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.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:31 PM

    Have you considered (or do you already) placing your maids in teams that consist of a veteran and a new-hire or trainee?
    This way you'd give new employees something to work toward (being the "boss" of the team) and be able to offer more consistency. The likelihood that you'd be able to keep sending at least 1/2 of the team to that client would be increased and you'd have someone there who knows the house. This also would help cut down on some of the issues you've mentioned in earlier posts (maids not knowing what the client expects, not being aware of special issues, etc.) and would keep your employees from becoming too clique-ish.
    You might also consider having your employees rate each other, based upon what they see when they work together. While I think this might encourage "Sylvia" to lie for "Jane" if it's not done correctly, I think your pay for performance system will help even it out. If a client gave a bad review of my work, I'd want the boss to know that "Lisa" was sitting around while I cleaned all the toilets and mopped all the floors.