Friday, March 30, 2007

Guts Are Ugly

There's only two reasons. And they're both pretty straightforward.

1. You become a maid because you enjoy the challenge of housecleaning.
2. You become a maid because you need a job.

Reason #1 happens. There a select few people out there that really enjoy cleaning for a living. Cleaning isn't degrading to them. Cleaning isn't mundane to them. Cleaning is rewarding. Cleaning is fun. And it doesn't hurt that cleaning produces money to boot. If you find someone that enjoys the art of cleaning, pay them whatever they ask. Because you've found a needle in a haystack.

Reason #2 happens too. It happens often. It happens so often because cleaning doesn't require an education or specialized skill. And it happens because getting a cleaning job isn't that difficult. Don't believe me? Here's your challenge....

Pick up your area yellow pages directory. Call all the cleaning companies in the directory and ask them if they're hiring. They're hiring. And they're hiring today. Because somebody in their company quit today. And because they know that somebody is going to quit next week.

Turnover is rampant in our industry. Two Maids & A Mop is no different. We have employee turnover just like the everybody else. And yes, we're hiring today in all three locations. And we'll be hiring next week too. That's the nature of our business. That's the facts of our business. People quit. People quit because cleaning isn't a career. It's a one-way street. And one-way streets all lead to the same place.

If I were you, I'd search for that elusive cleaner who loves to clean. But the problem is that she has her limits. One problem is that she's hard to find. But the bigger problem is that she's already been found. And she's booked solid.

So you're probably stuck with us. But we're not all that bad. We show up on-time every time. We let you determine our employees' paycheck. We communicate with you every step of the way. And we do a pretty good job of cleaning too.

Yes, most of our employees work here because they need a job. Yes, we lose employees from time to time. And yes, the guts of our business aren't all that pretty.

But guts are supposed to be ugly.

So stop thinking about our ugly guts and start thinking about our pretty face. Because that's what you'll be seeing when you hire us. Ugly guts with a pretty face.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

We Didn't Tell Her To Say This

But we're sure glad she did......

Take a look at what one of our customers recently said about our company.

Our first contact with Two Maids & A Mop got off to a rocky start. First, Eureka, I won a free cleaning. I was a little doubtful about the whole "free" thing so I called your office. I was pleasantly surprised it was for real. A date was set. That morning I got a call saying that the maids would not be coming after all. Can't you just hear me saying, "Figures"? Well a few minutes later I got a call from the boss who asked if she could come over. Wow! A real person came by to say she was sorry that this has happened and let's reschedule. And she brought along a voucher for three more free housecleanings to boot. I felt like a real winner!

It is this kind of personal attention to the customer that has got to set Two Maids & A Mop ahead of the competition.(I have tried a couple of others. Trust me if this is representative of you customer service, you need to be the gold standard.)

-Today I got my free cleaning. My husband and I are so delighted.
-They arrived on time (even a little early).
-They were very professional in their manner.
-Introduced themselves
-Asked if there was anything special I wanted them to pay particular attention to.
-Asked me if there was any place in particular I wanted them to start.
-Did I have a preference in cleaning supplies?
-Then began to work.
-Both Bobbie and Tracy worked the entire time they were here.
-When they finished, they even asked if there was something else they could do.
-Now, that is a definite 10.
-They picked up all the trash and insisted on putting it in the garbage can outside.
-Removed their cleaning supplies, mops, etc.
-Smiled, wished us a good day, and departed.

This experience has left me with a really good feeling and a nice clean house. I would not hesitate to recommend Two Maids & A Mop to any of my friends. Thank you for "making my day". Don't think I will have to hunt any further in looking for housecleaning. Just need to decide if I want it on a regular basis.

Thank you so much. Sorry to be so long but just wanted you to know what I would be telling people about your company, its service, and those I had the great fortune to meet at Two Maids & A Mop.

Sometimes you can turn a bad situation into a good situation by just admitting that the situation was bad in the first place.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Betsy the Perfectionist

There once was this lady. We'll call her Betsy. Betsy needed someone to clean her home. Betsy needed this person because she just didn't have the time to do it any longer. For Betsy, housecleaning wasn't a luxury. It was a necessity.

So Betsy hired a housecleaner. And she wasn't happy. So Betsy hired another housecleaner. And Betsy remained unhappy. And that's when Betsy decided to give it one more try. So she called us - Two Maids & A Mop. She hired us because of our commitment to customer satisfaction. She hired us because of our pay for performance plan. She hired us thinking that all of her past problems were over.

