Hiring In Pairs (how not to do it)

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by Suzanna Watson on August 3, 2010

I would like to share one of my employee experiences with you, but first a little background.

During our first few years in business, our company became “apartment cleaning specialists”. We were hired by one owner who liked our work so much he used our services for his other four apartment complexes.

This was in addition to the three other unrelated complexes we already cleaned. This added up to 100 buildings per week during day shift alone.

Wow we were busy!

We were all working our tails off. I had 22 employees working almost full time at this point. I was hiring people left and right it seemed. It was chaos for a while back then.

When I placed help wanted adds in the local paper I would get many inquiries, some good, some not so good. Then I made a discovery. I found many applicants came in pairs. This included husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, roommate brings best friend, you get the idea.

I had this one very nice fellow come in for an interview, and I did hire him. He started the following week, and low and behold here comes his “best friend” wanting a job too (he just showed up unexpectedly).

Well at this point I had so much work, that I had him fill out an application and practically hired him on the spot (I did perform a background check. Always do a background check!!!).

Everything was great the first month, then the tide turned. When one was sick the other didn’t show up either.  Now I’m down two people! Next came car problems (they car pooled). When the first guys car failed him, the other could not get to work because he did not have a car (he depended on his friend). Down two people again.

Then the car would get fixed. They would both show up for a while then the pattern started again. Call out sick, bad weather, car did not start, etc. I finally had to let both of them go.

This story repeated itself several times over with only the faces changing. After hiring pair after pair I realized it was futile. My point is beware of hiring in pairs. The “Buddy Package” usually doesn’t work, especially if they are dependent on each other to get to work.

You may think twice as much work will get done. This is not so. It may cause more problems than it solves. If you do hire a pair make sure they each have their own transportation and are not dependent on each other in any other way.

What I also found out was that when they came in pairs (during the interview process), and I only wanted to hire one of them, the one I wanted sometimes wouldn’t take the job without the other. Go figure!

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hire two people to work together.

There is a benefit to hiring two people for one job. If you have a large office that requires several hours to clean then having two people is a good idea. There is also safety in numbers, especially during late evening jobs. Plus if one does call out you a least have a person to cover the job.

I would just try to stay away from “buddy package”. This will also help prevent your team members from “covering” for each other, as best buddies tend to cover each others behind when something goes wrong.

The human resource part of any company is quite an experience, and you will learn a lot about human nature in the process. Should you have any experiences of your own, feel free to share them by posting your comments below.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 La Tunya Sifford February 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I’m starting to get calls for apartment cleaning. I have no idea how to price these cleanings to turn a profit. I’m in Southern California and the cleaning industry is quite competitive here. Can you give me a borderline price guide on how to price these

2 Tom Watson February 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Hi La Tunya! Calls are GOOD. You must be doing something right, so that is a good first step. As to pricing, that is tricky. As someone who has done this for a LONG time (not to mention has done more apartment cleanings than most living human beings), you need a formula to follow that covers your butt and yet is fair enough for the client.

Sadly, I can’t sum up the bidding process in a paragraph, as there is many in’s and out’s to the process. For instance, I have an entire chapter dedicated to that topic in all my courses (http://www.cleaning-4-profit.com/start-your-own-cleaning-business/). The WHOLE key is using a formula FOR YOUR LOCATION.

For me to try to tell you what to charge, that is impossible. I live in New Jersey, you are on the other coast. The formula in the course walks everyone through the process so that they get the RIGHT pricing for THEIR area.

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