Hiring Employees – How To Avoid The Nightmares

happy employees


Problem employees or problems with employees is one of the biggest complaints that I here from business owners.

And I am not going to lie, employees can be one of bigger challenges of being in business.

How do you hire good trustworthy employees?

Once you have hired them, how do you keep your employees motivated?

I would ask you to consider that maybe the “problem” isn’t the employee.

I’ve been hired by companies to help in this department and a lot of the time what I find is not that they staff or employees are the problem but the lack of systems, training and accountability are what has the owner or boss wanting to pull their hair out.

You can hire all “A” players to work in your company or on your crew but if you don’t give them the right tools, direction and support one of two things will happen. They will either leave you for greener pastures or they will turn into a bad apple in a hurry.

So the first thing you need to look at in your company is you as the owner and your management team and ask yourself these questions with brutal honesty.

Am a supportive to my team in both morale and training?

What is my attitude and that of my management toward the staff?

What areas can I improve in my company when it comes to communication and systems with my team?

If you are honest with yourself you will find that the root of any employee issues you may be having starts with you and your management.

Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying that your employees or team aren’t responsible for their actions and job performance at all.

But what I am saying is that you are the person of control of the situation and it all starts with you as the owner.

There are definitely some things you can put in place to minimize your employee headaches.

I want to share with you a few that I do in my own company:

  • Background checks:All potential new hires are put through a full background check, including driving record. If you state in your application or hiring process that all applicants must be able to pass a back ground check, you can prequalify potential employees in advance.
  • Employee Handbook: A detailed expectation and agreement of employment will help you make sure that your new employees are in agreement with the standards that you have put into place in your company. It will also establish expectations of your new hires.
  • Company Culture: Creating an environment where others can excel and are rewarded for such goes a long way to set standards within your team. If you hire someone who doesn’t fit in with your team’s standards that they are all held to, they will likely weed themselves out.
  • Let Them Plan The Fight… Then, they won’t fight the plan. Include and engage your employees in planning your company’s success. If the plan isn’t working then they know they are the ones with the power to change it. Including their goals will give them a collective target to shoot for. This alone can minimize bad attitudes, lack of follow through and create the desire to help you and your business grow.

I will tell you also that the more power and acknowledgement that you give to your employee the stronger and happier they will be as team members.

And when the people who are working in your business dealing with your clients everyday are happy and feel appreciated they will convey this to your client in their interactions with them.

Some Key Information For Those Affected By Wild Fires

Carlsbad fires 2014


Wildfires are a huge tragedy in our country.

Every year millions of acres and hundreds of thousands of home are affected by them. The cost not only to the Departments and Agencies that fight them but to the innocent homeowners is astronomical.

Statistics for 2012 show that 67,774 wildfires burned more than 9.3 million acres in the United States costing the US Government almost $2 Billion trying to suppress them.

The tough part is that this cost the statistics show are not taking into account the emotional and mental price that some endure when caught in the path of such a destructive force.

When I decided to get into this industry more than 14 years ago it was because I wanted to help families and homeowners weave their way thru the difficult maze of fear and shock that they inadvertently found themselves in when they are thrown into a situation that was neither their fault or their choice.

My heart hurts for all the the families and innocent people that have recently found themselves in the midst of the wildfires that are ravaging Carlsbad and areas in Southern California. There have been lives, family pets, homes and untold amounts of precious keepsakes lost in the blink of an eye.

A good friend of mine once asked me if I had a super power what would it be? I didn’t know what to say at the time But now I know. It would be the power to wipe out a fire when it was just a small tiny flame stopping it from growing into a raging inferno that devours all in its wake.

Unfortunately I possess no such super power so I will do what I can. Which is to help with educating those who have been affected so that they can take some control over their situation.

So I am writing this post not only for those who have been affected but also for any Restoration Companies that are helping clean up after these fires in hopes that this information will reach those who need it.

In my experience there are 3 key things you need to know if you live in an area that has been affected by a wildfire. There is a very different criteria with a wildfire verses a regular house fire. In a regular house fire you can usually see the damage caused by the flames but when it is a wildfire most often you cannot. So those affected don’t even realize that they have damage in their home or to their belongings. I hope you find these helpful in someway either for yourself or for someone you know and please pass this information on.

