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“I Want the Cheapest…”

First off, let me say if you came here as the result of a Google search, I apologize.  This blog is not about the cheapest anything.  In fact, it is about the exact opposite.

After giving several ballpark quotes lately and not hearing anything back from the people who requested them it occurred to me that, as a society, we are hung up on the cheapest.  We have to have the cheapest…whatever.  Car insurance, airfare, clothes, it doesn’t matter.  As long as we can get it for the least amount of money, we will buy it.

The one thing that’s missing from our calculation, I think, is relationships.

A hundred years ago, everyone bought their groceries from different vendors.  You had the meat market, the produce stand(which have actually come back in vogue thanks to farmers markets) and the milk man.  You had relationships with each of them.  They knew you and your family, they knew what you liked and what you didn’t like.  There was no way you could put a price on that sort of relationship.

Butcher_shop_in_Valencia  produce stand

And then came the grocery stores.  Everything you needed in one stop and, probably, less expensive.  The meat guy didn’t have to pay for a stand alone shop, so the savings were passed on to the customer.  Maybe you had a relationship with this person and maybe you didn’t, but if not it was alright because you were saving money and time.

I think the thing that we fail to take into account as we compare prices and clip coupons is the relationship.

Because, whether we realize it or not, there is value in knowing who we are doing business with.  Just as the butcher from a century ago would recognize you and knew exactly how thick you liked your pork chops cut or the produce vendor who knew your family and always seemed to pick out the freshest head of lettuce for you because he or she knew you had to make it last awhile, a good business relationship today can pay off in ways that are hard to put a price on.

Sure you could save 15% or more by purchasing car insurance from a website, but wouldn’t you rather have an insurance agent you know and trust looking out for you, your family or your business?

If you look hard enough you will find an awesome deal on home cleaning.  Maybe through Groupon or one of the national chains who specialize in low cost cleaning (read; cheap).  Maybe I am biased, but I would rather have my home; the place where I feel safest, where my family feels safest, cleaned by someone who lives in my area.  Yes, I could save a boatload of money hiring someone who offers the lowest possible rate, but the next time they come, will I have the same people?  Will it be the people I already know and who know my home?  There is value in having the same people come to your home every time.

This is where relationships become priceless.

Everything in it’s Own Time

We did not start this business to get rich.

I have to keep telling myself that for some reason since yesterday.  We started this business for a lot of reasons; to feed, house and clothe our family, primarily.  To make a living.  To make a life.

Everything else; going green, running our business our way, making policy that makes sense, educating the public about the benefits of green cleaning, EVERYTHING else is secondary.

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To be able to be home when the kids got home from school, to take camping trips as a family, to make sure we had a roof over our heads, food on the table and clean clothes to wear.  Every decision we made was based on these needs.  Did we miss out on some more money because we turned down jobs that would have required us to work nights or longer hours?  Absolutely.

I always see photos in my Instagram feed telling me to click on the link in the bio to see how to become wealthy working from home.   That’s not me.

And I’m OK with that.

We met a couple yesterday who have their own cleaning service in our area.  They are looking for someone to sub for them on foreclosure cleanings.  They have been in business about 7 years longer than we have and are about our age.  They were talking about their days; eight to eleven hours a day every day (in the field.  This does not include bookkeeping or any of the other tasks involved in running your own business.).  Driving all over the Twin Cities from Elk River to Lakeville to North Saint Paul.  They had never hired employees in the 16 years they had been in business.   They were also looking for someone to help with their jobs so they could take a vacation.  I left feeling like the biggest slacker in the world.

We all prioritize and make decisions when it comes to our life and our business.  Could I have put in a few more hours?  Missed a concert, a fishing trip or a family dinner so that I made more money?

And then I remembered.  We didn’t start this business to get rich.  We started it to make a living.  To make a life.  Honestly?  I think we have done just that.

No Time to Clean

As we mentioned in our previous blog, a cleaning or maid service is not for everyone.  Trust issues, feelings of needing to do it yourself and lack of money can all play into the decision not to hire a cleaning service for your own home.

You know that, for your families health (not to mention your sanity), you need to have a clean home so either by choice or by circumstance you do it yourself.  But what happens when you don’t have time to do it?  Especially this time of year, the demands on your time double or even triple.

Recently I was reading an article by Kathryn Webber about making time to clean.   She makes an excellent point when she says, “Too many people think that they have to either be “Martha” or give up on home chores completely. It’s not an “either/or” situation. Perfection is not the goal, a reasonably clean house is.”

There are a number of ways to make sure that your home is reasonably clean that take very little time.  Ms. Webber mentions some of them in her article and we have some on our website, here.

