Monday, February 23, 2015


This week we want to continue on with the subject of why your people quit. As we stated last week, in this session we want to discuss the 5 major reasons why your employees leave.

1. NOBODY TOLD ME WHAT TO DO--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 an employee was hired, they were told something like "Go to the ABC building and do janitorial work, you'll find everything you need in the closet". That's about the same as in an interview asking the applicant about their experience and having them tell you that they vacuum their home once a week and take the trash to the curb every Thursday so we all agree that must qualify them for the job.

What about your company? What do you say to your new recruit that you just invested hundreds of dollars to find, interview, and put on your payroll?

2. NOBODY EVER COMPLIMENTS ME--This reason should come as no surprise. People working in the service business usually hear about something when there is a problem. What about you? Is the only time you communicate with your staff is when there is a problem?

In the building service business, the usual procedure is for the supervisor or manager to come to work and ask the question "Any complaints today? What problems am I going to face tonight? Who isn't coming to work tonight 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? It's a jungle out there. True, but the compliment you give your employee 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.

Why not create a file of your employee's birthdays and the anniversary date of their employment and make a conscious effort to call them or stop by their work station on those important dates and congratulate them. 

I know of managers and supervisors who will pick up pizza on Friday night and deliver it to a crew if they have gone a period of time without a complaint or no one was absent. Create your own reason for doing something like this. By the way, stay and enjoy the pizza with them. Amazing what it will do for strengthening your relationship with them and you may even learn something. 

 3.THERE DOESN'T APPEAR TO BE ANY ROOM FOR ADVANCEMENT--This reason is really interesting. At the time your employee is leaving your company because there is no place to advance, you are shouting to the world that you can't find any good supervisors or managers. Sound familiar?

In my job as a consultant to many companies, I get asked frequently if I know of any good managers, etc. anywhere in the country. Most of the time I answer "yes, in your own company". They really are there most of the time. We just need to locate them and give them the training and opportunity to succeed.

The current supervisors will generally tell you that they have no one to promote because if they give you one of their good people, that means they have to go to work and train a replacement. Bummer. They have their building running smooth and don't want to have to work harder so the answer is you have to dig deeper and become more familiar with the second level management. In my book "Finding, Training, and Keeping ,GREAT Service Employees 101", I go into detail how we developed that next level of supervision and created a stable of available site managers. Just as importantly, we had fun doing it and got to know a lot of good people. 

4. NOBODY TRAINED ME--This reason is a continuation of the first one where they said nobody told me what to do. When I talk training, I am not talking about where someone is hired and then sent out with a current employee to "learn the ropes". These may be the very ropes you want to get rid of. The current employee may only show them a series of WRONG ways of doing what it is you want done. My philosophy is ON THE JOB TRAINING ONLY IS A RECIPE FOR ON THE JOB FAILURE.

I know of many companies who justify on the job training by saying they want the new employee to see how it is really done out in the field. In many cases, that's the problem. It's being done WRONG out in the field and if you don't have a formal, written training program you only amplify the problem by sending out new employees to learn how to hang themselves with that rope you are needing to get rid of.

Create a training program, commit the resources to it and make it happen ASAP. You WILL see positive results. 

I know of and have worked with companies where we have focused their efforts on these 4 of the 5 issues and have seen turnover rates go from 325% to as low as 40%. Most settle in at about the 75% number. To a company such as a law or accounting firm that number will seem high, but if you are in the Building Service Contracting business, having a 40%-75% turnover rate is real progress in the grand scope of things.

5. BENEFITS/PAY--I fully understand that benefits and pay are very important issues and I have always tried to keep them in focus with the first four. The reality is this...many times service employment such as contract cleaning, food service, retail clerks and similar positions are considered entry level positions and benefits and pay will always be an issue until staff members are trained to a point where they can move up the ladder and make it a career. Career opportunities abound in the service sector but we need to tell our story and make the commitment to recruit and train a primary focus of our individual company's growth. The GREAT people are there, we have the responsibility to recruit, train, and keep them. 

In the meantime, I tried my best, not always successfully, to be at the top end of the pay scale for the positions I had in my company. We tried to be sure that if someone committed to our industry as their career, we would be at or near the top in pay and benefits. You always want to put yourself in the position of having the best trained and compensated people. Believe me, this will pay dividends in the long run. Remember, we are offering careers, not just jobs. 

Hopefully this information has been helpful to you. There is so much to say on this subject and I am very passionate about recruiting and training and keeping GREAT employees that I could go on writing forever but you probably don't want to go on reading forever, if you even made it this far. 

Next week we will be in Orlando conducting our Selling Contract Cleaning Services seminar/workshop. Still time to register at 

Till next time.    


Monday, February 16, 2015


I wish I had a dollar (or 2) for every time I have been told by a BSC that they don't have time to train their employees. The most common statement goes something like this, "Why should I train them, they'll leave in a week or two anyway?"  And my answer is, "You bet they will leave if that is the attitude you take toward the most valuable asset you have, YOUR EMPLOYEES".

There is no question there are a certain number of employees that will grab a paycheck and run or will take a job and not show up for work the first night or walk off the job after they get there. I suggest to you that more often than not, the reason these events occur is because of our failure to communicate properly the requirements of the job, the training needed, and the important part these play in providing customer satisfaction.

Let me spend some time here making a case for taking the time to hire properly, train properly, and communicate properly. The points we make will be extremely critical to the success (or failure) of your business and we'll discuss them in greater detail in the next blog session. 

