Thursday, September 27, 2007

Acting Like A Customer

If you're going to be a customer, then you need to start acting like a customer. And once you start acting like a customer, then you'll start getting treated like a customer.

Take a look at this article detailing one guy's decision on whether he should fire his cleaning lady. (Caution: contains a few inappropriate words)

He says it way better than I could ever say it...

"I don't like confrontations. I like that Krakovia feels comfortable with me. I've never shown disapproval and now that we've been together for two years, I find it harder than ever to suddenly be the boss."

"Of course I'm more frustrated with myself for not knowing how to fix my relationship with Krakovia. After Krakovia left ("See you Thursday after next, Mr. Mo!") I resigned myself to breaking up with Krakovia by leaving her a message canceling her next visit, then never calling back to reschedule. Unhealthy, I know, and nonsensical considering I was so concerned about her feelings."

If you were a customer, you could just complain. You could complain about anything you wanted to complain about. Because you're the customer. And it's your service provider's job to make you happy. But you're not a customer.

You're a friend. And you can't go back. You can't go back to being a customer. You left the world of customer service a long time ago. Of course, you did hire an individual maid.

She's not a company. No matter what her business card says. She's an individual. And this is what happens when you hire an individual.

When you hire an individual, the world of friendship always overtakes the customer service world. It's called human nature. And it's inevitable.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Top Five Most Frequently Asked Questions

It's true that every house is different and every customer is different. But for the most part, we hear the same questions over and over again. Here's our top five most popular questions....

1. What are your rates? What do you charge?
The phrases change, but the premise is the same for everyone. Everyone's first question deals with our rates. Click here for a detailed answer to the question.

And if you're too lazy to click, just know that we can't answer this question without first asking you a series of questions, such as....

1. What is your home's total square footage?
2. How many bedrooms/bathrooms do you have?
3. How often do you require our service?
4. What type of cleaning do you require?
5. Where do you live?

Make sure you click here for a better explanation.

2. Will I be able to get the same two people each time?
Yet another question that isn't so easy to answer. Click here for a detailed response to this question. And if you're too lazy to click, here's a synopsis.

It's our goal to send the same people every time. It makes your life easier and it makes our life easier. Our system works like this. Two people are assigned to a route. Your home is also assigned to a route. As a result, you should get the same two people every time. The only reason that you won't receive the same two people is because one of the two people isn't at work. Which is exactly the problem. We can't guarantee you that everyone will be at work every day. Stuff happens and people miss work. People also quit. And when they quit, we lose one of the two team members.

The good news is that we will show up. You don't need to worry about that. We will show up. And you can bet that the two people who show up will care. They'll care because your opinion determines their pay level.

3. Are you bonded, licensed, and insured?
In a nutshell, yes, yes, and yes. But there's far more to the story than a simple yes. And of course, we have a link for you to click so that you can learn more about this subject.

Click here to learn more about the joke of the cleaning industry called a bond.

And click here for even more information on bonds, licenses, and insurance.

4. Do you supply your own equipment and supplies?

Click here for a detailed description of our cleaning equipment and supplies.

5. Do you need to be home for us to clean your home?
No. We only need you for three things. We need you to let us in your home. We need you to tell us what you want us to accomplish. And we need for you to critique our cleaning after we're finished.

Entering your home can sometimes be accomplished without you. We do accept customer keys if you can't be home when we arrive. We lock each safe in a fire proof safe and we also number designate each key to ensure your safety.

We can also talk to you before the cleaning to discuss your specific needs. Of course, talking directly to us at your home is a great benefit. But then again, you're hiring us because you don't have enough time in your day anyway.

And we'll either call or email you after we're finished to receive your critique of the cleaning.

Monday, September 24, 2007

High Five

Once a month, we send out a newsletter that awards a free deep cleaning to one lucky visitor to our website. We usually ask our newsletter subscribers to answer a simple question regarding our business and its practices. There's no need to bore you with a sample question-you get the picture.

Anyway, here's a response from one of our subscribers last week....

