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The ABC’s of Hire Tough, Manage Easy

Posted By Erin Lasch, Monday, September 12, 2016

By Mel Kleiman


When you make it a practice to hire tough, everything else gets easier. "Hire tough" managers know exactly who they're looking for and refuse to lower their standards. They cover all the bases - from A to Z - and create a win/win situation for employee and employer alike.


Attitude. Hire for attitude, train for skills. The No. 1 reason customers don't come back is because of an attitude of indifference on the part of an employee.


Body Language. During interviews, pay attention to the applicant's posture, facial expressions, and eye, hand, and leg movements. If you focus only on taking notes, you'll miss more than 50 percent of what the applicant is communicating nonverbally.


Capacities. Define the mental (IQ) and physical (strength, stamina, dexterity and more) capacities needed to do the job. It's senseless to spend time with any applicant who can't meet these basic requirements.


Decision Making. Most interviewers make a hire/no hire decision within 30 seconds of meeting an applicant. This gut-instinct approach has proven to be less reliable than flipping a coin. Weigh all the information – pre-employment test results, interview results and reference checks - before dismissing or hiring any candidate.


Employees. A great source of new employees is all the good employees you already have. To get more good people just like them, start an employee referral award program.


Former Employees. Your best source of new employees is all the good people who used to work for you. Go ahead, call and ask if they want to come back - the grass doesn't always turn out to be greener. Even if they're not interested, ask them if they know of anyone else who might be.


Gut Feeling. If your gut says, "Don't hire this person," then, don't. If it says "Hire this person," doubt it and get objective verification through testing and reference checks.


Hire Tough. The most expensive person you'll ever hire is the one you have to fire. Hire tough systems are the best insurance against employee turnover, negligent hiring lawsuits, workers' compensation claims and management migraines.


Interview Tough. Prepare by reviewing all the information you've collected so far and plan the questions you'll ask. Tell applicants you expect them to be truthful. Don't interview with the application in front of you or you'll end up simply confirming information instead of finding out what you need to know.


Job. The most important job you have is hiring. If you put the right people in the right jobs, managing them is easy. As Red Auerbach said: "If you hire the wrong people, all the fancy management techniques in the world won't bail you out."


Knowledge. The more you know, the less you risk. There are only two sources of knowledge about a potential new hire - the applicant and the people who know the applicant. Check it all out thoroughly.


Listen. The most common mistake interviewers make is talking too much during the interview. How much can you learn while you're talking? Make sure the applicant is doing the talking at least 80 percent of the time.


Maintain Control. Stay in control of the interview by telling applicants up front what you're going to cover. Let them know they'll have an opportunity to ask questions after you've told them briefly about the job and the company and have asked your prepared questions.


Notes. Take notes, but never on the application. It's a legal document that you need to keep on file whether or not the applicant is hired.


Open-Mindedness. Be aware of your personal biases and don't rule out anyone because of them. You're looking for the best person to do the job – not the person you like best.


Personality. Like people, jobs and companies have personalities. Try to get a good fit between the applicant, manager, job, and company. While no applicant will match each of the other three, people with good attitudes will manage their personalities (do things they don't really like to do) to get the job done.


Quality. Never lower your standards. Once you've identified the capacities (mental and physical), attitudes, personality traits and skills necessary to do the job well, don't ever lower your standards. The No. 1 reason good people leave is because they get tired of working with hiring mistakes –– the people with poor attitudes or who aren't cooperative team players.


Recruiting. Just like marketing, recruiting is an ongoing activity. You have to recruit all the time. The very best time to recruit is when you don't need anyone.


Skills. If you have to hire for skills, make sure you get what you need by testing for them. Have the cook applicant prepare a meal, the driver parallel park, and the cashier make change.


Testing. Every step in your hiring process should be viewed as a test and each test should get progressively more difficult. It's the only way to screen in the best.


Upgrade. Every time you have to hire, it's an opportunity to improve the whole organization. Keep raising the bar.


