Managed by Q is redefining the office cleaning experience. In an industry long overdue for an overhaul, Q is bringing new tech savvy to cleaning and office maintenance and adopting a progressive employment approach. Managed by Q launched with its first cleaning in New York City on April 2, 2014 and has been growing ever since. It launched in Chicago this spring and expanding to San Francisco this week.
It all began when co-founder Saman Rahmanian decided to join the board of his apartment building in Brooklyn.
“Suddenly I was the guy who was dealing with the building’s maintenance company. It took me like two or three weeks of dealing with them before I started to get fed up. I didn’t have any experience in maintenance, but I felt I could run a building better than this company, so that’s when led me to thinking about building Q.”
After some initial research, Rahmanian and his co-founder Dan Teran shifted focus to cleaning offices rather than residential buildings, because the market was more suitable for tech-based developments.
From the beginning, Managed by Q has sought to transform the industry.
“We didn’t just want to build an incredibly slick technology on top of a broken experience. We didn’t want the cleaning service to just be average, and then have a nice interface on top of it. We actually wanted to change the cleaning experience.”
Managed by Q’s goal of a better cleaning experience demanded a departure from the usual cleaning company culture, where cleaners are contractors. Q initially tried this approach, but soon transitioned to hiring cleaners as full employees.
“After two months in business, we decided we wanted to have better control over the labor and we decided to hire our cleaners as employees. That fundamentally changed a lot of the operational processes, it took us a month to figure out how to do that well, but once we did that we never looked back. For us, it’s an incredibly better way of doing business.”
The team at Q took a look at the lifestyles of their cleaners, called field operators, and assessed how they could support their needs.
”What we really focused on was creating a good job for our operators. If you do that, you get so many benefits, starting from people having incredibly strong loyalty to the company and people referring their friends and family to work at Q. So from that, we’ve managed to have an incredibly high standard of the actual service that we perform.”
Everyone in the company receives the same benefits, and field operators will soon be able to partake in stock-option programs. Rahmanian explains,
“It’s just the right thing to do to have everybody invested in the success of the company.”
This approach is complemented with a policy which requires that everyone in the company routinely rolls up their sleeves and grab the cleaning supplies.
“I think people are all on the same level. We make a point that everybody, whether it’s the VP of operations or an IOS engineer, you have to clean regularly. I think what that does is it puts everyone on the same level. It creates a very positive spirit.”
Tech and People
Q has enhanced the office cleaning process with technology which brings a new perspective to office spaces and how people interact with them. Each Managed by Q office has an ipad installed in the office to log different tasks performed by field operators. Office employees can also make notes, chat live with Q representatives, and even request supplies to be re-stocked.
“We are really exploring and doing things that have never been tackled before. Part of that is how you structure and codify information about the physical space in a way that is actionable. There are very hard technology problems. But once those are solved, they’re solved. Once you fix a bug in the interface that you have and you re-run that app, that bug will never come up again. But when it comes to people, it’s a different story.”
Different personalities and prior experiences makes working with people a unique challenge, Rahmanian says.
“With people, you can never fully predict how someone is going to react in a certain situation. So we have to create a system and service even if one individual might not perform well. We have to create an environment where someone is less likely to not perform to our standards. And part of that is going back to making sure you make a fundamentally good job for people.”
Ultimately, the lessons learned so far have set the tone for Q’s approach.
“I think the advice we’ve taken to heart is you have to look at the entire experience… Especially when you’re running a service, your products are people performing tasks. In that case, you have to understand what are the motivators for people, what is their background and life situation.”
Startup State of Mind
Before Q, Rahmanian worked with venture development firm Prehype, where he was involved in developing the English language learning app, Newsmart. These experiences served as lessons in entrepreneurship, which Rahmanian has applied to his work with Q.
“A lot of people have great ideas and I think ideas are valuable, but what separates entrepreneurs is they don’t necessarily have the best ideas, but they find a way to practically test that idea and go into the market. Often the ideas are very imperfect when they test it, but what separates good entrepreneurs is that they just go out and test it, and they are not too protective of their idea to go out and see how people react to it.”
That entrepreneurial spirit will be well utilized as the company grows. Along with the geographic expansion, Rahmanian hopes to further develop the functionality of Q’s technology to support more maintenance and supply services.
From the markets of Budapest to the skyscrapers of London, Caitlin is our expert on all things European. Located in Copenhagen, Denmark, Caitlin keeps us up-to-date on the European startup landscape, plus culture, food and whatever she finds along the way.