. I know you don't have time. But you're paying a premium for our services. There's only one way to make sure that we provide a value for that premium.

Feedback. Feedback. Feedback.

Keep us informed. Let us know what we're doing wrong. Let us show you why we are better than other cleaning services. Let us show you that we care more than anybody else that you'll ever hire.

Please. Because losing your business stinks.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Christmas Parade


Assume that you work for Two Maids & A Mop. You've just finished a long day of housecleaning and you're beat. Now what if I told you that you're day isn't over yet? You've still got another 5-6 hours of work left to complete. To make matters worse, you've got to perform that work in near freezing conditions. And one more thing, I'm not going to pay you for it. You're going to do the work for free.

As crazy as all that sounds, it happened. But there's one thing I'm leaving out. I didn't tell anybody to do it. They volunteered. That's right. Five of our employees in Fort Walton Beach volunteered to take part in this year's Christmas parade. Better yet, it was their idea.

Thank you Angelique, Sandy, April, Lori, and Elicia. Also a big thank you goes out Sandy's family for providing so much help. You all have not only made me proud, but you've proven yet again that we're not just another cleaning company.

Just three years ago, I was scared to death that my employees were going to kill my dream. Today, my employees are the only reason my dream is still alive.

One More Picture From The Parade


Does this look like work to you?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Picking The Right Maid


Imagine two maids sitting next to one another. Also imagine 100 people standing across the room. The task is to select the maid that they want to clean their home. They don't get to ask any questions. They only get to look at them. Now imagine that one of the two maids is neatly groomed. And imagine that the other maid is not neatly groomed. In fact, she is downright dirty. Imagine her looking like the lady in the picture. The end result.....one maid has 100 new jobs and another maid is still jobless.

Imagine those same two maids on the phone. This time everybody gets to ask questions. But nobody gets to see them. But you can ask any question under the sun. Since I'm in the business, let me tell you what the most popular question will be. What do you charge? The end result....each maid gets about 50 new jobs.

It's funny what happens when your pocketbook gets involved. Personal safety, quality control, customer references....all that stuff gets thrown out the window. Because anybody can clean a home, right?

Nobody hires the cheapest dentist. Because your teeth are important.

Isn't your house important?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Buying A TV


It doesn't matter if you're buying a newspaper or a flat screen television. The decision to purchase comes down to a simple thought. What makes your product better than their product? The consumer must be able to answer that thought in a few seconds. If the consumer can't answer in a few seconds; she buys the cheapest product available.

Now check out this article on flat screen televisions.

It takes a full page to describe the difference between LCD and plasma technologies. The average consumer isn't going to read this. As a result, the average consumer is going to buy the cheapest flat screen televison she can find.

Same goes for your maid.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Value Of Your Maid


The value of anything is determined by you. You get to determine what you are willing to pay for a product or service everyday. You are your own market.

At Two Maids & A Mop, we feel like our services are more valuable than any other cleaning service in the area. However, we don't get to put a price tag on that value. You do. Just like this former customer did......

"I have decided to stop having my house cleaned by Two Maids and a Mop. It wasn't that the people who did the work weren't pleasant and industrious. It's just that I believe that the service cost too much for the job at hand."

Now this comes from a customer that hired us because the previous maids quit showing up. At that time, our service had value. But at some point, our service quit becoming valuable because our service became too dependable. In this customer's mind, he forgot that "anybody can't just do this" and started thinking that "anybody can do this".

Now the good part comes in a few months from now. That's when his new maids start acting like his old maids. Because starting a maid service is just as easy as quitting a maid service. And that's when he remembers that cleaning toilets isn't really his biggest priority. His biggest priority is getting someone to show up to clean the toilets.

But right now, our value is lower than our price tag. That's what makes this country so beautiful. Supply always meets demand.

You can keep on hiring the cheaper maids. You are the one that gets to determine the value of our service. But those cheaper maids usually become less valuable once you figure out why they were cheap in the first place. That's when you have to determine how much value you place on your maid service. For some, its' never. After all, it's just housecleaning. But for others, we become very attractive. Because after all, it's not just about housecleaning.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The ABC's Of Customer Service


It's common knowledge that children must know the alphabet before they can ever read or write. No one questions this statement because it's obvious.

But it's not obvious to your child. Your child doesn't understand the importance of the alphabet. But without knowing your ABC's, you can't do much of anything in life.

So what happens when it comes to providing customer service? The typical scenario is for the boss to send an employee to a one-day seminar on providing exceptional customer service. Some bosses like to give their employees a book on customer service. Other bosses do nothing. They just assume that you already know how to make a customer happy.

But you don't know how to make a customer happy. Because you've never been taught how to make a customer happy. You need to know the ABC's of customer service before you can ever make a customer smile on a consistent basis. The tricky part is that every industry has its own alphabet. What works in the maid service industry doesn't work in the particle characterization industry. Customers are different. Better stated, what the customer wants is different.

So what's your alphabet? Answer these questions and you'll know.

1. Who is my customer?
2. What are the biggest mistakes that my industry makes?
3. What does my customer want from me?

And if you're wondering about the ABC's of customer service for Two Maids & A Mop......

My customer is sick of her current housecleaner. My customer is sick of her housecleaner because she shows up late, or doesn't even show up at all. My customer thinks that her housecleaner is getting worse and worse over time. My customer wants me to clean her house without her having to think about it. My customer doesn't want to wait all morning for me to show up. My customer doesn't want to get a call from me in the morning saying I'm sick. My customer wants me to correct my mistakes when I make them.

Before you can start serving the customer, you need to know what the customer wants to be served.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The White Van Speaker Sale


You've got several choices if you're looking to purchase stereo speakers as a Christmas gift this year. One obvious choice is to purchase the speakers from an established retail business. Another is to cruise the internet for deals. But there's another choice that's becoming more and more popular. It's the White Van Speaker Sale. And it's coming to your local gas station or mall in the very near future.

Here's how the sale works. Two guys, often wearing nice uniforms, possessing realistic looking invoices, business cards, and many of the trappings of a legitimate business, try to sell sets of speakers out of a van; it's white, because those are usually the cheapest to rent. The vans are often unmarked but occasionally have professional-looking graphics on the side which could be nothing more than temporary sticker or magnet signs. They will set up in a mall parking lot, gas station, or bank parking lots.

It's a scam. And one that works surprisingly well. Click here for stories from victims of the scam.

Now there's somebody reading this right now that thinks the white van sale sounds ridiculous. You wouldn't fall for something as silly as that right? But that same person has no problem hiring the cheapest cleaning lady she can find. After all, the cleaning lady is bonded. After all, the cleaning lady does have a business card and tons of references. And most importantly, this cleaning lady left a professional looking flyer on the door. This is a real cleaning business.

Ah uh....check outside your door. You might just see a white van sitting there.

