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Let’s Talk: An Interview with ISSA Executive Director John Barrett ​

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Tuesday, June 20, 2017


ARCSI, A Division of ISSA is nearing the six-month anniversary of its merger with ISSA. We thought it was a good time to sit down with John Barrett, the Executive Director of ISSA, to chat about the merger and the future of ARCSI. (Pictured at left sitting left to right: John Barrett and Ernie Hartong. Standing from l to r: Tom Stewart, Jeff Lange and David Sikes.)


ARCSI: What do you think has been the most significant benefit of this merger for ARCSI members?

JB: From the perspective of ISSA, we hope that the members of ARCSI see increased value in our partnership and the way that they can signal the value by joining and renewing their membership. It's also our hope that the value of the partnership is tangible. The world is incredibly competitive and it's our hope that the companies look to ARCSI to secure a competitive advantage.


Truth be told, we have just gotten started. ARCSI is the first association to merge with ISSA and we have been working very hard to identify areas and associations we can invest in for the benefit of our diverse and growing membership.


ARCSI: How do you think the merger has benefited ISSA?

JB: Our mission at ISSA is to change the way the world views cleaning and ultimately to bring together the global cleaning community.


ARCSI has brought a vast amount of insight into the residential cleaning market. This was not an area of expertise that we had at ISSA before the merger. We are getting up to speed thanks to the generous energy and enthusiasm shared by the ARCSI staff, Council and membership. It is helping us to understand the needs of the residential cleaning community and what we can do to serve that class of members. We are delighted and grateful for the privilege to represent and be the voice for the residential cleaning community.


ARCSI: What do you see as the next steps for ARCSI and ISSA?

JB: The staff teams at ISSA and ARCSI are knee deep in the next steps. When we started this process, we had to define goals and objectives. That part has been done. Now we have identified a series of tactics to grow membership, certifications and training – and that will be where you see the next tangible benefits. It is a priority for us to seek other partnerships that are highly complementary to ARCSI and further strengthen the benefits, resources and connection with the residential cleaning community.


ARCSI: Where do you see the ISSA in say 5 or 10 years?

JB: Our vision for the extended future is consistent with our global strategies. The cleaning community around the world is not very different from our own. In fact, they are very similar. But in many countries, they don't have an association representing them and there isn't a global voice. We want to bring together the residential cleaning community across the globe and extend our influence in those communities.


ARCSI: Do you have anything you would like to share with the Residential Cleaning members of ISSA?

JB: I want to applaud the leadership of this group. It's been incredibly positive and energizing to work with a group that is so dedicated to their members. The members and the board are absolutely enthusiastic about helping other members reach their goals. The commitment exhibited by the members of the residential cleaning community to their peers is refreshing and we hope that we can expand the reach of this group. We are thrilled to have this opportunity.

Tags:  ISSA 

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“Seek First to Understand Then to Be Understood”

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Wednesday, June 7, 2017

By Sharon Tinberg


I would love to take credit for those words but many of you are old enough to know whose words they are.  They are the words of Stephen R. Covey, one of the most insightful leaders the business world was ever blessed with.  He understood human behavior and how to have an impact on yours’ and others’.


I believe for this industry to continue to grow at the rapid rate it has in the past 10 years, we, as residential cleaning service owners and partners, need to improve our understanding of human behavior and, ultimately, how to positively impact it.


The most compelling reason to move in this direction is the positive impact it will have on retaining cleaners who are so very difficult to find in today’s tight employee market.  I just completed reading an article about Starbucks and the 5000 locations they intend to open up by the year 2021.  The only thing that stands between them and the success of that goal is finding enough Baristas to staff those 5000 locations.  They are already facing staffing difficulties with the locations they currently operate.  (Sound familiar?)  Their employee turnover rate is rising, recruiting is becoming more difficult, and current employees who are staying for the health benefits are not portraying the “So happy to see you look” to their clients that was once associated with Starbuck’s Baristas.  The prime employee complaints are fixing staffing issues, improving worker pay, and bridging the disconnect between Baristas and corporate workers. 


