Carpet Cleaning Business Management

Recognize, Reward… Then Relax!

So how do you break free from being an owner/operator and morph your company into critical mass?

April 3, 2013

“There are two things people want more than sex and money – recognition and praise.” — Mary Kay Ash
Sooner or later, you will want to add employees to your growing cleaning or restoration business. It may be something so simple (and yes, sad) as an aging body crying out for relief. Honestly, does a “day on the wand” get you all excited like it did when you started out?
Or you may just want the personal freedom of achieving critical mass in your business - being able to choose when (and if) you want to work. Remember, a critical mass business is a “cash flow machine” that consistently cranks out profits with you or without you if you choose.
So how do you break free from being an owner/operator and morph your company into critical mass? By developing trained, motivated employees that have bought into your business emotionally! (NOTE: Check out the 2013 ICS March “To Your Success” on how to find these good people.) Then once you have them here’s how to orient, train, nurture, recognize and reward these folks for their great work:
  1. Welcome them warmly: You want these nervous new employees to feel like they are joining a family. So throw a small “welcome aboard” party (20 minutes with coffee and donuts) on their first morning at work. Then…
  2. Assign your best employee to mentor them: This “training officer” will work with your new hire for the first few weeks, showing them the ins and outs of the company. But for maximum efficiency and motivation, you should implement a “fast-track training” system…
  3. Guide each training day with a written skills review: Good people want to be challenged right from the get-go! You’ll do this with skills reviews during the employee’s first two weeks. A skills review is a single page with 10 to 20 questions that your fast-track trainee will fill out at the end of each day. If the trainee answers them all correctly, the training officer (who also has a copy) gets a $20 cash bonus! Now that is daily motivation and accountability! (NOTE: For a free checklist on other ways to add employee accountability in your company, just e-mail me at and put “Accountability” in the subject line.) Now with a good training officer, your sharp tech will usually pass the first 200 to 300 fast track questions for beginning proficiency within two weeks at which point they receive…
  4. Public Recognition/Reward: Upon completing the first module in their skills review (which should allow a tech to do simple jobs unsupervised), publicly recognize their accomplishment at your next company staff meeting. (NOTE: I also handed my newly trained employee a nice, crisp $100 bill!) But trust me on this one - while the 100 bucks was much appreciated, the public recognition during our staff meeting was even more important. I could literally see my trainee’s pride and self-image swell as our other employees applauded him or her!
Pay attention here: You just can’t commend the hard work of your employees too much! So in the words of the late, great Zig Ziglar become a “Mr. Good Finder!” Actively look for specific actions and successes of all your employees to recognize and reward. For example…
Many carpet cleaners leave a stamped post card at each job for the client to grade the technician’s work. (And if you aren’t doing this you should be!) Customer feedback should always be encouraged and sometimes the old fashioned ways (such as a stamped post card) work the best. When these comment cards come in with high marks for a tech, use my three-step employee recognition system…
  1. As soon as possible, approach your employee with their great comment card in hand, show them the customer’s praise and warmly thank them. Then…
  2. Post the client’s comment card on a large bulletin board in your office with the employee’s name prominently displayed for other techs to read. (We called this our “Wall of Fame!” And yes, at the end of each day our techs would run to see who had been posted up on it!) And then finally…
  3. Announce your tech’s name and read the customer’s praise to your assembled employees during your company staff meeting. The spontaneous applause really will be priceless for your tech, and even better for you it is free! (Now ask your employee to stand up and explain what they did to create a “cheerleader” out of their client. This is a wonderful way for your employee to both be recognized and contribute!)
NOTE: In addition to leaving stamped post cards, I also recommend doing an Instant Quality Check (IQC) immediately after the tech leaves the job. Your tech will call the office as he or she drives away and give any appropriate “heads up” warnings on the job. Then your office staff will call the home owner to make sure they are delighted.
So why the need for this Instant Quality Check phone call? Because today’s customer is extremely “trigger happy.” That is, rushing to their keyboard to post an ugly online review before even calling your office to give you a chance to rectify their concern.
However, you will now be proactive with this IQC call when your office person warmly says, “Mrs. Jones, Bill just called in to say he has finished up at your home. I’m just calling to make sure you are delighted! Do you have any concerns at all?” If your client receives this friendly IQC call right away, it is much more likely they will share any concerns with you instead of the online world!
Or even better, they may be so surprised and delighted by your company’s attitude of care and concern that they’ll run to their computer to praise you online. Now that is what we call in SFS a viral “cheerleader on steroids!”
Your office person will now log in the customer’s pleased comments from the IQC call conversation and you’ll follow my three-step employee recognition system detailed above. Everyone (and especially your tech) will be happy with this fast feedback!
(NOTE: For a free step-by-step Immediate Quality Check procedure and script just e-mail me at and put “IQC” in the subject line.)
Remember, implementing this IQC procedure costs you almost nothing - just a few minutes of staff time. However, IQC calls will pay off big time with fewer online negative reviews and super motivated employees!
Any employee praise you can sincerely deliver is a positive thing. But the more specific you can be with your sincere commendation the better. So you (and your managers) should keep a running list of employees that have gone above and beyond what is expected. Then specify their specific accomplishments and how you feel about their efforts (a few tears are always good!) when you give public recognition.
So this is one extra bonus of your Immediate Quality Check call - you will take notes of the customer’s praise and be able to sing your employee’s praises to your entire company! Plus, even better, you can use your cheerleader’s delighted comments in your marketing. (In my next “To Your Success” I’ll share how to “double dip” off of your employee recognition efforts.)
Remember, if you consistently and sincerely recognize and reward your employees then you will be rewarded with a critical mass company that hums along nicely without your constant presence. And that is priceless!  

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