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May 14, 2010: The Residential Cleaning Connection
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The Residential Cleaning Connection

News, Networking & Events for the Cleaning Professional

                                                                                                        May 14, 2010 - Vol. 1, Issue 1

From the President...

Welcome to ARCSI's new, updated and improved bi-weekly newsletter. We hope to keep you all in touch with what's going on in the industry, keep you in touch with each other and keep you fired up about growing your businesses.

So, here's my first article:

I received a call from a man who is not a member. He wanted to ask some general questions about ARCSI to help him decide if joining would help him and his business. What ensued was an hour long discussion that, for me, became sadder and sadder.

Hee told me he has been in business for 28 years so I figured he must be pretty successful. I asked how much he grosses each year. He wasn't sure what that meant. The answer turned out to be about $150,000. His staff cleans about 8 to 10 houses a day. He was asking about exit strategies. 

He has an office person who has been with him for 20 years but has no interest in running the business. The owner has not done anything to train this person in office procedures.

I made several suggestions that would shore up his business but would certainly take 3 to 5 years to really end up with a business to sell that would be worth something. Then he told me he is 65 and his wife is already retired.

As I started out, I got sadder and sadder. This man worked 28 years and has essentially done nothing towards retirement planning. A couple of years ago his employees demanded a raise. Rather than raise her rates (something he hasn't done in 6 years), he has been using her own savings to pay the raise. He's afraid to raise rates and he's afraid of his employees.

I ended up advising him of three option: 1. Find a buyer, but don't expect to get much at all. 2. Put 3 to 5 years in, join ARCSI and learn how to build and run a business or 3) Walk away and just stop cleaning.

How sad. How very sad. If you are reading this and fear you might be in some similar place, then please, do yourself a favor and really dig in to everything that ARCSI has to offer. We can't serve everything up on a plate and deliver it to your door, but we offer such a huge array of opportunities for learning and growing. Make an appointment with yourself to be on every single Hot Topic Tuesday call. I was on the call last week and learned a ton of great info from a new member about postcards as advertising. She was brilliant!

Be sure to read this newsletter every week. It will be filled with new ideas and ways to grow and strengthen your business. Network with other members. You don't have to travel to our conventions and conferences to do that. As a matter of fact another member and I have formed a coaching relationship. We have an appointment every two weeks and we have an agenda of situations in our businesses that we want to discuss. It's awesome. So pick up the phone and call another member.

Don't know any other members? Go to our website and use "member search" on the home page. Find someone in a place you've traveled to or would like to. Pick a name you like, just pick anyone and call up and say you're an ARCSI member and you have a question. I guarantee they will help you.

Too shy to call a stranger? Call me! I LOVE interacting with members. I'm not scary and certainly not too busy to help you. 757-477-3922.

Bottom line: Get involved! Be engaged! Get the most out of your membership! Plan ahead: Our Fall convention is in Orlando November 9-13. Go on line and register now and you can pay in 6 easy installments!

Until next issue,


On the Road With Peter!

Over the Easter break I took a trip to Dallas, TX. What a great city! Dallas won my heart over. There is certainly no shortage of good restaurants or steak joints - there’s one on every corner.

But the Galleria Mall… OMG! An Ice skating rink right in the middle of a Mall. Now skating and me don’t mix. My butt would spend more time on the ice than my feet. But the shopping - I can do that till I drop.

Since I was in Dallas, I had the pleasure of going to lunch with none other them The Cleaning for a Reason Queen herself, Debbie Sardone. What a joy she is.

I first met Debbie in 2004. Some know Debbie as "The Maid Coach” but she is also well known as the founder of Cleaning for a Reason. It was a treat to have Debbie give me a tour of the Bucket and Bows Maid Service office and the offices of Cleaning for a Reason. I found both operations to be very professional and organized with a laid back atmosphere. When it comes to running an office for a cleaning service this is what you want; both for yourself and your staff. Everyone knew what they were doing and seemed to do it well.

Buckets and Bows Maid Service opened its doors in 1981. With 35 employees, it is located just west of Dallas, in Louisville, TX. Utilizing one- and two-person teams, it is unique system indeed. As Debbie gave me a tour, I noticed there was no washer or dryer. She explained that they ask the cleaner to provide and wash their own towels. Buckets and Bows also requires their cleaners to drive their own vehicles to each job. These are a few things Debbie asks of her staff in order to help keep the cost down for both the clients and the business.

The staff of three that runs the show has some part time accounting help for payroll. The office phone is answered professionally and you are made to feel important when you call. Speaking of staff, everyone I meet at Debbie’s operation is a long-term employee.