"I am not really entering your monthly sweepstakes (thanks to your generosity I still have my free 2 hour coupons) but this monthly giveaway and the one you have below are just another example of a great business plan. Two Maids and a Mop involves the customer directly in the business. You offer incentives for good work by basing wages on effectiveness. The Customer does the rating. Management sends out newsletters to keep the customers informed. If anyone ever asks me about maid service, Two Maids & a Mop is the only one I recommend because I know I will not be embarrassed by either the personnel, quality of service, or customer service."

Now that's what I call a testimonial. Unsolicited. Straight from the customer's mouth. And humbling to say the least.

How about you joining in on the fun? Click here if you would like to enter our monthly free housecleaning giveaway.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Three Quick Facts About The Housecleaning Industry

1. There are a lot of us out there. There's a new cleaning company opening every day. And of course, there's another cleaning company closing every day. The solution:

Do your homework. Don't just ask for three references. Ask for a complete history of the company. Housecleaning is brainless. And when something is brainless, you get all sorts of people without a brain. It's your job to figure out who has a brain.

2. There is no such thing as the perfect maid. Everybody makes mistakes. You know this and you admit this. But just wait. Just wait for that mistake. Just wait for that kitchen floor to be dirty. Then tell me if you're ok with mistakes. Because if you're like everybody else, you're not ok. You're not ok because you paid good money for the house to be cleaned. And it's not clean. And you're not happy. The solution:

Relax. When it's all said and done, it's really just a little dirt, dust, or grime. We can fix it. But give us some time. We'll listen to you and we'll fix it. You don't need to threaten to cancel the service. You don't need to raise your voice. Just relax. After all, it's just housecleaning.

3. There no reason to care about being licensed and bonded. But there's a lot of reasons to care about being insured. A business or occupational license costs less than $50. A bond costs less than $100. Neither one does anything for you really. A license is a tax - plain and simple. A bond is supposed to reimburse you for anything stolen. But you've got get a conviction in order to make the bond pay out.

However, insurance costs thousands of dollars. Insurance pays you back if something is broken or damaged. For example, imagine if a very expensive piece of art was destroyed. An individual cleaner without insurance could just run and hide because she doesn't have the funds to reimburse you. Of course, she could if she had insurance. But insurance isn't cheap. And that's exactly why she doesn't have it. But then again, you probably hired her because she was cheap too. The solution:

Don't just hire a maid because they are cheap. There's always a reason why rates are low. Rates are usually lower because overhead is lower. And a big part of a cleaning business' overhead is insurance. It's called general liability insurance and it's just like your homeowner's insurance. When something happens, they open an investigation. Someone estimates the damage and that's how you get paid. Long story short, force every cleaning company to provide you with their general liability insurance policy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

You Really Only Have Two Choices

Now that I own a maid service, it's easy. It's easy to sit here and tell you why Two Maids & A Mop is the obvious choice when it comes to professional housecleaning. But it wasn't so easy a few years ago.

We had just sold our house and we needed both a moving company and a maid service. So we picked up the phonebook and we started calling a few businesses. Turns out that moving is expensive. Turns out that housecleaning isn't cheap either. At least when you talk to the people in the yellow pages.

So we turned to the local classified ads. And we found a group of people that would help us do both things all at once. They would help pack the house and they would help clean the house. All done by the same people. All done for one low price.

Of course, it all ended ugly. They showed up late. They took several breaks. They took forever. And they sucked.

The truck wasn't packed properly. A couple of items were broken or damaged. And the house wasn't too clean either. In the end, we were forced to rearrange some items in the truck. And in the end, we were forced to re-clean some areas that we were missed.

We were forced to do this because we couldn't locate these folks after the work was completed. They had their money and were long gone. Ready to take on another cheapskate like me.

Of course, that was then and this is now. I now know that you really only have two choices.

1. You can do the work yourself, or
2. You can pay someone a fair amount of money for the work.

It's been said before but it bears get what you pay for.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cleaning Tips For Your Weekend

There's a cleaing tip in this directory for everyone out there. Click here for tons of cleaning tips.

