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Employee Engagement… It Begins with You!

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Friday, August 4, 2017

By Don Phin


What are the costs of disengaged employees? Poor service, poor attitudes, and high turnover for starts. Then throw in weak work comp claims, lawsuits, negative Glassdoor reviews and brand damage.


A professor at Boston University, William Kahn, kicked off the discussion about employee engagement in a 1990 management journal article. He said engaged people are mentally, physically and emotionally involved in their work. 


Mind, body and soul all working in harmony. That’s engagement nirvana. And the key to a great bottom-line.


Encouraged by what they were learning, leaders looked to engagement to increase an employee’s productivity by generating “discretionary effort.” 


In 2000 Gallup began using their enormous survey resources to track worldwide engagement numbers. And I must tell you…it’s not a pretty picture. In surveys since then less than one third of employees have considered themselves engaged. 


That means two out of three people go to work every day simply to collect a paycheck… and many hate their jobs. For these people work is a life draining affair…and it has far reaching consequences. 


I am sure you and your employees are a lot like me. I feel engaged in my work when I am clear about the goals, I’m good at what I am doing or I am learning something new, I work with great people, in a great environment and I produce great results. 


I look forward to doing that work because it is energy giving, not energy depleting. 


This means my goal as an owner or business leader is to provide the opportunity for an engaging work experience. That’s the culture we want because as Drucker said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.


Engagement Begins with You


I believe this: no professor can tell you what engages employees at your company better than you can. And nobody has a larger impact on the company culture…or engagement …than you.


What experience have you had with engaging bosses? What was is it about them that inspired you? What motivated you to take action and become more engaged in the process? When I facilitate this in live presentations I get back a similar set of responses. I am told these engaging leaders were:

  • Passionate
  • Highly skilled
  • Inclusive
  • Good listener
  • Challenging
  • Strong values
  • Vision

Chances are my list and your list have many similarities. This is not rocket science. We can also do a list of the characteristics of demotivating, uninspiring and disengaged bosses and those lists would match as well.


So…how do you rate yourself as an engaging leader?


Being an engaged leader is a choice. One we make every day. When you look at the characteristics of the engaging leader how would you rate yourself? 


I have often done an exercise with the executives I coach. I'll do it with you now. On a piece of paper write down the answer to this simple question: what 3 things would people like to see you change about your leadership style? Invariably the response I get is spot on. You probably already know what people want to see you change about yourself. My question is what is your resistance to it? Do you maybe need coaching or training? Are you running too hard to feel what is going on?


Solicit feedback


Success is an inside-out job. As the good Buddha said, “what comes to you comes from you.” Be not afraid and solicit honest feedback…if you truly want to improve:

  • What do I do that is engaging?
  • What can I do that is disengaging?
  • Be open and listen
  • Be thankful
  • Be thoughtful
  • Let them know what you will do



In a future article, I can write about engaging “them.” For now, the place to begin is with you.


Don Phin is an attorney, HR catalyst and trainer. He just launched a Lynda.com training on Employee Engagement. You can learn more about Don at www.donphin.com where you can get his Tip of the Week and free tools. Don is one of ARCSI’s speakers for the Residential Cleaning Connection package at the 2017 ISSA/INTERCLEAN Trade Show and ISSA Convention. Phin will talking “Master Human Resources Like a Boss” in a two-part session. For complete details, visit arcsi.org/show.

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What Gets You Up in the Morning

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Monday, July 31, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 31, 2017


By Ernie Hartong


One of my colleagues recently attended a conference where one of the discussions put a new twist on an old theme. Instead of “What keeps you up at night” they chose to talk about “What Gets You Up in the Morning!” It got me to thinking about my eight plus years with ARCSI. There have been a lot of reasons to get up in the morning. It starts with our over 600 members. Talking with members each day and learning about their successes or pointing them in a direction to help solve a problem still gets me “jazzed up”. It’s about the passion for what I do. Fortunately, throughout my career I have had that passion for what I was doing most to the time. When the passion wasn’t there I knew it was time to move on.


So my question to you is, Do you still have that passion when you get up in the morning? Do you get excited about what you can do for your clients that day? Do you look for ways to help your employees grow and improve each day? If you don’t, you are just going through the motions. I will argue that just going through the motions will never produce desired outcomes, either for your business or your personal life. 


