Category Archives: Positivity

The Cost of Hiring Cheap Home Cleaners

I saw this story on a friends Facebook news feed and cringed.  I always cringe when I see stories about home cleaners gone bad.  It reflects poorly on the industry that I have chosen and, yes, I take it personally.  My issue I guess.

Whenever our kids would do something unwise growing up after we wiped the tears away and the kids were over whatever hurt them, we would ask them, “Did you learn anything?”.  I would like to ask this homeowner the same thing.  Not to be mean or insensitive.  I am sure that when he hired the woman he had no idea she would use the key he gave her to get into his home and steal checks.  Still there are things that you can do to protect yourself.

Of course the most obvious answer is to hire a reputable cleaning service.  Large National chains such as Merry Maids and The Cleaning Authority have a reputation and systems in place to weed out those with criminal backgrounds that may pose a threat to your security.  The downside to hiring a franchise business like the ones I named above is that you may have to sacrifice price and a personal touch to get that security.  These companies tend to be slightly more expensive and you may or may not get the same cleaners in your home each time, something that contributes to trust.

Likewise, smaller local, even family owned cleaning services who are professional and insured will also have those systems in place and you may be able to get a better price.  They may be more flexible with regards to putting the same cleaners in  your home each time and accommodating your needs with regards to scheduling.  The key is in making sure they are professional.

We recently signed up a client that we had given a bid to nearly a year ago.  Initially this client went with a Mother and Daughter team because they were less expensive.  She called us back and signed up after they cancelled her cleanings three time in a row due to personal issues.

Finally, if you just want the lowest possible price and think that a single cleaner can give you a little more personal service, insist on doing a background check on them.  Any cleaning person worth their salt, even if they don’t have insurance, would be willing to submit to this.  You have every right in the world to know who is in your home and whether they have a criminal history.

The events described in the story at the beginning of this blog had a happy outcome because the woman was caught.  Hopefully some type of insurance (we’re pretty sure it’s not hers) will kick in to cover this gentleman.  But the fact is that a little checking on this person could have saved this man a lot of trouble in the long run.

A Maid Service is Not for You

I should probably preface this post with an apology because I believe I am going to offend some people with it.  I am sorry.

Now that that is over; a maid service is not for you.  We know your type.  You have never had a maid service or you have had many and it was always the same result; they could never do it right.  And by right, we mean the way you think it should be done.

Those people who say you should teach your children responsibility by giving them chores to do around the house?  Are they NUTS?  Your kids have the attention span of a puppy in a pet store.  And don’t even get you started on your spouse.  They wouldn’t know a hospital corner if it bit them in the, well you know.

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There is a right and a wrong way to clean the house and nobody but you knows the right way.  And that’s OK as long as you don’t hire someone to do it.

We once stopped an in home estimate about five minutes in.  We had never done that before.  Ever.  We heard about how the homeowner expected the toaster to be shined each time, whether it was dirty or not.  The blankets on the back of the couch needed to be folded just so and each of the Snow Baby figurines (about a dozen) each needed to be pulled down from a high shelf, dusted and put back exactly as they were before.

We were on the second room of a 15 room home and we knew.  One of two things would happen; either the price that we would ask the homeowner to pay to spend the amount of time in her house to do it the way they wanted would be so high that they might faint or we would get the job and we would never, ever hit this homeowner’s mark.  Ever.  So we stopped the bid and informed the potential client, ever so gently, that we knew for a fact that our company was not a good fit for them.

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You see, hiring a Maid or Cleaning Service requires you to trust that service and accept that they may or may not do things exactly the way you want them done.  It may also require you to accept that the service may or may not do some things you DO want done.

In the above story, for example, we were unwilling to take the risk of removing, dusting and then replacing the figurines for a couple of reasons.  The first reason was that these were obviously precious to the homeowner and, depending on which of our cleaning team did the dusting at this home, would have required getting a small step-ladder and removing each piece one by one.  This increases the liability to us in the form of a potential fall, and the risk of breaking what may have been an heirloom.

