Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Tax Evasion Scheme Explained

Part One
During a department investigation, it was discovered that from 2003 through 2005 a couple allegedly received over $140,000 of taxable income that was not reported to the State of Minnesota. According to the complaint, the couple owes the state at least $9,750 in income tax for those years.

William McCann allegedly admitted that he had been doing remodeling jobs since 2002 and had received $25 an hour, even though he is not a licensed contractor in Minnesota. He admitted to running a lawn sprinkler service for the past four years as well. The income he received from both of these jobs was not reported on the couple’s tax returns.

Patricia McCann allegedly acknowledged that she knew her husband was involved in remodeling and construction projects, and that the money was put into their checking accounts, but was not reported on their individual income tax returns. She also admitted to failing to report that she had received $225 per week for house cleaning services since April 2003.

Click here for the full article.

Part Two
The I.R.S. estimates that as many as four million people owe payroll taxes (known as nanny taxes) each year, that means that fewer than 1 in 13 are obeying the law.

"My accountant told me I have to stop this and issue paycheck stubs and report what I pay to the I.R.S.," said Elaine, a divorced 42-year-old mother of two who covers Hollywood for a magazine and asked that her last name not be used. "But since no President is ever going to nominate me for the Cabinet, what do I care about paying this stupid nanny tax? And if I get caught, I'll just pay the fine and go on doing what I am doing."

So why should you care?

Maybe this statement will hit home with you.....

The law requires anyone who pays a nanny or other servant more than $1,100 this year to report those wages to the I.R.S. Assuming that only one in thirteen is doing so - and that the tax evaders spend as much on household help as the upright citizens do -the Federal Government is losing $1.2 billion a year in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Click here for the full article.

Part Three
And why should this statement mean anything to you....

1. Because your salary gets whacked because of these payroll taxes. If you have to pay them, why shouldn't everyone else?

2. Because your housecleaner is a thief. She's stealing from your government. And if she'll steal from your government, she might steal from you.

3. Because you're stealing from your government too. And that can't make you feel too good about yourself.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Housecleaning - The Hamburger Of The Service Industry

You know how to cook a hamburger. You know that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to make it taste like every other hamburger. And you know that if you don't want to cook one, then you can just take a short trip to your nearest restaurant or fast food chain.

And most importantly, you know that one of the biggest allures of the hamburger is that it's cheap. Of course, it better be cheap.

It better be cheap because you know that you can just as easily cook one at your house. It better be cheap because almost all hamburgers taste the same. And if it's not cheap, then well, you'll probably pass on the burger, or just stay at home and cook one for yourself.

Yes, that's the residential cleaning world in a nutshell.

You know how to clean your home. You've been doing it for a long time now. You know that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to scrub a toilet or mop a floor. And you know that you can hire a cleaning company for next to nothing.

Of course, this is all true. It's true that you shouldn't have to pay too much if all you're looking for is a cleaning company. But if you've already hired a cleaning company, then you already know that you aren't just hiring a cleaning company.

You're hiring someone to show up on-time every time (because most cleaning companies are notorious for being late). You're hiring someone that you can trust (because you need to know that the stranger in your home didn't rob their last customer). You're hiring someone to provide you with real customer service (because mistakes are bound to happen - and when they happen you need to know that someone is listening).

And after we show up on time. And after we prove to you that our employees are bonded, licensed and insured. And after we explain how our pay for performance plan benefits both our customers and employees.

After we do all that.....

The we'll start cleaning. And after our job is done, maybe you can sit back and enjoy a hamburger!

Monday, January 28, 2008

TwoMaids In The News!!!

Two Maids & A Mop has been featured in the Pensacola News Journal. The story details our pledge to provide free housecleaning services to women undergoing cancer treatment.

For more information, visit Cleaning For A Reason.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Meet Maria - Our First Cleaning For A Reason Patient

Maria is our first Cleaning For A Reason patient at Two Maids & A Mop. Here's her story, in her own words.......

