Posted in Everyday Musings, leadership

2020 Bucket List

IMG_0613I’m a #theonething #the1thing follower. I read the book annually. I listen to the weekly podcast. It heads my 411.

I use the #411to plan success.

So what do I want to achieve in 2020? Here’s my #2020BucketList – and these are in importance order:

  1. find a church and faith community where I can continue growing
  2. celebrate my 45th birthday at Harry Potter World 10/31/2020 – with my nieces and anyone else who wants to join!
  3. add 5 states/countries to my list of places visited (get a map to start tracking and planning this; get a National Parks Passport): Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Spain – this covers 2 vacations this year
  4. go on one big hike each month (join a hiking group/meetup?)
  5. get my real estate license (for referrals, y’all!)
  6. write to the people who live in my house in Homer, AK to start working on buying my house
  7. pay off planned debt reduction (part of larger financial plan)
  8. save/grow at least $15K (part of larger financial plan)
  9. enjoy a full year’s subscription to Sparkle Hustle Grow – and the books and growth training included in that!
  10. design and get my fireweed tattoo

PS: my bucket list for work is different. How? It goes on a Growth Plan as my focus for each month – ways to ensure that I am constantly in a system review and quality improvement mindset.

Oh, and the best part: I give you permission to hold me accountable. To text me and ask where I am in accomplishing one or more of these goals. I mean, you read this far, so deserve that permission. Make it count!

Posted in leadership, What I Read

Read What Ops Leaders Read

Ops Boss Pink Carpet Photos
Kacee DeVore and CeCe Mikell at Ops Boss Leader Retreat 2019.

It was #OpsBossLeaderRetreat 2019. #WeGotBossy.

  • 13 hours of scheduled retreat: speakers, workshops, masterminds
  • 18 hours of unscheduled retreat: dinners, lunches, train rides, the National Mall at night

Homework #1: schedule reading these books that ops leaders use in their thinking and doing every day

Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod: recommended by Kristen Brindley. Structure your morning to get your head right and maximize the day for success.

High Performance Habits, by Brendon Bouchard: recommended by Kristen Brindley. And get the planner to go with it. It’s about the questions you ask yourself every day!

Procrastinate on Purpose, by Rory Vaden: recommended by Kristen Brindley. Focuses on the significance of time

13 Fatal Errors Manager Make and How You Can Avoid Them, by W. Steven Brown: recommended by Adelina Rotar. There are a lot of ways to mess up managing people, and some key corrections YOU make to make managing others more successful.

Scaling Your Business: How to Drive Revenue, Save Time, and Create Your Dream Company, by Daniel Ramsey: recommended by Daniel Ramsey. Text SVP to 31996 to get this book free

The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker:  recommended by Sheena Saydam. About creating meaningful client events that they’ll fight to come to.

Stand Up: 75 Young Activists Who Rock the World…and How You Can Too!, by John Schlimm: recommended by John Franklin Stephens. Bust through limiting beliefs!

The Power of Moments, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath: recommended by Stephanie Bracket. Creating a culture that makes agents and staff seek out your company to join.

Getting Things Done, by David Allen: recommended by Stephanie Brackett. Check out the workbook too!

The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan: recommended by literally EVERYONE

Visual Journaling
First page of my visual journal. Same concept as a vision board with more focus on discovering yourself and your goals.

And you can see the full list on Amazon here!

There’s more…soooo much more. I’ll share it over time.

PSST: when you go to order your books, make sure to order through smile.amazon.com and choose a charity to receive a donation from Amazon for every purchase you make. I choose Special Olympics South Carolina because it’s through sports and training that my brother, a brain injury survivor, has continued to set and achieve goals in his life, including as a public speaker and advocate for others with disabilities.

Posted in Branding and Marketing, Business Articles

Marketing That Worked on Me – and Why

I’ve spent my entire life studying and employing the devices of successful rhetoric to convince someone else to do or think what I tell them. Marketer is just one title for people who do this. Yep, that’s what marketers do, day in and day out: research what motivates target customers to choose them, and then create the company messages to make sure that happens.

Certainly, marketers have access to a wide variety of media as well as mixed media to deliver and reinforce the messages they want you to accept as truth and actions they want to compel you to perform.

