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May 28, 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 Executive Director...

Welcome to ARCSI's new, updated and improved bi-weekly newsletter. We hope to keep you all connected with what's going on in the industry, keep you connected with each other and keep you fired up about growing your businesses.  President Palmer and I have decided to split this space each month, so here is my first column...

TRUST is the Foundation of Our Industry

Last week ARCSI members Craig and Pam Sedoris of More Time for You invited me to join them at the annual Central Ohio BBB "Torch Awards” luncheon. The awards are presented to businesses "that intentionally pursue the six TRUST! Principles of EthicalEnterprisingsm."   More Time for You received a prestigious Torch Award in 2005.

As I listened to the keynote speaker, Stephen Cox, President of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, I was struck by the thought that TRUST is certainly the foundation of the Residential Cleaning industry. Other than doctors, to whom we entrust our health, and educators, to whom we entrust our children, in what other industry do you give the service provider the keys to your home, your alarm codes, and give them unlimited access to your home when you’re not there?

So what are you doing in your business to earn your customers' and your employees' trust? Have you actually read the ARCSI Code of Ethics? Do you adhere to those principles? With full credit to the Better Business Bureau and the National Center for Character Ethics, I would like to share the six TRUST! Principles with you.

#1 – Transformation at the Top – Leaders are reflective and intentionally work to increase manifestations of their own high character in the culture.
#2 – Reinforce and Build – Leaders reinforce and build a culture of high character ethics
#3 – Unite the Team – Leaders unify the organization around a clear purpose and compelling convictions.
#4 – Steer Performance – Leaders guide organizational performance by implementing high competency management practices.
#5 – Treasure People - Leaders prize the intrinsic value of people
#6 - ! Enthusiastically Give Back!

This is certainly the abridged version, to read more about the Six Principles of TRUST! click here.

Special thanks to Kip Morse, President of the Central Ohio BBB for sharing the information on TRUST! that his organization developed.

See you in Orlando!



Core U: Developing a Culture of Excellence Through Training & Reinforcement

ARCSI and Rags to Riches are offering a 2-day live seminar in Denver on July 23-24, tackling some of your toughest problems: recruiting career cleaners, efficient employee management and how to put together an employee handbook.
In addition, special sessions are offered for cleaning companies with less than four employees, five or more employees and 60 or more employees. Issues like non-competes, employee surveys and improving staff communication will all be covered. There really is something for everyone!

Don't miss this chance to build the core of your company, your cleaners. Invest just ONE DAY from your busy schedule, and you'll gain essential techniques and strategies sure to bring you success for years to come.

To learn more and register now, click here.


Get Out of the Field and Into the Office!
by Teresa Ward

The time has come. You have decided that instead of being an employee, you now want to be Head Honcho and run the show. After many years of hard work, it is time to hang up the gloves and mop and have others work for YOU. You know you have what it takes to be the boss, make executive decisions, and let someone else’s hands get dirty.

Before you jump into the driver’s seat however, there are three things that must be done:


1. Establish your identity.
Sure you believe that your ideas are better than those before you- that is one of the many reasons you have decided to take over the reins and start up your own company. But you have to establish what separates you from the others. What makes you special. You can even incorporate it in your company name.

And speaking of company name, be careful on selecting one. You may want it to be catchy or memorable, but you do not want it to sound insincere or confusing. Register your company and seriously consider getting it Trademarked to protect your assets.

2. Determine packaging and pricing.
Do your homework on similar companies and what their services and prices are. Check market analyses and demographics and work on competitive prices for your own company by selecting who you want your target audience to be. Promote yourself well by communicating why your business is unique and why that should be important to the customer. Advertise your value.

3. Start action plans.
This will first include a business plan. Most lenders will not see you without one. A good business plan will include an Executive summary which is an overview of your business idea that expresses the factors that you believe will make your company succeed. Your business plan should also include a marketing plan which shows strategies and current marketing conditions. Your plan must also explain your day to day operations and give financial projections for the future.
Most business plans for small companies are assumptions set on a 5 year plan.

Two other very important activities that fall under action plans are hiring reliable employees and networking. I have found both of these to be essential in bringing my company to the level it is today.

Like a teacher tells her class daily "study, study study” I remind you that it is with hard work, determination, commitment and especially homework that you too can get out of the field, get into the office and have a successful business of your own.