But Betsy was wrong. We messed up. We didn't clean everything up to Betsy's standards. And Betsy was right. We had left some things undone in her home. So we decided to really go over the top and prove to Betsy that our commitment to customer satisfaction was not just some marketing slogan. So we did three things:

1. We recleaned her home free
2. We gave her a free voucher for a free housecleaning - she could use the voucher anytime that she wanted to use it
3. We provided her with details on how we were going to fix these problems so that they didn't happen again

Betsy liked this idea. So she decided to stick around. Until about two months later. Until last Thursday. That's when we messed up again. We didn't perform up to Betsy's standards. Nor did we perform up to our standards.

We know that Betsy was upset. We know that she was upset because she yelled at us over our voicemail system. We know that she was upset because she sent a email explaining her fury about our service. And she fired us.

Which is a good thing. Because we would have fired her if she hadn't fired us. You see, we had proven that we would make good when we messed up. We had also explained to Betsy that it was bound to happen again. It was just a matter of time before we made another mistake. But we were quick to point out that we fix our mistakes just as quick as we make them. And we usually go over the top when we're fixing them too.

There are some people that don't need to hire people like us. They don't need to hire anyone for that matter. They need to clean their house themselves.

Because we can promise you one thing. We're not perfect and we will make a mistake in your home at some point. When it happens, simply explain the mistake to us. And we'll fix it immediately. And more than likely, you'll be more impressed with our company's reaction to a mistake. When we make mistakes, you usually make money. Because we give you more than just a free reclean. We give you just enough to prove to you that we're just as upset with the mistake as you are.

So when it happens.....please be patient. Nobody died because of a little dust on a countertop. Nobody was hurt because of streaks on a floor. And nobody got sick because of a dirty microwave. It's housecleaning. And we can fix it.

When we mess up, remember that we're human. We make mistakes just like you.

We're not like Betsy. Nope - not at all. We're far from perfect.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Licensing or Limiting

You tell me. Does a professional license promote the growth of an industry? Or does professional licensing simply limit the growth of an industry?

Read this article about the licensing of interior decorators in New Mexico. It sounds silly, but you can be fined for decorating a home without a professional license in New Mexico.

I think that professional organizations are more important than professional licenses. Imagine a housecleaning association that only allowed companies with requirements that met certain ethical, moral, safety, and quality control guidelines. Now only a few member companies would be eligible. But there wouldn't be any type of licensing. The only benefit the member company would receive is acknowledgement that they belong to the group. No, I'm not talking about a simple association. Simple associations just want your money. They're glorified unions.

I'm talking about an association that has no power. Nothing. No muscle to lobby Congress. It serves one purpose - to make sure that its member companies are adhering to the association's bylaws.

You could still clean a home without being part of the association. Nobody should be punished for doing the same thing that our forefathers did. Nobody should ever be punished for simply being a capitalist.

Anybody can do what you do. You're not the only pilot. You're not the only plumber. And you're definitely not the only housecleaner. It's called competition.

Somebody's gotta lose. But somebody's gotta win too. It's up to you to decide who wins and loses. You shouldn't be able to rely on your government to determine your competitive marketplace.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Faceless Face

He's cutting your grass right now. He's picking up your garbage right now. And she's vacuuming your floor right now. You see the same faces all the time. But you don't recognize any of them. Because they're faceless.

They're faceless because their work is mundane. It's simple. So simple that anybody can do it. And that's who's doing the work for you right now. Anybody. Anyone.

Anyone - that is - that charges you the lowest price. Because you may not recognize their face, but you most certainly recognize their cost.

At Two Maids & A Mop, we could do the same thing. We could hire faceless people. Pay'em nothing. Replace them as soon as they leave. Then replace them with another faceless person. And it would work. Because it works everyday all over this country.

It works because you let it work. You accept the beer breath from your faceless lawn guy. You accept tardiness from your faceless cleaner. You accept all these things because their benefit outweighs their cost.

Your benefit is money. You save money by hiring faceless people. That's why most cleaning companies hire faceless people. Because they're cheap. And it saves them money.

But what happens when you realize that your benefit isn't really saving you money? Then you call us. Because you're sick and tired of the same, old song and dance. Because our employees aren't faceless. They get paid based on your feedback. Your satisfaction directly determines their paycheck. And that makes you pretty darn important.