Verify References. Always, always, always check references – even if you're hiring your neighbor's son. The only way to avoid negligent hiring lawsuits and bad hiring decisions is to verify the information the applicant gives you against every reference.


Who, What, Why, When and Where? You can't hit the target if you don't know what it looks like or where it is. Write a job analysis that answers these questions and you'll hit that target every time.


X-Out Unsuitable Applicants. Do a short phone screening before asking anyone to come in for testing or an interview. This limits your legal exposure and ensures they meet all your basic requirements (capacities, skills, hours they can work, reliable transportation and availability).


Yield. Go slow. Don't make an offer before you have all the facts. Always remember that what you see in the interview is better than anything you'll ever see again. If you're afraid you'll lose an applicant to a competing employer, make an offer contingent on the outcome of the drug test, physical exam, background and/or reference checks.


Zero-In. Identify the mental and physical capacities, the attitudes, personality traits, and skills you need. Zero-in on your target. Test for what's needed and interview only the best of the best.



Certified Speaking Professional Mel Kleiman is an internationally recognized speaker, consultant and author on strategies for hiring and retaining the best hourly employees and their managers. He is the president of Humetrics, a leading developer of systems, training processes, and tools for recruiting, selecting, and retaining an hourly workforce. For more information, call (713) 771-4401, email or visit and


Tags:  hiring 

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Managing Problematic Employees

Posted By Erin Lasch, Tuesday, August 23, 2016

By Zeynep Mehmetoglu, Maid Bright


Maid Bright CrewIn any business, the employees are what drive the business. This is also true for the cleaning industry because the employees are the front line in our business doing the physical job of cleaning clients’ homes. The continual, professional relationship with our employees is critical to the success of our businesses. Most of the time there are no problems and things run smoothly, however, there are times when problems may arise and there are multiple ways to approach and manage problematic employees.


Avoiding Issues


Issues arising in the workplace can occur every now and then, but to avoid bigger problems the best strategy is to have policies outlined from the start that everyone is aware of. The best approach is to give each employee in your business an employee handbook. These booklets outline all the policies that apply in your specific state such FMLA, Disability and specific policies regarding paid time off, dress code, ethics in your workplace. The employee handbook makes it so that everything is consistent across the board for everyone working in your organization. Another approach to take is holding a new employee orientation, so that the employee knows what to expect from the start.


Types of Problems


There are several different issues you might have to deal with regarding problematic employees. The majority of cases are employees and frequent call outs, tardiness and not showing up to work. Again, these topics need to be outlined as policies in your employee handbook. Other issues may involve not adhering to uniform rules, unprofessional attitude towards you or other employees that creates a negative environment, poor performance and finally there are more major issues such as drug abuse, harassment and dishonesty or theft.




For major issues such as dishonesty, drug abuse, harassment or theft, the solution is unquestionably termination of employment. Because you trust employees in your clients’ homes, these issues can harm your reputation and pose harm to your clients. For other issues such as tardiness, frequent call outs, negative attitude, not getting along with other co-workers and poor performance there is a multi-step disciplinary approach that you can use. Remember, with any disciplinary action you take, make sure to document it and place it in the employee file.


1.       If the issue is with team members not getting along, the crew coordinator should hold an informal meeting before it escalates to the supervisor, where he/she listens to both sides. The two parties should try their best to resolve the issue. The last resort should be to change team members, but if the issue consistently happens then other steps are necessary.


2.       Address the issue immediately with a verbal warning. It should be on record that you have spoken with specific employee about the issue. This should be entered in the employees record.


3.       If the issue is repeated, the second step should be a written warning also to be included in the employees record. The employee should be made aware that if the issue arises again, they can be terminated from employment. Also, consider extra training if it is an issue with performance.


4.       Finally, if all means of disciplinary action have been exhausted, the employee needs to be terminated from employment.


When you approach workplace and employee problems consistently in this manner, you set the stage for every employee on what to expect. It is only fair that employees that create issues get disciplinary action to preserve the peace of the workplace environment and ensure that your business operates smoothly. Professional behaviors and practices should be fostered and encouraged in the workplace to avoid issues and problematic employees, therefore, address any problems promptly and fairly.




