Thursday, December 19, 2013



Saturday, December 14, 2013


For the past several years my wife and I have made a decision to contribute to several worthwhile causes at Christmas time rather than buy each other a gift. We have really enjoyed doing this and hopefully it has helped people that need help in one form or another.

This year one of the causes we contributed to was CLEANING FOR A REASON, the organization that provides free house cleaning for those women who are fighting cancer. It is just one way to help them so they don't have to worry about cleaning while they have a much bigger job to concentrate on---THEIR HEALTH AND GETTING BETTER.

As a cancer survivor myself and with a sister who has battled and beaten breast cancer it just seems natural for my wife and me to want to help. How about you? Do you know a mother or sister or daughter, or wife or friend that is battling that dreaded disease? Think of the relief if they don't have to worry about the house cleaning. Since we are in the cleaning business in one fashion or another it just seems natural for us to help.

Since 2006, Cleaning For a Reason has partnered with a network of more than 1,000 residential cleaning services and helped over 17,000 women with cancer. This year alone, 2013, it is estimated by the American Cancer Society that more than 800,000 women will receive an initial cancer diagnosis. That is an astounding number so you can see the tremendous need that exists.

Unfortunately, the number of women needing help far exceeds the current resources available. That's why CLEANING FOR A REASON needs your and my help NOW. At this time of giving thanks and holiday blessings, it just seems appropriate that we give the gift of joy, healing, and hope to women struggling with cancer, one clean home at a time.

I want to ask WILL YOU HELP?  Let me suggest you go to their web site at and make a healthy contribution to help not so healthly women. Or if it is easier for you, just call them at 1.877.337.3348.  Residential cleaning companies can offer their services, BSC's can offer dollars and/or supplies to help. I hope you will be inclined to help this worthy cause.

As 2013 comes to a close I want to wish all of our readers and supporters in other ways a Blessed Christmas and a very Happy New Year. I sincerely appreciate the tremendous support Consultants In Cleaning, LLC has received this year. We far exceeded our goals for the year and have several exciting new things in the works for 2014.

Don't forget to listen to our weekly FREE podcasts at

Till next time and THANKS.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


While attending the ISSA and BSCAI conventions, I am always amazed at one subject that always seems to be thoroughly discussed---"We just  can't seem to find good trained or trainable help these days, especially the younger generation. They stay a few days, if they even show up for work the second day (or the first night), and they are gone". Sound familiar? You have probably participated in a similar discussion.

Traveling back from the convention recently, the thought occurred to me, what if our line employees had a convention to discuss their issues? Would it go something like this?

"You just can't find a good company to work for anymore. They say they want good workers and they provide training but it never happens, or if it does, it is so poorly done that it just as well not occur at all. As a result, we workers just go from company to company until we find one that will give us the proper training needed to perform the work they are asking us to do". ''

A different take on the labor probems of today, isn't it?  Ever think of it in this way? I submit you should give it your careful attention.

In surveys taken from anong cleaning workers who have terminated their employment in this industry from one or more companies, they have listed the following items as to why they leave a Building Service Contracting company's employment.

1. NOBODY TOLD ME WHAT TO DO---This is not to be confused with nobody trained me. This means that no one bothered to ouline for them the tasks they were to do once they arrived at their work assigment. They were hired, told to report to a building, shown the janitor's closet, (if that much) and told to have a nice night. Many times when the supervisor returns later that night, if they return, they find the keys in the janitor's closet with a note, "Take this job and...".

2. NOBODY EVER COMPLIMENTS ME ON A JOB WELL DONE---We work in a business where the customer seldom tells us we are doing a good job, only lets us know if something is wrong. So too it is with our employees. Often the only time the line worker hears anything is when we deliver a complaint. When was the last time you went out of your way to compliment an employee on a job well done?

3. THERE IS A PERCEPTION THAT THERE IS NO ROOM TO ADVANCE IN THE COMPANY---Most all of us complain that we can't find any leaders in our organization but many times we are slow to let our people know that we are looking for people who want to advance with our organization.

I am reminded of the time I asked one of my supervisors if she had someone who could take over as a team leader in a building we had just secured that would begin in two weeks. The answer was a resounding NO. I later learned why. This supervisor had spent considerable time getting the crew organized so they would do most all of her work (pretty smart huh?) and if she offered to promote someone from her crew she would have to expend considerable energy to train someone else to fit the scenario. That is when I learned I was going to have to become more actively involved in knowing who was working at the levels below the project supervisor, and I did just that.

4. NOBODY TRAINED ME--Even if we told them what to do (see number 1 above), we didn't train them on how to do it. Nearly every cleaning company outlines in their proposal how they have "trained personnel" but if you were to visit their offices you may have trouble finding the training area.

5. PAY/BENEFITS--These are probably the only ones you don't have a lot of control over unless your customer dictates your pay rates and benefit package.

