Happies

So, I mentioned in my post “A Mission Statement with a Mission” that I’d included some sort of “Easter Eggs” in my client information sheets. These information sheets are distributed to our employees when they are cleaning a house, and include directions, etc. I decided I wanted a reminder in there that there was more to life than work, and so started including what I call “Happies.”

Happies are things such as:

  • Smile at a stranger today!
  • Be kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it!
  • Think about the last time you couldn’t stop laughing…and laugh again!

I know they are silly, and probably mostly looked over as such. However, they’ve had an unexpected effect. I wrote them in order to impact my employees. I wanted them to feel like humans, not rats in a rat-race, but I’m quite sure now that the person it’s impacted most is ME.

The effect it had is hardly measurable. Ever since the day I wrote all of these things (about three months ago) into my client sheets (of which there are around fifty), I have wanted to DO all fifty of the things I wrote. It’s had a major impact on the way I interact with friends, loved ones, and strangers alike. It’s influenced how I feel about the work I do, and how far I’m willing to go to help someone else even when it inconveniences me.

This is not to say that I have become perfect at this or that I am living with a Pollyanna mindset. I still have quite unsavory thoughts at times, and am NOT always happy to go the extra mile. But if I were to take a percentage of the times I responded negatively before I wrote these items out and the times I responded negatively after I wrote them, I can tell you I am certain the percentage would’ve dropped dramatically.

It gives me pause when I feel like letting someone have it when I think: “Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it. You’re not doing it for them, you’re doing it for you. Forgiveness is the beginning of healing.” Or better yet, when I won’t let myself off the hook (which is more frequent): “Forgive yourself for that dumb thing you did that time. (You know the one.) We all have them.”

A few semi-cheesy maxims written one day for the purpose of employee morale reminded me who I wanted to be and what was important.

The Mission Statement with a Mission

So, one of the many things that’s changed since I was consistently writing here is that my husband and I have started a cleaning company. We’ve been doing it for over two years, and have six employees.

Early this year during our slow season, I read a lot of books about business. I met with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) from UGA. I wrote an employee handbook. I created a quality control program with incentives. I instituted monthly dinners with my employees. I re-vamped our client info sheets with some “Easter Eggs” I may discuss in another post. Needless to say, the slow season did not feel very slow to me. I did these things partially because I was feeling unmotivated and frustrated myself, and having had a lot of trouble retaining employees, I started thinking, well if I’m feeling un-motivated, how am I supposed to pass on any sort of vision along to my employees?

The business books and the SBDC rep all say you should have a mission statement, but some of the books I read (foremost Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappo’s) went further and talked about how your mission statement should reflect not only flat verbiage about what you physically do as a company, but, in essence, the feeling you want to impart to people as a company.

Now, let’s be real here, cleaning is not a noble profession. It doesn’t take skilled labor or schooling. But I’m of the opinion that all work is worth doing well: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men….” Colossians 3:23. I also believe that no work should be looked at as menial or demeaning. If you are doing something that needs to be done, then you are providing something that has value. I wanted to impart this to my employees – the feeling that cleaning houses, and doing it well really means something to the people we are doing it for – that doing it well actually affects the lives of our clients.

So, I asked my clients a series of questions to try to get a direction going for our Mission Statement. Here are the questions:

1) What do you feel are the most valuable characteristics for your cleaning company?
2) When your expectations for your cleaning company are met, how does it affect your life?
3) When your expectations for your cleaning company are met, how does it make you feel?
It was really interesting to me how much the answers I received overlapped and were reiterated time and time again. I was able to break the answers of each question down into essentially three main points…some of these points became part of the actual mission statement, and some became core values (which the businessy folks also told me I should have).
Now, many of our clients rent their homes out, and so we are not only giving them a pleasant experience, but we are enabling them to have a successful business, so the answers reflect that as well.
Based on my customer feedback, this is now the mission statement of Blue Ridge Cabin Cleaning:
To inspire happiness and gratefulness in our clients by performing a quality act of service each and every time, so that they can stop worrying and ENJOY LIFE!
The answers to the questions I posed to my clients showed that we could actually do this, just by doing a quality job for our clients!
Now compare it to the mission statement I’d come up with for us on my own before I completed the survey:

To be the premium quality cleaning service for Vacation Rental Homes and Vacation Homes in the Fannin County, GA service area, by providing consistent, excellent service each and every time, reflecting the specific needs of our clients and to embody, as a company, the intent of the “Golden Rule,” meaning we will clean each house as we would hope someone would clean our own.

Sounds rote, and meaningless, like words in a legal document, right? How different it makes one feel to be inspring happiness and gratefulness and to be a contributor to giving someone a less stressful life!

So, my encouragement here is to all of you doing little jobs that you think have no purpose. They do! When you do your job well, it is doing something that affects others even if it is only cleaning toilets.