New Cleaning Technicians: 10 Tips for Better Onboarding

I'd like you to be honest for a moment and think about how many times you were in such urgent need of new cleaning technicians that you skated through the onboarding process in a matter of hours. I'm going to guess it's been more times than you'd care to admit... right?

The typical scenario for onboarding new cleaning technicians:

  1. Applicant comes in for the interview and you ask if he can start tomorrow.
  2. He shows up for orientation and you have him fill out the required paperwork.
  3. You run through the important points in the Employee Handbook (assuming you have one...)
  4. You run through the important points he needs to know for Safety Training (such as wearing PPE and cautioning about never mixing chemicals).
  5. You take him to the location and show him around.
  6. You have him follow you around as you explain what you're doing, having him watch you clean.
  7. You have him start helping you clean.
  8. You look at your watch because he's moving pretty slow and you could have been to the next building by now!
  9. You finish up and tell him to meet you the next day.

Now some of you may be chuckling at this scenario, but that's most likely because you've done this before!

What I want to suggest is that you slow things down a bit. Well, not a bit... a lot! Remember that old saying, "Hire Slow, Fire Fast"? Hire slow is the key to making this work so you can retain quality employees.

Here are some tips for slowing down the onboarding process

  1. Pre-Orientation. Send the new hire a welcome message that also reminds him/her of what to bring on the first day. Also prepare the paperwork ahead of time, and make sure they have a clean uniform and nametag ready to go. You don't want to give a bad impression on their first day by being disorganized and unprepared.

  2. First Day. Let your receptionist know when the new hire is arriving and make sure she is trained to make the new hire feel welcome. Give the new hire a tour, introducing him/her to others in the office.

  3. If you have a bulletin board in your office with employee news, post the new hire's name and photo to make them feel welcome. If you publish an employee newsletter, be sure to welcome all new hires by name and publish their photo.

  4. I won't go through the entire new hire checklist here, but be sure to provide all the appropriate paperwork and give them their own copy of your Employee Handbook. Better yet, provide an Orientation Packet with all the necessary documents. Then proceed to work through the Orientation. Don't rush this part -- they will know if you're rushing to get through and it will give them the sense that you really don't care. Be sure to spend plenty of time on the Employee Handbook so they understand more about the culture of the company and their role, as well as the rules and regulations.

  5. Take the time needed to work through the training at your office. Some companies do a quick orientation then go right out to the job site and start training. Others spend two days at the office, doing orientation and safety training the first day, and then doing the rest of their training on the second day. Many larger companies spend several days training at their office before moving to the location. Your new cleaning technicians should receive a minimum of 2 days of personalized training at your office before sending them out to the job location.

  6. At the location, you may be doing the training yourself, or handing off the new employee to a supervisor. Be sure they are introduced to any other team members at the location. Also make sure they know all the procedures for entry into the building, security of keys or key codes, location of the janitor closet, emergency procedures, timekeeping procedures, and SDS Sheets. All that happens before any cleaning starts.

  7. After the first week (assuming your supervisor is doing the training), stop by to meet with the employee to check their progress. Encourage communication between the employee and the supervisor, and also identify any concerns that need to be resolved.

  8. After 30 days, survey the employee to get feedback on your onboarding and training process. If they offer feedback that should be addressed, be sure to take action instead of ignoring any new employee concerns. Sometimes a fresh perspective from a new hire is all you need to see what can be improved in your company, so don't discount their ideas.

  9. Did you know that about 20% of employee turnover occurs around the 45 day mark? This is a good time to assess your new cleaning technicians to see how they're fitting into the job. Determine if there is anything you can do to make their job more satisfying.

  10. It usually takes about 90 days for employees to fully acclimate to the job. It's also a good point to review their performance, give feedback and raise concerns. Make sure the supervisors are involved, asking how they can help the employee. Also ask the employee for suggestions or ideas for improvements. Here again, new employees can often bring a fresh perspective that we might not have thought of before, and it gives you a chance to show that you are really interested in their opinion.

These are just 10 ideas for slowing down the onboarding process but there are lots more. Won't you share your tips for a more engaging onboarding experience? How do you make your new cleaning technicians feel welcome? Please share your comments by clicking on the Comments link below.

 


LinkedIn Company Page: Do You Need One For Your Cleaning Company?

When I talk to cleaning business owners about their social media presence, many of them say something like, "Yeah, I've been meaning to get around to that but I just don't have the time."  And when it comes to LinkedIn, most have a personal page, but very few have created a business page.

Do you really need a LinkedIn Business page?

The short answer is Yes! You really do need a LinkedIn Business page! And here's why.

First, you need it for business credibility. You may not realize it, but your customers are doing research on you and your business. They want to see how professional you are, and one way to do that is to check out your website and your social media presence. If they visit your website and see your LinkedIn social media button, they will likely click over to see the page. 

A second reason you need a LinkedIn business page is that there is SEO value in just having it set up. The search engines tend to rank LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter pages high in business searches. If your prospects go online and search for your company name, what will they find? Here are search results that show 3 of our business pages for The Janitorial Store. 

LinkedIn Company Page

If they don't go directly to the website, we might capture their attention with our social media page links. And think about it; don't you tend to trust companies who have lots of links to their online presence in search results? It means they work hard at their business and are in it for the long haul.

What should I post on my LinkedIn Business Page?

Like any social media page, it's great to have the page set up, but give it a boost by posting engaging content. We typically do three things with our posts.

