Take Time to Smell the Roses

This week, I had the pleasure of visiting our local zoo with my grandma, mom and two sons – four generations together for my boys’ first visit to the zoo!  Granted, one of them is only six months and just as happy staring into my face as he is staring into the face of a gorilla, but we were really looking forward to the two year old’s reactions when he saw all of the animals that he has only read about in books!  I have mentioned his energy level in previous blogs, and on this topic he did not disappoint.  My fitbit showed that I had reached my goal of 10,000 steps and 5 miles by 1pm that day, and let’s just say that the little guy did not spend much time in the stroller, so he was right there with me.  And so was my grandma, I might point out. You go girl! But on the animal front, his reactions were not what I was expecting.  You see, this child says “Oh WOW!” every time my husband or myself successfully uses the restroom, so when he finally saw an elephant IRL, I figured he would be beside himself.  But in reality, his response was reminiscent of a certain family favorite:

This kid talked about monkeys in the car all the way to the zoo – I got through “Ten Little Monkeys” more than once – but when he was finally face to face with one, he looked at it, then looked at me and said “Mo mo?” (and in case you don’t speak two year old, this means more).  He loved running from place to place, so I think that for him, getting there really was half the fun!

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Overall, it was a great day and one that will go down in our memory books.  All five of us are so lucky that we were able to have that experience together, and it reminded me of how important it is to take time out to spend time with family and have experiences that you will remember for a lifetime.

So many people spend their days with work on the mind, whether they are physically at the office or not. If that sounds like you, then you are missing life!  It is so important to unwind and give your brain a break.  I watched the movie Inside Out last night, and it reminded me how important it is to feel joy, and you can do that by spending time doing things that make you happy.  Royal Services is a great example of a company who truly values time with family.  They do not have “sick days” built into their compensation packages.  They simply allow for paid time off, so if your child has a field trip or if your family is in need of a long weekend, there is no need for dishonesty, spending an entire Thursday pretending to come down with something (don’t act you’ve never done this!).  It allows the company to prepare for your absence, and allows its employees to spend essential time with family.  It’s too bad more companies do not embrace this culture, maybe people as a whole would be happier!

So next time you are feeling a little down in the dumps, or like you are in a rut, take some time to do something that makes you happy – I promise you will have a new outlook by the end of the day!

 

 

 

 

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Firms are so bad at helping workers develop their careers, most are training themselves

Source: Firms are so bad at helping workers develop their careers, most are training themselves

Education

At Royal Services, we decided to address this issue at the start of 2016 by creating a new Education Board. The management team has identified a list of qualifications that will help the individual as well as allowing our team to better serve our customers. In all walks of life, we need to stay current, learn new skills, be challenged and stimulated, and avoid burn out and stagnation. Educational opportunities play a huge role in this and we are fully embracing this new attitude to develop from within. Qualifications gained so far this year include LEED Green Associate and The OSHA 30.  Employees want to be challenged and feel like they are making a difference as well as progressing in their own careers. Providing an educational opportunity will provide more positive results for your company than simply increasing someone’s wage. Fact!

 

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the importance of getting to the root of a problem, rather than just throwing a band-aid on it.  You might think this was brought to my attention due to a health problem, or maybe an issue with my car.  But you would be wrong.  This has been brought to the forefront of my mind due to living with a toddler.  A toddler boy.  A two year old toddler boy with and endless amount of energy.  This little man follows me around the house messing up everything that I clean.  When I spend time putting his toys away in their box, I turn around to find all of the Tupperware littered across the kitchen floor.  And as soon as that is cleaned up, he has taken it upon himself to empty his dad’s old micro machines all over the family room.

Remember those?  Remember how tiny they are?  Remember how many of them come in a set?  Now you feel my pain.

But what really started the conversation was when I watched my husband picking up decorative rocks from the floor WITHOUT first moving the dish they were in out of the reach of the toddler in question.   So of course before he could pick up one handful, there were two more on the floor.  Now I’m not going to lie.  Seeing as this is the kind of thing I deal with all day, I did take a few moments to sit back and watch the situation with pleasure, and I may or may not have pointed and laughed.  But once that moment had passed, we moved the dish and the problem was solved.  This probably seems like common sense, but how many times have you heard about someone simply replacing their carpet after a basement floods, without first figuring out what caused the flood in the first place? If you walk into your business on a Saturday morning to soaking wet carpets, it might be tempting to get out the shop vac and fan so you can open up for your busiest day of the week.  But when it happens again and you end up having to close your store for a week, you’re going to wish you would have gone over the root cause analysis rather than simply covering up the problem.

If this situation sounds familiar, or is one you’re looking to avoid, Royal Services might be the perfect partner for you.  At Royal, our goal is to get your business up and running as quickly as possible, but we will not sacrifice quality for speed of service.  We take our time finding out what problems you are facing and the best way to avoid seeing them again.  If you break your arm, you wouldn’t accept a doctor’s advice to simply take pain medications and deal with it.  You would get your arm fixed.  And Royal feels the same way about your business.  If you have a problem, we won’t simply put makeup on it and hope it goes away.  We will determine the true cause and do whatever it takes to make sure we do not have to make repeat visits about the same issue.  This might take more time initially, and it might cost more up front, but in the end it will save you time and money as you will likely never have to worry about the same problem again.

