Feb 21

Oven Cleaning Dip Tank – Gas versus Electric, Review and Comparison

By Graham Rogers | Uncategorized

Okay so a question I get asked a lot: What tank should I get for my oven cleaning business. A gas one or an electric one?

In this post I am going to walk through the two and why you might want to consider either. You may be that man who wants to use gas.

Oh there is another system - that doesn't use gas or electricity - it does the same thing - keeps solution hot in dip tank to dip oven bits in.  I'll give you a heads up on that too.

Well as you probably know I use an electric oven cleaning dip tank. I've been using one since I started the business in 2004. It has worked fine with no major problems. I had a standard tank that I purchased from the company that I trained with. They had been using this tank for six years and had come up with a design that didn't leak. I used this tank design and then developed my own. My new tank design is in the video below.

So benefits of an electric tank:
1. Saves you a lot of time in the daytime, as once it's heated up you don't need to do anything else to the tank during the day. You don't have to spend time checking, for example, checking, or worrying, that your gas supply is shut off.
2. Saves time on each job as you don't need to stay with the van or have someone working with you who looks after the tank whilst you are in the house cleaning the oven.
And with gas a lot of the time further work is required when things are taken out of the dip tank.

But I'm not sure if I'd still be oven cleaning if I'd ended up with a gas system. And I say ended up with as when I started looking at oven cleaning as a business to add on to my Home Cleaning Agency I didn' t have a clue about the process. That's probably where you are now. Are  you?

​If so CLICK HERE to get my free pack

When I went to see the training company before doing the course they didn't mention what tank they were using. I never thought to ask. I didn't even know about dip tanks. The thought didn't even cross my mind. I didn't know the benefits or why you needed a tank etc. I didn't even though you needed a dip tank!

So it wasn't until I went on  the course that I saw the tank and I took the system they trained me on and used that. It's kinda like having driving lessons and buying the exact same car that you passed your test in.

So it took me  a while to realise that other people were using another dip tank or system to heat up their solution to dip oven bits in.

I think it was the comments on this blog by other business owners asking how i did my cleans so fast. Or franchisees of well know franchises turning up in our office to find out how we did it. LOL!

I don't think I would have coped that well with a gas system. Or if I had seen it before even starting an oven cleaning business I think it I probably wouldn't have gone any further with the idea. Why?

Gas system:
1. I would have said that you NEED this system if you want to use a Bio or Eco product in your tank solution which means you can be that Pure Eco person. But a couple of things have changed my view on this: I know of an oven cleaning business using bio products successfully in their plastic electric dip tank. And I've heard that franchises and independents that use the gas system are using caustic cleaning chemicals in the house, so that doesn't really fit in with an eco system.

1. Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
2. Potential danger from escaping gas igniting.
3. Slow, hard graft to use the system.
4. Heating up at every job makes each job a lot longer, your day longer.

Well I all too familiar with the effects, or should I say potential lethal effects,  of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Because back in 1992, I nearly died from Carbon Monoxide poisoning. (The gas produced from something burning).

 I was still in the Royal Air Force,  I was living in North Wales in a cottage. That cottage had a coal fire boiler to heat the central heating. I noticed that it was smoking a lot on start up. That is I used coal to start it, and then I put on smokeless anthracite to burn. It smoked a lot but I didn't take any notice. BIG MISTAKE.

My girlfriend stayed one night. I put the fire on to heat the house. I woke up in the morning with the worst headache ever. I walked down the stairs into the kitchen and then collapsed. Lucky for me my girlfriend dragged me by the feet outside. Lucky that she was there and was able to drag me outside - I'm a big bloke!

We both spent 24 hours in hospital. I got the bird nest which was blocking the chimney removed. We both lived.

So how is carbon monoxide produced from a gas system in an oven cleaning van? Well the gas burner is open. It burns oxygen and produces carbon monoxide.

The van fills up with carbon monoxide. It needs to escape, and you need oxygen to breath. So you either open the windows - if  you are in the van. Or open the back doors. But this leaves the burner to the elements and is unsafe. Of course you can have an extraction fan in the roof of the van. But I know of a well known franchise where the cleaning operative stays in the van with the windows open whilst the oven stuff is in the tank.