Now, what can we take from all of this? Even though pay and benefits are issues we are all aware of in our industry, we find them down on the list as to why employees leave our companies. Any you know what? We have control over the other four.

I know of companies that have decided to focus their efforts on the top four and have seen their turnover reduce by tremendous numbers. Some companies with turnover rates in excess of 300% per year have seen their rates drop to 40-50%. How you do it is the subject for another time but with the cost of recruiting and training one employee in our industry exceeding $500  you can certainly see the benefit of instituting processes and procedures to address the issues outlined in this article.

So the next time you find yourself complaining that their just are no good employees anymore these days, think about if the shoe was on the other foot, would the employees be saying that there just are not any good companies to work for anymore?

Till next time. MAKE IT A GREAT WEEK.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Ever wonder who you really have working with you in your company? A few years ago I heard Richard Flint give the keynote presentation at a BSCAI convention and he advocated that most companies have basically 3 types of employees working for them. They are


This group makes up about 30% of your workforce. These are usually the newer employees that are trying to learn everything they can about the job, the company, and how they can do a better job. They listen intently as their training takes place, they go to the job full of excitement and enthusiasm ready to put their best foot forward. They absorb everything they can, good and bad, and can be swayed either way as they work. Have any of these at your company?


This group makes up about 65% of the workforce. They do a lot of standing and watching other people work. These are the ones that will tell you everything wrong about the company. They are the ones that will encourage the sponges not to work so hard. After all, if you get done too quick, they'll cut our time. They will also work hard at finding short cuts to doing the work. After all, isn't just enough, good enough? They also know enough to "look busy" whenever the boss is around. They do their best to teach the sponges the way to become good spectators.Last week our topic of discussion was what 5 minutes of lost time costs your company in dollars and cents. This group wears the wasted time chart as a badge of honor.  Check their lunch bucket, it might have a set of binoculars to watch others work. Have any of these at your company?


This group represents about 5% of the workforce. These are the ones that really get the work done and done right. These are also the ones you call on when you are really in a bind. You have that emergency job, or you have to save an account that has threatened to cancel so you gather up your camels and GET THE JOB DONE. One major job of the camel is to keep the sponges away from the spectators. Have any of these at your company? Hopefully you have more than 5%.

Interesting analogy, isn't it? What can be really scary is if it is true in your company. Have you ever thought of it in this way? Think about it, don't you usually have a small group of key workers you call on when the going gets really rough and you really have to get something tough accomplished? I know I did. 

Let me suggest you spend some time analyzing your company and see if your percentages resemble those shown above. If so, what is your plan of action with the spectators? How will you keep the sponges away from the spectators and more aligned with the camels?

Enough said this week on that subject. Next week I will be spending the entire time in Las Vegas at the ISSA trade show and the BSCAI convention. I hope you have listened to our daily tripodcasts and got an insight as to which sessions you plan to attend. Lots of good ones this year.

Don't forget to visit us on Thursday and Friday at the Bellagio where we will have a table display in the solutions pavillion. We have several new products and discounted package pricing this year. Also, I speak on Thursday afternoon on the subject of Hiring and Keeping Great Hourly Employees. We'll have some handouts there that will be available only to those who attend the session. 

We have many people who contact me about these blog topics and through our "ask Dick Ollek" question section. I hope you will take the time to introduce yourself to me so I can put a face with a name. That is one of the really great benefits of the annual convention--meeting new people and establishing long time friendships. 

See you next week. Till next time.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


As we near the end of the calendar year many BSC's are reviewing their accounts to see if it will be necessary to ask their customers for an increase next year. Some agreements have automatic increases built in but for the rest of us it's time to look at each account. 

If you are one of those who will be asking for an increase you also know that your customer will probably be a "hard sell". I really can't remember very many increase requests that we made that were easy. Each one was worrisome. It seems, when we ask for an increase, that the customer is able to relate each time he or she saw the crew sitting down. Ever had a customer say that to you? I know I did. 

Then there was the time I caught my own crew sitting down on the job. Let me quickly relate that story.

We had the contract to clean a 7 story building that took 16 hours per night and we staffed it with 4-4 hour cleaners from 6-10 PM. As time went on we started to get little ankle biter complaints like paper on the stairwell in the fire exit, trash missed in a suite here and there, a restroom dispenser that emptied before the end of the day etc. You get the picture. 

My crews response was that if they just had 1 additional hour, 15 minutes each they could assure me the problems would be resolved. Well, after much discussion I relented and asked my client if I could visit with her about the subject of additional money. Finally, one afternoon she said she could see me at 5 PM so I rushed to her office, sweat blood, and eventually convinced her to accept the price increase that would "eliminate" her problems (right?). 