Hiring someone to do something that anyone can do seems simple. Logic tells you that you shouldn't have to pay a premium for a service that is mundane. But you're forgetting one important thing.

If the job is so simple that anyone can do it.......then anyone will do it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Something's In The Air

It must be the springtime air because cleaning is in the air right now. It seems that everybody along the gulf coast needs their house cleaned all of sudden. And we're not complaining.

Nope. We're not complaining at all. Take this for example. Our Panama City office has gained 21 new customers in the last eleven days. That's an amazing feat. But now we have another problem to worry about it.

Now that we've got all these new customers, we can't forget about our old ones. In addition, we've got to make sure that we perform at a high level during our first few visits with these new customers. But the good news is that we have a shot to really take the Panama City office to another level.

It's exciting times at Two Maids & A Mop. Panama City is rocking. Fort Walton Beach is plugging along. And Pensacola is doing what it always does - kicking butt and taking names. This year is on pace to be our biggest and best year yet.

Sorry for the rah rah post. But I couldn't keep the excitement to myself. Go TwoMaids!!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Controlled Chaos

There's a duck out there in a lake right now. It's floating gracefully. But it's paddling like crazy underneath the surface of the water. That's what it has to do just to stay afloat. And that's we do every day. We paddle like crazy just to stay afloat.

We clean anywhere from 45-55 houses per day. We staff nearly 50 employees every day. And we talk to about 100 people per day. And it's our goal to never let any of you know that we're busting our butt to pull it off every day.

Controlled chaos is the best way to describe a day in the life of maid service business. Take this for example....

It's 8:00 in the morning. You've got nine teams scheduled to clean 25 houses. You need to at least 18 employees to pull it off. But only 16 employees show up. At the same time, one of your employees tells you that she needs to be off by 2:00 PM. Meanwhile, one of your customers from yesterday has just called and wants to talk about some mistakes made during the cleaning. And if it wasn't bad enough, one of your customers for today left a message overnight that she needs to get her home cleaned later in the afternoon rather than first thing this morning.

Now this example may sound extreme. But it's absolutely true. So true that it happened just last week. And the week before that. And the week before that too. It happens all the time. Just a different day and time.

But our customers never know it. Our customers never know that we're pulling our hair out just to make everything work right. And that's they way it should be.

Look pretty floating. But paddle like crazy to make sure that you keep looking pretty.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Our Equipment

One of the perks of hiring a legitimate cleaning service is that the company will provide all the necessary cleaning equipment and supplies. Two Maids & A Mop is no different. We bring everything. And here's what you can expect when we walk inside your front door.

We'll start with what we usually end with - the vacuum. We use the Carpet Pro CPU-2 vacuum. It's been a relatively good vacuum. Much better than our last one. Our last vacuum broke everyday. The fan inside the vacuum caught everything (even little tiny dust particles) and the fan abruptly broke everyday. Click on this link for more information about our vacuum.

Our glass cleaner is called Sprayway. It's streak free. It's ammonia free. And it works great. Click here for more information about Sprayway.

We clean your hard surface floors in a variety of ways. The most popular method involves using a deodorizer called Boardwalk. It smells good. It cleans good. It disinfects. And it's harmless. Click here for more information on Boardwalk. Vinegar is the preferred choice for many customers because it is the ultimate cleaner. The biggest problem with vinegar is its smell. It stinks and it doesn't give off that fresh smell everyone is looking for when they walk into their home.

We disinfect your bathrooms with a product called Lemon-Q. It is used by many of the area hospitals and that's why we use it. We don't use any bleach products. Bleach is just too dangerous. Click here for more information on Lemon-Q.

Our all-purpose cleaner is called Clean-All. We use it mostly in your kitchen. There is no direct link on the internet, but it's similar to Fantastik. Click here for information on a similar product.

To dust your furniture, we use Kleen Guard. It has a lemon scent and it has proven to be the best available option in its price range. Click here for more information on Kleen Guard.

And finally, we use E-Z Off to clean your ovens. Many of you have self-cleaning ovens and this product is safe for your oven. Click here for more information on E-Z Off Oven Cleaner.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Endless Cycle Of The Frustrated Customer

Musings from around the internet.....

Question. Do I have to pay for bad cleaning service?
I hired a woman to clean my house and old apartment. She said she would bring cleaning supplies and wanted about $65 for the house and $40 for the apartment. The day she was to clean the house she was late, then did not do much of anything. The floors were covered with dirt and bathrooms untouched. The best I can tell is she wiped a couple counters and windows. The next day I was scheduled to meet her at the apartment at 9am, she called at 10:30am and said she would be late, so 11am, then at 11:30 am after waiting now 2.5 hours I said forget it. She called and harassed my babysitter and now threatens small claims court because I would only pay her $30. Do I have to pay her anything?