Monday, November 20, 2006

12 Ways To Cope With Thanksgiving


Everybody's a little stressed right now. You're either going out of town or getting ready for a big family gathering. There's lots to do in a short time.

Click here to find 12 ways to cope with your Thanksgiving stress.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Supply And Demand


Our grand opening in Panama City was big. We had hundreds of phone calls. But that day pales in comparison to the opening of most electronic stores around the world today.

Check out this video of the opening of a Best Buy earlier this morning.

It's called supply and demand. Limited supply increases demand. That's how you create a buying frenzy. Click here for even more proof that supply and demand works.

The maid service industry is slow. Much slower than the gaming industry. Heck, we're still using mops to clean floors. But that doesn't mean we don't have a supply and demand curve.

No, our services won't ever be sold for $5,000 on eBay. But there's a frustrated homeowner out there somewhere right now. She's sick and tired of her current maid service. They never show up on time. They make the same mistakes over and over again. They don't really seem to care about anything but getting in and out of the house as quickly as possible.

That's when our supply meets her demand. That's when she dials one of these phone numbers.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Box Of Chocolates


You've heard Forrest Gump say it before. Life's like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna to get until you open the box.

But what if the box was real big? What if there were just too many choices? And what if you could only eat one piece of chocolate? Which piece would you select?

That one little piece of chocolate now becomes a big decision. Because you don't want to waste your pick. So you really think about that pick. And when you finally pick that piece of chocolate....it's over. There's no need to second guess. Because you can't pick another one if you wanted to.

Now what if you selected everything just like that..... What if you could only live in one city during your life? What if you could only have one friend? What if you could only read one blog? What if you could only hire one maid?

Hire your next maid because you think that she is better than everyone else. Not because she left a piece of paper on your door. And not because she's your friend's out-of-work daughter. And not because she is cheaper than everybody else.

Hire your next maid like she's in a box of chocolates. And you only get one bite. Don't become the serial maid service hirer.

The moral of the story. Nobody's perfect. Quit searching for perfection and start looking for somebody that cares. Caring means more than perfect anyway. Because your only perfect until you mess up. That's when the caring part shows up.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Minding Your Own Business


Word is that a hospital administrator in New Mexico had one of the best weekends he's had in a long time. The reason: he's decided to get out of the cleaning business and start concentrating on the healthcare business.

Click here to read the story.

Gone are the days when he has to get on the phone frantically searching for somebody to clean his floors. Gone are the days when he has to handle outrageous turnover levels. Never again will he have to run his own little cleaning service. He states it best, "Our business is patient care. Dave Sepich has been in the cleaning business for 30 years. His business is cleaning."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Employee Number 50


Yesterday we hired our fiftieth employee. Just three years ago, we only had three employees. Times have certainly changed.

I remember plenty of days wondering how in the world we would ever make this business work. Turnover was out of control and customers didn't know that we were alive. I was frustrated.

A lot of things combined to help turn the business around. One of the biggest reasons was our pay for performance program. Not only did it decrease employee turnover, but it also created a tremendous competitive advantage. I can't believe that we're still the only cleaning company doing it.

But the pay for performance plan doesn't account for all of our success. At each location, we have managers who really believe in our business. They operate the business as if it were their own business. Some days I wonder if I get in the way because they do such a wonderful job without me. Without our managers, our business would be dead today. Thank you Colleen, Melissa, and Elicia.

I also want to thank Julie. Julie managed our Pensacola office for the first eighteen months. The worst eighteen months may be a better way to describe that period. It was chaotic everyday because we never had enough employees. Scrambling took on a new definition during those days. Without Julie, our business would be dead today.

And then there's Cheryl, Trenetta, April B., Armanda, Hazel, April F., and Pam. Each of these employees really made a difference. They all have contributed different things to our business. Many of them are still with us today. And yes.... without them, our business would be dead today.

We've come a long way in short time. I can't wait to see where we are in another three years.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A License To Clean


Imagine if your daughter didn't need to pass a test in order to drive a car? Imagine if your pharmacist didn't need to pass a test in order to prescribe your medicines? Imagine if your housecleaner had to pass a test in order to clean your home?

Most people think that housecleaning is easy. I'll be the first one to admit that it's much easier than understanding the effects of hundreds of different types of pharmaceuticals. But that doesn't mean it should be treated any differently. After all, you pay a lot of money to get your house cleaned. You should expect for that person to know what they're doing.

The current system only requires that you possess either an occupational license or business license. In many cases, neither of these licenses is required since most housecleaning work is done under the table (pardon the pun). In either case, it doesn't matter because it only takes a few bucks to get either of the two licenses. They're taxes, not licenses.

But what if your housecleaner needed to pass a test in order to get that business license? What if they had to pass this test......

1. The first step would require that the future housecleaner pay for a nationwide criminal background search. The applicant would be denied if he/she was ever convicted of a felony.

2. The second step would require that the future housecleaner pass a safety exam on certain cleaning chemicals and procedures. Some people don't know what happens when you mix ammonia with bleach. Some people don't know that little kids like to play with aerosol bottles left behind by the housecleaner.

3. The third step would require that the future housecleaner sign an ethics oath. Just like the one that your doctor has to sign. No stealing from clients. No under the table shenanigans. No sleeping on the client's couch while everybody's away.

4. The final step would require that the future housecleaner earn continuing education points each year in order to renew the license. In most cities, there are an abundance of continuing education courses focused on customer service, safety, and health.

In addition, maid service companies (like Two Maids & A Mop) would be required to submit documentation on each newly hired employee. Each of these four requirements would also be required for each newly hired employee.

Yes, this would take a lot of work. No, this wouldn't solve everything. Just because you have order doesn't mean you still don't have a little disorder. But it would help.

It would help you. It would help you know that you're hiring a real business. Not somebody's out-of-work daughter.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Thinking About Hiring A Maid


We get new customers everyday. Sometimes we get a new customer because we answered the phone first. Sometimes we get a new customer because our name caught their attention. Sometimes we get a new customer because we earned their business. They picked us because they thought that we were the better choice. Being the better choice can be achieved in a number of ways. And you can't be all the choices. So we don't expect to win every new customer battle. Here's why people think their maid is the better choice.

1. Cheapest provider. Winning the cheap battle is tough in our business because you'll never be the cheapest. There is always somebody just a little more cheaper than you. That's what happens when you compete an industry that doesn't require a large start-up investment from the business owner. Of course, cheap has its merits. Sometimes cheap is all you need. But you usually get what you pay for. Hire the cheap maid and you'll understand. Something always goes wrong. And that's when we start looking good.

2. Most dependable. Being dependable means that you show up for work on time every time. That's easier said than done. Being on time every time requires you to operate your cleaning business like a real business. You must have a real scheduling process. Otherwise, you're going to miss appointments. Or you're going to arrive late. Being dependable means a lot more than just being dependable. Being dependable is the first step in proving to the customer that you care.

