Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My Kind Of A CEO

Last week, I talked about the abuse of personal privileges granted to The Bank of America CEO. The CEO of a company leads by example. Enter Ingvar Kamprad. The Warren Buffett of Sweden.

You run your company like you run your life. Your employees see how you live. They follow you.

As a CEO, you don't get to clock out. You shouldn't expect to. There's a reason you make more money than anyone else.

I'm the owner of Two Maids & A Mop. We're a small company. My employees see me everyday. They see how I dress, eat, and live. My personality is the same personality that my business possesses. Why should a Fortune 500 CEO act any different than a small business owner?

One word: greed.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Tales From The First Week

The first week of our new location in Panama City has come and gone. There were some highlights and lowlights.

Highlights:
The week started out with a bang. We attracted a lot of buzz with our grand opening promotion. Calls kept rolling in during the entire week. We even had a few people decide to drive to our office. It's safe to say that the cleaning industry is awake in Panama City now. We've been alive six days now and we're already serving nearly 20 customers per week. Unbelievable!

Lowlights:
Turnover has reared its ugly head. We've already lost three employees. Each employee has her own story, but it doesn't make it any easier. This job is certainly not for everyone. Some people think that it is too hard, some people think that it is too dirty, and some people think that it is too strict. Getting paid for performance is brand new for most of our employees. Sometimes, you just have to face reality. Our reality is that the cleaning industry has an abnormally high turnover level. That's obviously going to be our toughest struggle. We've been there before and we'll get there. Growing a business doesn't happen overnight.

We learned a lot during this week. We'll use that knowledge when we open our next location. Stay tuned for the next victim.

Friday, March 24, 2006

My Ultimate Goal In Business

A man without a goal is a man without direction. This isn't groundbreaking news. Yet, most people wander aimlessly in their personal and professional lives everyday. While in college, I learned that you must set a goal if you expect to achieve any type of success. Success doesn't always mean that you need to reach the goal. The fight towards the goal is sometimes more rewarding than the reward itself.

My ultimate goal in business is to be acquired by my hero's company, Berkshire Hathaway. Warren Buffett is my hero and I try to run my business as if he were my boss. I've never met him and I doubt that I ever will meet him. However, every decision that I make is based on the assumption that he is watching me. This may sound a little weird to you some of you. Heck, it sounds a little weird to me once I think about it. But, it works.

There's only one way to be purchased by Berkshire Hathaway. Warren Buffett tells you how right here. We've obviously got a long way to go. A real long way. But that's what goals are for.

Find your goal. Work toward it every day. You may or may not achieve your goal. It doesn't matter. The most important part is the struggle.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Customer Evangelism

A happy customer is more valuable than any investment that you make in your advertising program. One happy customer could turn into multiple customers. It's called customer evangelism.

On the other side of the customer coin is negative customer evangelism. Here's an example of one customer that's created a community of unhappy customers. Sure, this is a little extreme. But, it happens everyday in neighborhoods and workplaces across America.

A busy work day brings lots of stress and problems. The most important thing that you should do everyday is make your customers happy. The other stuff can wait. It just doesn't seem like it at the time.

Everything has an equation:

Happy Customer + Network of Friends = Word of Mouth Advertising

Best of all, word of mouth advertising is free.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

America's CEO

The CEO for a Fortune 500 company makes about $10 million on average. That's a lot of money. A recent news article discussed the pay package for The Bank of America CEO.

It reports that he received $22 million last year to run the company, which included $83,000 for personal use of the company jet. Personal use! When did the guy actually work in the home office? When did he get something done? Using my crude calculations, that's about 100 trips a year assuming that each fare was at least $750 (first class of course). Keep in mind that these are personal trips. Don't forget there's probably an equal amount of work-related trips.

Apparently, investors don't think he did much of anything last year either. The share price for the company remained stagnant from year end 2004 to 2005. In my opinion, a leader leads by example. What if this guy was paid based on his performance? Would he be traveling 100 times per year? Or, would he be working?

Corporate America would be wise to start utilizing more pay for performance programs for its executives. The article briefly states that more corporations are moving in that direction. The movement needs to speed up.

Pay for performance works. It works for the Fortune 500 CEO and for the TwoMaids housecleaner. Positive energies are created because the person has the ability to write their own paycheck. Low pay or benefits is the result of one person: that person is you.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

350

That's how many phone calls we received yesterday for the grand opening in Panama City. It's safe to say that yesterday was a screaming success. It's also safe to say that we woke the housecleaning industry up yesterday in Panama City.

Things were good for the industry. The status quo had remained steadfast for years, maybe decades. There weas no reason to fix a broken system because everybody else used the broken system.

Enter TwoMaids and its pay for performance plan. The game is now changed.

To all of our new competitors, welcome to the new game. To all of our new customers, welcome to the way it's supposed to be.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Grand Opening

Next Monday is March 20th. Just another Monday for most people. For me, it's the most exciting day of my life. It's the official grand opening of our newest office in Panama City.

