Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Waiting On The Cleaning Lady

A desperate plea for the cleaning lady to arrive.

Dear The Cleaning Lady Who Never Came,

We never knew you. But you still broke our hearts. We waited for you on Monday morning with bated breath. You said you would be here. But you never came. I was even a little late for my headshrinker because of your absenteeism. I did the dishes for you so you wouldn't have to worry about such nonsense. You never called. I phoned you that night, but you didn't pick up. The money is still out on the table, next to a warm glass of milk.

This happens every morning in your neighborhood. It'll keep happening everyday because these cleaning ladies don't care. They don't care because they've got no reason to care. Your business is just too easy to get. Just charge a little less than everybody else and business is booming.

This cleaning lady knows that she can sleep in today. Because she can use the afternoon to find another victim, err....I meant customer.

It's your choice. Don't feel sorry for yourself when it happens to you.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Some Things Never Change

We send messages through thin air in a matter of seconds. We travel from one end of the country to another in just a few hours. Yes, we've come along way. But one thing remains consistent. You clean just like your mother cleaned. Just your grandmother cleaned. And just like her grandmother cleaned. Cleaning hasn't changed. And it doesn't look to change anytime soon.

Sure, you've got the Roomba. The robotic vacuum. But it's a novelty. Wishful thinking. You want it to be easy.

But cleaning is hard. It's dirty. It's time consuming. It's work. You can't change facts. Someobody's got to move the rugs. Somebody's got to pick up the candle to dust underneath it. Somebody's got to scrub the toilets.

So time has stood still in the world of cleaning. But the good news is that time has given us the ability to prove what really works in your home. Some products come and go like the wind. But the most effective cleaning products stick around forever.

One product that has stood the test of time is vinegar. Vinegar has been around for more than 10,000 years. It's used today in the same manner as way back then. Amazing. But true.

Check out some great uses for vinegar.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Waving Goodbye To Margie

Margie is 46. She's a devoted wife and mother. Margie has worked for a cleaning company for the last year. She's proven to be dependable, hard working, and friendly. She's so good that the cleaning company sends her to the same homes week after week. She's so good that her regular clients laud her with compliments, tips, and gifts on a regular basis.

Now the cleaning company knows how valuable Margie is to their success. It's not often that you can lean so hard on an employee in the cleaning industry. So the cleaning company gives Margie a raise. A big raise. Bigger than any other employee in the company. But Margie is upset.

You see, Margie sees those checks coming in from her clients. Her clients are paying the cleaning company about four times her wages. Margie's no dumby. Margie starts adding up her expenses. And she figures out that she can clean those same homes for a lot less than the cleaning company. And she knows that her clients will switch because they have already demanded Margie anyway.

So Margie starts her own cleaning company. And she steals her previous employer's clients. And everybody is happy. Because Margie is making three times what she was making before and her clients are paying way less than they were before.

Everybody's happy until Margie's husband decides to move the family out of town. Margie hates it, but she's got to go. And she's got to go now. So Margie's old clients all wave goodbye. And the carousel begins again.

The old customers start dialing the phone book again. Looking for another Margie. And they'll find her. Because she's not hard to find. She's everywhere. She's everywhere because it's so easy to be Margie. No start up capital. No investment. Nothing but a few cheap supplies from Wal-Mart. And that's why Margie doesn't mind quitting. Because she's got nothing to lose. Margie knows that she can pull off this same scheme in her next town.

So you're the client. You have two choices.

1. You can keep hiring Margie.
2. You can quit hiring Margie.

Hiring Margie again means that you'll end up hiring another Margie down the road. But you'll save money. And you'll get the same person every time. Maybe you'll have to deal with a few late arrivals from Margie. Maybe you'll end up getting so close to Margie that you hate complaining. Or maybe you'll just hire the wrong Margie.

Because the wrong Margie can steal from you and run. Because the wrong Margie can break her ankle in your home and make you pay for it. Because the wrong Margie can just decide to quit cleaning your home one day.

Not hiring Margie again means that you'll be done with Margie. Yes, you'll pay more than Margie charges. But you'll get your home cleaned on-time every time. You'll get to complain when mistakes occur. You'll get to treat your new housecleaner like any other service. Like a real business. Not some lady who just bought a few cleaning supplies from Wal-Mart.

