Take a "Clean" Look at Your Operation

January 12, 2011
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Like a lot of folks, I do my best thinking in the shower. No telephone, no e-mail, no distractions, plus the sound of running water almost always promotes meditation! Now, if I could only find a waterproof way to write down all my brilliant in-the-shower thoughts…

I spend a lot of time in hotel rooms and, after many hours standing under hot, cascading water in different cities, with no notepad and nothing else to reflect on, I have reluctantly become something of an expert in examining motel showers.

I honestly think I could be placed unconscious into a strange hotel’s shower, have the cold water turned on and, after gasping awake, be able to tell you within $10 what the room rate is…without ever opening the shower curtain. I could also tell you what the service at the front desk would be like, the quality of the food, and the level of cleanliness throughout the rest of the property.

How? Allow me to share my highly refined “Shower Analysis Checklist.”
  1. The quality of the shower fixtures. Are they solid and classy or cheesy, junky and/or well on their way to replacement?
  2. Degree of maintenance. Faucets leaking? Adjusted right? A loose and sloppy fit?
  3. General cleanliness? My mentor in janitorial told me many years ago, “Steve, you don’t have to get the restroom perfectly clean. Just must make sure the chrome is shiny!”
  4. Well thought out details. Is the soap dish convenient? Are the assist handles easily accessible?
  5. Most important, is there an obsessive attention to even the tiny details? Dirt, lint in the corners? Is the caulking even and straight? Are the light fixtures clean? And the killer for people in our business: is there any black mold?
I know, you’re thinking this is someone who definitely needs to get a life. Or spend less time in strange showers! But if you’re paying attention, the above will tell you a story about this hotel as a whole. The subconscious impressions you receive as you bathe will affect your final opinion on your hotel stay.

And this principle isn’t just for the bathroom either. In fact, during your entire stay you will be subliminally keeping score on the hotel’s performance and your comfort. The final score you arrive at will determine if you return and, more importantly, if you will recommend the hotel to others. (TripAdvisor.com and other travel review sites have dramatically upped the stakes in customer reviews.)

So how about you and your cleaning operation? What is your “business shower” like? What subconscious messages are you sending your prospective customers about your quality, your service, your pricing and your attention to detail? Why are these subliminal impressions so important? Because, when buying any residential service, homeowners receive what they expect to receive! It is the ultimate example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. So please check on these “shower details” for your company…

The Condition of Your Service Vehicles

These rolling billboards are sending silent messages about your company 24-7 as they drive through your market area. Yet all too often I see dents, rust, faded paint and tattered signage on filthy carpet cleaning vans.

How frequently do you wash your van? One SFS member stops a few blocks away from every job and uses tire foam, which takes just a few seconds. What about the dashboard/vehicle interior? (Don’t remind me of the time when a beer bottle fell out and broke in front of my customer!)

Company Logo/Signage

Sure, when you first started out, funds were limited, you banged out a logo in italics and hoped for the best. But now, why not revitalize your company logo design while keeping the elements your customers already know you by? (Freelance graphics design consulting is available very inexpensively over the internet.) You should also focus on your actual signage. The new vinyl lettering and wraps last a long time, but not forever. When was the last time you checked this detail?

Don’t forget to “brand” your company equipment by plastering your logo on everything you own. It takes multiple “brand impressions” consistently delivered over time for your market base to think of you when they see dirty carpets.

Your Website

There is no area of your company where the details will kill you more than in your web site. Obviously, poor grammar and misspellings are the kiss of death to your typical affluent and educated residential prospect. But even more importantly, is your website functional? Is it easy to use? Does it project your emotional company image and move your web surfers to convert over into booked jobs? If any of your Business Shower Details fall down on these points, your prospective customer will click away from your site in a nanosecond!

Your Employees

Look, and I mean really look! Remember the “silent concerns” of a homeowner with a strange tech in their home, then run down your employee detail checklist: grooming, personal hygiene, posture, attitude and of course uniforms! You do have professional uniforms, don’t you?

Bonus tip: Create some great silent Moment of Truth by having every employee wear a photo I.D. badge.

Your Procedures

All too often, your employees are focused on the goals you have set: bang the job out and get out of Dodge! Wonderful…but what little business details are being missed along the way? Do you put down a door mat? Hand the customer a lifetime free spotter bottle?

Break the ice by complimenting them on their home/ yard/ possessions? Ask for a “tour” of what you will be cleaning and write down the homeowner’s concerns/ comments?

All these pre-scripted business details consistently delivered will add up to produce a Customer Cheerleader that will become a referral machine worth thousands!


You’ve heard the old Pogo saying, “We have met the enemy – and he is us!” So true in the cleaning industry. Too often, the owner is the single biggest problem in his or her business. So look closely at your personal business details. How do you feel about yourself, your business, your industry? Do you still love the challenges of every day or has your company become a burden where you dread the phone ringing? Is your business still an alluring mistress that you are passionate about or has it become a domineering slave master? Most important, are you still growing emotionally, mentally and spiritually? Next month we’ll examine how to tune up the details on most important asset in your company- you!

Author’s Note: Industry Internet expert Andres Tobar just wrote an excellent article, “The Top 5 Features Every Cleaning Website Should Have.” Read it at http://tiny.cc/5webtips.

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