Tuesday, August 2, 2016

NO MORE HANDSHAKES


Back in the early days of our business, it was common for the BSC and customer to agree on the service to be done and the investment per month, then shake hands and the agreement was done. You're right, life was much simpler then but the times and our lives have changed. 

Now we have to put in writing EVERYTHING to cover as many bases as possible. New laws and executive orders keep coming and I hope you are doing everything possible to protect yourself. While I can't, in this short space, cover all the items you should include in a service agreement, there are a couple I want to be sure you have in your agreement, 

1. A "notice to cure" clause whereby the customer is required to give you a written 30 day notice to correct deficiencies BEFORE a termination letter is issued. "Stuff" does happen and this gives you the opportunity to "cure" the deficiency. 

2. Spell out specifically what triggers price increases. With so many states in the USA raising their minimum wages it is critical that you have a clause (and formula) for computing the increase. There are other triggers as well such as insurance, workers compensation, supplies and equipment cost that can warrant an increase. Be sure you have the information documented and be able to show the customer how you arrived at the requested increase. I don't believe in an automatic annual increase because that creates an atmosphere of "bidding" every year and your responsibility is to provide quality customer satisfaction and not setting up an automatic mechanism that calls attention to the need for your customer to check pricing.

3. I suggest you put in a paragraph that outlines what happens in the event the  customer "steals" your employees. Happens all the time. Don't get angry. Put a clause in your agreement that says if the customer hires one of your employees they will pay you a recruiting and training fee of a x % of the annual wages of that employee (I used 15%). Don't treat it as a penalty but rather a recruiting and training fee for if you had not recruited such excellent employees your customer would not be trying to hire them. Think of all the dollars you saved them in recruiting fees by hiring your employee. 

There are several others which are important as well but space here does permit listing all of them. I do encourage you to purchase our DVD entitled "Key Items to Include in Your Customer Service Agreement". It is available on our web site at www.consultantsincleaning.com. 
and includes those other important clauses and paragraphs to include. Once you are on our web site, just go to orders and scroll down to the DVD information to order. We'll both be glad you ordered. It is a very inexpensive way to get the items you need into an agreement. 

IMPORTANT  ANNOUNCEMENT. We do not offer legal advice and you should always check with your attorney on any legal document you are considering. 

NOTE: Look for an announcement soon on our upcoming webinar series. 

Till next time.



 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

READY TO PAY THE FINES?


As I travel and work with Building Service Contractors one of the services I usually perform is a mock OSHA inspection to help them get in compliance on the issues that might create OSHA fines in the event of a real inspection. Almost always I find several items that could cost them thousands of dollars if there was to be a real inspection. The most common violation I find is improperly label spray bottles being used and a lack of up to date SDS.

Now more than ever it is important that you are doing the things necessary to avoid penalties. Why? Because effective August 1, 2016 OSHA will be invoking new higher fines for violations. The maximum penalties will increase by 78%. WOW!  For example,

The top penalty for serious violations will rise from $7,000 to $12,471. Improperly marked/labeled spray bottles and out of date SDS usually fall into this category. 

The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,709.

I realize that many of the company's reading this blog probably have never been inspected by OSHA. I had 2 inspections during my years as a BSC.  One cost me a fine, the other did not.

With the new regulations and the opportunity to put more money in the government coffers, I suggest that our industry will be one of those that will become well acquainted with OSHA. Are you ready? 

Let me suggest you do a thorough inspection of all the facilities that you maintain to assure you are in compliance. Better yet, now is a great time to be sure you have an organized, systematic safety program in place and it can't just be a nice bound safety program book. You have to demonstrate that you actually DO the safety procedures etc. that you outline in a safety manual. 

So, what about you? If an OSHA inspection was conducted at your workplace and the facilities you maintain tomorrow, would you be able to pass with no violations? It is better to be ready, and safe, than be broke from fines. A $12,471 fine for each improperly labeled spray bottle or an outdated SDS book can get real expensive, real fast. 

OSHA has already indicated they will be stepping up their inspections so be ready and safe. If we can help, let us know. Send us a message at  ask Dick Ollek on our web site at www.consultantsincleaning.com and we'll respond as quickly as possible.

Don't forget to watch our FREE weekly pod casts at www.kleancast.com

Till next time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

THEY JUST DON'T GET IT

Have you ever found yourself saying that about some of the people you work with? If you are of the older generation you have probably, at times, wondered what is going on in the mind of those young kids that you work with. By the same token, if you are a "youngster" you have probably wondered where in the world did that "older" person think that one up? 