The merger of ARCSI with ISSA has reignited my passion. As we explore and develop new opportunities and programs for our members the sky is the limit. We now have the resources to do things we were not able to do in the past and that is exciting. 


So I challenge you to give it a try. Instead of worrying about what keeps you up at night, focus on what gets you up in the morning. Ask that same question to your staff, the answers may give you a whole new insight and perspective on what is really important. 


See you in Vegas…..

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Words That Drive Customers Away – KILLER WORDS OF CUSTOMER SERVICE

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Friday, July 14, 2017

By Nancy Friedman, Telephone Doctor, Customer Service Expert


We call them conversation diverters. Just as ALWAYS and NEVER are. Customer and friends doubt you with those words. 


Killer words help make your customers and your potential customers veer away from the real point of your conversation. 


So best we eliminate them from our routine and vocabulary. It’s not easy to do. If it were easy to do, everyone would be doing it…and we know everyone isn’t doing it. 


Here are 5 of the top-rated killer words. There are more. Remove them and watch the scene go smoother.


1. “No Problem.” – The Customer is thinking, “When was I a problem?” Believe we can thank the ‘islands’ for this one. When we take a cruise and ask for anything, what’s the first thing the waiter says? Right, “no problem.” 

Well on the cruise it may be okay; however, back home it should be the GOLD STANDARD of “you’re welcome,” “my pleasure,” “happy to help,” and a host of other ways to let the customer know you’re glad to do that. 

“No problem” appears to be a big problem with your customers. Lose it. It kills the conversation.

2. “Our computers are so slow.” – Big excuse. Everyone’s computer runs slow occasionally. When you complain about your computer it’s perceived as though, you’re complaining about your company. And perception is reality. Take the time to say, “This might take a bit longer than I’d like it to. Tell me about…” and then ask a benign question that will take time and let the customer talk. 

While most people do understand slow computers, they don’t like it. It kills the conversation. 

3. “Calm Down.” – Oh man does this one make the hair on the back of their neck stand up. In any movie or TV show I’ve watched lately when someone is told to “calm down,” the next words are, “Don’t you tell me to calm down.” 

There are times when the client may need to vent. Your job is to listen and come in at the appropriate time with sympathetic and empathetic wording. You telling a customer how to handle their actions isn’t a great idea. Get rid of the expression “calm down.” 

4. “It’s not our policy.” – Ouch! Okay, okay, most every company has policies and it’s something we need to deal with daily I’m sure. What is not necessarily is blurting it out first and foremost to the customer. 

The policy should be rephrased so it starts off in a more positive way. We like to say, “rejecting gently.” And rephrasing policies are a good way soften the blow and explain in a more TLC way what will happen.

Next time you find yourself saying, “That’s not our (their) policy.” Stop. Regroup and reword. Buffer it with, “Let me see what we can do. Normally the policy of the company doesn’t allow last minute changes.” (The request MUST be re-stated so the customer hears you’re going to go to bat for them.) However, we can sure tackle this. Let me double check.”

What happens is sometimes when we go back on behalf of the client, it works. And then sometimes it doesn’t. But at least we double checked. And we didn’t just slough it off with, “I’m sorry. It’s not our/their policy.”

5. “Yes, but…” – Hmm what’s wrong with that? We all say it. Well, what’s wrong with that is the minute we say “yes, but,” the client knows something negative is coming. 

If you have ever said, “I love you so much, but…” There’s a condition coming, isn’t there? Here’s one way to change that: “Yes, we can do that. There is, however, a $50 additional fee.” Doesn’t that sound better than, “Yes but…”? 


Most people have phrases and sayings they don’t like or that aggravate them. Keep a list of your killer words (along with ours) and avoid them.


Nancy Friedman will be the ARCSI Featured Speaker, September 11 at ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America 2017 . Come to hear her attention-grabbing session, “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Customer Scorned.” With her high energy, Friedman is the perfect choice to lead off the ARCSI Education Conference. 


Nancy Friedman is president of The Telephone Doctor Customer Service, which offers online training modules on customer service, customer loyalty, communications, internal customer service, sales training, management, and leadership programs. For more information, visit www.telephonedoctor.com.

