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July 1, 2011: The Residential Cleaning Connection
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The Residential Cleaning Connection

News, Networking & Events for the Cleaning Professional

July 1, 2011: Volume 2, Issue 13


From the President... 

Growing Your Business

Often I am approached by business owners who want to grow and take their businesses to the next level. Growing a business presents a whole new group of challenges for business owner. Most businesses experience the same or very similar challenges when it comes to growth.

There is no need for any business owner to reinvent the ‘growth wheel, you just have to be willing to learn from those who grew before you. Successful companies all faced very similar challenges when it came to growing. But what sets them apart from those companies that didn’t survive or didn’t reach the same level of success is how they approached that growth. You have to understand that growth is change and change is risky. Business owners who understand this and the challenges that come with it are the ones with the best chances for successful growth.

Growth challenges facing today’s small business owners:

Growth is change.
Growth requires more processes, controls, and people. Too much growth too quickly can create financial, quality, and reputational risks that if not properly managed can lead to the demise of the business.

Knowing when to say "No.”
Most successful businesses have a plethora of opportunities. The challenge is choosing the right ones. Good opportunities are those that will enhance your company’s strengths and result in a compelling customer value proposition. Opportunities that don’t fall into that category should be met with a ‘no, thank you’. The problem is that too many business owners never learn to say ‘NO!’ They say ‘yes’ to everything. They end up trying to do too much for too many, which dilutes their focus and often the quality of their service. Determining and having the discipline to maintain a narrow strategic focus is critical to success, and that will require that you turn down certain opportunities. Successful business owners often call it ‘sticking to your knitting.’”

Learning to effectively delegate.
For a business to grow, the owner of the business must grow. When growth begins, you’ll quickly find that you can do only so much and that you need help from others to properly serve customers. You must evolve from being a doer to a manager of employees and then eventually to a manager of managers (a leader). This may sound easy but it isn’t. Most business owners don’t like to give up control of any aspect of their business. Facing the fact that they can’t do it all on their own and that they must learn to rely on others to complete certain tasks (and not necessarily exactly how they themselves would do them) can be a very hard reality to swallow.

Transitioning from owner to leader.
When you get to the point where you’re delegating tasks and relying on your employees to drive your business, you must also transition from thinking of yourself as just a business owner and start developing as a leader and coach. Evolving toward becoming a leader and coach is challenging, because both roles require emotional intelligence, people engagement, and the ability to relate to individuals in a way that they find meaningful. Coaching requires that time be spent getting to know people, listening, caring, understanding their emotional needs, and helping them grow. Coaching takes patience and a degree of personal emotional intimacy that many business owners are not able to achieve. It requires a continuation of the mind shift from ‘me, the Boss’ and ‘my way’ to it is really all about them.

Hiring smart.
Hiring mistakes are costly, time consuming, and create quality and financial control risks for small businesses. When confronted with impending growth, business owners often panic and hire employees too quickly, making snap decisions based on little data. Bad hiring practices often continued when business owners tried to hire managers who needed to have functional or technical experience. In many cases, the companies had to make multiple costly hires for the same position before finding someone with the right competencies who also fit the company culture. Many of these business owners should have hired more slowly and fired more quickly.

Managing cash flow.
Many times business owners get overly engaged in the joy of growth and lose sight of the need to manage cash on a daily basis. Cash flow management during growth periods is critical, because in many cases growth requires investments in people, technology, supplies, etc., ahead of the receipt of cash from customers. Thus, there is often a mismatch between expenditures and receipts.

Spending too much time putting out fires.
A high-growth environment is hectic, sometimes chaotic, with multiple mistakes needing to be corrected almost every day. Business owners can easily get sucked into playing the role of ‘firefighter’, spending their days putting out fires. The problem with that is that growth requires the business owner to plan for more growth, to put in place new and better processes, and to be constantly upgrading processes and resetting priorities.

Understanding that upgrading never ends.
The people, processes, structure, and controls needed to manage a business with half million of revenue generally do not work for a business with $1 million of revenue. Business owners often learn the hard way that growth means continual change. As you grow the solutions that worked at one level will most likely not work at the next.

Success means learning and adapting continually.
Growth is change. Growth has spurts, detours, downturns, and spikes. Growth requires constant learning and improvement. And if not well planned and managed, it can outstrip the capabilities of companies. Growth should be a strategic decision made only after the risks of growing and not growing have been assessed. Rather than focus on growing for growth’s sake, base your goals around how you can constantly improve your business. When you do this, you will be able to meet the challenges of business growth head on and with great success.




