Saturday, August 31, 2013


Here in the USA a new school year has or is about to begin. In conjunction with that I thought I would talk this week about how we conduct the training/learning sessions in our companies. The fact that we have a training program does not necessarily mean we have people learning anything.

We can order our adult employees into a classroom but that does not mean they will learn. We can't force them to absorb what we have to impart. One basic fact--adults learn much differently than do children. I find many companies set up their training programs much like they had them set up when they were in school and then wonder why learning doesn't take place. Have you found that out in your organization? Be honest.

So how can you motivate your potential great employees to learn? Sometimes that can seem like an impossible task when you are trying to teach someone how to clean a toilet. There are several important facts we need to know about motivating adults to learn:

1. Adult learners are motivated by appealing to their personal growth and wealth---in order to motivate adults to learn, we must tell them "What's in it for me?" They need to know the justification for taking the time and effort to learn something. You see, children rely on others, teachers, parents etc. to decide for them what is important to learn. Adults decide for themselves. So what is the motivation to learn for adults?

Could be just receiving a paycheck that they maybe haven't had for a while. Could be they see a promotion in store for themselves if they learn the subject matter well. How about personal recognigtion of becoming knowledgable in a certain area?

2. Children accept the information being presented in the class at face value. If the teacher says there are 24 crayons in a box, the child believes it because they trust what the teacher says.

The adult, on the other hand, will want to count the crayons in the box because they remember years ago buying some and being shorted two crayons in the box. Their experience has taught them to be cautious as to what people tell them. They have learned that people do not always tell the truth. They may have been listening to members of the US congress.

3. Children are told and expect what they are learning now to be useful to them in the long term. The are led to believe that the education they are receiving now will result in a better paying job etc. etc.

Adults on the other hand, expect what they are learning in your training class to be useful immediately. That is why people attend conventions, workshops and the like. They expect to learn something that they can take back to the job and use NOW.

4. Chldren have little or no experience upon which to draw---they have relatively "clean slates". They still believe everything they are told. Think back to your childhood. Your parents and teachers were your source of information and truth. As you grew older, questions started to arise, and by the time you were a teenager you had answers to questions that had not even been asked. (Just kidding)

Adults on the other hand have much past experience upon which to draw. They have had time to form their opinions and viewpoints which many times will differ dramatically from the very people they were relying on for information in their youth. I know many of my viewpoints have changed from when I was a child. I don't necessarily disagree with what I was told, I just have more facts now on which to form an opinion.

It is important to remember that the employees you are wanting to train also have had the opportunity to learn new and different views on a variety of the subjects you may be trying to teach them. Recognizing the differences will make a HUGE impact on whether your training is successful. I urge you to remember that as you develop and execute your various training progams.

So what is the point of all this I have been saying. The point is this---ARE YOU JUST BRINGING YOUR PEOPLE IN AND LECTURING TO THEM OR GIVING THEM A MANUAL TO READ or do you have training sessions where real learning takes place by letting the adult students you have use their experience and knowledge? Do you make training fun? Next week we'll talk a little about that.

Let me encourage you to review your training programs and assure yourself that you have real learning experiences for participants and that you are just not checking boxes.

Till next time.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I thought this week I would continue my discussion on training our staff. Last week you may recall I talked about the importance of training your people even if they left you after they were well trained.

This week I want to discuss how we train. That brings me to another of my favorite sayings which is,

"If you do only on the job training, you are setting yourself up for on the job failure".

I wish I had a dollar for everytime someone has told me that their trianing program is one of training on the job with an experienced worker. They want their people to get out in the field and "learn the ropes" from the experienced people.

Well, it is entirely possible that the ropes they are learning with the old timers could very well be the ropes you don't want them to learn or to put it another way, the ropes they are learning may well hang them and you. They may be teaching them all of the wrong ways of doing things. You long time contractors that use on the job training,when was the last time you actually went into the field at night to see the training being done?

As a consultant I have been asked by companies that hire contract cleaners to sit in on presentations from the companies and then give my opinion as to what I think. Or, when not asked to sit in, a list of questions was requested by me to ask of the presenters.

The one question I always suggest they ask is, "Give us an in depth explanation of your training program for new employees and continuing education for your experienced employees". The percentage is extremely high of contractors who indicate their training program is one of having a new employee work with an experienced one for several nights before being allowed to work alone. If that is the answer, I suggest they ask, "How do you monitor the training to assure that the experienced employee is training correctly? Do you have experienced employees meet on a regular basis to demonstrate to you their cleaning procedures?"

Then, there are also the companies that present an elaborate training program in their presentation. The question then becomes one of when are their training sessions conducted? Can a prospective customer visit one of the training sessions? Or can the prospective customer visit the training center? Some contractors talk a great training program but don't really have one.