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Three Steps to Finding and Keeping Great Cleaners

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Thursday, July 13, 2017
Updated: Thursday, July 13, 2017

By Michael Brown, Swept


If one of your daily responsibilities is hiring new cleaners, you know how difficult it can be to identify which candidates will make the best long-term employees. With the employee turnover rate in the janitorial industry ranging anywhere from 75% to upwards of 375%, finding and keeping great cleaners is a challenge faced by even the most experienced managers and owners. Yet many would agree that the effect of high employee turnover on your business goes far beyond the resources spent on hiring and training.


Tom Roberson, of Donely Building Services in Lake St. Louis, Missouri, says that while retaining good cleaners is the biggest challenge their business faces, finding a solution is very important. “You have to have the right cleaner to keep a customer,” says Roberson.


So what can you do to make sure you’re hiring the best cleaners for a job and keeping them as long as possible? This article looks at three ways to streamline your hiring processes and reduce your employee turnover rate.


Write Job Postings That Do Half The Work For You


While it can be tempting to quickly whip up a generic job posting to attract a wide variety of applicants and then screen them out when it comes time to schedule interviews, one of the biggest favors you can do yourself is to allow people to screen themselves out. Not only will it prevent you from wasting time communicating with those who are not a good fit for the job, but a descriptive job posting will actually attract higher quality cleaners.


To do this, brainstorm a list of questions people might have about the job, then break these questions down into categories — questions about what your company can offer the cleaner, questions about the cleaner’s role/responsibilities, and questions about the job requirements — and dedicate a portion of the job posting to answer each set of questions.


For example, you might call your first section the “Why Work With Us?” section. This is your opportunity to make your company stand out from the competition by providing a brief description of what you have to offer. Competitive wages? Flexible hours? Health coverage? A unique company culture? We also recommend saying where the job site is located and whether or not training will be provided in this section.


In the next section of your job posting — “Roles & Responsibilities” — focus on just that: the role and the responsibilities of the ideal applicant. This should include any expectations you have of the cleaners assigned to this job, such as the equipment they will need to know how to use, the specific duties for which they will be responsible, and whether or not they’ll be working alone or as part of a team.


In the “Requirements” section of your job posting, be sure to describe in detail what minimum requirements you’re looking for in an employee. Do they need to provide a criminal background check? Have their own car or cell phone? A certain amount of experience? Be able to speak or read English? Do heavy lifting or operate certain equipment? These types of questions are helpful for screening out applicants who aren’t right for a position.


Need some inspiration? Visit www.sweptworks.com/hiringguide for a sample job posting.


Create a Hiring System that Saves You Time and Money


Having spoken to countless cleaning companies about their hiring challenges, we’ve found that the majority say finding and training employees takes up a large portion of their time. Yet, when we ask a room full of owners / operators how many have a hiring budget in place, nearly every hand goes down. Likewise, when asked how many keep an up-to-date database of prospective cleaners from which they can hire for future jobs, the numbers are surprisingly low.


The reality is, if you don’t have systems in place to manage and speed up your hiring and training processes, you’ll spend more time and money than you realize (or need to spend) on these activities. To help improve your hiring and training processes we have two recommendations:


Use CleaningJobs.co

When hiring for a cleaning position you likely post your job description on a few different places online in order to reach potential hires — places like social media, job boards, Craigslist, etc. Before you do we highly recommend signing up for CleaningJobs.co. In a matter of minutes this free tool will help you create a job posting and generate a link which you can then share on the websites of your choice.


Then, when cleaners apply for your job they are sorted and ranked based on the criteria you specified for each position. Those who are the best match for a given job will float to the top while those better suited for another job will score lower. More importantly, the applications of anyone you don’t hire this time will still be available for future positions, meaning you always have a database of cleaners to refer to when it comes time to hire again.


Hold Group Training Sessions


A second strategy we recommend is doing all training in the form of weekly group training sessions. By designating a specific time and day each week for training new hires you’ll manage your time more effectively and budget for the time spent training. If a prospective hire is unable to make the training session they have the opportunity to do so the following week in order to be hired.


Invest in Employee Retention to Keep Your Best Cleaners


When it comes to the whether or not offering higher wages than competitors is an effective employee retention strategy, it seems the consensus in the industry is that while it’s important to pay cleaners fairly, money is not usually the most motivating factor.


