I have very distinct memories of my first job making $1.60 per hour at the age of 14. I put on an apron and stood behind the cash register at the local McDonald's in Miami, Florida.
Because I weaved in and out of handling money and filling bags with burgers and fries, it was important that my hands never touched the food--and McDonald's had a strict technique and system for how I was supposed to accomplish that. My manager taught me precisely how to fill a McDonald's bag.
"To pick up the [french fries] bag," he said, "pinch it by the side and drop it straight in beside the burger." He would watch us as we went through this routine and if our pinch drifted too close to the fries where our money-dirtied hands touched, he would make us throw that bag of fries away. He cared from the heart about the McDonald's standards and would lecture us on how important our handling was to delivering the right customer experience.
I remember thinking even at that young age, that this was why McDonald's was a success. McDonald's didn't just cook and sell hamburgers--the company had a strict system that created consistent service for every customer. This system was taught from the heart and delivered with consistency.
Find the Right System for Your Business
Fast forward ten years, my first business started out of the trunk of my car. As a young mom, I cleaned homes to earn a little extra money. Over time, however, I had so many clients that I was having to turn away new business. I found myself at an unexpected crossroad: keep trying to make it on my own or turn my work into a growing business.
At this stage, I didn't have a business plan (I didn't even know what a business plan was!) or ambitious goals to be the largest maid service in the country. I just knew that if I wanted my business to succeed, I needed to hire more people. After training and hiring my first employee to clean a home, I quickly realized that finding consistency is very difficult. It occurred to me, this is why my McDonald's manager watched me like a hawk! He wanted to see consistency each and every time.
I needed to establish a system with an enormously high standard to produce the same results every time a home was cleaned. After reading Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell, I adopted the Speed Cleaning method for my newfound company, Buckets & Bows Maid Service. I was able to teach this method to my employees and as a result, received the same results every time a house was cleaned.
Your business, like mine, needs a consistent, uncompromising system that can be duplicated by your employees time and time again. Do you have a strict standard and system?
Humanize Your Business: What Is Its Unique Purpose?
As Buckets & Bows Maid Service grew, it became apparent to me that having uncompromising standards was not enough to motivate my employees. You can say, work, work, work! But your customers and employees want to know why, why, why?
Science has revealed that having a tidy home creates a tidy mind, enables you to make healthier eating choices, and reduces your overall level of stress. There are countless benefits to having a clean home. I wanted Buckets & Bows to add to the benefits of having a clean home, so we started using and supplying eco-friendly cleaning products to provide non-toxic cleaning agents as a healthier alternative. Not only so my employees weren't exposed to harsh chemicals every day, but also for anyone who wanted to use less abrasive chemicals in their homes.
But nothing humanized my business more than when a woman with cancer called asking for cleaning rates for her home. Before we hung up she commented that she would not be able to afford our cleaning services until she was able to go back to work since she was off while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation..
It only occurred to me after we hung up, my company could help her, or any woman who was undergoing cancer treatments, by offering free cleaning services. Then and there I created a policy which started a movement now known as Cleaning For A Reason, allowing women battling cancer to focus on their health instead of worrying about a dirty house. Cleaning For A Reason now has over 1,200 maid services in the program, and over 23,000 women battling cancer have received free services since it's inception in 2006. On that day my business experienced a shift from hard work to heart work.
Every business needs a shift. If your business doesn't have a clear purpose--one that is bigger than a profit--I urge you to think about how your business can positively change the lives of those around you.
Hard Work In Not The Secret To Success
Most people would agree that without hard work and tenacity a business will not thrive and quality will dwindle over time. But quality is not enough to insure success. There's always going to be someone else in business claiming to be better at what you do. Hard hard work has always been credited to business success and I agree you won't experience one without the other. That "4-hour work week" was paved with 80+ hour work weeks. But hard work alone is not enough to guarantee success. I believe the path to success is paved with heart work and will produce the kind of results that cannot be manufactured by your competition. "Heart work" comes from the soul; hard work comes from the soil. When you find ways to balance both and make a tangible, memorable difference in the lives of others, you'll discover that heart work is as good for the soul as it is the bottom line. Find your company's unique purpose, be tenacious, work hard, and give from the heart and success will magically appear.