Straight Talk: ARCSI on Residential Cleaning During COVID-19 [Video]
NORTHBROOK, Ill.—May 6, 2020—In this edition of Straight Talk with Jeff Cross, members of the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International (ARCSI), a division of ISSA, discuss how COVID-19 is impacting their residential cleaning businesses. ACRSI Chairman Alonzo Adams, owner of Busy Bee Cleaning Company in West Chester, Penn.; Elena Ledoux, owner of Superb Maids in Las Vegas; and Carrie Knight, owner of Maid Brigade in Tampa Bay, Fla. weigh in with insight and advice for residential cleaners during the pandemic.
All three owners are seeing trends across the industry and in their own companies of higher expenses and fewer clients. Knight said that although Florida is in phase one of reopening, her company is still seeing last-minute cancellations of cleanings due to COVID-19 concerns. Ledoux’s company also experienced “cascading cancellations” at the end of March and beginning of April, but they are beginning to see slow increases in business now. As ARCSI chairman, Adams speaks with cleaning companies all over the country, and one problem the whole industry is facing is a shortage of cleaning supplies and higher prices for in-demand products.
Regarding protocols for residential cleaners, the pandemic has definitely brought about changes. Adams said they had to reevaluate their equipment and approach in light of COVID-19, providing new training for cleaners that will become the standard going forward. “If you look for a positive in this, the silver lining, that is the silver lining for the residential cleaning industry,” Adams said. “Changes are being made and these are good changes for the benefit and the health of the industry.”
As cleaning protocols change, the next obvious question is, should cleaning fees change as well? For Ledoux, she doesn’t feel the time is right to change her fees with so many people experiencing economic hardship; rather, her company is highlighting the COVID-relevant protocols they do, such as PPE use and high touchpoint cleaning, as a way to show the value of residential cleaning services to customers.
When it comes to instilling customer confidence in cleaning companies, Knight says the messaging for the entire industry needs to shift from saving the customer time to protecting the customer’s health. “Before, it was all about free time, and now it has to—right now at least—be all about safety because people want to know that you’re keeping them and their families safe in their home because that’s where they’re spending the majority of their time,” Knight said, adding, “The reason we’re essential is because we’re keeping their home free of germs and viruses that can make them sick.”
Ledoux has tried to reassure customers by changing the messaging around the pandemic from, “It’s the end of the world,” to “We got you. We can protect you. We know what we’re doing.” She also noted that “Now is not the time for amateurs to clean; now is the time for professionals to clean.”
On offering advice to other owners, Adams says, “It’s a crisis, but in all crisis is opportunity.” Cleaners must adjust and move forward in the new, post-COVID-19 world, even though there’s uncertainty. Knight adds that business owners can’t panic, and they can’t just hope for the best because “hope is not a strategy.” Instead, owners must create a plan and work the plan to meet the challenges of these times. Ledoux recommends plugging into the community through ARCSI because, “You’re not alone.” ARCSI is a powerful network of residential cleaning business owners that provides a space for shared ideas, answered questions, and support as we all face the challenges of this pandemic together.
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