Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Free Housecleaning For Bluewater Bay Residents

Last month, we offered our services for free to anyone that lived within the Bay Point subdivision in Panama City.

This month, we're offering our services for free again. To qualify, you must meet two requirements:

1. You must live within the Bluewater Bay subdivision in Niceville.
2. You must contact us before September 2, 2006.

It's that simple. Is today your lucky day?

Monday, August 28, 2006

How To Open Your Own Two Maids & A Mop


Two Maids & A Mop has three locations today. That's a far cry from the three customers we had just over three years ago. We've learned a lot from those humble beginnings. And we know a lot now.

We know that we have a unique operating model that is unparralleled in our industry. We know that customers get sold in seconds once they hear about our pay for performance plan. And we know that we can make the pay for performance program work in multiple cities.

Our next goal is to expand into even more cities. To do this, we need you. If you need us, click here.

Friday, August 25, 2006

One Reason

You go to the same grocery store for one reason. You eat at the same restaurant for one reason. You keep hiring the same housecleaning service for one reason.

Or, you change grocery stores all the time. Or, you change restaurants all the time. Or, you change housecleaning services all the time. If you do, you don't have one reason.

That's how simple it is. A consumer decides to give a business hundreds of dollars just because of one simple reason. It could be that the grocery store is close to home. It could be that the restaurant serves your favorite dish. And it could be that the housecleaning service shows up on time every time.

In our case, we have one big reason. It's the pay for performance program. People keep hiring us to clean their home because they know that we care. Our proof is that we let our customers tell us what to pay our employees.

That being said, some customers keep hiring us for all sorts of other reasons. We show up on time every time. We pick up the phone first when they call for a quote. And some people hire us because we're close to their home (that one still doesn't make any sense to me).

You can't make a consumer listen. You can't force a consumer to hire you. But you can give that consumer reasons to hire you. Give them enough reasons and they may need you for that reason.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tips On Hiring Household Help


Hiring a housecleaner may seem quick and simple. And it can be. But it can also be tiresome and frustrating. One question that should also be on this list. How can you guarantee my satisfaction?

Tips For Hiring Household Help

In The News

Two Maids & A Mop was profiled in the Pensacola Business Journal this week. Click below to read the story.


Success Story

Monday, August 21, 2006

Customer Advisory Board Meeting Notes


Another informative and fun Customer Advisory Board meeting has come and gone. We had five attendees this time and I think everyone had a good time. Read the notes.......


PensacolaCAB.pdf

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Rest Of The Story


Perry Phillips Interview Continued........

4. What are the biggest problems facing the housecleaning industry?

There are several that greatly affect this industry. But I will touch on what I feel are the top two:

1. Mind set: Employees and business owners with low self-esteem. I even get this from owners with annual sales over a million dollars. People need to realize that this is a viable industry and if you run it like a real business, there is a lot of money to make. It can be a great business opportunity.

2. Under the table cleaners: While the old time day-helper is a thing of the past, there is a new breed of entrepreneur out there cleaning homes for cash under the table. People are out there that do not carry insurance and do not pay taxes, and in some horrible cases that could go very wrong. Most customers are unaware of the risk involved with doing business with these people. I feel strongly that as an association we need to do all that we can to educate the customer so that they can make better informed decisions.

5. Where do you see the industry 10 years from now? Will we all be trying to fix the same problems as today?

No, there is a great sense of ingenuity in the industry now, more vendors and suppliers are taking notice of what we are doing. There are more options and tools emerging that fit exactly what our owners need to build their businesses and run them more efficiently.
If we pull together and work hard as an association, the two problems I mentioned above will cease to exist. We need to educate each other and educate the customers!

6. What are the most common misconceptions about a housecleaning company?

That it is not a legitimate business and that people actually clean homes because they can’t do anything else!

7. What questions should every consumer ask before hiring a housecleaning company?

1. Are you licensed?
2. Do you carry proper insurance- General liability and worker’s comp?
3. How do you hire your people- what is your screening process/ background checks
4. How do you train your people?
5. Will you guarantee my satisfaction?

We actually have an extensive consumer education section on the ARCSI website.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Interview With A Maid Service Pioneer


Perry Phillips is a pioneer. Perry is the founder of The Association of Residential Cleaning Services International (ARCSI). Attorneys have their association. Plumbers even have their own association. But cleaning companies have historically been disrespected because many view it as a simple job. As a result, nobody really ever thought that an association could help. Heck, it's just cleaning after all. But Perry came along and started one. And he's done a great thing. Professionals from across the country now know that their daily problems aren't unique. We all have them. We're not quite as inefficient as we originally thought. I recently interviewed Perry and asked him a few questions concerning his past and the future of the cleaning industry. It's a two part series. Here's part one.