Now I am off to take my own advice, and put locks on every cabinet in the house!

 

Finding a Perfect Employee

As the weather begins to warm up, many people start making plans for what they will be planting in their gardens.  My husband has done a lot of yard work recently in preparation for spring, so personally, I am looking forward to all of the new opportunities I have to kill plants this year! Gardening is definitely not my strong suit, but I do like for our yard to look nice, so every year I try new things and eventually I will find the hardiest of perennials and won’t have to worry about it again.  In addition to planting flowers and possibly even vegetables, it is also important to think about any other lawn care treatments you need and if it is advisable to do them in the spring.  At our house, we are about to have some sod laid down where we used to have trees.  We did this last year as well, and for many reasons are hoping for a very different experience this time around!

Last year, not only did much of our sod die due to lack of sunlight, but one of the men tasked with laying it down was a shockingly terrible employee.  This was surprising because we have always had great experiences with our lawn care company, so when I looked out my window to see him hauling in the sod with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, I was a little taken aback.  Then about 10 minutes later when I looked again and he was sitting in a lawn chair talking on his phone, I started to get a little ticked.  The last straw was when I glanced out my back window and he was sitting in one of our patio chairs next to the house smoking another cigarette, and I finally had to speak up.  Not only to him, but to the company he worked for.  I don’t typically complain in this way, but this seemed like something they would be interested in hearing about – if it were my company, I know I would want to hear about it!  The worst part was that the other men were working so hard, picking up the slack for the lazy employee who had barely broken a sweat.  So the question is, how do you avoid hiring employees like this one at your company?  How do you find someone who perfectly suits your needs?

I had the experience of owning a company with my husband for a few years, and as it operated in another state it was important to hire a director who we could trust, one that was a self-starter and motivated even though we, the owners, would not be around on a daily basis.  Our first attempt at finding this dream employee was not successful, I’m afraid.  We were so excited to get started, that he – I mean we – thought it would be best to just get a warm body in the position, regardless of their experience or work ethic.  Obviously this was a terrible idea, and the first person we hired did not last long!  If only we could have inspired this kind of honesty in our original interview, maybe we would not have gone down that road:

The second time around, we were much more prepared.  We checked references and social media (had we done this with the first employee we would not have hired her!).  We spoke to him a lot and were very transparent about the duties the job would entail.  After a much longer period of time the second time around, we all agreed that it would be a great fit.  And boy was it!  Mike was a wonderful, responsible and caring member of our team, and although we no longer own the company, he is still directing and we know he will continue to do great things in his career.  So what tips do I have for you in your search for the perfect employee?  Here are just a few:

  1.  Check references!  I don’t know how many places I’ve worked where the references never get called. Make sure to research your state laws on what the former employer can tell you, and if you can get more information in written form.
  2.  Check social media – like it or not, this is a great way to get a more personal look at your prospective employee.  No one is going to show up to an interview dressed or behaving like they would on a Saturday night out with friends.  But think about the kind of person you want representing your company, and be sure that their values are in line with yours.
  3. Make sure the job description you give them is an accurate portrayal of what their duties will be. There is no benefit to “tricking” someone into taking a job that they might not want, or even be qualified for.  You might be tempted to spice up the description a bit, or leave out unappealing parts of the job just to get some applicants in.  But this just wastes their time and yours.  Inevitably you will need to rehire for this position, and will end up paying someone for weeks who is not performing to the highest standards.
  4. Consider a creative interview – sitting with someone in a formal setting, asking and answering questions is not always the best way to gauge their potential with your company.  When I was interviewing for preschool soccer coaches, I instructed them to wear their tennis shoes to the group interview, as they would be teaching a segment of a class to the rest of the group!  You do run the risk of turning away someone who is a little more reserved, but ultimately this particular position wouldn’t fit well with a reserved personality so it was a risk I was willing to take.
  5. Don’t stop at the interview!  Continue educating your employees and offering them a positive work environment that they feel passionate about.  Your company’s culture is what will keep your excellent employees around for many years to come!

Hopefully these tips give you some ideas for finding a great employee for your company! Remember that no one is perfect, but it is possible to find someone who is perfect for your business.

 

 

Sprucing up for Spring

I have a confession to make.  I have never taken part in a “spring cleaning.”  Don’t get me wrong, I do clean my house.  And about a quarter of the time, it just so happens to be during the spring season.  However, I have not set out to intentionally deep clean my house just because the flowers happen to be blooming outside.  However, I do like the idea of a spring cleaning, so this year I decided to go for it. And just like with any major project, the first step I took was hopping on the internet to find out what has worked for other people, and find a checklist that was applicable to my needs.  And boy did I find a lot!  Everyone has different ideas as to what should be involved in the cleaning, how extensive it should be and for what purpose it should happen.  So I took the liberty of condensing this information into one blog post that will hopefully help you at home and at work!