So the potential leaking gas igniting problem. You can say that this doesn't happen or else you'd hear about it a lot. Well if you had an oven cleaning company would you want people to know that the van had exploded because of igniting gas and that this was caused by badly maintained equipment? Err No! 

There have been two oven cleaning van explosions in the news in the last six months with one last week in Swindon, and one last August in Essex. Both independent oven cleaning companies. The one in Essex blew as the operator was driving it down the road. The one in Swindon when it was outside a house - it damaged other cars and injured the operator (not seriously - they lived). 

There is a video of the  one in Essex oven cleaning van exploding whilst it is being driven. The cleaner gets out safe. Google 'Oven Cleaning Explosion Essex'.

This is the aftermath of the one in Swindon. It looks like the gas had been leaking and as it's heavier than air seeped down into the body of the van. Then the operator went to light the burner... 

The only way to judge issues with gas bottle systems in general is to search Google for 'Caravan Explosions' or 'BBQ explosions'. Not all are related to gas leaks but a lot are.

Leaks happen when the tank has been left for a while and the gas escapes from the gas pipework and lays - as it is heavier than air below the tank at the back of the van. When you go to ignite the gas burner it ignites the escaped gas and explodes. Or some electrical circuit in the van, when switched, causes it to explode.

So how do you prevent this from happening? You'd have some regime, procedure,  or habit, of checking your pipework for escaping gas. And/Or a shut off value to ensure that gas can't escape at all from the gas canister. Also you'd have everything checked by a third party on a regular basis.

I'm sure all suppliers of gas tanks in the UK or franchises using gas dip tanks have these in hand. So ask them. What servicing and checks are necessary?

An example of gas bottle system checks, as part of the Annual Caravan Check. The gas systems are checked in the following way:

  • A manometer checks for leaks in the gas supply system. All gas appliances, such as the oven, fridge, heating system and water heater, are turned on in order to check that they are working properly. All vents will be checked to see if they are clear. Then all appliances are turned off at the gas isolator taps. The Flame Failure Device (FFD) should then cut in, meaning that the check has passed. The CO (carbon monoxide) Room Test requires all gas appliances to be turned on. At the same time, a Flue Gas Analyser runs for a minimum of 15 minutes with all doors and windows closed.

So my recommendation is to use an electric oven cleaning dip tank system. I personally wouldn't use a gas burner with bottled gas system, and with the potential safety issues I wouldn't recommend them. For us safety is paramount. Our electric system and process is easier to use and we can can get more jobs done in a day if we need to in a safe way.

Re the other system. That's is the system that doesn't use a gas burner with bottled gas or electric heating element. What about that? I've run out of time. 🙂 So look out for another post



Dec 19

Christmas Oven Cleaning Sales

By Graham Rogers | Uncategorized

So in my last post I mentioned that we had a few good weeks recently. I’m not sure why it has been better this year. But I think it’s because we prepared for Christmas this year. I have done some changes to marketing and it seems to have paid off.

As far as I can remember last year we were full up quite a few weeks before Christmas and then we had the few weeks of poor sales as people were still phoning trying to get pre Christmas appointments. So a couple of good weeks followed by a few poor weeks of sales. This year we have had four strong weeks and then back to our old average sales in a week on the week up to Christmas (this week as I write).

This year we tried to make sure this wouldn’t happen by getting our guys full days aiming to maximise the turnover per van. I think I mentioned before that we took on three new guys a couple of months ago. We took on three as it was two to replace two employees who left suddenly and one as an extra to fill an extra van.

As it worked out one guy left after just a week on his own. he just got in a stew and walked out of his job leaving us to finish it off. He said “he had enough”. It was shame really as he was what looked like an ideal employee. I think it boils down to him getting himself into a situation of no confidence under pressure and failing to get in contact with someone to help them.

We decided not to recruit a replacement and carry on with a team of six plus me in the spare van.

Looking at the way we are fitting in the jobs. All of our vans are averaging £300 a day with our more experienced guys getting a turnover of over £400 a day in their vans. So this is good news. Long may it continue into the new year.

Dec 19

Bad Back Oven Cleaner.

