Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Company Party

The fourth annual TwoMaids company party was held this past Friday night in Destin.

This year was a far cry from our first attempt at a company party. It consisted of three employees. One of them being me. The other two being two very valuable employees. It was held at Whataburger. A fast food joint. Not too exciting. Or fun.

The second attempt was a little better. It still only consisted of four employees. And it was held at a steak house in Pensacola. A little better. But still not too much fun.

The third attempt was even better. We had five employees present and we held it at a seafood restaurant in Navarre. The food was great. And it was even a little fun that night.

This year we invited 24 employees from Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, and Panama City. We took it one step farther this year. Each employee could bring their family or friends with them. The party was held at a Japanese restaurant in Destin. The food was excellent. And it was very fun.

And that's the name of the game. Work hard, but play hard too.

I can't wait until next year. Every year has got to be trumped.

More Pictures From The Company Party

How To Clean Your Ear

No. We're not adding this service to our business any time soon. But you're welcome to try it at home. Or just use a Q-tip.

Click Here To Clean Your Ear

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Profit Sharing Plan

The pay for performance plan gets talked about a lot here. By now, you should know that our company's success can be primarily attributed to the plan. Without it, we'd be in a world of hurt. Sort of like our first year. Stagnant sales, terrible customer service, and negative employee morale. Not exactly the kind of culture we were looking for back then. But something happened one day. An epiphany of sorts. Out of the blue, we came up with a great idea.

Start aligning the interests of our employees with the interest of our customers. And in that one instance, Two Maids & A Mop was reborn. All because of one simple idea.

But there is one other reason that our business has succeeded. At each location, we have an Operations Manager. Their job isn't easy. They're supposed to do just about everything. They train new employees. They hire and fire employees. They sell the service. They schedule jobs. They listen to customers. They purchase supplies. They keep track of payroll. And they've been known to clean every now and then too.

No doubt, the Operations Manager is important. They run the business. They're running the business right now while I'm typing here. So I'm nothing without them.

And that's why I started a similar program as the pay for performance plan. Each Operations Manager receives 20% of the location's profits. So one dollar out of every five will wind up in their pockets. The Operations Manager is not my employee.

The Operations Manager is my partner. Because that's what partners do. They share. They share information. They share work. They share responsibilities. They share everything.

That's why Melissa gets excited when we sign up a new customer. That's why Elicia gets nervous when we don't fully satisfy a customer. That's why Colleen still claps when we break sales records month after month.

Thank you Colleen. Thank you Elicia. Thank you Melissa. Thanks for making our business the most customer friendly housecleaning company in the world.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Cleaning Service Underworld

There out there. Lurking in your neighborhood. Dropping off fliers. Just waiting for someone to take the bait. And inevitably, somebody does.

The bait is of course money. Because that's their only competitive advantage. If they weren't cheaper than your current maid, then they would be no reason to hire them. But the reality is that they aren't really cheaper.

They aren't cheaper because something always goes wrong. And that something always costs you more money in the long run. Look at the two examples below if you need proof. Or just look at the mug shot to your right. That was somebody's cleaning crew in south Florida.

Click here to read this article.

Now click here to read this article.

No, just because your maid is cheaper than Two Maids & A Mop doesn't mean that she is a thief. It doesn't mean that she is an illegal immigrant either.

It does mean that there is a reason that she is cheaper than Two Maids & A Mop. It could mean that she isn't insured. It could mean that she doesn't have workers' compensation. It could mean that she doesn't report her income. It could mean that she doesn't expect to clean for you very long. And it could mean one other really big thing.

It could mean that her low price is all she's got
. Because she can't promise to be on-time every time. She can't promise to listen to your feedback every time. She can't promise to rearrange your cleaning visit because your in bed sick today. She can't even promise that she'll show up next week.

But Two Maids & A Mop can. And that's why we get to charge more for our service. Because we're worth it. Because you're worth it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On Not Being Called A Maid.......

Click here to read an article about a housecleaning company in St. Louis. The article doesn't really convey any great advice or useful information. Basically, it's the same old story that you can read just about every day in some newspaper throughout the country.

However, the owner of the cleaning company makes an interesting statement. Here's what the owner said......

"Bernstein makes the distinction that his employees aren't maids."

Now I've heard this quoted before. And I still don't understand why it's such a big deal. If your employees aren't maids, then what are they? Are they housecleaners? Are they cleaning professionals? Are they home care specialists? Are they home service technicians? Is there really any difference?