Have a great weekend. And don't forget, you can always call a cleaning company if you don't want to tackle the house yourself. Maybe even this cleaning company - Two Maids & A Mop.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Cleaning Lady vs The Cable Guy

You've been there before. You've gotten that crazy timeframe from the cable company. You know, something like "We'll be there sometime between 12-5". You hate it. It's ruins your day. But you can't do anything about it. Nothing.

You can't do anything about it because you need your cable. And there's only one choice when it comes to cable television in your area. So you're forced to sit and grumble for 4-5 hours. And then you're forced to pay your cable bill month after month.

The housecleaning industry is a lot different. There's literally hundreds of so-called cleaning companies out there. A new one is born everyday. But the cable industry does have a link to the housecleaning industry. The link - you have to wait just as long for your maid as you do your cable guy.

Of course, you don't have to wait for your maid. You could force her to treat you like a customer. You could demand that she arrives on time. And if she doesn't-then you could fire her. After all, there's more than one maid in your area.

But you don't. You keep sitting there. Same, old tired thing week after week. You do this for one of two reasons.

1. She's cheap.
She's so cheap that you're willing to overlook the terrible customer service. She's so cheap that you don't expect her to treat you like a customer. But then, you're not really acting like a customer anyway. You're fine with it as long as she keeps charging you next to nothing.

2. She's become your friend.
She's now your friend. And you can't really discipline your friend. No matter if she's late. No matter if she screws up. You can't do anything about it. You're no supervisor. You're not even a customer. You're her buddy.

Of course, you're going to hit your tipping point someday. It might be that her late arrival makes you late to an important meeting one day. It might be that her constant lack of attention irritates you so much that you just explode one day. It might be that you hear about your neighbor's housecleaning company and you get a little jealous.

Your neighbor is talking about punctuality. Your neighbor is talking about customer service. Your neighbor is even talking about professionalism. Your neighbor is talking like a customer. That's the difference.

Your maid isn't a monopoly. You don't have to keep sitting there waiting on her all the time. The choice is yours.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Hard Way To Open A Maid Service

The Easy Way

Step 1. Go to Wal-Mart and buy the following items: one vacuum, one big bag of rags, three mops, one mop handle. Don't buy anything else because your customers will be able to supply everything else.

Step 2. Print about 100 cheap looking flyers and distribute them in an area neighborhood. You want the flyer to look cheap because you want the customer to know that your rates will also be cheap.

Step 3. Call all area cleaning companies and determine their rates. Charge less than everyone.

Step 4. You're in business in less than 48 hours.

The Easier Way

Step 1. Don't buy anything. Don't buy a vacuum. Don't buy a mop. Don't even buy a rag. Your customers will supply everything for you anyway.

Step 2. Go knock on a bunch of doors. Ask the customer what she is currently paying her housecleaning service. Then clean the house for free. Remember, your time cost you nothing so you're not really losing anything.

Step 3. After you've finished, tell her that you'll charge her less than she is currently paying. Remember, you don't have to pay taxes on this new income stream so go ahead and charge her $10 per hour.

Step 4. Your in business in less than 24 hours.

The "I Look Professional" Way

Step 1. Go purchase a business license and a surety bond. Now you get to tell everyone that you're licensed and bonded. And just think, both of these things only cost you about $75 bucks.

Step 2. Repeat all the steps from "The Easy Way" method.

Step 3. Your still in business in less than 48 hours.

The Hard Way

There are no steps. There are no steps because there is no quick way to start a real, professional cleaning company. It takes time. It takes patience. And it takes an investment. Here's what you'll need to invest in order to open a maid service the hard way.

1. Yes, you'll need money. Money buys you proper insurance coverage. Money buys you some real advertising. Money buys you employees. And most importantly, money buys you time. Because you're not going to get rich overnight. It's going to take time to run your new company this way. And time means money. So yes, you'll need money.

2. You'll need patience. This thing isn't going to take off overnight. Know that it will take at least one full year before you ever see a paycheck.

3. You'll need an education. No, you don't need a college degree. Not at all. But you will need to educate yourself on customer service. You'll need educate yourself on your cleaning products. You'll need to educate yourself on everything from A-Z. You're running a company now and it's your job to know everything. And the game changes everyday. So you'll need to learn more and more everyday. Learning never stops.