The second reason had to do with pricing.  When you are being careful you take extra time and, as they say, time is money.  Some people are price-conscious when it comes to a cleaning service.  We can sanitize a kitchen counter, making sure to polish the chrome on the sink faucet, clean the inside of a microwave and get fingerprints  and grime off of the outside of the other major appliances in a reasonable amount of time and we build tasks like that into our bids.  But when you start throwing in items like polishing a chrome toaster even if it doesn’t need it, folding blankets on the couch just so and dusting figurines, this is going to take extra time and we need to reflect that time in our bid.  Most clients are not willing to pay that price.

So there you have it.  Is a Cleaning or Maid Service for you?

Our own Dream Team

Do you remember the USA 1992 Olympic Basketball Dream Team?  Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and a host of others.  Men considered to be the absolute best in their field.  The standard for a professional basketball player.  They were the first and, in my humble opinion, the best Dream Team ever.  And I don’t even follow professional basketball.

We here at Freedom Cleaning Services have our own Dream Team.

Dream Team

 

 

 

 

After over eight years in business we have built a team that exceeds all of our and our clients expectations each and every day.  They are a thing of beauty.

They each come to us from very different backgrounds and experiences and yet they work together seamlessly as a team.  I know, that’s how it should always work, but some times it isn’t easy finding several individuals that work together well.

Some, like the talented Rose Krause (far left in the picture above) come from other cleaning companies and bring a unique perspective to what we do, offering advice and insight on how to make our cleanings better.  She has a heart as big as the outdoors.

077Others, such as Lorene Gronskei (third from left) bring natural leadership talents.  Gently guiding the team to give their all in any situation.

Some bring a sunny disposition and an amazing work ethic, such as Miss Jenna Johnson (third from left).  Jenna has a work ethic rarely seen in a 20-year-old Biology student.

And others have several of these talents rolled into one, like Carmela Lyons (far right) who comes to us from Seattle and has an eagle eye for detail.

Each has their own hardships and challenges at home but cheerfully put them aside to work together as a team to accomplish one goal; to give our clients a home cleaning experience.  Dream team, indeed!

Finding Mike Miller

Recently I had the good fortune to read an article by Lois K. Geller.  Ms. Geller is an expert in direct marketing and owns a Marketing company in Hollywood, Florida.  Oddly Lois and I became connected on Foursquare earlier that same day.  Maybe that’s what made me notice the article.

The title of the article, posted in Forbes, is “How Just One Great Employee Can Make The Brand”.  Basically it’s all about how a Petco employee named Mike Miller changed Ms. Geller’s opinion of the Petco brand while training her unruly dog.

As home cleaners we have a unique opportunity to make people’s’ days.  I mean, simply coming home to a clean house should be enough to make your day, right?   A bad cleaning day, however, can completely turn any good feelings into bad feelings.  Our clients pay good money to make sure that they don’t have to do anything in the way of cleaning when they come home.  Our clients are basically paying to have us give them more time in their lives.  If they come home and something isn’t dusted or something is not completely clean, that defeats the purpose.

But when we DO get it all right, maybe that’s not enough.  Maybe, like Mike Miller, we need to do the little extra things that make clients not just happy, but willing to crow about their cleaning service!  Go beyond cleaning everything we say we will clean and take it to the next level.

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Little things like learning how to cleverly fold the toilet paper to bring a grin to the clients’ face.  Shining up the chrome trash can.  Maybe a personal note to a client welcoming them home to their clean house and hoping they had a great day.  Where does this spirit come from?  It comes from a place deep inside an employee.  It comes from taking responsibility for their work.  It comes from taking pride in their job and the company they work for.  It comes from an attitude of helping others.  That’s where the Mike Miller’s of the world come from.

We think we have three Mike Miller’s here at Freedom Cleaning Services, but it’s a great reminder to keep doing the extra things that make our clients not just happy, but relieved on cleaning day.  So much so that they’ll tell their friends about us.  Thanks, Lois Geller!

How about you?  Are there any Mike Miller’s where you shop or at a business that you patronize?  Who is this person and what makes them special?

Loving What You Do.

As a whole, how many people in the world do you think love what they do for a living?  10 percent?  20 percent?  Less?  More?

Mardi and I have been blessed to be able to do something that, in the big scheme of things, I think most people don’t usually get to do.  We took a huge leap of faith over six years ago and started our own business.  We thought long and hard about what kind of business we could both do and could be started on a limited budget and came up with Freedom Cleaning Services.

