Friday, August 31, 2007

The Independent Contractor Maid Service Company

One of the tricks of our trade is to classify your employees as independent contractors. The reason for this tactic is all about the numbers. At least on the surface.

Let's say that you're an independent contractor for a maid service. That means that the maid service agrees to pay you a set amount of money for work performed. In other words, you'll get paid as if you were your own business. The amount of time or resources dedicated to your work doesn't really matter. You can work one hour or you can work ten hours. In either case, you're getting paid the same amount of money.

Now let's say that you're an employee for a maid service. That means that the maid service agrees to pay you an hourly wage for work performed. Pretty straightforward stuff. You get paid based on the amount of time dedicated to your job.

Ok, trivia question time. Why would a maid service company prefer the independent contractor strategy?

A maid service would prefer the independent contractor strategy because it's much easier to calculate profit margins. For example, the maid service knows that they will be paying someone $50 for a job that earns the company $100. Thereby making the profit margin 50%. The employee model isn't quite as simple.

An employee may get stuck in traffic on the way back to the office. An employee may need to stay a few minutes longer in the home because the customer has a special request. Anything could happen to lengthen the employee's time sheet. This all costs money to the maid service company. Which means that this shrinks profit margins as well.

So what's the big deal? The big deal is that the independent contractor strategy is sometimes a big scam. The company may be employing this method because it can pay its "contractors" less than a fair wage. In some cases, the wage may even be less than minimum wage. This tactic is also very popular because it allows the maid service company to employ illegal aliens. The liability isn't with the company. It's with the independent contractor. Which leads me to yet another example. If there is no liability, what happens when something goes missing? You guessed it. The maid service isn't responsible. The independent contractor is responsible.

Now let me say that not all companies that employ the independent contractor strategy are scam artists. But the reality is that this strategy is easy to manipulate. And it's happening somewhere in your town today. Here's an example of a company getting caught in southern California recently.

Be careful out there. The maid service industry is ripe with bad apples. Just because they call themselves a business doesn't mean that they care about you as a customer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How To Get The Ball Rolling

Adding another customer to your database doesn't just mean that you've got another revenue source. It means that you've added another employee to your payroll.

And the best thing about your new employee is that you don't have to pay him anything. In fact, he's willing to pay you. And he's probably willing to pay you on a regular basis.

A customer is your opportunity to shine. Most of our customers receive our service at least twice per month. That means that we get at least twenty four chances to make him happy. And the more we make him happy; the better the chance that he'll talk about us to his friends or family.

And then, of course, we get yet another free salesperson. That's how the ball gets rolling. It's up to you to decide how far the boll rolls.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On Buying Customer Service....

When they saw the letter from Boston Magazine earlier this month, Elias and Caroline Mavroidis thought they had arrived.

Completely without warning, their family business, South End Cleaners and Tailors, had won a "Best of Boston" prize as the best neighborhood dry cleaners. The letter came with a certificate and an invitation to a fancy party to mingle with the rest of Boston's finest.

The next news to arrive wasn't nearly as gratifying. Their landlord stopped by to tell them that he was increasing their rent from $2,900 a month to $5,000. If they chose not to pay, they had to vacate the Tremont Street property by Oct. 1.

That's wasn't all the bad news. The landlord, Wayne Doherty, also told them that he planned to open his own dry cleaners at the same location once they departed.

A similar situation happened to Sam Walton after he opened his first Ben Franklin store. The landlord saw how much money his property could generate and he wanted in on the action. Of course, nobody knows the name of that landlord today. And my guess is that nobody will know the name of this landlord either.

Customer service can't be transferred. Customer service can't be bought. Customer service can only occur when your passion meets your work. Without the passion, it's just fake. And fake never lasts.

If the landlord were smart, he would have done everything in his power to retain this customer. Because this customer was successful. And if your job is to rent business space, then you better hope that all of your businesses are successful. Because if they're not, then you're out of a renter.

Of course, this landlord doesn't have the same kind of passion for his leasing business as his renter does for his dry cleaning business. Hopefully, we'll get a follow up a few months from now. My guess is that the landlord wins this battle. But a better guess is that the dry cleaner wins the war.

Click here for the full article

Friday, August 24, 2007

You Get What You Pay For

It was discussed here yesterday. Your cheap, individual maid needs your money today. But tomorrow could be a different story. She'll leave you at the drop of a hat. She'll leave you because the money's better somewhere else. It could be that her husband got a big raise and she doesn't need to work any longer. It could be that she got a full-time job with benefits and guaranteed hours. Or it could be the more common reason.

The reason she is probably leaving you is because someone else is willing to pay her more money for her services. You're not really her customer. You're not really her customer because she's not really a business.

Take it from this person. Her frustration will one day be your frustration.