As I was leaving the building I decided to take the elevator to the basement where there was a vending area/break area for the building tenants. It is now 6:20 and I am tired and thirsty and ready to sit down and relax for a while. As I entered the break area, low and behold, who do I see but my entire crew sitting, visiting and having a soft drink of their own. I explained as calmly as I could that I had just spent over an hour convincing our mutual customer to accept a price increase so they could each have 15 minutes additional each day to eliminate the problems that had been existing and here it was 20 mintues after the time they were to have started and they were yet to move a cleaning cart. 

There explanation to me?---THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE HAVE EVER DONE THIS. I believe them, don't you? Right. I had a few additional intelligent remarks for them and left the building. Within a few days they became "former employees". Had they been trained properly? Yes, over and over. 

Now why am I relaying this story to you? Because it prompted me to develop a chart entitled "It's Only 5 Minutes".  What it tells us is what 5 minutes a day wasted costs a company in dollars based on the number of employees and pay scales. Let me give you some examples,

5 employees paid $10 per hour wasting 5 mintues per day equates to $1,260 per year.

100 employees paid $10 per hour wasting 5 minutes per day equates to $25,200 per year. 

Get the picture? We made it a policy to review the chart with our staff several times a year, not to brow beat them but to  just make them aware of what wasted time costs them in a years time. It was a really important reminder to them as we neared year end and needed to review pricing information on each account. I, of course, would remind them of the story I told above to help drive the point home. 

Now, so you don't have to try and create a chart like this, we have a FREE chart available to anyone wanting one. Just go to our web site, click on the DVD icon, and on the left hand side of that page you will see the chart title and you can download it for free. Maybe it will be helpful to you as well.

Along the same subject line, I have read various reports through the years that say that a 4 hour worker gives us about 2 and a half hours of productive time and an 8 hour worker produces about 5 and a half hours of productivity. I can't prove or disprove that theory but if it is anywhere close to accurate, it is an astounding statistic. For now though, let's concentrate on 5 mintues per day and see if we can make everyone in our organization aware of that and the impact it has on our bottom line.

As I post this we are less than two weeks away from the ISSA/BSCAI convention and trade show in Las Vegas. I certainly hope you are planning to attend and take advantage of this learning opportunity. I assure you you won't have time to waste 5 minutes if you take advantage of all that is available. 

By the way, on Wednesday the 20th, I'll be hosting a roundtable discussion at the convention center on one of my favorite subjects--Employee Training. We'll be doing it in 2-45 minute segments and will have handouts for those in attendance. We'll also be speaking at the Bellagio on Thursday at 3 PM on the subject of Finding and Keeping Great Hourly Employees. We will have 3 handouts there that are available only to those attending the session. Hope to see a bunch of people at both events. 

Till next time and MAKE IT A GREAT DAY. 

Friday, October 25, 2013


This session I thought it would be best to update you on many of the excellent learning sessions that are upcoming within the next month. There are so many opportunities it can make ones head spin but at the same time these are important opportunities that we need to avail ourselves to in order to become more professional in this great industry we are earning our living. So let me try to cover a few of the opportunities. I am posting these schedules with the best information I have but recommend you go to the web sites to firm up times and locations. 


This is a a webinar originally scheduled for October 30 but due to a death in the co presenters family we have rescheduled to November 13. Registration has been excellent but the more the merrier. Go to to register or to  Hope to have you online with us. 









Consultants In Cleaning, LLC will have a table displaying all our new DVDs etc. Come by and visit with us and let us also know what subjects you want covered in future blogs as well as our tripodcasts at


I am confident I have left some important sessions out but again let me encourage you to go to the web sites listed above. There you will find all of the times, registration and hotel information as well as a myriad of other events that will be taking place in Las Vegas. Nowhere can you get so much information and education in one place in one week. I encourage you to take advantage of as much as you can and take the time to take in some of the evening entertainment as well. 

In the meantime be sure and listen to our Monday through Friday tripodcasts at to hear the speakers provide bullet points of the BSCAI peer to peer sessions they will be conducting on Thursday and Friday, the 21st and 22nd. I hope to see you in the city that never sleeps.

Till next time.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Well, here we are closing in on the end of another year. About 2 months remain for you to finalize your plans for 2014. So, how are you doing?

Let's look at some of the areas we should be concentrating on as we focus on the new year. 

1. Review each of our accounts to assure they are profitable and if not, what do we do about it. 

Have you done a complete retuning of each account? This entails analyzing the current hours budgeted, supply usage, labor rates, cleaning specifications etc. Do you need to adjust the hours? Have you found out through time that you can actually clean the building in less time than budgeted? Have you over or under budgeted for supplies? Do you need to bring the crew back in for a refresher training class on your system of cleaning? 

