Saturday, September 29, 2012

That Special "Thing"

That Special "Thing"

Anyone can clean a house... scrub tile, floors and toilets, but it takes a special person to bring your passion into your work.  

Each house has it's special thing, space, vibe...whatever you want to call it, it is there!  A "Great Cleaner" will be able to find this and work from it. If you listed any of my clients, I would be able to tell you what that special "Thing" is.  

This is why I love my job, because every house and family is different.  Different decorating tastes, different needs, different lifestyles.  

The photo to the left is from my clients that live on an old hobby farm, surrounded by gardens and wild flowers.  Every week, I venture out into the gardens with my scissors and basket and start cutting fresh flowers.  Each week something different is in bloom, from flowers, to hosta, berry bushes and trees or even fall leaves.  I love wandering out to see what is in bloom, even a single blossom can be placed in a small vase on the back of the toilet or kitchen window sill.  

 The photo to the right shows my single female clients love of body and bath products.  Her idea of storing these items was in large plastic bins under her bed with an inch of dust on the lid.  So I converted her small closet into a boutique for her to go shopping for something new.  She now takes a few new items off the shelf and puts some of her other items she has gotten bored with back into her inventory.
Ahhh...I love this client.  Two little girls live here, if you couldn't guess.  I LOVE cleaning their sheets and making their beds to look like beds fit for a princess.  Toys are straightened, blankies folded and jammies folded neatly under their pillows.
PLUS...they have a big chalkboard on their wall.  Each week, I take 5 minutes to draw a special picture or maze on the board for them.  It may be something going on such as a holiday or school starting or a fun theme such as a maze with Alice at the top falling into a hole and a table with teacups at the end.

Now we are going to do a little activity...

~Write down your clients (or if you want to do this for your own house...list your rooms)
~Close your eyes and imagine walking into the house or room.
~Write down the thoughts and images that come to mind.
~Do this quickly for each client.
~Now go back and think of one or two things you could do for this client or room to enhance the special "THING" about this client or room.

To Judge Or Be Judged...

Living Room Before
To Judge Or Be Judged...

This past week I was called in for an emergency.  A Mother called one of my clients, in a panic...they were going to do an inspection on her apartment.  My client called me in a panic!

She explained that she hadn't been in her Mother's apartment in years, always using the community room in her building instead of her apartment.  Therefore, she had no idea what she was asking of us, but she knew it had to be bad since her Mother was worried about not passing the inspection.

We showed up at the apartment, knocked on the door and the door slowly opened the door and blocked our entrance.  She was embarrassed and unsure if she was ready to let someone see her shame.  She asked..."How bad have you seen a house?"  I reassured her that it would be ok and we were there to help her out.

As a cleaner, it is our job to put fears to rest and not judge!  We are there to do a job for a client and be professional and ready for anything so that if you run into something you are not expecting, you can easily overcome the challenge!

Bedroom Before
She opened the door reluctantly and lead us down the hallway into the main living areas.  She sighed and said she was so sorry, repeating over and over..."I'm so embarrassed."  Again, not Judging, we looked through the apartment, with confidence that we were perfect for this job!  I told her it was going to be ok and we were here to help her.

We cleaned...and cleaned...and 4 hours later, with two of us, we completed what we could in the clients budget.  Thirteen bags of garbage later, signs of mice and dead maggots in the carpet, we got the place in shape to pass the inspection.

As we wrapped up the job, I talked to the client and told her it would be just fine and she was on the right track.  Her eyes filled with tears with relief and happiness with the hope of a new beginning.  I gave her a hug and let her know that she did a great job.

Our job, as home cleaners is also to be kind, understanding and not judge a person.  There are always stories in a clients life we don't know but if you open your heart and mind to see the bigger picture, judging won't get in your way of doing a great job!

Living Room After
TIP: When you feel overwhelmed in a situation like this, here are a few ideas to help out.
~Before you begin, walk through the house.
~Talk to the client and find out which rooms are most important to get cleaned.
~Be honest with them about what you think you can get done in the allotted time.
~Dig in...Don't let ADD get in the way.  Stay focused on one area in the room and start working your way around the room.
~Be aware of your for broken glass, knifes, sharp objects hidden in the clutter.
~If you client is working with you, check in with them.  Make sure they feel comfortable with the progress.

ORGANIZING TIP:  Moving stuff from a cluttered mess to piles around the room doesn't help you see progress.  This is a trick I have learned and makes it easier to leave homework for your client without overwhelming them.
You will need:
~Brown Grocery Bags
~Black Marker
Bedroom After
As you go through the clutter, create bags of items...bathroom items, hair clips/headbands/brushes, office supplies, dirty dishes, important papers, etc.  Label bags with appropriate titles.  For bags that have smaller stuff in them, I cut down so you can easily see into them.

Once you have cleared the clutter and done with the job, instruct your client to work on one bag every day.  This makes it much less overwhelming for them.
~Make sure to give them guidelines for throwing things away...broken, unused, old, outdated, etc.

Note: This cleaning ended with the apartment clean for the client.  Unfortunately, there were a few things we couldn't fix or get to.  The carpet was destroyed in the living room near the couch and will need to be replaced.  The pile of clothing on the clients bed is being gone through by the Mother and Daughter, since the client had lost 60lbs from illness, much of the clothing was thrown or donated.