Marketing Plan Evolves Into "More Than Just Maids" Makeover at Absolutely Clean
by Stephanie Nesseth, Absolutely Clean in Marion, IA

What an amazing six month journey we have had at Absolutely Clean. We started our marketing plan in January with Facebook and the culmination of our marketing plan happened on June 23, 2011 – a community day sponsored by Absolutely Clean.

What did we learn along the way? We discovered our path, our mission and what we can do as a community! Marketing 101 turned into a life lesson for us. It’s about your plan but more importantly: does your plan have passion and purpose?

It may seem crazy, but for nine years our only marketing was word of mouth! I had other things to do and our slow growth was PERFECT! We did throw the occasional door hanger out there but I broke all the rules and only put them out there when I felt like it!

Our marketing was as simple as the client gifts we left in each home - nothing more than a "Thank You” for allowing us the opportunity to clean more time into your life. We grew to 173 cleans a month with NO advertising. We will be at 400 a month by year-end with Facebook.

Here is what a little time building relationships on Facebook has done in six months…

· Went from 240 fans to 1848 as I write this! The goal in our plan was 1500!
· Able to purchase plane tickets for a family in need just seven days after our Facebook post asking for donations.
· Raised funds for MANY families in need.
· Grown our service with an over 800% ROI!
· Gave away 7 Ipads… still 800% ROI!
· Brought food to the food pantry and school supplies to needy children.
· Raised funds for JDRF and Autism awareness.
· Had a bone marrow drive. While we did not find a match for the client we were helping, it did bring in a lot of people that will be a match for SOMEONE. The list goes on…

We brought a community together. We started a non-profit , Time in a Bottle Inc., which is still in its infancy, but we hope you all join us in our mission to clean for parents of children with terminal illness. We aren’t limited to cancer but our main focus is those undergoing chemo. We added Daffodolls that will help us and other maid services across the nation actually fund the cleans they give away – and EACH child will hopefully receive one of these dolls. We plan to have a pattern that each maid service can use soon! We let people know that we are MORE THAN MAIDS.

We sold over 3500 ten- cent tickets on our FIRST ANNUAL CUSTOMER APPRECIATION PARTY. We passed out over 2,000 free ticket vouchers to every day care child in our area. I haven’t even counted how many of those were turned in! We raised almost $1,000 at our silent auction. We did the party (which our party planner told me would run at least $7,000) for $3500 with the help of many generous businesses. Ask, and you shall receive.

We raised awareness of the importance of green cleaning and brought "maids” to a higher level. There is a new sparkle in our clients’ eyes when they see an Absolutely Clean uniform!

All of this was brought about by a simple marketing plan. GET NEW CLIENTS on Facebook and do it with as little cash outlay as possible. The plan was laid out – the end event was the party but the community we developed was much stronger than I anticipated! I was looking for fun and entertainment …and new clients. What we got takes my breath away. It culminated in the most amazing community event and a passion for our service that our staff and fans did not have before – we had it but now we live it. Our staff worked all day and volunteered all night.

The best part is that we are only just beginning this story!

Awards Committee Wants YOUR Nominations

It's awards time! Toot your own horn! Time for you to recognize your hard working staff, build morale with your employees and have them share your pride in your website, your logo, your vehicle wraps, their uniforms, and your newsletter.

Every year at the ARCSI Convention, we recognize the Best of the Best in staff, marketing and so much more. But we can only recognize you if your business is nominated. Nominating your own business is not only acceptable, but encouraged - we want to see all of your new websites, logos, vehicles and marketing campaigns.

We know you all have that one staff member that keeps you and your business going. Now is the time to show them they're special! Nominate them today for the Mr. Clean Professional Cleaner of the Year or the ARCSI President's Award, Sponsored by Moody Insurance Worldwide.  Click here to download a nomination form!

Professional Cleaner of the Year
Presented by Mr. Clean Professional
This award will be presented by Mr. Clean himself! All cleaning staff of ARCSI member companies are eligible for this award, which is given to outstanding cleaner that routinely goes "above and beyond" for your customer and your company. In addition to bring presented the award by Mr. Clean, the Professional Cleaner of the Year will also receive two cases of Mr. Clean Professional products.