1. Your home and belongings may be covered with smoke or soot even though you cannot see it: You cannot always see smoke and soot intrusion with the naked eye or by wiping your hand over a surface. (which I do not recommend using your hand as the oils on your skin can actually cause more damage if there is soot present on the area you touch) Have your home and your belongings tested for damage. A Certified Cleaning and Restoration Company can easily do this testing for you. When testing they will use a special sponge to wipe different areas and surfaces in your home so they can see what areas are affected and how badly. When your home is in an area ravaged by a wildfire the smoke and soot can travel a long distance depending on wind and get sucked into your heating and air-conditioning unit. Even though you can’t see it on your walls, furniture and horizontal surfaces, your home could be covered in harmful soot.

2. What you can do to help minimize damage:  Assuming you have already called your insurance company, there are some very important things you can do yourself once you know that your home or belongings have smoke and soot intrusion to prevent further damage. As I mentioned above have your home tested by a professional to see what if any you have for affected areas. Changing out the filter on your furnace/air-conditioner right away is a good idea. It will likely be done again once your air ducts are cleaned and furnace checked out but that could take some time to get done and in the meantime your filter is probably full and unable to let your system breathe. Put vaseline on any faucets or metal fixtures in your house that you have been affected. Soot is very corrosive to metals. Remove your house plants and replace their soil after soaking them throughly to rinse off any soot and smoke from their roots or leaves. Some insurance policies do not cover house plants so if you want to save them its up to you. Also if you have an aquarium your fish inside it may not be covered either. Regardless you must act quickly to save them. Remove them right away from the affected area. Clean the filter system and replace the water in the tank as soon as possible. Keep your house temperature cool. When the temperatures rise it causes pores to expand and allows the smoke and soot to penetrate deeper into some materials. If you have corian or granite counters wipe them off with a wet soft cloth. Do not eat open food from affected areas such as fruit on the counter, open bread or crackers that may be sitting out. This includes open containers of dog or cat food as it can make your pet sick if it is contaminiated. Do not turn on computers or electronics until they have been looked at by a professional to make sure they are not contaminated. Turning them on could cause damage. Remove fire arms if you have any in your home and take them to a gun smith to be looked at as soot can etch them very badly and most restoration companies will not handle or transport firearms. Save your receipt for this as you may be able to get reimbursed under your contents policy. Hire a professional Restoration company that is experienced with this type of cleaning once you have checked their references. Ask to see the testimonial from their last fire cleanup job.

3. What not to do: Do not wash affected laundry in your own washer or dryer as it can damage them. Do not start throwing things away that you feel is damaged beyond saving as you may be able to get reimbursed for such items under your contents policy once your adjuster has seen them and they are inventoried. Do not use your household vacuum to clean up soot from furniture or carpets as you will contaminate it. (This may not apply if the vacuum is already contaminated by the fire and you feel that using it to get soot off of other items that may help save them) Do not wash contaminated dishes in your dishwasher. Do not handle this on your own or with the help of a neighbor down the street. It is usually a recipe for disaster as this type of work is a very specialized field and takes a well trained professional to get the job done thoroughly.

It is your decision and yours alone who you choose to hire to handle the clean up in your home or business.

I hope you have found this information helpful. It is important to know that you are responsible in the eyes of the insurance company as the insured to mitigate and take any necessary action to stop further damage or loss to your property. That may be but not limited to some of the items I have mentioned above. The most important thing you can do is hire the right professionals to help you by making sure that they provide you with references and guarantees on their work.

If you have any questions or further topics you would like me to cover please comment below this post.

I wish you all the best.


If You Want It Then You Have To Earn It

How does that saying go…


Although I do believe that showing up early bright eyed and bushy tailed gives that little birdie an advantage over the other little birdies, it still doesn’t mean he’s getting the worm. He needs to do more than shown up to seal the deal.

The worm has to be earned.

So ask yourself what are you doing to earn your jobs?

There are 3 key ways that we earn jobs in any industry.

