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Should You Hire Experienced Cleaners?

"I've got 10 years of cleaning experience" said the applicant.

"Wow, 10 years - just what I'd hoped for. Now I don't have to spend so much time training!" thought the supervisor.

Have you ever thought this way when hiring cleaning staff? In theory it sounds great -- lots of experience means they know the ropes, right? All you need to do is show them around, show them how to run the vacuum cleaner and let them run off and do their thing.

If you've been in the cleaning industry for any length of time however, you've probably had a slightly different experience with "experienced" cleaners. Here are some drawbacks:

1. We assume that since they've got experience, they actually know what they're doing. But what most employers find is that they either exaggerate their experience or their training has been so poor that they're not doing things correctly or safely. I can't tell you how many people have told us they have experience stripping and waxing floors, but ended up taking so many short cuts that the job had to be re-done, costing us precious profit.

2. If they've worked for the same cleaning company for most of those years, they're probably pretty set in their ways. Some people feel that since they've been cleaning for so long they don't need anyone telling them how to clean - even if their new employer has different procedures that will save time and money.

3. If they've worked at several different cleaning companies for many years, it's a red flag for you that they'll eventually leave your company as well. When people work for many cleaning companies they've either been fired for poor performance or quit because they're not happy wherever they go.

I'm not saying you should NEVER hire experienced workers because you can often times find a gem among the rocks. Just interview them very closely, ask lots of probing questions and check references.

The advantage of hiring inexperienced cleaners is that they are much more open and willing to learn new skills and are generally very trainable. You want to be able to train your employees to do things YOUR way and using YOUR systems.

Do you hire experienced cleaners? Why or why not? Post your comments by clicking on the Comments link below.

Do Your Cleaners See Things Through Your Customers' Eyes?

To some employees, janitorial work is just a job. They know they have to empty the trash, do some dusting, clean the kitchen and bathrooms and vacuum the floor. But are they really seeing the "big picture" when they're finished cleaning?

When your customers come to work in the morning, the first thing they see is the front door. As they approach the door, they're also observing the surroundings. What are they seeing? Dirt and debris along the corners and edges of the entry, and on the window sills? Cobwebs around the door frame? What about the door itself - is it sparkling clean and free of fingerprints?

Now they enter the office, where there is usually a reception area. Perhaps there are some chairs and a coffee table with brochures and magazines. Are the magazines neatly arranged and the brochures tucked in their holder? Is the entry mat vacuumed, free of sand and leaves?

Your customers are paying attention to the details, and if the details aren't taken care of, they assume the rest of the cleaning must be sub-par too. When training your employees, make sure they pay attention to the details that are important to your customer and that they see the office through your customers' eyes.

How to Deal With Burnout

A cleaning business owner asked:
How is every one dealing with burn out? I had a business owner tell me that in about five years you might get burned out. How do you deal with that, especially as a small cleaning business owner where I do so much myself?

The following advice was offered by another cleaning business owner:
The best way to avoid tomorrow's burn out is to manage today's stress. If you find yourself in a stressful situation, take a walk, listen to some music, take a snack break, just remove yourself from the situation for awhile and clear your mind. Sometimes stress is as much about the environment you find yourself in as it is about the actual problem you are facing. Deal with whatever is stressing you directly, analyze it, create a solution(s) and take action. Avoid running away from the problem, this is only a temporary fix. If something comes up, resolve it quickly. We are our own worst enemies and indecision is often the worst of all habits. Get your problems out of the way, you will feel a lot better for it. We beat ourselves up for mistakes, why not reward ourselves a little for our success? A lot of times the difference between stress and satisfaction is how we look at things.

I added my thoughts on burnout:
You really do have to be careful about burnout when you own a business. It gets in your blood and if you're not careful it will take over your life. But if you don't take it seriously and devote the necessary time to it, chances are it will fail. So there's a careful balance that you need to maintain in order to keep from burning out.

I believe the real key is to find the right people to help you. In the beginning you probably need to wear all the hats. But as time goes on and you get busier, you simply can't do it all yourself. And how will you every be able to take time off when YOU are the business? You need to find a way to have some personal time and time with your family.

You should always be on the lookout for a person (or people) that you feel is trustworthy, dependable, and could fill your shoes for a few days. If you hire them, give them a lot of detailed training. Once you feel they're working well on their own, start giving them small tests to see how well they do with making decisions. Take a night off and let them handle things. Gradually start extricating yourself from the day-to-day so that eventually you're able to take several days or even a week off without totally stressing out.

Dealing with burnout is something we all have to deal with eventually. How you choose to deal with it will decide if you can work your way out of it to continue running your business successfully or whether you decide to bail...

How do YOU deal with burnout? Click on the Comments link below to share your thoughts.

3 Selling Tips for Cleaning Business Owners

I know a lot of people who own cleaning businesses. Most got their start in the business because they worked in the industry and have experience cleaning. But the majority of these same people don't love to sell their cleaning services. Part of the reason is that they haven't had a very good success rate.  And the reality is, business is down all over, making it even harder to find new clients or to upsell to existing clients.

Because of this, many people often get it in their heads that since business is down, it's going to be harder to sell. Pretty soon their confidence level goes down and they start to wonder if it's all worth it. Here are 3 selling tips that might help you change your attitude about selling.

1. Change the way you feel about yourself and your ability to sell. Never walk into a meeting with a potential customer thinking that you probably won't get the sale. When you think that way, it probably WON'T happen. Instead, start thinking positively about how you'll be able to help this customer.

2. Think about the words you choose and always have a YES! attitude.
While everyone else is complaining about how bad things are, you can take the other path and talk about what you CAN do to help your customer.

3. Be sincere in everything you say and do. People can detect the sincerity in your words and actions. Be genuine in your desire to help your customers and potential customers. You'll close more sales that way.

Do YOU have selling tips to share? Please post them here by clicking on the Comments link below.

Do You Train Your Cleaning Employees On How To Provide Good Customer Service?

Do you pride yourself on excellent customer service in your cleaning business? How does it make you feel when you have an unhappy customer who is telling others how displeased they are with your service?

We all know that one unhappy customer can tell just a few people how displeased they are with a vendor and suddenly the word is spreading like wildfire. And when you add social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook into the mix, their dissatisfaction can be multiplied tenfold as they rant about their experience. And unfortunately, only their side of the story is being heard.

Most loyal customers will forgive a mistake if you work quickly to make it right. But if you repeat the mistake or don't respond with urgency, they'll just as quickly take their business elsewhere. Since the cost of gaining a new customer is about ten times the cost of retaining an existing customer, it's more important than ever to keep your customers loyal to you. One way to do that is to make sure all your employees are: 1) trained on cleaning procedures, and 2) trained on your expectations for providing good customer service.

You and your employees need to keep in mind that the customer sees each of you as "ABC Cleaning Company". For them, there is no distinction between owner and employee, and they don't care who solves the problem as long as it's taken care of right away and to their satisfaction. So sending the customer from person to person because "it's not my responsibility" is not acceptable. 

Emphasize the type of behavior that keeps your customers loyal, always stressing a smiling, positive attitude. In general, most customers want a staff that is knowledgeable and helpful. This means your employees must not only know cleaning procedures, but they must also know services offered, and your company policies too.Customers also want a cleaning service that is convenient, flexible, and gives help when they need it. 

When you train your employees on your customer service expectations, you may soon find loyal customers who tell all their friends about the GREAT customer service you provide. Once you've achieved this milestone, you'll be well on your way to a growing, successful cleaning business!