Rule # 1: It’s a crazy world, and as a result, you will hire some crazy people.

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by Tom Watson on March 15, 2015

When you get to the point where you are ready to hire employees, it’s really an exciting time to be a business owner.

You are seeing your dream of a successful business coming to life right in front of your very eyes. It’s truly amazing.

With that said, once you start hiring employees you need to realize that not everyone will work out. When I was new, I thought it would be a breeze to find good quality workers. To make a long story short, I was wrong!

Though you will find many hardworking people to fill available cleaning positions, you will stumble across your fair share of those that don’t work out. So to prepare you for what is coming, I’ll share a few stories of those that didn’t work for me very long. It’s funny now, but at the time I was pulling my hair out!

Employees with one “issue” or another

The “Alarming Employee” – I had this one staff member who we went through great lengths to train, and actually was a decent cleaner. But this person had one issue that reared it’s ugly head once or twice per month. This person COULD NOT set the alarm properly.

To make matters worse, this place was only cleaned once per week. So setting off the alarm at this rate was, pardon the pun, ALARMING. The customer wasn’t pleased, and neither were we. This made us look bad. The sad part, it was only a four number code. Just FOUR NUMBERS! I had to replace this person sadly.

The “It’s The Door Knobs Fault” Employee – We still laugh about this one, even though it happened so many years ago. This one person we hired had two small offices to clean, and truth be told, they were cupcakes. As easy as can be! It was two very small doctor offices, maybe an hour and a half to clean both if you took your time.

After we let this person go on their own, we start getting calls that the back door isn’t getting locked at one of the accounts. We let the person know, thinking it’s an “easy fix”. I mean just lock the door! Well it happened again, then once again. I confronted this person after the third time and guess what they tell me? Ready… “I never used this type door knob before! I let them go right then and there.

The “I’m On Strike” Employee – I had this one person who worked a very large five day per week account. They were always complaining that they needed “more time” to do the job. I never really believed this person because EVERY SINGLE TIME I VISITED they were shooting the breeze with someone different. I never caught this person “working” if you know what I mean.

Despite the evidence, I did wind up giving this person more time each day to do the job, but only because I didn’t have many options. I had my hands full and I was short handed as it was, so I was hoping this person would turn into a better employee! Anyway… one day I get a call from the customer and they said nobody showed up. I called my employee and asked “what’s up”.

This person said “I’m on strike”. This person went on to claim they needed MORE TIME and MORE MONEY. I already bent over backwards for this person, so I wasn’t going to give in. I moved another employee over and had them cover the job. I never spoke to that person again. I guess they are still ON STRIKE!

I could go and on, but I’ll hold some of my other favorites back for another post down the road. The moral here is that despite your best efforts, some duds are going to find employment at your cleaning company. That’s normal, just don’t let them stick around too long or you’ll start to lose accounts!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ron March 15, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Hi Tom! That is crazy about that person who couldn’t set the alarm with only 4 numbers! And also the one who said they never used a knob like that one, oh” please tell it was a super really advance knob! lol. I tell those who I hire up front that if you have a no show and no calling me when you can’t make it to a account then don’t come back again!
Thanks Tom,

2 Arlene Smith March 15, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Hello Tom, it’d been quit some time since I’ve last been here. The past year I had been a household manager to a couple at there estate I made salary worked Mon – Fri and was in charge of 3 facilities in house. A real dream come true I thought that had become a real nightmare. About four months ago I hired an employee for some help at the estate and just last Monday after coming home from work I recieve a text from my client telling me things just aren’t working out. Since that day I am finding out my hired help is not only the cause of my termination but has taken over my position. I am completely devastated and in real shock with one my clients behavior to the whole matter. But I have learned by all this the meaning to the old saying live and learn, when I hired my help I never had him sign any forms for non-compete agreement or anything to cover my back so basically finished there with that job. And I was actually currently getting business insurance so there’s nothing I had to help me out with this situation but emails and text messages between myself and client won’t help me get my job back but will help I hope in getting some reimbursements owed to me.
This is all such a sad shock to me as well as my family we had never seen coming. With that said Live and Learn.
Best wishes, Arlene

3 Tom Watson March 15, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Hi Arlene! Sorry to hear that. That’s terrible. That non-compete form may have helped discourage the employee, but someone who is just determined to do otherwise is always a possibility (even with a signed form). Good luck with reaching a fair resolution for this.

4 Tom Watson March 15, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Hi Ron! The door knob story is my favorite. Absolutely bizarre but true. And the alarm pad was just as curious! To dial a phone is harder than pushing four digits on an alarm pad, yet the alarm was a mystery this person couldn’t solve. Anyway… thanks for commenting!

5 Oscar March 15, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Thank you so much Tom for this information.

6 Tom Watson March 15, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Happy to help Oscar!

7 Batch of Bubbles Cleaning &Maid March 24, 2015 at 12:01 pm

thanks Tom your final notice flyer helping me now I have a propal contract I been using this for years now this company signed it we did the work now there not trying to pay .should I have propal and a different contract ..

8 Tom Watson March 29, 2015 at 10:45 am

How come they are not paying? What do they say?

9 Toni April 18, 2015 at 8:18 am

Hi Tom,
My cleaning company is slowly beginning to flourish, so I have been thinking a lot lately about when its time to hire some help. When you got your first employee did you start with just one then added more as you needed? Or, did you go the IC route? how was the experience of hiring the first outsiders into your company?

Thanks for sharing. Really valuable info you give here for us newbies and it is much appreciated.

10 Tom Watson April 18, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Hi Toni! I started with two, but only because I had a fair amount of work. If I only needed one, then I only would have hired one. I never did an IC, I only hired actual employees. I never thought that was a good idea (my accountant confirmed that).

Now I did hire some day workers from time to time on big one time jobs I would get. I used a company called Labor Ready. I would just tell them how many I needed for a given day, and they would deliver them. That was technically called Temp Workers, which is different than IC.

When you do bring people on, it is a change! You really have to TRAIN people to do things the way you want it done. You can NEVER ASSUME people know what they are doing. Take the time to train them well. It will be an adjustment, especially if you are a control freak like me. I got better over time, but it’s definitely an adjustment, at least it was for me.

And I’m HAPPY TO HELP. If you ever need anything, just touch base!

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