Employee retention is one of the biggest problems in the cleaning industry. But one small cleaning company in Arizona has found a clear path to prevent losing good team members. And as a result, they’ve experienced unprecedented retention rates for their industry.
April Prothero, Founder and CEO of Going GreenHouse, started as a one-woman business, cleaning for clients around the Phoenix Metro Area.
Instead of relying on industry-standard chemicals like her competition, she only used natural products that were safe for families, pets, and the environment. Word quickly spread, and references started flowing in.
Her business was growing fast, so she decided to bring on Lisa Eberhard – who is now the Going GreenHouse office manager. Together, they worked hard to gain clients and grow the business. But what they didn’t do was outline their business playbook.
Evolving without a system
According to April, she and Lisa didn’t have a well-defined training system back then because they were always evolving to better serve clients.
Most of the time, training came down to simply talking about best practices with one another. “We’d go clean a house, and I’d ask Lisa if she folds the towels. When she said no, I would add that we should probably do that – and we would fold the towels for our clients then on. That was our training,” she told us.
But casually sharing the right way to do things didn’t work once Going GreenHouse grew to more than 2 team members. April started to see a disconnect between her vision for the company and what her employees were doing. And she realized that wasn’t going to cut it moving forward.
Starting the work
If April wanted to keep clients happy and continue growing the business, she’d have to set clear expectations for employees.
So, she started working with Emily Rowe, Going Greenhouse’s hiring manager and training manager, to document the company’s tribal knowledge and best practices. They recorded everything in a Google Doc, relying heavily on bullet points. And they even added quizzes to help team members check what they know.
And while April was happy to finally see her business documented, she admits that her new system was far from efficient. The cleaning procedures were confusing without pictures. And they had no way of tracking if people took the quizzes or how they scored.
~ April Prothero, Founder & CEO of Going GreenHouse
“You can only attempt to create quizzes in Google Docs. There is no automatic follow up. And I didn’t have the capacity or the energy to track who had taken the quizzes and how they did.”
Finding a better solution
April first heard about Trainual from our founder Chris Ronzio at an EO AZ Accelerator event. But she didn’t immediately understand the value until she learned more about the automated features.
The one that caught her attention was the ability to track results from employee quizzes. Trainual could show her and her training manager which employees completed their training, if they tested on it, and how they scored.
April was super excited to have finally found the answer to her Google Doc dilemma!
Delegating the documentation
After Going GreenHouse added Trainual to their tech stack, April assigned the migration from Google Docs to her training team. She says this was critical to actually getting it all done. As CEO, her plate was already full. And because she was busy running the business, she didn’t necessarily know the proper procedures for each in-house position.
“I wrote the job descriptions, but I didn’t know exactly how our office manager processes payroll. I would’ve been screwed if she decided to leave and didn’t tell me [before she went],” April explained.
When it came down to documenting, the training team ditched the bullet points and opted for pictures. And compared to the Google Docs days, employees now absorb their training faster and actually retain it.
“What we do is a visual thing. So, using pictures is much better than writing it out. When a new hire sees it, they’re like, ‘oh, okay. I get it!’”
To this day, April’s favorite Trainual feature is the one that first caught her attention: the quizzes. She no longer has to track or manage that part of training because Trainual automatically does it for her. And now, April and her training team can easily see who knows what and hold people accountable.
Polishing up procedures
Today, Going GreenHouse uses Trainual to get all their new hires up to speed. And April’s had all her existing employees (no matter how long they’ve been with the company) go through it as well. This way, everyone is aligned on the right way of doing things. And new hires don’t accidentally pick up any bad habits.
April says having a business playbook has been a huge win for her company. And with it, her team feels empowered because there’s no longer any friction around how to do things.
“It was a huge eyeopener seeing how specific I needed to be in order to direct my team to do what I wanted them to do,” April said. “That way, my team could be a success, and I wouldn’t get frustrated.”
Retaining good employees
But by far the biggest win is retaining a record number of employees for longer than 4 months.
“It’s absolutely unheard of to retain 4 people in the cleaning industry for longer than a month, and our fourth new hire is just about to celebrate her monthly anniversary!
April credits the win to Trainual and its ability to rally employees around a professional goal. “I think people used to come in here thinking that cleaning houses is not anything to be proud of. But Trainual gives us a more professional feel.”
Growing with Trainual
As her company continues to mature, April keeps finding new ways that Trainual can support her business. Right now, she plans to incorporate a field guide for crew members, screen recordings for office members, and create a policy for posting on the company social media.
But above all, she plans to rely on Trainual for years to come. Because as April puts it, “a business playbook helps employees define their roles, stay in their lane, and do what they’re supposed to do. So you can come together as a team unit and be a success.”