By Graham Rogers | training

Why am I bad back oven cleaner? I’m sat here in the office today. I’ve actually managed to get here. It may seem strange but I’ve had problems getting around since last Monday. So what happened?

Well I went out cleaning last Monday. We’ve got six guys working for us now, but as I have the newest van and it’s spare we decided to start booking me in for jobs when all the others were full up for Christmas. So off I went to the Cotswolds to clean an AGA. The job was booked in as a 3 oven AGA, so I thought should be pretty straight forward.

When I got there it wasn’t a 3 oven AGA but a four oven AGA. And a very dirty one at that. I thought “oh dear!” but got on with it.

And when I was knelt down cleaning the AGA doors my back went. And I mean it went into spasm and was seriously painful. I managed to carry on and finish the job and then get back home. That night I couldn’t sleep in our bed as it was ‘too soft’ and it just hurt to much so I slept on our spare bed which is a lot harder.

The next day I couldn’t move without going into agony. The last time I had been like this was back in 1996; I had started going to the gym when I had just got a job in the centre of Manchester. I thought I try and do a lot of metres on the rowing machine but I must have done something because the next day I was in agony. That time i walked to an Osteopath in the centre of Manchester and he ‘fixed’ me in one session.

So I thought I would be able to do the same this time. I found an Osteopath in my village and went to see him. Unfortunately this time although he did lots of work on me he it wasn’t an easy fix this time. For the rest of the week I was just about managing to walk. Think of a very old person walking very slowly.

This week I’m better – I can actually put my own socks on and have managed to get to the office two days in a row now. But I don’t think I’m going to be out cleaning any time soon.  Our guys are doing well. So are the office staff. We have an sensational month. I’ll write my next post about our performance.

This week I’m better and have decided to do two things: get some Facebook Ads running and to tackle the office garage as it’s getting a bit untidy. Okay a lot untidy.

Why did my back go? Was it cleaning the AGA? It looks like it. The Osteopath told me that a twisting action to one side whilst knelt down would do it. It’s the way people slip discs too, but he checked my leg movement and came to conclusion that it muscular problem only. So the stretching to one side to clean the bottom of ovens 3 and 4, on the four oven AGA, would have been enough to get a muscle pull. Next time I’m going to make sure I line myself up properly!!

Luckily I’ve got the Christmas period to recover and get myself fit ready to tackle 2019.

Sep 18

Quick Fixes To Oven Cleaning Business Growth

By Graham Rogers | training

ovengleamers vanWe are currently in September of 2018 and I’d thought I start blogging regularly again on this my original blogging platform which I haven’t been writing on for a while.

So how’s this for a for a first new topic back in the seat as it were: Quick Fixes To Oven Cleaning Business Growth.

And as we are currently recruiting for another operative to bring my total up to 5 locally I need to generate business for this new man. We are currently consistently hitting record sales each day at the moment  – it’s been like this for the last four weeks – its start of the oven cleaning season run up to Christmas. But we need just some more of this to ensure our new man is filled up with work.

So I know I can do this by implementing some quick fixes.

So Quick Fix One: Google Adwords Display.

As you probably know or don’t know the way I generate most of my business for my own business here in the South West is through Google Adwords. My story is that I started off with this business in the same way as I had used for the franchise I had at the time and that was to put out leaflets everyday. The only problem was that for this business leaflets didn’t work so well. When I say didn’t work well I mean 1 in 1000 instead of 1 in 250. (Though since then we have successes in some areas with different tactics using leaflets).

I found Google Adwords in 2004 after meeting someone at a business meeting (which was a Multi Level Marketing meeting – which I gave up shortly afterwards – look out for my blog post on what I think of MLM soon) and he was using Google Adwords. So I started doing it too. It was ultra cheap in 2004 and no one in the oven cleaning industry was using it. But people were searching for oven cleaning online. I’ve read lots of books, been on courses and I think I know what I am doing.

I can see why people might use it and then stop. I have on occasions burned money in Google by setting it up incorrectly. And also funny enough I went on an advanced Google Course with an online small business ‘guru’ and they, as part of the deal, set up my new ads for me. At the time it was setting up separate campaigns for mobile. But they did this for one of my franchise areas. But instead of running the ads in the local Manchester area they ran them nationally. This is very easy to do – it’s just ensuring where the ads are shown. So at the end of the month the ad spend was £2,000 extra. With no noticeable increase in business. Hmm. I didn’t chase them for the money, just aired my disappointment, as I thought it was much my fault for not monitoring and tracking the ads. Anyway, just one of the examples of how just a small error in Adwords can be costly. I can also remember spending £200 overnight in my Google Adwords account by getting something very small wrong.