One is by having an extraordinary skill set and ability to get the job done well. There are classes you will need to have under your belt so that you have the knowledge you need to do the work you are telling your customer that you will deliver for them. As well as equipment that needs to be available so you have the ability to get it done correctly and efficiently.

The second is the intense desire to get the client the end result that they are seeking. after all it is ultimately the client that is paying you not their insurance company.

And the third is providing outrageous value. Value to all involved. There is usually at least three different people involved on every job. A homeowner, the insurance company and a subcontractor.

Notice I used the words intense, extraordinary and outrageous. Not good or average. There are lots of businesses out there that get things done with “good” or “average” results. If you are one of them I don’t care how early you show up you probably won’t get the job. And you won’t get an adjuster or insurance company to use you exclusively sending you more work than you can handle.

If you approach every job or client with the mentality that you must earn their business you will transform your checkbook, your profits and your team’s commitment in no time.

I know that a lot of you have awesome businesses that do these things already.

So I challenge you to ask…How can I do AWESOME even more AWESOME?

We can improve almost anything if we put our focus on it.

So let me know by commenting below how you plan to take AWESOME to a whole new level in your company? 🙂


We Decided To Put On An Extra Class…You Coming?

Due to popular demand we have decided to add an extra class into our schedule this year.

Normally our schedule is April and October. But for those of you that missed our Spring class the good news is you won’t have to wait until October to add a huge high value service to your cleaning business.

We have added a special class this June on the 12th and 13th at our Washington State location.

What will the class cover?

How Much will I need to invest?

Check out the details here and see what our students have to say about Firehouse.


See you in class!! 🙂

Talk soon,


Do You Clean It Or Is It Destroyed?


Sometimes it is painfully obvious that an item is destroyed and you cannot clean it. But for the times that it’s not quite so obvious you really need to apply some common sense here and ask yourself a few questions.

First and foremost you need to know if this item is even something that the homeowner wants to keep. Quite often we hold onto things with the thought that one day we may use them and want to keep them around the house just in case. And when there is a fire in the home suddenly homeowners realize that those things they were holding onto are just collecting dust and not something that they have even been using so they are happy to use the fire damage as a reason to chuck these items in the garbage and call it good. Generally these items may not be logged on the destroyed that goes to the adjuster. But be sure to discuss this with your homeowner and be sure to get them to sign off that the items are not to be logged to the insurance company for payment.

The next thing to think about is the value of the item. And when I say value I don’t just mean monetary but emotional value for the homeowner as well. You need to think about whether or not the item’s value makes cleaning cost prohibitive or if the emotional value makes it a must to restore regardless.

There is a very delicate balance needed here so you keep both your adjuster as well as your homeowner happy with your bottom line results.

Remember to always have your homeowner sign off on all destroyed items before they are disposed of or taken off the premises if possible and get approvals from your adjuster on all electronics or any items over $500.(this may vary depending on your demographics)

Whatever you decide it is very important for the success of the job that you be in constant contact with all parties involved so everyone is on the same page and understanding exactly what is being destroyed and why.

Here is a video from our Youtube Channel that I thought you may find helpful when deciding what call to make when it comes to food that has been potentially affected by smoke or soot. Let me know what you think by commenting below.

10 Ways To Boost Employee Morale


Let’s face it there are some big challenges when you are the boss. There’s the checkbook to balance, bills to pay, marketing to be done and business plans to be written. But there are some things that if not done and done well will make all the other things on your to do list a mute point. One of those things is your employee’s morale. Or as I like to call them your Team.

This can be a scary topic for most business owners because they themselves don’t feel like they know how to be a motivator. And Morale is all about motivation and positivity.

Some of us have a natural leader inside of us and can motivate and boost morale in just about anyone.

But for those of us that aren’t even sure how to do that for ourselves here are the top 10 things you can do to make sure your Team’s morale is always at the top of the charts.

Set clear goals and expectations: The quickest way to frustrate someone is to not give them direction. People really do want to please and get the job done right but if they don’t know what the job expectations are they will get frustrated and feel unproductive and morale will go down the drain in a hurry. If your expectations change every day well that would be like changing the rules of a football game at half time. It just isn’t fair and you will frustrate your Team. So have good clear job descriptions for each Team member’s position and hold each member to those expectations.