We've hired the employees. We've stocked the office. And we've designed our game plan. All we need now is a customer. Today is your lucky day if you live in Panama City.

We're giving away $2 housecleanings to the first 60 qualified homeowners. The deal is so good that the entire city of Panama City will be calling us by this time Friday morning. If your're reading this before Friday, hurry up and call. You've got a headstart on everybody else. Every radio station and newspaper in the area will be promoting the giveaway. Call (850) 769-6646 and claim your $2 housecleaning.

I feel bad for the other housecleaning companies in Panama City. They don't know what's coming.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Top Ten Complaints About The Housecleaning Industry

These complaints may be useful to you if you're currently searching for a housecleaner. Ask each housecleaning company that you call to address these complaints. Listen for the long silence afterwards.

1. The cleaning starts our great, but it gets worse and worse over time.
2. My cleaners are never on time. Sometimes, they miss days entirely.
3. The cleaners make the same mistakes over and over again.
4. No one ever answers the phone.
5. The cleaners won't clean your dishes.
6. The cleaners tend to dust around items instead of underneath items.
7. The cleaners seem to be getting more and more comfortable inside your home (i.e., watching TV, eating your food, spending too much time talking to you)
8. The company never contacts you to determine your satisfaction.
9. The company doesn't seem to care when you voice concerns.
10. The cleaners only stay in my home for a short time.

Not to boast, but we have an answer for each of these complaints.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Unhappy Customer

Perfect delivery of your service is impossible. However, perfect delivery of your customer service is very possible. Consistent customer satisfaction is achieved when a company's culture is centered around the customer.

This customer expected a clean house. Instead, he got a headache. And he let the whole world know it. What should have the cleaning company done to provide better customer service?

Several cleaning mistakes were made during the first visit. Every cleaning company in the world makes cleaning mistakes. You can teach and preach all you want, but humans make mistakes. Mistakes don't occur just once; they occur over and over again. That's what we humans do. We repeat history. So, why not have a plan of action ready for all of your most common mistakes? I know a little, tiny maid service company that does it this way.

The customer in this example didn't feel like the company cared. Sure, they sent out another cleaning team to correct the initial mistakes. But, that didn't help because the second cleaning team made just as many mistakes. People accept mistakes. People don't accept laziness. This cleaning company was lazy. It tried to fix the problem without actually putting forth any effort.

It all starts at the top. A company's culture is defined by its leaders. The little guy only cares if the big guy cares too.

An employee needs to be empowered in order to make a positive contribution. An employee is empowered when you give them responsibility. We empower our employees by letting them write their own paycheck. They know that customer satisfaction is the only thing that matters in our business.

Customer satisfaction is produced when management acts like a leader and when employee's feel like they are a part of the business.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Turning An Industry Upside Down

Ever heard of a bio-diesel car rental agency?

The reason that you've never heard of one is because this an industry first. This company did the opposite of everybody else.

How To Turn An Industry Upside Down

Create positives out of your industry negatives. Or, just do the opposite of everybody else.

The housecleaning industry suffers from astronomical employee turnover levels. It's been this way since the inception of our industry. The problem continues today because the industry continues to use the same, tired compensation policy. TwoMaids doesn't. And we're turning the housecleaning industry upside down.

The housecleaning industry is not perceived as a professional trade. Why should the industry be respected? Nobody is ever on time. Nobody ever seems to care when you complain. Worse, nobody ever really looks professional. TwoMaids does. And we're turning the housecleaning industry upside down.

The housecleaning industry's number one complaint is that everything starts out good, but then gets worse over time. That's called human nature. Human nature occurs when there is no checks and balances. There's only one company that has a pay for performance plan in the housecleaning industry. You know who that is. Our first cleaning is just as important as our 100th cleaning.

We're doing the opposite of everybody else. And we're turning the housecleaning industry upside down.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

On Losing

We lose customers. We lose customers because they move out of town. We lose customers because they can't afford us any longer. We lose customers for all sorts of reasons. However, the most common reason that we lose a customer is because we failed to let them know how much we care.

Mistakes happen. Problems arise. Poor work ethic even occurs every now and then. But, we can erase each of the failures by simply letting the customer know that we care. Most customers can accept failure as long as they know you care enough to make the failure right.

I used to get sick to my stomach when we lost a customer because of our actions. I hated to think that someone classified us in the same manner as the rest of the cleaning industry. I still get sick today. But, I've learned something along the way. Instead of feeling sorry myself, I educate myself.

What went wrong? Why did the customer not recognize our high level of caring? Losing isn't easy, but it can actually turn into a strength if you let it.

Losing can go in two directions. The negative response is to do nothing and keep losing. The positive response is to change something and quit losing in that manner.

I used to choose the negative response. It sucked. I now choose the positive response. It helps.