What are Starbucks executives saying?  That nothing is more important to them than their employees/Baristas.  The executives know they’re not perfect but they regularly engage in discussions with their employees, continue to tell them how valuable they are and how they couldn’t live without them.  (Sound familiar?)  Still, many employees say that Starbuck’s executives are falling short when it comes to listening to and supporting Baristas and other workers.  Perhaps the executives are seeking first to be understood and then to understand. 


I share this story with you because I have witnessed much of the same leadership behavior during my 22 visits to residential cleaning service offices in the past two years.  It can happen as early as my first day visiting an office.  The owner picks me up at my hotel.  I am ready when the owner tells me to be ready.  When we get to their office several cleaners are standing outside waiting on us to open up the door.  I can’t help but wonder how much the cleaners feel the owner appreciates them when they let ‘their valuable employees standing outside, especially when it is 104 or -10 degrees out.   And what about the great new employee that is starting that day who is always early.   It would be great to have a recording of that conversation as they’re all freezing or roasting waiting for us to get there to open the door.  Do you think that the new employee is feeling safe right about now or are they hearing things like “They’re never on time and we don’t even get paid for doing this.”?   Actually, that always amazes me.  In these offices, the cleaners were paid a percentage of the homes, not hourly, so they earned no money while they were preparing the supplies for the day.   This is perfectly legal as long as their salary divided by the total time, from the time they get to the office in the morning until they leave the office that night, comes out to minimum wage per hour. 


This preparation work is something that I did myself until I had enough money to pay someone to prepare the towels and supplies for the cleaners for the day.  If you are an owner who has been blessed with cleaners like these you should feel obligated to get there before any of your cleaners with, perhaps, water, juice, doughnuts, and/or coffee to show them how much you appreciate them.  Most of the owners who have been given this gift of time from their cleaners just take it for granted that that’s what all cleaners do.  Believe me, they do not.  Perhaps that is because many of us would never ask them to do that for nothing in the first place.   My question to the owner always is “Would you do that for nothing?”   I’ve always thought the best way to be a leader that someone wants to follow is for the leader to follow the golden rule ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’. Luke 6:31NIV 

One thing, among many, that I truly admire about all 22 owners I’ve worked with is their ability to step out of the box, look at the situation as others see it, understand things as others see them, not shoot the messenger and sincerely embrace their leadership role.  I’m truly grateful for the amazing owners I’ve had the pleasure to work with and their non-ending desire to learn and grow, even though it may be painful at times.


Let’s continue with the story of the new employee who has just waited outside in 10° weather for your arrival.  You find them a place to sit, get them settled with the new hire paperwork and leave them alone so you can get the rest of the cleaners organized and out for the day.   The orientation process begins and you are very professional and organized.  You are beginning to make this new employee feel safe again.  When you are going through the employee handbook and mention employee benefits you tell the new employee that they will receive five company t-shirts.  They are very excited about that since they will not have to do laundry all week.  At the close of the orientation you ask them what size t-Shirt they wear and they say large.   You go to your supplies room to get the t-shirts and suddenly remember you only have one large left.  You now need to tell this employee you only have one t-shirt.  There goes the safety that you worked all morning to regain.  We are cleaning services.  We do not have a lot of profits to be able to offer a lot of benefits.  If you expect an employee to follow you as their leader, you better be a person of your word regarding the few benefits you said you would give them.  If you said they would get five t-shirts you need to have five t-shirts laid out on a table ready for them when they walk in the door.  Absolutely no excuses, just like you do not want to hear any excuses when one of the cleaners leaves work undone.  You left work with work undone four weeks ago when you should have ordered more t-shirts.  Is this the kind of performance you want to mentor to a new employee?  This problem only continues to get worse as the typical owner puts the t-shirts on the back burner as soon as the orientation is over and other fires arise that need to be put out first.  Before the owner realizes it one month has passed and this new employee is still washing out their t-shirt every night.  If you are lucky enough to have this cleaner stay with your company, one thing I will guarantee you is they will not be referring their cleaning friends to you. 


