BSCs may have heard of the book “The Dream Manager” by Matthew Kelly, of Floyd Consulting. It tells the story of Admiral Janitorial Services, a fictitious contract cleaning company who turns its turnover problem around by helping its employees achieve their life-long ambitions. However, few readers may realize this remarkable story is based on JANCOA and an idea born out of conversations between Mary and Tony.

Tony started JANCOA in 1970 as a 19-year-old college student. For the next 20 years, he ran a steady, sustainable company as a way to take care of his extended family. But it was when Mary, Tony’s third wife, came on board that JANCOA began to transition from a respectable “mom and pop” shop into the sophisticated building service contractor it is today.

While attending her first Building Service Contractors Association International conference, Mary met a consultant who promised he could improve the company’s cleaning processes and efficiencies. But he quickly realized there was no fixing JANCOA — the company didn’t have a cleaning problem, it had a people problem. Whether they were late, absent, or flat-out quit, there were never enough janitors available to clean the buildings. In fact, Mary and Tony even needed the consultant to help vacuum one night.

Back then, Tony and Mary viewed janitors as no different than the mops, vacuums and chemicals they used. Janitors and their products had the same purpose: clean the building. But just as a vacuum needs maintenance and care to work properly, so do people. In fact, people need it more.

“If you’re breathing, you need encouragement,” says Mary. “You need to have dreams to be excited about and something to look forward to.”

When the consultant quit after two days, things finally clicked for Mary and Tony. If they invested more in their staff, employees would in turn invest more of themselves in JANCOA.

“When you have people really working toward something, rather than just going through the motions, it makes a huge difference in quality [of cleaning],” says Mary.

She made it her goal to figure out what was missing from the lives of her staff members.

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