Our policy was to do an annual complete written review of each account to assure ourselves that we were doing the right things and assuring that all budgets were correct or changed if need be. We used a short 2 page worksheet that was completed by each area manager and then reviewed with me or the vice-president of operations for finalizing the account for the next year. This was a great exercise and frankly, quite an eye opener as to what was REALLY going on in the accounts. If you would like to have a copy of the 2 page form we used, just send me a message on the ASK DICK OLLEK section of our web By the way, part of the review process was a safety check in each building.

2. Review and adjust as needed your sales program for the upcoming year.

Does your sales program need to be changed? Do you have a systematic sales program? Here are a couple of things to look at.

---What types of accounts are your focusing on? 

---What types of accounts SHOULD you be focusing on?

---What is your systematic campaign for getting the prospects attention?

---what growth do you intend to experience next year?

In my book, "Selling Contract Cleaning Services 101" I outline the system to use to make sure you are focusing on the right accounts and then how to get their attention. You can preview the book on our web site The important thing to remember is to know which accounts you should be targeting and how you plan to go after them and then--STAY ON THE PLAN. 

3. Review each departments budget, i.e...Adminstration, Human Resources, Operations, Sales etc.

Are you being as efficient in each of these departments as you can be? Where are you buying what and is it the best system and supplier availiable? I was always amazed at how we just got into a comfort zone buying from suppliers without checking their prices etc. We like the sales representative because they bring us donuts every Friday. Remember, we are paying for those donuts someplace. As Zig Ziglar would say "There ain't no free lunch". 

After you have done your review  of each department it is very important to establish a budget for that department. If you haven't done it before, it can be gut wrenching the first year but gets much easier as the years go on. My guess is that you are wasting a bunch of money in these departments because it is always easier to focus on the labor in the accounts we service but there are dollars to be found in every department in the company. Think of where you buy your office supplies, where you have your vehicle repairs done, where you fill gas etc. You may be as efficient as possible but do you really know unless you do a double check?

There are many areas to review to find dollars before you focus on raising prices to your customers. Try following these suggestions to see if you are operating at peak efficiency. I know I got a surprise or two each year. It is a very enlightening procedure. 

The new year is rapidly approaching and I hope your current year has been profitable and rewarding and you plan on taking steps to dramatically improve in 2014. 

Don't forget to listen to our daily pod casts at The convention speakers are giving us bullet points on the sessions they will be conducting in Las Vegas. Let me also invite you to come by and see us at the BSCAI solutions pavillion on Thursday and Friday, November 21 and 22 at the Bellagio hotel. We always enjoy visiting with industry professionals. We also will be introducing about 5 or 6 new DVD's this year. Look forward to seeing you there. 

Till next time. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


As you know most of us spend a considerable amount in dollars and energy securing an opportunity to present a proposal to a prospective customer. With that being the case, it is critical that we prepare the proposal in such a way that we convince the buyer that we are the company they should choose to be their service provider.

So what is your success ratio? Are you putting thought into how you will present your company or are you just offering a "bid" number for them to look at?

Before I talk about what information that should be included in the proposal, I want to discuss the  difference between bidding the job and offering a proposal. Have you ever asked a prospect "When do you go out for bid" or "can we get on your bidders list" or "next time you go out for bid, can we have a shot at the business"?

When you ask questions like those above what you have done is put your company in the business of selling a commodity. What you are in effect saying is you are like all the other "bidders" and you want to bid to see if you can go lower. What, you say, I am better than the competition. Really? Then why are you bidding the work instead of offering proposals for providing the facility with the services required by your prospect? I don't want to sound negative in this blog posting but our industry complains about how our customers are always price shopping and yet we will ask them to "bid" their work. We do it to ourselves, don't we. Bidding implies a commodity, proposals imply just what they say, a proposal of how we convince the prospect that we are the best choice to provide their service.

The difference between bidding and proposing has long been a passion of mine and I talk about it to my clients every day.

To talk about it to everyone that has an interest, I have joined forces with The Janitorial Store to present A ONE HOUR WEBINAR ON WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 30 ENTITLED, THE COMPONENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL SALES PROPOSAL. The main topics we will cover in this fast moving, jam packed hour will be,

----10 things to include in your proposal

----In what order do you place them

----Where do you talk about price

----What to say when they say "just drop it off"

----Why not to include references

You can register by going to or on our web site where we will redirect you to the registration blank on their site.

The good news is that if you are a Janitorial Store member the webinar is free. If you are not a member there is a small registration fee of only $27. May just be the best investment you will make in a while.

Even if you are a long time pro and are satisfied with the way you present your proposal, this one hour webinar may jog your memory on some improvements you may be able to make. Just a thought.

Remember, the proposal is your best opportunity to "close the deal" and you want it to tell your story in a professional way. Maybe this webinar will give you that one idea that you can include in future proposals that will bring you more sales.

Hope to talk with you on the 30th. Register today, we'll both be glad you did.