As leaders who want to develop followers, we need to understand how our followers feel about situations.  It takes a lot of humility to be a real leader.  Sometimes leaders make mistakes.  Not having someone at your office in a leadership role before your cleaners arrive is not demonstrating how much they mean to you.  Not having sufficient t-shirts and other cleaning tools on hand for new cleaners is not showing your new cleaner how much they mean to you.  Accept these facts, be grateful they were brought to your attention, step up to the plate, apologize and fix them and never let that happen again.  Set the kind of example you want them to follow.   Don’t forget the golden rule to do to others as they would do to you.  


Every time you tell them they are really important to you your words are falling on deaf ears.  They are thinking “I can’t be that important if you can’t remember to order my T-shirts”.   You, of course, are thinking they are being unreasonable because they don’t understand how busy you are.  I ask you, “Are you listening first to understand or are you listening first to figure out how you are going to respond?”  I submit to you that the leader who seeks first to understand and then to be understood will be the successful leader of tomorrow.



Sharon is passionate about training and the power that education can bring to others.  Sharon also has 20 years of experience managing a residential cleaning company that generated $1.98M/yr when she left it in 2008.  It was one of the largest individual residential cleaning services in the nation.  When Sharon left her company she saw a need for professional training in the residential cleaning service arena.  Holding a BA in Rhetoric and Public Address, along with numerous years of experience writing and implementing various training programs, (not to mention a bit of Spanish), Sharon was armed with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter the house cleaning training arena.  In 2008 she produced the C.O.R.E. Training DVD set that is now used by more than 1500 companies around the world and started her current consulting firm Rags to Riches   


Sharon’s cleaning service was a 3 time recipient of awards from the Austin Quality Council.  Sharon was Past President of the NW Chamber of Commerce, American Business Women’s Association and Austin Junior Forum.  She was also a board member of NW Seton Hospital and Austin Women’s Chamber of Commerce.  Sharon mentored an ‘at risk’ child for 3 years, was a puppeteer for Kids on the Block and a recipient of the Women in Power Award.  Her leadership style is gleaned from her involvement in non-profits tainted a bit by her corporate background and her 4 years of experience managing 1000 employees.


Sharon will be speaking at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America Trade Show and ISSA Convention in September in Las Vegas. She will be speaking on "Where Have All the Repeat Clients Gone?" For more about the 2017 Show, visit the Residential landing page on the Show website.


Tags:  employee engagement  retainment 

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Disinfectants – Are We Doing More Harm than Good?

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Friday, June 2, 2017

By Bruce Vance


Bruce Vance – Owner – Town & Country CleaningIt’s a common belief that in order to have a clean and healthy home every surface must be disinfected. In fact, one cleaning company has advertised that they will fog your whole home with a disinfectant to disinfect the entire dwelling. But is all this disinfection necessary, or are we really doing more harm than good with all this disinfectant use?


What are disinfectants?
Disinfectants are biocides, things that kill life, that are regulated by the EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). In order to be called a disinfectant, a product must undergo extensive testing to show that it will meet its kill claims and that it is safe, when used as directed by the manufacturer and specified on the product label. The EPA approves the product and the label before the product can be sold as a disinfectant. The label on all disinfectants and disinfectant cleaners will start with the words “It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in any way not indicated on the label.” It is worth noting that these products are regulated as pesticides and may require the use of personal protection equipment per label instructions. Would we get a different reaction if we told clients we were going to spray pesticides all over their kitchen counters?


Sanitized, or disinfected?
Are we actually disinfecting when we use these products? Many disinfectants are inactivated by organic matter, so most require cleaning first, reapplying the disinfectant, and keeping it wet for a specified time, often as long as 5 to 10 minutes. How many of us do this? Most of the time when we spray a disinfectant cleaner, we wipe it up right away and believe the surface is disinfected. Unfortunately, we most likely have not. The surface may be sanitized, but it is doubtful that the threshold of disinfection has been achieved. A couple of definitions here: 1) Sanitizing is bringing a surface to a level of cleanliness considered safe for human health; 2) Disinfection requires achieving a kill rate of 99% or greater of the listed pathogens.