1. How did you get started in the residential cleaning industry?

I started my first residential cleaning company when I was 19. The idea for it came while I was in high school and involved with DECA, Distributed Educational Clubs of America. One of our class assignments was to write a business plan, make an appointment with a banker, the whole nine yards. I chose to write mine on a maid service, which was virtually unheard of in the relatively small town I lived in. I chose it because it was different. I got a great grade and even entered it in the state competition where I won and participated on the national level. (I didn’t do so well there, was too focused on being in California and having too much fun).

After one long hard year in college, like most students I needed a break - so I took a semester off. While at home doing nothing I received strong “encouragement” from my mom to either go back to school or get a job.

Two of her friends had been complaining that their cleaning person was unreliable and doing a lousy job, and I also had a friend complain that she had a dead-end job. I decided to play middleman and put them together and take a cut! It worked great. Within a month our little enterprise had several customers. Business was booming and in no time there was more work than we could handle. I was even cleaning homes - which I did not anticipate doing. The plan was for me to be involved until I went back to college and she would keep the clients/ business. Well, my friend ended up meeting a guy and leaving town, and I was faced with a dilemma. I had more clients than I could handle, more wanted service, so I did the most logical thing I could think of. I ditched school all together and started hiring people to grow my new business. By the time I was 22 I had 25 employees!

2. What changes have you seen since you started in the industry?

Many! The industry has come a long way. I have been involved in the residential cleaning industry for almost 16 years and the biggest change I have seen is the customer base growing so quickly. More and more people are realizing that hiring a service is not necessarily a luxury, but in many cases a necessity. It can give them back quality time in their lives. Another significant change is the level of professionalism among business owners. Even though my first experience in the industry, like many successful owners, was very humble beginnings, there are now more people with corporate and professional backgrounds getting into the industry.

3. What prompted you to start the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International?

Mostly frustration. While I did enjoy some success with my cleaning service, it was only mediocre success compared to what I see many ARCSI members doing today. Like many young, green business owners, I learn too much the hard way. I kept hitting a wall with my business. I would reach a certain level and could not get past that. That frustrated me and caused me to bail out more than once. I’m not sure if the industry followed me or I went back to it, but nonetheless I was there. Then a great thing happened - the internet! As I started to dig in and look for the missing piece of the puzzle I realized something. When I found a new idea, or put a few things together that made sense to me, I got more satisfaction out of sharing it with others than implementing them myself.

I subscribed to every trade journal I could find, and bought every book I could get my hands on. Then one Sunday on my boat, surrounded by all my current trade journals, I had a eureka light bulb moment; the residential cleaning industry needed this, and I was the person to do it. It took two years to get my plan/ideas to the point I could act on them. Once I did, it really started to take off and less than 6 months into it I sold my last business, and dived into the association work full time.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mystery Maid

A cleaning service cleans the wrong house. The story is funny, but how did the cleaning service not catch this problem? One reason: communication.

What if the cleaning company had contacted the "right" customer to determine her satisfaction? What if the cleaning company had sent something in the mail to the "right" person? What if the cleaning company would have contacted the "right" customer before the next visit to confirm the appointment?

There's lots of other ways. The main point. Communication with your customers is the first step toward making them happy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Working In The Lab


I used to work here everyday. That's me to the right. Doesn't my lab coat make me look smart?

In my old job, I talked about particle sizing, mercury porosimetry, surface area measurement, and gas adsorption. I talked to professors, chemical engineers, and scientists on a daily basis. I was the manager of a contract laboratory. And I loved it. And least the business aspect of it.

I now own a maid service company. About as far from mercury porosimetry as you can get. Or is it?

My job was to perform a service....to satisfy someone's needs. That's exactly what we do here at Two Maids & A Mop. We satisfy someone's needs. We make people happy.

A service is a service. No matter if you're cleaning a toilet or cleaning a beaker. You're job is to serve that customer and to satisfy that customer.

I learned a lot at Micromeritics. Yeah, I learned that you can eliminate atmospheric vapors from a small particle by purging the particle with helium. But my most important lesson dealt with a simple concept. Customer Service.

People like being satisfied. No matter how smart they are.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Scroll Down To The Next Article

If you're reading this, stop and scroll down to the next post and then come back to this post.

Ok, you now know that Two Maids & A Mop isn't perfect and we don't make everybody happy. Here's our take on the story.

1. We increased our rates so that we could afford our new pay for performance plan. Some customers thought that we just fattened our wallets. Our average wage increased from $6.50 per hour to $9.00 per hour in one week. I don't know how else to explain it??