Aren't you sick and tired of waving goodbye to Margie?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Meet Colleen

Colleen Kealey is the Operations Manager in Pensacola. Colleen's been with us for more than two years. I remember the day she walked into our office for the first time.

It was a particularly bad day. Absenteeism had reared its ugly head that day. Customers were extremely unhappy with us because we were forced to reschedule a few of them. And I had nobody to hire. Nobody good to hire that is.

Until Colleen walked in. Colleen walked in dressed nice. She brought a resume. A college degree. And a professional attitude. It was like my throwback days when I worked in the lab. Colleen seemed too good to be true. But I was desperate. And I wasn't going to let Colleen just walk away.

So I talked to Colleen about more than just housecleaning. I gave her my plans for the future. She must have thought that I was crazy. After all, she just wanted a job. A career in the housecleaning industry was the furthest thing from her mind. But alas, she bought the story.

And she worked in our Pensacola office for about two months before opening her own office in Fort Walton Beach. Colleen was instrumental in the early success of the Fort Walton Beach office. She ran the business by herself because my time was required in Pensacola. I probably averaged about 4-5 hours per week in Fort Walton beach. It was Colleen's business.

Colleen now runs our Pensacola location. The large customer and employee base had just gotten to be big for our former manager. So Colleen transferred back to Pensacola. And that's where she's at right now. And boy am I glad she's there.

She's a manager's dream. Sometimes you just get lucky. And I got lucky. I got lucky when Colleen walked in that front door. Without Colleen, we may have never opened another location. Without Colleen, we may not be where we are today.

Thank you Colleen for your dedication, loyalty, professionalism, and caring. Thank you for walking into my office.

If you want to know even more about Colleen, check this out.......

Six Questions With Colleen

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Calling All Entrepreneurs

So here's the deal. Two Maids & A Mop almost opened its newest location in Jacksonville, FL. It was the eleventh hour and the door slammed just before the first yellow page contract was about to be signed. It was a tough blow, but I'm glad it happened now rather than later.

The would-be owner let me in on a little secret. It was just one, little comment. She didn't even know she had said it. Her comment...

She looked forward to spending more time with her children. Nice thought. And one that I can understand. But her comment puzzled me. Because she didn't currently work. At all.

So the question had to be asked. How did you envision spending more time your children? Her response....

Because she would no longer need day care services. Because she could just take the kids to work now. Because it's her office. Her business.

And that's when the dagger swung into my heart. I knew that I had just wasted the last two months courting her. I knew that we would not be open in Jacksonville any time soon. And I knew that this lady needed to find another career.

Owning a cleaning business is one thing. Running a cleaning business is another. The job takes time, discipline, and patience. The early days really stink. Nobody knows you. Nobody cares to know you.

So your first twelve months brings lots of free time. You could do a number of things with that free time. You could just wait on the phone to ring. You could just sit there looking out the window. And yes, you could even spend more time your kids.

Or you could join every local club in your area. Or you could go door-to-door selling your services. Or you could personally visit every new customer to make sure that they are satisfied. Or you could do a lot of things besides just waiting on the phone to ring.

Two Maids & A Mop wants to grow. But growing to just grow is not what we are about. We want you. We want you if you want to work. We want you if want to be an entrepreneur.

Because that's what you'll be. An entrepreneur. Not an employee.

Click Here If You're An Entrepreneur

Monday, February 19, 2007

Quack Quack

Check out Aflac's new pay for performance plan.

Pay For Performance

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Getting The Same People Every Time

Our number one complaint that we hear from our customers is that they want the same people every time. In other words, a customer wants the same two maids each and every time their house is cleaned. The honest reality is that no maid service can guarantee the same two people every time. The honest truth is that I would want the same two people every time if I were the customer. Take a look at the two different perspectives.

The Customer Perspective
The customer is paying a lot of money for this service. Our rates exceed $100 dollars for many of our bigger homes. The average rate is around $85-$90 dollars. There's now way to sugarcoat it. That's a lot of money. Especially when you compound it over the course of a year. A weekly customer may spend more than four thousand dollars per year, while a biweekly customer may spend more than two thousand dollars per year.

The customer is hiring a maid because she doesn't have the time to perform the cleaning. The customer is busy. So the customer doesn't really want to spend fifteen minutes with every new cleaning team that arrives at her home.