Well, dealing with the different generations in our workplace is one of the most important challenges we face today. Every generation has their opinion of the other generations. You are probably working with, 

Traditionalists or better known as the "silent generation"...those born before 1946.

Baby Boomers...those born between 1947 and 1964.

Generation X...those born between 1965 and 1980.

Generation Y...also referred to as generation WHY born between 1981 and 2000.

Generation Z....those born after 2000 and just now beginning to make their splash in the work force. 

 Each of these generations has their own set of values and attitudes and the reality of it is that they differ in many ways. 

Dealing with a 60 year old in the workplace can take an entirely different twist than dealing with a 20 year old. Each has a completely different outlook on the world and the work place. 

Think about it. Today you use a GPS on your phone to find out where you are going. The older generation used something called a map.

Text is something we all do on our phone. To the older generation it meant the verses from the Bible that the minister would use for his Sunday morning sermon. 

The older generation thought a window was something you clean. A program was a TV show. The keyboard was the piano. A cursor was the local school bully. An app was what we give to prospective employees. Meg was Bill's girlfriend. Log on meant to put more wood on the fire. A web was a spider's home. The older generation had the flu when they had a virus, not so today. 

I can go on and on but you get the message and can see how communicating with the different generations in the workplace can really get confusing unless you learn how to effectively do it. It can be an enormous challenge and in today's business environment can be very costly if not handled properly. 

Our company has produced a training DVD entitled "Dealing with Generational and Cultural Differences in the Workplace" that can help with this important work place issue. You can purchase it from our web site at www.consultantsincleaning.com.

The cultural issue is also one that needs to be addressed and is done so in this DVD and we will discuss it in a later blog, but you can get a head start on our blog by ordering the DVD today. Be sure to also look for our book on the site entitled "The Guide to Effective Supervision". We devote an entire lesson in this 12 lesson course to dealing with the cultural and generational differences you encounter every day. It goes into greater detail on the generational differences we discuss at the beginning of this blog. 

The work place is different today. Be sure you know how to interact effectively in it. 

Don't forget our FREE weekly pod cast posted every Monday morning at www.kleancast.com.

Till next time.   




          

Friday, June 10, 2016

WE'RE HALF WAY THERE

Well, here we are, half way through the year. Time to do a check to see how we are doing versus our plans for the year. So,

Let's start with sales. Have you reached half of the volume you projected for the year? If so, congratulations, keep it up. If not, why not? Then what are you going to do to get back on track? Now is a great time to analyze your numbers. 

How many contacts do I need to make to secure an opportunity to present a proposal (not bid)? Do I need to step up the campaign so that I am getting more opportunites? Do I need to change something that I am doing to improve the success of opportunities I get to present?

How many proposals turn into actual customers? What do I need to do to improve that percentage? Do I need to revise my presentation to be more in tune with what the prospect is asking for? Am I practicing my presentation skills so that I present our proposal in the most professional manner possible? If not, what do I need to do about it?

What is the average dollar volume of my proposals that turn in to sales? Am I creating enough volume per sale to make our projections? If not, am I really chasing the right kind of business? What market segments do I need to spend more effort on? 

Am I contacting my existing customers on a regular basis to remind them of the additional services we can provide to make their life easier and our profit more enhanced?

There are a lot of things that go into selling and each of us needs to be tuned into each one of them and make each item the most effective and efficient that we can. 

Now, how about operations?  

Are your recruiting efforts on target? Are you being creative in finding new employees in this competitive environment? 

What about your onboarding of new employees? Do you have an effective orientation and initial training program for all new employees that you do each time you hire someone? What about your retraining program for existing employees?

How's your turnover rate compared to last year? At $500+ to recruit and onboard a new employee, it is vital we do what we can to reduce that turnover number. If you have 100 employees and make 200 W-2s per year, your cost of turnover is in excess of $50,000 per year. Need to improve your numbers?

I can go on and on with mid year check up things to do but I have probably given you enough to think about right now. Do the analysis, you may be losing thousands of dollars. With the immense competitive pressure on margins, it is imperative we do everything we can to manage an effective and efficient company. 

As always, we are here to help. Check our web site at www.consultantsincleaning.com for educational and training materials, forms, and DVDS that can assist. 

