As cleaning business owners, we've all given thought to what would happen to our business should an emergency happen and we couldn't be there. Are your supervisors ready to run your cleaning business without you?
If the answer is no, then it's time to step up and make plans for this day because it's inevitable. You know that if your cleaning business can't run efficiently without you there every day, then you'll never be able to grow the business. You simply can't expect the business to grow until you can step away and let your supervisors take over for the time you need to be away.
You also need to let them take over more of the day-to-day tasks of running the operation so you can use more of your time leading the business in the direction you want to grow.
The problem most business owners have is that so much of what happens on a day to day basis is locked up in their heads. They have no written systems. For example, do you have a system for how you'll get a job covered when someone calls in sick at the last minute? And what happens when someone doesn't bother to call? Who is checking to make sure every employee has shown up? And what is the process for making sure the work gets done when you have a no-show?
It's Hard to Let Go of Control of Your Cleaning Business
I get it...it's hard to do but it simply must be done! Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Get organized and teach them to think like you do
Before you relinquish control of specific tasks you must document your system. Perhaps the best place to start is to give your supervisors a Quality Control checklist so they know exactly what you're looking for when it comes to the appearance of each account. This is not just a specifications list. This is a list of your expectations. For example; no cobwebs behind doors and no dust on chair legs in the reception area. When they know what you look for, they're more apt to look for the same results when doing a post-cleaning walk-through.
Along with documenting systems, you must also establish operating standards. If you want the phone to be answered no later than the third ring, make sure they understand that. If you want client phone calls returned within an hour, make sure it's added to your list. Without these standards, they'll make their own decisions, which likely won't match your expectations.
Be open to other options
As cleaning business owners we set our own standards of acceptable performance and we expect our employees to follow suit. But it's important to be open to other options suggested by our employees and supervisors. Sometimes we must realize that other approaches to the same task may be as good, or even better that your own. So be open to their feedback before carving it in stone.
Compare results versus activities
Some people take twice as long to do something as the next person, which impacts the bottom line. Train your supervisors to look for results first, then be on alert for productivity standards. If they're getting the results you're looking for in the time allowed, then congratulate them on a job well done. But if their results are slowing down the overall productivity of the team, then a course-correction may be needed.
Be a coach
Coaches lead their team and teach them how to be the best they can be. So if you want to be able to take a vacation away from the business, or be able to leave at a moment's notice when there's an emergency, then you must teach your staff how to run the business in your absence.
If you want them to take over your responsibilities then you must teach them how to do those tasks. In fact, if you are doing tasks that your supervisors are perfectly capable of doing, then you're standing in the way of their professional development. Plus it may be sending them the message that you don't think they're capable of doing the job properly. And your business may suffer if your qualified supervisors leave for companies that allow them to improve their skills and advance in their career. So get out of your own way and let them help you manage the business.
Start giving up tasks a little at a time
Now that you've made the decision to train your supervisors to take on more responsibility, don't dump it on them all at once. Start slowly. If you want your supervisors to start writing the schedule, teach them how do it and then let them get the system down before teaching them something new. And don't nit-pick if they don't "dot their I's and cross their T's" exactly the way you do. Instead, look at the consistency of their results. If they get the same or better results than you, then don't waste energy on pointing out a typo that really doesn't matter to the big picture.
Encourage them to make decisions and approach you with new ideas
If you never give your supervisors the chance to try new things or make suggestions on how to do something better, they'll shut down and you'll never know their true potential. In fact, they'll probably start coming to you with every little thing to get your stamp of approval in fear that they'll make the wrong decision. That defeats the purpose of having them learn to manage the day-to-day activities of your business.
Giving them that decision-making responsibility may slow things down a bit at first, but remember that it's part of the learning prcess.
Become a good listener and ask a lot of questions
To be a good coach to your supervisors, you must listen to their point of view respectfully and then get really good at asking the right questions. They'll respect you more if you ask questions rather than shut them down for making a bad decision.
Delegate, don't abdicate
The final piece of advice for getting your supervisors to run the business without you is to never simply "hand over the keys to the store", so to speak.
It's great to be able to hand over more responsibility to your supervisors, but without documenting, teaching and ongoing coaching, you're setting them up for failure. And you're setting yourself up for disappointment. So take it slow, follow the tips outlined here, and allow your staff to shine.
I like this quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower because when you have people that WANT to do something, they don't need you there to make sure it gets done.
"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."
If you would like help with training your supervisors to run your business without you, invest in a training program that develops their supervisory skills.
Janitorial Supervisor Training Program
Team Leader Training Program
(for residential cleaning supervisors)