Your employees aren't stupid. They know that they are hired to mop floors. They know that they are hired to clean toilets. They know that they are hired to clean house. They know that they are a maid. No matter what you want to call them.

In college, I worked as an engineering technician. What a fancy title, right? Let me tell you, there was nothing fancy about it. I dug ditches. No matter what my employer wanted to call me, I knew that I still had to dig ditches. Everyday.

And that was okay. Because I was getting paid pretty good. A lot better than many of my friends. So I worked there for a long time. But not because I was an engineering technician. Nope. Not at all. I worked there because I liked the money.

Our name is Two Maids & A Mop. We hire maids. Not just any maids though. These maids make more money than any other maid in town. If you're currently employed as a home service professional at one of our competitors, give us a call. My hunch is that being called a maid isn't such a big deal to you.

Monday, January 22, 2007

150 Cleaning Tips For Your Home

You could always just hire Two Maids & A Mop to clean your home. But if sweating and scrubbing is your thing.........

Click Here To Get 150 Cleaning Tips

Click here to find out which tip I needed to use yesterday afternoon.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Black Hole Of Housecleaners

The black hole is Craigslist. Here's a list of classified ads for housecleaners in Atlanta-Miami-Tampa-Denver-Las Vegas-Chicago. The list could go on and on. And does it ever......The point is that there's no shortage of housecleaners. They're everywhere.

And that's exactly why customers expect a lot out of their housecleaner. Because there really are limitless choices. The thought is that you can just simply hire somebody else when something doesn't go right. The problem with that thought is that something will always go wrong.

For some, hopping from one housecleaner to the next is no big deal. For others, it's a deliberate process that they wish would go away. They want to hire one housecleaner and be done with it. But they can't be done with it because they've yet to find the perfect fit.

The reality is that there is no perfect fit. Inevitably, the housecleaner is gonna show up late. Inevitably, the housecleaner is gonna forget to wipe down your window sills. Inevitably, the housecleaner is gonna have a bad day.

Inevitably, the housecleaner is gonna act like you. You know, like when your boss scolded you last year for being late one morning. You know, like when your boss met with you about a mistake you made last month. You know, like when you had a bad day this past Monday. Remember, you had to work when everybody else you knew had the day off.

The key is to remember that your housecleaner is also a person. Just like you. Yes, you are paying for a service. But so is your boss. The difference is that you're not as easily replaced.

But what if your job had a Craigslist? Then you'd be fired every time you messed up. Just like your housecleaner.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Need For A Little Small Talk

We contact our customers a lot. So much that some customers complain that we're always calling with the same questions. But those questions are important. Otherwise, we wouldn't ask them.

We didn't always talk to you this much. In fact, we didn't want to talk to you in our early days. We were afraid what you might say. But we rely on communication today. Without it, we're just like every other cleaning service. So get ready to hear from us if you decide to hire us. We really do need to talk to you in order to make you happy.

Besides, you don't want this to happen do you?

Click To Play The Video

Monday, January 15, 2007

Employee Retention

Employee turnover in the cleaning industry gets talked about a lot. It should. After all, the industry average for turnover is more than 300% annually. That means that the average cleaning company is turning over its entire staff at least three times per year. Kind of hard to deliver consistent service when you don't know who's walking in the door for work each morning. I know, I've been there.

What doesn't get talked about a lot is employee retention. It should. The reason is simple. There's just not enough to talk about. Because the typical cleaning business loses way more employees than it keeps. But it's time we started to talk about it. Take a look at these stats from each of our offices.

Panama City
It's our newest office and our smallest office. We currently staff 8 employees. Three of the employees have been with us since our first month. More than ten months ago. Keep in mind that we only needed five employees back then. So we've kept three of the original five employees. Not bad. Especially when you consider that we didn't have one single customer when we hired them.

Fort Walton Beach
It's been around since October 2004. We currently staff 14 employees. Four of the employees have been with us since 2004. And three more employees have been with us for at least one year. But only one has been with us for less than six months.

It's been around since April 2003. I bought it on April Fools' Day. Later on that year, I figured out that this wasn't a joke. I really did pay money for this stinking business. But the tough times started to get better once I realized that employee satisfaction was the building block for customer satisfaction. We currently staff 24 employees. None of the original employees are still with us. And the sad truth is that only four have been with us for at least one year.