Zeynep Mehmetoglu is the owner of Maid Bright, a residential cleaning company, in Sterling, Virginia, with her husband Yusuf. Find out more about Maid Bright at



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The Teresa Ward Community Service Awards

Posted By Erin Lasch, Monday, August 22, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, August 24, 2016


ARCSI Members care about their communities and they are involved in countless ways. Teresa Ward was a champion of giving back to her community. We are all deeply saddened by her passing last year. ARCSI has created the "Teresa Ward Community Service Awards" to honor her memory. 
 You can honor Teresa by telling us how your company and your employees are involved in your community. Hundreds of ARCSI members provide free cleanings for cancer patients through Cleaning for A Reason. Members are helping families through our Kleaning for Kids program at local Ronald McDonald Houses.


But we know you are doing more! Member companies and their employees support their communities in every way imaginable. They organize food drives and volunteer at food banks. They support their local "walks" for their favorite charitable cause. They are Red Cross Blood Donors and disaster relief volunteers. They are coaching and supporting local youth sports activities and programs in their local schools and churches.


ARCSI is quantifying the local charitable giving and participation by our members for a presentation at this year's Convention. So we need you to tell us your story. Take a moment and total up the hours you and your employees spend volunteering. Tell us about the special project you are involved in in your community. Teresa even started a non-profit called "Cleaning Angels" to provide free cleanings for seriously ill people. Others, like Stephanie Nesseth of Absolutely Clean in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have also set up your own non-profits to help your communities.  Click here to learn more about Time in a Bottle.


This is not a project just for large companies with a large staff. We know that even our smallest members are involved in charitable projects so we want to hear from all of you. Please return your form, or just email us your story by August 31, 2016.

Tags:  awards 

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In Memoriam: Courtney Fisher, Daughter of ARCSI's Jeff Fisher

Posted By Erin Lasch, Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, August 17, 2016
It is with the deepest sadness that we bring this news to you. Jeff Fisher, the ARCSI Director of Membership, lost one of his daughters in a serious auto accident on Friday. 


Jeff's wife Vicki and three of his daughters were traveling to a water polo tournament in Toledo, Ohio, when they were struck by a grain truck. 


His daughter Courtney was killed on impact. His wife Vicki is stable, but in serious condition. His daughters Melanie and Betsey are also hospitalized but stable. Also in the car were water polo team members Samantha Fink and Sydney Zullich. Both girls are hospitalized and in stable condition.
Courtney was 19 years old and would have been a sophomore at Marist College in New York, playing for their water polo team. Courtney, who was active and beloved in the Worthington community, was a coach on her sister's Worthington Kilbourne water polo team and was traveling with them to their tournament.


Support for the Fisher family has been pouring in from those who had the privilege to know Courtney and the Fisher family. 


We ask that you please keep Jeff and his family in your prayers. We know the road ahead for them will be very difficult. We hope to surround them with as much love and support as possible. 
Friends have started a GoFundMe to support the Fisher family and help alleviate some of the financial burden they will be facing if you wish to make a donation. The community is also setting up a donation account at the local US Bank so you can make a donation to the Jeffrey Fisher Family Fund at any US Bank branch. The US Bank fund will be used to help the Fisher, Fink, and Zullich families with medical bills and other expenses. 
On behalf of Jeff and his family, thank you so much for your thoughts, prayers and well wishes through this most trying time.

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What's the best user friendly scheduling software

Posted By Queen of Clean Service, Friday, July 22, 2016
What is the most user friendly and affordable scheduling software.  There are so many to chose from that we'd like to get some input to help us decide. We use QuickBooks and some of this programs, such as ServiceCEO, include invoicing on their program.  If that's the case we can stop using QB all that recommended?  Also most of them are now Web based is that reliable an secure?  Your opinions will be deeply appreciated.