I am a strong advocate of having an organized WRITTEN program for new employees BEFORE they go out into the field and then an every 6 month refresher course for EVERYONE including the experienced troops. We all get into bad habits when we work, not on purpose, but it just happens. By brining everyone back in for paid retraining helps us to correct any flaws and also to introduce new techniques, products, procedures and company policies to every staff member. I found it to be extremely valuable in our attempts to maintain consistentcy in the field. While it isn't perfect it sure beats the "on the job" system.

What about you? Your training program is? Just a quick reminder of what an organized, systematic training program will produce for you,









We'll discuss each of these benefits in later blog topics but if they are something that would benefit your company, let me suggest you review how you are training and see if there are improvements you can make. I know I always found ways to improve our training program and you may be able to do so as well.

So, your training program is? Check it out. Their is no better time than RIGHT NOW.

Till next time.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Over the years of dealing with turnover and creating and conducting training workshops one thing has become very clear to me and led me to establish the following statement and policy in our company,

"It is better to train your people and have them leave than to not train them and have them stay".

Think about that for a moment. You can develop a company training program that EVERYONE goes through and will they ALL leave, absolutely not. Sure, a few may leave you and go on to bigger and better things, maybe even to a competitor. But isn't part of our responsibility to help our employees improve themselves in life?

Let me give you an example. Several years ago I developed a 15 hour supervisory training class for our company. We conducted the class in five three hour sessions and when the attendees had satisfactorily completed the course they were presented with a very nice framed completion certificate and an increase in pay. They became valuable additions to our organization.

Once in a while, one of our graduates would take their certificate and apply for a position with one of the large in house operations in town. We had several large manufacturing plants that paid excellent wages and some of our supervisors applyed for and secured very well paying supervisory positions with those companies.

While it was disappointing to lose them, how could I argue with the opportunity for them to more than double their wages? We did our training job so well that a couple of the large in house companies told me that if someone walked in with our completion certificate, they were automatically hired. While some of our management staff complained about that, I took it as a compliment. Yes, we lost some great people but they raised their standard of living.

Let's not forget the overall effectiveness of the program. For every one of the people we lost we had a substanial number that stayed and benefited our company tremendously.

Let me also mention that as large one time cleaning projects became available at those large manufacturing plants, our company was the one they called to do the work. In reality, it was a win win situation for everyone. The people we trained benefited, the company they went to work for benefited, and we benefited with very profitable, high volume special project work.

Now let's look at the other side of the equation of not training them and having them stay. What are the risks? Let's see, maybe they don't learn how to handle discipline issues, on the job accidents, unemployment claims, technical information, training the staff, and the list goes on and on. You see, they stay but we run a less than quality organization and the reality is that the good people leave and we are left with the untrained, difficult to handle, account losing employees.

So let me say again, "it is better to train your employees and have them leave than to not train them and have them stay". The benefits of a well trained staff far outweigh the loss of some employees that you helped better their station in life. The alternative is everyone gets NO training and stays. Your employee turnove rate is great but I will venture to stay your account turnover is horrendous and afterall, the accounts pay the bill. If you don't have an organized training program for all levels of your company, let me encourage you to start developing one TODAY.  It will be worth every dime you invest.

By the way, another of my favorite sayings is "If you want to enjoy firing someone, take them to lunch and buy theirs to go". That will be a subject for another time.

Till next time.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Well, here we are near the middle of August and almost time for the kids to head back to school. Had your vacation yet? By this time most of you have taken a bit of time off to get away from all the pressure of work. Right?

Talk about pressure! Most people I know are really under a lot of pressure when they are getting ready to go on vacation. Oh my, we have to be sure that everyone knows where we will be. Who will be responsible for making important decisions while I'm away? Should I notify my customers that I will be on vacation and who the contact person will be in my absence? Who can handle the major situations that may come up? What if a major prospect calls and wants to see someone right away? What if a major customer calls and wants to see someone right away? I better contact as many customers as I can before I leave to make sure everything is okay before I go. Should I even go? Will the company survive while I'm gone? Am I forgetting something?

Does this sound like you before you left on vacation or those of you getting ready to go on vacation? Did you decide you better call the office every day or check your phone or computer for e-mails and other notes every day? Did you tell your staff to copy you on every e-mail so you will "know what's going on"? If you've already gone on vacation, did you REALLY relax the entire time you were gone?

Zig Ziglar in one of his Strategies For Success training classes uses the example of the trip to Acapulco. In the story, you get a phone call from a friend early in the morning telling you the friend has won a trip for 2 to Acapulco and wants you to be the friend they take along must leave today.

The rest of Zig's story takes us through the decisions we make that allow us to go to Acapulco today. And the moral of his story is why not manage your business and life so you could go to Acapulco everyday?

So, how are your managing your time? Have you put the pieces in place so you can go on vacation this year and every year without having to worry if you'll have a company when you get back? Are you training your replacement? Are you training your people on the way to communicate with customers properly? Do you have someone who could "save" a customer that is angry or know what to do if an important prospect is now ready to become an important customer?

Unless you want to forever be a nervous breakdown candidate, it is important that you build your staff so the company operates whether you are on vacation or not. I know, I know, easier said than done, but don't you think you should start? What about starting now? You can't do it any earlier and you're not getting any younger.

