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 www.consultantsincleaning.com 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 www.consultantsincleaning.com 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 www.tripodcast.com.

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 www.bscai.org 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 www.consultantsincleaning.com.

Till next time.