Social Media: Why and How?

You know you need it. You've resisted it so far. Social Media is the marketing tool that is not going away. Every day, it grows bigger and bigger. How do you use these sites to bring customers to you? We've got a few basic tips to get you started.

A recent report from Forrester Research showed that 80% of Americans participate in some sort of social media at least monthly. While we expect the under-25 crowd to be heavily immersed, the same report showed a 60% growth in social network use in the 35-54 age group during 2009.

Some things hold true for almost every type of social media. They are:

  • Social media should be used to drive people to your business. You can link back to your website, have a call to action, contest or special promotion, but it should ALWAYS drive interested parties back to your business.
  • Be careful what you post, it is out there forever. In a moment of frustration, anger or even ill-attempted humor, you can ruin both your reputation and your company’s. Not only can "fans” see what you post, but so can competitors and the media.
  • Keep the content fresh. Update frequently so that your brand and message are always in front of people.
  • Let people know you’re out there. In all of your communications, mention that you are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Search for user groups that relate to residential cleaning and join them. This will get your profile out in front of other users.
  • Add yourself to communities that share interests with your business.
  • Lastly, start small. There is a lot of information "out there.” Pick one site; get it up and running and when you are comfortable, branch out.

Here is what you need to know to get your business up and running on the most popular social media sites.


  • Visit and register yourself as a user.
  • For an example of a business page, search "ARCSI” and the association’s page will come up.
  • Create a "Page” for your business.
  • Upload your company logo (and use it as the page’s profile picture) so that Facebook becomes part of your marketing plan.
  • Your page’s "Wall” will be an area where you and your customers can write raving reviews, you can offer special promotions or you can drive people to your website with contests.
  • The "Info” tab is a place where you can list contact information, your specialties or your business philosophy. It is where people look to see if they want to become a "fan” of your business.
  • Discussion Board is a feature where you can start a discussion on a specific topic, like green cleaning interest or what people are looking for in a residential cleaning service.
  • The photo tab allows you to upload pictures of your team, vehicles, etc.
  • There are other boxes and applications you can add, like events, polls and the like, but this is the basic info.


  • Visit and register yourself (or your business) as a user.
  • Upload your logo or a nice picture of yourself as your profile picture.
  • The easiest way to get people to "follow” you on Twitter is to start following them. Start with other cleaning companies.
  • Again, let people know you are on Twitter by publicizing it on your other marketing (postcards, newsletters, coupons, etc.). They can’t follow you if they don’t know you’re out there!
  • You can find others in the industry to follow by going to and entering "residential cleaning” in the search box.
  • It is OK to mix appropriate personal "tweets” with business. People like to get to know you.
  • Don't forget to "follow" ARCSI!


  • Visit and register yourself and/or your company as a user.
  • Complete your profile.
  • This includes a picture or logo, contact information, all of your business info (how long you’ve been in business, etc.) Your profile is basically your online resume. Treat is as such.
  • "Connect” to people. You can draw contacts from your e-mail accounts, past jobs, schools and communities. The more connections, the better, because LinkedIn recommends you to others who might know you.
  • Search for groups that you could join. For instance, join the ARCSI Group!
  • Groups also have "Discussion Boards.” You can "Start a discussion” in a group by asking a question for other group members to answer. ARCSI members have found this to be a great way to network with other members between events.

It's All in the Experience
by Noriko Carnes

My staff recently visited The Broadmoor, the 5-star, 5-diamond resort, on a field trip. I advisied them to keep their eyes and ears open - it wasn’t going to be just a boss’s treat. There would be a quiz later.

After completing our Broadmoor experience, our staff was asked: "What key things you notice in terms of having breakfast there?” The responses included:

      • Property was beautiful
      • Grounds were well kept
      • Staff was polite
      • Every staff member gave me eye contact
      • Staff anticipated my needs
      • Staff was responsive
      • Staff had team effort
      • Staff was organized
      • Communication
      • Each staff member was well groomed

My purpose in attending the recent ELC (Executive Leadership Conference) was to learn how to grow my business, manage staff effectively, create a system that works, create a positive company culture and to learn to exceed customers’ expectations.