So when a simple, inexpensive mailer campaign sequence is successful with me – who spends most waking moments at least subconsciously dissecting messages for agendas – I stop to really consider why. And if what I can tease out is replicable, I share that information with the company. In this case, I’m examining my reaction to Honest-1 Auto Care, the Mt. Pleasant branch.

IMG_2066In early summer 2017, I received in the mail a classic postcard bulk mail piece advertising several service specials at a local auto maintenance and repair shop. I know it is bulk mail because the address reads my name on the first line and “or current resident” on the second; this ensures that the piece will be delivered in the relevant service area rather than be forwarded to a previous resident with a forwarding order in place.

Now I’m pretty immune to physical junk mail, including advertisements like this. What happened to make me notice it means backing up just a touch. I had paid off my now-ten-year-old vehicle since my last oil change, which I’d always had done at the dealership. But I was ready mainly to establish a good relationship with a shop much closer to home and work; the dealership was at least 30 minutes away in a part of town I rarely have a need to visit. And I had spoken with my mom about some of the shops she’d used and been happy with on our side of town. And she got the same postcard on the same day and called me to point it out.

That’s what it was. That’s what made this very first “touch” successful. All I needed was an oil change, the shop was perhaps 1 mile from my house and did not require an appointment, and I knew it had been there a good long time, so it must have a reasonable amount of repeat business and/or referrals to at least maintain.

Conclusion (touch #1): there is nothing replicable about the success of this first touch from my response as there is no way the marketers could know all of those specific, converging circumstances that made me primed for the response they were trying to lead me to. But it stands to reason that twice a year (on average) an oil change or routine maintenance is on every driver’s mind, as well as the cost and convenience of acquiring those services.

So one weekday afternoon when I had no appointments, I drove the 1 mile to the shop, walked in, was greeted by a smiling service receptionist (touch #2), got set up as a new client, treated myself to a cup of coffee from the courtesy Keurig, and relaxed with my book in a comfy chair for 35 minutes. That’s when the service receptionist shared with me the courtesy inspection results and recommendations from the techs…with absolutely no pressure to add anything to my commitment for that day. But she did promise to email me the report. Further, when I got in my vehicle to leave, the technician had signed and left a simple “thank you” note card on my passenger seat (touch #3). As I had been promised, when I next checked my email, they had forwarded the report and receipt (touch #4). I also had an email (touch #5) asking me to review their services; good on ’em for asking, something most companies seem terrified to do!

Conclusion (touches #2, #3, #4, and #5): while it’s hard to predict the effect of the same service receptionist on various customer personalities – and, give me credit, I was playing nice that day – it’s easy to compliment a clean, comfortable, climate-controlled, quiet waiting area with free WiFi if I had chosen to work or play on social media instead. It’s easy to compliment a clean, groomed, uniformed receptionist who kept a smile on her face even when she was on the phone and not visible to the caller. It’s easy to be pleased to learn that the overt promises they made, they kept in emailing all of the paperwork from the visit. It’s easy to be grateful for the emailed information and even the prompt for a review, both clearly the result of programmed responses and delays in a CRM. These are replicable conditions that are known to inspire confidence and result in positive results.

I really did keep in mind the recommended service – it was a good and simple and necessary maintenance – and I had intended to get it into my budget and schedule. But I’m also glad I was just distracted enough to not get my butt in gear for 2 weeks after that initial visit. Why? Because two things happened within days of each other:

  1. they emailed (touch #6) me a reminder of the recommended service along with an estimate based on my vehicle
  2. they mailed (touch #7) me a “check” for $15.50 to use towards any service. In the memo line, they called it an “Auto Repair Rebate Check,” but it amounts to a gift card.

IMG_2065Now, I’m not a couponer, not even a casual one, but I can live for a month off of the gift cards I receive at holidays – and I LOVE it! For the most part, I don’t bother on items, say $5 and under; chalk it up to convenience – or inconvenience – fees of clipping coupons and purging when they expire. But when you send me a gift card for $15.50 off of a service that’ll run me close to $80, that’s a big deal in my pocket book.