3. Most customer friendly. Yes, you're hiring someone to clean your house. That's your ultimate priority. But there's more to the story than simply cleaning counters. You want someone that is going to provide real customer service. Real customer service means that you can reschedule the housecleaning if your sick. Real customer service means that you can complain about mistakes and expect for the mistakes to be corrected. Real customer service means that your maid should care about you. Finding the most customer friendly company is easy. Just ask them how they make their current customers happy. If you like the answer, hire them.

4. The neighbors use them. This is the most common method of selecting the better choice. Why hire a stranger when your neighbor has already conducted the test drive for you. Of course, it doesn't have to be your neighbor. It can be your mother. It can be your boss. It can be anybody you know. Or should I say anybody you trust. We have people who call us and never even hear about our pay for performance plan. They don't even care about our rates. Because they trust their neighbor. Which leads us back to the first three points. You gotta be good at something in order for somebody to pick you in the first place. Once somebody picks you, they tell somebody else to pick you. That's how the train gets started.

5. The best cleaner. This is possible. But it's difficult to find. If you're like me, you make mistakes. Because we're both human. And that's what your maid is also. A lot of people hire us and indicate that they are going to let us conduct a "test run". The theory is that if we do a good job, then we'll keep doing a good job. The reality is that we'll mess up at some point. Hopefully, it won't be during the test run. But it's possible. Because we're human. Finding the perfect maid is akin to finding the perfect spouse. Nobody's perfect.

Click on this link to watch a video that discusses how to select a maid service.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Maintenance Cleaning


Most of our customers utilize our services at least once per month. If you schedule for your home to be cleaned at once per month, you're getting what we call a "maintenance cleaning". Many of our customers have asked that we better explain exactly what should be expected in a maintenance cleaning. So here goes.....

There are two phases to a maintenance cleaning. The first phase is to clean certain areas that are expected to be cleaned each and every time. These areas typically include bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen, appliances, and floors. We also should be dusting all horizontal surfaces such as counters, tables, and fan blades each time. Finally, we should be emptying all garbage cans within your home. The second phase is to conduct an inspection throughout the house of certain areas. These areas are mainly comprised of your vertical surfaces such as interior windows/blinds, baseboards, trim work, cabinets/drawers, and picture frames on walls. In addition, we should also be inspecting your light fixtures to see if they are dirty. Of course, if we find that any of these areas are dirty; we clean them.

A maintenance cleaning is not a deep cleaning. A deep cleaning is much more detailed and thorough. It's a better cleaning because we get rid of the inspection and just clean everything in your home. Of course, it's much more expensive as well. But the maintenance cleaning can be very effective as long as regular service is conducted at your home. If service is interrupted, then our maintenance cleanings become ineffective because our inspection phase should be replaced with a cleaning phase. Because more of your vertical surfaces are dirty.

There you have it. That's how we clean your home if you hire us for weekly, biweekly, or monthly cleaning service.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Winning The Game Of Business

A lady who runs another cleaning service called me the other day. She was confused, unhappy, frustrated, and depressed.

It was obvious that she had just about given up on her business. She was pleading with me for answers. Her problems were two-fold. She couldn't get customers. And she couldn't keep employees.

Now she didn't phrase her questions in this manner. But that's what it boiled down to. So I gave her my best advice. You can't deliver a great service without making your employees happy first. Your marketing generates contacts. Your cleaning generates customer loyalty.

So step 1 is to make your employees happy. Some say that you should pay them more money. Some say that you should pat them on the back more often. Some say that you should do both. I say that you really only need to figure out one thing. How can you make your employees feel like they are part of the business? For Two Maids & A Mop, it's our pay for performance program and our profit sharing program. There is no one right answer. But there is one wrong answer.

You can't expect your employees to succeed if all you do is pay them to work. Working worked a long time ago. Working together works today.

So what's step 2. That's simple. After you've made your employees happy, start delivering a better service than your competitors. Amazon sells the same books as Barnes & Nobles. But in a different way. A better way.

I've always said that if it weren't for customers and employees then this job would be easy. But easy is for losers. This job is hard. Face the facts. Winning shouldn't be easy anyway.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The $500 Per Hour Maid

Two Maids & A Mop can go toe-to-toe with just about every other cleaning business in the world. However, there is one cleaning business over in England that we simply can't compete against. They provide certain things that we'll never be able to provide. Of course, they better be good because they charge $500 per hour for the service.

Click here to read about this unique cleaning service.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

On Free Estimates....


Service companies are notorious for offering "free estimates" to prospective customers. There's only one reason why they offers these free estimates.

The reason: everybody else offers them.

The problem with offering free stuff is that your free stuff becomes useless once somebody else offers that same free stuff. And you can't go any lower than free. So you're stuck. Stuck doing the same thing as everybody else. Stuck doing the same thing forever and ever. Stuck offering free estimates when everybody in the world also offers free estimates.

Of course, you could be a little different. You could do what we do. We give you 30 free lottery tickets if you invite us into your home for an estimate. Yep, we pay you for estimates. That's even better than free.

Inevitably, somebody will wake up. They'll discover that rewarding prospective customers for estimates can be just as rewarding for your business. And then they'll start offering free lottery tickets. And then we'll have to do something different.

Of course, I never thought that we would still be the only cleaning company in the world to utilize the pay for performance program. But we are. So who knows? Maybe nobody will figure out our version of the free estimate after all.

Some things never change. Some businesses do change. Two Maids & A Mop changed a long time ago. Our industry didn't.

Thanks goes out there to all the cleaning companies out there that offer free estimates. You make our business look a lot better.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Put Your Hands Up


Read this letter.

Now go back in time and read this blog post.

There are people that clean to steal. That is, they get this job so that they can get access to your home. The sad reality is that you can't control everything. Some people are just bad people. It was that way yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

It's my job to weed out the bad people. Here's how I do it.

That being said, a bad person can sometimes look like a good person. So what happens if we hire a bad person and that person steals from you. Then we fix it.

We replace or refund whatever was stolen. That's what a real business does. That's what a professional does. That's what we did two different times. In both cases, we were guilty.

No, the law didn't convict anybody. No, there was no physical proof. Yes, we knew the customer. Yes, we believed the customer. Yes, we still serve both customers.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Cleaning Lady


There once was this customer. She had used the same cleaning service for more than three years. And she had been consistently happy.

The customer hired her own cleaning lady. Because this particular cleaning lady was a friend and she really needed the money. She just wanted to help her out.

That cleaning service was Two Maids & A Mop. And that happened just two months ago.

Today, that customer is back with us. Because her new cleaning lady got a job and couldn't clean any longer. Welcome to the world of "cleaning ladies".