The customer expects consistency. The price for her cleaning never changes, so the quality of the cleaning should never change. But she notices slight differences when the cleaning teams change.

The Maid Service Company Perspective
The company is in the maid service industry. Employee turnover is high. Extremely high. So high that the average company has a 300% turnover rate.

The company is being hired to clean the house. The customer isn't hiring two of the company's employees. The customer is hiring the company. Just like when you a book a flight, you don't expect the same two pilots every time.

The company has hundreds of customers. And they all want the same thing. They all want the same two people every time. And sometimes, the requirements for two customers gets all mixed up. For example, customer A needs her home cleaned at 8 AM tomorrow. Customer B needs her home cleaned at the same time. Now we can be at both homes at the same time. Because we have twenty employees. But both customers want the same two people. And one of them is going to get upset when they don't get who they want.

And that's where we both stand. It's a difficult situation. And a frustrating one at that. It's the number one reason that we lose a customer. And we want to fix it. After all, losing customers means losing money.

But what do you do? How do you fix a problem that's seemingly unfixable? My peers in the janitorial cleaning industry have it made. Their turnover is over 1000%, but nobody cares. Because their employees' faces are never seen. But our employees' faces are always seen. Because our faces are in your home. Right there in your kitchen.

We don't have all the answers, but we do have some of the answers. Here is what we currently do to ensure that different cleaning teams provide the same quality as the previous cleaning team.

1. The Pay For Performance Plan. Our employees get paid to make you happy. They know that you're going to rate their service after they are finished.

2. The Checklist. Housecleaning isn't rocket science. But we try to make it as much a process as possible. Each cleaning team is given a checklist designed specifically for your home. The team is instructed to initial a task after it has been completed.

3. Customer Feedback. This goes back to the pay for performance plan. Your feedback gets documented every time. No matter how trivial. And your feedback gets entered into our customer instructions sheet. It's sort of like a cheat sheet that tells us how to make you happy. Every comment that you ever made is documented in this sheet. And this sheet goes out with the cleaning team every time.

And there's loads of other small things that we do to try to make sure that you're happy every time. But I don't want to keep talking. I'd rather hear you talk now. So look below this post. There's a comment button. Press it and place a comment. Tell us how to make this problem go away. Or at least fade into the distance a little bit.

Comments are rare on this blog. I'm praying that we get some this time. We need your help.

We need your help so that we can better help you.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Wasted Study

A recent study by researchers at the University of Washington has determined that negative behavior outweighs positive behavior. You're kidding, right?

A research project requires money. The money for this project came from someone's wallet. Did that money need to fund such a senseless project?

They could have just given that money to me. Because I've seen it firsthand. I've seen one bad apple spoil the whole bunch. Take this for example:

We hired this lady who turned out to be the town gossip. Nobody's business always seemed to become her business. And she told everyone else about it. And of course, rumors always floated. And problems always arose. Inevitably, someone got upset. So we tried to coach this gossip. We tried to educate her about the consequences of her small talk. But it didn't help. So we fired her. And the internal problems plummeted.

Here's another example:

Our employees work in teams of two. Which means that two people are in the same car together for about 33% of the day, or about two hours per day. That leaves a lot of time to discuss a lot of things. And if one of those two employees is upset with the out. Because both employees will come storming into the office later that afternoon. What happens is that the upset employee just trashes the company. And the other employee wilts because of the constant negativity. It happens every time. So that's why we do our best to fix problems before the end of the day. We don't want someone stewing over an issue overnight and then feeding their problems to an otherwise happy employee during the course of the next day.

Back to the study..... The conclusions from the project are correct. But the study itself is ridiculous. It's just plain common sense.

The Most Wasted Research Dollars In America.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gettin' Some Love

From one of our newest customers in Pensacola......

"Thanks for a wonderful first experience with your maid service. It was
WONDERFUL! I was very impressed with the service, friendliness, and
customer satisfaction of your employees. Thanks again! I'm thrilled!"

It's feel good to be loved.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Birth Of A New Cleaning Company

Lynn is 21. She's a full-time college student. Her classes start early in the morning and end in the early afternoon. She's usually done by three o'clock every day. Lynn's just like every other college student.