I asked the staff if they’ve ever shopped at WalMart. Did they enjoy the experience? If not, why - since we all know that WalMart is the low price leader! All had shopped at the sotre and all expressed their displeasure at the amount of frustration they experienced at WalMart:

  • Too many people
  • parking is a hassle
  • no one is helpful and doesn’t know where everything in the store is,
  • lines are too long.

Then I offered a comparison, asking if they had shopped at Safeway and what that experience was like. Every staff member preferred Safeway, despite the fact that the prices at Safeway are higher. It was the experience they valued.

I asked again: "What if you needed to pick up some French bread? Would you shop at WalMart for $.88? Or pay $1.49 at Safeway? All confirmed – Safeway was their choice.

I strive to offer something different than my competition. I want to stand out from the rest. I want my staff to know that each of them can make a difference. They are "ambassadors” and representatives of Noriko’s House Cleaning. What we do directly impacts a client’s experience.

What moments do we have in our day to show our clients great service each of us can provide? Some of the responses:

  • Friendly greeting. SMILE.
  • Respond with "My Pleasure” vs. "No problem”
  • We can anticipate a customer’s need
  • Be flexible and mindful of the homeowner’s presence
  • Take a minute to make a huge difference to tell them they are important (e.g. wash an item and put it in the dishwasher).
  • Eye contact
  • Straighten up
  • Fold blankets
  • Straighten pillows
  • Professional appearance
  • Show respect! Address clients by name
  • For clients not home: Write a short and sweet note on customer comment cards.

I also asked the staff how we lose clients. Their responses included:

  • Carelessness - They feel they are not important anymore.
  • Being rude
  • Quality slips
  • Too many breakages
  • Bad attitude
  • In a hurry
  • Ignoring needs (specific requests - e.g. animals slipping out, closing doors to their litter space, repeated concerns not dealt with).
  • Scuffs from vacuums
  • Scratching and damaging items in the home
  • Using the wrong tools and causing damage

Each of us has a Personal Action Plan. We asked ourselves: What should I start doing? What should I stop doing? What should I keep doing? When can I start? Why not today?

These five sort questions can make a world of difference to your business, your customers and their experience. Whether it is at The Broadmoor, the local WalMart or in your very own business, it is the experience that can change a customer’s mind. What can you do to improve your customers’ experience today?  

Feds Looking Harder at Employee Classifications

The U.S. Department of Labor has estimated that as many as one-third of employers are incorrectly classifying at least one employee. The Obama administration has announced stepped up enforcement in this area.

The IRS has added 200 employment-tax auditors and may strengthen employer guidelines. The Department of Labor’s 2010 budget calls for 250 more Wage and Hour Division investigators. According to D.O.L. publications there are seven key factors that the Wage and Hour Division considers in determining the difference between an independent contractor and an employee.

According to DOL here are the 7 Key Factors:

  • The extent to which the services rendered are an integral part of the principal’s business. 
  • The permanency of the relationship.
  • The amount of the contractor’s investment in facilities and equipment.
  • The nature and degree of control by the principal.
  • The contractor’s opportunities for profit and loss.
  • The amount of initiative, judgment or foresight in open-market competition with others required for the success of the independent contractor.
  • The degree of the independent business organization and operation.

(Source: Columbus Dispatch & The Kansas City Star)

ARCSI recommends that if you have any concerns regarding your employee classifications you speak with your own attorney.


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.

Green Cleaning: It's a Way of Life

Amy Boggs, owner of Sparkling Palaces, is pioneering the next generation of small business owners dedicated to implementing sustainable business practices in the residential cleaning service industry.

Green Cleaning is more than using Eco-Friendly products to clean; it’s a dedication to environmental stewardship. According to the EPA, Environmental stewardship is the responsibility for environmental quality shared by all those whose actions affect the environment.

"Cleaning Services have a unique opportunity to advocate for the environment” Boggs states. "Every choice we make – from the type of products we use, to how we travel between jobs – has to resonate with our core values of caring for the planet.”

Education and community outreach allows cleaning services to help their clients understand the dangers of traditional cleaning products. Studies show that many of the chemicals found in traditional cleaning products are linked to asthma, learning disabilities, reproductive failures and cancer. Cleaning companies can chose safe and effective Green products to restore indoor air quality in homes and eliminate the risk of chemical exposure to their clients as well as their employees.