Like many business owners, Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, partner at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, feels that the key to employee retention is a company culture that emphasizes mutual respect between managers and cleaners. “Money is important, but how we treat them is most important”, says Rodriguez-Zaba.    


So how can you retain a good cleaner once you’ve hired them? We’ve learned from our own research and experience that there are three main things you should focus on delivering:


High Quality Training

Investing in a training program communicates not only to your customers that that quality is a priority, but also to your cleaners. The key to a great training program isn’t just to make sure your cleaners understand what is expected of them — but also why it’s expected. Taking the time to communicate the impact their work has on your customers’ day-to-day operations can help foster a sense of ownership and pride that leads to a job well done.


Ongoing Communication

Delivering great training to new employees is important, but the guidance shouldn’t stop there. Good cleaners want to do a good job, and it can be stressful when clear direction isn’t provided. This is particularly true when a cleaner starts working at a new location or is filling in for another staff member. Not only will your cleaners appreciate receiving clear cleaning instructions, but it will also help reduce the load on your management team who are called on to answer questions — often during their non-working hours.


Respect & Appreciation

When staff work remotely, it's easy for managers to overlook the effort they put forward. When doing inspections, make sure that cleaners know not only when something has gone wrong but also when things are done right. Asking great questions, reporting problems right away, and always showing up on time are all great examples of cleaner behaviour that should be acknowledged. Going one step further, many companies have successfully started an employee recognition program that highlights small wins to the team in a public way.


For more ideas on employee recognition programs or investing in cleaner retention in general visit www.sweptworks.com/blog


When it comes to hiring cleaners, many business owners / operators learn to effectively screen out unqualified candidates — for instance those who simply would not be a good match in terms of skill set or company culture. But identifying, and more importantly, keeping track of those who may not be a good fit for a particular job, but would be the ideal candidate for a future position, is something many in the industry have yet to master.


Likewise, with so many other things competing for your attention on a daily basis it’s easy to neglect showing appreciation for your employees who are doing a great job. But as Leo Stein, Director of Human Resources at LandCorp puts it, “If it wasn’t for our crew members in the field no one here at Landcorp would be where they are today.” That mentality is one we feel every janitorial business owner should adopt.



When Michael Brown owned a cleaning company he developed technology to help him find the best cleaners and then keep them engaged once they were on his team. Over a two year period, his cleaner turnover was less than 10%!  After expanding into multiple cities, he sold his company so he could focus on creating innovative technologies in the janitorial industry. You can get in touch with Michael at Swept at mbrown@sweptworks.com.



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Award Nomination Deadline Extended to July 14

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Friday, June 30, 2017

The ARCSI 2017 Professional Image Awards are the perfect opportunity to recognize the extraordinary people around us. The deadline to submit your nominations for 2017 is extended to July 14 to allow ample time for all companies make their submissions. Be sure to get your nominations in now for the 2017 Professional Image Awards.


Who will walk away with ARCSI’s most prestigious awards – the Professional Cleaner of the Year Presented by PerfectClean and the Chairman’s Award? You tell us! Send us your submissions for the members of your team that stand out!


The Professional Cleaner of the Year
Presented by PerfectClean

Rewarding fantastic staff is important. If you have a "go to" cleaner or trainer that never misses a beat, is always upbeat, helpful to other staff and whom you, your clients and your employees love, we want to meet them! Recognize your best cleaning tech or trainer as a Professional Cleaner of the Year nominee.


The Chairman's Award

Celebrating your top office staff person, office managers, salespeople, and all other employees who work in your office by nominating them for the ARCSI Chairman's Award. This is the person without whom your business simply run as smoothly and whom you depend on when you are out of the office.


Download the Professional Cleaner of the Year and Chairman's Award Application.


Professional Image Awards

The ARCSI Professional Image Awards present you with the opportunity to showcase the wonderful marketing efforts you have taken to build and grow your business. Each year, ARCSI recognizes the following awards:

  • Logo
  • Uniform
  • Vehicle Graphics
  • Website

Our Awards Committee encourages ALL ARCSI members to submit in at least one category. You can submit in up to three (3) categories, but in any year you can only win in a maximum of two (2) categories, so carefully review each category before you make your submission.


Download an application today for the Image Awards.


Send your applications to Ernie Hartong at ernie@issa.com no later than July 14, 2017.

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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 successmaideasy.com.   


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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