In general, though a couple of our favorites are;

Get 5 Minutes From Your Family.  Set a kitchen timer for five minutes and have one member of your family in a different room.  GO!  You would be amazed how much can be cleaned in five minutes.

See it?  Clean it!  Ever walk into the kitchen and see a spill on the counter top but thought to yourself, ‘That’s not what I came in here for’ and left it?  Wipe it up!  I guarantee that you would have to work pretty hard to spend more than a minute cleaning up a spill (even if it’s mustard or jelly).

It will take some planning on your part, but you can have a clean home without spending a lot of time on it and without hiring a maid service.

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.

toaster

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?

What a tangled web.

Spiders.  While our logical side realizes that they are beneficial for controlling indoor insects such as mites and flies and such, our subconscious shudders at the mere thought of them, not to mention the ick factor of running into a cobweb.  We know quite a few people who would just as soon squash one as look at it.

spider

Surely there must be some happy medium between the above picture and allowing spiders to completely take over your home.  Until we find it we have a few tips for controlling spiders in your home.

  • Vacuum on a regular basis to remove the spiders, the webs and their egg sacs.
  • Remove any clutter that provides hiding spaces for the spiders and their prey such as unneeded stacked papers, boxes and paper grocery bags.
  • Store items off the floor and away from walls.
  • Dry out and ventilate damp areas of your home to make them less desirable for spiders.

Maybe these tips could be used just for the most inhabited areas of your home and leave areas like the garage, crawl spaces, etc. to the spiders.  We think spiders are beneficial but would hate to see this happen.

indiana jones

Cleaning to Sell

So, your home simply isn’t working for you, anymore.  Too many/too few kids, new job in a different town (pick one), whatever the reason you have decided to sell it.  How exciting/terrifying for you (again, pick one)!!

The good news is, in many parts of the country the housing market has picked up nicely and there are some deals to be had.  If you want to know how the market is doing, ask the experts.  One in particular comes to mind, Teresa Boardman.  She would be happy to tell you.

Of course you want to get as much money for your home as possible.  Here are a few things inside the home that will help with that.

 In the bathroom

Polish chrome faucets.

Scrub the bath / shower (if it is particularly bad, you may want to consider re caulking shower and bath tile).

Clean the mirrors.

Put out fresh towels.

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In the kitchen

While we are all proud of our kitchen gadgets, when preparing to sell your home the ‘less-is-more’ axiom comes into play, here.  Take everything except maybe a coffee maker off the kitchen counters.  Done?  Good.  Now wipe up those toast droppings where the toaster was and any dust accumulation where everything else was.  Again, if your kitchen sink and faucet have any chrome, shine it up.  Same goes for any stainless appliances.  We use an awesome green stainless product.  Wet wipe the cabinets to get rid of drips and spills.  And finally make sure to vacuum and mop the floor daily while the home is on the market.

All other areas

De-cluttering is a must.  Make sure to dust literally everything when you clean.  Pay special attention to baseboards.  Also ceiling fans tend to get neglected.  Nobody wants to come into a home and look up to see five dusty ceiling fan blades staring back at them!

And as long as we are looking up make sure to find and remove any and all cobwebs.  Unless you are marketing to the Addams Family, nobody wants to see those.

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Also make sure to have the windows washed and the carpet cleaned.  If you live in Anoka County Minnesota, ask us for recommendations.  We don’t do that, but we absolutely know some pros.

Once the carpeting is cleaned, make sure to vacuum it every day it is on the market.

And don’t forget areas such as light switches and “touch points” around door knobs and walls.  These spots gather finger marks and smudges.  A once over with a magic eraser can make these tasks much easier.

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A final note about smells

The conventional wisdom just a few years ago was that potential buyers wanted lots of “homey” smells in a home.  People would be encouraged to boil vanilla and cinnamon on the stove to fill the house with those  feel-good scents.  This is NOT encouraged anymore.

The new conventional wisdom when it comes to selling homes is that NO odor is preferable to “comfort scents”.  Open the windows as much as possible while the home is on the market.  Curtail the cooking of smelly food (fish, anyone?) prior to open houses.  Make it as neutral smelling as possible.

Well, there you go.  Now the rest is up to you.  Get out there and sell your home and if you need a little help getting it ready, give us a call.

Bring Back the Bees: How to Increase your Garden’s Bee Population

We never really give a second thought to bees much (unless you are my daughter or mother who are deathly afraid of them). There have been a lot of articles written about them, but I found this one particularly enlightening.

A Life of Simple Joy

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In case you haven’t heard, bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. Bees are essential for plant production. It is imperative for us to take steps to keep the current colonies healthy & help increase their size & number. Lia Leendertz has shared a great article on Fix.com discussing the problem of colony collapse & offering way each of us can help the bees. To read Lia’s article, please click HERE

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