Don't forget we also have a weekly pod cast available at www.kleancast.com. You can also access them on you tube.  

Till next time.     

 

Monday, June 6, 2016

WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME?
For those of you that know me or have read my books know that I spend quite a bit of time talking about customer service vs. customer satisfaction. For those of you not familiar, I define customer service as a concept whereas customer satisfaction is a demonstration.
Almost every company I know in and out of our industry has a customer service department or customer representative. But, so many companies fall short when it comes to providing real customer satisfaction---in other words, demonstrating to make sure the customer is really happy. 
I want to relay an experience I had just this past week when attempting to order something on line. It epitomizes the difference between the two.  I placed my order and was told via email that they needed additional information. Okay, I will provide that information. I was told via another email that the new information was incorrect. I made another attempt to provide the information the CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE wanted. Still not correct and this time an email that was quite explicit telling me how inept I was at completing their forms. 
Let me shorten the story. After 11 emails from them and 10 in reply from me I couldn't contain myself. I had to do something that seems to be out of style in today's world---I picked up the phone and called their customer service department and asked to speak to someone other than the person I had been caring on a dialogue with via email. 
I got a very nice person and resolved the issue within 5 minutes. Now, here is the real kicker...The information I had given on my second email with was the correct information they needed. Amazing how easy issues can be resolved talking instead of emailing or texting.
You are probably thinking why in the world did he communicate with 11 emails? Answer: I wanted to see just how long it was going to take. When I couldn't take it any longer I gave up on my experiment and called the company. 
So, let me ask. How is you company doing on the customer satisfaction front? Do you have a customer service department or do you have a customer satisfaction department? So many companies will spend so much time proving that the customer is wrong when it really doesn't matter who is wrong---THE CUSTOMER IS THE CUSTOMER and deserves to be satisfied. Proving you were right only loses customers. 

Arby's has a great system for customer satisfaction. They call it the BLAST system,

B--Believe what the customer tells you.
L--Listen to the customer.
A--Apologize for any inconvenience.
S--Satisfy the customer.
T--Thank the customer for their business. 

Great system isn't it? 

As a reminder, we have a Customer Relations training DVD in English and Spanish that focuses on this issue. You can order it at www.consultantsincleaning.com

Till next time and MAKE IT A GREAT DAY.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

STEALING CAN BE PROFITABLE


A frequent call I get from BSC's is what to do when a customer steals their employee(s)." Now I have to start all over finding someone to do that work". Ever happen to you? I know it did to me.

While I don't provide legal advice and I always recommend you get legal counsel whenever preparing your agreement, I did include a paragraph in my agreement that went something like this,

In the event the customer wants to hire a contractor's employee, they are perfectly welcome to do so. Because the contractor spends considerable time in recruiting, vetting, and training their employees, we will invoice the customer at a rate of 25% of the annual salary of the employee being hired. 

In this way it is not viewed as a penalty item but rather a recruiting and training fee. If we had not done such a good job of finding a great employee, the customer would not be trying to hire them. You have saved them considerable dollars in the process and this helps reimburse you for your efforts. If you put it in words like that rather than making it sound like a penalty or creating a conflict with the customer, it is very acceptable.

Did I ever collect?    MANY TIMES.

I found the concept of taking my employees most prevalent in manufacturing plants where they would observe our employees doing a good job and then would recruit them. 

Take for example you have a part time 4 hour per night employee that you are paying $10 per hour. That equates to 1040 hours per year or $10,400 in annual wages. At 25% of the annual wages you can then invoice the customer for $2,600. See how stealing can be profitable? I had a couple of good customers that would call me and say we are hiring your employee, send us the bill.

You may want to use a different percentage of annual wages such as 15% etc. but put some percentage on it so you can be rewarded for your efforts. You may also choose to waive the fee but at least you have addressed it with the customer. 

I don't condone or recommend stealing, but in this case I welcomed it and profited from the concept. The fees collected went directly to the bottom line. 

So, let me remind you again that we have a DVD that outlines this procedure as well as other keys point to include in the agreement. Just go to www.consultantsincleaning.com and see that DVD along with a host of other training DVDs in English and Spanish that can help you in Sales, Administration, Human Resources, and Operations. There are also many FREE forms and comments available there as well. Enjoy.

Don't forget to listen to our weekly pod cast at www.kleancast.com. A new one is posted every Monday morning.