eClean Issue 22

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6 eClean Magazine pressure washing businesses were springing up, what would make his company stand out? What was it that made his company unique? To answer that question, he began brainstorming about what makes successful companies successful. For example, why are people willing to pay three times as much for groceries – "the most boring products in the world" – at Whole Foods compared to other grocery outlets? Or why are they willing to pay more for Apple products, especially when Apple "is more about telling what you can't do – i.e., you can't use your PC software – than what you can." Curt came up with two primary points: 1. People are willing to pay more for an experience, not just a product. For example, "Apple is about the experience – the wooden floors in the Apple store, the thrill of opening the box when you get a new product." 2. Curt's employees were sucking his company dry. "I realized I could either ruin my business by continuing to hire employees who were wearing me out, or I could ruin it by getting rid of my staff and not being able to handle everything myself." Something had to change. That was how Curt transformed his company to no longer be just another window cleaning business. Instead, 5 Star Window Care has metamorphosed into a customer experience: "A customer service company that just happens to do windows. The 5 Star Certification Program T oday, 5 Star's technician certification program has five levels. Pay is increased with each new star achieved. The levels are gained as follows: 1-Star – This is where every employee starts when hired. They have passed a drug test, gotten good recommendations from past employers, and proven to Curt that they may be a good fit for the job. 2-Star – This level of certification is gained after a technician proves s/he can work safely. Curt (or his five-star team members) spends a significant amount of time teaching one-star employees how to work safely on the job. Two stars are typically gained anywhere between one week to one month on the job. "If you can't teach your employees how to work safely inside a week, you're making it too hard," he said. (Note that 5 Star does not do highrise cleaning.) "Besides, if you take more than a month, your employees have already created some bad habits that are difficult – if not impossible – to break." 3-Star – This level of certification is based on production. The technician has proven s/he can not only work safely, but also efficiently. Paperwork is completed correctly. Work is done in a reasonable amount of time without having the quality suffer. "These technicians are about as good as most window cleaning companies get." Most technicians make it to this level within six months; some have made it Not for Everyone When Curt first decided to implement the certification program, most of his current technicians were on board. However, one was not, and he happened to be Curt's highest producer. "It completely caught me off guard, but he simply refused to go along with the program," Curt explained. It was a tough decision because this worker could bring in more money in a day than the rest of his team combined, but in the end Curt let the technician go. "It was a very scary decision." It turns out, however, that this was a good move for the team. While the technician was fast, he was also moody, refused to do paperwork, often underbid projects, and was sometimes unfriendly with the customers. Once that technician was let go, the rest of the team worked even harder to pick up the slack, and grew stronger in the meantime.

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