Till next time.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Have you ever been asked by a customer to do something not in the normal realm of services you normally provide? I'm thinking here of something like,

---Trash service

---Lawn care

---Pest control

---Parking lot sweeping/striping

---Window cleaning

---Snow clearing

---Handyman services

---Rental of break room machines---microwave, coffee makers etc.

---Temporary help

---Factory machine operators

And the list goes on. What was your answer? Did you say "We can do that" or was your answer the one so many companies give--"We don't do that".

More and more BSCs are finding tremendous opportunities in providing as many services as possible for their customers. Those that don't, eventually get replaced by a contractor who said "We can do that". In fact, many contractors are purposely becoming full facility service providers. As a consultant, I am advising most all of my clients to explore the opportunities available. In fact, several of my clients have or are in the process of changing their names to incorporate facility services in their name, i. e...ABC janitorial service becomes ABC Facility Services.

No, you don't have to become the expert in all of these areas. Just do some research and align yourself with key reliable providers in these services and then sub contract them to those providers. You negotiate a discount from the provider.

The key benefit to your customer is the tremendous savings they experience in their "soft costs". Their overall monthly invoice won't probably be reduced but you are saving them money in other areas. Here are some of the real benefits to your customer,

---They make one phone call to you and you handle all the services

---They cut one check each month for all the services.

---They save enormous time in negotiating contracts with numerous vendors.

---Can you think of some others?

Think about the time they save in making one phone call and even more important, just including the services I mentioned at the beginning could mean they have to negotiate with 6 or 7 different vendors to get the services they need.

And what about the cost of writing checks. Most administrative managers will tell you it costs them between $75 and $150 to cut a vendor check so you can save them  hundreds of dollars each month in that area alone.

Now let's talk about the benefits to you. Do you realize how difficult it is for a customer to replace you if you are providing them with 6 or 8 different services. That means if you miss dumping a trash can, it all of a sudden isn't such a "big deal" if they begin thinking about all the other services you provide.

As an example, I had one major customer for over 20 years that started out as a janitorial service customer only. As the years went on we added the following services,

---Lawn mowing for 40 acres of ground

---Parking lot sweeping

---Parking lot striping

---Snow clearing from all of their parking lots

---Flower planting and maintaining in and around the main office bldg.

---Concrete coating of their factory floors

---Rental mat service (and they provided the area to clean them)

---Power scrubbing of all concrete aisles daily

---Cleaning debris from their roofs and gutters 4 times yearly

---Factory machinery and rafter cleaning during their annual shutdown

We became a pretty difficult vendor to replace. You can see that missing a trash can once in a while wasn't nearly so important as it would have been had we provided only the nightly janitorial service.

Now, some of these services we provided may seem a bit off the wall but you get the point---BECOME A FULL SERVICE PROVIDER WITH AS MANY SERVICES AS YOU CAN TO AS MANY CUSTOMERS AS YOU CAN. Your profits increase and you become much more secure with that particular account. I suspect one of the reasons we had the account for over 20 years was that when our competitors attempted to secure the business they were not equipped to provide all of these services or they were one of those customers that said "we don't do that".

It takes some learning and some educating of your own staff to become a facility service provider and not just a janitorial service. I know we struggled getting our managers to embrace the concept but once they began to reap the bonus monthly from the proiftability in their area, it became much easier for them to promote full service to their customers.

I realize for some of you larger customers, the information in this blog may be old news but we may just have spurred an idea of a new service you can provide and for you smaller, maybe newer, companies it is certainly something to consider.

So, think about the additional revenue and profits that are available to you in circling your customers with additional services. Maybe even more important in the grand scheme of things, think about the increased stability you get from providing more services which makes it very difficult for you to be replaced.

As a reminder, next week Monday, the 14th, we begin our daily pod casts leading up to the BSCAI and ISSA conventions in Las Vegas. Be sure and tune in to and hear contractors, vendors and convention speakers talk about what you can expect this year. Remember the dates, November 18-22.  You can register at or

Till next time.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


In this session I want to talk about what I consider to be the best opportunity for anyone associated with the cleaning industry to learn more about this great profession.

Next month in Las Vegas, NV. you have the opportunity to attend both the ISSA and BSCAI conventions. The ISSA trade show runs from November 19-21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the BSCAI part is from the 20th through the 22nd with some events at the convention center and the peer to peer sessions taking place at the Bellagio hotel on November 21 and 22. Check them out at and Both web sites have complete information on the countless educational opportunities available as well as all the companies that will be there offering the latest in new products, equipment and services.

I know, I know, this sounds like a commercial for these two organizations but there is no other place under the sun where you can gain as much knowledge and interact with industry professionals. I have been attending one or both of these conventions since the early 70's and each year I learn something new and meet someone new that adds to my knowledge of this great industry. I always look forward to attending and especially these days.

