I was asked by cleaning industry leaders to give a state of our industry talk on a virtual summit. I completed the talk today and thought some of the takeaways would be useful for my own community.
COVID-19 has raised the bar in our industry. Prior to COVID, the typical house or office cleaner had no governing body to report to other than the Departments of Labor and Taxation. There was also no formal licensing requirement in our state, nor was there an obligation for cleaning providers to be insured against liability. Cleaners had the right and freedom to self-select their own standards of excellence. Thus, the industry has been flooded with uninsured, unskilled, and unprotected cleaners.
During COVID, the Department of Health and Governor Wolf threw their hats in the game by qualifying our industry as "essential" under personal services to home and small business owners. By allowing our industry to operate when others could not, a microscope was placed on each of us. The post-COVID client is ultra concerned about germs and containing them. They want to minimize the spread of the virus and other pathogens. They want cleaning companies that are fully insured, fully protected, and implementing a COVID-19 disinfecting protocol.
Therefore, the leaders in my industry believe that cleaning company owners will start making the shift from teams to solo cleaners in your homes and offices. This is a WIN-WIN for the client and the company. The company achieves more efficiency and higher profits with solo cleaners for their clients. They are also providing safety measures to protect their cleaners and train them in the science of cleaning & disinfecting to better service their clients. The clients get the same single cleaner in their home EVERY time. They will never wonder who will clean, how many cleaners will be in their home or office, where they've been, and who they've been in contact since the last visit.
As you bring your cleaning services back to your homes and offices or as you screen companies to hire, please keep these trends in mind. The government is still NOT regulating us. However, there will be many companies reported and I personally believe that many of the cleaners I mentioned above with low standards of excellence and safety will be shaken out. This is a good thing as it gives you, the consumer, more trust when you search for a cleaning service to know that if they're still standing, they've probably fought to do so.
I operate my company, Carfagno Cleaning Incorporated, as a solo (or single cleaner). My COVID-19 Disinfecting Protocol is outlined on my website. As always, feel free to email me if you have any questions on the cleaning industry or have questions about your specific cleaning need.
Emily is a working mom that I'm sure many of you will relate to. I cleaned for her family for a year as they were transitioning to having twin girls and job changes for her husband. Emily battles stress and so much of it revolves around her sanctuary, the place where she lived, worked, and connected with each of her family members. In one conversation, I brought up a science correlation between clutter and stress in women. Emily related so much that it opened the door to some great conversations of how my cleaning service was de-stressing her life.
Emily would see the dirt and disorder around her house and it would create overwhelm and anxiety, causing her to get less done. "When my house was clean, that stress was gone and I could function better." The other intriguing point Emily made was this. "Knowing the cleaner was coming, forced me to organize my house and pick things up before you showed up." I was scheduled biweekly, which created a 14-day cycle of accountability to "clean before the cleaner" by picking up, straightening up, eliminating stuff, clearing counters and desks, etc. Emily shared something powerful. "A clean house improved my emotional state every time you left". I am not a psychologist. I'm a cleaner that has seen the story of Emily year-after-year in every household that hired me to clean. Let's dig into the science of clutter and dirt, so we can help the women in our lives to DE-STRESS!
Sherrie Bourg Carter wrote a powerful article in Psychology Today on March 14, 2012 entitled, "Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies The mental cost of clutter". I would like to extract the 8 points that Sherrie makes about clutter and add my own comments.
Christmas is over and a new DECADE is upon us. This is the time of year that many start to turn the corner from the current year and set serious goals for the new one. Just look at the book stores and online sellers. They advertise heavily to the public on health, health, health. Why? Because it sells. We set health goals more than any other for January 1st. Let's dig deep into human psychology and discover WHY these goals fail. Then we'll unpack a framework that can help you make your goals work for you in 2020.
STEP #1 - Before we look at 2020, let's look back at 2019 and search for clues as to what worked and what did not. I have an entire podcast episode and show notes on how to do this using John Maxwell's "Think Week" annual process. Check out John's blog article and my podcast for the full details. Here is the summary. Between December 26th and 31st, pull out your 2019 calendar and journals. Look at the goals you set during the year and ask yourself this question. "Did I achieve this goal?" If you answer "yes", ask yourself, "why did I succeed". If you answer "no", ask yourself, "why did I fail". Here are some other questions that John Maxwell uses to assess his year.
