Trust and respect will always trump technology

IN THE EARLY 1950s, WHEN I became a professional cleaner, there existed almost no information about how to do my job faster, better or cheaper…or how to enjoy it more. I remember reading one little magazine and never even saw a cleaning newsletter. There were a handful of professional associations struggling to start up. Most of us, including the big companies, got our cleaning information from reading labels on containers and the occasional visit from a vendor dropping off an order of paper and some wax.


No Replacement for Like & Respect

Technology has been slower getting to us than the Fortune 500, but it is here now and I wonder if there might be some overkill. It seems we are getting a little off balance. There is more information than application. High-tech products and facts don’t necessarily translate into benefits for cleaning technicians or customers if neither of them understands or communicates a mindset of clean. Technology can’t teach that, only humans can.

[EasyDNNnewsToken:Left Justify Embed 300 x 250]Sixty years in the industry taught me that if I had ten hours to train a new cleaner, it was best to spend nine of those hours teaching him or her how to make customers trust and respect them. The last hour could be about how to clean. People learn how to clean quickly. It’s common sense. However, cleaning technicians often fail to realize that when customers trust and respect them, they will help them keep the place clean and complain much less. It doesn’t matter how many high-tech products and gadgets are carried to a job if the industry can’t teach “clean” as an important behavior. It’s the human communication of this key concept from technician to customer that will lead to real advancements for the cleaning industry.


Machine Gone Wild!

Then again, I have not always had the best experiences with high tech. I remember a couple of decades ago when the idea of advanced technology was the cruise control switch on the big buffers. You could set the handle to automatic and release the grip, saving yourself from painful hand cramps. I had a fancy Clarke twenty-two-inch machine spray buffer. It was quite the machine and I was very proud of it. Working the ladies’ lounge area of a facility one night, I locked the handle, put the machine on automatic and buffed along until the plug pulled out of the receptacle. I then walked down the hall and re-plugged in the buffer. Suddenly, I heard a terrifying scream. I rushed down the hall to find sixty-eight-year-old Mrs. Taylor frantically running across the room chased by my machine, its cord whipping about like a wild animal. The live machine actually cornered Mrs. Taylor near the lounge table, knocked her upside down and tore one of her shoes off! You don’t need to hear the rest of the story to know that wasn’t a happy ending!


High tech has its role in our industry, but it should never replace personal interaction with our customers. Relationships, and the trust and respect they engender, will always be the key to our success.


Don Aslett is founder of Varsity Facility Services and The Museum of Clean. Known as “America’s #1 Cleaning Expert,” he is a sought-after media source, popular speaker and bestselling author. Click here for more info.