Retail stores and manufacturing facilities have a tangible product as their inventory to sell to their customers. Our inventory is the employee we place in the customer's facility to clean it for them on a regular basis. I don't mean to compare a human being with that of physical inventory in a store but the analogy is important in order to illustrate the importance of the employees you have in your organization. 

When you walk into a grocery store you expect the inventory to be top quality. Don't your customers have a right to expect the same from you?

In the contract cleaning industry, the average turnover is approximately 325%(I was told recently that is is 350%) per year which means for the employer that has 100 employees they will make 425 W-2s at the end of the year. Pretty overwhelming, isn't it? What about your company? Take the time to check your turnover rate. I'll wait until you come back.

Okay, now that you are back, what is your turnover rate? For those of you considering starting in this business or have an emerging company, this area can cause you a lot of headaches and heartburn. 

Let's look at the economic impact high turnover has on our companies. Studies have shown the cost of turning over ONE employee in our industry costs about $525 computing all of the expenses involved with recruiting, orientation, and training, etc.

Now going back to the illustration of 425 W-2s needed to staff 100 employees at 325% turnover, the cost to your bottom line is $170,625 per year. That's a pretty big number no matter who you are. 

Okay, so you only have 10 employees and made 42 W-2s last year. It only cost $17,062. Getting the idea that turnover is expensive?

So what's the answer to reducing turnover and providing quality, stable "inventory" for our customers? Studies have revealed that the major reasons that our employees leave are,

1. Nobody told them what to do.

2. It appears that there is no room for advancement in the organization.

3. Nobody ever compliments them on a good job.

4. Nobody TRAINED them on the specifics of their job. 

5. No benefits.

Did you notice that pay is not at or near the top? Surprised?

In our next blog we will address each of these items and how we can solve the problem in order to reduce turnover and increase our bottom line AND customer satisfaction.

Later and MAKE IT A GREAT DAY.  Hope to see many of you at our Selling Contract Services workshop in Orlando March 6.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Recently I read a saying that went something like this---Many people don't move forward in their life or business because they are too busy looking backward. Pretty telling statement isn't it?

It reminded me of a BSC that I talked with a while back that told me that he didn't need anymore training and didn't need to go to conventions and workshops because he had a business that had been successful since the 60's and he saw no need to change where he was going now. If it was good enough for the forefathers it was good enough for him. 

So I asked the logical question of how much revenue was he doing and he told me. My next question was, "How does that compare with what you were doing 10 years ago". The answer was astounding. His reply was that he was actually doing about 25% less than 10 years ago but didn't I realize that the economy had been terrible these last several years? 

I couldn't resist the next question which was how did he explain that so many BSC's were thriving even though the economy had been less than great? And of course the reply was that his marketplace was different than any place else. Really? I wish I had a nickel for every time I have heard that statement. I hear it especially from contractors having a hard time finding and keeping employees. When I suggest some ideas that have proven to work for other BSCs in all parts of the country the answer usually goes something like "but my area is different".

You see, this BSC that I referred to above was stuck in "how we used to do it" and wasn't thinking of how it could be done differently, and better, moving forward. 

What about you? Are you busy looking back at where you have been and not looking forward to where you can be? We are in a wonderful business where we can go and find prospects and convince them that we should be their service provider. We aren't a retail business where we have to hope people will come in and buy. We hold our destiny in our own hands. 

We owe it to ourselves and our staff to create and execute a solid plan of moving our organizations forward profitably or we will be left behind. Most BSC's I know that have been the same size the last several years are not that way by design, they just haven't developed a sound plan for moving forward and then sticking to the plan. Employees will leave an organization that they feel is not progressive in wanting to be the leader in their market. 

I remember years ago when I left my employer and started my own company, within a few months nearly all my former employees were applying for a position with us. I asked one gentlemen in particular who had been an outstanding building site supervisor for me in my previous employment why he wanted to leave my old company and join us as a new, young company. His answer was really telling. He said "Richard, even a rat deserts a sinking ship and the old company is sinking". That is not to imply he was a rat but the statement was very telling about a company not wanting to move forward. I hired him and he stayed with me 20 years before he retired. 

Then we have the "yeah buts". These are the people that whenever you suggest trying a new process or product etc. will say, "yeah but, we tried that a few years ago and it didn't work". The yeah buts are all around us. They are still looking backward as a company tries to move forward.  I have encountered a countless number of people in this category, even some of my clients that have to be indoctrinated into the 21st century of marketing, human resources, client relations, and training techniques needed to deal with the different cultural and generational differences in the work force that we employ. 

It's fun to be nostalgic on occasion and talk about when we used the old pagers, Pantaloon paste wax, paper time sheets and the like but that is all it should be--a fun nostalgic conversation, not a longing for going backwards. 

What about you? Are your 2015 goals firmly in place? Do you have a systematic program for bringing on new business and KEEPING existing business? What about your training program? Still just showing a video and sending the new recruit out to work with an "old hand" to "learn the ropes". Many times the old ropes they are learning are the wrong ropes and can eventually hang us and lose customers.

I am completing my 52nd year in this exciting business and never have I been more enthusiastic about what the future holds for us in this industry. How about you? Are you still concentrating on looking back to where you were instead of looking forward to the great opportunities that lie ahead. I certainly hope you are looking forward. The life of your business may just depend on which way you are looking. Remember the old saying--If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there or as the great American Philosopher, the former great New York Yankee catcher said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it". Which road are you on?

Till next time. Hope to see many of you in Orlando March 6 at our Selling Contract Cleaning Services one day workshop.