My wife and I both grew up in the Midwest and never enjoyed the harsh, cold weather in the winter time. The way I found to help her keep her humor throughout the dreary winter was to take her to Hawaii for about 2 weeks every February. It sure made life a lot easier for me and Hawaii wasn't hard to take either. Now why am I telling you this? What does it have to do with anything? I mention it because I knew my company was progressing positively when one year I came home after our two weeks in the islands to announce to everyone that I was back from vacation and was greeted by several of the branch managers with "you were gone"?  After a few moments of self pity saying nobody needs me, I realized what I had accomplished. Our organization was able to run on a day to day basis without me having to make every major decision. What a blessing. What a great group of people that had been assembled to make my life so much easier.

So...what about you? Are you vacations stressful to the point you wonder if they are even worth taking? If you haven't already started, START NOW to develop your staff to where they can manage without you even when you are in town. Oh, I know, you are still going to have to be in charge of planning the future and supporting your people in the major decisions but that life if far more fun than having so much stress and then taking that stress with you on vacation so it seems like you haven't even been gone. START TODAY, IT IS WORTH IT.

Another point to mention. If you ever decide to sell your company, one of the major areas a prospective buyer looks at is your staff and are they seasoned and trained to keep running the organization with or without you. Can they tranisition your company into theirs without a lot of hassle. Important point to keep in mind.

A quick note. This week we post our 300th FREE pod cast at Hope you will tune in for this special broadcast and next week our special guest on the pod cast will be Ian Greig as he discusses day cleaning. A great interview.

Also, we have added about a dozen new DVD's to our web site. Hope you'll check them out at

Till next time.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


You finally closed the deal and have established a startup date. You shake hands with the new customer and tell them, "If you ever have any problems, just give me a call". Is that the policy you follow in starting up a new account?

If that was the comment to me as a customer I would probably say something like, "I hired you to take care of the problems. The reason I called you and allowed you to present a proposal is that I don't want any more problems. If I want to have problems I'll hire my own staff or stay with my current vendor".

Now you are probably saying that you wouldn't do that but a vast majority of BSC's say exactly that or something similar to their customers every day. In effect those contractors are expecting their customers to find the problem areas and call them. If that is the policy then the customer should probably receive a quality assurance fee for doing the work we are being paid to do. Agree?

I have talked with many (and I mean many) contractors down through the years who have told me of accounts they lost and just couldn't understand why. There comment usually went something like "I don't understand, every time they called with a problem, I took care of it right away". They never did understand that that should have a quality assurance program in place where the customer doesn't have to call. And if you have a quality assurance policy in place and the customer still is constantly having to call, maybe you need a new policy or new people executing the policy.

Many years ago, I heard Tom Peters, one of the pioneers in customer satisfaction and customer relations make the statement that if you had to have a qualty assurance/customer relations department in your company, what are the rest of your people doing? After hearing that profound statement, I went home and changed our entire policy. He was right. His philosophy is that EVERYONE in the company should be totally focused on providing quality performance and customer satisfaction. That includes every cleaner, supervisor, manager etc. If the cleaner has been taught how to do the work correctly and does a check on their own work each time they complete the shift, should you really need someone to go from account to account during the day to check the work?

Let's see, you have the cleaning technician, the project supervisor, the area supervisor, the operations manager to assure quality work and you still need a inspector? Wow! That is one of the reasons why there should not be the need for us to tell the customer "if you have a problem, just give us a call". If they have to give us a call, we have had several layers of management miss something that the customer deemed important. Make sense?

I also realize that we are all human and WE WILL MAKE MISTAKES and miss important things from time to time. The key here is that we should have the policy in place so the customer is not our QA person. Our comment to the customer went something like this, "Thank you for your business, we are excited to have you on board. With our procedures and policies, it is our intent to perform at the highest level so you can perform at your highest level. We also know that people are human and mistakes can be made. In the event that should happen, you can be assured we will do our best to handle it in the fastest and least troublesome way". We just did not want our customer to expect there to be problems to report. Did we ever screw up? Absolutely, but without a company wide policy embedded in every employee's mind, the screw ups would have been far more frequent and more severe.

So, what about you? What's your policy? Do you wait for the customer to call or are you proactive with a procedure and policy in place that everyone in the company understands that will minimize the mistakes?
Is self inspection of work part of your cleaning technicians training? Do you teach total customer satisfaction? Do your employees know how to respond when a customer approaches them on the job? Do they know what they should say or not say to that valuable customer?

Let me know what you think or what your policy is. Your comments are always welcome. We even reread the comments we like.

Don't forget to register for the upcoming BSCAI/ISSA conventions and trade show coming in Las Vegas, NV. the week of November 17. Make your hotel reservations now so you are not left out. It promises to be a great week.

Till next time. By the way, we are adding new DVDs and CDs to our company store on a continuing basis. Check it out. MAKE IT A GREAT WEEK.