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The first thing you should consider is the location in need of the spring cleaning.  Will you be giving your home a deep clean, or does your business need a little sprucing up?  Historically, people do a major clean in the spring because the air has become stale after the home has been shut tight all winter.  Spring cleaning symbolizes a fresh start, and an opportunity to freshen up your home or work!  For your home, you will be looking at a literal clean, while your business will require much less elbow grease, but an equal amount of dedication.  For your home, there are four major areas where you should focus:

  1. Fabrics – sheets, comforters, place mats, tablecloths, curtains and door mats, just to name a few!
  2. Floors – clean your hard floors, finish your woods, and shampoo your carpets – don’t forget your baseboards!
  3. Windows and Walls – my windows and walls are covered in tiny hand prints, and I have come to accept that they will look like this for the next several years.  However, this is an opportunity for a  good clean in those out of reach places, as well as doors, door knobs, trim, back splash and the dreaded window blinds.  Those might be the last thing on my list…
  4. Electrics and appliances – start in the kitchen with your refrigerator, oven, microwave and dishwasher.  From there, move on to washer and dryer and finally your light fixtures.  This will produce lots of dust, so you may want to do this before your floors!

cleaning dancing minions despicable me minion

If home is not where your heart is, you may want some ideas for an office spring “cleaning”.  Here are a few tips for a fresh start at work!

  1. Email – clean out those emails!  Unless you are my husband and never have a straggler in your inbox, you probably have loads of emails that need to be cleared out.  Create folders for those that you need to keep, but keep the main section of your inbox clear.
  2. Website – it’s probably about time for a new look on your website.  Work with a designer or just utilize your own creativity to add some pizzazz to your page.
  3. Update your office – whether you simply move your desk or add a lamp, changing your office around gives it new life for the spring.
  4. Actually clean – give your area a good dusting, and don’t forget to vacuum in those corners. Even if you have a cleaning company at your place of work, chances are they are not moving furniture around every day and the dirt is piling up in places your can’t see.  Also, doing it yourself will give you peace of mind that it is completely done, and also a sense of pride and ownership in your space.
  5. AC Tune-up – Don’t forget to have a technician come out to make sure your AC is ready for the summer.  The last thing you want is to be searching for a service technician in the dead of summer because your AC stopped working!  Give yourself time to research and find the best company for your needs.

Whatever space you are cleaning this season, try to make it fun!  Turn on some music and channel your inner Mary Poppins – this is a fresh start and one that is sure to leave you feeling happier and healthier!

 

Company Culture: So Hot Right Now

 

Company Culture is all the rage.  In fact, a Columbia University Study shows that the likelihood of turnover at a company with a rich company culture is only 13.9%, compared to 48.4% where there is poor company culture.  Employers are realizing that when their employees are happy, workplace productivity is increased.  And chances are, if you work for a company that is promoting a positive company culture, and also likes to party, you have probably visited the Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I have actually been there twice, and both times have left feeling inspired – both inspired to have more fun at work, and also a little inspired to move to Vegas and work for them.  It looks like so much fun!  If you have not had the pleasure of visiting, I will give you a little background.

Zappos was founded in 1999 and was initially called shoesite.com.  The founder, Nick Swinmurn, was frustrated because he couldn’t find a specific pair of shoes that he was looking for – so naturally, he started a website that sold only shoes.  However, as time went on, he and other investors decided that they should expand and sell a variety of items, so the name was changed to Zappos (a variation of zapatos, Spanish for shoes).  The Zappos business model utilizes customer loyalty and relationship marketing.  Their call center reps do not have a script; they do not have limits on the length of their calls; they are simply there to help you find what you need and will do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.  They have a lot more autonomy in their positions than I imagine other call center reps have – if they feel the need to give free overnight shipping, they do not need to check with a supervisor, they can just do it.  In fact, Zappos recently went to a new employee model where there are no supervisors! But that is a story for another day.

Inside the Zappos headquarters, you will not find a typical cubical setup.  Each department has designed their area in a unique way – the CEO actually sits in a cubicle right in the middle of the jungle section!  When I visited, there was a department that built cardboard cars around their cubes, so they could be at work inside of a Volkswagen Bus.  My favorite department welcomed all of its guests by blasting “Eye of the Tiger” and working their Shake Weights to the beat.

Cheezburger shake weight tv epic audience

The point is, the employees at this company are happy!  They look forward to going to work, and if they are having a rough day, it’s fine.  Once a week they will have the opportunity to get back on track in the Royalty Room with their “sole” coach, discussing goals and being made to feel like royalty, if only for 30 minutes at a time.

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In fact, Zappos actually pays its employees to quit.  After the first week of employment, they are offered $1000 plus the wages they earned to leave the company.  Employees who take this offer obviously do not possess the passion required to work there, and Zappos is happy to find someone who does.

So now it’s time to ask yourself – does your company have a positive culture that promotes happiness among employees?  Do you think your employees would take $1000 to leave?  It’s important to realize the amount of money that can be saved at your business when you have employees who feel just as passionate about the work as you do.  For some tips on creating a positive company culture, check here!