Tags:  scheduling software 

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Three Ways to Help a Job Applicant Relax and Tell You More

Posted By Erin Lasch, Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Most job applicants find interviews to be high stress situations and even people who are normally friendly and engaging can seem guarded and tentative because they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. This is why it’s important to spend the first few minutes engaging in small talk (sports, the weather, the commute). Only comfortable applicants will give you all the information you need to make a good decision. Here’s some other pointers:


  1. Body language: Candidates will subconsciously be affected by and respond to your body language. When interacting with applicants, use body language that is open and accepting (lean in toward them, keep your arms and hands open).
  2. Find common interests: Look for ways that the interviewee and you are alike. You may have a school or city in common. You may have shared interests or experiences.
  3. Tell stories: About yourself and the company. Interesting stories will create a picture of your company as a great place to work and give the candidate insight into company’s culture. Besides being informative, it takes the pressure off for a while.



Certified Speaking Professional Mel Kleiman is an internationally recognized speaker, consultant and author on strategies for hiring and retaining the best hourly employees and their managers. He is the president of Humetrics, a leading developer of systems, training processes, and tools for recruiting, selecting, and retaining an hourly workforce. For more information, call (713) 771-4401, email or visit and


Tags:  Hiring  Interviewing 

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It’s All About the Cleaning “INDUSTRY”

Posted By Erin Lasch, Friday, July 08, 2016

By Ernie Hartong 

Just 108 days until our Annual Convention kicks off in Chicago. Not registered yet? Stop procrastinating. You do not want to miss the biggest show in the cleaning “Industry.” That’s right the Cleaning INDUSTRY. Think about that for a moment.

Everyone together in one place for one week, learning, networking, socializing. Image the resources that will be available to you. ARCSI is a “Co-locator” for the ISSA InterClean Show. We will be joined by other co-locators including BSCAI, the Building Service Contractors, CETA, the Cleaning Equipment Trade Association, IEHA, International Housekeepers Association, and more. These groups all have access to the 700+ vendor trade show floor where you will see the latest and greatest in products, technologies and more. There will be over 60 seminars and educational programs, some specific to your Cleaning Industry segment, but many will deal with cleaning in general that applies to all segments. If it has anything to do with Cleaning Industry, it will be in Chicago.

Collectively we are talking about an Industry that effects everything we do every day. It impacts our daily lives more than any other Industry. Yes Virginia, even more than the internet. Sooner or later everything we come in contact with has to be cleaned. When we stop and think about it, the number of people employed and the dollars generated by the Cleaning INDUSTRY are staggering. Start with the manufacturers of cleaning products and equipment, then there is the supply chain of distributors, and finally the front line cleaners, in homes, offices, healthcare, travel and lodging, schools, and more. Cleaning is not just a mop and a bucket anymore. These front line professional cleaners, regardless of what segment of the cleaning industry they are in, are getting more and more training, better tools and products, and doing a job that requires more and more skill. They are no longer maids or janitors, or unskilled labor. They are professional cleaning technicians.

So thanks to the leadership of ISSA for continuing to bring the entire Cleaning Industry together year after year and around the world. See you in Chicago.

Tags:  Cleaning Convention 

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The Power of One: Creating an Extraordinary Customer Experience!

Posted By Erin Lasch, Wednesday, June 29, 2016

By Elaine Beaubien


"If We Don’t Take Care of Our Customers, Someone Else Will”


This snappy slogan was written on a shiny brass plaque behind the registration desk at a major hotel chain I was checking into. It said in a very concise way what I believe is true in most industries in today’s global marketplace. I took out the notepad I carry and wrote it down, knowing I would use it some day.


I had been delayed at a northern airport by some snow and ice and I was really looking forward to getting into my room. I walked through the doors of the hotel with gratitude and good will. The young well dressed and pressed desk clerk held up her hand to me palm out when I approached. I stopped. Apparently she wasn’t ready for me, even though I was the only other person in the lobby. She was checking something vital on her cell phone. Well, I guess she showed me who was in charge. I use that palm out gesture on my dog after she rolls around in some unidentifiable muck and I must say, I didn’t appreciate the feeling I got when it was used on me. Sit. Stay. I feel a crack forming in my good will; the gratitude has already dissolved.


