Monday, July 31, 2006

Bachelor Of Maid Service

Way over in China there's an university that actually offers a degree in maid services. The school teaches such subjects as preparation of Western food to general knowledge about the outside world.

If my university offered a maid service degree, I'd only teach one thing: customer service. Cleaning a bathroom or bedroom shouldn't be that difficult to train. But teaching someone how to react to an upset customer takes skill. Most cleaning companies do the same thing. They care more about cleaning the toilet than they care about serving the customer.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Picking Up The Garbage

I just got my garbage picked up. That's all that the garbage company had to do to make me happy. Just pick up my garbage.

Sometimes I wish all we had to do was just pick up somebody's garbage. Cleaning homes for a living isn't easy. The only thing easy about cleaning a home is the ability to make a mistake.

No matter how much you train. No matter how much you care. People will make mistakes. Because people are, well, people.

But our customers are people too. They pay a lot of money for our services. And they don't like mistakes. They like their house clean. That's why they hired us in the first place.

So, what's the owner of a business that relies on people making other people happy supposed to do?

Well, one way is to make the job real easy. Like picking up my garbage. But that's not what we do. We do a lot more than just pick up the garbage.

The other way is to prove to your customers that you care about your work. If you care, customers will accept mistakes. If you don't care, then customers don't care either.

We care. Our pay for performance plan proves it. Our Customer Advisory Board proves it. Even this silly blog proves it.

The fact that we care means that our customers will allow us to make mistakes. When they happen, they tell us. When they tell us, we listen. After we've listened, we fix it. And the cycle repeats itself sometime again in the future.

We're not perfect. Everybody knows that. But we're as good as we can physically be.

And that's how our people make other people happy.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Free Housecleaning For Bay Point Resort Residents

There's a neighborhood in Panama City called Bay Point Resort. It has more than 1,200 homes and condos alongside the coast , golf course, and marina. Everybody eats and plays together. It's a really big, but close community. It's what the owner of a housecleaning company calls heaven.

To be successful, a housecleaning company would only need to serve around 5% of the community. We currently serve one, single home. So far, it's been far from heaven.

We've ran advertisements in the community newsletter and sent each homeowner several letters asking for their business. None of it has worked.

So, here's what we're going to do. We're offering one FREE HOUSECLEANING to every resident inside Bay Point. That's right. We don't want your money. We want to show you why we're better than your current provider.

There is a catch (as usual). We obviously can't clean free forever. So, you have a deadline. The deadline is this Friday, July 28th. Today's your lucky day if you stumbled across our website. If you live in Bay Point.

To everyone else, don't fret. We'll be announcing more free neighborhood cleanings soon. Stay tuned for more giveaways.

To residents of Bay Point, call 769-6646 today. Or at least by July 28th.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Shoddy Service In Your Home

Domestic service companies provide the worst customer service. The reason is simple. Domestic service companies have limited barriers of entry. Basically, they're too easy to start and just as easy to stop.

Here's a great article that describes the current sad state of domestic service companies.

Make sure that you read the last sentence twice.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Customer Feedback

Customers select our company because we pay our employees based on their performance in a home. Our customer's level of satisfaction directly determines our employee's level of compensation. This system works only if we receive customer feedback.

Last week, 1 out of every 4 customers solicited feedback to us. That's not good. We need your input. We need your help. Without your feedback, we're just like everybody else.

If you're a prospective customer, don't forget that we need your opinion in order to make our services effective. Give us feedback as much as possible.

If you're a current customer, remember why you chose us in the first place. You liked our pay for performance plan. Start measuring our performance.

Our system works. It has been proven. But it only works if you hold up your end of the bargain.

We currently either contact a customer by telephone or email. If you have a better idea, please don't hesitate to tell us. As usual, your feedback is important to us.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Pay For Performance Catching On

The Transportation Security Administration has just launched a new pay for performance compensation plan for baggage screeners. The goal of the program is to reduce staff turnover and improve employee morale.

According to the article, TSA screeners have had little chance to advance in their jobs, and many have quit because they did not see a way to qualify for promotions. For a time, one in five full-time screeners were leaving, driving up hiring and training costs.

The housecleaning industry isn't alone. Turnover is high any business that doesn't present challenges. You can't just pay someone an hourly wage and them tell them to go do their job. Not even if your job is to save lives. Those days are over.

People need goals. People need incentives. People need a reason to work.

Don't believe me? Listen to what this current baggage screener has to say about her new job.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Case Study Of A Maid Service Company

The vast majority of maid service companies compete in one area: price. They try to be cheaper than everybody else. I've discussed this subject in the past.