But the Goal with Google Adwords is to run them, test them and then once working you can leave them running. So you get consisten ads in place. Unlike Facebook ads they are ‘evergreen’ and need little in the way of management. Facebook ads run and then stop suddenly or the cost of conversion increases meaning a dramatic increase in costs – so they need hands on regular management.

I have passed my Google Exams and was Certified but currently lapsed. This is on my list – take the tests again.

But Google Adwords Display. I have used this successfully to generate business for new franchisees but haven’t run it consistently for my own business locally. The reason is to get this implemented properly means to take some time split testing the ads.

By this I need to get 7 image ads produced and then I need to run the ads to find the best performing one. Also you need to find the right way to run the ads. Google Display has so very interesting features. It allows you to display ads to  people who are interested in service right now. In fact I have just discovered a way to do this on Facebook as well.

Quick Fix Two Landing page enhancement

So there isn’t any point in running Google Adwords if there isn’t a way of getting the person to take some action on your site. So I will enhance the pages to do this.


So from this my first two lists of what I need to do now to get ready for our new employe and put in place consistent ways to generate new business is:


  1. Add and test some Google Display campaigns including split test of images and text ads to get the best results.
  2.  Ensure my landing pages for my Google Ads are working at their optimum.


Apr 27

Oven Cleaners Strong Men

By Graham Rogers | training

Strong Arms Mean  A Mean Oven Clean Time

When new employees (or franchisees) start with us they tend to be slow. That is they are slow in getting the oven clean to the end standard. Because of this we give them longer time


Kettlebell-2-dragondoor-40kg-9kg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

slots to get the job done. I really think it’s a matter of arm strength. Or having strong arms is certainly an advantage. Gripping the scourer and putting some pressure down is helped a lot with stronger arms.  I know, though, that even the skinniest person can still have a successful business. And age doesn’t seem matter either, one of our franchisees is doing consistently three ovens a day at the age of 64. We haven’t had a female oven cleaner. I have thought about employing someone but they would need to be strong. The ladies at my Kettlebell are all strong. Any one of them would be able to hack it.  A bit of regular oven cleaning is all is needed to get the ‘oven cleaning strength’ up or doing something extra besides the daily cleaning. For me it has been Kettlebell training.

Kettlebell Training

As I hadn’t been going out much and I had this growing beer gut I decided to do something and joined my local kettlebell class in January 2015. So I’ve been kettlebell training regularly and consistently over the last three years.

I was thinking last year that my oven cleaning speed had increased. I was feeling pretty smug. I was regularly getting jobs done quicker finishing before the allocated time. That is the final result was achieved faster. The final result being the whole oven cleaned, including stripping it down, the ceiling, taking the doors apart, fan cover off, cleaning the fan. For AGAs I was regularly finishing the job an half a hour faster.

I put down the increase in my speed to the increase in my arm strength. They are getting thick, even at my age. I’d  increased the number of Kettlebell sessions I was doing in a week. It is true that I have got stronger. My forearms are stronger which means I can put more pressure when scrubbing, cleaning AGA doors is a doodle.

But I think I it was because the ovens were just normal dirty ovens. In the lead up to Christmas I had some real challenges: really dirty singles and really dirty AGAs which of course took me longer. But being stronger has certainly helped.

So if you’d like to get into Kettlebells I recommend watching Tracey Reifkind on her website https://swinglean.com/getting-started/

Learn how to do the kettlebell swing and then progress with her swinging – on YouTube starting at Swing session number 1.

Obviously joining a local group is also a great way to get motivated with this.

Jan 10

Busy December – Get your dirty ovens out.

By Graham Rogers | training

English: Christmas postcard picture with Santa...

English: Christmas postcard picture with Santa Claus and holly, with message, “I bring you a Merry Xmas from” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So it was all action stations to get a new employee on board. We found two very quickly and staggered their start dates.