When she was finished with whatever was more important than me, she nodded imperiously and I walked up with my credit card in hand. When I told her I was there to check in, she asked if I had a reservation. I did. She asked me my name. I told her. She asked me to spell it. With a name like Beaubien, I am used to spelling it several times. It’s all those vowels. She typed, frowned, shook her head and sighed. I felt her disapproval. I thought perhaps I should spell it again. I did. She used that go-to palm out hand gesture again, never taking her eyes off her computer, sighed deeply once more, and with an edge of impatience she asked, “Are you sure?” It took me a minute, but I nodded. Did she just imply that I didn’t know how to spell my last name? The crack is becoming a fissure.


I was told I was not in their system so she asked for my reservation number. Now I know all of you Type A people carry it with you…in 4 different places…but I always trust the system and never carry it. And as a general rule, I never need it. Bottom line, I didn’t have my reservation number. Bad customer. When she looked up I could see I was in for a scolding. I was right. “There’s a reason we give you people those numbers, you know.” Did she really just say, “you people?” The fissure is becoming a crevice.


The clock ticked. I waited to see if she was going to find me a room. I glanced at the shiny red apples on the counter, the bowl of tiny foil-wrapped mints, then back to the frowning young woman who was being terribly inconvenienced by my inconsiderate intrusion on her time and space. The apples must have been someone’s idea of a customer pleasing extra, the mints an attempt to delight me. A bit of advice. Don’t be putting up the nice little extras until you have a firm foundation of customer satisfaction. They are superficial static and not cost effective.


I didn’t want an apple. I didn’t want a mint. I didn’t even want a reservation. I wanted a bed! After enduring a little scold for not having my reservation number, I asked her if she had any rooms available. More tapping of the keys, another sigh. While she was busy searching for possibilities, I looked out the big glass doors. Bright inviting signs for hotels all up and down the street. Rooms. My suitcase had wheels. I decided to use them. When the young woman looked up, I nodded at the plaque, told her to give it a nice polish, grabbed an apple and a handful of mints and left. Even though I spent more for a bed next door that night, it felt good. Really good.


I am your customer, buyer, patron, client, consumer, guest, member, associate. I’m the only reason you’re still in business. I generate the revenue. Pay attention to me or watch me turn around and seek alternatives. With the world at my fingertips, I may not have to go far.


The moral? The Power of One. Fairly or unfairly, the reputation of this entire hotel, perhaps the entire chain of hotels was on the shoulders of this one young woman. On that one evening. With that one interaction. You may only have one shot. There are too many alternatives…if you don’t take care of your customers…someone else will! And now, with social media, I may share my opinion with my 3450 closest friends and before you know it, what may be an anomaly becomes a story and the story becomes your reputation and that reputation will impact your bottom line.


Commitment to the customer is not a plaque. It doesn’t stop with intense orientation and continuous training. These are the means to an end. You need a total cultural immersion of the critical importance of meeting, then exceeding the expectations of your customers. Of developing sincere, deep to the bone passion for the people you serve. Every person. To be extraordinary, you need to recognize the power of each person, each transaction, each interaction to develop the relationships necessary to build your business and keep it successful.


Excellence isn’t accidental. It’s the result of deliberate planning, organizational commitment to personal and professional development and high expectations. It’s not free. It is, however, very cost effective. It’s far more expensive to find a new customer than to keep the ones you have. Spend time, energy and money to nurture the relationships you have with people who have already selected you.


Everyone, and I mean everyone, in an organization is responsible for pleasing the customer. It should be part of the culture. An assumption of excellence. An expectation of customer focus. Corporate culture and customs are what dictate the norms and acceptable patterns of behavior. What does your culture say about creating an extraordinary customer experience? It’s importance? If I walked into your establishment, would I immediately be impressed with your treatment of me and my needs? Would I walk out feeling impressed and delighted. Or would I just walk out?