I guess this maid service didn't listen to me. Here's how this maid service got itself in trouble. (My opinion at least)

Step 1: The owners of the business needed to get their phones to ring. They needed customers in order to pay the bills. They figured that the fastest way to profitability would be to be cheaper than everybody else. So, they lowered their prices.

Step 2: The owners quickly found out that there wasn't much money left after they paid their employees. They figured that they needed to lower their wages in order to continue pricing their services so low. So, they lowered their wages to minimum wage.

Step 3: The owners quickly found out that nobody wanted to work for minimum wage. They figured that the only way to make this system work was to recruit immigrants from other countries. They figured they would work for next to nothing. So, they started hiring immigrants.

Step 4: The owners started making money. Sure, they never made anybody happy. But they didn't need to make anybody happy. As soon as they lost a customer, they would gain a customer. Because they were cheaper than everybody else.

Step 5: The owners got greedy. They started making their employees "independent contractors". Heck, their employees couldn't even speak English. What would they know about legal rights? They figured that they could make each employee a subcontractor; thereby bypassing cash-consuming employee rights laws. So, their company became a two employee company (i.e., the two owners)

Step 6: The owners got caught. And now they're paying the price. All $1.8 million of it.

Here's a quote from one of the owners:

"Rubio said she and her husband provided the department with information that showed they hired independent contractors and are exempt from wage requirements. "If we show (that we aren't breaking the law), I don't know why (the department) made this decision," she said. "This is a difficult time for us."

So goes the life a maid service company that competes on price. You have to sacrifice something in order to be cheaper than everybody else.

There's one, maybe more than one, in your neighborhood right now. Your neighbor picked them because they were cheaper than us. She's laughing at you because you paid us a lot more than she's paying. But you'll get the last laugh. Something will go wrong. It always does.

You get what you pay for.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Mops

Selecting a mop may be more difficult than you imagined. Here's a primer on the art of mop selection. If selecting a mop is boring to you, just call us. We'll do it for you.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Piggyback

Here's a radical thought. Individual housecleaners couldn't survive without professional cleaning companies. They need us.

Individual housecleaners come and go. They quit their business just as quick as they start it. They get pregnant and quit cleaning. They marry and move out of town. Some get too old. Some just simply quit. And then you call us. Because you're sick of hiring Suzie from down the street.

You need a reliable cleaning service. You need to know that we'll be there when we say we'll be there. You need us and you're willing to pay more to get us.

But Suzie is born everyday. And Suzie knows what our rates are. And Suzie knows that if she just charges a little bit less, she'll have plenty of work in no time. And Suzie's right. Suzie's right because people don't perceive our business as a "real" business. Heck, it's just housecleaning. Until they hire Suzie.

You see, Suzie really needs us. Suzie couldn't make $30 per hour anywhere else if it weren't for us.

Here's your challenge. Don't hire us! Hire Suzie first. Create your cleaning schedule. And then watch what happens. When it happens, call us. Then you'll understand why we charge more than Suzie.

Get off my back Suzie.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Dangers Of House Cleaning

Cleaning your home isn't normally regarded as "dangerous". Most people consider the physical demands of the job as the biggest obstacle when it comes to safety. However, what you're using as a cleaning agent can be very dangerous.

The world's most dangerous cleaning agent is bleach. Two Maids & A Mop doesn't use bleach because it causes way too many problems. It damages skin, causes respiratory problems, and burns throats, eyes, and tongues. Not to mention the adverse effects it has on fabrics and carpets. It discolors everything in its sight. For every one good thing bleach produces, it produces ten bad things.

There's other nasty cleaning agents out there. Some agents cause harm to everybody and others cause harm to just a few people. The best way to determine if your cleaning agent is safe for use in your home is to read the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Here is the MSDS for Windex. You don't need to be a chemist to understand the MSDS. Take the time to read each MSDS before you use any cleaning agent in your home.

One healthy way to clean your home is to call Two Maids & A Mop. Each of our cleaning products are safe for use in almost every home. The only exception may be allergic reactions to odors such as lemon. If you don't live in our cleaning area, follow this lady's advice.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Little Known Secret

Most cleaning companies always include one important word to every advertisement or sales pitch. The word - BONDED.

The word is worthless. A janitorial services bond is designed to protect consumers in case of theft of property or money from their home. The little known secret is that the employee must be convicted in order for the bond to pay out any money.

Conviction of a dishonest employee is difficult. There is typically no physical proof that the employee committed a crime. It's the classic case of "he said-she said".

Two Maids & A Mop is also bonded. We need a conviction just like everybody else. So what should a consumer do to protect themselves? This is what we tell our clients.

1. Hide any valuables such as money, jewelry, or other expensive items.
2. Claim your valuables on your homeowner's insurance. Your homeowner's policy doesn't require conviction.
3. Contact us as soon as possible. Time is crucial.
4. Trust Us!