Conclusion (touches #6 and #7): CRMs are an outstanding tool, especially for automated follow-up marketing (aka repeat sales) in industries where sales interactions take place months apart. Time limits on “coupons” are excellent, necessary even, but I’d argue that 60 days from the visit is too long a period to generate the action desired; I’ve delayed long enough to receive a second reminder.

I’ve been pleased with this company’s communication, programmed and delivered by a simple CRM with simple automated marketing. It’s a powerful tool – that automated marketing. It makes it easier for a marketer to switch up the gentle and the aggressive messages for the best opportunity to generate that desired response from a variety of customer types. Naturally, if my interpersonal and/or service experience hadn’t matched up, I surely would not have been as receptive to the reminders or the coupon/check.

I’m scheduled to use my coupon/check the last week of August.

NB: The initial postcard indicates that marketing is generated by the corporate office in Marietta, GA, the coupon/check lists my local shop in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Posted in Branding and Marketing, Small Business Tips

Under-appreciated Branding and Advertising Tool: button makers

I recently found myself volunteering to make about 100 buttons for my mom’s church group’s national convention: one each for the delegates to wear and extras to trade with delegates from other states.
And as I was studiously working in a familiar loading and pressing rhythm, I thought how nice it was to be reunited with the button maker I had purchased for a former employer. Naturally, we parted on great terms since he continues to let me borrow the button maker.

You see, for short-run branding and advertising needs, you can’t beat the cost and ROI of a single-purchase button maker for about $300, and supplies so cheap!

For large runs of general branding items, you’re still going to get the best cost through outsourcing. But when you need it dated, featuring the employee of the month 12 times a year, or fewer than 500, make the investment in the button maker and give yourself the freedom to design what you need and make only the number you need, even if it’s the night before you need them!

Buy the American Button Machines 2.25″ kit shown above here.

Posted in Business Articles, Small Business Tips

NY fourth state to add paid parental leave to employers’ FMLA obligations

NY Parental Leave graphicFMLA and paid family leave affects small businesses with 50+ employees this year or last year.

While a large percentage of cleaning businesses are too small to be covered by Family and Medical Leave Act requirement, those with 50+ employees for at least 20 weeks of the year do. According to the NPR’s Jennifer Ludden, “the only federally mandated leave covers just half of the workforce.” Currently, the Department of Labor does not require the leave to be paid, so most workers can’t afford to take it. For business owners, the financial burden on a company is limited to hiring and training a temporary replacement or divvying up the duties for a short time.

But an increasing trend may change that as New York because the fourth US state to mandate paid parental leave, the most generous of the packages. In addition, the city of San Francisco has also mandated paid leave at full wage or salary.

As cleaning company and maid service owners consider growth goals, keep in mind the FTE benchmarks for additional costs. In an industry where 90-95% of the workforce – in the field and in the office – are women, the costs are likely to be higher than in other industries where the mix is more balanced.

Here’s what cleaning business owners should consider tracking now to prepare for this cost in the future:

  • # births/adoptions by employees
  • average weekly wages of those employees
  • cost of hiring a replacement
  • cost of training a replacement

The latter two are recommended key performance indicators for any service business. The former are designed to help businesses establish a baseline for budgeting and bill rate increases when a similar mandate is implement in your state or nationwide.

Originally published May 4, 2016 at CleaningBusinessToday.com.

Posted in Content Marketing, Ghost Writer, Housekeeping

3 companies use steam vapor cleaning to make more money – and win a free Ladybug

600600p3069EDNmain1925Ladybug-steam-vapor-trio-600-x-250One amazing before-and-after photo is all it takes to win a FREE steam vapor disinfection system and start making more money cleaning.

Sponsored ArticleThe “green” movement is strong, no matter which of the common words you use to describe your way of being green: natural, organic, healthy, sustainable, safe, non-toxic, etc.

What if you could truly strip your cleaning procedure down to just one ingredient: simple tap water? That’s what cleaning business owners across the US are doing: simply reducing the potential for error and harm to the lowest possible denominator.

You read that right! Water, specifically tap water, is the only ingredient that powers the Ladybug series of steam vapor cleaning and disinfecting systems by Advanced Vapor Technologies, the most widely-adopted chemical free* cleaning tool across the US.