Yes, hiring your own cleaning lady is cheaper. Yes, hiring your own cleaning lady means you get the same person every time. BUT.....click here to see what usually happens.

We know this because that's how we get most of our customers. They're sick of their cleaning lady. They want someone dependable. They want someone professional.

They want a business. Not a side job.

Monday, October 16, 2006

How To Hire A Maid


We hire maids all the time. That's what you do when you run a maid service. That's what you'll end up doing if you decide to hire an individual maid. We don't won't you wandering aimlessly out there, so here's how we hire a maid.

1. You will not be hired if you have been convicted of a felony of any kind. In addition, you will not be hired if you have a misdemeanor charge of theft or fraud.

2. You will not be hired if you don't smile. You've got to smile while you're being interviewed.

3. You will get hired if you tell us a story about how you made a customer happy in a previous job.

4. You must provide at least two professional references. They only need to say two things. You consistently show up for work and you're trustworthy.

5. You will not be hired if you badmouth your previous employer.

That's it. We don't conduct long interviews. We don't ask you to demonstrate how to mop a floor. We don't even ask you to tell us where you'll see yourself in ten years.

We can teach you to mop a floor. In fact, we can teach you a lot of things. But we can't teach you morality. We can't teach you ethics. And we can't teach you to smile.

Long story short. We'll hire you if you're a good person. What's a good person?

See the previous five questions.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Read This Before You Call Us


And after you read it, call everybody in the phone book and ask them how they plan on defeating each of these ten points.

And after you call them, call us. Here's a quarter, call someone who cares.

Ten Things Your Cleaning Service Won't Tell You

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Best Cleaning Tip Ever


There's a lot to choose from on this site. And there's one for everybody. Have fun.

Click here to find your best cleaning tip ever.

Seth Godin And The Retraction

Every now and then you'll see a small side story in a newspaper that retracts information from a big story published earlier in the week. Why isn't the retraction just as visible as the original story? Because nobody likes to admit mistakes. And nobody likes to admit being wrong. Kind of funny that the truth is harder to print than fiction.

But I digress.....

I have my own retraction to publish. I recently critiqued some comments from my favorite marketer - Seth Godin. He hurt my feelings just a few days ago when he blasted our company. Or at least I thought he did.

Upon further review, I was out of line. I was wrong. Seth has acknowledged that he wasn't referring to our company. Or any company for that matter. He was referring to the fictitious company that I presented him that had major personnel problems.

It's true that the cleaning industry has its share of employee turnover problems. It's also true that the cleaning industry doesn't really do anything to correct those problems. But at Two Maids & A Mop, we're trying. We're trying to make the job better. We're trying to give our employees respect.

As Seth points out, an employee needs a face. And we're trying to give our employees a face.

Right now, my face is red. Sorry Seth.

Probing Seth Godin For Answers

Seth Godin knows his stuff. He's got one of the most popular blogs in the world. He's the face of marketing right now. But he doesn't know housecleaning.

Here's a question that I posed to Seth just last week,

"Ok, you've just started yet another housecleaning company. You've got your business model in place. You've got your employees hired. And you've finally got your first real clients. But your new employees don't show up that first day. The short term answer is to go clean the dang house yourself. But how do you fix the long term problem of employee turnover in an industry where employee turnover is historically high?"

Seth responded,

"There's employee turnover because you're focused on cheap, on commodity service, on faceless people doing a faceless job. No wonder!
If that's what you're selling, then you're going to have live with people reclaiming their lives when they can. The win comes when you offer employees a special place, and customers get offered special employees."


Seth's not entirely wrong. But he's closer to wrong than right. And here's what I think about his response.

1. Faceless people doing a faceless job. Tell that to the employees in our company that have earned top pay in our pay for performance program every week this year. Earning top pay means that you have made a lot of people happy. Earning top pay means that your work has been recognized. Earning top pay means that you have a face. And your customers respect your face.

2. Employee turnover is the result of a cheap, commodity based service. That's true if your service is cheap. That's true if your employees are paid poorly. That's not true for Two Maids & A Mop. Click here for proof.

3. Seth's correct in his assessment that you have to realize that people will reclaim their lives one day. Nobody wants to clean toilets everyday forever. Not even if your wage is $30 per hour. Cleaning is hard. Cleaning is dirty. Cleaning stinks. But it can be rewarding if you work for the right company. I'm proud to say that our employees get paid well above the industry average. But I'm not proud of our employee turnover rate. It's still high. And it causes us problems everyday.

Why do we lose people? Because you can't clean forever. At some point, you move onto bigger and better things. And that's ok because they're bigger and better things than cleaning for a living. But in the meantime, we're a great place to work. Click here for more on employee turnover in our industry.

Why can't a commodity based industry have a purple cow?

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Biggest Mistake You Can Make


The biggest mistake you can make is to only give somebody one chance. Whether it be a restaurant, grocery store, or a maid service. Anything or anybody for that matter.

If 100 people hired us today, you can bet that at least one of those 100 people wouldn't be happy. We don't do everything right all the time. It could be because we're just not that good. Or it could be that we don't know what makes you tick just yet. Or it could be that we just made a mistake.

Now does that mistake mean that you should hire another maid service? What if the next maid service makes a similar mistake? What if every maid service makes a similar mistake?

Yes, the biggest mistake you can make is to not give somebody a second chance.

A second chance gives us the opportunity to show you that we're different. We get to correct our mistakes. We get to show you that we listen to you when you speak. We get to show you that our pay for performance program works. We get to show you that we care. But only if we get a second chance.

Without a second chance, we're just another cleaning service. Because we're not perfect. And neither is anybody else. Ultimate perfection is impossible.

But that's what you're demanding if you only give somebody one chance. Don't become a serial hirer. Give somebody a chance to make what's wrong right.

Take it from a businessman from Omaha, Nebraska. Back in 1956, the businessman had just given a local man $10,000 for investment purposes. The businessman took his money back from the local man in 1957 because he thought that he could do better things with it. After all, the local man had only made a few hundred dollars with his money.

That local man was Warren Buffett. That $10,000 would have turned into more than $80 million today. They say that you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Maybe your first impression should be to give a second chance.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Opposite Of Pay For Performance


The opposite of a pay for performance program is to simply just pay. Paying for performance means that you get rewarded when you perform. Of course, the metrics for performance must correspond to your overall productivity. Today's CEO is simply getting paid.

This isn't paying for performance. Just saying it doesn't mean a thing.

Today's CEO is making real pay for performance programs look bad.

P.S. This may be a little too biznussee....but what if today's CEO got paid based on their cash flow stream? You can manipulate earnings, but you can't hide dollars and cents. You either got one dollar going in or one dollar going out? Wouldn't that solve everything?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Key To Customer Service In Our Business


Sometimes in our business it seems as if nobody's happy. After all, we do ask for each one of our customers to provide feedback on their cleanings. Asking for feedback implies that we want to hear the negative stuff. And boy do we do hear some negative stuff. Negative stuff like this.