  1. Ask questions. Think about what kind of questions will get your audience engaged.
  2. Amplify our blog content. We take the time to create content for our audience - kind of like this post! So we want to share as much of that content as we can on social media.
  3. Share other's content. If other related businesses are sharing great content, then share theirs with your audience, with a comment on why they should read it.

Here is an example of a post that ABM posted on their company page, sharing the good things they're doing to help families in need.

LinkedIn Company Page Post Example

What about Showcase Pages?

A Showcase Page is basically a sub-page of your business page. They are optional on LinkedIn, but you might consider doing them because they allow you to showcase your products and/or services, and give more detail than you can on the main business page.

You are limited to 10 Showcase Pages, but that should be plenty for most small businesses. So for a cleaning company, you might have a Showcase Page for the primary industries you serve, something like you see below. When you add Showcase Pages, they show up on the right sidebar of your business page.

Showcase Page Example

Another benefit to Showcase Pages is that the search engines index them separately from your Business Page.  The downside, is that it becomes more to manage. But if you have help with your social media posting, then you don't have to worry about personally doing the work. 

Are you ready to get your LinkedIn Business Page up and running so you increase your online visibility? Post your comments below, we'd love to hear your thoughts and success stories!


Why Print Newsletters? Your Competitors Aren't Doing It

Today’s cleaning business owner is busier than ever. You are on the go and in demand. This active and hectic schedule tends to leave little time to stay connected with clients and to engage new prospects.

Newsletters to the rescue!

Newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with your current clients, build stronger relationships, and peak interest in your company and the services you offer. It’s a monthly reminder that you can employ to keep your business in front of your clients and prospects on an ongoing basis.

Why print newsletters?

The main purpose of sending out newsletters is to build relationships with clients and prospects. Newsletters contain entertaining, fun and informative articles, games, and interesting facts. They can also include specials, contests, and news about your business. But you don’t need “in your face” selling with your newsletters; it's about building relationships and make a connection. 

Newsletters increase client retention and loyalty. They make it easy to connect with clients and prospects without being pushy and without taking up a lot of your time. People love them if you do it right. Prospects remember you and the print newsletters get passed around.

Your goal should be to connect with your clients at least once a month

A good rule of thumb to remember is for every month you DON'T connect with your clients, you lose 10% of the value of your relationship. So if you let it go for 10 months, you've probably lost them. We spend so much time trying to GAIN new customers, but then forget about nurturing the relationship once we have them.

And remember, if YOU aren't keeping in touch with your clients, your competitors WILL!

Note: It will cost you 5 to 10 times more to acquire a new client then it does to retain existing ones, so newsletters are a great investment for your cleaning business and should be included as part of your ongoing marketing strategy.

“I would like to send out newsletters but I just don’t have time to create one every month,” is a common response for cleaning business owners when it comes to newsletters. Here’s how we can help!

Newzbreak (for commercial cleaning companies) and Better Home Living (for residential cleaning companies), are already created for you, the cleaning business owner. They are simple to edit and will keep you and your clients connected. They build trust and engage your clients without making phone calls or knocking on doors. Your clients will soon begin looking forward to your monthly newsletters and keeping your clients coming back is profitable for your business.

Why NewzBreak and Better Home Living?

  1. It takes just a few minutes of your time. We do all the work of creating the content! All you have to do is personalize it for your business by adding your logo and photo, a special offer and company updates. Then take it to your local printer or upload it to an online printer. You can even convert it to PDF and upload it to your website for online reading. 

  2. The newsletters are easy to read, informative, and enlightening. New content is created for you each month that is sure to pique the readers interest. New issues include relevant and interesting articles, useful advice, fun trivia and a crossword puzzle, recipes, and much more.

  3. They appeal to prospects. Getting your name and brand in front of your prospects helps to create a “buzz” about the products and services you have to offer. Newzbreak newsletters add credibility to your cleaning company issue after issue.

  4. Newzbreak and Better Home Living newsletters get read. How many sales calls or advertising emails do you get in a single day? Too many to count, right? You politely decline the cold call offers and delete advertising emails without even opening them. But mailing or delivering monthly print newsletters allows you to present company offers and specials without the strong “sales pitch.” This is accomplished by having a newsletter with a wide range of content, not one that is loaded with sales offers. And since your clients and prospects are expecting to receive your monthly newsletter, you are sure to get read, not discarded or deleted.

  5. Newzbreak newsletters are a low cost way to market your cleaning business. You are constantly looking for inexpensive, yet effective ways to market your business, right? The relative ease of editing the newsletter to personalize it and make it unique to your company and business application makes it a popular choice among small business owners looking to get the most “bang for their buck.” Owners with even the smallest of budgets can utilize this type marketing to its full potential without having to pay for expensive newspaper or radio ads. The monthly newsletter will be a great addition to your marketing plan.

What commercial cleaning business owners are saying about NewzBreak:

"In search of how I could entrench my company with our customers and slam the door on the competition for good, I bought "NewzBreak Newsletter" from The Janitorial Store and offered it to my clients. WOW! the response was phenomenal! They loved it!"

"This is the best business investments I have ever made. It's about ROI and if you're not providing this newsletter to your customers, you're losing money. I highly recommend "NewzBreak" to anyone serious about growing their business."

Here is what the client of a home cleaning business owner posted on his Facebook page about receiving Better Home Living:

"Once a month when the crew visits our home for cleaning, they leave a copy of Better Home Living. The newsletter is chock full of helpful tips, interesting information and several chances to win gift cards from local businesses or other perks from the business itself. All of this is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your attention to detail and these 'little' extras. Go Life Maid Easy!"

