As an industry, we are, and always will be, remembered not for 99% of things we got right, but for the 1% of things we got wrong.
At first glance the answer to this question “What business are we really in?” may seem so obvious that it is barely worth addressing, but first glances can often miss what’s most important.
Yes, the automatic response we would give would be to claim that we’re in the cleaning business, but if I could turn back the clock, I’d rename our entire industry and call it the “Doing What We Promise Business.” Why? Over a decade of experience in this industry has shown me time and again that nothing we do for our clients is more important than delivering on this one simple premise.
The hard truth is that client relationships are won and lost every day in our industry on the battlefield of credibility, or lack thereof. In the heat of the battle we may choose to attribute account losses to other things like high prices, billing errors, crew turnover, lack of management responsiveness, service issues, process issues, quality issues, but at the end of the day it always comes down to this one simple statement: “Somebody Didn’t Do What They Promised To Do.”
So the question in your mind at this point might be “Isn’t this same complaint true of any service provider in any category of service?” Having spent time in the car rental, travel and heavy transportation categories, I can report that these industries also stand (and fall) on how well they deliver on their promises. In fact one trucking company, Old Dominion, uses that exact tagline: “Helping the World Keep Its Promises.” So again, why make the cleaning industry the poster child for broken promises to customers? Well for one thing I believe that, as an industry, we’ve truly earned that reputation the old fashioned way! Here’s a real life example of it.
Years ago I was involved with a large facilities services company that had a lot of high rise business in New York. In the case of one client, the COO used to like eating lunch at his desk each day and he had a simple request for our cleaning crew. Please put a rubber band around the top of his bin liner so that it stayed open when he dropped in his lunch leftovers. It didn’t happen. Several repeated requests also went unheeded until the day came when the COO (and presumably his trash bin) had finally had enough. He took the trouble to find out the name of the cleaning contractor the company used and personally terminated our contract on the spot!
I’m sure there are many similar war stories out there, but what always makes this one stand out for me is this. As an industry we are, and will always be, remembered not for the 99% of things we got right, but for the 1% of things we got wrong. This is a truism of the cleaning industry, and if you can’t live with it, you might want to consider trying your hand at something less challenging, like herding cats for a living!
So how do we live with it at JAN-PRO and Maid Right? We’re certainly not immune to the rubber band story I just shared. Like your company, we’re an organization as much at the mercy of human nature as any other. The answer to how we live with the daily risk of the 1% failure is based on the steps we take to minimize the risk factors, while at the same time maximizing our chances for success. Here are some of the ways we do it:
Make Good People Choices
Franchising isn’t for everyone, so we look for those with a passion for taking our model and building on it. They usually turn out to be the best at attracting others around them who exhibit that same spirit of commitment.
Train, Train & Train Some More
We invest more time in training at all levels to ensure the essential elements of our models are replicated in the field.
Invest In Technology
While it won’t replace a deep personal commitment to getting it right, the latest technology helps put the odds in our favor and creates competitive advantages.
Make Guarantees That Stick
Verbal guarantees seldom reassure anyone. We provide written guarantees that make us 100% accountable to the customer.
Celebrate Your People
Through innovative programs such as our Franchisees of the Year and our Your Family First college scholarships, we honor those of us who make our success possible on a daily basis.
Oh, and don’t forget to carry some spare rubber bands with you at all times!
Mervyn Rozet is the Vice President of Marketing for Premium Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company for JAN-PRO and Maid Right. Prior to joining the JAN-PRO management team in 2005, Mervyn held senior management roles in global advertising agencies and worked with some of the world’s best known consumer brands including Heinz, Campbell’s, Schweppes, Wilkinson Sword, Hertz Reynolds Metals, Lee, Wrangler and VF Corporation. His franchising and commercial cleaning experience includes OneSource, ABS and GCA Services Group.