She needs money. Lynn's federal loans just don't cover everything. But her schedule makes it difficult to find a respectable job that pays a decent wage. Most employers need her for forty hours. But she only has about 2-3 hours per day that she can devote to a job.

So Lynn is faced with two choices. She can work part-time earning minimum wage, or she can work under the table providing some type of domestic help. Working under the table means that Lynn doesn't have to report her income. She doesn't have to pay taxes. She doesn't have to provide anything but labor. Best of all, Lynn knows that she can get as much as $20 per hour for her labor. Because Lynn will be competing against real companies. And those real companies are charging $40-50 per hour.

So Lynn knows that she's got to work under the table if she wants to make real money. But what field should Lynn choose? Cleaning, of course. After all, Lynn is a woman. That's enough qualification. Plus she can charge a lot less than Two Maids & A Mop. Getting new business should be a snap.

Lynn figures that she can just a post a free ad online that promotes her cheap labor rates. All she'll need is 5-10 jobs. You see, Lynn can do the math. Lynn knows that she can make $300 weekly by just cleaning one house per day.

And all that money is tax free. And there's no overhead. Every dollar is profit. And it's a lot easier than working forty hours per week. Because that's what she would have to do in order to make this kind of money in a "real" job.

So Lynn posts the free ad. And Lynn gets her ten new customers. And everybody is happy. Until Lynn quits.

Because Lynn doesn't really enjoy this new business. It's a lot harder than she thought. Her new customers expect her to be on time. How can she guarantee her arrival? Her schedule is just too hectic. Like last week, when Lynn needed to stick around campus a little longer to meet with her professor. Lynn ended up being two hours late for her cleaning appointment. And the customer had the audacity to get upset with her.

But Lynn showed her. Because Lynn didn't show up the following week. Lynn just posted another free ad on the internet. And she got another new customer to replace the old, mean customer.

The good news is that the old, mean customer called Two Maids & A Mop. Because she was sick and tired of Lynn. The even better news is that Lynn is still out there.

Lynn thinks she's beat us by getting all these new customers. But Lynn never beats us because Lynn always quits. And when Lynn quits, her old customers call us.

Or they just hire another Lynn.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I Told You So

There was an estimate conducted for a homeowner about three months ago. We'll call her Jane. Like many people, Jane interviewed several cleaning companies. That's a great practice for obvious reasons. But like many first time customers, Jane decided to hire the cheapest alternative. She was nice enough to call us to let us know about her decision. She just couldn't afford our rates. But she loved our company. And she really loved our pay for performance plan.

They all do. After all, nobody else can compete against it. We don't have to be great salespeople because the pay for performance plan speaks for itself. Your feedback directly determines the pay level for our employees. The happier you are; the more our employees are able to make with our company. Those two sentences say it all.

But there is a catch (isn't there always a catch?). The catch is that our rates are higher than any other cleaning business that we compete against. The reason that they're higher is because our wages are higher than any other cleaning business. That's how a true pay for performance plan works. There's got to be a pot at the end of the rainbow. If not, there's no reason to get to the end of the rainbow. In other words, there's no reason to care about making you happy.

But the first time cleaning customer doesn't know the pitfalls. She doesn't know that everybody else shows up late. She doesn't know that everybody else gets worse and worse over time. She doesn't know because she's never hired a maid before.

Just like Jane three months ago. But Jane knows now. Because she's sick and tired of her current maid service. She now knows that you get what you pay for. Jane summed it up best with this comment.

"I should have just hired you in the first place."

Panama City Grand Opening

We recently joined the Panama City Chamber of Commerce. As a result, they're sponsoring our "grand opening" tomorrow (February 8th, 2007). So, if you like free food, free drinks, and lively talk about the business of housecleaning.....come by and see us at 4 PM. Everyone is invited.

You can find the free food and drinks at our office. We are located at 1815 W. 15th Street, Suite 8.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Letter From The CEO

You may have received an odd email last week if you work for DELL. The email was from Michael Dell. Your CEO.

Click Here To Read The Email

A CEO is a chief executive officer. You can usually find her atop an ivory tower overlooking her subordinates. You may even get a glimpse of her taking off on the company jet. About the only time that you'll read a personal note from her is in the company's annual report. And that's only because it's a legal requirement.

Michael Dell didn't say anything groundbreaking. He didn't solve all of Dell's problems. In fact, he didn't solve any of them. But he did talk about them. And he talked about his ideas for change. And he asked everyone for their help. Like this.....