Maria is a wonderful woman who lives in Pensacola. She has three children, but none of them live remotely close to her home. The doctors discovered a large tumor last October and diagnosed it as colon cancer. The tumor was subsequently removed; however, doctors also found a spot on her liver. Each of her children visited her in October during her surgery and recovery. She was so grateful that her kids were able to visit with her because the only other regular contact she has is with her dog Chloe. All she could think about was how much she missed Chloe during her time in the hospital. So her son told her that he would bring Chloe to the hospital if she could gather the strength to get out of bed. And that's exactly what Maria did! It made her day just to see Chloe.

Now that her children have gone back to their homes, she is left to cope with all the chemotherapy and radiation alone. Of course, there are support groups and neighbors. But that doesn't replace the love of family or friends. Maria's doctors have ensured her that her chances of survival are good. She does everything to keep up with daily tasks, but her illness really keeps her down most days. Maria kept thanking Two Maids & A Mop and Cleaning For A Reason for helping her during this time of need.

Colleen Kealey, who manages our Pensacola office, says it best, "It is such an overwhelming feeling to give back and make a difference for someone in need."

P.S. Here are Maria's thoughts on her first house cleaning.....

"I enjoyed meeting you and the two members of your cleaning crew. It was a real treat for me to be able to just sit while my house was cleaned by two very efficient ladies. I will have to give them a 10 out of 10 for their services. They were helpful, friendly and determined to get the whole house cleaned in just 2 hours. That was quite a task considering that my house cleaning had been rather meager since my illness."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

When It's Too Good To Be True

I picked a carpet cleaning service out of the Penny Saver coupons we get in the mail - $89.99 for four rooms, plus the hallway. Last month, Chris from Premier Carpet Care came to inspect. He said I needed deep cleaning and pre-spotting in addition to the basic price or there would be bad results.

So, $227.27 later, they "cleaned" the carpets.

Click here for the full article.

Of course you want something for nothing. There's nothing wrong with that. We all do!! But the reality is that the only reason for a company to brag about its low prices is because there's nothing else to brag about.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How To Avoid Hiring The Next Bonnie & Clyde

Police say the break ins began in October and continued through December. The targets were beachfront homes on the Isle Of Palms in South Carolina.

Each time, the thieves were interested in one particular item, flat screen televisions. Investigators say 41 year old Willie Brown Jr. headed up the operation, with help from two women who work for a St. Stephen maid service that was hired to clean the rental homes.

"There was no forced entry and investigators believed that the perpetrator did in fact have a key or access to a key," said Isle Of Palms Police Sergeant Dawn Caldwell.

Click here for the full story.

It can happen to anyone. You hired the wrong person. And you won't know that you hired the wrong person until it's too late. But there are some ways to ensure that your next hire isn't the next Bonnie & Clyde.

Step 1. Conduct a nationwide criminal background search. That's how we do it. And here's how we do it..........
Criminal Record Search

Step 2. Ask for references. And not just from their best friend. Make sure that the candidate provides you with at least three previous employers.

Step 3. Require that your next maid provides you with a copy of their surety bond policy. And make sure that the bond is current. A surety bond only lasts for twelve months.

If you haven't figured it out yet, hiring your next housecleaner has very little to do with housecleaning.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Quick Hit Customer Testimonial

"On 1/14/08, Julie and Sontoria performed a deep cleaning for our home. I am pleased to rate their performance a 10 out of 10! They worked steadily, professionally, pleasantly and were considerate of my elderly sick mother and our too-friendly dog. Because of their explanation and encouragement, I am considering monthly service for a regular maintenance cleaning."

Julie and Sontoria both work in our Pensacola office. Thanks to both of you for doing what we promise to each of our customers. Our promise - "We promise to be the most customer friendly housecleaning company you'll ever hire!"

Friday, January 18, 2008

Six Steps To The Perfect Cleaning Business

1. Make sure that each transaction is cash only. This means that you don't have to pay Uncle Sam anything! This means that you get to report no income on your income taxes. Which of course means that you'll receive a tax refund down the road.

2. Make sure that you use the customer's cleaning supplies. You know that the only reason that they hired you is because of your low prices. And you know that you need to keep your expenses as low as possible in order to continue offering such low prices. So use the customer's vacuum. Use their mop. Use their rags. Use their cleaning chemicals too. And if they're out of something, then just create your own cleaning products with what they have under the sink.