2. If there's one certainty about our company, it's this: we will not send the same people every time. Yeah, we try to make this happen. Heck, it makes our life easier too. But it's impossible and impractical. Some of our customers receive the same two people every time. Most don't. There's certain realities that you must know. This is reality #1.

3. The customer mentioned three complaints. We messed up. We're not happy, but it happens.

4. The customer spoke to me about complaints. At the time, she was still very unhappy with our price increase. I listened. I promise you. I want to listen to you. Maybe I was having a bad day, I don't know???

5. She's found someone else to clean her house. That's fine. I understand because we're not for everybody. But I find it interesting that the new cleaning lady charges more than we do.

If you're a current customer, please keep providing feedback. We want to hear every thing that you have to say about our services. You can email (two_maids@yahoo.com), you can fax, or you can simply call us. This customer no longer needs us, but we can learn from our mistakes since she voiced her concerns.

If you're a potential customer, let this serve as an example. We need constant feedback from you in order to make the pay for performance plan work. Without your help, we're just like everybody else. This customer said it best, "The same time you had your rate increase you also initiated your grading system. This could be a good thing - if it worked." There's no reason to hire us if you don't plan on participating in the pay for performance plan.

If you're this upset customer, let me apologize. I wish that we could have done more to prove to you that we really do care more than anyone else. We failed miserably and we're embarrassed.

We're Not For Everybody


I'll prove it to you. Here's a letter from a very dissatisfied customer.

"This letter is to let you know what my dissatisfactions have been with your company and my reasons for discontinuing your employment. I have been a client of yours for 5 or 6 years - probably longer.

My biggest complaint started with your rate increase. A WHOPPING 22%. Rate increases are expected almost everywhere. I don't live with my head in the sand. All of your excuses for this size of an increase will not hold water with me. And don't tell me about dissatisfied employees - I work in a Human Resources environment.

I changed my schedule with Two Maids and A Mop from bi-weekly to monthly. I used to have the same people every time. Then you started sending different people every time. For the last year I have probably had the same people (or one of the two) who had been here before two times all year.

In July 2006 I told the 2 who were here that morning that I had company coming and they should do a really good job in the living areas. I came home to find they had not touched the den. I had to get my daughter over here to do the den floors for me .

In June your good cleaners did the same thing with the kitchen floor. I have scatter rugs in the kitchen and they had not been moved - vacuumed - or shaken out. I also had to change all the lightbulbs in the chandelier because the duster they used got burned on the hot light bulbs. This really made my house smell good!

Then there was the time one of these ladies asked me for a tip!!! I understand she is no longer with your company but after that I started hiding the tray I toss coins into.

The same time you had your rate increase you also initiated your grading system. This could be a good thing - if it worked. The first time I called with a rating of less than perfect I was given the third degree by the gentleman I was talking to. My impression of this conversation was that I must have done something that would have caused this rating - it certainly could not have been any of his employees. There after my complaints were almost non-existant.

It has been a long time since I have seen evidence of anyone from your office coming to critique the crews work. Perhaps your monthly clients don't rate this service.

Your company was very good about having the crew at my house before 7:30 AM.

I have been very unhappy with having a new crew every month. I feel your company has not been trying to keep me as a client since I complained about your 22% rate increase.

I have hired someone else to do my cleaning and will no longer need the services of Two Maids and A Mop. Yes, I will be paying more for their services - however - I have seen her work and she knows how to clean a house!!"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fly By The Nights

Opening a maid service company is easy. It doesn't take a lot of money. It doesn't take a lot of time. It doesn't even take a lot of guts. It doesn't take a lot of guts because most people don't risk anything in order to get started. Quitting is just as easy as starting.

Take a look at this discussion forum. There's a lot of confused maid service owners out there. Based on this forum, many owners don't even know the difference between a bond and a general liability policy. That's because most owners don't have either one. Not that it matters.

Many of these owners seem frustrated. They're frustrated that their business is taking too long to get off the ground. They want it all right now. Why? Because they started their business in one day. It didn't take any planning. It didn't take anything but a trip to Wal-Mart.

These fly by the night maid service companies have their advantages. For one, they're cheaper than most other maid service companies. That's a pretty big advantage. But, remember...you get what you pay for. The obvious ignorance displayed by this discussion forum proves that there's a lot of confused owners out there. When times get tough, they may just pack up and quit. After all, they don't really have anything to lose. No, the person that has something to lose is you...the customer. You've got to go out and find another company again. You have two choices:

1. Keep hiring the cheapest provider and keep repeating the inevitable cycle
2. Start paying a little bit more and stop the cycle

Supply always meets demand at some point. When does your demand need our supply?

You'll know when.