How are disinfectants properly applied?
Many customers expect that we use disinfectant cleaners but in most cases it is impractical for cleaning services to follow proper disinfection methods in a high production business model. Of course in those instances we may not make a disinfection claim. But is there any harm in using disinfectants to merely sanitize?  Of several recent studies, the most alarming is one from the University of Ireland in 2010 in which Pseudomonas bacteria were exposed to disinfectants that were either improperly mixed or used. The bacteria became resistant to the disinfectant, but more alarmingly, 240 times more resistant to the antibiotics used to treat an infection of the bacteria.  There is evidence that misuse of disinfectants may be contributing to bacterial antibiotic resistance.


Where are disinfectants properly used?
Don’t get me wrong. Properly used in the right places disinfectants prevent infections, disease and save lives. They are certainly appropriate in hospitals and many health settings. But, in normal residential cleaning there are other, possibly better options. A study at the University of California, Davis showed that high quality micro fiber cloths were able to remove 99% of soil and bacteria from a hard surface with just water. That compared to a 33% removal rate for cotton cloths. Some of the micro fiber manufacturers have 3rd party lab tests showing up to a 99.99% removal rate with just water. These figures compare very well with disinfectants when they are used correctly. Another option is steam, with some manufacturers claiming disinfection in as little as 3-5 seconds for some machines.


When might it be reasonable to use a disinfectant in residential cleaning?  It could be a good last step after cleaning up any bodily fluids. If there is an influenza, norovirus, or similar outbreak in the home, using a disinfectant on touch points might make sense. Touch points are those areas such as door knobs, phones, toilet and sink handles, etc. that people frequently handle and so can be a transfer point for disease. When disinfecting it is important to clean each surface with a fresh surface, meaning use a fresh disinfectant wipe or turn your cloth to a fresh surface for each touch point. In one study using disinfectant wipes they found that by the 3rd doorknob they cleaned with the same wipe they were adding, not eliminating germs.


Bottom line? Follow the label.
When disinfectants are misused we not only fail to achieve disinfection, we may actually contribute to antibiotic resistance as well. In most residential cleaning scenarios there are less toxic and problematic ways to achieve a sanitary home. In the instances where it may be appropriate to use them, it’s important to follow label directions carefully. Only through proper use will these products remain a blessing to us and not a curse.



A 22-year veteran of the cleaning industry, Bruce and his wife Sarah run a million-dollar house cleaning company in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His passion for excellence in cleaning and for protecting his customers and their possessions has led him to research the scientific and technical aspects of the cleaning profession. Today he is widely recognized by the industry as an expert in all aspects of residential cleaning. Bruce is a Master Textile Cleaner and holds 16 industry certifications. At the 2017 ISSA Convention, Bruce will be leading a session based on the popular game show “Jeopardy.” Along with Cloud Conrad, Bruce and Sarah Vance will quiz attendees during their closing session on Monday, September 11, “IT'S NOT A GAME! What You Don't Know About Cleaning Can Put your Business in JEOPARDY!”

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Here's What You Need to Know to Make Your Hotel Reservations for the 2017 Show in Las Vegas

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Friday, June 2, 2017

ARCSI has a room block at Bally's Las Vegas for the 2017 ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America Trade Show and ISSA Convention. Rooms are just $79 in the room block.


Here's what you need to do to reserve your room at this rate:


  1. Click here to visit the Hotel Reservation page.
  2.  Click 'OK' if you receive a message that 'Time's Up' for your session.
  3. From the dropdown menu, select 'ARCSI' and click 'View Hotels.'
  4.  Select Bally's at $79 per night.
  5.  From there, follow the instructions to reserve a room for the nights you will be at the Show.


Reservation Deadline is August 21, 2017. But the ARCSI room block will likely be full long before that date. Book your room today if you plan to attend the 2017 Show in Las Vegas!

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6 Ways to Delegate Effectively at Work

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Thursday, May 18, 2017

Are you an effective delegator? Too many bosses believe that if you want it done right, do it yourself. And really you aren't alone. According to a Gallup study, 75 percent of employer entrepreneurs have limited-to-low levels of delegator talent. But for your business to grow, it is necessary to delegate. Here are six tips on how to delegate effectively from U.S. News blogger Hallie Crawford.