One started at the beginning of November and then the other one started a couple of weeks later.

I trained them up and we had a very busy December. Our best takings ever. With me out in the vans working full time.

I seemed to work a lot more than I have done in past Xmas’s lead up, working the whole of December doing three to four jobs a day.

Also the ovens were noticeably dirtier. A lot dirty than normal out of season days. I mean most of them were really dirty. I had some very dirty AGAs. It was like people had saved them for years to get them cleaned. Well some had. The dirtier AGAs hadn’t been cleaned ever. Some of the single and doubles were the dirtiest I had seen.

So in all it was a hard month physically but as we finished on the 22nd for Xmas break it all worked out well.

Jan 10

where has the fuel gone.

By Graham Rogers | Uncategorized

A self-service pump for diesel fuel. To the ri...

A self-service pump for diesel fuel. To the right, a credit card payment terminal. At a Preem petrol station in Avesta, Dalarna, Sweden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay so we looked at the bill for our latest troublesome employee’s fuel card for his van it was unusually high. We checked the van’s mileage.

We then checked all the petrol purchases for that van. This took us about a week.

His purchases were 6 times more than our other oven cleaning vans – which were the same make and model. His mileage was 1400 miles more than it should have been for the mileage for the jobs we was driving to. He had filled up the van three times on a Sunday (we don’t work on Sundays) at a garage that is 15 miles away from where he lives, with about an hour and half between refills. He lived right next door to a Tesco store where he could use the fuel cards. He was also filling up miles from where he was working in the day. He was going out of his way to drive to petrol stations to fill up.

We decide that we are going to give him the boot. But we needed to get him into the office to go through the proper dismissal process.

Anyway we got him in. We took all his stuff off him. We interviewed him, he only said “that van uses a lot of petrol”, and the “the contract does not say I can’t use the van for personal use”!

I sacked him. We then took him home.

The next day I drove the van he had been using. The fuel gauge said the tank was empty! He had only filled it up the day before – even though we cancelled the cards for that vehicle, he still managed to use them to get fuel. But  he had filled up and then driven home to siphon off the fuel; that was the reason it took him so long to get to the office for me to sack him!

So, luckily, in the end we managed to deduct from his wages the fuel costs but we missed the last payment. We delayed his pay day. I think his intention was to get paid and then leave to go onto to the next employer so it was lucky we noticed the fuel payments going out of our bank account.

In all it sort of all worked out, and next time I’ll insist on my gut reaction – we should have got rid of him in the first week when he was being late etc.

The week after he left we received on his phone  a text message: ‘please ensure that you bring id to your interview’.

I texted them back saying I sacked the person who’s phone this was as he had stolen petrol. Their

reply to me was can you give a reference for him! Really unbelievable. It was a national cleaning company. Perhaps they didn’t think it mattered.


Nov 23

Oven Cleaners Wanted – Troublesome Employee Numbers 2 and 3.

By Graham Rogers | training

I’ve changed the name from bad employee to troublesome. After those Troublesome trucks in Thomas The Tank Engine! It’s been a few years since we used to watch all that with my son. But my latest employees were acting just like those trucks!

So on Tuesdays we, that is my wife and son and myself, go to Wetherspoons after my son has done his piano lesson. It has become quite a regular thing now. I have a pint, the wife has her wine and my son his Fanta. We have a meal. It’s fabulous.

This particular Tuesday was the day after we had the latest troublesome employee take the day off (see previous post).

He contacted the office at 1545 to say that he had got to his 1600 job and there was no one there. So he was going to go away and then return at 1730!!

Err, WHAT!! Lots of texts and calls to him. No answer.

Eventually when we are sat in the pub we get hold of him and at 1800 he is at the job. Then a text later to say that he has finished, but “how do you fix a flat tyre?” I text him with the instructions: “Find jack behind passenger seat. Jack up vehicle. Change wheel for spare wheel. The spare wheel is underneath the van at the back”.

We finish up  and go home.

Then after a few texts asking how he is getting on, we get a text to say “You can stick your crap job, come and get your van!”