Here's a great comment from this frustrated "customer",

"How can she quit?!? Is my house that bad? I hope it's just that she's too busy. No, I don't hope that. She was mine first!!! She needs to drop one of those dirty house people and come back to me!"

You already know this, but it bears repeating............

You get what you pay for. Everytime.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sick And Tired

People that eat at McDonald's don't usually end up eating at Ruth Chris later that night?

People that purchase a Kia Rio don't usually end up purchasing an Astor Martin later in life?

But people that hire a cheap, individual maid usually end up hiring a professional maid service.

McDonald's gives you what you want. You get fast service. And you get cheap food. That's all you wanted. And that's probably all you'll ever want.

The Kia Rio gives you what you want. Good gas mileage. Limited maintenance costs. And it's within your budget. That's all you wanted. And that's probably all you'll ever want.

The individual maid starts out that way. All you really want is a clean house. And you really don't want to pay too much for it. After all, it's just housecleaning.

But something tends to sway you into our corner at some point. Little things start upsetting you. Your maid starts missing the same things over and over again. Your maid starts showing up later and later. Your maid even starts not showing up at all sometimes.

The tipping point for you usually comes after you've hired a multitude of cheap, individual maids. You just get sick and tired of hiring the same person. The story always seems to repeat itself.

The reason is simple. You're not her customer. You're just a means to an end. You pay her bills today. But tomorrow is another day. And if tomorrow brings a better revenue source, then you're history.

You are our customer. Today. And tomorrow.

Go ahead and do what you gotta do. Hire that cheap, individual maid today. Then call us down the road.

We promise that we won't say, "We told you so!".

Monday, August 20, 2007

How To Raise The Value Of Your Home

In a nutshell...keep it clean.

One of our cleaning packages is called a "Move In/Out Cleaning". Obviously, people select this package when they are either moving into or out of their home. The home is empty, except for certain appliances. Here's what we'll clean during a move in/out cleaning.

  • inside/outside of cabinets and drawers
  • inside/outside of appliances
  • full, detailed cleaning of bathrooms, kitchen, bedrooms, and common areas
  • interior windows and blinds
  • sliding glass doors and tracks
  • vertical surfaces such as baseboards, molding, trim work, and doors
  • vacuum carpets
  • sweep and mop hard surface floors
  • pick up any loose trash or garbage

You can expect a lot with this type of cleaning. And it really transforms your home. However, you've either already sold or bought the house when you select this type of cleaning package.

The real estate market is in a major decline right now. With so much inventory, little things can go a long way in separating your home from the next home on the MLS. Keeping your home clean has been proven to enhance the image of your home. And the image of your home goes a long way in determining the value of your home.

Check out this article that details how keeping a clean house translates into extra dollars for your home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Florence Johnston

You may remember Florence. She was George and Weezie's housekeeper. She lived in their luxury Upper East Side apartment. Every single day.

Florence cooked. Florence served food. Florence cleaned the dishes. Florence answered the door. And Florence cleaned the house.

Florence became like family. She went shopping with Weezie. She slept in her own bedroom. She invited dates over to the apartment. And she made repeated jokes about George.

Now it's obvious that The Jefferson's was a sitcom. It wasn't real life. Not even close. But it can leave you with one big impression.

You see, George couldn't fire Florence. George couldn't fire her because Florence was too close to the family. She was family. And you can't possibly throw a family member out of the house. That's just not right.

So George was stuck. He was stuck listening to the same jokes day after day. He was stuck waiting on his food. He was stuck answering the door for himself. And he was stuck paying Florence for nothing.

All because she became part of his family. And it can happen to you too.

Your housekeeper is your employee. You are your housekeeper's customer. At some point, human nature takes over. And when it takes over, forget about discipline. Forget about professionalism. Because it's too late.

Your employee is now your friend.

Or, you could just hire a professional cleaning service. Maybe even one called Two Maids & A Mop.

You're always our customer. And it's our job to make you happy. Every time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Window Washing 101

One of the most difficult tasks associated with cleaning a home is how to effectively clean the windows. Personally, we've tried a number of different cleaning agents and techniques. Our most effective strategy has been to utilize a cleaner called Sprayway Glass Cleaner. It can clean everything from your mirrors to your windows. In addition, it is virtually streak-free and eco-friendly.

Of course, there are several different methods that you can utilize in your home to clean the windows. Check out this primer on how to effectively clean those pesky windows.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Quick Fix

Let's say that you are in dire need of some quick cash. You need some money and you need it yesterday. You could sell something in order to raise the cash. You could get a part-time job. You could rent your extra bedroom. You could do a lot of things.

According to this website, you could even start your very own house cleaning service.

"You can easily make $20 an hour cleaning houses if you can manage the business end right. The key is finding clients and doing a great job in a short amount of time. If you’re in a financial crunch, there’s money to be had if you’re willing to put in the work. You just have to go out and grab it!"

