I have written extensively about the company and our work and I do not intend to rehash what's already been told. If the reader is interested in David's momentary questioning of his sanity for opening a business that would bring the general public down upon us, it's been related. To read about the meteoric rise, the agony of the tanking economy and the head-scratching about whether we were seeing a rebound, go here. If the reader wants to know about the dead body or the day the cops came to collect me or all about the wonderful anniversary party held in my honor, it's all there. And if one likes misery, there's plenty to read about when things became too slow, the customers began to be difficult, and times were not very good. But that's not what this post is about.
Among other things I did not expect to become, I am rather a statistician/trend predictor/crystal ball-rubbing observer. When times went bad and I was no longer so busy I could scarcely breathe, I began to gather information. I do this when I suffer many kinds of distress - start pulling in data to examine. Someone I admire told me that fear is simply not having enough information and I suppose my actions support that theory. I started making charts and spread sheets that talk to each other. I made friends with the Farmer's Almanac and my own work order history, the local and national news archives. Within a few months I was able to make some fairly accurate predictions. But once my body of information grew, and combined with my memory for names, places and events, I now may qualify for soothsayer status! For I can state what day of the week this was last year, what the weather was like, if the schools were open, whether a holiday approached, what the economy was doing, what was in the headlines . . . . and what that will mean to our business now. For whatever reason, folks, I have a very high degree of accuracy. I can't contemplate why. I never intended to predict the future. By the way, David is also very good at calling the trends, but he is more visceral. He gathers information with which to make predictions differently than I do.
We have a number of catchphrases that we use in our little world. "Dandruff" spoken on the radio, means the customer is a flake. "Batshit" indicates "this woman is crazed". Some go longer: "When Les is in the house, nobody else answer the phone ~ she gets the jobs." The holiest of the holy, however, the one that has guided us through some very tough times, is David's: "Just keep doing what we do so well. Keep showing up and doing it right." It's how he lives his life and runs all of his businesses. He provides the best of absolutely everything there is - technology, service vehicles, cleaning solutions, machinery, uniforms. Then it's on us to do our jobs. We muse sometimes on those who do the best they can and are satisfied with that versus those who do their jobs the best it can possibly be done by anyone. The latter is what we prefer. And, mostly, that is the sort of worker who has remained through the down times.
Last fall I took a call for some tile and grout cleaning. It was for a church with a name that struck me as way out there - sounding almost cultlike. It had an address on a street that intersects with the Strip and I knew by the address number that it would be near the Strip. Hmm . . . . cult for tourists. The young man who booked the job said he was the facilities manager. I thought, "OK, home dude. Whatever." The job was unusual in that he wanted same-day service and it had to be squeezed between church services. Most similar jobs would be arranged for night time service when no one was expected in the building, but we were so slow, I would try to accommodate anything. I sent Cesar, among our best ever. He did his usual exemplary work, moving double time and putting down fans to dry one area as he moved on to clean the next, clock ticking. At the end of the job we took an American Express card and never heard from the customer again. When Cesar came back in, I asked about the cult. "No, Les, it's a Catholic church." Hmmm . . . I know about Catholic, and that name doesn't sound right, but OK. Cesar knows. "I think it's pretty big, but I didn't see it all. The building is big, but I was only working in the entryway and the big double doors were locked. I couldn't see inside."
Over the past two weeks, the pace has picked up. Dramatically. Last week was the best week we've had in many, many months, both in terms of new jobs booked and money earned. I've been listening very carefully to potential customers as they call in, trying to feel the pulse, and reviewing the events of the past 18 months or so. I pulled out all the impedimenta that make me the forecaster I have become and I began to concentrate. I landed on a theory that says we are beginning a slow, but steady climb out of the darkness, with the occasional windfall. I went to talk to David about it. "David, I'm no John Maynard Keynes, but I think I'm onto something and here are all the reasons why." He sat bolt upright. The next morning at staff meeting, he had me go over it with the homes. They agreed with my theory and were able to add some other indications from what they've experienced out in the mean streets. Today is the first day of daylight savings time and I am reminded of the home dude who once called me an octopus because of my ability to handle so many phones, pens and a keyboard at the same time. Today is an octopus day. The phones are screaming. I'm booking jobs.
Last week on a nasty wintry day, an e-mail dropped into the customer service inbox. Both David and I access that account and we saw it come in at the same time. Oh! Home dude from the church from last fall. Because of the "phenomenal" job Cesar did on the tile and grout, home dude wants an estimate for a "very large" area of carpet cleaning. ". . . the church, the gift shop, stock room, front office, back office and wedding chapel . . . " We each leapt to our feet and nearly collided in the hallway. I began an intense exchange of e-mails with the facilities manager and made that man my own. Now he was bonded to two of us, Cesar and me! The next morning, I had Cesar wear his "dress uniform", the shirt with all the certification badges. He took the digital, rolling measuring device - no pedestrian tape measure for this! I watched him cross the city on GPS. I counted the minutes while I knew he was inside. My BlackBerry chirped: "Les?" I do not have to see Cesar's face with my eyes to know what facial expression he is wearing. "Come on, Cesar, don't toy with me. Tell me." To put it in perspective for the reader, it will require every man and every van. It will take 8-10 hours, in the middle of which I will take lunch to them. 11,000 square feet of carpet and 156 twenty-foot pews! March income!
"Just keep doing what we do so well. Keep showing up and doing it right."
In my ears right now: The Dixie Cups ~ Goin' to the Chapel. Why the YouTube image shows The Shirelles ~ Will You Love Me Tomorrow, I'm not certain. I wasn't in charge of that.
Something that charmed me: I can think of few single days more objectionable than last Saturday. The wind was frightening. Only once have I personally witnessed worse wind and that was nearly a life-altering experience. But this was epic, too! When I stopped for red lights, it troubled me to see the big light standards bouncing wildly in the wind. Sunday was slightly better, but still the wind screamed out of the north sufficiently to make us pull the plug on a walk only a few miles into it. Today we expect 71 degrees and this will be the coolest day of the week. St. Patrick's Day will be 80 degrees! And the wind slumbers. By mid-morning, I threw open the big double doors that were nearly sucked off of the building on Saturday. The birds outside trilled at the little birdies inside . . . .
In the good old days when the rocket ship was heading for the moon and not crashing back to earth, we had a certain number by which we weighed whether a day was good or bad. If I booked that many jobs, it was a good day. Today I exceeded that number of bookings! I'm going to be straight and say it was stressful, as I am rusty. And I'm not complaining.