Your reputation is dependent on your attention to the customer. Smiling customers create an energy that employees can plug into. Being part of a legend is exciting and soon employee attitude improves due to the pride of being a part of something extraordinary. It’s contagious and it builds organizational loyalty. And it is every person’s responsibility…from the top down and back again.


Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Set your standards high, then expect everyone to perform according to the principles of impeccable service. It pays dividends.


Elaine Beaubien ( is the keynote speaker opening the ARCSI Cleaning Convention on Tuesday, Oct. 25. She will be presenting "The Power of One: Creating an Extraordinary Customer Experience." 

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It’s Time to Step Up: Consider Serving on the ARCSI Board

Posted By Erin Lasch, Wednesday, June 15, 2016

By Ernie Hartong, ARCSI CEO

It’s election season. Gosh Ernie, did you just figure that out? No, I am not talking about the one that seems to be consuming our every waking hour these days. I am talking about the election for ARCSI Board members. So why not consider running for the ARCSI Board of Directors. It is a much easier process than Hillary and The Donald are going through. You don’t have to scramble around and round up delegates. All you have to do is download the application from our website. It is a self-nominating process.


The ARCSI Board is about service and commitment. You will be serving your fellow ARCSI members and we are looking for Board members who are committed to helping ARCSI grow and improve. So what’s your job as a Board member? You will have four “sight lines” when serving on the Board.

  1. Oversight - Your primary duty as a Board member is oversight of all that ARCSI does, our finances, our policies, and our programs.
  2. Insight – We are seeking Board members with an insight into the challenges our members face day to day.
  3. Hindsight – We will expect you to draw on your past ARCSI experiences and your business experience to help us grow and improve.
  4. Foresight - We need your foresight, leadership, and innovative thinking and ideas to keep ARCSI moving forward.

Interested? Download the application from our website.

Tags:  ARCSI  Board 

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Experience & Skills Are No Match for Talent

Posted By Erin Lasch, Monday, June 13, 2016

Yesterday's Hiring Criteria vs. Today's

by Mel Kleiman, CSP


Human knowledge is now doubling every 3.7 years. This means that 50 percent of what you now know will be out of date in less than four years.

Just to bring it home, let's imagine you need open heart surgery. How would you like to have it performed by someone who hadn't learned anything new about the procedure in the past 48 months?

For this very reason, it is no longer about hiring skills and/or experience. Today, it's all about hiring talent.

So, what is the difference? A skill is the ability to do a particular task, like drive a truck or design a building or fly a plane. All of these are skills. Talent is the ability to learn new skills and/or dramatically improve upon an existing skill set.

Because of all the rapid changes in the workplace and technology, hiring a skill today is only going to solve a problem in the short run. When you hire talent, those people will be able to move the organization to the next level because they can quickly learn and apply new knowledge. (While you may want to hire a computer programmer who knows a specific language, you would be better off hiring a programmer who has the ability to rapidly learn and apply new languages.)

Here are some interview questions that explore an applicant's talents:

  1. What was the last thing you learned and how have you applied that learning?
  2. How do you learn best?
  3. Give me an example of a situation where you did not know how to handle a particular problem. What action did you take? Why did you take that course of action?
  4. What more would you like to learn about your job or career? Why?
  5. In your present or last job, how long did it take you to feel like an expert in your position? How much did you have to learn? How did you tackle it? What were the most difficult aspects of the job to master? Who helped you?
  6. Let's assume for a moment I hire you and you start in two weeks. During that time, I get called out of the office on urgent business and am not available to support you for the next month. What are you going to do to get yourself up to speed?

When Talent is in the ring versus Experience/Skills, my money's on Talent every time.



Certified Speaking Professional Mel Kleiman is an internationally recognized speaker, consultant and author on strategies for hiring and retaining the best hourly employees and their managers. He is the president of Humetrics, a leading developer of systems, training processes, and tools for recruiting, selecting, and retaining an hourly workforce. For more information, call (713) 771-4401, email or visit

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