Last week we outlined our theft procedure. One thing that often surprises people, both clients and other cleaning business owners, is that we ask to get the police involved. There are three reasons we do this.
The police are pros
First, the police are trained investigators. We are not. When I was younger I worked at the police department. There really are ways you can tell when someone is lying. While they are not foolproof and thus not able to be used in court, they are effective in all but the most extreme cases. The police also will run background checks on all of your people. If you did it when they were hired, you should have nothing to fear from this step. Several times when we have had theft cases, police officers told the client after they completed the investigation that they did not think our people committed the theft for these reasons. We can tell the client until the end of time that we have never had another complaint and that our employee has a clear record, but the client will always assume we are covering ourselves. When the police tell them they can trust it.
The right thing to do
Second, I want this in the open. If my employee did steal something, I want them charged. A background check is useless if the cleaner has never been charged. For the good of the industry, I want any cleaners who steal to be charged with the crime. That way they will not just go work for another company. Some people are afraid that filing a police report will make it public and it will hurt their business. This is possible but it is VERY rare. If it does happen, the fact that you asked for the report to be filed makes you look a lot better. The client may file a report anyway, so why not be a stand-up person and ask for it up front?
Finally, there are frauds in this business and they do not want to talk to the police. About 5 years ago we had a gentleman claim that our maids stoles $10,000 worth of silver while they were cleaning his home. Now we were suspicious from the start because he was home, and at $20 an ounce that would mean they took about 50 pounds of silver. So we thanked him, and asked him to file a police report. He did not want to "bother" the police. I assured him I had worked for the police and they would let him know if they were too busy. He went on and on with reasons why he could not call the police and said he would just take $5,000. I again refused and said I needed a police report for insurance purposes. He then said that the insurance co-pay had to be at least $1,000, so he would just take the $1,000 and it would be easier on all of us. I again refused. Within 5 minutes, he went from demanding $10,000 to saying he would take $1,000 but would not file a police report. I did not call him a liar, but I did refuse to do anything without filing a police report, and I let him know that my cousin was an officer (true but in a different state), so I was not worried about getting the police involved. I never heard from him again.
Click here for part three of this series of articles http://cleaningbusinesstoday.com/blog/dealing-with-theft-part-3
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Derek Christian has been involved in the cleaning industry for more than 20 years and is an owner or investor in several cleaning companies. Derek founded My Maid Service which was later merged into Blue Skies Services and now he works with Castle Keepers in various marketing and sales Capacities.