Think of all the changes taking place in our industry---internet proposals, paperless proposals, biometric clocking in and out of our employees time, robotic floor maintenance equipment, on the go training with pod casts, mp3 players, youtube learning, group purchasing power no matter what size your company is and the list goes on and on. This is great "stuff". I remember back in 1970 I was trying to learn how to use a pager. Now look how we communicate. We are no longer the mop and bucket brigade. We are professional business people gaining respect and stature in the buisness community. Attending these two events will almost assurdedly provide you with many ideas of how to professionalize your company even more.

I have had the opportunity to interview nearly all the speakers for the BSCAI peer to peer sessions on Thursday and Friday, November 21 and 22 and the sessions they will be presenting are truly outstanding.

Beginning October 14 and continuing through November 8 we will be providing DAILY pod casts beginning with 2 contractors telling of their convention experiences and then featuring one of the speakers each day giving us bullet points of what their session will be about. I even get to tell about my session on Recruiting and Keeping great hourly employees that will be on Thursday the 21st. (How's that for a commercial?).  All of these daily pod casts can be heard at All of the pod casts are free and if you want, you can sign up to receive an e-mail each time one is posted. This is our  4th year of providing these informational convention pod casts and the audience grows dramatically each year and we have fun doing them.

So let me encourage you to take advantage of this learning opportunity. It will be the best week of your life to learn more about what you do to provide a clean and healthly environment for the public and how to do it even better.

I will also have a table at the BSCAI solutions pavillion on November 21 and 22. Come by, say hello and let us know what subjects you would like to hear more about, both in this blog and on our weekly tripodcasts.

I look forward to seeing my old friends and making new ones in this jam packed learning week. Take advantage of the opportunity now. Go to the web sites above and get registered. See you there.

Till next time.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


As I mentioned last week I will spend time in weeks to come on each of the aspects of why our employees leave.  In this session I want to address

This reason for leaving is really interesting. As I travel and work with various size companies, the one question I am asked most often, other than how do I get more sales is WHERE CAN I FIND SOME GOOD SUPERVISORS? Many then go on to tell me how they are reluctant at times to get more business because they don't have anyone to supervise the new work. Sound like you or someone you know?
Most of the time my answer to the question is, "Yes, in your own organization". They really are there most of the time. We just need to locate them and then give them the training, support and opportunity to succeed.
I can remember in the "olden days" the excitement we all had in our company when we landed a new account that would require a substantial number of great employees. After the celebration and we all came back to earth and reality set in, we faced the issue of where would the leadership come from that would manage that new piece of business. (I also remember, several years ago, not being able to produce a qualified supervisor that my prospect wanted to meet that would be managing his 500,000 sq. ft. facility. I didn't get the account).
Our next step was to make the rounds and talk with each of our current project supervisors and ask them if they had anyone working with them that could fill the role. Know the answer? "WE DON'T HAVE ONE PERSON THAT CAN DO IT.You know the kind of people they send me from the office". So we started trying to steal people from our competitors who also didn't have qualified management people. They were trying to steal ours. Why is it the supervisor you hire away from the competitor is always "more qualified" than your own supervisor? If that is true, what does it say about your training program?
After a while I began to realize what was really happening. Our supervisors told us they didn't have anyone worth promoting because if they let them go to another location, they would have to start all over training someone in that position which only increased the supervisor's workload until they got someone new trained the way they wanted them trained.
That is when we began digging deeper into our organization for people to attend our quarterly management training meetings. In this way, I became more knowledgeagle as to who was in the ranks ready for promotion when the situation presented itself.
This reason of no opportunity for advancement of why people leave companies is actually pretty easy to remedy but it requires top management's involvement every step of the way.
One of the keys is to hold, without fail, a quarterly management meeting that has a formal agenda involving your supervisors to help train. You get to see how they are doing but just as important you get to observe their second or third in command. You invite them automatically without asking the project supervisor. If their second or third in command is not qualified, you'll pick up on it in the training. If you are interested in how we conducted these meetings, what our agenda was, what day we held them etc., just go to my web site at and click on the ASK DICK OLLEK icon and ask your question(s).
We found a considerable number of qualified supervisors by using this method. Not only that, I got to meet some really great people even if they weren't supervisor material.
So, let me suggest that you remain diligent at all times in the search within your own company for those GREAT SUPERVISOR candidates that are just waiting to be discovered. You have some real gems in your organization. You just may not know it yet.
Till next time.

Friday, September 20, 2013


If you are reading and posting on Linkedin you may have noticed over the last few weeks a sizable number of posts regarding high staff turnover and what can be done about it etc. Let me share some thoughts about the subject and how to address it.

As I travel the country working with different companies and doing workshops on finding and keeping GREAT employees, one of the first questions I am almost always asked is, "We have such high turnover, what are the most effective ways to keep our people from leaving"? It is my firm belief that before we can determine what it takes to keep our GREAT employees, it is important to first find out WHY DO THEY LEAVE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

In my workshops one of the key group exercises we do is breaking up into teams and then having each team list the reasons they believe employees quit. They are then asked to appoint a spokesperson and present to all participants their top two reasons for people quitting.