Newzbreak and Better Home Living newsletters provide your clients and prospects interesting and informative content on a consistent, month to month basis. The high quality presentation and organization of the newsletter is directed toward your target audience. In addition to the pre-templated content, the MS Word format of the newsletter is easily editable to include your company name, your logo, company news, upcoming events, specials, or links back to your company website or pages.

With competition lurking just around the corner, it’s more important than ever to continually build upon the company-client relationship. These newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with your clients on a monthly basis without consuming much of your valuable time. The newsletters allow you to stay connected on a personal level with client and prospects, while showcasing your company and putting you out front of the competition.

image from www.thejanitorialstore.comView a Sample Issue of NewzBreak Here

image from www.myhousecleaningbiz.comView a Sample Issue of Better Home Living Here

To order the newsletters, visit these pages:

NewzBreak Newsletter (for commercial cleaning companies)
http://www.thejanitorialstore.com/products/item920.cfm

Better Home Living (for residential cleaning companies)
http://www.myhousecleaningbiz.com/products/item291.cfm

 


Why Your Cleaning Customers Are 57% Sold Before They Call

Last week we attended the annual ISSA Trade Show and Cleaning Convention. I did a total of 5 presentations throughout the week for ISSA, BSCAI and ARCSI, and one statistic I shared got the attention of many cleaning business owners and distributors.

"57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier." Source: CEB Global

57-percent-cebSource: CEB Global

What exactly does this mean for your cleaning company?

  1. It means your customers are doing research on the companies they're thinking about doing business with before they contact you for a price quote or proposal. 

    In fact, even if your customer received a referral from a friend or business colleague, they're not immediately picking up the phone the way they used to. Now, they think to themselves, "John said that he uses ABC Cleaning, so I think I'll check them out on the Internet to see what I can find out about their company." What are they going to find when they go searching for your company?

  2. It also means that if you want those customers to find your cleaning company when they're actively researching, you must have optimized content that comes up on the search engine results page (SERP). If nothing shows up for your company, then your competitors who do show up in the search results will get the business.

Here is an example of having a great online presence when a prospect goes searching for your company name. Buckets and Bows Maid Service dominates the page with their location on the map, their website, social media links and review site links.

Bucketsandbows

Here is another cleaning company in Dallas, but notice that they are not on the map, and every link on the page directs them back to their own website -- no social media presence and no review sites. In fact, they seem to really focus on being the "low-cost maid service" in the area. Not sure that makes for a very profitable business. 

Corkd

Do a similar search for your own business. What do you find? If you have a strong online presence, as the first company does, then chances are, it's going to help to convert your prospect and prompt them to pick up the phone. Once they call, the ball is in your court. All you have to do is close the sale!

If you are struggling with your online presence and with marketing your cleaning business, we'd like to invite you to Join our Marketing Discussion Group on Facebook!

 


Survey Results: Having a Hard Time Staffing Your Cleaning Business?

In our last blog post, we addressed the question: Where are all the good cleaning technicians?

Most cleaning business owners are singing the blues these days because they're having a hard time finding good employees that stick around. Because of that article, we asked our readers to take a survey that would give us insights into the hiring difficulties cleaning company owners are facing today. 66 business owners responded and here are the results.

What kind of cleaning business do you have?

Residential 23%
Commercial 32%
Both Residential & Commercial 45%

Kind-of-biz

 

How long has it been since you started your cleaning business?

Less than 1 year 2%
1 to 2 years 6%
3 to 5 years 18%
6 or more years 74%

How-old

 

How big of a challenge is it to find good applicants and fully staff your cleaning business today?

Very challenging – often short staffed, always hiring 47%
Somewhat challenging – occasionally have staff shortages 50%
Not challenging – plenty of candidates, fully staffed 3%

Challenge

 

 How serious is your labor situation?

Serious problem right now 21%
Somewhat serious 36%
It’s an issue but not a problem right now 41%
Not a problem 2%

How-serious

 

How does your staffing challenges today compare to one or two years ago?

More of a challenge today 48%
The same 41%
Less of a challenge today 11%

  Compare

 

On a scale of 1 (not so good) to 4 (excellent). How would your employees rate your cleaning company as a good place to work?

4 – Excellent – everyone loves working here 18%
3 – Very good – much better than other cleaning companies 70%
2 – The same as other cleaning companies 12%
1 – Not as good as other cleaning companies 0%

Good-place-to-work

 

Please describe what you are doing specifically to make your cleaning business a better place to work. 

Here are the top 12 responses:

• Competitive wages
• IRA and 401K plans
• Paid holidays/PTO
• Quarterly incentives
• Weekly performance bonuses
• Gift cards
• Flexible work hours and schedules
• Employee of the month recognition
• Training programs and ongoing training/certifications
• Care/Listen
• Group Meetings
• Team/positive work atmosphere

Below are some additional comments provided by cleaning business owners on what they're doing to make their business a better place to work:

We just implemented PTO. This will start occurring after employee has been with us for 90 days. For every 8 hrs work they get .25 paid time off. We are really working hard at helping with childcare -- BIG issue with keeping employees. Yearly employee (with family) picnic at a local amusement park. Bonuses for quality assurance checks that pass with a 85% or higher. Starting wage is $10 an hour. Stages of growth in the business ~ work your way to better pay with added responsibilites.

Trying to encourage employees and verbally thank them for being a great employee. This seems to turn the attitude from grumblings to sharing how they were creatively finding a solution to a problem.

Listening to employees concerns and actively doing something about it, when possible, rather than justifying or brushing it off as " I'm the boss and I know better", gives them an appreciated team feeling.

Treat my employees like I would like to be treated in the business. If they have trouble with cleaning certain buildings find ways to fix the problem and help them out.

