Category Archives: Public Relations

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.

Drawing the Line

When we first started our company, Freedom Cleaning Services, way back in January of 2006, we were only vaguely aware of the “green” movement as it applied to home cleaning.  We purchased the traditional cleaners and scrubbed away.

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By mid-June of that same year, we were hacking and coughing our way through Google searches of green alternatives to traditional cleaners.  It took us a couple of more years to find the right one for us.

 

 

Are we as green as I would like us to be?  No.  I know there are all natural or Eco-friendly alternatives to bleach, but for the life of me I have not found one that I trust to completely sanitize our towels so that we do not cross-contaminate our families homes.

That said, I am proud of the choices we have made as a company.  We have a responsibility to clean healthier for our families, those we refer to as clients and those that we refer to as employees.  They are both family to us.

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I believe that in 2006 we were one of the first Maid Services in Minnesota to go completely green.  We did not even offer it just as an alternative.  One day we weren’t green at all and the next BOOM!

Some clients worried about the effectiveness of the cleaners.  I am sure we may have lost one or two because of our decision.  Now green or Eco-friendly cleaning is the norm, even though there are those that charge a premium for the service.  That’s someone else’s business decision.

This month marks the 8th Anniversary of our decision to go “all-in” on green cleaning.

Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.

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?

Denied

I’m thinking I need a whole new category for my blogs;  ones that shouldn’t be written, but I feel compelled to write.  I enjoy these types because it challenges me to write something so vaguely as to not burn any bridges yet get a point across.

 

When we started to work with Cleaning for a Reason, the non-profit foundation that provides free house cleaning to women undergoing treatment for cancer, we knew we wanted to get the word out.  We reasoned that the more people who knew about Cleaning for a Reason, the more women that they could help.  We mentioned it a LOT on our Facebook and Twitter sites, but that was about it.  Well, not quite.  We also sent out an email to a couple of newspapers.  To call it a press release would be an overstatement of Biblical proportions.  One, a newspaper in the same county that we are based out of, was interested. 

The reporter wanted to come out as we cleaned and interview the cancer patient as well as us.  We discussed it with the patient, but she was nervous about being interviewed.  She had reservations about her name and photo being in the paper.  We politely told the reporter that this patient would not work out.  As we would learn, it didn’t matter.

We cleaned for four other women after that first one, and none seemed especially eager to share their stories about Cleaning for a Reason.  It wasn’t that they weren’t grateful or appreciative.  They told us that this was our ministry, that we gave them hope, that we made their day.  They simply were uncomfortable being in the press; putting their lives, their families, their cancer out there for the whole world to see.

And then, a couple of weeks ago, we got a call from the same reporter asking if we had a patient that might be interested, yet.  We have a patient that we will call D.  When the reporter called back, We had cleaned for D three times.  Cleaning for a Reason provides four monthly cleanings.  This Monday will be our last cleaning for her.  D has been effusive in her praise for us, so when the reporter came to us again, we thought we’d give D a try.  D was quiet for a few minutes when I asked her and then she said, “I think it’s time I gave back something.  I’m ready.  Yes, I’ll do it!”

We were ecstatic.  Finally we would be able to tell people in Minnesota the story of how a woman in Texas decided to help women going through a traumatic experience.  How her vision has spread to all fifty states and Canada.  How over six hundred  cleaning or maid services have joined forces with that organization to provide this service.  To give women with cancer one less thing to worry about.  We called the reporter back and gave him D’s address.  “I’m sorry”, the reporter told us.  “She doesn’t live in this county.  In order to do the story, we would need her to live in this county.”  I was stunned.  I understand the need for a small, community newspaper to do stories pertinent to their readership, I really do.  In this particular instance, however, the cleaning company is based in the readership’s county.  Don’t get me wrong; I know the cleaning company is not the whole story, here.  But it does provide a “local link”, if you will.  The story itself is larger than the confines of one county in one state.

When I told D about the paper’s decision, her response was, “Bite me!”  She then went on to say how she had been looking forward to telling a story of hope and that we were a blessing to her.  You know what?  That means more to me than any newspaper article ever will.

Changing Perceptions

We’re often so blind. Our demand for the credentialed so colors our perception of believability, that we wouldn’t recognize God if he appeared within us.” -Unknown.

A man and a woman stand in your living room.   They have come to your home to give you a bid on what they will charge you to clean your home.  They appear to be in their early 50’s.  Quite a bit older than you and your spouse.  Much too old to effectively clean your home, right?  What is your perception of them? 

 

A woman stands before me.  She is weak with fatigue, she has lost all of her hair from chemotherapy.  Is my perception that she is losing her fight or winning it?

This is the definition of perception from BusinessDictionary.com. “Process by which people translate sensory impressions into a coherent and unified view of the world around them. Though necessarily based on incomplete and unverified (or unreliable) information, perception is ‘the reality’ and guides human behavior in general.”  Perception is the reality.

If we believe that people see us in a certain unfavorable light, whose responsibility is it to change the perception.  I have had this talk with my children before.  In each instance I brought to their attention that some may view their actions as immature or unfavorable.  Their reactions were the same.  “That’s their problem”.  Perhaps.  The person came to that conclusion based on only a small bit of information.  Maybe one act or a few spoken words and that should hardly define a person, right?  So, the responsibility is on the perceiver.  Or is it?  

If I am trying to get a potential clients’ business but I think that they may be questioning my ability to do the job, I have a choice.  I can say, “That’s their problem.”, but the reality is that I would very much like this job.  Therefore, the responsibility is on me to change that person’s perception.  By speaking knowledgeably about the practices, methods and techniques of cleaning (seriously, you don’t want to get me started).  By expressing knowledge of current green cleaning technologies, or by anecdotally relaying my experience, I can change that person’s perception. 

Yes, we should always be open to seeing more than what we view with our eyes.  I shouldn’t judge the person standing on the corner begging for change.  Too often, I’m ashamed to say, I do.  But do I know what circumstances brought him or her there?  Would that extra bit of information change my perception of them?  Perhaps.

I think, in business, we should not be so full of ourselves as to say, “That’s their problem”.  None of us has so much work that we can afford to put the onus of perception change on the client or potential client.

How can you change someone’s perception of you?