Hard to find good help.

A friend of mine, diagnosed with asthma, was recently told that she needed to stop vacuuming and dusting in her home.

I know. Tragic.

Mary planned her budget, paid some bills off, and looked for someone clean her home. Her husband Bill found a company that claimed they would make their image sparkle, and asked for a home visit. The owner stopped by and offered a quote, left some paperwork, and the couple hired the cleaning company to stop by a week later.

Their experience was less than ideal. Dusty base boards. Dust on doors and furniture. Floors not cleaned all the way into the corners. Rugs poorly vacuumed. Within a couple of days, they had found enough obvious areas that had not been cleaned, and decided it was not worth attempting to have the cleaning company back.

Bill sent an e-mail to the owner thanking her for her time, but informing her that they “would not be continuing with her services.” He wished her the best in her future business endeavors, and went back to the drawing board.

Fast forward a week, and the owner, we’ll call her Crystal, phoned Mary, and asked what went wrong. Mary  explained that between the list of rules that Crystal left and the results of her first cleaning, that she didn’t feel like it was a good match.

Crystal went off. Started interrupting. Very deffensive, she repeated “your house was dirty!” multiple times. After asking Mary what went wrong, she refused to listen to the answer, made no attempt to salvage the relationship, and in the end, hung up on Mary.

I was discussing this with my wife, and this really seems indicative to us of what we’ve experienced ourselves. In spite of the nastiest economic situation since the Great Depression, it is really hard to find good service these days. My friend Melissa at Wisefly auto glass will talk to you about quality all day long… I’m mentioning her here mostly to try to bait her into telling a story about quality, but I’m sure she’ll agree. It is getting increasingly tough to find good help these days.

One of my favorite TV personalities, Tom Colicchio of Top Chef fame, was in a TV spot yesterday talking about the Shine a Light program sponsored by American Express and NBC Universal. The invitation is simple. Share a program about a small business you know that you find inspiring.

You know what’s sad? I had a hard time thinking of anyone I would want to nominate (apologies to Melissa, of course, but as I haven’t personally done business with Wisefly, it would be hard to make that nomination). I have companies with which I am personally associated that I really like and am passionate about, but as far as a small business that I patronize regularly and feel really “gets it” better than almost anyone else, I am having a hard time coming up with anything.

I hope your experience is different. In this economy, I want to hear about the people who really get it. I only have so much money to spend on goods and services, and I want to be able to patronize businesses owned by people who bring the same care and attention to the way they treat their customers as I try to bring to mine. If you know of someone deserving, please head on over to Shine a Light and let them know. And share your story here, too, if you have a few moments.

Photo Credit: “Sun” by melle_oh / CC BY 2.0


  1. So true, so true…I must convey, my hope in humanity has dropped yet a few more notches. Although I feel exactly as you do, I live in Southern California, in most areas here quality is a long lost memory, to some a mythical exaggeration. I tell myself day in and day out that the other parts of our country don’t do business on such a low level of quality. It’s been my mental “protector”, to know that quality still has a home and is alive and well in the not so overpopulated regions. Now, a vital part of the wall I’ve built in mind just fell. Don’t worry, I’m ok, just a little more concerned for our country. Somehow, some way, we started accepting quality-less products. This started a mind set. The mind set expanded to accepting quality to be cut in every area of every industry. It’s accepted that quality be missing even in the customer service industry. Whether or not anyone saw it coming…this mind set is here and quality is almost completely gone. There are a few of us hanging on to it. We care more about it than we care about making a profit. It is that important to us. Anything less than quality is a waste of money and time and should not even be considered. Without quality there is no longevity. Where is the investment value in the dollars you spend, if what you are receiving is less than a quality product? You’ll spend twice as much replacing the inferior product twice as often.

    As you stated, I could talk all day about quality. Sadly, the lack of quality is in abundance, I am sure that it is worse in my region than in yours, but it is a shame that there is a lacking of people who want to produce quality in their wake. It is criminal to the extent some will go to just go through their day collecting money from unsuspecting consumers paying for what they think is a fair market price for a service or product. What the consumer gets in return is junk and lies, and in the windshield replacement industry, it is inconceivable to think that the resulting product/service can actually end in a fatality. You would think that any human would take care to not be neglectful in a case that this could be the difference in life or death, if an accident were to occur, but they don’t care.

    I will take leave now, and in doing so, I thank you, sincerely for your complimenting words about me and my Wisefly =) We are who we are and we are as lucky to have our customers as they are to have us…although we set a new standard for quality, we are following a mindset of the days of old.

  2. Don Dewsnap says:

    While it might seem that James and Melissa are overstating the case, let me assure you they are not. I have been studying quality for over twenty years, in both its theoretical and practical aspects. By repeated surveys, not one person in a hundred names quality as a factor in why they are not doing better in [fill in the blank: business, school, marriage] except when they name someone else’s poor quality (bad school, stupid boss, lazy husband). In effect, the relationship between quality and success has been utterly lost. What makes this tragic, instead of just unfortunate, is that quality is very easy to achieve, but its importance, its significance, is just not understood, so even the small effort to learn how to achieve it is almost never made.

    I met Melissa because she challenged anyone on Twitter who cared about quality to contact her. As far as I know, only I contacted her. I thereupon challenged anyone of my 2,500 followers who cared more about quality than profit to contact me. Five people responded (including Melissa, of course). Not scientific, not statistically meaningful, but indicative.

    Maybe one person in a hundred who reads this will think it applies to him or her. And that, my friends, is the problem.

  3. Mike says:

    Interesting post. I have read simillar post on House Cleaning forum today.

  4. Maggie @ Managed Hosting says:

    You would think that in light of the economic crisis we’ve faced not only as a country, but as a global market, that people would be more inclined to hosting better service. After all, businesses succeed with happy customers. And yet, we’ve managed to become more lazy. I’ve personally never hired a cleaning company, because I’m anal when it comes to my house’s cleanliness, but I feel for your friend Mary.

  5. Helen Tarlow @ doublerideau.org says:

    Let us not forget that businesses exist because of satisfied and fulfilled customers, this customers do business out of trust, trust that is hard to earn and easy to tarnish with just a single and small flaws in service output or product failure. Product and service failure creates a bad reputation. Bad reputation works like a contagious decease that infects and spreads like a virus. Every virus has a corresponding antidote. Injecting quality in everything we do reflects the people, product, service and the company in general. Quality is a core value and should never have to be compromised.
    Helen Tarlow recently posted Rideau pas cher

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