Hire using results oriented job descriptions. Insist that the Company core drivers are followed at all times, without exception. Train in-house regularly and require outside training and certifications. Hold regular employee meetings and evaluations. Buy far the toughest for me is to holding people accountable.

Lately, we feel like we've won the lottery when it comes to good employees. Because of this and not wanting to lose them, we recently increased their pay across the board. We had discussed needing to pay better in order to attract and maintain better employees, so we decided to raise the pay of the ones we have first. We also like to reward our employees with gift cards. They work hard, so giving them a gift of a massage or a night out to eat let's them know how much we appreciate them. Appreciation goes a long way and it needs to be more than just saying thank you. Our industry is a thankless one, we rarely hear a thank you from our clients, so we try to make sure our employees know how much they're appreciated to us.

I am going to focus on developing a stronger and more positive culture. I have at times been negative. I have been negative at finding people to work because I don't think they want to work, so when I schedule an interview, 9 times out of 10 they don't show up and I just get discouraged. I am looking at different ways to interview.

I feel as though we are moving in a good direction and after years created the "ideal" employee checklist to interview with as a guideline, allowing us at this time and the near future to be ok. Of course, with the appeal of the minimum wage increase slated to happen for some of the bigger companies, I feel that will have a great impact, no matter how much we care or listen. That is my concern now.

We have an employee of the month with a gift card for $25-50. We pay a current employee $100.00 for finding a good worker if they stay for 90 days. We are thinking about a star sticker program for employee's that keep their Janitor closets clean and neat. Keep our back pack vacuums well maintained especially the extension cords, from pulling out the pig tail from the vacuum, and keep the cord untwisted and damaged. I replace currently no less than 8-10 extension cords every month plus pick up at least 1-6 backpacks due to neglect and pulled out or shorted pigtails, or ruined extension cords due to either end plug end shorts, plus cord bare wires shorting out etc. We have a very real equipment neglect issues which extend much farther into very expense cleaning machines. Etc.

My staff clock in and out at our office the beginning and end of each day making it easy to communicate with the team leaders about their day. We begin each day with a smile and a "Good Morning" and end it with "How did your day go?" "I'll see you tomorrow!" Each teams next days schedule is posted on the wall so they can see what is coming up on the following day. We schedule the same team together as much as possible. We provide 6 paid holidays and two weeks paid vacations. We provide company uniforms and company vehicles, no one has to drive their own vehicles.  I conduct mandatory, weekly staff meetings each Friday morning to review training issues so everyone works from the same page. Our employee training manuals are complete and organized with a copy in each vehicle.

I stay very positive. I praise very loud and publicly. I reprimand privately. I am constantly discovering fun ways to coach, games, contests and while challenging to "rise above" other cleaning techs in service and skill. The bottom line, this is a very physical service and not a lot of people can do it well. I'm thankful for the staff I have! They make my business successful!

Prior to starting my cleaning business I was a Human Resources Director in the hotel industry for 15 years. So I have a very strong background in Team Member Relations and creating a professional positive and fun work environment. There are many things I've done but if I were to sum it all up into one this. Keeping the team members engaged with each other and the business. Make them feel like they are a valuable part of the business. Listen to them, implement their ideas and suggestions and if there's a "bad apple" in the bunch who, after coaching and counseling, won't change their negative behavior; they need to be kicked off the team and replaced. Also get the cleaners involved in the interviewing process and let them be a part of the hiring decisions.

Incentives, bonuses, flexible schedules, positive atmosphere, do not yell or demean when correcting a problem.

1- We recognize Team Members b-days, have donuts periodically or pan dulce, have "graduation celebrations" when Team Members become certified (and a pay increase comes with it), 6 month reviews with opportunity to increase pay by $0.80 / hr per review, weekly team reviews (we work in teams of 2), providing feedback - accomplishments as well as opportunities, we have favorite candy bars and sodas that they can get when doing something well, we hand out gift cards for lunches when team members are caught doing something well - make a customer's day.

The culture of Family first, This assures the ladies if one of the children get sick or a family emergency they are don't have to worry about job security. The have weekends off, and I have developed a great team who enjoy working together and serving our customers.

We try to pay higher than our competitors. We offer paid vacation after 1 year. We offer gift certificates throughout the year to local dining or bonuses when an employee has gone over and beyond.

Better pay than competition, thorough training practices~10 hours before out in the field, professional in all aspects, respect for their ideas and efforts, incentives.

Highest pay in the area, paid holidays (6), up to 5 paid personal time off, up to 5 more unpaid days off, 3 paid sick days, 401K for every employee even the 1 to 2 day part timers

Better pay, vacation and help when necessary picking up children of employees. We give some people that have a hard time finding work a chance.

We have water and soft drinks in the fridge. We have cookies, chips, or buy some food to have in the fridge just in case we have a long working day.

We pay slightly more and strive to make it a great place to work; fun and motivating while holding employees accountable rather than just praising their every move. The accountability piece lets them know we care and want them to be the best they can be.

Give each person time to say what might make the jobs go better for them. Main thing I found  is to let them have their concerns be heard.

Give my cleaning technicians quarterly incentive. 
Start a birthday club gift for every employee.
Training evaluation based on machine operation to increase wages.
Prize giving ceremony at the end of year for staff who have excelled in all areas.

Reward for great customer service performance and job performance with bonuses, gift cards and certificates.

I promote when needed and encourage them to strive to become a leader.

We attend several webinars on cleaning, social media training, customer service, etc.

We have monthly communication meetings and strategic trainings with staff.

