Category Archives for "training"

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

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.

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?


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.

Aug 29

NEFF Door Glass Shattered – Employee Trouble Post One.

By Graham Rogers | training

NEFF Door Glass Shattered? How can that happen. Well I’ve been out cleaning recently. No it wasn’t me! I was out and not in the office as been the norm recently. We have had some issues with our staff. We lost one at the end of the last year and for some reason we didn’t get around to finding a new one until March time. We decided to find someone when we noticed our sales were down. We found a new guy pretty quickly after that and he started the day after we interviewed him. All seemed well at the start. I took him out and trained him myself. He was up to standard and seem pleasant enough. He didn’t have problems heating up the van in the mornings and he was getting to jobs on time.

He went out on his own cleaning. I should have realised that things weren’t right after the first week. In the first week on one of his first jobs he broke the glass on a NEFF door. I couldn’t really work out why he had taken the door apart as he did. It was a NEFF triangle corners oven. He didn’t take it apart by just taking the inner glass panel off. He took it apart by taking the handle off and taking the external glass panel off. So okay a different way to get the door apart. I know this was something I forgot to go through with him. Here is a video of how to do it:

But if you have ever taken one of these apart, the normal way, you’ll know the glass inside is nearly always perfect. So there is no need to take the door apart at all. He took the door apart. When he put the door together again when he tightened up the handle the glass shattered.

The NEFF Door Glass Shattered replacement isn’t cheap. The replacement glass panel was £220. I went out to fix it. I couldn’t work out how to get it together again! So I brought all back to the office and then sat on the floor trying to work it out. I managed to work it out after an hour. The reason the glass had shattered was there was a spacer that if you got around the wrong way, when you tightened up the screw the screw would be fully tightened but with a bit still sticking out. So you think it still need tightening. But when you tightened it further the glass shatters. So it is a case of getting the spacer the right way around so the screw would fully tighten up, without breaking the glass.

The thing that took the time was putting the inner glass panel back in. It didn’t seem to fit. After an hour I realised that the side clips were in the wrong way around it was a case of changing these around and the glass fitted in straight away.

So that was a bad thing to happen in the first week. Week two wasn’t any better… to be continued.