Give positive feedback: We all want to get that gold sticky star after our name on the chalkboard because it let’s us know that we are on the right track. And that we will get attention when we do good not just when we do something wrong. How discouraging would it be to only hear about your faults? Your Team really needs to know when they get it right so they can do more of it. You get back what you put out. So if you want positive you have to focus on giving positive.

Remove frustrations or barriers: These can be physical or perceived. It could be anything from broken equipment, not having the right equipment to get the job done, lack of training, lack of leadership, unrealistic goals, personal circumstances, and not feeling good enough for the job or even poor communication. This is where being in tune with your Team is so vital. Sometimes your Team may not even know they have a frustration but you can see it in their performance or demeanor and can pick up on it and handle the situation before it’s even a real problem. Have a plan in place for your Team to voice their concerns when things aren’t working.

Acknowledgment: A great way to acknowledge someone is to have an employee of the month program or some kind of reward when a quarterly or monthly goal is met. This doesn’t have to be a huge monetary thing. In fact sometimes just walking to a Team member and telling them that you see what they do for the company and for the clients and others and that you really value them is a huge thing to do. If you have weekly or daily Team meeting (which I highly recommend that you do) use this opportunity to praise your Team and talk about the positive things you see them doing. If you give a monetary reward it can be something like a Starbucks Gift Card, cash or plaque. Better yet take them to lunch so you can get to know them better and spend time around them. Building a connection with your Team is huge for company morale. Praise and praise often.

Communication: Almost every single conflict that has ever happened in my company with my Team members can be traced back to poor or lack of communication. In fact some of the conflict wasn’t even there it was just perceived because there wasn’t any communication between two Team members. People are social creatures and we crave interaction. And if we don’t get it we interact inside our own head and we are really good at making things mean this or that when in fact it doesn’t. In order to have good communication you need to have an open door policy within your company. This means you always encourage conversations amongst your Team. The conversation may be about upsets, concerns, clients, other Team members or even ideas for improvement or new business. There needs to be rules however about how we communicate. Conversation needs to be for a productive purpose. Never should yelling, back stabbing, lying or gossip be tolerated. Period. If the communication is to tear down and not build up or create a solution then it should have no place within your Team.

Take immediate action: This is very important. Without it your Team will lose respect for your and not trust you. For instance if it is brought to your attention that someone on your Team is being mean, rude, disrespectful in any way or not following company policy or rules and you do not take immediate action to stop the situation from happening your Team won’t believe you. They won’t believe that you expectations or goals are really important to you and they won’t feel like they can trust you. Lack of action will tell your Team that it’s not really important to you and if it’s not important to you it won’t be important to them either.

Listen: One of the biggest complaints that I hear from Team members is that they don’t feel like they have a voice or that they are heard. When you have a Team member come to you sometimes you don’t need to do or solve anything. You just need to shut up sit down and open your ears. They may in fact already have the answer they just need support and maybe to bounce the answer off of someone they look up to so they know they are on track. If you are more worried about being heard instead of hearing you cheat them of the opportunity to be empowered to grow and become more confident in their own skills.

Help them get what they want: Your Team needs to feel that there is something in it for them too. Find out what goals your Team has for themselves and then help them achieve them. They will be infinitely happier as they are achieving things for themselves. This can be anything from a promotion at work, going back to college, buying a house or even wanting some free time to spend with their kids. Some people will say leave your personal life out of the office but I’m here to tell you if they are unhappy in their life it will come to work whether you want it to or not. If you find a way to support your Team in all areas of their life they will want to support you and thus your company in the same way.

Let them plan the fight and they won’t fight the plan: A friend of mine of by the name of Richard Rossi said this to me several years ago. One of the most brilliant things I have ever heard from a business owner. He has 70 Team members and runs a company that has more than $80 million in gross annual revenue. The culture in his company is one of freedom, awareness, responsibility and accountability. His CEO of his company has been worked for him for 24 years and has never worked anywhere else. So what makes a person never want to leave a job? Because he is not an employee that goes to a job of drudgery everyday where he doesn’t have the opportunity to make a difference. Richard has daily Team divisional meetings where goals are discussed and their execution is planned by the Team. So there is total buy in because they, the Team, came up with the plan. It’s not something that is being forced upon them they chose it. And a big moral buster is a feeling of hopelessness or helplessness which these people do not ever have because they always have the power to make things better and different. Empowerment trumps low moral every time.