Yes, we're lined up right next to plasma donation and holding a garage sale. And yes, you're the pawn in their game.

These new house cleaning "companies" know that you can be had if they just charge you a little less than everybody else. They know that the money can be quick. They know that the money can be tax free. And they know that they can quit anytime they wish.

Because you're not really their customer. You're just a quick fix.

The question is simple. Do you want to be a customer, or do you want to be a quick fix?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Dreaded $8 Price Increase

Two of our locations recently raised their rates. The overall increase was about 10% for each current customer. So if you were you used to paying $87 per visit, you'll now be paying $95 per visit. That represents an $8 increase.

Raising your rates can be a tell-tale sign to the overall health of your business. For some, we're the only choice. We're the only choice because they are tired of receiving the same old tired cheap maid. They're tired of the maid showing up late all the time. They're tired of the maid getting too comfortable in their home. And they're tired of hiring a new maid every month or so because the last one keeps quitting without any notice. These are the customers that we want to use our service.

We want them to use our service because they understand the importance of our dedication to customer service. Making a customer happy isn't easy. It comes at a price. The price of customer service is ultimately determined by the quality of your employee base. If your employees care, then you have a decent shot at making a lot of customers happy.

The odd thing is that we still have several customers who don't care about our pay for performance plan. They don't care about our guarantee to show up on-time every time. They don't care about any of that because they only hired for one reason anyway. Of course, the reasons are diverse. Some people hire us because we were the only company to pick up the phone. Some people hire us because they like our catchy name. Some people hire us because we were the first link in a search engine. And some people hire us simply because we were cheaper than the other guy (yes, it happens sometimes).

But something happens between $87 and $95. It's called memory loss. You forget that we were the only company that talked to you when you could talk. You forget that we were the only company that consistently showed up on-time every time. And then you really forget just how bad your other maid service company was at satisfying your needs.

In fact, the only thing that you remember about your old maid is that she was a lot cheaper. And then you tell yourself that it's only housecleaning. Anybody can do it. So you terminate our services because of an $8 increase.

But then something funny happens right after that decision. You start remembering why you hired us in the first place. And then you call us back.

And that's when $8 doesn't seem like such a bad deal any longer. And that's also when you become one of our real customers. Because you now understand the importance of our dedication to customer service.

For you seven customers that decided to terminate our service because of our recent price increase......we'll see ya soon.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Employee Morale Formula

There's a maid out there right now mopping a floor. She's mopping back and forth trying to get that same dirty floor clean again. Just like yesterday. Just like last week.

She's mopping, but she keeps thinking the same thing over and over again. She's thinking that her job stinks. She's thinking that she's going nowhere fast. And she's thinking that this is going to be her last dirty floor.

So how do you make someone care about cleaning the same dirty floor day after day? It's a heck of a question to answer because the answer isn't simple.

The first thing that you need to do is make them accountable. In other words, don't just hand them a mop and say "go to work". Mopping is the physical part of the task. But cleaning a dirty floor means much more than just cleaning a dirty floor. For our employees, it means that the customer will be satisfied. Which leads us to the next phase...

The second thing that you need to do is pay them more than anyone else. Of course, that's where the accountability comes into play. Measure their performance. And when their performance meets your expectations - show them the money. Give them a reason to care about being accountable.

There's plenty of other little things that you can do to create an atmosphere that breeds positive employee morale. But patting someone on the back never paid the rent.

The formula is simple. Measurement + Compensation = Employee Morale.

The formula is simple. Implementation of the formula is the hard part.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

To Discipline Or To Not Discipline......

The cycle goes a little something like this. You sign up a new customer. You promise that she'll be satisfied. Then you perform the work.

That's when the problems begin. One of the employees responsible for cleaning the house isn't into the job that day. It's hot outside. It's Tuesday. And it's the last house of the day. The employee just wants to get this thing over with.

So she goes through the motions. And of course, she makes some mistakes. And of course, your new customer is upset. She's thinking, "What kind of first impression is this? If they'll do this the first time, what will they do the tenth time?"

So she cancels the service. And then you get to deal with the employee. But here's your problem. You can't really afford to discipline the employee because you're afraid that she'll quit. Sure, she just lost your newest customer. But her two legs and two arms are prized possessions right now.

The reason is simple. Nobody else wants to work for you. If you discipline this employee, she may just quit. And if she quits, then you have an even bigger problem. Because you need her two legs and two arms. Without them, you're in big trouble tomorrow.

So you do nothing. No verbal warning. No written reprimand. No discipline at all. And of course, it happens again a few days later. And of course, you're forced to make the same decision.

To discipline or to not discipline.

There's an easy way out of this cycle. Give your employees a reason to care. Give your employees a reason to care about your job more than the job down the street. Because if they don't care about your job, then you can't expect them to care about your customers.