But there is a little known key to making that negative stuff go away. Just don't ask. If you don't ask, you won't ever know. You won't know that your most important customer is upset because her bathroom floor is still dirty. You won't know that your newest customer is upset because his dining room table didn't get dusted. You won't know anything if you don't ask. That is, until they cancel your service.

Providing customer service isn't easy. It shouldn't have to be easy. Doing something right should be harder than doing something wrong. Sometimes you've got to hear the negative stuff.

Because the negative stuff just might let you create some positive stuff.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Warning: Long Cynical Post Below

Let's say that you eat at the same restaurant once per week. And for the most part, you've been satisfied. Here's the restaurant's recipe for your satisfaction.

1. Consistent service. When you order, you expect your food to be prepared correctly.
2. Quality food. When you eat it, you expect it to be good.

That's it. That's all a restaurant has to do to make you happy. Here's what we have to do to make you happy.

1. Consistent service. When you hire us, you expect a professional attitude.
2. Quality work. When you look around, you expect for everything to be cleaned.

These two ingredients for success seem to correspond to one another. But they are big differences.

1. You don't expect to receive the same waiter/waitress every time. You don't expect the same chef every time. You don't expect the same hostess every time. But you do expect the same two maids every time. Consistent service really means consistent maids.

2. You don't expect your food to be perfect every time. Even when it's not perfect, you can simply send it back to the kitchen. You've been there a hundred times and you know that this week is just a bad day for somebody back in the kitchen. But you do expect your home to be cleaned perfect every time. Quality work really means perfect work.

Sorry for the cynicism. Last week wasn't fun. We lost some great customers that had used our service for years. And we lost both of them because we made one mistake.

1. For customer #1, we sent another cleaning team to their home. Never mind that we were on time. Never mind that the work was good. The people were different. And customer #1 didn't like it. And now she's gone.

2. For customer #2, we forgot to pick up the check. We also left cleaning instructions from another customer's home. The house was clean. But customer #2 couldn't live with such mistakes. Never mind that customer #2 had never been unhappy before. Nevermind that this was our first mistake. Never mind that this was, well......a mistake. Customer #2 didn't like it. And now she's gone.

The good news is that all maid service companies play by the same rules. The bad news is that the rules set you up for failure.

Mistakes will happen. If you use us long enough, we're going to do a lousy job on your kitchen sink. If you use us long enough, we're going to forget to put your rugs back in the right place. If you use us long enough, you're also going to see how much we care.

We care about your satisfaction. We may forget your check, but we will not forget how to make you happy. We work our tails off to show you that we love your business.

I wish you could be in our office when we first get your business. It's still big news. Even today, when we get 5-10 customers daily. You mean something to us.

Do we mean something to you? Even when we mess up every now and then?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

When "The Man" Is Your Friend


Just yesterday, I posted a story about how employees should view their employer as a friend. Viewing your employer as a foe never results in any type of success.

Now read this article.

Listen to some of the these comments...

"He's always taken care of his crew people," said Lutz, who left the restaurant briefly. "That's why I came back."

"He remembers his crews, their families, their names," said the 11-year employee. "He remembers our anniversaries at the store, and he sends a bouquet of flowers."

"He treats everybody who works for him like they're part of the family," Appleyard said. "He's one of the most caring people I know."

If your daughter worked for you, what would you do on her birthday? What would you do when she made a mistake? What would you do when she asked for a raise? You'd treat her with respect. Because she's part of your family.

Family. That's the key word. Treat your employees like they're part of your family. That's how you get your employees to view you as a friend. That's how you get your employees to help you succeed.

That's how you run a business.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Pizza Delivery Man


There's a story from our local paper that details how a pizza delivery man has formed the nation's first pizza delivery union. He started it because he wanted a raise. He wanted another quarter per hour. And he didn't get it.

But he did start the union. And now his company will more than likely pay him and his coworkers more than just another quarter. The moral of the story.

It's "we versus them". This pizza guy looked at the business as a foe; rather than a friend or partner. A foe doesn't want his enemy to succeed. A foe wants to fight his enemy. In this case, the enemy is the employer. And that sets up this pizza business for failure.

Your employees better look at you as a friend. Friends fight for their friends. Not against them.

Friends don't like it when their friends fail. That's why they're your friend in the first place. Look at the picture in the top left corner. He looks pretty happy.

That's because his employer is his foe. And he's winning the battle.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The First Time Caller's First Question


What are your rates?

We hear it every day. 99% of all first-time callers ask us this same question.

Unfortunately, we can't answer it with a simple dollar amount. It depends on a variety of factors. There are six basic questions that we need answered before we can quote a rate for your home. Here they are......

1. What city do you live in?
Rates in Pensacola are slightly different than rates in Destin or Panama City. And no that doesn't mean that rates in Pensacola are higher. And no that doesn't mean that rates in Panama City are higher either.

2. What type of cleaning are you looking for?
We offer three different types of cleaning:

Move in/out cleaning (this type of cleaning is required when you need an empty home cleaned)
Deep cleaning (this type of cleaning is required when you need a spring cleaning)
Maintenance cleaning
(this type of cleaning is conducted on a regular basis-weekly, biweekly, monthly)

3. How big is your home?
The square footage of your home tells us a lot about the general layout. For example, a typical 1800 square foot home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

4. What type of flooring do you have?
Homes that have more carpeted areas than hard surface areas take less time to clean.

5. How many people live there?
The more people, the more dirtier.

6. Do you want us to clean the entire home?
Some homes may not need to have all the bedrooms or bathrooms cleaned. For example, most single people don't need their guest bedroom cleaned on a regular basis.

So there you have it. That's what we're going to ask you when you contact us. Go ahead and get yourself armed with your answers.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Mini Maid Service


Some people decide to hire an individual to clean their home rather than hiring a professional cleaning company. The reason is simple. The individual housecleaner is usually cheaper. Why spend more money when it's something as simple as housecleaning?

For the most part, they're right. Housecleaning isn't complex. It doesn't require anything other than a vacuum and a little sweat. But what happens when she misses your bathroom sink? What happens when she shows up two hours late? And what happens when she doesn't show up at all?

What happens is that you become us. You become your own little maid service company. And you thought that all you had to was hire someone to clean your home.....

At some point, she's going to miss something in your home. That's when you have to make a decision. Do you speak to her about it, or do you just clean it yourself? If you're like most people, you just clean it yourself because you don't want to cause any problems.

At some point, she's going to be late. That's when you have to make another decision. Do you reprimand her, or do you act as if nothing happened? If you're like most people, you don't say a word....even though you missed an appointment because of her late arrival.

