Are You Cleaning Up or Are Your Employees Cleaning You Out?

While attending a conference several years ago, the speaker made a comment that has stuck with me.

“If the only tool you have is a hammer – Every problem looks like a nail.”

Employee selection and retention is one of the most crucial aspects of running a successful residential cleaning company (or other franchise or organization) How well you perform in this critical area will affect your bottom-line. With that said, I still hear owners tell me they can spot a potential good hire by simply “looking at them”. If that were true, those owners are in the wrong line of work. Their services would be in high demand by every company in the Fortune 1000.

If you, as President/CEO of your company reported to a Board of Directors, how would they judge your performance in attracting, selecting and retaining the best talent possible for your organization? Great? Fair? Poor?

I see a few critical mistakes repeatedly with alarming frequency. The good news is if you can recognize them, you can avoid them.

Are you hiring applicants because you liked them during an interview?
This is probably the number one cause of poor hiring decisions. How an applicant “appears” during an interview has nothing to do with how they will behave as an employee. Today, applicants are far more likely present the face they think you want to see. Further, some of the very worst applicants are the best at presenting this false façade. If you are relying on your “gut”, you will be disappointed regularly.

Are you having a conversation, or conducting an interview?
Commonly, this is the number two problem during selection. Owners rarely have a standard interview process. If you engage in a conversation, you are giving up much of the control. Keep the interview brief. Use the “exact” same questions with “every” applicant you interview. This may become very boring for you, but they are hearing your questions for the first time. By using these questions, you will develop a radar that will alert you to answers that are outside the norm. Stay in control of the process. You own it. Your business depends on it.

Are you interviewing everyone that applies?
Set standards and follow them. If, for example, you see on the application that a person had 12 jobs in the last two years, why waste your time. Do you want to be stop 13 on the path to the 14th? Do they avoid listing references? If so, this is a Red Flag. Very clearly, not everyone that walks in your door is a viable candidate. Learn to say, “Thank you for applying. If we’re interested, we will call you.” The process of having a person complete your application and any other paperwork you may require is the easy part. Look at it; measure it against your standards and make a “Go” or “No Go” decision. This is NOT a hire/don’t hire decision. It is a point where you must decide if you are going to go any further in the process. You should apply that same strategy to every stage of the selection process. Once an applicant fails to meet one of your standards, it should be over right then.

Do not fall in love.
How many times have you been sure you just found the greatest new employee, only to discover he/she was another dud? It happens to everyone. The reason for this is simple to explain. We did not use standards and we let emotion or subjective thinking override our policy and objective data. Clearly, the above information is not enough to turn your selection process to gold. You can improve your odds by increasing the size of your “Tool Box”. Some things to consider:
• Do you analyze your sources of applicants and the quality, by source?
• Are you using criminal background checks for every new hire?
• Do you have a solid drug policy that includes pre-hire testing?
• Are you using a testing system like the Orion System to evaluate potential risk? The Orion System is a pre-hire assessment that accurately supplies objective data regarding the applicants risk levels for the following:

1. Adhering to policy and procedure.
2. Tardiness and attendance.
3. Workplace drug use.
4. Workplace theft
5. Long term employment
6. Customer service
7. Safety and risk avoidance.

If you get nothing else from this article, this you can carve in stone: Hit or miss, on again, off again, hiring policies and procedures achieve results consistent with their use, or lack thereof.

If you are struggling to come up with a plan that can work for you, and can’t quite seem to get there, reach out to those who have been down the path and have developed working strategies to deal with this critical area of your business.

Your employees are often the face of your business. They can make the difference between being profitable or not. Good selection leads to improved retention. There are no “Silver Bullets” or “Magic Pills”. It takes work on the front end. It means holding to your standards and setting high expectations for yourself and your employees. Most importantly, it means doing these things when the world around you is saying – “OH, just hire the next warm body”.

Take Charge of the Process
Take Control of Your Net Profit
Take Charge of Your Expectations
Take Charge of Your Employees Expectations

Do not let the revolving door of employees and customers Clean You Out!

Bill Gelderman is a Managing Partner with Strategic Human Insights you can reach him at