I provide everything they need to make their job easier.

We are involved in charity events and I donate food for their families from food drives.

We provide eco-friendly cleaning products

Yearly employee (with family) picnic at a local amusement park

 

Please share the top two ways you’ve found good employees.

#1 - Referrals 58%

#2 - Craigslist 27%

Facebook 12%

Indeed.com 8%

Local trade schools, college websites 6%

Local Employment Office, Job Service or Workforce Center 6%

Classified ads in local papers 5%

Church bulletin board 3%

Local Chamber of Commerce 3%

Care.com 3%

Local staffing firms/Temp agencies 2%

Networking 2%

Career Builder 2%

SnagAJob.com 2%

Help wanted signs/walk-ins 2%

Find-employees

 

Please describe if your current labor problem continues, how will it change the way you operate your cleaning business?

Below are comments provided by cleaning business owners:

I believe the labor problem, from what I have read, is with any industry that employs hourly personnel. I see the problem in a lot of places around any community... Fast food, retail, light industrial, etc. The wage rate we are required to pay is quite attractive and comes with fringes, so as janitorial work goes, we are paying well.

I just experienced a growth spurt (yeah me!) and also had some of my strong employees leave (they were college students and graduated and got "real jobs"-can you believe that...the nerve!) so I ended up reevaluating my staff.

I feel as though we are moving in a good direction and after years created the "ideal" employee checklist to interview with as a guideline, allowing us at this time and the near future to be ok. Of course, with the appeal of the minimum wage increase slated to happen for some of the bigger companies, I feel that will have a great impact, no matter how much we care or listen. That is my concern now.

Biggest problem is that the uber taxis of the cleaning world are taking potential candidates -- especially Handy.com here -- with the lure of inflated wages that don't reflect the high cost of payroll taxes or other costs that legit companies like mine incur. It's also raising wage expectations of existing staff that do keep an eye to or hear about what is posted on job boards. The other big issue is the improving economy -- it's great for demand for our services, but bad for hiring as people have way more job options.

It will stunt our growth, we have more cleaning jobs than we have employee's which means we are always jumping in to help in order to get the request handled. We have hired young ladies 18-25 and most just don't have that work ethic developed yet. We have hire older ladies 50-65 and they poop out after the first home or complain my back hurts, my legs hurt, my elbow hurts etc. We have hired men and most just don't seem to have that cleaning gene in them or have that attention to detail. We have found that out best workers are ladies 30-50 years old. This has been our experiences.

Not being able to find and retain good employees is definitely impeding growth. Clients are easy to get, employees not so much. There was a point or couple of points in time over the last few years that I thought I was going to have to shut my doors due to not being able to find staff. I literally culled through my client base and had to let go of clients that were not real profitable so that I could get better paying clients in to do more with less. That was scary. That was in 2012 and not much has changed on the hiring front. We just try to do more with less. I guess I am happy to just maintain our current volume and no longer strive for the 7 figure revenues. I am in Massachusetts which is a very democratic liberal state. There isn't much incentive for people to get out and work when they can be paid by the state to stay home and collect welfare, vouchers, free health care, free housing and fuel assistance. I can feel myself winding up so will stop here :)

It's hard to be motivated to grow the business knowing that a few weeks after you hire someone, they quit showing up or you have to let them go because they don't do a good job. Then, the new building falls on us to do and we're trying to decrease the hands-on work on us, not increase it. My husband and I can't be everywhere and do everything and when there are call outs, the work falls on us. So, we aren't excited anymore to get more business.

If a labor problem were to continue I just wouldn't be able to grow my Company as fast as I would like to. Although I'd rather grow it slowly and make sure I have the right cleaners in place then to just hire a warm body who it thrown into cleaning and then we start getting a lot of complaints from the clients.

We will be working with our Team Members to identify what they believe would benefit those most and make them most likely to stay and refer us to friends - pay, paid time off, company vehicles, other benefits???

I need more people who drive, this is what hurts my business the most. The rise of minimum wage and what my budget allows from clients payments makes finding the right person a bit harder than 5 yrs ago.

My labor problem seems to be people that interview well, then turn out to be flakes. Dependability is a big issue as well as the physical exercise involved in cleaning, though this is emphasized in the job ad and the interview. Many seem to want to be paid but only put in minimal effort and call it good. If the current labor problem continues, and I end up with more clients than I can serve, I will place them on a waiting list until they can be served with confidence.

Our most difficult areas to staff are outside of the 50 mile radius of our office. We have decided to get rid of most of those accounts. It takes too much time and effort from our management to fill those positions and they have to clean the buildings if we don't have staff.

I started my business from the bottom and I know how the community works and how to help employees in my industry feel that they work for a good company. So, I will continue to create innovate ideas and motivate our employees.

Really not sure.... We are intrigued by the idea of hiring foreign workers as it seems many Americans in our local market do not like manual labor.

I can only get bigger as I get better!

It will not change the way I do business.

I am always looking for new and innovative ideas that will attract and retain excellent employees. Retention is really the key to providing consistency to our clients and giving the business an opportunity to grow. If I am constantly refilling lost employees, I am spinning my wheels and not progressing forward. I also lose a good bit of money hiring and training employees, so if the turnover continues I will be in a constant cycle of losing money.

It's a challenge, but not that serious of a problem to warrant changing the way we have done business.

Move away from adding more Janitorial accounts and focus on specialty services that require fewer employees to operate.

My business will suffer because the time I take to do operations takes away from my time to sell (bring in new business).

It's hard to be motivated to grow the business knowing that a few weeks after you hire someone, they quit showing up or you have to let them go because they don't do a good job.

