Friday, December 31, 2004

"Good Evening" is not the answer

The holiday's are over and it's time to get back to a normal schedule, normal routines and to finish my 3 part series on the insights from the staff.

The number 3 most frequent complaint by the staff was a little complicated and I have held off posting about unitl I personally spoke with some of them and got some clarification.

On the survey there were a number of #3 responses.
  • Don't just say Hi! when there is a problem
  • 'Good Evening' is not the correct response when asked how is everything is going?
  • Don't be afraid to talk to me, I am an adult!
Were a couple of the lines written into the survey. In speaking with the staff I realize that what they were trying to get across was that they see a large number of customer employees working at night in the offices and while they are polite, make small talk etc.... They do not mention to the cleaners if there is a cleaning issue. Instead they don't mention it all and remain unhappy or they wait until it gets to be a big problem and then take it to the big bosses.

The cleaning staff would much rather have you the customer point out the problems right away so they can be addressed immediately not at the quarterly staff meeting. It is a cry for communication and something that I am encouraging the cleaners to be a little more direct in their discussions with employees they see at night. Don't just nod, wave or say hello but every once in a while ask specific questions about the service, their work area and the the overall perception of our performance. All feedback is welcome at all times by everyone on the staff, we all count on our jobs for various personal reasons but keeping you the customer happy is our number 1 job to insure that we keep our jobs!

Thanks for reading this past year and I look forward to sharing more thoughts and ideas with you in 2005.
Ken Galo
L & K Cleaning Services

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Xmas Break

L & K Cleaning Services, the owners and staff would like to take this time to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!

Couple of tips/hints and thoughts during this time of year.

  • Don't leave the decorations plugged in over the weekend

  • Unplug the crockpot, toaster oven, warming plates etc... after the office party.

  • Don't leave food out, uncovered, if you plan to eat more of it later

  • Make sure the coffee machine is off before leaving

  • Try to keep the food and drinks in the same general area to reduce the risk of carpet stains

  • If you need extra trash barrels or trashbags for the party, call us, we loan them out for free.

Thank you for your patronage this past year and we look forward to providing you with the same high quality service again next year.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

News Flash--Cleaners Have Tele-kinetic Powers!!

The second item on the employee survey was split evenly by 2 complaints. Since they are both very similar I gave them a combined consideration and ranked them number 2 on the top 3 list of cleaning employee complaints.

2A is: Please mark boxes that are trash with a big 'T' so we know to take them and throw it out.
Our staff are trained NOT to throw out any box that is not IN a garbage can unless it is
marked as trash!

2B is: If you need more work space-- do not use your trashcan as an extra stand! When cleaners arrive for work and go to empty the trashcan and some book/pad/case etc is open or on top of the full can of trash, guess what? bye bye book, pad or case!

2C is: Personal note from me, No, I do not, any longer, go dumpster diving because you made a mistake. It's not safe and it's certainly not healthy.

Number 3, the final cleaner complaint will be out in a few days.
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Why We Hate the Phone Company

To be in a service based business you have to be a 'people' person. Personally, I love meeting people, talking to people, hearing their stories and so forth. It's fascinating to me and gives me greater insights on developing our service programs.

This includes talking with our employees. They are all part time which means many of them have full time jobs besides ours or are in school preparing for a new career or are retired from their life's work. This all makes for interesting conversations.

We also take the time, periodically, to add items to their paycheck envelopes. Things like janitorial humor or cleaning related cartoons that we come across, cleaning related crossword puzzles etc...

Recently we put in a survey and asked the cleaners:

If you could request 3 things of the customer you clean for, what would they be?

The number 1 answer? And I mean by almost everybody!

Please Stop Throwing the Phone Books in the Trashcans!


1. They make the cans very heavy and difficult to empty
2. The books always rip the plastic liner causing the half cup of coffee or can of Pepsi to spill into the can which they now have to go wash out.
3. The book is not trash, it is recyclable

I thought this was very interesting and would pass it on to our readers. I will post other survey results in future blog postings.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Holiday Insights & Protecting your clients

The Holiday season is just kicking off now and with it comes the numerous office parties and luncheons at the work place. This brings back memories of a confrontation and situation we had last year with a customer's employee.

During one of the regular cleaning nights a team leader contacted me and was seeking some advice in regards to food left out from a party that day. I stopped by the building and in the company cafeteria there were donuts, untouched in the box, open boxes of bagels and other pastries. There was also open tubs of butter, cream cheese, flavored coffee creamers etc...

Realizing that most of this had probably been out all day I instructed the staff to dispose of the entire mess except for the donuts in the sealed plastic tray. After-all, the bacteria growth on the exposed food would make someone eating it now, very ill.

Well, the next morning I get a nasty email from one of the employees who works at that site, complaining that my staff threw out all their food. I replied that the food would have been spoiled the following morning and unsafe to eat and that L & K Cleaning was looking out for their health in discarding the food.

I went so far as to do some net research on the safe handling of food leftovers and sent her the following links: Health Beat ,
USDA Food Safety

This unfortunately set her off even more, I received another email, this time saying that she thought our cleaners were taking the food home and were probably responsible for all the missing sandwiches for the entire year. Being an intuitive business person I realized that I was not going to win this one so I went to a high end bakery, purchased 2 dozen bagels, a dozen pastries and some exotic whipped butters and cream cheeses. I then drove over to the building and delivered them with a card from L & K to the person complaining.

Nothing more was said or communicated after this incident. Until one night around 3-4 days later I was going into the building lobby and the vice-president of the company was coming out. He stopped me and thanked me for the unexpected goodies! I briefly explained what had happened, that our cleaners had followed my instructions but that I felt bad and decided to replace the food. He looked at me kind of strange, nodded and left.