Next my wife phones his phone. Someone answers it. A lady. She says that the phone was in the middle of the road which was lucky that she found it as it was a four week old iPhone. We ask her. “Is there an OvenGleamers van near bye?” She says yes. We ask her to put the phone in the van for us. She tells us where it is.

Okay so I jump in the car and drive off to find it. My intention is to fix the van if I can and then park it on the side of the road so we can pick it up the next day. Or if I can’t fix it to call out the RAC. As we don’t know where the key is I go via Halfords to buy a wheel clamp so I can secure the vehicle if there is no key. I get there minutes before they close.

I find the van. It’s in a small lane next to a Church in a small village on the North of Bristol. It’s right in the middle of the road. All the windows are open. The doors are unlocked and when I look at the tyre it is completely shredded. Like big jagged holes all the way around it. My guess is that it had been driven on for quite a way. I find the van key on the floor of the van. I find the jack kit but not the handle to lower the spare from its cradle. So I drive the van and park it on the side of the road.

We picked the van up the next day. I changed the wheel and we drove it back to the office.

I found in the van a list of addresses that were obviously drop off or pick up for parcels, it said Ebay next to them. So our guess was he was doing drop offs in addition to the jobs he was doing for us!

So end of that employee.

We got another one near enough straight away. I said “Third time lucky!”

Again he seemed like a nice bloke. We checked his references and they were good. He had been oven cleaning for a competitor of ours. It was nice to know that our competitor, who is also franchising, doesn’t have a clue about  a proper oven cleaning service. The method of cleaning ovens is unbelievable!

So I trained up the new employee that week. We gave him our van to drive from day one. The training went just okay. He annoyed me as he turned up late everyday. Even when I adjusted the time for the next day to include the extra time which he was running late by. He only lived just down the road from us. He didn’t seem to be with it when he turned up. Dishevelled and looking like he was hung over. He said he hadn’t been drinking. On the Friday he turned up 45 minutes late and then he slept for an hour and half to our first job (traffic nightmare Friday), and then slept the hour to our second job (still nightmare traffic Friday). Then said he felt unwell and sat outside whilst I cleaned an AGA for two hours. I was pretty pissed off about this so made a decision that I’d give him the boot. But when I phoned my wife in the office, she said. “We need him as we have a full week booked up for him next week.” So the wife spoke to him and we went to the last job, which was his checkoff job. He did 90 per cent on his own (I helped him because it was a new NEFf and taking the doors apart was difficult, infact I couldn’t strip the door down completely). His cleaning though was very good. So hoping I was wrong he was on his own.

He went out on his own the following week. We went on holiday for half term to France to see the Mother in Law at the end of that week, for a week. When we got back Sandra in the office showed Catherine the fuel card bill and said have you seen this?


ovengleamers van
Oct 04

Troublesome Employee Number 2

By Graham Rogers | Uncategorized

So after our last employee left we felt well that’s all over and lets try again. We quickly found someone, through a recruitment agency, who was suitable and  interested.

He seemed nice enough. As I was just about to go on holiday I took him out for a day and then let my employees train him. Big mistake!

It wasn’t that he wasn’t cleaning well enough after his training week. It was that he may not have been an ideal candidate to be trained in the art of cleaning in our OvenGleamers method. The subtleties of getting the process right were over looked. There were some things that if I’d known about I would have corrected or made a decision to get rid of him.  He got through the training week and went out on his own.

When I got back I looked at the reviews he was getting. They were good.He was getting to the jobs on time, and doing good cleans. One lady said she would have him back every time from now onwards, she was so impressed.

But then some things started to happen that got us thinking.  He said to me when he came to the office: “These jobs are TOUGH!”. Considering he was only doing standard single and standard double oven cleans, this got me thinking that he may  not be up to it. We were just about to train him to do the bigger ranges and AGAs. This was going to be after I had gone out to ensure it wasn’t only the end result he was getting right but our overall process as well. I had a feeling that he was just going through the motions as far as the paperwork was concerned.

So I think he must have known, I not sure how. I looked at the his schedule and decided to check all the jobs he was going to do in our village the following week.

Then he called in sick for a “back problem” on a Monday. Okay I know that it’s easy to get back problems, but this guy was a relatively young bloke and he said he got it from laying down on a kitchen floor whilst cleaning the ceiling of the oven. Beats me. We had to re arrange his appointments. He saw the doctor and he said he would be okay for the next day.

