ICS Magazine

Just Creeping Along

March 11, 2008

So for all the classes and articles and seminars and conferences addressing technician appearance, hygiene, decorum, body language, etc., etc., there exists that little-discussed but monumentally important underpinning of the cleaner-client interaction: the creep factor.

The term is not mine; it was put into the cleaning-protocol lexicon by a woman enrolled in a workshop I recently had the pleasure of attending. She brought it into the light during an exercise in which attendees were separated into groups and asked to list things technicians should strive to not exude or demonstrate while at a client’s home.

This was the only group to have “creep factor” listed. And here’s the kicker: the groups were divided into male and female. Every woman there nodded in agreement when this particular line item was reached, and yet, based on the follow-up questions, it wasn’t so much as a blip on the radar of many of the guys in the room.

So what is it, exactly, this factor of creep on which so much importance would appear to be placed? At the end of the day, based on the discussion that took place that day, I would say the creep factor is an un-definable yet recognizable quality by which one person’s mannerisms, activities and interactions elicit an increasingly uncomfortable feeling of unease, insecurity and alarm.

To put it another way, if your techs rate high on the creep factor scale, when your client says, “Would you excuse me for a moment?” she’s just as likely to be checking the clip of Ranger SXTs in her SIG Sauer P226 as she is her e-mail.

It’s not a purely visual thing, it’s not 100 percent verbal – though if your techs are breaking the ice with new clients with their best imitation of Dieter from SNL’s Sprockets (“Go ahead! Touch my monkey!”), you need to find some new techs – and it’s not something that can be covered in three paragraphs in an employee manual (though it’s a good place to start).

Steve Toburen offers a blunt, basic litmus test for whether or not your personnel pass muster when it comes to the creep criteria: would you want him working alone in your home with your wife or mother? If not, or even if you hesitate, you have to wonder why you’d want to inflict this person on someone you hope will become a solid repeat and referral client (and if the Creep-O-Meter is going off, what do you think that odds of that happening are?). Ethically and financially, it just doesn’t add up.