  1. Know whom to ask. You know your staff – you know their strengths and weaknesses. Delegate the jobs to them that you know they can handle. But avoid overtasking them – you don't want to overburden them and make it impossible for them to get the tasks done.
  2. Give it a trial run. If you have selected an employee to delegate tasks to, consider giving them a “test” task. This way you can test their reliability and still let them be successful
  3. Make sure the task is explained clearly. When delegating, you never want to set an employee up for failure so be sure to thoroughly explain what you want, give them good instructions and any answer any questions that they may have. Spending the time on the front end ensures the task is done right and there isn't any “fixing” to be done on the backend.
  4. Set clear deadlines. Be sure to set a clear deadline. Giving a deadline an “urgent” or an “ASAP” makes it vague and open to interpretation.
  5. Have reasonable expectations. Being able to delegate, means you are going to have to let someone else do the job. And you have to accept that they may not do the job the exact way that you would. If you try to force them to do it the exact way you do, you will micromanage the project – which isn't really delegating. Check in on them but give them some freedom to do the job themselves.
  6. Don't take back the project. If you take back something you delegated, you just told the employee that you don't trust them. Again, they may not do it exactly the way that you would but if it is finished in an acceptable way, you should thank them and recognize them for their contributions.



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It’s That Time!

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Registration opened this week for the Residential Cleaning Connection package at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN Show. Between working with our new teammates in Chicago and the great job Amy King and her Convention Committee have done, we have an exciting agenda. We have managed to bring together the tried and true and the shiny and new. (See story below).


Every year our Convention Committee has the challenge of putting together an education line up with programming for our members that must have topics of interest for everyone from start ups to $2M companies. We cover the topics that you tell us are of the most interest to you, but we also try and bring some new faces to the table. Our speakers cover cleaning issues and general business topics, but we also think it is part of our job to bring you speakers that make you step out of your comfort zone and cause you to stretch a little. 


The most exciting aspect of this year’s show is the new “Residential Cleaning Pavilion” on the show floor. The 2800 sq ft portion of the show floor will be dedicated to ARCSI and vendors who have a connection to the residential community. Your favorites are also back, including our roundtables on Monday night. 


There are some new procedures this year regarding registration. We are now part of ISSA so our registrations are going through the ISSA registration portal. It will be a little different, but do not hesitate to contact us, if you need assistance registering. Because of our merger, we are also able to offer you an exceptional value, and a registration fee that is only $249. This package includes all of our evening events, education on Monday (including free lunch at the Lunch & Learn), Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and access to the show floor. 


One final note, the ISSA Foundation holds a golf tournament on Sunday. I would love to put together an ARCSI Foursome to support the Foundation. If you’re interested in participating, contact me at


See you at the Show!


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Garman’s Cleaning Wins 2017 ARCSI/Cleaning for a Reason Photo Contest

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, April 26, 2017

 Congratulations to Garman’s Cleaning in Manheim, Pennsylvania, for winning the ARCSI/Cleaning for a Reason Photo Contest. The contest was held in honor of the 2017 Cleaning for a Reason Week.


Photo Contest Winner


In 2014 we began Cleaning for a Reason services with beloved mother Aimee. Raising two children while undergoing treatment took much of her energy. One appointment, our staff members came across a hand written letter from Aimee's daughter to her mother. It read "Dear Mommy, I hope you feel better. I love you no matter if you don't have hair, you are still beautiful! Love, Marcella" Cleaning for a Reason is such a beautiful group that helps let women battling cancer focus on treatment, recovery, and family! #ARCSIC4R







Photo Contest Honorable Mention


We wanted to give this photo an Honorable Mention. Tresha McCarty’s team at Custom Maid in Owasso, Oklahoma did a great job coming up with a photo idea for the photo contest.



I am so proud of my team! I asked my Custom Maid team to help with ideas for this contest and while I was attending a workshop they created this incredible photo to submit! I am more than blessed! (Hands of a few Custom Maid team members and chalk drawing.)













At ARCSI, we are so extraordinarily proud to support Cleaning for a Reason and the work they do. It is says so much about our industry that so many of our cleaning companies give generously of their time and talents to offer free cleaning services to women that are undergoing treatment for cancer.


