March 27, 2012
Innovation, Chamber involvement led to growth opportunities for Jancoa
If you’re looking for even more reasons to renew your Chamber membership, meet Mary Miller, CEO & owner of Jancoa Janitorial Services. Mary will tell you that it all started with one question…
“Who cleans your building?”
The best business minds will tell you that oftentimes, finding new opportunities is a matter of being in the right place, at the right time, and then knowing how to ask the right question.
Mary Miller, CEO and owner of Jancoa Janitorial Services, recalls a time when she attended a program with the Director of Ohio's workers' compensation program presented by Sheakley, and sponsored by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. After arriving early, and while waiting for the program to begin, Miller realized she was sitting with a few executives from Sheakley.
“So, who cleans your building?” asked Miller, who was a long-time customer of Sheakley, “Because if you hired my company to do it, it sure would make it a lot easier for me to pay my bill from you to manage my workers' compensation program.”
That conversation – which began with a simple question – led to Jancoa submitting a bid, and ultimately winning the piece of business.
Jancoa was founded by her husband, Tony, in 1972. Tony ran the company for many years with the help of his family. When Tony and Mary met, he knew they would be a winning combination. They’ve been partners in life and business ever since.
“Tony and I work well together because we know our individual strengths and weaknesses. Our skills complement each other,” says Mary, who joined the company in 1993 and has been CEO since 2007. “Tony loves innovation and creating processes and I prefer strategically maximizing opportunities.”
In an industry with around a 300 percent average rate of employee turnover, the Millers found themselves in a constant state of hiring. They wanted to find a way to become more efficient by slowing the staffing churn and retaining their workforce longer.
Effecting change through company culture
Improving the culture of the company became a high priority. They added employee benefits including insurance and vacation time. That alone was an unconventional step that separated Jancoa from the competition. But the Millers knew that their employees needed more. To ultimately change the course of the revolving door cycle, they needed to change the “dead end” perception of work in the cleaning industry, and give their staff “hope and opportunity for the future.”
That mission inspired them to initiate a program they call the Dream Manager.
The program consists of a series of one-on-one coaching sessions and group classes. Employees get the support they need to identify their personal dreams and take tangible steps toward achieving those dreams.
Employee alumni of the Dream Manager program have achieved goals including home ownership, furthering education, embarking on a dream career after their time at Jancoa, and many other aspirational achievements that they didn’t realize were within their reach.
The success of Dream Manager – which the Millers say helped reduce their turnover rate to just around 40 percent - is not the only time that one key initiative impacted the whole company.
Leveraging Chamber involvement and recognition
In 2003, an outside impetus from the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce delivered big results for Jancoa. They won Small Business of the Year after a rigorous evaluation following the Malcolm Baldrige criteria. It was an intense experience that required the activities of the business to be examined very closely.
“It was a difficult, eye-opening process,” Miller says, “but it changed the mindset of everyone who worked for us! And between then and now, we have doubled the size of our business.”
That has not gone unnoticed. Miller was chosen for the WE Celebrate Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010 and was a finalist for 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Finalist for South Central Ohio and Kentucky.
Today, they’re joined by three members of the second generation. Jancoa now employs over 300 individuals and has annual revenues exceeding $10 million.
More than numbers, the Millers know it’s all about people – and it also helps when the leaders are in the right places asking the right questions.