Anyone who has had a chance to participate in Debbie’s Boot Camp or n The Maid Coach program knows she is full of great ideas. I certainly found one in particular that I will be bringing home with me. Buckets and Bows utilizes a scrapbook of sorts for their applicants, highlighting one of her professional cleaners, in uniform and with her supplies. Debbie asks the person applying for a cleaning position to look through it so they can get a feel for what they will do, and asks every applicant if they can see themselves providing this level of service. It is an easy way to determine who is serious about the position.

At lunch I asked Debbie about how she heard of ARCSI. She shared with me that 2001 was an uncertain time for her. After Sept. 11, sales went way down and dropping sales had her wondering where she was going to go from there. Then one day she opened an email it was from Perry Philips telling her all about what he was doing and ARCSI. She thought she had nothing to lose by checking it out.

As 2005 got underway so did Debbie, with the morale boost of the 2004 convention in New Orleans and knowing she was no longer alone. Debbie got an idea about what she was going to do next and how she was going to turn things around. I also did the same that year and felt the same. New Orleans changed my life and business. We learned a lot and our heads were spinning when we were done.

I asked what she got out of the first year in her own words. "You know Peter, I discovered that the change needed to start with me and I needed the confidence that I got from being around other service owners of ARCSI.” I could relate in many ways. Debbie left me with one important message what most business people don’t do: Put profit before everything else in business.

Be sure to catch my next Road Trip, Next stop Home of the Indy 500.

2010 Convention Registration Now Open!

It's not too early to make your plans for our 7th Annual Convention and Education Conference. It's "ALL ABOUT YOU!" New this year, our "Early Bird Registration" includes an option for paying your registration over six months. (May - Oct). Don't miss the highlight of the ARCSI year. For more information, or to register, click here.





Are You Missing a Critical Link in Your Chain?

Why are some cleaning companies more successful than others? Why do some companies make all the right decisions while others flounder? You might assume the successful ones are lucky, or you can attribute their success to intelligence, personality, or even the environment in which they grew up.

What might not be readily apparent is that successful owners and their managers have the unique ability to apply what they have learned and to communicate and convey their knowledge effectively to others.

Knowledge alone is not enough to become a successful manager or to develop a successful company. Knowledge is valuable only to the extent that managers can effectively implement the ideas and principles they have learned. Knowledge alone is insufficient to improve performance. Tests actually show that conscientiousness is a better predictor of management effectiveness when it comes to performance than is knowledge.

While knowledge is mandatory and can be gained in a number of ways--experience, training and education, for instance—in a cleaning business reliable guidance of cleaners is the only way to drive high performance. To be successful a manager must be able to put knowledge to use. This is the critical link and a critical task --is accomplished through a manager’s language and behavior.

A solid knowledge base is important. A manager’s failure to research the best practices and processes available to clean a home will be detrimental to the company, especially when such managers operate under misconceptions that reduce their ability to compete in the marketplace in terms of efficiency, quality and pricing. Numerous costly mistakes will result from a manager’s lack of familiarity with current best practices for cleaning a home. Skillfully communicating these best practices to your cleaners is necessary for bottom line effectiveness and high performance.

Skilled communicators are sensitive to the subjective and emotional aspects of a situation and respond accordingly. If you are implementing the use of aprons with a group of experienced and long term employees who have never used an apron those factors must have an influence on your decision about how you will deploy this new system of cleaning. The wrong words, the wrong tone, the wrong expression can result in many deployment problems with your current cleaning staff.

The results of miscommunication are plain and painful: management paralysis, missed chances, diminished efficiency, weakened quality and minimal growth. When presenting any new system, practice or policy to your current cleaning staff communications must always convey the benefits to the employee—a critical link for utilizing the new system. Language and behavior combine for maximum positive results when they are consistent and aligned with each other. An employee must see consistency between words and deeds. This is termed behavioral integrity and it is essential for establishing credibility and trust from your cleaners.

 Regardless of how skilled a communicator you might be, the ability to walk the talk is critical to your success. It is essential that what you say and what you do leave consistent and unified impressions on the cleaner. For example, training the use of an apron when cleaning and then running out at the last minute to help a team and forgetting your apron at the office will reduce your credibility and effectiveness. Supporting the new system by following your cleaner into the home and watching and correcting their every move until the system is used without flaw/with no mistakes is consistent behavior that is aligned with your language that you believe in the system.

Of course, in order to effectively support the cleaner the manager must totally understand and be able to use the cleaning system without flaw/with no mistakes. Achieving meaningful change requires both communication skills and leadership ability. To create a vision and culture of excellence and inspire employees, leaders must be consistent in their message, gain credibility through their example and become the critical link for the employee between the process and the implementation of the process.