3. Do not purchase any type of insurance coverage. There's no way you'll be able to afford insurance and continue offering your low prices. So don't even waste your time calling. It doesn't matter anyway. If you break something, what are they going to say to you? This whole transaction is illegal in the first place.

4. Forget about workers' compensation. Why pay for that when all you need to do is sue your employer if you get injured in their home?

5. And when you really just get sick and tired of this business, just quit. Run away. Move out of town. It's not like you have a real investment in your business anyway. All you did was stick some cheap fliers on the grocery store's bulletin board.

6. And finally, if you get real desperate - then just steal from your customer. They don't know you. All they really know about you is that you clean their house every two weeks.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Win A FREE Housecleaning

Share your clever story with Bounce and your story could become one of the next Bounce print ads! Lifestyle expert Sissy Biggers has teamed up with Bounce for their new "Do You Bounce Beyond the Dryer?" campaign. People across the country are encouraged to submit their stories of the different ways they use Bounce dryer sheets outside of the dryer.

All Bounce alternative use stories submitted on will be entered into the grand prize sweepstakes judged by Sissy Biggers, and the winning story will be made into one of the next Bounce print advertisements in a leading lifestyle magazine. Bounce will also select one lucky winner each week to win one month of free cleaning services for their home.

Click here for the full press release.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Reality Of Perception

We often talk about how important it is to understand that you get what you pay for. In our industry, the cost of starting a cleaning business is close to zero. And since the investment is minimal, the investment in the quality of the service is minimal as well.

But a recent research study at the California Institute of Technology suggests that high prices sometimes lead to false perceptions.

The study asked 20 people to sample wine while undergoing functional MRIs of their brain activity. The subjects were told they were tasting five different Cabernet Sauvignons sold at different prices. However, there were actually only three wines sampled, two being offered twice, marked with different prices. A $90 wine was provided marked with its real price and again marked $10, while another was presented at its real price of $5 and also marked $45. The testers' brains showed more pleasure at the higher price than the lower one, even for the same wine!

Click here to find out more about the study.

One of our housecleaning packages includes a two hour cleaning for $125. You get two maids, along with all necessary cleaning supplies and equipment. Nobody in our area charges anywhere close to this for just two hours of work. In fact, many of our competitors charge as little as $10 per hour (one person).

One might think that our $125 cleaning is way better than the $10 per hour cleaning. In some cases, that's very true. In other cases, our $125 cleaning isn't that much better than the $10 per hour cleaning. The reason is simple:

You're not paying us to be the best housecleaner in the world. You're paying us to be the most professional cleaning company in the world. That means that we'll show up on time every time. That means that we'll utilize the most effective cleaning products and supplies available. That means that we'll provide you with the safest and most secure employees in the area. And that means that you'll receive better customer service from us than anyone else in the area. Our service doesn't start when we walk in your home and it doesn't stop when we walk out of your home.

That's what you're paying for. And yes, the statement still rings true.....

You get what you pay for!

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Cleaning Service Debate

The presidential race is in high gear right now. It seems as if there is at least one debate per week. A debate is a powerful tool. It gives you insight on how a person will react under pressure. And of course, the answers from the debate help you determine which candidate supports your most important issues. A debate is truly democratic. You get to listen and make decisions on your personal beliefs.

So that leads me to a proposition.....

What if the cleaning industry had a debate? What if all competitors in our field stood up and fielded questions from potential customers? How amazing would that be? And how easy would it be for Two Maids & A Mop to win!!

It would be a slam dunk. Nobody would be able to compete against us. Nobody could compete us because all we would have to do is explain our pay for performance plan. After each question, we would end our argument like this....

"We pay our employees based on our customer's overall satisfaction level. We do this by letting our customers rate each housecleaning on a scale from 1-10. The rating provided by the customer is the only tool used when determining the pay rate for our employees. The happier our customers are; the more our employees are able to earn with our company."

And the debate would be over. Just like that. Because nobody we compete against can even get close to matching our commitment to customer service.