At some point, she's going to quit. That's when you have to start all over again. You've got to go and ask another neighbor who cleans their home. You get to interview that person and you get to repeat the cycle all over again. Two months later, and sometimes just two weeks later.....she's gone again.

At Two Maids & A Mop, we're in the business of running a maid service. It's what we do.

Is that what you want to do?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reality Bites


There's been a lot of changes since our first day. The biggest change being our pay for performance plan. As you know, it changed our business.

About the only thing that hasn't changed is our customer's biggest complaint. Everybody wants the same cleaning team every time. The reason is simple to understand. Consistency breeds quality workmanship. Our employees provide a better, more efficient housecleaning if they return to the same home week after week.

We know it makes your life simpler. Heck, it makes our life simpler. But the reality is that we can't make everybody happy. There's just too many variables. Sickness, vacation, and the dreaded turnover to name a few.

Imagine walking into your local grocery store and receiving exceptional customer service from the cashier and bagger. Is it practical to march over to the manager and request that the same cashier and bagger check you out each time? Of course it's not. But that's what everybody wants us to do every time. They want us to make sure that 42 maids go to the same house every time. It's a tough, tough situation. And one that we don't know the answer to.

This is how it currently works. Let's say that you reserve a cleaning for your home every two weeks. Your home is assigned to a particular route, which has two employees assigned to it. In a perfect world, your home will get cleaned by the same two people every time. But this world isn't perfect. Especially the maid service world.

So, we're forced to send a replacement employee or team to your home. This replacement team will be educated about your home. They'll have comments from you, notes from previous cleanings, and a checklist designed for your home. So they're not walking into your home blind. They may have never been to your home, but they're equipped to clean it.

That's the best we can do right now. We know what you want. We know what you need.

Reality bites.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hire A Maid And Save Your Marriage


There's a little known benefit to hiring Two Maids & A Mop. We save your marriage. It's true. Hiring a cleaning service has been known to save many marriages. If we could only get Oprah or Dr. Phil to agree with us........

Click Here To Save Your Marriage

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Over The Counter Maid


What if you had to leave your home and drive somewhere in order to hire your housecleaner?

Imagine if housecleaning services were sold all over town. You could buy them at your local grocery store, dollar store, mall or garage sale. Where would you decide to buy your housecleaner?

Would it be at the dollar store? The price is right here. The quality of the dollar store product is secondary to the price of the dollar store product. So, these housecleaners are half-priced; but they're also clearance items from some other store that couldn't sell them. These maids used to work for a professional cleaning company, but they're now on their own.

Would it be at the garage sale? The price is most certainly right here. You get to buy the neighbor's old housecleaner for pennies. Yesterday's junk is tomorrow's treasure. But finding that treasure is akin to a needle in a haystack. Of course, you could buy a bunch of garage sale housecleaners and just test them out. These maids aren't really maids. They just need work, but they're cheap.

Would it be at the grocery store? The price is fair here. But there's lots of housecleaners to choose from. You've got the low-cost store brand and the big-name brands. You can buy the housecleaner for just one day or you can buy the housecleaner for weeks at a time. The grocery store is a physical yellow page directory.

Would it be at the mall? The price is not right here. You're paying a premium for this housecleaner. But this housecleaner is at the mall. Your neighbors like to buy these maids because they want you to know how much they paid for them.

This all sounds ludicrous and silly. But it happens everyday. The only difference is that you pick up the phone instead of your car keys.

I'm betting that your purchasing decisions would be different. What do you think?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Value Of Customer Service

Here's a good read on the value of customer service in an emergency situation. Actually, you can take the word "emergency" out and the article still rings true. Customer service in the service industry stinks right now.

Click Here To Read The Article

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

At Least We Say Hello


If you live in Panama City and you received a Two Maids & A Mop door hanger last Friday, you got it from me. I must have walked ten miles that day. The most important thing that I learned last Friday was that I need a new pair of shoes. My feet were killing me.

I also noticed that a bunch of people hire lawn service companies. I mean tons of them. My rough guess is that at least 50 homes in this 400 home neighborhood received lawn care last Friday. And that was just one day.

What intrigued me was the fact that not one of the lawn service companies interacted with their customer. They drove up, unloaded their equipment, cut the grass, stuck a flag in the ground, and moved on to the next home. All in about fifteen minutes.

Here's a service that charges more than we do for our services. Yet they never even attempt to speak to their customer. What if they just knocked on the door and said hello? What if they just left a thank you note? What if they just tried to show the customer that their home was more than a fifteen minute stop?

They don't do any of this because nobody else does any of this. Everybody in the lawn service business does the same thing. They cut grass. That's their job.

Sometimes I think that our job is difficult. Cleaning a home seems to be a lot harder than cutting the grass. Making a mistake or forgetting to clean something is easy to do. But then, at least we get to talk to the customer. At least we get the chance to show the customer that we care. At least we get to say hello.

Serving the customer is one thing. But providing customer service is another.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The World's Most Unhappy Customer


You always here that customer service is important. Here's tangible proof that customer service is important.

Click Here To Play Video

Friday, September 08, 2006

Maid On A Mission

We got some great press back in March of this year. A business consultant from Iowa stumbled onto our company and wrote some flattering things about our business practices. It made me feel good.

Fast forward to August. I was having a bad day and wanted to feel good again. So, I went back to the story for a little motivation. The story still read the same but a comment had been added to the article. The comment was from one of our past employees. And she was angry. She didn't believe that Two Maids & A Mop was quite as good as the business consultant had described. Without any further ado, click here to read the article and comments.

You may have noticed that I responded to our former employee's comment. I wanted to make sure that our customers knew the whole story. Our former employee was partially right. We did overreact. We weren't happy. And we should have acted more professionally. We now know that.

But at the time, it wasn't quite so obvious. The employee had quit her route during the day. We still had customers to serve and we had major problems in front of us. We were not happy campers to say the least.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in yourself when you're getting good press and when your business is growing every week. Sometimes you forget that you're not perfect. Sometimes you need a reality check. Sometimes you get what you ask for.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

How A Reputable Cleaning Service Rolls

You've received the fliers on your mailbox. You've read the yellow page ads. You've even heard what your neighbors have said about their current housecleaner. In the end, what have you discovered?

Nothing. You really don't know anything until you've seen the work first hand. Hiring a cleaning service isn't difficult. You can hire one within five minutes because there's so many to choose from. So, what can help you filter through all of the junk cleaning service companies?

Here's what every reputable cleaning service should be providing their customers.

1. Guaranteed Arrival. In other words, your cleaning service should be expected to be on-time all the time. The only exceptions are traffic nightmares such as car accidents and bad weather. Make sure that the cleaning service tells you how they'll be on-time every time.