ARCSI Presidents' Award
Presented by Moody Insurance Worldwide
Presented to the "in-house" staff person that is key to every organization. Whether they are called office manager, trainer, sales person, bookkeeper or manager, this is the person that keeps your business humming and takes care of the details.

Image Awards
Our Image Awards include: Best Logo, Best Website, Best Uniforms, Best Vehicle Wrap, Best Marketing Campaign, and Best Newsletter. Our Awards Committee will select three finalists in each of these categories and they will be displayed in our new "Members Lounge" at the Convention, where Convention attendees can vote for their favorites. So don't be shy, blow your own horn, we know you're proud of the image your company projects. Submit an entry today!

Click here to download an awards nomination form!

Search Engine Optimization: Find Yourself (On the Web)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a hot topic these days. The public uses the Internet to find what they need - and that means your company MUST pop up on the first page of any Google search potential customers do for "house cleaning," "maid service" or "home cleaning." But how do you make that happen?

On July 20 at 7 pm EDT Michelle Nelson of Back 2 Basics Marketing will present "Finding Yourself: SEO Solutions for Getting Your Company Found on the Web." Nelson will give you insider tips on how to get your company noticed, how to raise your page rankings (so you DO appear on Google's first page of listings) and how you can help your brand through including things like picture, blogs and videos on your website.

Don't miss this opportunity to get your company found by people wanting your service! Click here to register today.

Tech Corner: Wood Floors
by Bruce Vance, Town & Country Services in Pittsboro, NC


Q:  How do I clean a wood floor?

A:  It depends.  Frequent vacuuming or dust-mopping along with entry mats or rugs to catch dirt on its way in is the first line of defense for all wood or wood-like floors.  Beyond those dry methods, care differs slightly with the type of wood floors.  Wood floors vary by construction and by finish. 

Let’s start with construction types.  Floors can be solid hardwood, finished on site; solid hardwood with factory-finish; or engineered wood.  Finishes normally break down into 2 categories:  polyurethane, aluminum oxide or similar hard-surface finish on one hand, with oiled, waxed, and/or varnished finish(es) or softer, water-permeable finishes on the other hand.  Any type of construction can be finished with either of the two categories of finish.  Solid hardwood is self-explanatory, but engineered wood requires a brief description.  Engineered wood consists of a thin layer (just under .25 inches thick for a premium product down to .6 mm at the lower end) layer of decorative wood over plywood, typically, or in cheaper products – over fiberboard or pressboard.  It can be made in planks or sheets and is often used as a "sustainable” method of using exotic hardwoods.

Now for cleaning wood floors.  Despite the recommendations of many hardwood floor installers, we do NOT recommend vinegar.  It has no surfactants to release and emulsify soil.  Also, vinegar is a strong enough acid (between 2.5 and 3.5 with 7.0 being neutral) that it may corrode the finish over time. 

Let’s look at polyurethane and similar finishes first.  These woods are essentially covered with a thin plastic sheet or layer -- that layer keeps moisture away from the wood and underlying material.  As long as the finish is intact, it can be washed safely with minimal water.  If the finish has broken down and water or moisture has reached the wood, the wood will start to darken.  I have seen hardwood in kitchens and entries where the finish has started to break down and the wood has darkened, causing the homeowner to scrub it more frequently with even stronger cleaning agents causing it to turn darker faster.  When you see this effect, realize that it’s NOT dirt causing the discoloration. 

The proper solution is prevention by recoating the polyurethane layers before or at the first sign of the finish breaking down, but that’s a whole other discussion.  So, on a floor that is polyurethane finished on-site and in good condition, moisture control is less of an issue.  Use a streak-free wood cleaner or neutral cleaner.  Do not use oil soaps or cleaners that leave a residue to "shine” the floor.  I know Grandma said to use an oil-based soap on wood and she was right – but she didn’t have polyurethane floors.  Take a dampened Sh-mop or microfiber mop and spray the lightly dampened mop with your cleaner.  If the floor is quite dirty, you will have to use more solution to get the soil into suspension and will require a fairly damp mop.  In that case, it is best to follow up with a dry mop to remove the dirty solution and prevent streaking and to prevent standing water or solutions.  To protect the finish, do not allow the cleaning solution to dribble, puddle or remain standing on the floor. 