Now, you’re wondering just how these folks can possibly be competing on time and price with traditional apply-and-wipe cleaning procedures, right? Well, let’s hear it in their own words – and find out how they plan to win a FREE Ladybug to help them grow even more.

Amy Wiggs King
2 Green Chicks of Norman, OK

Ladybug-dolly-photo-300-x-300A little over a year ago we learned about the AdVap Ladybug with TANCS, and we have been able to upsell and use it for hard-to-clean areas: first-time cleanings, ovens, showers (especially with hard water buildup), grout and the list goes on!

When our cleaning chicks started working with the Ladybug, Chick Christine wrote her middle name “Dolly” in an oven vent! The amount of grime that can be steamed away is amazing, and our clients love the results. And since we are a green cleaning company, we love that the system only uses water and no harsh or unnecessary chemicals.

Mona Gatens
Windsor Maid Service of Houston, TX

I spent nearly 30 years in healthcare before opening Windsor Maid Services, so the plan for my company from the very beginning was to use equipment and products to make my clients homes healthier. We focus our marketing on the healthy benefits of our cleaning methods, and subsequently many of our clients have small children, compromised immunity, are post-surgical or are severe allergy sufferers. We are delighted to have found the AdVap Ladybug dry vapor steam cleaners with TANCS as they are a primary piece in our healthy homes initiative. Having the ability to disinfect surfaces in clients’ homes without using chemicals that they might be sensitive to is a huge benefit to us.

Another advantage of the dry steam vapor system is that there aren’t any chemicals involved; there also isn’t any residue. This makes our maintenance cleaning quicker and easier, saving us money in payroll expenses.

The Ladybug is also an extremely effective cleaning device with the ability to far surpass many more traditional methods and tackles the hardest of jobs. We’ve never found any other device, tool or chemical that can tackle really badly baked on ovens and showers and tubs that are severely hard water stained anywhere near as effectively as the Ladybug does, and it does so completely chemical free – no harsh or mild chemicals or vapors for my staff or clients to inhale!

Troy Knight
Castle Keepers of Greenville, SC

Before starting my business, I committed to being a green, eco-friendly company, and there are a lot of ways to be “green.” Our focus is to use products and processes that are less toxic and have lower VOCs than many traditional cleaning methods. Specifically what this means is that we started off building our cleaning procedure on the use of deionized water and dry steam vapor to enable us to incorporate a chemical-free process into our cleaning for clients who prefer non-traditional cleaning methods.

Without the DI Water Kit and our AdVap Ladybug with TANCS, we’d be running inventory weekly and purchasing supplies likely monthly – forever. It’s just too easy to see the savings of a one-time equipment purchase, especially one that just uses the same water supply we’d have been using if we had to dilute chemicals or in the rinsing phase of the cleaning procedure. Since we get to skip those steps, that’s time we get back in our pockets – either in cash savings not paid out to labor or to re-invest in other, more productive activities like marketing and ongoing staff training.

See more from Troy and The Steam Lady Diana Henley in this webinar about why and how companies have made a successful and profitable transition from standard or eco-friendly chemicals to a steam-powered cleaning procedure.

But you’re ready to find out how you can get your hands on the amazing AdVap Ladybug for free, right? Who wouldn’t want a chance to have this top-of-the-line, $2000 piece of premium cleaning and disinfecting equipment!

It’s so easy – and we hope you’ve been gathering as many before-and-after photos of your Ladybug cleaning jobs:

  1. Submit your best, most dramatic before-and-after photo of something you’ve cleaned with your Ladybug – only one submission per person, so make it really, really good!
  2. Come back and vote every day – on your own submission or a friend’s!
  3. Share your submission daily to remind friends, family, and clients (if you’re a business) to vote – folks can vote once a day!

Contest opens MARCH 29th and voting remains open until APRIL 29th! Good Luck!

Be sure to follow Advanced Vapor Technologies and Cleaning Business Today on Facebook for contest updates and the second half of our 2-month education series on the benefits of adopting the Ladybug with TANCS® to maintain a healthy home for yourself and for your cleaning clients.