We've yet figure out the magic potion in Pensacola. Turnover has always been higher there. And the most puzzling aspect of the whole thing is that our Pensacola office provides the most hours for an employee. Which winds up meaning more money. But we're still working. Still trying to fix the problem. Here's our latest attempt to improve employee satisfaction.

The bottom line is that we satisfy many of our employees. And we just don't talk about that enough here. Sometimes we lose one or two employees in a day. But we keep another 44 employees that same day.

And if you ask me, that means we're doing something right.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Thought Of The Week

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full, and the students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

The professor them produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

Now, said the professor, as the laughter subsided, I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things. Your family, your children, God, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions. And if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car.

And the sand is everything else. All the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. And the same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18 holes. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of your golf balls first -- the things that really matter. Set your priorities -- the rest is sand.

Hat tip to Craig Garber

Friday, January 12, 2007

Minimum Wage

I've never made it. Nope. I've never made minimum wage in my life. Not even when I was a teenager. Not even when I was a struggling college student. Of course, I've paid someone minimum wage. And I got what I paid for. Minimum work for minimum pay.

I can't speak for everyone, but here's how the minimum wage cycle works for our business......

Assume that minimum wage is raised by 10%. Consider that the average profit margin for our business is 32%. That means that 68 cents of every dollar is spent to just pay employees. Raising minimum wage means that we'll raise all of our employee's wages. After all, our claim to fame is the pay for performance plan. In the plan, there's got to be a pot at the end of the rainbow. So our top pay has got to be way above minimum wage. As a reference, our top pay is just below $12 per hour now.

Now, it's important to remember that if our profit margin is lower than 26%, we lose money. And obviously, our margin would lower than 26%. More like 22%. So we do the only thing we can do. We raise your rates by 10%. So your normal price of $87 is now $96. And you're gonna to pay that rate every two weeks, 26 weeks per year. That's nearly $25,000 annually, which is almost $3,000 more than you paid last year.

Now, where does that extra $3,000 come from? Are your wages increased? Probably not if you're one of our customers. Because you already make too much. Your salary is so high that minimum wage hikes don't affect you. So what do you do?

You probably look elsewhere. And you probably look at someone under the table. Sure, you're happy with our service. But this is business. And your pest control guy just raised his artes too. And your lawn care guy. And your dry cleaner. Something's got to go.

And that something is probably us. Because there's a cleaning lady out there that says she can clean your house for just $60. And of course she can. Because she's making $30 per hour - tax free.

So we lose your business. Which means that at least two of our employees have less work. Which means that they have less hours. Less money.

But at least their hourly wage is higher!

You see, $5.15 per hour times 40 hours is way better than $7.25 per hour times 20 hours. But that's what will happen. Because none of our customers are willing to pay 20% more for our services. We're already too high for many of the.

One things for sure....If you think that illegal immigration is bad now, wait till we increase minimum wage.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Quacking Like A Duck

His name was John Amos. He's most recognized as the original founder of AFLAC. Most people know all about AFLAC. They know that they sell insurance. If nothing else, they know that a duck represents the company. What people don't know is that the company started out of a bedroom. The man in that bedroom was John Amos. He was pumping insurance policies all over the state of Georgia back in 1955.

It wasn't working. John was a great salesman, but he knew that his insurance was the same insurance as the next guy. There was no difference. Just a different sales pitch. So John decided to sale something different. John started selling cancer insurance. That's when John's life changed. That's when AFLAC started to make money.

But nobody noticed. Everybody else just kept selling the same stuff. The few that did notice scoffed at the idea. They considered John just another flash in the pan. After all, their way of doing things was the way it was supposed to be done. Meanwhile, John worked his way into all 48 states within the continental U.S. Later, he worked his way across the globe into Japan. And eventually he found himself banging the gavel at the New York Stock Exchange.

Yes, the insurance industry finally woke up. You can purchase cancer insurance from just about anybody today. But it was too late. John had created a global company that now had a customer base ready to buy other forms of insurance. And that's what you have today. A $22 billion dollar company. With millions of customers. All because of one great idea.

All because one man decided to change his industry. And that's where it starts. One simple idea. So simple that anybody can do it. But so different that nobody is willing to do it.

Reminds me of a little maid service company in northwest Florida called Two Maids & A Mop. Reminds me of an idea called pay for performance.