We have been forced to reduce work. I can't see any other way just yet.

I am fearful that I may eventually become so exhausted and worn down from this that I will give up the business.

If the current daytime labor shortage continues, we will have to shut down the daytime residential cleaning division; and rely on commercial contracts to take up the slack in revenues.

I have too many requests for cleaning to keep up with and may go back to simply keeping the same regular cleaning jobs without expanding. Once I take on new jobs and an employee quits I am stuck filling in myself for lack of subs.

More project cleaning using less regular employees and higher pay. Contracting.

If a labor problem were to continue I just wouldn't be able to grow my Company as fast as I would like to.

We will have to hire more overseas workers if local recruitment efforts continue to be less than satisfactory.

Just being able to give each one more income. I feel that"s what needs to be.

My labor problem seems to be people that interview well, and then turn out to be flakes. Dependability is a big issue as well as the physical exercise involved in cleaning, though this is emphasized in the job ad and the interview. Many seem to want to be paid but only put in minimal effort and call it good.

If the current labor problem continues, and I end up with more clients than I can serve, I will place them on a waiting list until they can be served with confidence.

This could change the way I operate my cleaning business by decreasing employee hours,

I feel as I am competing against our welfare system, I really don't see an end to it. I have staff that has been with us for over 5 years, seems the people that really need the money don't want to work.

We have already stopped promoting for new clients so we're on pause. Closing down is going to happen once we have another income stream in place.


Hiring Blues: Where Are All The Good Cleaning Technicians?

I've been hearing a lot of cleaning business owners singing the blues lately, and it's all because they can't seem to find good cleaning technicians. And just when they think they've found some good people, they either don't show up for work or they quit after a month or two.

The unfortunate result of this scenario is that there are a lot of frustrated owners out there who are no longer willing to put in the effort to thoroughly train employees for fear that it's all just a big waste of time. And thus begins that vicious cycle we've seen in our industry for years - high turnover.

The danger for business owners is the shift that happens when their frustration becomes apparent to the people around them. Frustration leads to bad attitudes, and bad attitudes will change the entire culture of your business. Even your most productive and most engaged employees are susceptible to that negative culture, and may seek employment elsewhere if they have to put up with all the negativity.

How Do You Find Cleaning Technicians That Stick Around?

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Unfortunately there is no silver bullet to this problem. With increasing minimum wages, competition for employees, thin profit margins, and restrictive labor laws, it's becoming increasingly harder to find good help.

Even the companies that are succeeding have to actively recruit employees regularly in order to keep the pipeline full. But it's more than just having a steady stream of prospects to choose from. That phrase, "slow and steady wins the race" applies here. And it starts with you, the owner, and the culture you create for your business.

It's not easy to create a positive culture in an industry that is typically perceived as low-end and low-paying. But it is possible to attract and retain good cleaning technicians. I've seen companies that are making it work. In fact, here is a quote from one of our LinkedIn group members about how he is able to steal away employees from his competition:

"Trust me, if you separate yourself from the competition in terms of how you treat your employees, they will tell others who work for competitors and they will come knocking. This has been happening frequently with us for years now."

Another example of a company that literally wrote the book on creating a culture in the cleaning industry that helps it's employees thrive is Jancoa. The book The Dream Manager is based on what Mary and Tony Miller did to turn their company around.

The reality is that for most people, their cleaning job is a stepping stone to what they really want; so if you can get 3 to 5 years out of a cleaning technician, you're doing great. Jancoa is helping their employees reach their dreams, so they are retaining most employees participating in the program for at least 3 to 5 years.  

Market Your Business to Prospective Cleaning Technicians

People don't usually think about marketing when hiring employees, but that's exactly what you need to do. Marketing is all about attracting people to what you have to offer. It's no different when seeking employees. If you want to find good employees you must attract them. 

Think about it this way. Many of us rely on word of mouth to grow our business. When your customers have a great experience with your business, they are more likely to tell others about you. The same holds true for employees. If you have engaged employees that enjoy working for your company, they're more likely to recommend you as an employer. And the good news about that is, they're going to tell their circle of friends, who typically share the same attitudes and values. And if your best employees are recommending your business, it's very likely these will be the kind of people you want to hire. So encourage your best employees to promote your job openings to their circle of friends.

You'll also need a strategy for marketing your job openings in order to get even more candidates  in the door. But instead of the traditional employment ad where you list the position, FT or PT, and the hours they'll be working, focus on the benefits and experience they'll enjoy when working for your company. 

If you read our last blog post on attracting and retaining top talent, you'll know that 41% of employees say job security is a key reason to join an organization. So talk about that in your employment ad. Ask your best employees why they love working for you and use that to attract more candidates. Other things that are important to candidates are career advancement opportunities, learning opportunities, and your organization's reputation as a good employer.

Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill

If you don't want problems right off the bat, be sure to hire for attitude. As the saying goes, this job is not rocket science, and although not everyone is cut out for cleaning, most people can learn to do the job if they get the right training. It's better to hire a dependable, hard working employee with a cheerful attitude than it is to hire an "experienced" cleaner with a negative attitude. The point to remember is to hire people who will work well with the team and within your culture.

If you don't believe me when I say to hire for attitude, train for skill, then take a look at companies like Southwest Airlines. Southwest has followed this philosophy for 30 years and is known for its customer service. And the jobs available at Southwest are much more complex than a cleaning technician job. 