Always have their back: If it is at all possible for you to stand firm in your support of your Team while in front of outsiders then do so. Sometimes I know this is not possible because of something serious that you have to take an immediate stand against like abusive behavior, yelling at another Team member or client. In those instances you would potentially refer to #6 and fire them on the spot. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about supporting your manager’s decision in front of other Team members and then going behind closed doors to coach them on things you want done differently in the future so that your manager does not lose face in front of the rest of the Team. If a client is being abusive to one of your Team then fire them IMMEDIATELY! It is vital for your Team to know that they are important to you and that how they are treated is just as important to you as how your clients are treated. If you wont’ stand behind them they won’t stand behind you.

I hope you have found this helpful and that you will view your Team and the importance of their morale as a key component in your company culture.

What are some of you doing to keep your Team engaged and excited? Comment below and share with us all. 🙂

Be Completely Dedicated To Your Work

When a homeowner is in the middle of all of the devastation they really need you to be in it for the right reasons.

It’s so important to understand just what your client is going thru during an insurance loss. They not only need your help cleaning and restoring their home but also saving and restoring as much as you can of their personal belongings.

And doing this means knowing proper cleaning techniques, how to deal with the adjuster and helping them to understand and let go when items cannot be saved.

The latter being probably the most difficult and most important to your client.

In order to do this and do it well you really have to be committed to your work.

I feel very passionate about this and I shot this short little video explaining how serious you should be about this process and why.

After you watch this video please let me know by commenting below what your thoughts are about it too...

Do You Think I Am A Ten??

I often wonder if business owners ever ask their clients this question.

Think about it…

When was the last time you were asked by a service based business how you would rate them say on a scale of 1-10? 10 being AWESOME!

I am guessing your answer is probably never.

I’m not sure why they don’t ask us. I mean don’t they want to know what we want so they can give us more of it?? If they aren’t making us happy wouldn’t they want to know they aren’t??

I had one business tell me they didn’t ask because they thought it might open them up to more complaints…REALLY!!

That kind of mentality is business suicide.

In this connected world that we live in today you can bet your bottom dollar that if your clients are not happy with you or your service they are tweeting, Facebooking and texting about it to all of their sphere of influence not just there friends and family. So you had better be asking them to tell you first so you can do something about it.

It continually blows my mind when I dine out or when I am standing at a cash register and the person taking my money from me doesn’t look me in the eye or speak directly to me let alone ask me how my experience with them has been for me.

I don’t owe you my money. No one is forcing me to spend it with you it is what I am choosing to do. So I expect you to acknowledge me and make me feel good about handing over my hard earned money to you. I expect you to provide me with immense value and you had better stand behind what you sell me or I am gonna call you on it.

And when you do all these things that tell me you actually care and that I am not just a bank deposit to you, I will give you my loyalty for life. In fact I will tweet, Facebook and tell my entire sphere of influence and anyone else that will listen about my experience with you.

And I will do this because you will stand out as being VERY different than the others.

Because I will never forget how you made me feel like I matter and that I made a difference when I did business with you.

You might think I am arrogant and who am I to say these things and try to put these requirements on you and your business.

And why should you care what I think anyway right??

Because I am your customer…and possibly your biggest fan.

Not Every Fire Is A Packout…

Sometimes cleaning up after a fire is not as difficult as you might think. Especially when you don’t have to packout the entire house in order to clean and deodorize the structure.

Your homeowner as well as your adjuster will love you for a clean in place over a packout anyday. The homeowner will be out of their home for a much shorter time and feel way less stressed because of it. Especially around the holidays.

It’s a win win win for everyone involved.

In fact we had this happen on one of our last jobs and I did a short little video for you to see how and why.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

At Firehouse we try to express to our clients and our coaching members just how important you all are to us but we especially want to step back and take a moment to really really express our gratitude durring the Holiday Season.

We found the typed word just wasn’t going to do so we did a short little video that we hope you enjoy:)