The same approach is true for factory-finished and engineered wood floors, except that moisture control becomes more--much more--important.  Because there is not a continuous coat of protection over the entire floor, moisture can get between the planks or sheets and cause darkening and damage along the edges of the boards.  This is a problem I see quite commonly.  If the engineered wood is fiberboard-backed, the moisture can also cause swelling or warping.  Therefore use only a slightly-dampened mop on these floors and spray the mop not the floor.  This makes it harder to clean a really dirty floor.  It may take several damp passes and multiple mop-head changes as well as a dry pass to get these floors clean.  The same care should be taken with a site-finished floor that has started to lose its finish.

Steam mops are also useful especially on site-finished floors.  On factory-finished and engineered wood floors watch your moisture levels carefully and in either case don’t let the map stay in any one place without moving.  Talk about stripping a finish right off!

Now what about waxed, varnished or oiled floor finishes?  These are not water-proof and in many cases can be stained by water and most cleaning agents.  These are the floors that Grandma had and now may be the time for a vegetable oil soap.  Again, keep the moisture to a minimum and the use of a Sh-mop or microfiber mop-head is recommended.  I would be very leery of using steam on these floors.  As always, test any and all products and methods first in that familiar inconspicuous area. 

Forgive the lengthy article – and I hope you find it useful.

Here’s to your success and prosperity!  Bruce Vance

2011 Nominating Committee Seeks ARCSI Board Candidates

The 2011 ARCSI Nominating Committee has opened the application process for members interested in serving on the Board of Directors. You can have a direct impact on the future of both association and the residential cleaning industry, but you have to get involved!

Board terms are three (3) years in length, and applications must be submitted in writing and mailed to the ARCSI Office by July 19, 2011.

The committee strongly urges any interested candidates to please read the Board of Directors Position Description before submitting your application.

To learn more about the requirements to serve on the Board and to download application click here. It's YOUR association, get involved!  


Marketing Idea of the Month: Sponsor a Hole at a Local Golf Outing

When Eric Villareal of Glover Cleaning in Bluffdale, Utah got a call from someone trying to sell advertising for a local golf club's score card, he didn't know what a great opportunity was opening up in front of him.

"I called the Club directly, looking to reduce costs by cutting out the middle-man," Villareal said. "When I asked about other advertising opportunities, the Club manager told me about the Cedar Hills Firecracker Golf Tournament. " While Villareal is a golf fan, the partnership had to make sense for the company, reaching their target market.

As it turns out, it was a great fit. "The course was located in the city that has the highest per capita income in Utah," Villareal said, "The Mayor and a lot of City Managers were all playing in this tournament. It was a great opportunity to get in front of potential high-end clients." Glover Cleaning chose to sponsor a hole at the tournament, which was held June 22 and 23. While the cost to sponsor was $500, they worked out a deal with the Club to offer part of their sponsorship in in-kind donations of two $120 cleanings. In order to be eligible for that prize, golfers had to stop by the Glover Cleaning booth. It turns out, that wasn't' a problem.

"The two days of the tournament was really hot, "Villareal said, "We were giving away free ice cold water and Gatorade and the golfers were really glad to see us." Set up at a table with Glover Cleaning branding, Villareal and other volunteers were there to answer questions and be friendly - not push a hard sell.

Their strategy paid off. Glover Cleaning received 120 brand new, high-end contacts (name, e-mails and phone numbers) at the tournament. The tournament ended Thursday and on Friday, they booked a $750 cleaning - the sponsorship had already paid off. "We got really lucky," Villareal said. "The city was so impressed with us and our company that they called an offered to hang a Glover Cleaning banner at one of the local baseball fields for free, as a thank you for sponsoring the tournament."

"It was a really easy thing to do," says Villareal, who plans to sponsor a hole again next year. "In addition to the great advertising, four people from our office got to play in the tournament - it was great for morale."



ARCSI Regional Meetings in Full Swing - Look for One Near You!

"Awesome, down to earth and fun" was how attendee Kay English of English Maids, LLC of Waco, Texas described the Dallas and Tulsa Regional Meeting/Seminar Paths to Success. Aubrey Miliron of Natural Care Cleaning Services said "The more you learn and can present to your customers the better you'll be. This is the place to do it."
The seminar covered 14 ways to start building community relationships to attain repeat clients without spending any money, selling and quoting on the phone and a list of 10 does and don'ts for residential cleaning service owners. Facilitators for the always popular round tables covered a number of topics of interest to owners from 'Help! I need to hire now' to 'Marketing that Sizzles'. One of the most valuable segments for new attendees, who are not current members of ARCSI, was given during lunch when ARCSI members shared their feelings about our organization and all of the benefits attached with membership.

