Toilet Paper Blossoms: Details Make the Difference for Customers

Photograph of Larry Johnson, Professional Speaker, Author, and Corporate Culture Expert

I recently interviewed Michael Silva-Nash, who is a franchise owner in Little Rock AR for Molly Maid, Inc. Founded in 1979, the company is a highly successful, international company, based in Ann Arbor MI. Molly Maid, Inc. offers residential cleaning services. The company was recently featured on the A&E Channel’s popular show, “Be The Boss.”

I’ll be speaking at Molly Maid’s annual franchise owners conference next month, so I asked their management to interview some of their top producers and Michael is one of them.

I asked Michael what his secret to success is. Without hesitation, he responded that it all gets back to maintaining a positive culture for his employees that focuses on the little things that make the Molly Maid experience special for his customers. His employees consist of HSPs (Home Service Professionals) who clean the houses, and CSRs (Customer Service Representatives) who deal with customers and manage the back office.

For example, he and his management team recognized one the HSPs, at one of their monthly meetings for folding the ends of the toilet paper in a unique manner. If you’ve stayed in a hotel, you’ve seen how the maids usually fold the end of the toilet paper into a triangle. This HSP folds her customers’ toilet paper into flower blossoms. The HSP was asked to show everyone how this was done and now it’s one of the little touches that makes the Molly Maid AR experience special for all their customers.
Michael went on to explain that his philosophy is that since the HSPs and their supervisors are the key interface between the company and its customers, how you treat them will be reflected in how they treat the customers. So Michael and his management team go out of their way to make sure the HSPs know they are appreciated and valued.

For example, when a crew (2 – 4 HSPs) finishes up their day, they are asked to come by the office and check in. Michael makes sure that someone from the management team is there to greet them every time, no exceptions. This may not seem like a big deal except that sometimes these teams don’t finish up until late in the evening – and when that happens, the manager brings pizza to the jobsite for the crew and stays with them until the job is done – even if it’s midnight! The message to the employees here is that we are all in this together.

Also, Michael’s Molly Maid franchise holds monthly meetings where all the HSPs and CSRs are treated with snacks, updated on all they need to know to do a great job, and solicited for ideas on how to improve the Molly Maid experience for customers. Their ideas are given full consideration, recognized and applauded whether they are implemented or not. Hence, the special flower blossoms on the toilet paper rolls of Molly Maid’s Little Rock customers.

Michael also believes in making sure his crews have the tools they need to do a great job. Worn out brooms and mops are replaced immediately. Clean rags are always in abundance, and cleaning chemicals (green of course) are always in stock and available.

I call this the “Radar O’Reilly approach to effective management.” If you ever saw the television series M*A*S*H, you probably remember Radar O’Reilly. Played by Gary Burghoff, he was a cute, naive young man who slept with a teddy bear and drank Nehi sodas. His title was Company Clerk and Bugler. His real job, however, was to get the surgeons and nurses what they needed to do their jobs well. If they needed scalpels, he tracked them down and delivered them. If they needed a generator but none was available, he’d wheel and deal with clerks from other companies to score one. If they needed strings pulled with some top general so they could get some R&R in Tokyo, he’d persuade Colonel Potter to do it. One way or another, Radar got the job done and earned the respect of the others in camp, despite the fact he was only a corporal and looked twelve years old.

In a landmark study published in their book First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (Simon & Schuster, 1999) Curt Coffman and Marcus Buckingham identified the 12 most powerful actions managers can take to positively affect productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction and employee turn-over. According to Coffman & Buckingham, after being clear about what they expect of employees (number 1,) the second most powerful thing managers can do is provide employees with the materials and equipment to do their jobs right.

It sounds like Michael Silva-Nash has both of those action items nailed down. How about you?

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