How Do You Find Good Employees?

I want to refine the hiring criteria by saying that work ethic, responsibility and attention to detail are personality traits, not skills. Attention to detail is especially important when operating my expensive carpet cleaning and floor scrubbing equipment, they can not run dry. The previous owner of my company had a lot of employee turnover and he was always replacing expensive vacuums.

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Gotta get to the pig races!

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Malcolm, what percentage of your services are carpet cleaning verse window cleaning?

Do you prefer one over the other?

I prefer WC over carpet cleaning and floor scrubbing/waxing/sealing and I get a better gross from WC.

Positive: I like cleaning glass, I like the learning curve for the skill and learning more about the technology and techniques. It is also much less wear and tear on my body, provides my business more visibility and upsells, lesslocal competition, high conversion rates on bids, more cash tips, less equipment expense for better equipment ROI. Easy to do a free demo on entryway glass, easy to do pro bono for non profits.
Negative: seasonal revenue, screens, tracks that require Environmental Impact Statements.

Positive: Carpets and floor cleaning skills are much easier to train employees. Year round revenue. Nice average pay for the work. Easy to bid due to less variables.

Negative: wax and stripper fumes are noxious, the equipment has lots of moving parts and is expensive to buy and repair, apartment complexes have DIY shampooers, equipment is heavy and bulky.


great response, thanks

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Yup. I thought I had just hired a keeper (first time hiring anyone). He worked with me a day so I could check him out. He had 10 years+ experience, older, “mature” guy, I bought him a nice cargo van to use, we agreed on 25% when he works with me (I did 75% of the work when we had our first day together) and 35% when he’s by himself. He wasn’t supposed to start until April 1st, so I reached out today to see hows he’s doing and if he’s still interested. He was great, but demanded 33% for work done with me and 50% for solo work, or if he did more than 50% of the work together, then 50%.

Haven’t emailed him back yet, but I’m not gonna bite. Im a younger guy (29), so I think he’s looking to take advantage of me. HE’s making the demands after only a day of work and that’s just not how I do things. Now I have a Craigslist ad up again with all the other window cleaning companies in town…

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going thru employees is similar to finding work. you have to get right back on your horse if you fall off it .

i remember my very first employee ,he really ticked all the boxes very polite and strong and good humour. But within the 1st month was messing about not turning up. i started to think maybe it was me i wasnt cut out to be the employing sort. But luck was on my side,id taken on his friend [as a favour] had him doling out leaflets a few hours a week. Well ,he stepped up to the plate and went on the squeegee and we were back on track and i couldnt care less whether guy no.1 turned up anymore . He had been sidelined by his friend! Suddenly instead of me calling n texting pleading my case pleeease turn up -it was Him calling me

now whos laughing


Those numbers are spot on. I’ve spent much time crunching the ratios and reading the advice from ppl like @chris, and it seems to land right back to where you’re at with commission.

I’ve also thought about doing this next time, numbers adjusted, of course:

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One thought I just had… The economy is growing and all around my area I have seen more “help wanted” and “now hiring” signs than I’ve seen in a long time. As business owners, we are competing with each other for the diamond in the rough. I offer a good starting wage but I’m thinking maybe it’s still not good enough. Most prospects look at starting wage first, it’s like a single guy looking for a GF he’s attracted first by looks. Maybe we need to start raising our starting wage to get more prospect’s attention. Raise our prices by a small percent to make up and the growing economy will make up the rest as the average customer will be able to afford or willing to pay more.

I was lucky to find a full time employee last year who stuck with me all year. Never late, always positive. He has some flaws but if you can find someone who shows up and works and is honest and nice it’s all you need.
Now struggling to find a second full to PT and struggling.

On the numbers side giving an additional $1/hour is an additional 2k per year. Seems small esp if you’re over 100k and good growth every year.


That’s such an important point. The prices have to sustain the help. Pricing for solo and pricing for employees are different. Shoudn’t be but they are.

Solo, one may be content to just let under priced jobs continue because there is still decent money being made.
With employees, another person’s livelihood is at stake.

I loved a point on here once about before hiring, you try living off what you plan on paying someone. Would we want to make “$XXXXX” a year?

A strategy I am implementing is to make that first hire the person I want to groom as a field overseer. Someone who I feel great about investing in and am motivated to pay well because they bring such high value to the company. A true keeper, if you will.

And even with that strategy, it’s difficult to pry that person away from their current job, despite the things I offer. It’s an ongoing development but it’s true, we are playing tug-of-war with other companies for the best people.

