Agata runs Urban Maids, a maid service based in Chicago with consistently high reviews. I’m talking a 5-star average on Facebook. And it’s a pleasure to run. She has sweet, hard-working employees. (They recently threw her a surprise birthday party). She has clients who love her business and refer their friends and neighbors to it. Her business runs seamlessly, rarely causing Agata stress. But things weren’t always so picture perfect… Keeping Track of Clients (or Trying to) in a Messy Paper Calendar During Agata’s first years in business, she was stressed-out and miserable. Each day she would go out and provide cleanings, but it was the “post”-work time that was truly making her depressed. She was stuck in a scheduling nightmare that meant she spent every evening arranging the schedule for the following day. When she was done finalizing the appointments she then spent way too much time emailing and texting her upcoming customers…and that was after finishing a full day of cleanings! Agata’s calendar was a mess. Appointments were crossed out, and new ones were scribbled in the margins. Sometimes to fit everything, she wrote so small that she could barely read her own handwriting. Agata with the calendar she used to run her business in 2008. Her system worked fine when she had one client. It was even manageable when she had 10 clients. But as her business grew, her calendar system started taking too much time. And she had to rewrite her calendar every week: “I kept writing and writing and writing the same information over and over in my little calendar…the calendar wasn’t working. [Looking back], I don’t even know how I did it.” Agata’s Experience with Yahoo’s Calendar Agata realized something needed to change. She decided to create a Yahoo calendar. The Yahoo calendar allowed Agata to set some repeat appointments, saving her the trouble of inputting the same information week after week. But she was still running into problems. She continuously found herself struggling to manage her business, because the calendar was just that – a calendar. She had to have a separate address book where she kept her client’s addresses and key details like the code for their building, or how to deal with their pets. She also kept some client information on her phone, like their phone numbers. And she was still manually sending out appointment reminders to her customers the night before their appointments. It was frustrating to have key information for each appointment spread throughout several locations. She was constantly referring to her calendar (was the appointment at 4 or 415?), address book (what do we do with his pet chinchilla?), and phone (Did he text me in reply to my appointment reminder? Was it something important?). Agata felt disorganized. Sometimes she would miss important details because the information was so scattered. Hiring her First Employee! With an overflow of clients to clean for during the day and scheduling to manage in the evenings, Agata needed help. She was ready to bring on her first employee. But instead of making her life easier, things got worse. She had trouble teaching her Yahoo calendar system to her new hire. The system had felt organized-ish when she was the only one who used it, but now she became aware of her unique methods for keeping track of customer information…and realized it wasn’t intuitive to other people. Plus, she still had a lot of information stored in a physical address book, and she couldn’t just give it to her new employee because Agata needed to reference that information herself. She did the only thing she could think of – she wrote hand-written schedules for her employee with special info about the clients: “So there I was writing on a piece of paper for my employee, by hand…addresses, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, codes [to enter an apartment building or home], special instructions…the dog’s name. You name it. It took me forever. My evenings were filled with scheduling.” On top of scheduling, she was still emailing and texting her clients nightly before their appointments. Overall, Agata says of this time period in her life: “It was a nightmare.” Agata’s Search for Software Feeling increasingly overwhelmed, Agata started looking for maid service software. She found a lot of options. In many of the Facebook reviews, Agata’s customers describe her as “thorough.” Choosing a software was no different. She downloaded dozens of software trials, only to be disappointed with each one. Some of them barely gave her better functionality than Yahoo calendar, perhaps with an integrated address book tacked on. Some of the software was trying to appeal to too many industries, so the setup process was labor-intensive…she would have to customize most aspects of the software in order to make it work for her business. Most though, were glorified spreadsheets of information but did little for her business. Then Agata found ZenMaid. Not only did ZenMaid make scheduling easy, it sent out automated texts and emails to both customers and staff. And the communications were detailed for Agata. For example, the automated emails to her staff included all the client’s info, from his or her building code to the dog’s name. Agata realized that the software could save her hours of time each day. She’d never again have to spend her evenings painstakingly writing out the schedule, reminding her customers of their appointments, and sending her staff all the information they needed. ZenMaid took care of this every day for Agata so she didn’t have to anymore. Agata’s evenings were finally free and have remained so since. (She could spend her evenings with her friends again…hosting dinners and enjoying Chicago nightlife!). She also loved that she could grant her employees access to the calendar, so that they could see their schedules weeks ahead of time. She also liked that if she ever wanted to integrate QuickBooks or use ZenMaid to process credit card payments, the software had that capability. Agata’s only regret was she didn’t sign up for ZenMaid earlier… Agata gives the following advice to new maid services: “If you’ve just gotten your first client, invest in good software that’s going to save you money in the long run… [If you don’t], your time is going to be wasted. Because instead of you providing your clients with customer service, or spending time looking for new clients, you’ll be doing schedules at night…and that’s gonna leave you with zero time to concentrate on running your business… Download ZenMaid’s free trial, see if it works for you. Actually…I can guarantee you, if you’re a maid service business, it will work for you. It’s simple but very, very effective. If you do have questions you can always email customer service support because they’re very responsive…I don’t think there is anything better than ZenMaid.” Aw shucks, Agata. You’re making us blush. If you’re interested in a 14-day risk free trial of ZenMaid, click here.
(This is based off a video submitted by Agata, click here to see it…)