Sure, we only have three offices and fifty employees. But not too long ago, we only had one office and four employees. Growth can be exponential when you're an industry innovator.

Keep sleeping. Your tired, old way of doing things is our greatest strength.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Reason You Hired Us

You remember that day, right? "What do you charge for your services?", you asked. We said something that you had never heard of before. We told you that we pay our employees based on your feedback.

You said, "I've never heard of that before. That sounds like a great idea." We went on to tell you that our service worked, but it depended on you to make it work. Without your feedback, we're just like everybody else.

Then you said, "Oh, I understand. I'll be glad to give feedback. In fact, that's one of the reasons that I'm calling you. My previous cleaner started to get comfortable. And I didn't want to criticize her because she had gotten pretty close to our family."

Yep, that's what you told us. But something happened over time. You forgot about your old housecleaner's mistakes. And you started seeing our mistakes. No, you didn't tell us everything. After all, you didn't want to get anyone mad or hurt anyone's pay. So six months later, you quit our service and hired another company.

That's when you said, "I might as well hire a cheaper cleaning service if I'm going to have to deal with all these mistakes." That's when we agreed with you.

You see, our service isn't worth the extra money for some people. Because some people don't provide feedback. So they're wasting their money when they hire us. Because we're just like everybody else at that point.

You hired us for one reason. Not because we were cheaper than your last person. Not because we had a catchy name. Not because we were bonded and insured. You hired us because of our pay for performance plan.

So six months from now when we forget to clean out your microwave, remember why you hired us in the first place. You hired us because we listen to you. You hired us because we want to listen to you. You hired us because we were the only people that wanted to listen to you.

Not because we promised perfection. And not because we never made a mistake. See you in six months.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Chasing The Premier Brand In Our Sector

That's what a member of the board of directors at Molly Maid was recently quoted as saying. Yep, Molly Maid's the industry's premier brand. Take a look at the full interview right here.

A couple of interesting tidbits from the interview.....

Are there any similarities between the McDonald's brand and the Molly Maid brand? Very much so

He's actually referring to the franchise system instead of the actual business. But it's still a bad comparison if you ask me. Who really wants to be known as the McDonald's of their industry?

What would you say is the distinctiveness of the Molly Maid services as offered in the market? It very much relates to the reputation of the brand and its caring staff who are well trained and go the extra mile to offer excellence of cleaning services. That philosophy is backed by our commitment to issuing a guarantee to the customer that we will go back to rectify any problem. Our guarantee is unconditional. Our motto is to deliver "Consistent Careful Cleaning". We have great staff loyalty as evidenced by the fact that many staff have been with us for 10 years plus.

What did you get out of that? Well it all sounds good, but it doesn't really tell you how Molly Maid is different. Repuation of brands, guarantees, loyal staff members....all that stuff is great. But we all have that. We all have guarantees. We all have loyal staff members. And our reputations, well, our reputations are only known by one person - the consumer.

Now for the fun part. Nobody asked me, but I'm going to take a stab at this interview. Read my interview, then read the Molly Maid interview.

Then ask yourself this question, "Which is the premier brand of the housecleaning industry"?

The Mock Interview

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Secret Behind The Biggest Loser's Success

No, I'm not talking about weight loss. Even though weight loss is the most talked about topic this time of the year. No, I'm talking about what makes the The Biggest Loser successful. The secret is surprisingly simple. Competition.

The world consists of different ethnicities, religions, cultures, and habitats. But the world speaks one uniform language when it comes to competition. Nobody likes losing. And everybody likes winning. That's why the Olympics still work today. And that's how these obese people became thin people.

Competition is easy to understand when it comes to sports. The metric for success is typically determined by the person or team with the most points. And there it is. In order to compete, you need a metric. In order to win, you need someone to compete against.

Two Maids & A Mop already has its metric in place. Our metric is your feedback. In other words, our metric is the pay for performance plan. We've always used it to show you why we're better than any other cleaning service. But this year brings new ideas. And this new year's idea is to create a competition out of the pay for performance plan.

Yes, our employees' compensation will still be determined by your feedback. That's not going to change anytime soon. But we're going to take it one step farther. Now, our employees' will also be able to earn even more money by making you happy.

Of course, we don't want to give away all of our secrets of success. So that's about as much as I can offer you. But the premise is simple to understand. In fact, it's the same premise that we've always had here. It's just that the stakes have been raised a little bit now.

The premise: the happier you make our customers, the more money you make with our company.