2 days later I get an email from the VP:

Mr. Galo, we are extremely sorry that you had to go out of your way and replace the food items. I had our IT person call up the emails that were exchanged between you and our employee. I found your concern for our employees health to be commendable and reaching far beyond what I would expect. I am, in fact, having this published in our company newsletter along with the information you provided concerning safe food handling. You will be credited with, what I feel, saving the staff from themselves.
T.S., VP

This year, the instructions to the staff are the same. If it's been out when you arrive and no one is currently working, toss it. I will buy new if it comes to that.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Complexity of Customer Relations

One of my cleaners approached me on Friday complaining that they can never mop the floors in the cafeteria because employees were constantly streaming in and out. My reply was to mop when it wasn't break time.

This made the cleaner get quiet and then say, "it's always break time"
After observing the area for awhile I realized the cleaners problem. People from the production floor were constantly sneaking in and out of the cafeteria. The place is to big for the one shift supervisor to maintain close watch on everyone.

This puts our company in a stressful situation.

On one hand, as a dedicated vendor, always looking out for my customers best interest, I should inform upper management of this situation and let them work it out. It would increase their productivity but also put their manager /shift supervisor in the hotseat!

That is the second part of the problem, we need to work closely with the shift supervisor in order to perform our services. If I turn in him to upper management, will I alienate him from the my staff? Will this supervisor make life miserable for my staff because I informed on him and his staff? Will his staff try for some revenge on the cleaners --via making bigger messes, trashing the restrooms more than usual?

This was my Zen problem of the week. I decided that I will approach the shift supervisor myself. Let them know that they have a problem and therefore so do we in performing our duties and ask them to help me work out a solution. If I can fix this without approaching upper manangment it is a win for us and the shift supervisor.

I am sure if this does not reach a happy conclusion I will be back here again with a different version and outcome.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Cause and affect of providing a clean workplace

This past Sunday I was yet again, covering for some absentee workers, you know, people who fail to make good on their promise to work for money!

Anyhow, while I was mopping and mopping I slipped into the zen zone.

If you do an adequate job of cleaning, the people you clean for will do an adequate job of trying to keep it clean.

If you do an outstanding, absolutely superior job of cleaning the people you clean for will do an adequate job of trying to keep it clean.

However, when you do special work, such as carpet cleaning or stripping & finishing the floors, the employees of your customer will try to keep it cleaner longer and with a little more effort on their part.

Now, is this because day in and day out they don't notice our cleaning efforts? They just take it for granted when the bathrooms are clean and the trash by their desk is empty? Then when we do something really noticable like the floors or carpet --we are back in the limelight ever so briefly? Enough to warrant some attention to their own conditions for a short period?

That's my zen thought for the week. Email me at if you have any comments or thoughts on this.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Why Are Monday's Different

There I was emptying trashcans in cubicles, row after row after seemingly endless rows when I thougt:

Why are Monday's different in our business?

and zoom! into the Zen of Cleaning

If you stop by company website, , you will see that we have been updating with pictures of before and after cleaning. Paying particular attention to project work.

Obviously because the difference with this type of work is appartent immediately and highly visible. But what about the routine cleaning, you know, dusting, vacuuming, trash, restrooms?

I mean, unless I happen to have the camera with me the day some customer's employees have another popcorn and rubberband fight, I will never really get a good shot of say, vacuuming!

Then I got to thinking some more and I realized that Monday's in our industry are different and I could run off about maybe 6-7 options. But no, instead I am going to post a Poll Question at on the Commercial line and see what everyone else thinks first.

I'll come back here with the results in a week or 2. Probably will post some other brain drain items before then, have a really busy cleaning week coming my way.................................:)

Thank God for dirty people!, I would otherwise be unemployed.!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Zen of Handling Complaints

I have a customer who has been complaining, minor issues, but complaining none-the-less. We take a dim view of complaints here at

Anyhow, went out to the site after each call and tried to work with the cleaning staff to resolve these issues and set in motion preventive measures to stop future occurences. This resulted in us having to hire new staff for several positions due to employment interruptions. ( Old stafff would not bend to my will, so I interrupted their employment with me)

As my wife and I were training new hires, I set mine up on trashing and dusting and I took the vacuum out into the hallway. Which appears to be 5 miles long at 11pm at night. So I plugged in the back pack and entered the Zen Zone........................

I realized while I was cleaning that my approach to this entire situation was wrong from the start. Instead of apologizing and placating the customer and assuring them that I would correct deficiencies. I should have jumped on this as an opportunity.

The very first night in the building, after the very first call, I should have created a list of everything I saw that was wrong. Everything, not just what we are responsible for but EVERYTHING. Then I should have come back to the customer the next day, pointed out that I corrected the issues they mentioned, then show them the other Cleaning issues that I found and how I was going to correc those as well.
Then with the customer now in a positive mood because I proved myself to be my own policeman, I could sell/pitch the other services that I observed.

I am going to take my list with me tomorrow and go see the customer........ Will post back on how it goes. Questions? Feel free to email me at

Don't forget to visit Cleaning Peers & Advisors at

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Zen of Cleaning

You are not going to find any deep cleaning thoughts here! Well, okay maybe you will.

The Zen of Cleaning occurs when you are in the process of cleaning, be it vacuuming, mopping, dusting, buffing, extracting etc... and while your body is going through the motions your mind is somewhere else. Usually resolving issues, solving problems, writing new sales letters, deciding on what the next marketing program will be and so on....

This is the Zen of Cleaning. I use it effectively almost every night. I will post here periodically my random thoughts and musings that come while mopping/buffing endless hallways and so on.

Hope you all enjoy them.