STEP #2 - We need to understand the NEED for a big vision and goals. First of all, do this exercise. Ask yourself what you want in 2020. Then ask yourself WHY. Once you answer, ask WHY again. Do this 5 times. This peels back the layers of the onion until you have reached the core of what you really want and why. I promise you. It will fuel you through 2020. Now that you have a vision, you need to understand why goals and accountability are so important. Do you know that out of every 100 people, 83 have no goals, 14 have verbal goals, and 3 have written goals. The ones with verbal goals are 10 times more successful than the ones without goals and the ones with written goals are 30 times more successful. There is even a higher echelon of individuals that write down their goals and are held accountable to achieving them. This is me. Is it you? I highly recommend that you get a big WHY for 2020. Then you set goals around that why, write them down, and ask someone you admire & respect to hold you accountable to achieving them.
STEP #3 - Let me briefly share the framework of a SMART goal.
Specific – Make the goal answer WHO it includes, WHERE it will occur, WHAT you want to accomplish, and WHICH constraints could affect it.
Measurable – Make the goal simple to track and quantify. What gets measured, gets managed. Either use a numeric or Yes/No structure.
Attainable – Make your first goal realistic to start the Momentum Cycle. Subsequent goals should be more aggressive as confidence grows.
Relevant – Your goal must matter to your WHY. If the goal accomplishes "stuff" for you, but doesn't get you closer to your dream, it's not SMART.
Time-Bound – Give your goal a deadline or it will never get accomplished. Deadlines create tension and tension creates action.
Make sure your goal is truly SMART. Then add accountability to achieve it and ensure it's tied to a big vision for your family this upcoming year. If you do, you'll be proud of your accomplishments 1 year from now.
The information in "Step 2" and "Step 3" is a summary of a 60-minute SMART Goals Masterclass that I taught for my SMART Cleaning Tribe. You can watch it for free on my website.
I asked this question on my Facebook page this week. "What's the #1 stress going into Thanksgiving?" Here were a few of the common answers.
“Entertaining the overbearing members of your family."
"Family... believe it or not. To many personalities, some don't get along, have different beliefs and such."
"People who are so stressed they take it out on you!"
It's vital to understand that stress builds as a result of many things as my Facebook post proved. Many of these factors are beyond our control, but there is one major source of stress that we can control. I will elaborate in my next article, "Dirt and Disorder Creates Overwhelm & Anxiety" ,where I will share an important scientific finding along with Emily's story. You will relate to it big time. Here's a sneak peak. Clutter creates guilt and embarrassment, especially when guests are coming over. We know that these guests are coming very soon. Let me help you eliminate these potential feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and anxiety from my 15 years of presentation cleaning.
Know Where to Clean & Declutter.
I was trained by the realtors and stagers of Coldwell Banker Prime Properties for many years on how to do exactly this. I learned that buyers are emotional and make their decisions based on first impressions. Therefore, I was trained to add sparkle to the first impression areas as well as strategically cleaning the other parts of the home. This would "present" the home best for the prospective buyer. Let's apply this mindset to your holiday guests. Declutter and clean these areas really, really, really good! If you can't eliminate the clutter, move it to an inconspicuous storage area. Don't wait! Declutter this weekend! This leaves you 10-12 days before the guests arrive. Clean these 6 areas as best you can leaving the toilets, sinks, counters, dining room table, and floors for the final 2-3 days. This short burst of effort will move you from embarrassing to impressing!
Rally the Troops.
Every family dynamic is different. You may be a early 30's couple with 1 baby and all of the work falls on you. You may be in your 40's with 3-5 school age kids. Or you may be in your 50's or 60's with the kids and grandkids coming back to the house. Where ever you are, assign roles to keep the house clutter free and clean throughout the holidays. Husbands, I am speaking directly to you. There is NO pass. Don't say, "I work hard and I'm on vacation." You may not understand it completely, but serving your role in the family to keep the house clean and clutter free will help your wife so much to keep her sanity. Kids, now I'm speaking to you. Do you want to eat and get gifts this holiday season? You are a part of the family and need to support your role with a good attitude.
Hire a Cleaning Service!
This is for the families that want to outsource most of the first two tips! Not everyone can afford to hire a service and I DO NOT recommend hiring an amateur. In another upcoming article, I will highlight the process to finding a great cleaning service in your area. If you can afford it, get a referral from someone you trust, make sure they are insured, and give them a shot. A qualified business will be a great ally as your guests arrival date approaches. They will know exactly which areas to presentation clean and how to advise you on where to declutter as I've taught you in the first tip. They will work alongside you over these next few weeks and throughout Christmas to restore your home and remove your anxiety.
Yes, some of us have a Cousin Eddie coming over. He will probably park his trailer in the driveway and empty his refuse in the sewer. So remember. This is a wonderful time of year to reflect upon all the blessings we have received and to open up our homes to those we love... even to Eddie.
Thank you for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!
Ken Carfagno is a presentation cleaning specialist serving the Indian Valley, PA.