Training and Evaluating Staff
Any business is only as good as its employees. That’s why it’s important for your staff to be good at much more than just cleaning. Great cleaning staff knows how to be efficient, deliver great customer service, and can deal with worst case scenarios.
Training in Pairs
Train your new hires by going out on jobs with them and cleaning as a pair. If your staffing model is one cleaner per job, send your new staff members out on their own once you’re confident that they’re ready. If your staffing model is cleaning teams of two or more, make it a habit to pair up newer cleaners with more experienced cleaners. This way, newer cleaners get ongoing training and support from someone with more experience.
Sometimes it’s good to pair up two experienced cleaners who haven’t worked together before so they can learn from each other. It’s common for experienced cleaners to have their own tricks, even their own cleaning style. So two experienced cleaners could learn new things from each other.
As your team grows, you also want to be on the lookout for staff who are ready to step into an official training role and take some of this work off your hands.
The Importance of Soft Skills
Loyal clients who ask you to come back again and again are one of the cornerstones of a successful housecleaning business. To get loyal clients, you have to build relationships with them. Building relationships starts with soft skills, also known as social skills.
Even though cleaners spend much of their day alone, you should still make sure their soft skills are in place, as they will be communicating with clients on your behalf. The first lesson in soft skills is how to meet a new client (or someone new at a client’s house).
Once a cleaner and a client are introduced to each other, they will both feel more comfortable, and that comfort level will grow every time they see each other. This can be the beginning of a loyal relationship.
While we were writing this guide, one Jobber staff member told a story about her dad, who’s had the same cleaner for years. At this point it’s more about the friendship they have than the cleaning she does. “She’s so great. I love hearing about her family,” her dad says.
“Housecleaning isn’t about cleaning. It really isn’t. It’s about service, and it’s about the personal relationships.”
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Being Sensitive to Your Clients' Feelings
This is common sense, really, but when it comes to being sensitive to your clients’ feelings, it never hurts to reinforce good habits. Talk to your staff about the importance of being sensitive to your clients’ feelings. And remind them not to make negative comments about clients’ homes, even though it might be tempting to do this when you come across a particularly messy or dirty home.
The key message for your staff is that you never want to make clients feel ashamed of their homes. Clients may already feel nervous and uncomfortable about letting you in to clean. The last thing you want to do is make them feel even more uncomfortable. Instead, you need to put them at ease by being nice and respectful.
Even if clients aren’t around while you’re cleaning, you still shouldn’t make negative comments. It puts you in a more negative frame of mind, and you never know when someone could show up and overhear what you’re saying.
"Always treat your clients with sensitivity and respect, whether they’re standing in front of you or not."
To sum up, your cleaners are the face of your company. If your cleaners have good soft skills, your clients will have positive experiences whenever they interact with them. And the more positive experiences your clients have, the more likely they are to ask you back and recommend you to others.
2 Parts of the Business That Your Staff Need to Know
Beyond cleaning skills and soft skills, there are two other important parts of the housecleaning business that you need to train your staff on.
Good customer service starts with good soft skills, but at a lot of companies, customer service goes much deeper than that. For example, the company of our industry expert Katie Pearse strived to provide exceptional customer service in several ways, so she would talk to her new staff about the company’s customer service philosophy and what they could do to ensure an exceptional customer experience.
Breakage and Damage
Accidentally breaking or damaging something during a cleaning is a normal part of the business that happens from time to time. So you need to train your staff on how to deal with it. Good news: we’ve got just the thing to help you do this…
Download Our Free Breakage and Damage Toolkit
This toolkit explains how to set up a foolproof process for dealing with breakage and damage. It includes a script that tells your staff what to say to clients.
Evaluating Your Staff with Mystery Shoppers
To evaluate the performance of her cleaning staff, Katie decided to do something that, to our knowledge, no one had ever tried to do before in the residential cleaning industry.
“I started a mystery shopping program,” she says. “Mystery shopper clients would get 50% off a cleaning to do an evaluation report on one of my cleaning teams.”
“I would have mystery shoppers evaluate teams pretty thoroughly,” she explains. “They would grade them on everything: did they say hello, did they introduce themselves, what were their names, did they leave behind a cleaning checklist, how was the cleaning… I’d have them evaluate all of that.”
Applying mystery shopping to the business of housecleaning turned out to be a runaway success.
“This was the easiest way I found to have eyes and ears everywhere,” Katie says. “And it definitely improved the performance of staff, because they never knew if they were being evaluated or not. Plus they would get a cash bonus if they got a certain grade.”
The evaluation reports were also a perfect way to gather customer reviews for the company website and other marketing materials. “These people care, and they’re really engaged, so you get great testimonial quotes,” Katie says. “You get a lot of good suggestions for improvement too.”
“And if I had holes in the schedule, I didn’t have to devalue our service by offering cheap cleanings,” she adds. “I would simply email my mystery shopper people and say, ‘Hey I’ve got three teams next week who need an evaluation. Who wants to sign up and get a half-price cleaning?’”
“People just loved it.”
Building Your Email List of Secret Shoppers
Katie had a main email list of her cleaning clientele, but she built a separate email list of clients who specifically wanted to be secret shoppers. The reason was that a lot of her regular clients didn’t want to do it. She asked them of course, but most of them just weren’t interested.
So what did Katie do to round up her secret shoppers? “I would advertise it on our Facebook group, and I did some paid Facebook advertising as well,” she says. “The ads would basically say, ‘Want half-price cleanings? Sign up for this program.’ And then they would click on the link and find out how it all worked.”
“I definitely made them do some work, but they just loved it,” she says. And she loved reaching a whole new group of people. “It was getting a whole new list of over 400 people who wanted to be mystery shoppers—a whole other target market.”
Build an email list of secret shoppers, and use them to evaluate your cleaners regularly.