4. You'll need good people. Your people will determine the success of your new company. Of course, it's your job to find these good people. And it's your job to retain these good people. You can't do everything by yourself.

So why would anyone select "The Hard Way"? After all, it is a lot harder. You select the hard way because it's the right way. The hard way doesn't rip off the government. The hard way doesn't scam its customers. And the hard way doesn't rely on you being the cheapest in town. The hard way gives you the best chance of making it down the road.

And that's the goal of every new business. Not just to be here today, but to be here tomorrow too.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Remember These Three Points

You're going to hire us one day. It may be that you hire us today. Or it may be that you don't hire us until several months from now. But you're going to hire us at some point.

You're going to hire us because you're going to get sick of your current housecleaner. She's going to start showing up late on a regular basis. She's going to start becoming too close to your family. She's going to start missing the same things over and over again. And she may even just quit showing up one day. That day is coming. And when it does, you'll call us.

So when that day comes, remember these three important points about Two Maids & A Mop.

1. You will not receive the same person each and every time.

This is how we lose the majority of our customers. Everybody wants the same person in their home. Heck, so do we. But the reality is that we can't do it. There are just too many variables for us to overcome. Vacation, sick time, and most importantly, employee turnover. Nobody makes housecleaning a career. And we don't blame any of our employees for leaving. People need to have ambition. How can we get upset with someone that decides to leave our business for a more lucrative business? The fact is that our compensation system is far better than the average cleaning company. But the larger fact is that we can't compete with some businesses. Some businesses are able to trounce our compensation system. And when that happens, we're happy for our former employee. That's what makes our country so great. There's always a way to get ahead. It's up to you to decide how far you want to go in life.

2. You will get sick and tired of our constant need for your input.

Our pay for performance plan works because it gives our employees a reason to care about making you happy. Of course, the only person that knows if you're happy is you. And the only way that we can know if you're happy is to talk to you. Every time. So we're going to contact you after each and every housecleaning. We do this because we care about your opinion. And we do this because your opinion is the only thing that separates us from everybody else. Without your feedback, we're just like everybody else.

3. You will be inundated with countless offers that promise to beat our price and our service.

Your mailbox will have a flyer in it one day. Your doorknob will have one too some day. The reason for all these flyers is because there's a new cleaning business born everyday. A cleaning business is cheap to start. For some, there is no overhead. In other words, the money that you pay them is 100% profit. With no overhead, it's pretty easy to beat our prices. Of course, there's a reason you decided to hire us in the first place. Make sure that you keep remembering that because you will forget it somewhere down the road. You'll forget it because we'll do so many things right. We'll show up on time every time. We'll correct our mistakes when you tell us about them. We'll call you after each cleaning to determine your satisfaction level. We'll do a lot of things that no other cleaning service has ever done for you before. We do all these things because you're our customer. You're not just another attempt to make some easy money. And most importantly, remember this. If it's easy to start, it's just as easy to quit. That's why your last maid quit showing up....

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Three Quick Facts About Two Maids & A Mop

Fact #1- If you hire us for long enough, we promise that we'll make a mistake.

Your house is big. It has a bunch of rooms. And it has a bunch of stuff in each of those rooms. We're going to forget to pick up your rug one day. And we're going to forget to wipe down your bedroom baseboard one day. We're going to forget lots of things because we're just like you. We're human and we make mistakes.

Fact #2- We won't know that we make a mistake unless you tell us.
The best medicine for one of our mistakes is communication. If you tell us, we'll fix it. Plus, we'll document it so that we can limit the occurrence of the same mistake. But we can't know that we messed up if you don't tell us. Customer feedback is the only thing that separates us from everybody else. Without your feedback, we're just like everybody else.

Fact #3- When you tell us that we messed up, we'll fix it-FAST.

Of course, it's according to how fast you tell us about one of our mistakes. The quicker you communicate to us; the quicker we're able to respond. The bottom line is that we want to correct our mistakes - no matter how small or trivial. Because we want you to be happy. And you can't be happy if you still have dirty floors after we leave your home. Talk to us and we promise that we'll run to your house in order to make you smile.