Until that moment when we discussed it I had never considered owning a cleaning service, but now that I look back on it, I am not sure why.  I like cleaning.  I like making things shine.  I like the fact that some homeowner is going to come home at the end of a long day at work and look at their home and breathe a sigh of relief because of the effort I put in.

And it’s not just me.  I know Mardi feels the same way.  Even our new hire Terri stood back after cleaning a kitchen the other day and said, “I really like knowing I made that kitchen shine!”

There is something about taking something dirty and making it clean that appeals to me.  Yes, the work can be back-breaking and sweaty and not always pleasant, but it has the potential to be full of satisfaction.  Some people never see the results of the work they do.  We do.

There’s something to be said for doing what makes you happy, a job that you can leave at the end of the day and know you made a positive difference in someone’s life.  Do you love what you do?

Spreading Kindness Part 1

I had this great idea for a blog about the positive impact we, as cleaning or maid service owners, could have on individuals.  Part of the inspiration came from the time I’ve spent with Lisa Metwaly, owner of the Q Kindness cafe in Saint Paul, Minnesota.   As I was hashing this blog out in mind, I logged onto Facebook and found an announcement from Lisa that the cafe that her husband Jimmy had bought years ago and she had transformed into a hub of Kindness in a oftentimes cruel world, had closed it’s doors.

 

I’ve mentioned The Q Kindness in several posts including this one.  That’s because I believed in what Lisa was doing.  Sure, maybe it was a marketing strategy, but the kindness was real.  Imagine going to pay for your meal and finding out it had been paid for already because someone had spun the “Kindness Wheel” and paid for whatever it had landed on.  Ok, feeding the starving in Africa it isn’t, but it made someone’s day and in turn, that person was inspired to do something nice for someone else.  The blanket drive that she organized for the victims of the earthquake in Japan last year, was no marketing stunt.  We got our clients involved and were able to ship a bunch of blankets to Japan.  Maybe that made someone’s life just a little easier.  The mitten drive surely kept someone’s hand a little warmer.

I was sad that the Q Kindness had closed, but that won’t stop Lisa.  You can’t keep kindness bottled up and confined to a small cafe in Saint Paul.  Lisa has been going global and continues to do so with her website Kinactor.  What is a Kinactor, you might ask.  According to the website, a Kinactor is; Kinactor (ke’-nakt-er) noun 1. A kind actor connector. 2. A person who initiates kind acts and asks others to do the same.  Pretty cool and just what this world needs, if you ask me.

So, instead of writing a blog about how we can make a difference in an individuals’ life, I have written a post about someone who inspired me.  I guess this will have to be split into two parts.  Because, you see, kindness is too big to be limited to one blog post.  It has ripple effects and it can transform not only your life but, more importantly, others.

New Year and Perspectives

Ok, I’m just going to say it.  The end of 2011 stunk.  There’s no other word for it; at least not one I can post and keep this blog somewhat clean.  As amazing as the first half of 2011 was for this little company, the second half was that spectacularly bad. We started off the year by hiring our second employee.  Then a friend in the business decided to scale back her operations and, in an amazing act of Kindness, she referred some of her clients to us.  We hired a third employee, and then a second third employee (one important lesson learned in 2011; never hire friends.  Either yours or your employees.  It never, ever, ever ends well).

So, that puts us in early October.  And this is where it all goes south.  I could go into the gruesome details of ruined counter tops and hurt feelings and a flight of clients not seen since the Book of Exodus, but that’s all details.  Suffice to say that 2011’s departure was greatly welcomed here at Freedom Cleaning HQ.  “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”

The first time I sat down to write this, I was interrupted by a phone call from one of our employees who we had just sent off to start their day.  “We’ve been hit!”  Thank God they were both fine.  But I couldn’t help but think, as I loaded the bumper of our van into the bed of our pickup, “Really??  2011 followed us!”  But something else happened.  Both Brianna and Melanie, our two employees that are like daughters to us decided they wanted to keep working.  I would have never insisted that they do.  Accidents can shake you up, physically and mentally.  But, the van was still drive-able and they wanted to do the cleanings that day. 

Instead of being cursed, we are blessed.  Blessed that we still have clients.  Blessed to have employees who actually want to work and do a good job.  Blessed to be able to do something that we love to do.  Blessed that we can still keep cleaning for cancer patients through the Cleaning for a Reason program.  2012 is going to be an amazing year for Freedom Cleaning Services.