Connect with Rick Hoverson on LinkedIn
Connect with Randy Zielsdorf on LinkedIn

Originally published March 29, 2016 at CleaningBusinessToday.com.

Posted in Business Articles, Housekeeping, Small Business Tips

12 cleaning upsells for 12 months – part 2

UpsellingIt’s never too late to implement your upselling strategy. Get yourself ready with these campaign ideas for July – December.

As you’re pulling up to the end of the first quarter or 2016, let’s finish up a year’s worth of monthly upselling and cross-selling campaigns. Remember, you can choose to run your program less frequently – say quarterly for 4 upselling promotions a year – to get started. There’s no need to overwhelm yourself with planning or your staff with keeping up right out of the gate. You can check out the first six ideas here.

July: Christmas in July Pre-paid Service Deals

Instead of competing with all of the Fourth of July themed promotions, pick up a Christmas in July theme and focus on beating the heat with good ol’ Saint Nick at the beach, the lake, or the park – and push your gift certificates or pre-paid cleaning services and programs. Another play on a summer/winter mash-up is to use a design with holiday evergreens made out of watermelons or pineapples.

August: Sweet Thank-Yous

August boasts both National S’mores Day (10th) and National Marshmallow Toasting Day (30th), so play up nights around the fire pit or camp fire and the last days of summer before school starts. It might feel like taking a break from promotions and selling, but I recommend breaking things up with a soft upsell on referrals, something that appeals to your existing clients’ hearts and senses. For this promotion, leave a thank you note along with a S’mores kit; to alleviate food allergy concerns, it’s best to purchase pre-packaged kits. It’s the kind of thing that they’ll talk about to their friends – OH, you could leave a note about sharing S’mores with friends and leave extras!

September: No-Labor Day for Mom

Why does Mother’s Day have to happen only in May? Encourage mothers to celebrate themselves and their labors-of-love by leaving the cleaning to you – especially the extras like refrigerators and carpets and pressure washing and even a one-time special on laundry.

October: Silver Polishing Cross-sell

With two often-formal family meal holidays coming up, many clients will be looking to pull out the good silver…with all of its tarnish. Imagine a leave behind with a Victorian-inspired dinner scene dripping with Halloween cobwebs to start getting clients in both a cleaning and silver frame of mind.

November: Thanks-Giving Referral Promotion

The holidays are one of the easiest times to close sales on referrals from your current customers because the holidays just simply demand a clean and tidy home. So make November an entire month of Thanks-Giving by offering to donate 10% of the cleaning fee to your charity of the month or to the charity of their choice when customer referral gets his/her first cleaning. Extend the promotion to the new client for an immediate upsell: 10% of the regular service fee (weekly or biweekly) to charity when they upgrade to regular service (fine print: donation to be made after the fifth regularly scheduled cleaning is completed).

Tip: ARCSI members should consider the November promotion as a way to create awareness of ARCSI’s Kleaning for Kids charity with the Ronald McDonald House in their local area.

December: The 12 Gifts of Christmas

Folks love gifting others with the items and services that they enjoy the best, so remind your customers of the various “extras” you offer that they’ve found valuable. Run 12 different deals-of-the-day, just one each day: a small discount or 2-for-1 with the offer expiring that same day. Repeat something if you don’t have a lot of extras, and change up the promotion for it if you do. Traditionally, the 12 days of Christmas run from December 25 – January 5, but many businesses use the 12 days leading up to Christmas: December 12 – December 24. Alternatives: The 8 Gifts of Hanukkah, The 7 Gifts of Kwanzaa

Between these and the first 6 months of upsells, you now have a complete annual upselling calendar to keep your existing clients reaching for – and paying for – more. This is an easy program to set up and put on autopilot year after year, with maybe a few tweaks and switch-ups. And don’t forget that a successful promotion begins at least 2 weeks before you intend/expect for folks to need that special service.

CeCe Mikell is the Editor-in-Chief for CleaningBusinessToday.com, coming to the cleaning industry from a 15-year career as a college professor of communication and business. She also consults with cleaning business owners on business development projects.

Originally published on March 23, 2016 at CleaningBusinessToday.com.