Then, after that, sure, hire at a lower wage. To me, how am I ever going to get out of the field with 4 minimum wage workers? At the very least, I’d continue to be sucked back into the field to train and re-train because of such high turn around.

Great point @Strezy

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I just remembered to mention my seasonal guy. Granted, he is my blind cleaner and it literally takes a day to figure out blind cleaning but he’s by far my best and only (as of yesterday) employee. He’s my friend who happens to be a teacher. This means, while he has his days off for 3 months, he still gets paid as a teacher and he views whatever else he makes from me as extra cash. Find a freaking teacher! They are typically good with people, bored in the summer months and responsible.

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Solo, one may be content to just let under priced jobs continue because there is still decent money being made.

If you’re content with letting under priced jobs continue you may not be ready for an employee. Obviously you need a strong pricing structure to support yourself let alone an employee.

Operating a business requires services that are desired at prices that you can be profitable with.

If I offer a position for no experience you better believe it wont support your idea of making a living. I wouldn’t think a guy would take it thinking he is comfortable at that pay and not want to move up. Like any other trade you need to start at the bottom and WORK upward, the more desire to achieve more youll receive more.

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Definitely agree with that and instead of saying “decent money” should have used the term “profitable.” But are there not degrees of profitability? Last week, my wife and I made a profit on a $300 job. But I realized I should have priced it higher. Having to pay and employee 25% of the job would have made it more imperative to price higher.

But on the other hand, realistically, not every single one of our jobs is going to be priced the way we want. But if they are, that’s great.

I don’t understand how common it is for people to think just because they work with their spouse they still don’t need to be paid as two people on a job working.


This is honestly the biggest Challenge for us at this point. It’s such a headache, and it didn’t enter my mind when we started the business. All I was thinking about was survival. I wasn’t thinking long-term, like what will happen when I get older. I was young and healthy.

I’m only 35 now, but I know for a fact that I have no desire to be completely dependent on employees for my income in my 50s. I realize running a business works for a lot of people. But, I didn’t start this business because I wanted to manage a service business. Now I realize that to succeed long-term, you really need to be ready to be a manager. Some people want that, some people don’t.

But to answer the OP’s question: 100% trust is absolutely essential for me. So I only hire people that I can find via networking with friends and family. Obviously, the problem with that is that pool is ever dwindling, and I’m at the bottom of the barrel this year. I thought I had the guy in place to move forward, but he told me two weeks that he was taking another job.

And I get it. I pay a good wage, but as someone upthread said, would I be satisfied if that’s what I was making? Maybe when I was 21 or 22, but not once I grew up. So I’m not surprised when other people aren’t excited to stay on.

I’m just blabbing now, probably because I’m hungry.


Only problem is when you find someone it’s always a crap shoot as to wether they’ll perform up to your expectations like this. No matter what your intentions are. Some are going to be solid team members, others are going to falter by the wayside. With the proper training systems in place you hope to minimise turnover but you will always have some.

i want to strongly argue with you because i went from being the lazy unproductive employee for about 6 years to a hard working going the extra mile employee based on a changed moral conviction. it took time to get better at being a hard worker, it didn’t happen over night. it’s not about personality but about beliefs, if you believe that your employer deserves your best in exchange for your pay then you will give it.


I can agree on that. I also know people change. I suppose what HBM mentioned could be something that always been rooted in you, but can come out later with maturity. It is very rare to find a kid with those natural traits. I work part time in food service in the winter and kill it for my boss every weekend in a very busy restaurant because as a business owner, I now know the struggles of finding good help. You said it took 6 years, maybe you just matured and it was a personality trait you had awoken? Personality traits can be honed and sharpened over time and turned into a skill, I’d say. Either way, I liked your response.

you dont need to raise your prices by much when you employ [versus when solo] . i took a long hard look at McD when dining there ,to see how it works at about the same time i started employing . The main thing is McD make sure theres ample workers there Always . you wont ever find just 1 cook ,nor 1 of anything else for that matter .

in my own area i see window cleaning businesses who advertize “prices from £10” thats meaning they wont get out of bed if its a £5 job going begging . But what if you found 2 of those £5 jobs quite near to each other , thats what i look for. All the while the other guy is laying in bed,waiting for the £10 job to come along and hoping he can land it at £15 . Sure it will… eventually … but the more pricey jobs are also the most fickle , in my experience you get the real loyalty with the budget type jobs and great street presence [which lands further work] because youre out there hustling all day. Mr £10 he doesnt do that,some might say hes cleverer as hes sitting at home mostly - but he wont be employing anytime soon thats a cert