When the boss ignores SOP during training, she’s likely to get called out by a friendly dog and a tricky lock.

I have two new employees in training: Kaylee and Warren. For Warren, this is his first day on the job. The three of us head to the first client of the day. I placed my car keys and the client’s house key in my jacket pocket after entering the home and put my jacket on a chair in the entry. Yeah, I know, this is not normal procedure for handling of client keys, but hey, I’m the boss, so all is good, right? We’re greeted by two very friendly dogs that have not been at the home during prior cleanings, a younger one and an older one. No problem, it’s great to have a friendly “greeting committee” when we arrive. This home has a front door, a back door, and a double door from the family room to the deck, though we have no reason to use the double door to the deck. The back door deadbolt always remains locked.

The cleaning and training go well. We pack up to leave. As I’m coming out the front door, locking the door from the inside, I pause to confirm with my team that they have the house key – well, of course, because it’s in the zippered pocket in the binder where it’s always kept when not being used to unlock/lock the entry door. As I step out onto the porch, the older dog scoots out the door. I reach forward to stop her and the door closes behind me. No problem! Warren stops the dog from trotting off just as Kaylee informs me that the client’s key in NOT in the binder. We are all bewildered for a couple of moments as we try to remember who had the key last and where it is presently. Oh, yeah! It’s in MY jacket pocket along with my car keys. But where’s my jacket? Uh-oh…it’s still on the chair INSIDE the client’s home, now securely locked up!

For the time being, we put the dog in my car – thank goodness it was not locked. Dog is happy and we are stuck. To make matters worse, I had forgotten my phone – it was still in my locked office and contains all client contact info. I use Warren’s phone to contact the homeowner since we did have our binder and client work orders with contact info. Whew! When I get no answer, I leave a message. There’s no telling when the homeowner might get the message or when someone might arrive home. Remember, this is the first cleaning of the day.

As I look at the house, I notice it has a tall wooden fence surrounding the back yard; surely there must be a gate. If we can get into the back yard, we stand a chance that those double doors may not be locked. There’s a gate, all right, but it’s blocked by overgrown weeds and potted plants. The only way into the yard is over the fence. Kaylee keeps the dog company at the car while young, agile Warren climbs over the fence. He returns a few minutes later with news that the double doors are locked, as well.

Back at the car, we try and brainstorm a solution to our dilemma. A number of scenarios go through our heads. As Kaylee and I brainstorm, Warren disappears. A few minutes later, he opens the front door, from the inside of the house, hooray! Fortunately, he went back over the fence to try the door again, thinking that perhaps the double door is just a bit tricky and maybe it needs to be jiggled a bit. He was right!

We placed the older dog back in the house with her pal, retrieved my jacket with the house key and my car keys in the pocket, locked the door FROM THE OUTSIDE, and we were on our way!

All turned out well, but the homeowner, I found out later, was in an all-day meeting and thus, not accessible or able to come to our rescue.

What a way to make an impression on one’s new employees, eh?

Karine Nelson has owned and operated Zeyphr Cleaning Service in Hayden, ID, for six years. She is an active member of ARCSI and is an IICRC-certified House Cleaning Technician.