One more point about hiring decisions. And that is to look for people that are coachable. Being coachable means "the ability to accept and implement feedback from bosses, colleagues, customers and others". So ask questions that will help to uncover their coachbility, such as, "If I call your last supervisor, what will he/she tell me are your weaknesses?" If they can't come up with any weaknesses, they're probably not very coachable.

If you'd like more information on how to hire for attitude and how to determine if people are coachable, check out the book "Hiring for Attitude" by Mark Murphy. 

Remember that none of this happens over night (slow and steady wins the race, remember?).  Be patient through the process as you work on improving your hiring and training process as well as your marketing strategy for attracting better candidates. And keep in mind that your competitors are likely struggling too so if you can improve your culture, chances are you'll be able to steal away some of your competitors best cleaning technicians.


Employer vs Employee Perspective Differs When it Comes to Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

In 2014 Towers Watson conducted a Global Talent Management and Rewards study.  The study included 32,000 participants, who helped to uncover both employer and employee perspectives on trends and issues shaping the global workplace.

Here are some of the findings. The interesting thing about each of these findings is the differing viewpoint of employers versus employees. 

Job Security:

  • 41% of employees say job security is a key reason to join an organization
  • 26% of employers say job security is a key reason to join an organization

Job-security

 

Attraction Drivers - Employer View:

1. Career advancement opportunities

2. Base pay / Salary

3. Challenging work

4. Organization's reputation as a good employer

5. Organization's mission/vision/values

6. Learning and development opportunities

7. Job security

Attraction Drivers - Employee View:

1. Base pay / Salary

2. Job security

3. Careen advancement opportunities

4. Learning and development opportunities

5. Challenging work

6. Organization's reputation as a good employer

7. Vacation / Paid time off

Retention Drivers - Employer View:

1. Base pay / Salary

2. Career advancement opportunities

3. Relationship with supervisor / manager

4. Manage / Limit work-related stress

5. Learning and development opportunities

6. Short-term incentives

7. Challenging work

Retention Drivers - Employee View:

1. Base pay / Salary

2. Career advancement opportunities

3. Trust / Confidence in senior leadership

4. Job security

5. Length of commute

6. Relationship with supervisor / manager

7. Manage / Limit work-related stress

As you can see, what is important to employees is not necessarily what is perceived to be important by employers. This may result in employers focusing on things that are not as important to candidates in their marketing efforts to attract and retain top talent.

My suggestion is to poll your own employees and have them rank these items in order of importance. Take a good look at the insight you can gain from this and how you might adjust your talent search to focus on what is truly important to job candidates in your type of business.


How To Get A Meeting With A Cleaning Prospect That's Gone Silent

One of the most frequently asked questions we get from cleaning business owners goes something like this:

"I met with a prospect who loved my presentation and seemed ready to hire us, but now he's gone silent. How can I get him to make a decision?"

First, you never want to leave a meeting without stating what will happen next (ie: you'll call next Tuesday at 9am). Assuming that didn't happen, here are some tips to re-engage your prospect. But first...

What NOT to do when following up with a cleaning prospect:

  • DON'T send an email follow-up that looks like this: "I'm just following up to see if you're still interested in hiring our cleaning company." It sounds desperate and does nothing to prompt them into action.
  • DON'T send a follow-up email that says how interested you are in working with him or her. That isn't going to make an impression or get him or her to take action.

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Do this instead to nudge your cleaning prospect:

  • Find a better reason to stay in touch, instead of sending desperate emails. Everyone talks about adding value by sending an interesting article you think your prospect might be interested in. Take it a step further and send them an article that YOU have written that demonstrates your expertise. And make sure it's a topic they'd be interested in or that is important to their business. For example, maybe there's a recent flu outbreak and you've written a blog post on how to prevent the spread of germs in an office setting. 

  • Mail them something of value. Our clients loved our monthly newsletter. And yes, we actually printed it out and mailed it to them. They are much more likely to open something that lands on their desk than they are to open an email newsletter, where it's easy to hit the Delete key. We also sent it to prospects that we really wanted to do business with. In our initial meeting we gave them a copy, and then continued to mail it to them. In one case, our prospect was in the early stages of building a 50,000 sq ft, Class A office building. It took several months, but instead of badgering them with phone calls, we stayed in touch with the newsletter. And we were the first ones they called when it came time to submit proposals.

  • Think about what might make the timing of a follow-up meeting important right now. Maybe winter is just ending and you know their floors are in desperate need of professional cleaning. 
  • Give them a reason to be interested. You had them engaged in your first meeting, so find a way to re-engage them. Think back to what their issues are with the current cleaning service. For example, you could say something like, "At our last meeting you mentioned that you are tired of the soap dispensers running out of soap all the time. I have an idea on how to fix that problem." Remember, it's not about you; it's about your prospect's problems and how you can fix them.

  • Find a client or colleague who can give them a nudge. LinkedIn is a great resource for finding common connections with clients and prospects. Maybe a current client who knows Mr. Prospect would be willing to put in a good word.

A tip regarding your cleaning prospect's preferred method of communication

Many of us are so used to text messaging instead of actually calling people, that we simply assume that everyone is ok with it. But before you start bothering your prospect with text messages, find out their preference early on. 

During your first call or meeting, get their cell phone number. Afterwards, send a text message to say you've added him or her as a contact and are looking forward to your next meeting. You'll know by the reply you get (or don't get), whether or not texting is a good way to stay in touch. If they do reply, be sure to use texting responsibly: do not badger them with texts, text them during business hours only, spell out words and use short sentences. In other words, don't text like a teenager if you know what I mean (lol)...