Let me ask you to do the same exercise right now. What do you think the top reasons are--pay, transportation problems, got a better job, the work is too hard? Do this exercise with your staff. Amazing the answers you will get. How about your answers?

Almost always the number one reason given by the various groups, no matter what part of the country I am in, is PAY. Was that yours?

After an entire adult life spent in this business (51years), speaking and working with literally hundreds of individuals and their companies,including my own for 34 years, reading and conducting a multitude of surveys, I have found what I believe are the top reasons people leave our employment. Let me share them with you.

This is not to be confused with "nobody trained me on what to do". This goes deeper to the root of the problem. This says that when the employee was hired, they were told something like, "Go to ABC building and do the janitorial work, you'll find everything you need in the closet". Can't happen? It does everyday.
What about your company? What do you say to your new recruit that you just invested hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars in to find, interview, and put on the payroll?
This reason should come as no surprise. People working in the service business usually only hear about it when there is a problem. What about you? Is the only time you really communicate with your staff is when there is a problem?
In the building services business, the usual procedure is for a supervisor or manager to come to work and ask the questions, "Any complaints today? What problems am I going to be faced with tonight? Who isn't coming to work this evening?  How many people won't come to work and not even call in"? Sound familiar?
Let me ask you, When was the last time you went to work and made a conscious effort to compliment your staff on a job well done? Today? Yesterday? Last week? Never? The compliment you give your employees today or tonight may be the only good thing they hear today. They may have spent the entire day fighting off creditors or arguing with a spouse or child. Try giving a compliment, you'll like it, and so will they.
 In my book, Finding, Training, and KEEPING Great Service Employees 101, I offer several suggestions on how to set up a system so your employees are always getting some positive feedback, (page 57 of the hardcover edition).
This reason is a continuation of the first one where they said nobody told me what to do. The point here is that even if they were told what to do, no one trained them on how to do it. Sound like someone you know? I certainly hope not.
When I talk about training, I am not talking about training where someone is hired and then sent out with a current employee to "learn the ropes". These may be the very ropes you would like to get rid of. That current employee may only show them a series of WRONG ways of doing what it is you want done. I am talking about a formal training program that teaches, in detail, your company's way of performing the tasks you assured the customer would be done in a professional manner. I personally feel "on the job" training is a recipe for on the job failure.
This reason for leaving is really interesting. At the time that the GREAT employee is leaving a company because there is no place to advance, the employer is shouting to the world, "I can't find any good supervisors and managers". Sound familiar?
Because of space limitations this week, I will not go into further detail on these reasons but will elaborate more in the weeks to come on each of the subjects. I can say though, that I have worked with companies that have focused their efforts on these 4 issues and have seen their turnover rates go from 300 to 400% down to as low as 40%. Most settled in around the 60-70% number.
Some companies have taken these 4 major reasons for turnover in our business and framed them and put them in their Human Resources offices as well as their manager's offices as a constant reminder to keep focused on why people leave our industry. For those of you that think pay is important, and it is, it was number 6 on the list of top 10 reasons as explained by the employees that left. Surprising?
Let me know your thoughts on these reasons. They are real reasons told by real people who quit our industry. Let me know if you do the exercise I talked about above and what the results in your organization were. You can go to and hit the icon ASK DICK OLLEK. I read all of these and respond to all of them.
By the way, on October 14, we will begin our daily pod casts leading up to the BSCAI convention and ISSA trade show. They are posted at

Saturday, September 14, 2013


You may recall a couple of weeks back I talked about the differences between how children and adults learn. Children take what we say at face value and believe it to be true until they learn differently at a later age. Adults, on the other hand, have experiences to draw from and will make up their own mind if what you are telling them will benefit them.

So, here is another way to get adults involved and to draw on their past experiences. For example, if you are conducting a session on customer satisfaction you may want to have an exercise that asks these questions:

1. Write down a time when you received unusually poor service from a place of business.

2. Did you express your dissatisfaction to the manangement?

3. If so, was the problem resolved to your satisfaction?

4. Did you go back to that place of business?

5. Did you tell your friends and neighbors about your experience?

This exercise will almost always elicit a myriad of answers from the participants. They want to tell you about their experience. By letting them talk about their experience you can show them how our customers are no different. They want good service, they will tell us about it, and if we don't fix it, they will tell their friends and business associates and that not only loses that customer but many potential customers we may have been able to secure. This process of using the class participant's real experiences is a powerful learning tool. Use it as much as you can.

One other thing---by using this method of learning you have again used a process of letting the learner participate. See how each of thse ways of learning can build on each other?

