- Business: Gecko Solutions, Inc. Cleaning Services.
- Location: Bend, OR.
- Interesting Fact about Gecko Solutions: It’s a family business. Allan and his brother started it, and now Allan runs it with his sister.
- Interesting Fact about Allan Dalangin: He has an impressive collection of cars that includes sport cars, Mercedes-Benzes, and a Hummer. When not working he’s in his garage, tinkering with them and making them shiny.
When Allan Dalangin stepped in to help with the family business, he faced a number of operational issues that were dragging the company down. One by one, Allan untangled them and put Gecko Solutions back on its feet. The trickiest of them all was retaining staff in an industry known for high employee turnover. With the help of ezClocker, Allan found a way to both save money and invest in an all-star crew.
Hitting ‘Reset’ on a Family Business
In 2016, Allan Dalangin was living in the Philippines, his home country, when he got a call from his brother asking him to come back to the U.S. and help run the family business.
That business was an Oregon-based janitorial company the brothers had purchased 16 years earlier. At the time, it was a small operation with just four employees. Allan had retired from a job in electronic engineering to help manage it; then he stepped away for a few years while his brother and a manager they’d hired took the lead.
Now, that manager was leaving, and his brother really needed a hand. The company had racked up thousands of dollars in debt and was on the brink of bankruptcy.
Allan thought about his brother’s request. Righting the ship would take some work. But Allan was out of money anyway. There was nowhere to go but upward. So he said yes, and moved to Bend, Ore., to run Gecko Solutions, Inc.
“When we’d finish, they’d say, ‘Man, these guys really know what they’re doing!’ Next thing, they’d get rid of their cleaning company and hire us.”
Learning Secrets of the Trade
It wasn’t long before Allan identified a major problem in business operations. Gecko Solutions had over 40 clients–more than an operation its size could handle.
“It’s a lot to manage,” said Allan. “I said, ‘We have to do something about this.’ So we got rid of the small accounts and acquired bigger accounts with multiple buildings and more square footage to clean.”
The company’s niche was cleaning medical facilities, so Allan upped his expertise in this area. “You’re not just cleaning with Lysol,” he explains. “There are many things to consider, like how to sterilize surgery centers and exam rooms, and what kind of chemicals you’re using for each situation. I did my research.”
One area he focused on was carpet cleaning and commercial floor maintenance. Fibrous carpets soak up viruses and other germs that come inside on people’s shoes or fly through the air via sneezes and coughs. The germs dry up with the particles in the carpet. When you walk on it, you release the particles as dust and breathe them in.
Allan learned not only how to sterilize a carpet but also how to protect it with a treatment that kills viruses and germs on contact.
Armed with this knowledge, he knocked on the doors of big medical companies in Bend, many of which already had cleaning companies on their books.
“I said, ‘Give us a trial run. We’ll clean the carpets in your facilities better and more often–and we’ll do it cheaper,’” Allan recalls. “When we’d finish, they’d say, ‘Man, these guys really know what they’re doing!’ Next thing, they’d get rid of their cleaning company and hire us.”
Allan included his signature carpet cleaning and floor maintenance in each contract, and he stored his special carpet equipment on site. That way, the client always had a nice carpet, and Gecko Solutions got paid to keep it that way.
Allan didn’t always know which buildings his employees were cleaning, or when they were cleaning them, or how long the job was taking.
Turnover and Timesheet Woes
After a year with Allan at the helm, Gecko Solutions was finally turning a profit. And Allan was no longer broke. In fact, he’d bought a house, and the first of what would be many cars to his name.
Still, the business was not without challenges. Retention was a major issue, especially for a thriving business that was trying to scale up.
“Ask any janitorial company what their biggest problem is, and they will say staffing,” Allan says. “People work for you for a few months, and then quit. You have to find, hire, and train someone all over again and hope they stay on longer than the last person.” Allan estimates he sent out about 200 W2 forms at the end of 2019–more than four times the number of people he has on payroll at any given time.
Timesheets were also a problem. Allan’s staff completed these manually every week, and often they filled out several days’ worth of entries in one sitting. It’s easy to forget exact times, Allan thought, so how accurate are these records, really? And were people always honest about their times? Without reliable data, Allan didn’t always know which buildings his employees were cleaning, or when they were cleaning them, or how long the job was taking. Clearly he needed a new system.
“It’s so simple,” Allan says about ezClocker. “Other apps are loaded with features and hard to implement. ezClocker has just the right amount of features.”
One App to Track Time and Crew
About a year ago, Allan began testing several timekeeping apps. Some apps were fine, but with too many bells and whistles. He needed an app simple enough for his employees to use, yet smart enough to gather the data he needed in order to analyze day-to-day business operations. When he tried ezClocker, he knew he’d found the right fit.
“It’s so simple,” Allan says. “Other apps are loaded with features and hard to implement. ezClocker has just the right amount of features, and they’re adding more bit by bit, which is also great.”
One that Allan liked was the job code feature. Allan used this to assign a unique code to each building. When he used it with ezClocker’s GPS feature, Allan could see exactly how long his crew were taking to clean each building.
This yielded some surprising data. For example, Allan had billed one site as a four-hour job for one person. ezClocker showed that employees often left early, even though Allan was still paying them for the full four hours. So Allan put two people on the job for one hour. The move saved him a chunk of money each month.
ezClocker has given Allan a clear picture of who is–and isn’t–clocking in, and when. “I just look down at my phone and I know where everyone is,” he says.
Getting Paid for Hours Worked
Today, Allan is more flexible when people finish early. “Some people would rather go home, and that’s fine–I just don’t pay them for the hours they aren’t working,” Allan says. “If you want that extra money, then find something to do. Clean underneath desks. Clean above the cabinets. This way, people are actually working the whole time I’m paying them.”
ezClocker has given Allan a clear picture of who is–and isn’t– clocking in, and when. “I just look down at my phone and I know where everyone is,” he says. “If someone’s on the schedule but not clocked in, I call over there to see what’s up. If we were doing things the old way, I wouldn’t have known if someone wasn’t there, yet I would have paid them anyway.”
Money isn’t the only thing Allan is saving with ezClocker. “Now that I have more free time, I’m able to connect with my employees on a personal level,” he says.
Using Savings to Invest in People
Allan says that, thanks to ezClocker, Gecko Solutions is now a more efficient business. “Our productivity is much better, and so is our quality,” says Allan. “And I’m saving a lot of money each month.”
Much of those savings have gone back into the business in ways that remedy the retention issue. Every week, Allan fills up each site’s janitorial cabinets with candy, crackers, and other snacks. He rewards staff with gift certificates, and pays for their travel time between sites. He also raised their wages to $15 and $16 per hour.
Money isn’t the only thing Allan is saving with ezClocker. “Now that I have more free time, I’m able to connect with my employees on a personal level,” he says. “I have a better understanding of their needs and how I can take care of them. Now I pop in every week and say, ‘Let’s order dinner tonight–on me.’ Before they only saw me if there was a problem.”
Allan has seen a decrease in turnover since using ezClocker. “I expect to send out fewer W2s this year, for sure,” he says.
With more time on his hands, he can attend to other business matters, like researching new cleaning technologies and techniques, and running quality checks at sites where new COVID-19 cleaning protocols are in place. It’s all part of maintaining a thriving business, and Allan couldn’t be happier about that.
“I love what I do,” he says. “And if one of my crew doesn’t show up, I’ll be there cleaning bathrooms, which is just fine with me. The challenges I went through in life and with this business made me who I am–and I’d go through that all over again.”