Answer. I would say pay her the $65 for the time she was there, since you did make another appointment with her. The second time, its her fault, so you don't owe her crap for that.

Q. I want to take a cleaning company to small claims for bad service. What would be the process?
The company is located in Brandon/Valrico, Florida. They came out to clean 3 times and all 3 services were unsatisfactory. The third cleaning was with a new Maid. They were suppose to come to do a free clean and that person never showed. I asked for my money for just the last clean and they did not want to refund it, now I want for all 3 cleanings. Please let me know where I have to go and what the process is?

A. Go to the local courthouse and file the claim. It is usually $25 bucks. You can sue them for that too.

These questions were taken from a simple Yahoo search. I'd imagine that there's plenty more out there. What this tells me is that people still don't get it.

You're asking the wrong questions. Call the least professional cleaning company in the world and you'll get the same answers from the most professional cleaning company in the world. The reason is simple. You only have three questions.

- How much do you charge?
- How do you clean?
- Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?

Start asking these questions.........

- How can you guarantee me that you'll be on-time every time?
- How can you guarantee me that I'll be satisfied every time?

That's the only two questions you need to ask. Because we all clean the same way. Because we all are licensed, bonded, and insured. And because the only thing that separates us is price and customer service.

Pick your poison.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Same Story Over And Over Again

Heard last Friday at an in-home estimate....."I'll pay whatever you're charging if you can just show up on time". (From someone that had been using the same cleaning service for two years)

Heard last Friday over the phone....."Please help me. I hired a cleaning service for a party this weekend and they still haven't shown up". (From someone that had only hired one cleaning service in her life)

Heard last Monday at an in-home estimate....."We fired our maid because she started showing up later and later." (From someone that had the same maid for 10 years)

And then this was heard at an in-home estimate last Friday....."I'm not paying that much just to get my house cleaned. I can get my house cleaned for a lot less than that anyway." (From someone that had never hired a cleaning service before)

Hiring a housecleaning service has little to do with housecleaning.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Meet Elicia

Here I am typing away in my office at home. Meanwhile, there's about thirty-six cleaners out there headed your way. Right to your front door. Ready to make your life a little bit easier. 36 employees! And I'm sitting here typing. How in the world do I get away this? Because I have three unbelievable managers. I've already spotlighted Colleen and Melissa. Now it's Elicia's turn.

Elicia Coff is the Operations Manager for our Fort Walton Beach location. Elicia used to be one of our cleaners. Just like Colleen and Melissa. But Elicia didn't clean for long. Just like Colleen and Melissa. It was obvious that Elicia was able to handle more responsibility. At the time, Colleen was running the show in Fort Walton Beach. However, Colleen lived in Pensacola. And Colleen wanted to run the show in Pensacola. But we didn't have a real good answer because we didn't have anyone to replace Colleen. Then came Elicia.

Elicia cleaned for maybe two months before we decided that she was ready to tackle the job of being boss. And we've never looked back. Until now that is.

Elicia has taken a small cleaning business and transformed it into a real, legitimate cleaning business. Some would even call her location a large cleaning business. Elicia manages thirteen employees on a daily basis. She cradles countless numbers of customers on a daily basis. And she manages to withstand one overly stressed man every day. Yeah, I'm talking about me.

Take a look at what Elicia has contributed to our company:

- We relocated our office about one year ago. Elicia (along with her husband) voluntarily relocated everything. Her husband painted. Her husband removed sheetrock. She reorganized everything. And she found the office to boot. All for free. All without me doing one thing.
- Elicia gets all the crap work. She gets all the crap work because her office is in the middle. So she knows a little bit about Pensacola. And she knows a little bit about Panama City. So when Colleen or Melissa step out of the office, guess who gets their phones? Elicia. There's times when Elicia is answering every call from Pensacola to Panama City.
- Right now, Elicia is saving my life. Melissa is on vacation. And I'm in Gulf Breeze. About 100 miles away. But Elicia is handling everything for me. She's running Panama City and she's running her own office as well. And all I'm doing is typing. Man am I lucky.
- Elicia has contributed many ideas that have been put to use. For example, it was her idea to get our business involved in the Christmas parade. She did everything- again. I did nothing- again.

