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January 2014
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March 2014

Why Promoting Cleaning Technicians To Supervisor Often Fails And What You Can Do About It

Raise your hand if you've ever taken a great cleaning technician and promoted him or her to a supervisor position. Ahh...I see lots of hands going up, including mine!

Now answer this -- what percentage of people that you promoted up from the ranks turned out to be a GREAT supervisor and what percentage failed? If your success rate is over 50% you're probably doing better than most cleaning business owners. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out quite the way we envisioned.

The scenario usually goes like this. We have a cleaning technician that does a great job cleaning so we promote them to supervisor and give them a raise.

It's sometimes such a relief to have someone take over that time-consuming job from us that in our relief we often times drop the ball and neglect to follow up on the very people we pay to ensure quality control!

The other thing that starts to happen is that when they are doing the quality control checks, they are doing a quick walk-through of the location, not using the critical eye that we as owners use. Pretty soon all the locations are showing signs of neglect, and when we finally get into our clients' locations to check things out we are shocked and angry at what we see.

Can you relate to this?

Steve was the one in our company with the critical eye and could spot dust on a chair leg from a mile away. So here is what I did to help our supervisors become better at quality control.

I created a Quality Control checklist that was different from a list of specifications. Instead of listing each task they needed to complete, it listed what the home or office should look like. For example, "Ceiling fan blades should be free of dust. Front door glass should be free of dust and fingerprints."

I then went over this with the supervisors, explaining that these are the things that Steve looks for when he walks through a client location. If you can make sure the apprearance of the location meets these standards, then we won't have a problem. But if Steve continues to look behind a door and see cobwebs, etc, then you're not doing your job on Quality Control.

Quality Control is just one of the important responsibilities a cleaning supervisor has. There are many other aspects of their job that they weren't responsible for as a cleaning technician. Don't set your supervisors up for failure by not training them on how to be a good supervisor. Give them the tools they need, and support them as they grow into the position.

If you'd like help with training new supervisors, check out our training programs:

Janitorial Supervisor Training Program

Team Leader Training for Residential Cleaners

Murphy's Law For Cleaning Companies

I'll never forget the first 3-day vacation we took after many years of never getting to take vacations after starting our cleaning business. I didn't yet have an office assistant, so I asked a friend if she could run our telephone timekeeping system every day while we were gone.

Wouldn't you know it, as soon as we checked into our hotel, one of our supervisors called in a panic - the Timekeeper wasn't working! No one could clock in!

In a panic, I called my friend and discovered that after she ran the daily reports, she had forgotten to turn on the answering function. Luckily she was able to go back and get it taken care of, but our supervisors were not happy about it since everyone was freaking out.

After an hour or so of panic during the whole situation, and complaining that "it figures, we can't even leave for one day without some catastrophe happening," I decided to chalk it up to Murphy's Law. It seems that no matter what we do, there's always at least one thing that happens or one person that seems bound and determined to ruin our vacation. It never fails, right? Such is the life of a busines owner.

So I decided to put together a list  - Murphy's Law for Cleaning Companies, that just might resonate with those of you who have owned your business for any length of time.

Murphy's Law (Was Murphy a Cleaning Business Owner?)

  1. The day before you go on vacation is the day your best employee and/or your best supervisor will quit (or the day the timekeeping system goes down).
  2. Every solution to a problem breeds a new problem.
  3. The number of cleaners who call in sick is directly proportionate to the number of complaints received the next day.
  4. You're short-handed on your busiest day, and conversely, you're over-staffed on your slowest day.
  5. No cleaning business runs as smoothly as it may look.
  6. Your clients will never run out of things to be stolen.
  7. Supply costs only go up when business increases, thus reducing an increase in profits.
  8. You've been providing service to a client for the last 6 months, and find out your bookkeeper hasn't been invoicing the client.
  9. The number of microfiber cloths provided will always be less than what's needed.
  10. In a cleaning account, the simplest complaint will cause the most problems.
  11. The amount of equipment broken is proportional to the age of the cleaning technicians.
  12. On the busiest day of the week, the computer system will fail, the only vacuum in a building will break down, and your best cleaning technician or supervisor will get sick.
  13. You get a call from a client that their office wasn't cleaned the night before. You find out your cleaning technician showed up at the wrong location and cleaned that instead.
  14. The week you have your biggest payroll is the week your biggest check is late.
  15. The day you finally have extra cleaning technicians trained and ready to start work is the day you lose your biggest account.
  16. The more pictures you use to train your employees, the more those pictures will convince your employees to do it a different way.
  17. Allowing employees to mix cleaning chemicals is a disaster waiting to happen.
  18. The worst cleaning technicians always end up servicing the most picky clients.
  19. The day you get the flu is the same day one of your company trucks gets in an accident.
  20. You get to the construction cleaning job only to find no lights, no heat (or air conditioning), and no water.
  21. You just arrived at your second floor job of the night, only to realize you left your extension cords at the last location.
  22. The state is coming to audit your sales tax records and you don't have any sales tax records (you mean I was supposed to charge sales tax?)

Do you have additional Murphy's Laws? Please share by clicking on the Comments link below.