After 25 years, Eugena Bring is still showing her clients the affection symbolized by a carnation by grounding her service with certified technicians and ongoing training and professional development.
[EasyDNNnewsToken:Left Justify Embed 300 x 250]I first met Eugena Bring in Las Vegas at the 2013 ARCSI Convention and ISSA/Interclean Trade Show. She came early and took the two-day IICRC HCT Class. Based on her experience, she decided to arrange for her entire staff to attend the IICRC HCT class. Bruce Vance and I toured the Carnation Home Cleaning offices before the class and instantly knew we were working with a very special person and a very special company.
I have visited dozens of cleaning companies around the country, and impressed with the cleanliness and organization of Eugena’s office, warehouse and vehicles. She and her team obviously take pride in their work and their tools. I had the chance to spend some time with Eugena and her staff learning about her company and some reasons for their success.
Interview by David Kiser, Institute for Service Excellence:
DK Eugena, tell us about what brought you to the Phoenix area and why you chose to start Carnation Home Cleaning?
EB I moved here from Valley City, North Dakota in 1986 because my husband, Scott, from Minnesota wanted to move away from the snow and cold weather. Scott says it was for his industry, construction, and that he would be able to work year round, although I know it was also for golf. He really enjoys both. In 1989 I started cleaning homes myself just for something productive to do and for spending money. We called it Carnation Home Cleaning, and we started leaving a fresh carnation for each new client who started with us. We grew quickly by word-of-mouth referrals and soon we were hiring extra help to keep up with seasonal demands. A lot of people come here for the winter months and it gets very busy.
DK How large is your company now?
EB We used to do a lot of post-construction cleaning and had 32 people on the payroll. We cut back when new home construction slowed. We do not do post-construction any longer and focus on occupied homes and small offices exclusively. Now we have five teams of two people cleaning each day. Mary Ann and I work in the office and do quality assurance and sales. Betty also takes care of our warehouse: laundering cleaning cloths, replenishing cleaning agents and maintaining vacuum cleaners.
DK When did you join ARCSI and why?
EB Carnation Home Cleaning became a member of the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International (ARCSI) in May 2013. I had discovered ARCSI a few months before and started looking into the benefits members received and it seemed to be a good investment. I first plugged into some online training and teleconferences. I learned there were a ton of other owners who are so willing to share their experiences (good and bad). I attended the Annual Convention in Las Vegas, and it was there that I learned most of what ARCSI offers and the endless benefits of membership.
DK Share some examples of things you learned as a new ARCSI member.
EB I was impressed how important incorporating the science of cleaning was for cleaning homes. For example, understanding the pH of cleaning agents and how critical it is when cleaning specific surfaces to prevent damage and to be effective in removing soil.
Another item was the importance of environmental concerns for people in indoor environments. I was really impressed with how much emphasis is placed on safety as it relates to the constant use and exposure of cleaning agents all day long. Even so-called natural chemicals such as vinegar can be irritating and harmful.
The new surfaces in homes today need to be cleaned very differently than surfaces found in homes when we started years ago. I learned that products and methods for surfaces like marble, granite and cork require special knowledge and education. Another thing I appreciated was that new products in homes are ever-changing, and we must have an ongoing education program.
DK What influenced you to have your entire staff take the IICRC HCT class?
EB I took the HCT class at the ARCSI Convention in November 2013. I was sure I was only going to learn a few things. I figured that after cleaning for over twenty years, I knew most of what would be taught. Boy, was I wrong! I was so impressed by the vast amount of information presented and its value to me as an owner. I knew I had an obligation to our clients to provide the best and most knowledgeable cleaners possible. To me, there was no other way to move forward.
DK One of your cleaning technicians came in to class the second day with a very special story. That story says a lot about the people you have on your team and the culture of your company. Tell us what happened.
EB Yes, Norma, one of our cleaners came into class on the second day with a very special gift from her three children. They knew how nervous she was about taking the exam and how much she wanted to do well. So, when she was doing some errands that evening they got her study materials and made dozens of flash cards with a “Good luck Mom, we love you!” note of their own. They also made an “A+ You will Do Great on the Test!” booklet cover. They went on to say they know how much she loves her job and what she does. It was awesome and she was so happy her children had confidence in her.
DK You have some major goals for Carnation Home Cleaning. Tell us about them.
EB Our goals are to continually train, educate and develop our employees and our clients on the health benefits of a clean home environment. We would like to increase the number of teams to 7 or 8 by the end of the year at our current location. We are working toward opening other locations throughout the Phoenix area. I am so fortunate to have such a great team of people. They care about all of our clients and truly work hard to do a great job for every client every day!
David Kiser owns Champagne Cleaning Services in the DC metro area. He is the founding president of ARCSI and co-author of The Professional House Cleaning Technician’s Manual. He is also a principal of the Institute for Service Excellence.