Of course, there won't ever be a cleaning service debate. It may be that no one would even care enough to watch the debate. But it's more probable that none of our competition would want to show up. They'd have no chance.

Which leads me to my final thought....

If it's so obvious that we would win a cleaning service debate, why don't we win every customer battle? The reason is simple. Because most people don't understand that hiring a cleaning service has nothing to with cleaning. And there's no way to figure this out until you've hired the wrong cleaning service. Cheap sells. And it will continue to sell. But cheap only lasts for a little while. At some point, you want quality. Because cheap still means that you're using your hard earned money. And if you're going to use your money, you might as well use a little more of it in order to receive higher quality.

The cycle always repeats itself. You hire the cheap cleaner-then you call us because you're not satisfied. We can't change the cycle. It's all part of the education.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Cleaning For A Reason

Two Maids & A Mop is proud to announce that it has teamed up with Cleaning For A Reason, a nonprofit foundation that provides free cleaning services to women with cancer.

If you are a woman with cancer or know a woman undergoing treatment for cancer that might benefit from these services, an application may be completed and submitted directly to the Foundation on line through the website or by calling toll free 1-877-337-3348.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Things That Don't Work And Why They Don't Work

The postal service doesn't work. It doesn't work because it's not really a business. The postal service doesn't care if you're unhappy. There's no reason to care because you need the postal service more than the postal service needs you.

The BCS National Championship doesn't work. It doesn't work because it doesn't have to work. Money is being made even when the system is broke. Why change anything when your customer base can't do anything about it? Especially if you're still making billions of dollars off those unhappy customers.

The healthcare industry doesn't work. It doesn't work because it forces the good guys to pay for the bad guys. Your hospital bill is so high because the hospital assumes that a few of you aren't going to pay for your visit. As a result, the hospital overcharges to compensate for the loss. And there's no reason to change because it's working. At least in their eyes.

The reason all of these things don't work is because there are no choices. Combine that fact with the other fact that they are making more money than ever and you can see why nothing will change anytime soon.

The only way to change anything is to incorporate choice into the equation. Choice means that competition is alive. And when competition is alive, the free market works at its best.

For example, think about the cleaning industry. You have sooo many choices when it comes to cleaning. And when there are lots of choices, you (the consumer) gets rewarded with a broad spectrum of choices. Those choices range from cheap cleanings to higher quality cleanings. You get to choose. Everyday!

Choice works.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Services Sales Tax May Be Coming Back To Florida

The state of Florida doesn't currently tax domestic services such as residential cleaning, window washing, or carpet cleaning. In 1987, the state enacted a bill that mandated domestic service companies tax it customers. The bill was revoked within the first six months. However, state legislators are contemplating the bill again.

Click here to read the full story. (Caution: lots of boring tax talk)

Commercial cleaning is currently taxed based on the local sales tax rate. For example, if we clean an office in Escambia County, then we are required to collect an additional 7.5%.

Now taxes aren't necessarily a bad thing. After all, our government must receive revenue from its people somewhere along the way. But here's the problem when you tax a domestic service.

The professional cleaning companies are the only ones taxing its customers. Not only that, the unlicensed cleaners get to increase their rates because of the 7.5% increase forced on professional cleaning companies.

As a customer, you think cleaning is simple, mundane and easy. As a customer, you think that the only tangible difference is price. You don't care about sales taxes. If you did, you wouldn't hire them now. Because hiring an illegal cleaner means that you are skipping payroll and income taxes. So you hire the cheaper alternative. The illegal alternative.

So yes, this new law scares me. Professional cleaning companies are already working behind the eight ball. Professional cleaning companies have to pay more than illegal cleaning companies.

For the record, I'm not against taxes. In fact, I'm all for taxes. Our government needs its people. But a tax system can only work if everyone plays fairly. And since a domestic service such as house cleaning is invisible, there's no way to enforce the measure. Which means that it's not fair.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Health Effects Of Clutter In Your Home

Getting organized is unquestionably good for both mind and body — reducing risks for falls, helping eliminate germs and making it easier to find things like medicine and exercise gear.

Click here to read the full article.