Why should you trust us? We hire better, quality employees because we pay higher than anyone else in town. We never hire a person that has been convicted of theft, fraud, or violent crimes. We don't just hire anybody. And every employee is required to read a case study on a criminal case involving theft by a housecleaner. Basically, we scare the heck out of them. The best reason:

Two Maids & A Mop has cleaned more than 15,000 homes and offices since 2003. We've had two theft claims against our employees; or .01% of all our clients claim that we stole something from them.

The proof is in the pudding. You can trust us!

Ask your current provider why you should trust them?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Not Your Normal Cleaning Service

Two Maids & A Mop is proud to say that we are not your normal cleaning service. The most obvious deviation from our industry is the pay for performance compensation plan. Our customer's satisfaction directly determines our employee's level of compensation.

In Canada, there's another cleaning service that also wants to deviate from the crowd. This cleaning company not only cleans, but it also saves birds. That's right. When you hire this cleaning company, you're saving a bird's life. Here's a quote:

"And it's not just a few birds," says Smylie, citing statistics that show bird collisions with buildings account for between one hundred million and one billion bird deaths across North America each year.

Many of the fatal collisions occur during the day, after the birds have been attracted to the urban landscape at night. "Unbeknownst to them, the very tree that they're flying into next is a reflection of the tree they just left and they end up hitting a window," explains Mesure.

Who knew that those night-time cleaning companies were unknowingly killing millions of birds each year?

And I thought that Two Maids & A Mop was different!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Interview With A Customer Service Guru

Two Maids & A Mop is serious about customer service. We work hard to prove to our customers that we are the most customer friendly housecleaning company in the world. We learn more and more everyday about how we can improve our customer service experience. We're not perfect yet, but we're working on it.

We recently interviewed Glen Ross. Glen is a customer service expert and he publishes a blog called Customer Service Experience. Here's what Glen had to say about customer service.

What prompted you to start a blog about customer service?
Stupid managers at a national department store. A little over a year ago, my day job included staff training and development as well as helping our division phase in Constituent (or Customer) Relationship Management. Having a background in sales and sales management, I have long had an interest in customer service. Standing in line one day at a major department store, I witnessed extremely poor customer service. I don’t blame the employees, I hold their managers responsible. The light bulb went on and several days later I launched my first blog.

What is the worst customer service that you have ever received?
Oh hey. I’ve been a customer for more than 45 years ever since I used to buy nickel Cokes at Ragland’s Drugstore in Tutwiler, MS. The brain has a marvelous capacity to forget pain. But the most blatant was the manager of a big box electronics store telling me he wouldn’t give me a refund because he’d have to take a $160 markdown. This after I’d spent more than $5000 in his store.

What is the best customer service that you have ever received?
I’ve had several marvelous experiences shopping at Nordstrom’s. I received very professional service from the staff at Dale Carnegie. I’ve arranged several conferences at the Omni Hotel in Las Colinas, TX near DFW airport. Yesterday the teenager at the fast food restaurant drive-through window did not screw up my order.

Have you ever hired a housecleaning company before? If so, what was your opinion of the service?
No, I haven’t. In my home, we consider dust to be a furniture preservative. The problem with housecleaning is, once you do it, six months later you have to do it all over again.

If you owned a housecleaning business, what is the first thing that you would do to improve customer service?
I’d apprentice to you for a year or so. But since you live in Florida, and I don’t, I think I would talk to customers and potential customers to identify their expectations. Then I’d work up a strategy to exceed them. That might require examining the skills my employees would need and then hire people with those skills.

Why is the worst customer service usually found in the service sector?
I wasn’t aware that government was part of the service sector. Poor customer service in the service sector probably results from employees hired for their ability to perform tasks, not hired for their ability to relate to people. But management ultimately bears the responsibility because they’re focused on areas other than customer service.

Will customer service be any better 20 years from now?
Darn right it will be! My blog, Customer Service Experience, will be the most widely read in the blogosphere with people rushing away from their computers to implement every idea they’ve found there. Couple that with the fact that Two Maids And A Mop will have spread worldwide (or as you’ll like to say, “throughout the known universe”) as professors at Harvard Business School compare your influence in the service sector to Microsoft’s in the software industry. (I could go on, but I’m a humble guy.)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Measuring The Intangible

Somebody always wins a baseball game and somebody always crosses the finish line first. In each case, the winner is measured by real results.

Customer service is not real. It's imaginary and subjective. What one customer thinks is good service, another thinks is bad service. How can anyone place a value on the level of customer service?

It's simple. Just ask each customer to rate their satisfaction on a scale from 1-10. Calculate an average of each customer's response to account for subjectivity. Then correspond the average to a sliding scale.

That's how you measure the intangible. That's how we roll.