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The Value of Training and Certification Programs

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Instead of fancy branding, invest in training.


By Cloud Conrad


Conrad, CloudOne of the many benefits of membership in ARCSI is that it seeks to elevate our industry’s image and, in turn, its members in their marketplace. Members enjoy a halo effect, but without continuing to deliver value to consumers that glow may fade. Continuous value delivery, through professionalism and expertise, validates the services we provide as a critical component of quality of life for families everywhere.


How might we offer continuous value delivery to improve quality of life?


In my role at Maid Brigade I have researched customer preferences using various means over several years. And there’s one point on which all survey data is consistent: the Number One criteria people seek when they choose a cleaning service (and the Number One criteria they evaluate their cleaning help on) is consistent quality.


It’s not really a surprise, is it? Maybe your own research supports this finding. If not empirically, you probably know it anecdotally. More than one prospective customer has probably told you that the reason they are interviewing cleaning services is that the one they just fired started out great, but the quality deteriorated over time. Maybe, sadly, you’ve heard this from a regular customer asking to have her key returned.


Why does this happen? Cleaning services consistently train new hires when they come on board. Most use the same training with every one of them. The cleaners, new or old, are given the same supplies every morning at send-off. They are instructed to perform the same regular tasks from visit to visit. They are evaluated using the same form every time. They approach customer homes the same way on every visit. Pricing may even be based on the assumption that homes are in the same condition every time, but history shows that most homes are not in the same condition or have the same sorts of soils, in the same spots, from visit to visit. And what two customers have the exact same combination of surfaces in their homes anyway?


Several years ago, one of our employees did not notice, or realize the importance of the fact, that the tile shower she was cleaning had a marble seat and threshold. She used the normal acid based tile cleaner. It etched the marble on the seat and threshold. We hired someone to polish out the damage and satisfied the client, but it cost $700 to do so. A better understanding of surfaces would have saved us considerable money and hassle.


So, how does a cleaning business owner equip their staff to deliver consistent quality when there are so many varied cleaning challenges to overcome in the course of a day? How can you know with certainty that your staff can make the right game-time decisions to uphold your reputation, one cleaning visit at a time?


Motivation, mentoring, and measurement are all contributing factors to reliably delivering consistent quality. But, as in many other scenarios, knowledge is power. Mastery is the truly elevating factor because it is internal to the employee to draw from at the moment of truth – all others are constructs you create back at the office.


Certified results.


For house cleaners to achieve professional results regardless of what cleaning challenges they encounter in any given home, they must achieve mastery. Recognizing different surfaces and soils and understanding how to leverage chemistry and equipment to work efficiently and effectively based on these combinations is essential to consistent quality in a very inconsistent environment.


Many cleaning business owners don’t possess this knowledge and even if they do, they don’t have the time to share it in a way that translates to predictable results and consistent customer ratings. Plus, the rate at which new home flooring, counter top, wall and appliance materials enter the market is accelerating, meaning that training content is dynamic – regular review and revision is necessary to keep pace with trends in materials.


The value of giving the house cleaning technician the knowledge and power that advanced skills training provides is significant and worth the time, energy and lost revenue that thorough training requires:


PRODUCTIVITY – no wasted motion, supplies or time


REDUCED LOSS TO CORRECT MISTAKES – the better skilled the cleaners, the fewer the re-cleans, repairs and replacements


MORALE – money talks, but studies show that employees get personal reward from a sense of mastery


MOTIVATION – employees are attracted to the elevated status that advanced training creates


REDUCED EMPLOYEE TURNOVER – your investment in employees (the good ones at least) breeds loyalty and those who have the opportunity to enjoy mastery tend to also be the sort to gladly share their knowledge with others on the team.


EMPLOYEE REFERRAL – happy employees invite their friends, neighbors and relatives to apply when you have job openings and best of all, they vet these applicants for you


CUSTOMER REFERRAL – consistent staff boosts consistent quality, which makes customers happy, happy customers talk, and referred customers are usually your most valuable


A story worth telling.


People seeking work in our industry have many options these days. All other things being equal, job seekers will gravitate to places that offer skills and advancement (at least the ones we’d all love to hire). Therefore the well-planned, well-executed training program deserves its place in marketing communications.


Our research also indicates that most customers today want to support businesses that treat their workers well. Training programs expand a cleaning company’s ability to resonate with these socially conscious consumers.


The media cares about what consumers care about. Supporting hard-working people by offering them the opportunity for free advanced skills training is a happy news story and might draw some positive attention if packaged correctly.


Member resources.


Numerous options are available for ARCSI members when it comes to professional training and certification for the house cleaning technician. Invest in pre-packaged training modules after comparing different offerings. Be sure to look at the scope of each program to make sure it is as thorough and inclusive as possible. It’s a big undertaking but combining existing programs or creating one from scratch is possible if you find that no existing solution(s) are adequate for your needs.


By committing to a training program that includes certification, continuous value delivery really is possible while contributing to the improvement of quality of life for the consumers of residential house cleaning service.



Cloud Conrad is VP of Brand Strategies at Maid Brigade, a franchised house cleaning service with locations in the US and Canada. She is an ARCSI member and is Vice-Chair of the IICRC Technical Advisory Committee for the House Cleaning Technician certification exam. Prior to joining Maid Brigade in 2003, she spent two decades in account strategy and media planning for marketing and advertising agencies. She lives outside Atlanta GA.

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