Written by: Rosalynn Robb, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
I recently had an incident where two employees who had been with me for 5+ years came to me to say they felt uncomfortable in a new client’s home. I listened to their legitimate concerns. I might have been tempted as a new business owner to stress over our company’s reputation if I prematurely ended a project with a client. Even though we could get a bad review, I knew what I needed to do. Kindly but firmly, I made the call to end further cleaning services.
You will hear many pitches about gaining clients, hitting your target number, and going all out. But how often do we talk about employees being the first priority when building a stable company? Maybe you’re thinking: “Well, it’s just me; I don’t have employees.” Well, if you ever want to scale your company, you’ll have to bring people alongside you.
My company has cleaned for over 1,000 clients in almost seven years. We have built some phenomenal relationships with our clients, and I love meeting new prospective clients. But your clients are not just watching for first impressions. They are also watching your actions and your team closely.
I stopped by a client’s home three years ago, and the client, a CEO of a large company, commented, “You know, your employees love working for you. You can tell by the way they are happy when they clean, and they only speak highly of you.” This stuck with me. When I am sitting down to eat at a restaurant, I observe the demeanor of the servers. Or at the gym: are the personal trainers complaining, or do they feel like their gym has their backs? Here are three ways to invest in your team.
You can learn a lot about an individual by their bank statements and how they use their time. Early in my first year of business, we had weekly Friday luncheons between cleanings. I wanted to build a team environment, and I felt it was helpful to have everyone sit down. As a larger team, we strategically try to host quarterly events to continue building relationships outside when we are cleaning homes. Some previous events have been an ice cream social, water theme park, throwing axes, etc. The most anticipated event is our annual Christmas party. Each team member also participates in a Secret Santa of $20 or less.
I look for opportunities to give gifts (Valentines candy, Easter baskets, birthdays, etc.). Are you keeping an eye out for stellar service? Bonuses are never expected, but it is a great way to remind your team that you are watching them and appreciate their service. If you are financially able to give, I encourage you as an owner to keep a listening ear. I once had a team member mention he was getting his car repaired and was concerned with how much it would cost when he was working two part-time jobs and going to school full-time. I was able to get the auto shop’s name and pay for the repair, but I asked to be kept anonymous. We have a unique place to lead and help our team members, but remember, we all need help at times.
For a team to have your back, there has to be trust established. This is done through 3 specific areas: transparency, humility, and giving credit where credit is due.
Owning and leading your team does not mean you know exactly what the best decision is; acknowledge that you are making the best decision at that time, but know you may have to change as you learn new information or a situation changes. Last year with the global pandemic, we all had to work together. I told my team that I did have a plan, but I would have to reexamine it each week to make sure we followed CDC guidelines and did what was best for our health. Before the PPP, I had an open meeting with my team telling them how many months I could still pay without any cleanings on the books if it got to that point.
Business can be challenging. There are long days and seasons where work may be more challenging than other times. If I feel my tone or what I said may have sounded harsh or accusatory, I believe apologizing or asking how I came across with no defensiveness is necessary. I’m not perfect, nor are the people I work with. More people will want to help you succeed because they know you aren’t a jerk!
Sometimes gratitude does not cost money but comes in words of affirmation and in writing. Write a personal thank you note sharing why you are grateful to have them on the team. Is there a character trait or an action they demonstrated that needs to be affirmed?
Here I am 1,000+ miles away in Texas from my cleaning company, and I have full confidence in the leadership and camaraderie among the team, their work ethic, and kind hearts serving our clients well. Find those folks and invest in them-- I promise you will create a culture where everyone has each other's backs!
Rosalynn Robb, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Rosalynn Robb is a passionate small business cleaning owner and consultant with the sole aim of helping others. Rosalynn caught a vision after engaging in several Louisville Human Trafficking Task Force meetings. She decided to create a business that would elevate domestic work and advocate for human trafficking victims while giving back to organizations helping the most vulnerable.
She believes to whom much has been given, much is expected. She has never forgotten her humble beginnings as an orphan in the Philippines, and how her forever family brought her home to Rhode Island at three and a half years of age. Rosalynn believes what touches the heart reaches the heart, and the best way to build a business is to be authentic and focus on relationships over money.
Rosalynn created CleanStart Consulting to help other small cleaning business owners worldwide become organically organized with practical tools and authentic understanding. In 2021, Rosalynn plans to launch the S.H.E Foundation (Seen. Heard. Embraced.). The foundation will provide mentoring and financial support to empower human trafficking survivors. S.H.E. grants will support women seeking a CleanStart with the counsel and tools they need to help launch their own successful businesses. Rosalynn married Andrew in 2018 and they have lived in Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas while serving in the United States Air Force.