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. 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?