2. Bonded. Insured. Licensed. Workers' Compensation. I've discussed this before. It doesn't mean a lot. But it's sort of like bathing. Just because you bath doesn't mean that you're cleaner than your neighbor. But if you don't bath. Well, that says a whole lot about you.

3. Guaranteed Satisfaction. Every reputable cleaning service should stand behind its work. The fact is that every reputable cleaning service will make a mistake eventually. When it happens, a company has two choices. They can run and hide. Or, they can admit their mistakes and fix them. The choice seems logical, but you would be surprised how many times I hear about the first scenario.

4. Quality Control. Every reputable cleaning service should have a quality control program. Most don't. Most think QC stands for "quit complaining". There's lot of ways to do it. We used to hire QC inspectors. Some people make one of the team members inspectors. Two Maids & A Mop uses the pay for performance plan. You know which one I thinks works the best.

5. Training Program. Every reputable cleaning will need to hire people. Sometimes they need to hire a lot of people. It happens to the best of us. When it happens, there needs to be a process set in place to train the new people. Cleaning isn't rocket science. But training is essential. An uneducated employee results in shoddy work. An uneducated employee is the result of poor organization.

These are the five basic things that a reputable cleaning service should provide. Use this filter to reduce the number of cleaning companies that you hire.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Impregnating The Maid

At first, I thought that this was a joke. Then I realized that this was real. This proves that we're all different.

What If You're Husband Impregnates The Maid

Paying For Performance

When implemented properly, there's no better motivational tool than a performance based incentive compensation plan.

Click Here

Friday, September 01, 2006

Breaking Stuff

I was conducting an in-home estimate recently. During the meeting, the pest control guy showed up to spray the home. The homeowner let the guy in and we kept touring her home. All of sudden, we heard a crash. Something had been broken by the pest control guy.

We both ran into the living room to find that a picture frame had been broken. I was intrigued to see how the pest control guy would handle this situation. Here's what he did right:

1. He apologized for the mishap.
2. He cleaned up the mess of broken glass.
3. He offered to pay for the broken frame.

You could see the frustration wearing off on the homeowner's face. She was happy with the pest control guy's response to the situation. Until he came back with a check from his personal checking account. I couldn't believe it. This guy was literally paying for his mistakes.

The homeowner asked if the pest control company reimbursed employees for mistakes like this one. The pest control guy said, "nope". You could see that he wasn't happy about paying for the frame. And you could see that the homeowner wasn't happy about it either.

I used to work in a lab. I broke beakers, tubes, and flasks everyday. Never once did I think that I would have to pay for a broken beaker. Breakage was an operating expense for the lab because it was inevitable. People make mistakes.

Breakage occurs in your home too. We break things from time to time. When we break them, we do the same thing as the pest control guy. Except that Two Maids & A Mop pays for the breakage. Not our employees.

Obviously, this pest control company is looking to save some precious money. But, what is it losing as a result if its penny pinching?

1. Employee Morale. This guy hated his company because he had to pay for the breakage.
2. Employee Dishonesty. How many times does the pest control guy hide the breakage?
3. Customer Attrition. What happens when the customer finally discovers the hidden breakage?

A company's reaction to a minor problem usually indicates that company's major problems.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Free Housecleaning For Bluewater Bay Residents

Last month, we offered our services for free to anyone that lived within the Bay Point subdivision in Panama City.

This month, we're offering our services for free again. To qualify, you must meet two requirements:

1. You must live within the Bluewater Bay subdivision in Niceville.
2. You must contact us before September 2, 2006.

It's that simple. Is today your lucky day?

Monday, August 28, 2006

How To Open Your Own Two Maids & A Mop


Two Maids & A Mop has three locations today. That's a far cry from the three customers we had just over three years ago. We've learned a lot from those humble beginnings. And we know a lot now.

We know that we have a unique operating model that is unparralleled in our industry. We know that customers get sold in seconds once they hear about our pay for performance plan. And we know that we can make the pay for performance program work in multiple cities.

Our next goal is to expand into even more cities. To do this, we need you. If you need us, click here.

Friday, August 25, 2006

One Reason

You go to the same grocery store for one reason. You eat at the same restaurant for one reason. You keep hiring the same housecleaning service for one reason.

Or, you change grocery stores all the time. Or, you change restaurants all the time. Or, you change housecleaning services all the time. If you do, you don't have one reason.

That's how simple it is. A consumer decides to give a business hundreds of dollars just because of one simple reason. It could be that the grocery store is close to home. It could be that the restaurant serves your favorite dish. And it could be that the housecleaning service shows up on time every time.

In our case, we have one big reason. It's the pay for performance program. People keep hiring us to clean their home because they know that we care. Our proof is that we let our customers tell us what to pay our employees.

That being said, some customers keep hiring us for all sorts of other reasons. We show up on time every time. We pick up the phone first when they call for a quote. And some people hire us because we're close to their home (that one still doesn't make any sense to me).

You can't make a consumer listen. You can't force a consumer to hire you. But you can give that consumer reasons to hire you. Give them enough reasons and they may need you for that reason.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tips On Hiring Household Help


Hiring a housecleaner may seem quick and simple. And it can be. But it can also be tiresome and frustrating. One question that should also be on this list. How can you guarantee my satisfaction?

Tips For Hiring Household Help

In The News

Two Maids & A Mop was profiled in the Pensacola Business Journal this week. Click below to read the story.


Success Story

Monday, August 21, 2006

Customer Advisory Board Meeting Notes


Another informative and fun Customer Advisory Board meeting has come and gone. We had five attendees this time and I think everyone had a good time. Read the notes.......


PensacolaCAB.pdf

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Rest Of The Story


Perry Phillips Interview Continued........

4. What are the biggest problems facing the housecleaning industry?

There are several that greatly affect this industry. But I will touch on what I feel are the top two:

1. Mind set: Employees and business owners with low self-esteem. I even get this from owners with annual sales over a million dollars. People need to realize that this is a viable industry and if you run it like a real business, there is a lot of money to make. It can be a great business opportunity.

2. Under the table cleaners: While the old time day-helper is a thing of the past, there is a new breed of entrepreneur out there cleaning homes for cash under the table. People are out there that do not carry insurance and do not pay taxes, and in some horrible cases that could go very wrong. Most customers are unaware of the risk involved with doing business with these people. I feel strongly that as an association we need to do all that we can to educate the customer so that they can make better informed decisions.

5. Where do you see the industry 10 years from now? Will we all be trying to fix the same problems as today?

No, there is a great sense of ingenuity in the industry now, more vendors and suppliers are taking notice of what we are doing. There are more options and tools emerging that fit exactly what our owners need to build their businesses and run them more efficiently.
If we pull together and work hard as an association, the two problems I mentioned above will cease to exist. We need to educate each other and educate the customers!

6. What are the most common misconceptions about a housecleaning company?

That it is not a legitimate business and that people actually clean homes because they can’t do anything else!