Thank you Elicia for all your hard work. You're dedicated to the success of your location. And it shows everyday. Keep up the hard work and keep making me look good.

One thing about all three managers for my company is that I don't look at them as my employees. Their much more than that. Their my partners. We're in this thing together.

Six Questions With Elicia Coff

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Cleaning - Supermodel Style

Naomi Campbell has to mop the floors of New York's Sanitation Department. She's forced to mop because she threw her cell phone at her maid.

Click here for the full story

Monday, March 05, 2007

It Won't Happen To You

It probably won't happen to you. Or anybody that you know for that matter. But paying someone under the table is illegal. It's called tax evasion. And it can be a serious offense if you're found guilty.

But instead of thinking about it that way, think about it this way. What happens when you pay someone under the table? Here's what happens.

First off, your money goes directly into their pocket. It's not used to support our ever-growing government. So think about your social security. Think about your payroll taxes. Think about your father's disability benefits. Think about your cousin's medicare benefits. Everything gets knocked out of balance. Your future social security benefits are funded by you. Every employee pays a tax toward the social security fund. When your maid gets paid under the table, you stick it someone's grandchild twenty years from now. Because the social security fund is supposed to shrink to zero in about twenty years. All other taxes work the same. Your taxes are put into a pot. That pot pays out the benefits. Yes, you're only one person. But think about this. A 2000 study determined that the U.S. government was missing about $355 billion dollars due to payments received under the table.

Second, your money is never reported as income. So your maid gets a break when income taxes roll around. Is that fair to you? You have to pay taxes on every dollar that you earn. Why shouldn't everyone else play by the same rules.

Third, your maid is unethical. She's robbing the government. So what makes you think that she won't rob you? Think about it. What if you discovered that your maid stole a soda from the local convenience store? You'd fire her. Because you wouldn't trust her. And a soda is less than a buck. When you pay her under the table, she's stealing way more than a buck. And yes, she's stealing from you. Indirectly.

Finally, she's robbing you blind anyway. She gets to piggyback on our shoulders and charge you just under our rates. That way, she gets to look good because she's cheaper. And she also gets to make a killing. Because your money is all profit. There are no expenses. Just labor. But we charge our rates for a reason. We charge what we charge because we have to pay taxes. We have to buy supplies. We have to buy insurance. We have to pay our employees fairly. We have to do all these things in order to be legal.

Look, I'm not perfect. Everybody is guilty of this at some point in their lives. But under the table workers create a big problem. What may seem like savings may actually end up costing you more money down the road. Because the lost tax revenue has to come from somewhere. And guess who that person is?

YOU. Not your maid.

Click here to learn how to follow the rules

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Getting Some Pub

We've made the newspaper.

Click here the read the article. Learn how to get rid of your weekend to-do list.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Meet Melissa

It was a bad day. The manager for our newest location had just been terminated. I was depressed. Sick. Tired. And scared. I was scared that the business wouldn't make it because I didn't have anybody qualified to hire to replace the manager.

So I started thinking. Which of our current employees had an entrepreneurial spirit? Which of our current employees could I depend on to open the office every day? Which of our current employees did I trust the most? And it was the same answer every time. It was Melissa.

Melissa Teaver is the Operations Manager for our Panama City location. The location started off with a bang, but sales were pretty much stagnant for months after the grand opening. We were bleeding money. And nobody seemed to know that we existed.

We had poured thousands of dollars into advertising and employee training. But the ball hadn't even thought about rolling yet. So we decided to start over. And that's when we hired Melissa. And that's when the business started to prosper.

Melissa has been our manager since October 2006. It's only been about five months. But she has absolutely transformed the business since her arrival. Here's just a few of her remarkable contributions to the company.

- Melissa has willingly worked on many Saturdays to cold-call potential customers.
- Melissa has spent hundreds of hours folding, stuffing, and mailing direct mail letters to potential customers.
- Melissa asked to join the local Chamber of Commerce. Her local involvement in the community has been her greatest contribution.
- Melissa has spent countless hours with me brainstorming new ideas.
- Melissa consistent dedication to her work has given me more time to concentrate on growth opportunities.

Long story short, Melissa works. And she works hard. She's dependable. Honest. Sincere. And just like Colleen. She's a manager's dream employee.

Thank you Melissa. Thank you for all your hard work. You're the only reason that our newest location is finally out of the red.

Six Questions With Melissa Teaver.