Then we got a call, on the same day that he had taken off sick, to say that he hadn’t returned a key to a local letting agent from whom he had picked up a key to do a clean on the Thursday before. The key hadn’t been returned on the day and it was now four days afterwards. This is something we are hot on and something we would never do! I went to see him to pick up the key. He said that it was too far from the job to get back to the agents and then to get to the next job on that day. We checked the job, it was last one of the day! He lives 5 minutes away from the letting agency. Why didn’t he just drop it off?

Then the next day things came to an explosive end…


Oct 03

New Oven Cleaner Employee Trouble Post Two

By Graham Rogers | training

Oven Cleaner: Things got worse:

I am going to give you the  list of all the other things that went wrong with our (first – we have just got rid of number 2!) troublesome oven cleaner employee of this year. There was quite a long list in the end.  His cleaning was fine. We were getting good reviews. But in the second week he had an accident in his van. He drove into the back of a car in slow traffic in Bristol centre. He told me on the phone that it was minor damage to both vehicles, “just a few scratches”. So I didn’t bother to follow it up and get the van to the office to look at it. (our guys work from home and only come in for supplies now and then).

When I saw the van, about two weeks later, the damage wasn’t minor at all. The van needed a new front wing and front section. We had to make our first insurance claim in the 13 and half years we had been trading. The insurance claim in the end was £7,000. £3,000 damage to our van and £4,000 to the car he drove into. I didn’t give him the sack then but a few months later.

Other things that he did wrong in that time:

Getting a speeding ticket on a Saturday close to his parents home in Herefordshire. “Why did you use the van for private use?” “I just popped to the shops”. “What shops that were close to your parents in Herefordshire?” No answer.

Phoning up with excuses to finish early on a Friday: “This AGA is so bad I’m going to have to spend the rest of the day cleaning it so I can’t do the two jobs booked in afterwards. Can you change those appointments?”. Straight away I got into the van and drove to the job. By the time I got there he had been there nearly three hours. I was expecting an old beyond help AGA Standard. But what was there was a lovely, newish, Wedgewood Blue AGA. It wasn’t bad at all – though he told me that the troublesome bit was burnt on carbon on the simmering top plate lid). I looked at it and thought “Easy Job”. It just need finishing off. I told him to go and do the two following jobs. He left. I finished off the AGA, I couldn’t get the lid 100% but it was nearly there. It took me an hour to finish it. The AGA is the photo on this post.

We had a bad review because he failed to take a hide and slide door apart telling the customer when the customer asked him why he wasn’t taking the door apart: “I’m 98% sure that they don’t come apart!” Even though the customer got the manual out and he could have phoned me to help him. Even though I had taken him trough how to do it.

I wanted to speak to him about this bad review so asked him to come to the office to see me after his last job of the day which finished at 1500. I sat in the office waiting for him and got a call at 1700 from him to say that the van had broken down in the centre of Bristol on the M32. He just had to drive from Cheltenham to our office in Bristol along the M5 to get to me. I asked him “why were you in Bristol?” He said “I went home to change as me trousers were wet”!

Two parking tickets outside the doctors surgery for two different visits to his local doctors. “Why didn’t you register the van at reception?”.

The question you are probably wanting to know is why did we keep him for so long? Well the answer is we were (and still are) REALLY busy. Letting him go would have meant losing a lot of money. We started advertising for a new employee and he saw the advert and asked us why we were advertising. We told him the semi- truth that we needed to get our spare van working, and needed an additional person in addition to him.

In the end we had to let him go as he started not turning up for jobs. So he started becoming unreliable. We can’t have that as our business relies on turning up on time. He took a day off work. We told him we needed to pick the van up as we needed it.

That day he gave us the run around, not letting us have the key for the van. He told us he was in the main Bristol library, we drove there, it was closed.

He just didn’t want to speak to us. He eventually left the key with the van unlocked outside his home.

We picked the van up and noticed straight away that the van had been in another accident (another insurance claim).

We told him that his services were not required.

We found a new employee. Though first we offered the job to two people and each of them  didn’t turn up to start. The third one did. He turned out to be a problem too…

To be continued.

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