Wednesday, October 11, 2006

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?

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