Sparkling Palaces wants to effect change at every level to promote a safe and healthy environment that will last for generations. It begins by choosing Green cleaning products and encompasses all equipment used in the business – from cleaning towels to vacuums to copy machines to vehicles.

To be a steward of the environment Sparkling Palaces looks at the big picture to see how all their decisions affect people, communities and the planet.

"We only purchase high-quality equipment that lasts,” Boggs explains. "The consequences of purchasing disposable, cheap supplies can be seen in our overflowing landfills and our contaminated water systems.”

Caring for the Earth comes naturally to many folks in the West Coast, especially a "Green” conscious city like Portland. Boggs hopes the message of sustainability will spread across the country and become a cornerstone practice in all the residential cleaning services.

Duplicate Your Perfect Employee
A "Hot Topic Tuesday” Call Featuring Debbie Sardone

Do you have one or two employees that you just wish you could clone? Are you losing sleep over how your business would cope in that employee left? On May 25, Maid Coach Debbie Sardone gave ARCSI members tips on how to recreate that fantastic employee.

Duplicating your perfect employee takes a team effort. It starts with hiring quality people and having your training manager turn them into a quality cleaner.


1. It starts with you: Stop hiring for experience and start hiring for integrity, stability, stamina and sincerity.

A great employee is one of integrity – they will do what’s right even when no one is watching. They will also show stability in their careers. If their resume shows a list of short-time employment, don’t think the job-hopping will start with you. Your perfect employee should also be physically able to do the job (stamina) and want to work in earnest (sincerity).

2. Create a standardized approach to training.

Your emphasis should be on methods and techniques – How does your company achieve quality? – NOT on the results. With proven techniques, you will achieve the end result you are looking for: a fantastic quality clean. Articulate the benefits of your methods to your training manager and trainees (e.g., the methods are efficient, so you will have more free time at the end of the day). Ensure that your trainees are following your methods. A great employee can follow the rules and work independently.

3. A "Good Cleaner” isn’t good enough.

Your perfect employee will be both a good cleaner and a good employee. Not only do they achieve great results, they have a positive attitude and work efficiently.

4. Training should have a definitive start and stop time. You will likely know within a week if you’ve accomplished your goal of hiring a perfect employee. During training, we put our best foot forward. If a trainee is late, absent or has a bad attitude during training, things will only get worse next week and the week after. Cut them loose before they can damage your company’s reputation or employee morale.

Don’t have time to create an entirely new training program? Sardone recommends Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell. She explains that the techniques included within are efficient, time-tested and achieve a quality clean.

Following the advice listed above can help eliminate problems within your workforce and make all of your staff "the perfect employee.”


Education at Your Fingertips

 The incredible sessions from the Executive Leadership COnference (ELC) are now available for purchase! ARCSI is excited to offer you game-changing sessions on: 

            • Strategic Planning Case Studies by Amanda Collucci
            • Strategic Planning Tools by Steven Rowell
            • Getting Out of Your Own Way by Steven Rowell
            • Turning Managers Into Leaders by Brad Worthley
            • Exceeding Customer Expectations by Brad Worthley
            • Desire: Success for Life & Business by Brad Worthley

              ELC attendees were impressed with the quality of these presentations and eager to begin implementing the strategies. "Awesome and moving presentation," said one ELC attendee. "I can't wait to tie this all in to both my personal and professional life!" said another.

              Click here to order now!

              Also available: "Ca$h in on Commercial Cleaning", the May 19 session from the Alonzo Adams Teleconference series detailing proven methods for getting commercial accounts, and how to begin your commercial cleaning business the smart way (without spending a bundle on advertising or start-up costs).

              To order a recorning of this conference call, click here!

Cleaning for a Reason: Got Questions? Get Answers!

Looking for a way to "pay it forward"? Are you an existing "Cleaning for a Reason" member and have a question about operations? Have you been wanting to get involved but are just not sure how?

"Cleaning for a Reason" founder Debbie Sardone is hosting a call on Thursday, June 10 at 5 pm EST to answer all of your burning questions.

For more information, to submit a question and to access call-in information, click here.

more Calendar

Hot Topic Tuesday: Enjoy Labor Day!

Hot Topic Tuesday: CONVENTION WEEK!


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