In the coming weeks, ARCSI members (and non-members) will gather in Virginia Beach, Phoenix, Annapolis, Atlanta, and both Northern and Southern California. These Regional Meetings put a "local face" on ARCSI, where members and potential members can network and learn from some of the best in the residential cleaning industry.
Here are the dates already scheduled:

July 16, 2011: Virginia Beach, VA - Hosted by ARCSI Past President Alison Palmer
Featuring Sharon Tinberg of Rags to Riches
 (Click here to register) 

July 23, 2011: Phoenix, AZ - Hosted by ARCSI Board Member and Ambassador Lanette Richmond
(Click here to register)

 August 13, 2011: Annapolis, MD - Hosted by ARCSI Member Ed Wright
Featuring Sharon Tinberg of Rags to Riches
(Click here to register)

Sept. 10, 2011: Atlanta, GA - Hosted by ARCSI Member Jan Maskew
(Click here to register)
Sept. 10, 2011: Northern California - Hosted by ARCSI Ambassador Angela Wilson

Sept. 17, 2011: Long Beach, CA - Hosted by ARCSI Members Monika Zuzanska and Marton Medina
Featuring Sharon Tinberg of Rags to Riches


Speed Cleaning Moves Into the Fast Lane

The Speed Cleaning brand has been pulled over by a cop, but slowing down is not an option as retired police officer. Steve Sardone and his wife, Debbie Sardone, have purchased the Speed Cleaning brand as well as Jeff Campbell’s Clean Team Catalog. Campbell’s New York Times best seller is an easy read and the original step by step system of cleaning.

"I keep pinching myself to see if I’m going to wake up to find it was only a dream,” says Debbie Sardone about the opportunity to carry on the Speed Cleaning legacy and take over the The Clean Team Catalog business, a mail order business for cleaning products and equipment. Debbie is the owner of Buckets & Bows Maid Service, The Maid Coach Consulting firm, and the founder of Cleaning For A Reason.

Sardone’s excitement stems from the fact that Campbell’s enduring principles for cutting house cleaning times in half have saved thousands of hours on the clock for cleaning businesses all over the world including Sardone’s own Maid Service. Her husband Steve is the president and CEO of KYSO Consulting, Inc. the new parent company of Speed Cleaning, The Clean Team Catalog, and The Maid Coach Consulting.

The couple took the reins of the 67 year old Campbell’s empire in March 2011, so that Campbell could retire with confidence, knowing that the brand he founded will continue to thrive and grow under the direction of the Sardones, who say their goal is to double sales in the next 18 months.

Professional cleaners receive huge discounts on the pro website:  There you’ll find the original Speed Cleaning apron, non-toxic professional-grade cleaning products, tools, and the infamous "Big Vac” along with business training tools and DVDs to grow your residential cleaning business.

July 5 Hot Topic Tuesday: First Tuesday Open Forum

First Tuesday Open Forum calls are all about YOU! Need help solving an employee issue? Looking for input on scheduling software or payroll processors? Bring your questions and success to the call!


Ambassador Angela Wilson of Solano Maids hosts the First Tuesday Open Forun calls. She'll bring her experience to the call and keep the conversation moving!


Hot Topic calls are sponsored by the ARCSI Ambassadors. Call in and access code info will be included in the Confirmation/Thank You portion of your registration.

Click here to register.

Sharon Cowan Visits ARCSI Office

I had an opportunity to visit the ARCSI office on a recent trip to


Columbus. Although I was traveling through and didn't have a lot of time, I couldn't miss a chance to say hello to Ernie and Chris and see "where it all happens".


I so wish that this organization had been in existence 25 years ago when business owners like myself in the residential cleaning industry had to go it alone. Trial and error and a few mistakes along the way and it's
amazing that any of our businesses survived.


As a business consultant to the industry, I can confidently recommend joining ARCSI to my clients. It is a resource for information, education and networking that has grown to become a powerful player in the residential cleaning industry.

Sharon L. Cowan, CBSE



more Calendar

Hot Topic Tuesday: Enjoy Labor Day!

Hot Topic Tuesday: CONVENTION WEEK!


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