Making time for thorough training and continuous training is not the waste of money it may feel like.

In the service industry today, no subject receives more discussion and fewer results than does training. Nearly every proposal I have seen in the contract cleaning industry has a section on how they employ trained personnel—POORLY TRAINED that is.


Just in the past few weeks I have had 5 BSCs contact me with employee issues of poor work out on the job, some to the point of losing an account. My first question is always “Describe to me your training program.” In each case, the answer was that they send them out to work with a current “experienced” employee to “learn the ropes.” My next question is “experienced at what?” When was the last time you checked the procedures your “experienced” employees are following?  My contention is that on-the-job training will lead to on-the-job failure unless you have a systematic way of checking the work of the experienced worker.


When I conduct workshops for companies on the subject of training, one of the exercises we have the participants do in groups is to list what “better training systems” means to them and to the company as a whole.  Let me list some that come to mind. 

Reduces Employee Turnover 

At the rate of $500 plus per employee to put someone on the payroll, it doesn’t take a genius to determine that this benefit comes near to the top of the list. Let me suggest you review the number of W-2s your company provided for everyone who worked for you last year, determine the excess over your normal payroll and you will see the dollars you wasted. You may want to get some nausea relief pills before you do this exercise.

Improves Customer Retention

Ever had a customer tell you when they cancelled the agreement that the main reason was your high turnover? Most service companies, if honest, will admit they have been told that at least once. So, factor in the sales cost you have in finding new customers, and you have another big number and big reason for providing a quality systematic training program in your company.

Improves New Customer Acquisition

One of the questions being asked often today by prospective customers is “What’s your turnover rate?” I have seen service contractors eliminated from the competition through this question. Some contractors become extremely creative in how they determine their turnover rate when asked this question. You see, in today’s world, the mere fact that you are being asked to submit a proposal assumes you know how to clean. What the prospect wants to know is how you are going to manage the people and the systems, and the rate of turnover is a significant factor in determining if you’re any good at the management. If you are constantly trying to “reload” with new people, prospects begin to doubt how well you can manage the entire process.

Reduces Labor Costs

You, no doubt, have heard or said this phrase: “Why is there never enough time to do the job right the first time but always time to do it over?” That costs you twice as much in labor costs and more in re-training. Well, with the proper training, there are fewer times the job has to be done over. Make sense? Every time the customer has to call you to complain that the job is not satisfactory, you lose more credibility with that customer, bringing you a step closer to making them a former customer.


I remember at one of our quarterly supervisor’s management meetings, one of my key managers was explaining for the umpteenth time how to properly empty a vacuum bag. As he was going through the process, one of the attendees asked, “Bill, how many times are we going to have to hear how to properly empty a vacuum bag?”  Bill’s reply was “I will continue to repeat this process until we learn how to do it properly.”  As fate would have it, the bag Bill was showing came from the building the person asking the question was responsible for. It wasn’t planned that way, and we didn’t embarrass the person in front of his peers, but we certainly discussed it with him after the meeting.


I can go on with this exercise, but I have probably hit on the major reasons why having a systematic, organized orientation and training program is not a waste of time or money. Look at the reasons outlined above, review your training program, improve it and start putting more dollars on your bottom line. 

Dick Ollek is the owner of Consultants in Cleaning, providing consulting to companies that want to realize profitable sales growth and improve staffing and administrative procedures.