Is Your Company Built to Handle a Capable Crew?

I hate hiring; It’s so depressing. You look with hope at the applicant pool, pick out someone who seems to be what you are looking for, and then this happens. Note this actual conversation I had with one applicant over text:

Me: So, what was the name of the company that you worked for?

Them: Look, I’m a hard worker. I’m always on time and I have reliable transportation. I’m just looking for a job.

Me: I’m sure you are. However, this is my busy season and I don’t have time to train anyone. So, if you wouldn’t mind telling me which company you worked for, I can call them to verify your skill level.

Them: Dude, you don’t have to train nothing. I can get to work and get it done. I know how to clean windows. Your job ain’t that hard. I’ve done it before, it’s easy.

Me: Really? Because following instructions is part of the job and you’re not doing so hot right now.

And it seems like it just keeps happening over and over again. Bad interview upon bad interview. Poor candidate upon poor candidate. It seems like there’s no end in sight, until there is, finally. Indeed, when you find the right person, the one you have been searching for, it really is a joyful time! If you know how to play your cards right and are willing to help them to reach their potential, to paraphrase Casablanca, it could be the beginning of a beautiful partnership.

This is the third and last article in this “Employee vs. Window Cleaner” series. The previous article focused on how we can make the most of an “Employee”. However, as we now move on to the subject of the “Window Cleaner”, things get a little objective. You see, when you have Window Cleaners in your crew, the focus shifts towards you and your business. Does your business have the environment necessary to help a Window Cleaner blossom and thrive? Could you be leaving potential talent and skills on the table by not identifying those in your crew who have the Window Cleaner mentality? How can you encourage them to stay with you when they have the potential to go out on their own?

Before you can answer those questions, you need to do a little self-assessment:

  •     Is your view of those who work for you one of mentorship or one of competition?   Let’s face it, it’s easy to start up a window cleaning company. As a result, owners are understandably cautious when it comes to how much they teach their employees. There absolutely needs to be some information boundaries set-up, such as a "non-compete" agreement, to protect your business. It’s up to each owner to determine what that may entail. Do you purposely keep your employees as untrained as possible because you view them as potential future competition? That certainly is your right. However, if you open up the possibility of mentorship to an employee who has Window Cleaner potential, you open up a new realm of possibility. Remember, employees will only work up to what the minimum expectations are. If you do not allow a Window Cleaner to explore their abilities, you will have relegated them to substandard work as an employee. On the other hand, if a Window Cleaner understands that you are mentoring them and helping them to grow in their role with the company, there is a whole other level of reward and accountability you have given them as challenges to aspire towards. They become much more valuable by feeling like a vital part of the company as opposed to just another of its assets. While there is a risk, the fact is that any of your employees could become your competition regardless of what you do. Being a mentor allows you the opportunity to form a relationship and increase the odds that you will remain friendly competitors if they ever choose to leave. Yes, there are many different mindsets on whether that is a wise risk or not and I am certainly not saying this route is foolproof. But a Window Cleaner needs to be allowed to reach their full potential or else they will not feel accomplished in their job. And you will soon find yourself putting up help-wanted ads once again.
  •       Have you taken the time to identify who in your crew has the Window Cleaner mentality?  Let’s face it, many owners don’t always have the opportunity to observe their workers on the job. Even if they are on the job site, they are often on the phone attending to business-related calls, communicating with clients, and doing other essential things so that their business runs smoothly. It's very easy to lump all employees into the same mold and just keep the status quo no matter who may fall into the roles. It's very important for you as an owner to know who is working for you. Sometimes Window Cleaners have been held back for years because they have never been asked to use their brains. So, take note of who you have in your crews. Who has the qualities necessary to be given more responsibility? Give them a task and then observe their response. Can they think on their feet? Do they take initiative? Do they relish the new responsibilities? Keep testing them and help them to see that you value their talents and you want them to be put to use. A Window Cleaner who feels valued and appreciated is a powerful weapon in your arsenal.

  •       Does your company’s pay scale show a clear distinction between your Employees and your Window Cleaners?  We’ve already shown that a Window Cleaner has the desire to do a good job and represent the company they work for in a good light. If they are paid the same as a coworker who does the minimum amount required, that desire will soon fade away. If you want to have Window Cleaners excel for you, you need to show them that you appreciate them through compensation. In my company, we call Window Cleaners Lead Techs and they are paid $3 or more an hour than their coworkers and their pay is above average for an employed window cleaner in our area.  This acts as an incentive for them to continue their hard work and makes it easier for them to stay with you when the temptation to start their own business arises. It also gives an incentive for the Employees who work for you to get their act together and consider changing their habits to get the 'better pay'.

In the end, the uncertainty of business means each owner has to know their business well enough to make the right calls to become successful. I hope that this series has provided tips on making the most of your crew, whichever side of the fence they may find themselves on.

Gabriel Gutierrez
Owner and President
Gabe's Spotless Cleaning Services, Inc.
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Window cleaning companies can use one kind of pre-employment personality test that gives owners and managers a quick, easy way to avoid hiring substance abusers – e.g., alcoholics and drug abusers – and other bad characters.