In keeping with the exercise above, let me tell you about a very recent experience my wife and I had that illustrates the points above. From time to time we visit a Longhorn Steak House in nearby Columbia, Missouri and the food has always been excellent. On a recent visit, however, my food came out less than warm and when the server asked how our food was I proceeded to explain that it wasn't hot. She disappeared and when she returned she told us they would be discounting our bill and offered us free desert. I explained that wasn't necessary but greatly appreciated.

A short time later the manager of the restaurant appeared to explain that the meal for both of us would be complimentary. That was far more than was needed. He proceeded to tell us that he had seen us in the restaurant before and he wanted to be sure we came back. Well, you guessed it, we have gone back and by telling our story here we have told thousands more about the great customer satisfaction of the Longhorn Steakhouse in Columbia, Missouri.  You see, our customers do exactly the same thing when we perform to their satisfaction and conversely will tell others if we don't perform to their satisfaction.

Let me proceed on to another important part of effective training and that is

>>Always empty the vacuum bag after each use
>>Always empty the vacuum bag after each use
>>Always empty the vacuum bag after each use
>>Always empty the vacuum bag after each use
>>Always empty the vacuum bag after each use
>>Always empty the vacuum bag after each use
Now that's not exactly waht I had in mind when I said repeat the important parts of training 6 times. The point that I am making is that during the training process you want to be sure that an important part is covered six times in a variety of ways.
For example, using the vacuum bag illustration you obviously would say always empty the vaccum bag after each use just as I did then you might say at a later time, "Just before you perform the task of ________________________, you will want to be sure that the vacuum bag is emptied". Then again later during training on the vacuuming process you might say, "And the process of _______________comes right after you empty the vacuum bag".  In other words you work this important step into the conversation and make sure it is explained at least 6 times. In fact , the final part of the training might be that you have the employee explain AND SHOW you the process of correct vacuuming and vacuum care which of course entails emptying the vacuum bag.
I may have been repetitive in this example but it shows how you can incorporate the repeating process into a training and learning experience.
In closing this session let me remind you that registration is now open for the ISSA trade show and BSCAI convention in Las Vegas in November. This well could be the most valuable training lesson you will have all year. You can register by going to and clicking on the convention icon. I hope to meet many of you there and let me encourage you to attend my session on Finding and KEEPING Great Hourly Employees on Thursday the 21st and also come by my table at the solutions pavillion on November 21 and 22. We'll have our products and services on display along with new products and discounted packages.
Till next time.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Last week we talked about Training vs. Learning and pointed out some of the differences between adult learning and children learning. Did you follow my suggestion and review your training to see if you are training adults using children techniques?

This week I want to visit about making the training fun. We are going to focus in this session on classroom training as opposed to on line training. Most people I know hate it when they have to go for more training etc. so our job is to make it as enjoyable as possible. I found that, for the most part, the more fun we can have during the learning process the more we are going to learn. For example, don't be afraid to tell a joke on yourself. Maybe how you tried to perform a task and how you made a fool of yourself in the process. In my book, Finding Training and Keeping GREAT Service Employees,  I cite several examples of yours truly doing just that. People like to know that you had to learn as well and that you weren't born knowing everything about the subject matter.

USE LOTS OF PROPS. I always make sure we have lots of colored magic markers and several pads of paper on an easel to write things down during the exercises we use, which are many. Change color of magic markers as you write. It is a known training fact that people like color in their classroom learning experiences. In the supervisors training class that I have done at probably 30+ companies, I use hats, whistles, passports, police badges and other silling things to make a point. I may look silly at times, but I think we get the point across.

Offer prizes for correct answers. I suggest you make up several envelopes with different bills like $5,$10,$20 and/or gift certificates to food stores, fast food restaurants etc. You will be amazed at how spending just a few dollars on a few prizes will get participation in a training class. Have them draw an envelope for a great answer. Don't hand it to them or it may appear you are determining who gets what prize.

By the way, I have found that people who are bashful or don't want to speak up in a group setting will all of a sudden find their inner self when you start awarding cash prizes or gift certificates when they participate in the exercise. You soon find atendees asking after nearly every correct answer if that answer qualified for a prize. The participation really helps along the learning process.

Earlier I mentioned doing lots of exercises. These are fun and really engage people in the learning process. One suggestion on doing exercises. Whenever possible, use round tables with 5 or 6 at a table. In this way you get more participation and then have 1 leader report that tables exercise answers to the entire group. As I said earlier, some people are not comfortable speaking in front of large groups and by having them at a small group table they feel much more comfortable and willing to participate.

In my own organization I saw people who had knees knocking just to talk to 3 or 4 people become outstanding trainers of large groups and I really believe it was because they had a chance to start small and build their confidence.

I hope you got some ideas that can help you spark your training program. I would love to hear about ways you have done effective training. You can contact me through my web site at

Till next time.