If you've been following up regularly for about 3 months without response, it's time to give it a rest

Sometimes the timing just isn't right. It doesn't necessarily mean they'll never hire you. We've had prospects contact us a year or more after our initial meeting, finally ready to make the switch. Check back in 6 months or so to see if you get a response. If not, let it go and put the ball in their court by letting them contact you when they're ready. 


Go Deep Into One Target Market Before Being A One-Stop-Shop For All Your Cleaning Clients

One of our members at The Janitorial Store recently asked us about being a one-stop-shop for all his cleaning clients. This is nothing new in the cleaning industry and we do recommend that you provide many services to your clients. 

There are a couple reasons for being a one-stop-shop:

  1. First, you become the go-to service provider for just about everything your client might need. Not only is it convenient for them, it's profitable for you.
  2. Second, you keep competitors from getting these extra services and potentially stealing away your clients.

But before you start targeting several different markets and offering many different services, take a step back and come up with a plan to do it successfully. I've seen too many cleaning companies lose control because they're moving in a hundred different directions, quickly burning themselves out with the chaos of the situation. 

Are you a One Stop Shop for Cleaning Clients?

If you want to be a one-stop-shop for your cleaning clients, then consider this:

The first thing you want to do is to go deep into one target market, mastering that sector before diving into other markets. For example, if you want to target office buildings, then really learn that market well, and learn how to offer all those extra services like windows, carpets and hard floor care so that you're the one-stop-shop for that market.

Once you have that experience under your belt, then start thinking about how to approach your next target market and what you need to know. For example, if you want to go into medical office cleaning, what expertise do you need for that particular market? Your next goal might be to add educational facilities. That's fine, just keep in mind that you don't want to be all things to all target markets until you get really good at one or two in the beginning.

The added advantage of going deep with select groups of target markets

The added advantage of going deep with a select group of target markets is that you start to build a reputation for being an expert at that type of facility. We used to clean a lot of banks. We gained the reputation in town of being the trustworthy company that were experts at cleaning banks. In fact, when employees moved from one bank to another, they often recommended our service to the decision maker because they noticed their new bank wasn't as clean as the one they just left. The more bank branches we cleaned, the easier it was to build that part of our business.

Once you have things up and running with with a few clients in place and supervisors running the day to day operations, you'll have more time to research what you need to know in the new market you're going after. You need this time to get the education needed, to train your people and build the connections that will help you achieve your goal of serving this new market.

None of this happens overnight. But if you want to become a stronger, healthier cleaning company, then being strategic about your growth will help you maintain control and avoid the chaos of trying to be all things to all people. 


Do You Make These Mistakes When Terminating Cleaning Technicians?

No one likes to think about terminating cleaning technicians, but it's inevitable. As a business owner it's your job to determine when and how to terminate employees. It's also your job to make sure any management personnel know the rules for termination.

Some business owners hate terminating cleaning techicians so much that they put it off until they're "up to here" with frustration. But this is the worst time to let someone go. The chance that you'll make a mistake increases when you're frustrated and upset. So make sure you're calm and collected before you fire an employee.

Fire-employee

Here are some common mistakes cleaning business owners make when terminating cleaning technicians

  1. Taking your anger out on the employee during termination. If you raise your voice, use foul language, or even fire the employee in front of their peers, there is a good chance the employee will retaliate. This retaliation could be in the form of a lawsuit for wrongful termination or filing an unemployment claim. He or she may even make threats against the company, other employees, you personally, or even your family.

    And don't forget about the power of social media. Disgruntled, terminated employees will spread the bad word all over the Internet. Whenever terminating employees, be sure to treat them with respect, no matter how frustrated you are. If they're not a good fit for your company, then explain it calmly and with as much courtesy as you can muster.

  2. Terminating without warning. There are some cases where this is acceptable, such as in the case of obvious theft or abuse against a fellow employee. But in most cases, terminating without warning is not a good practice.

    Give employees every chance to improve their performance. If they're not performing to standard, talk to them first. If the poor performance continues, create written documentation. Taking these steps helps you get all your ducks in a row should you need to terminate the employee down the road. And it ensures the termination won't be a surprise to the employee. It will also help deflect wrongful termination lawsuits and give you ground to stand on should you need to present your case to an unemployment judge.

  3. Putting the blame on something other than the employee's performance. Some employers will actually blame the termination on downsizing or lack of business. The problem with this is that your employee will probably go straight to the unemployment office and start collecting unemployment compensation, which will affect your SUTA rates. And you won't be able to fight it without the truth coming out, which won't go well for your company.

Termination Best Practices

  • Create a progressive discipline policy for your company so you have a process and forms for documenting all discussions and warnings.

  • Train all managers and supervisors on your termination policy and process. There is nothing worse than allowing your supervisors to terminate employees without training them on how to keep your company out of hot water.

  • Never terminate an employee when you are angry or frustrated. If it's a situation where immediate termination is necessary, take a few deep breaths to try and calm yourself before taking action.

  • Have a witness with you such as a manager or supervisor whenever terminating another employee -- especially if you anticipate resistance or anger from the employee.

  • Always terminate employees in a private location away from other cleaning employees or employees of the building in the case of a commercial location. If you're terminating a residential cleaning employee, do it in the privacy of your office - not in a client's home. If possible, do it before or after the employee's shift so as not to create a lot of disruption in the workplace.

  • Prepare paperwork ahead of time such as a termination statement, copies of previous write-ups to refer to, any forms relating to possession of company property, and your policy on final paychecks and termination of benefits.

Termination is never pleasant, but when you are prepared and calm, it doesn't have to be stressful. Treat the employee with courtesy respect, and move on quickly so you can fill the position with an employee that is a better fit for your cleaning company.