Networking & Education Opportunities Abound at ARCSI

Alonzo Adams

        Ed Wright

Many residential cleaners are expanding their businesses. Is it time for you to "Cash In On Commercial Cleaning?" On May 19, join guest speakers: Alonzo Adams, Sharon Cowan, and Ed Wright, along with guest moderator Richard Wilson to discuss:

  • The best proven methods for getting the accounts
  • How to get business the smart way (without expensive advertising)
  • Fast & easy ways to get started in commercial cleaning
  • How to begin the cleaning business with little or no money

    To register for this interesting and informative call, click here.

Sharon Cowan

Richard Wilson

"Hot Topic Tuesdays" are your chance to network between events, get your questions answered and share your knowledge with other ARCSI members. This month, don't miss your chance to weigh in on "Search Engine Optimization" on May 18 and "Surveying for Success" on May 25. To register for Hot Topic Tuesday calls, click here.

Where is My InTouch?!

As ARCSI grows and evolves, so does our communication to our members. The new "Residential Cleaning Connection" offers a format that you can easily skim for the information that matters most to you. You'll see just a brief portion of all the articles in the newsletter. Want to read more? Jut click the "Read More..." link at te bottom of the story that interests you.

In an effort to keep our news timely - without "spamming" you - The Residential Cleaning Connection will come to you on the second and fourth Friday of every month.

Something that hasn't changed? We still love to receive member article and pictures. Tell us what's new, how you solved a problem or show off your new offices. Send your submissions and feedback to

2010 Nominating Committee Begins Work

The 2010 ARCSI Nominating Committee has been formed and has begun work on the process for selecting new Board members and Officers. Members of the Nominating Committee are:

Chair - Alison Palmer, Custom Maid, Virginia Beach, VA (outgoing ARCSI President)
Committee Members:
Board Member - Chuck Terpstra, The Cleaning Pros, New Port Richey, FL
Board Member - Bruce Vance, Town & Country Services, Pittsboro, NC
Member-at-large - David Kiser, Champagne Services, Sterling, VA (ARCSI Past President)
Member-at-large - Mary DeKlerk, Clean-Tech of Illinois, Channahon, IL

The committee has already begun its work in developing the criteria and qualifications members who would like to run for a seat on the ARCSI Board will need to meet. They will also be providing members with a step-by-step process that will need to be followed if you will be submitting your name for consideration for a Board position. All members will receive a special email outlining the qualifications and process and the information will also be published on the ARCSI web site in mid- to late June.

"Serving on the Board is a very rewarding experience,” Palmer said. "but it is also a very big commitment to our association. Board members not only invest their time, experience and leadership to help further the association, but they also invest their money by attending various ARCSI programs and events.”

New Web Page Features ARCSI Members' Community Involvement

We recently set up a new page on "ARCSI Members In the Community” is all about members charitable and civic involvement.

Whether it is through one of the recognized charities that link members with those in need of free house cleanings or a members sponsorship of a local festival or youth organization, our members continually reach out to their local communities. So we want to know how you and your employees are involved and we want to spotlight those activities.

Send your stories and PICTURES to us, or let us know when you are featured in your local media so we can tell others. To view the new page click here. The page can also be accessed from the left hand drop down menu box. It is listed under both About ARCSI and Questions for Consumers. (We want consumers to see how you are involved and what you’re doing as well.)

To view the web sites of recognized charitable organizations involved with the residential cleaning industry, click on their logo below.

ARCSI Welcomed 12 New Members in April

ARCSI welcomed the following new members during the moth of April:
Diane Butler
D. Butler'sCleaning, Inc.
Hanson, Massachusetts


Theodore William Harley
Alpharetta, Georgia


Jerome Bost Sr.
Cleaning Direct
Stratford, Connecticut



Robert Brown
Professional Cleaning Services, Inc.
Lawton, Oklahoma



David Griffis
Many Maids
Neptune Beach, Florida


Sophie Miskiewicz
Well Done Cleaning Service Inc
Bartlett, Illinois


Donna Brown
FairyDust Services, Inc.
Saint Petersburg, Florida


Lewis Johnson
LDJ Cleaning Serviceds
Aurora, Illinois


Denise Bogan
Denton Cleaning LLC
Brooklyn, New York


Michael R Martinez
Maid of Elegance
San Pedro, California


Clare Najjar
City Wide Maid Service
Toronto, Ontario


Hiedi Melton
Cleanology 101
Crawfordville, Florida

more Calendar

Hot Topic Tuesday: Enjoy Labor Day!

Hot Topic Tuesday: CONVENTION WEEK!


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