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.