"We had great efforts, but not great results. This is disappointing and it is unacceptable. The result is that there will be no bonus this year. I know this is a big deal for you and your teams. We're going to fix that so that our efforts translate into great results and success for our teams."

No bonus for this year because there is no reason for the bonus. In other words, you get paid based on the company's performance. And your performance is what makes the company's performance.

Paying for performance works. But it can only work if two criteria are met.

1. The metric for performance has to be legitimate.
2. The bonus really has to be a bonus.

If you work on an assembly line, then you need to know how your job contributes to the bottom line. And once you understand that goal, then you need to have a real reason to care about achieving that goal. From assembly line to CEO, everyone is accountable. Every job is measurable.

You know all about our pay for performance plan. Everything matters. From cleaning dirty toilets to filing papers. Every task is accountable. Read this if you're not familiar with our pay for performance plan.

There is a lot more juicy business talk in Michael Dell's letter. Read it. It's refreshing to know that a CEO can still talk about the business. And it's refreshing to know that every CEO isn't Conrad Black or Ken Lay. Of course, he does own this vacation home.

Then again, he did start a business from scratch and built it into a $50 billion dollar enterprise. Gotta love America.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Warren Buffett Worthy

Warren Buffett bought a multi-million dollar company back in 1972. The company was See's Candy. The business is still alive today. In fact, it's thriving. Buffett asked one question before he bought the business. The question, "How long do you have to wait to raise the prices"? And that's how he decided to buy the business. That quick. That simple.

Buffett states it best. "If you are an airline today and you try to raise your prices, an hour later, you will be lowering them because of competition. Not the case with a brand like See's. You can't damage the See's brand in the minds of the 30 or so million Californians. Only See's can do that. Their brand is their promise to provide the quality and service that people have grown to expect".

Think about it. You purchase gas because its cheaper than the gas down the road. You purchase copy paper because its cheaper than the other alternatives. You purchase these cheap products because you don't recognize any value in the product. The only value is price.

So here we are at a crossroads. Two Maids & A Mop hasn't increased our rates in more than two years. In the meantime, our wages have increased because the pay for performance plan only works when the top pay level is well above the nearest competitor's top pay. The pot has got to be big at the end of the rainbow. If not, there is no incentive to work. No reason to care.

Yes, we've decided to raise rates. Not a lot. Just a little bit. But not because we want to stuff our wallets. Just the opposite, we want to stuff our employees wallets.

Rate increase letters have been sent out and we've lost eight customers. And in each case, the customer didn't perceive any value in our services. We must have been cheaper than someone at some point. But the comments have been puzzling. Take a look at what they're saying.....

"As usual, the ladies who cleaned did a superb job. We were very pleased and rate them at 10. Please terminate our service."

"Thanks for all your help. You've been great, but I can't afford you any longer. I'll refer you to anyone that asks."

"I would give them a 10. I received your letter increasing my fee. I have been paying 79.00 for more than 2 years…and I do not feel that I should pay more than $79.00, so I will discontinue the service."

There's more puzzling comments, but you get the picture. Now we've got over 500 customers. And we've only lost eight since we raised our rates. So we're not about to jump off any bridges. But I just don't get it. What more could we have done to prove to these eight people that we are the best option? It's obvious that they enjoyed our service. It's obvious that they were happy. At least it's obvious to me. But apparently not to them.

The good news is that nearly 500 customers think that our service is worth a little extra money. That tells me that our service is valuable to a lot of people. For some, we're just cheap gas. But for most people we're much more than cheap gas.

What we are is Warren Buffett worthy. And that, my friends, is the best compliment a business can receive.

P.S. Click Here To Read A Recent Speech From Warren Buffett

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Best Super Bowl Party

The best Super Bowl party that you've ever attended didn't just happen. Nope. There was lots of planning before the kickoff. Part of that planning involved cooking. Part of that planning involved grocery shopping. Part of that planning involved......


That's right. You gotta clean your house so that you can mess it up during the game. Of course, you could do all the the cleaning yourself. Or you could just call Two Maids & A Mop. We'll clean everything for you.

Now we can't do everything for you before the party. Click Here To Find Out How To Host The Best Super Bowl Party Ever.