Cleaning For A Reason strives to aid women who are battling cancer by teaming up with cleaning services across the United States and Canada. Together, these two forces offer free maid services to meet the needs of women, and since 2006 have donated up to $6,000,000 worth of free services. Based in Lewisville, TX, Cleaning For A Reason works with more than 1,200 residential cleaning services and continues to grow and gain support. To learn more about Cleaning For A Reason, please visit the website at:



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It’s Cleaning for a Reason Week!

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Not that you can’t celebrate Cleaning for a Reason every week, but we take extra time this week in April to remember what Cleaning for a Reason is and why we participate.


“This is a great opportunity to give back to our community,” Deborah Crowley of Exclusive Cleaning Services shared during a special Hot Topic Tuesday on April 18. “You never know about someone’s journey.”


The journey of a cancer patient is never easy. It is too often filled with tears, exhaustion and frustration, at the very least. Cleaning for a Reason steps in and helps to alleviate at least one concern for cancer patients. So many members of ARCSI, A Division of ISSA participate in Cleaning for a Reason and we are so proud of the work they so generously offer to cancer patients free of charge.


Special thanks to Debbie Sardone and Lynn Frankenfield for the work they do and for joining ARCSI on the special Hot Topic Tuesday.


“There is a great feeling that comes with participating in Cleaning for a Reason,” Debbie Sardone said. She also reminded participants that there is also a business reason to participate as well. “The good you do will come back ten-fold.”


“I wanted to share that we have generated business because of what we do with Cleaning for a Reason,” Donna Garman of Garman’s Cleaning. “I have had many new customers tell me that they chose us because they have heard about our work with Cleaning for a Reason. Our customers like to see that we participate.”


Be sure to check out the video from the Cleaning for a Reason 2016 Volunteer Day on YouTube.


And to find out more about Cleaning for a Reason and how you can participate, please visit their website.

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ARCSI & Cleaning for a Reason Photo Contest

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Monday, April 10, 2017
Updated: Friday, June 2, 2017


We want to show the world that members of ARCSI, A Division of ISSA support Cleaning for a Reason. This year we are going to have a photo contest and winner gets one free Residential Member package to the 2017 ARCSI Education Conference and Show.




We want you to submit pictures of your team showing their support for Cleaning for a Reason. They could be:

  • Decked out in the “pink” gear
  • Cleaning for a Cleaning for a Reason patient
  • Showing support in some way for Cleaning for a Reason

We are sure our many members have taken pictures over the years. Share them now and get a chance to win a free registration to the 2017 ARCSI Education Conference & Show.


To be entered, pictures must be submitted on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag: #ARCSIC4R




All pic

tures submitted on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ARCSIC4R will be considered.


Companies can enter multiple photos.




Winner will be selected by the ARCSI and Cleaning for a Reason staff teams.


Winner will receive one (1) Residential Member package to the ARCSI 2017 Education Conference & Show which is Sept. 10-14, 2017, in Las Vegas. Winner assumes all other costs to the event, including travel and hotel.


ARCSI retains the right to reject any photo for any reason.


Photos become property of ARCS, A Division of ISSA to be used in other future promotional materials


Tags:  Cleaning for a Reason 

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Hiring Independent Contractors for cleaning

Posted By Prime Home Cleaning, Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, April 4, 2017


I started my cleaning referral agency and I have the hardest time hiring independent contractors to start with my company. 


I post on Indeed and I get many applicants. I then text them to either fill out online application and other forms which did not go well as some try to fill it out and send incomplete application. I provide them clear direction on what to do with these online application. Some don't even respond to text.


I then tried texting these applicants to meet to discuss the position and fill out the forms in person. This is also not successfully as most cancel on me last minute or don't even respond.


Is anyone experienced this or experiencing this? It is so frustrating to deal with this unprofessional behavior. I can't start marketing to get clients because I am stuck with no staff. I have 2 staff ready but I need more. 


I feel that if you want to work then why not show that you want the job. 


I really need advise on what I should do to hire reliable independent contractors.




Tags:  employees  hiring  human resources  Interviewing 

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