7. What questions should every consumer ask before hiring a housecleaning company?

1. Are you licensed?
2. Do you carry proper insurance- General liability and worker’s comp?
3. How do you hire your people- what is your screening process/ background checks
4. How do you train your people?
5. Will you guarantee my satisfaction?

We actually have an extensive consumer education section on the ARCSI website.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Interview With A Maid Service Pioneer


Perry Phillips is a pioneer. Perry is the founder of The Association of Residential Cleaning Services International (ARCSI). Attorneys have their association. Plumbers even have their own association. But cleaning companies have historically been disrespected because many view it as a simple job. As a result, nobody really ever thought that an association could help. Heck, it's just cleaning after all. But Perry came along and started one. And he's done a great thing. Professionals from across the country now know that their daily problems aren't unique. We all have them. We're not quite as inefficient as we originally thought. I recently interviewed Perry and asked him a few questions concerning his past and the future of the cleaning industry. It's a two part series. Here's part one.

1. How did you get started in the residential cleaning industry?

I started my first residential cleaning company when I was 19. The idea for it came while I was in high school and involved with DECA, Distributed Educational Clubs of America. One of our class assignments was to write a business plan, make an appointment with a banker, the whole nine yards. I chose to write mine on a maid service, which was virtually unheard of in the relatively small town I lived in. I chose it because it was different. I got a great grade and even entered it in the state competition where I won and participated on the national level. (I didn’t do so well there, was too focused on being in California and having too much fun).

After one long hard year in college, like most students I needed a break - so I took a semester off. While at home doing nothing I received strong “encouragement” from my mom to either go back to school or get a job.

Two of her friends had been complaining that their cleaning person was unreliable and doing a lousy job, and I also had a friend complain that she had a dead-end job. I decided to play middleman and put them together and take a cut! It worked great. Within a month our little enterprise had several customers. Business was booming and in no time there was more work than we could handle. I was even cleaning homes - which I did not anticipate doing. The plan was for me to be involved until I went back to college and she would keep the clients/ business. Well, my friend ended up meeting a guy and leaving town, and I was faced with a dilemma. I had more clients than I could handle, more wanted service, so I did the most logical thing I could think of. I ditched school all together and started hiring people to grow my new business. By the time I was 22 I had 25 employees!

2. What changes have you seen since you started in the industry?

Many! The industry has come a long way. I have been involved in the residential cleaning industry for almost 16 years and the biggest change I have seen is the customer base growing so quickly. More and more people are realizing that hiring a service is not necessarily a luxury, but in many cases a necessity. It can give them back quality time in their lives. Another significant change is the level of professionalism among business owners. Even though my first experience in the industry, like many successful owners, was very humble beginnings, there are now more people with corporate and professional backgrounds getting into the industry.

3. What prompted you to start the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International?

Mostly frustration. While I did enjoy some success with my cleaning service, it was only mediocre success compared to what I see many ARCSI members doing today. Like many young, green business owners, I learn too much the hard way. I kept hitting a wall with my business. I would reach a certain level and could not get past that. That frustrated me and caused me to bail out more than once. I’m not sure if the industry followed me or I went back to it, but nonetheless I was there. Then a great thing happened - the internet! As I started to dig in and look for the missing piece of the puzzle I realized something. When I found a new idea, or put a few things together that made sense to me, I got more satisfaction out of sharing it with others than implementing them myself.

I subscribed to every trade journal I could find, and bought every book I could get my hands on. Then one Sunday on my boat, surrounded by all my current trade journals, I had a eureka light bulb moment; the residential cleaning industry needed this, and I was the person to do it. It took two years to get my plan/ideas to the point I could act on them. Once I did, it really started to take off and less than 6 months into it I sold my last business, and dived into the association work full time.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mystery Maid

A cleaning service cleans the wrong house. The story is funny, but how did the cleaning service not catch this problem? One reason: communication.

What if the cleaning company had contacted the "right" customer to determine her satisfaction? What if the cleaning company had sent something in the mail to the "right" person? What if the cleaning company would have contacted the "right" customer before the next visit to confirm the appointment?

There's lots of other ways. The main point. Communication with your customers is the first step toward making them happy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Working In The Lab


I used to work here everyday. That's me to the right. Doesn't my lab coat make me look smart?

In my old job, I talked about particle sizing, mercury porosimetry, surface area measurement, and gas adsorption. I talked to professors, chemical engineers, and scientists on a daily basis. I was the manager of a contract laboratory. And I loved it. And least the business aspect of it.

I now own a maid service company. About as far from mercury porosimetry as you can get. Or is it?

My job was to perform a service....to satisfy someone's needs. That's exactly what we do here at Two Maids & A Mop. We satisfy someone's needs. We make people happy.

A service is a service. No matter if you're cleaning a toilet or cleaning a beaker. You're job is to serve that customer and to satisfy that customer.

I learned a lot at Micromeritics. Yeah, I learned that you can eliminate atmospheric vapors from a small particle by purging the particle with helium. But my most important lesson dealt with a simple concept. Customer Service.

People like being satisfied. No matter how smart they are.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Scroll Down To The Next Article

If you're reading this, stop and scroll down to the next post and then come back to this post.

Ok, you now know that Two Maids & A Mop isn't perfect and we don't make everybody happy. Here's our take on the story.

1. We increased our rates so that we could afford our new pay for performance plan. Some customers thought that we just fattened our wallets. Our average wage increased from $6.50 per hour to $9.00 per hour in one week. I don't know how else to explain it??

2. If there's one certainty about our company, it's this: we will not send the same people every time. Yeah, we try to make this happen. Heck, it makes our life easier too. But it's impossible and impractical. Some of our customers receive the same two people every time. Most don't. There's certain realities that you must know. This is reality #1.

3. The customer mentioned three complaints. We messed up. We're not happy, but it happens.

4. The customer spoke to me about complaints. At the time, she was still very unhappy with our price increase. I listened. I promise you. I want to listen to you. Maybe I was having a bad day, I don't know???

5. She's found someone else to clean her house. That's fine. I understand because we're not for everybody. But I find it interesting that the new cleaning lady charges more than we do.

If you're a current customer, please keep providing feedback. We want to hear every thing that you have to say about our services. You can email (two_maids@yahoo.com), you can fax, or you can simply call us. This customer no longer needs us, but we can learn from our mistakes since she voiced her concerns.

If you're a potential customer, let this serve as an example. We need constant feedback from you in order to make the pay for performance plan work. Without your help, we're just like everybody else. This customer said it best, "The same time you had your rate increase you also initiated your grading system. This could be a good thing - if it worked." There's no reason to hire us if you don't plan on participating in the pay for performance plan.

If you're this upset customer, let me apologize. I wish that we could have done more to prove to you that we really do care more than anyone else. We failed miserably and we're embarrassed.