‘Values’ for Money

IMG_2837Have you ever heard someone (usually my dad) say that something is only ever worth what someone is willing to pay for it? Value is a funny thing as we all value different things! So what happens when you put a price on the way a company is run & a service is delivered, rather than solely on the service itself?

Last Christmas I was waiting for a parcel to be delivered. Amazon had apparently dispatched it to my house but as I was not the purchaser, I didn’t have the tracking details. It arrived when I was out but the delivery guy helpfully left the huge squishy bundle outside by the bins with a note through the door explaining where it was. When I arrived home, I was questioned about what I had bought that was so big and squashy. So instead of revealing the true contents I decided to have a bit of fun. I explained that I had received something that I had been waiting eagerly for, something made from the finest feathers. Now I had been jokingly lusting after an obscenely expensive goose-down coat for Christmas, and my audience clearly thought I had given in and bought myself one, the week before Christmas. Horrified looks were exchanged in the hallway. It was now clear that I had been bought something similar and warm for Christmas. The atmosphere changed instantly and I realised that I had just, unwittingly, spoilt my own Christmas surprise. You can imagine the confusion then,  when I then unwrapped the delivery to reveal the contents to be a brand new single duvet that a client had sent me for the holiday rental property that we service for them. There was no coat but the game had already been given away, and so there was no ‘surprise’ on Christmas morning for me either when I unwrapped a rather lovely and warm body warmer.

So exactly why was a client sending me items of bedding to me in the post? Well, the client lives part of the year outside of the UK and we like to ensure that as a housekeeping service we make our best effort to understand and appreciate the customers needs in every situation. The client was having a tough time with the property in that a previous occupant had left it in a undesirable state and we were tasked with turning it around in time for the festive guests arriving. We really felt that it was important to go that little bit above and beyond to ensure the incoming guests were not disappointed with their festive ‘digs’, thinking it would spoil their celebrations.

Its not just bedding that has us in a spin! We have been known to delay deep cleans so that our client could wait for the weather to break in order to get their seedlings off their dining room floor and into the garden (and the resultant potatoes were divine). We have helped clients with crosswords, taken recycling to the waste recycling centre (we were going past), left bubbly in a house that we ‘trasnformed’ as a post honeymoon surprise and sent flowers to those in need. This is part of our values based approach, which you can learn more about here. I am sure that you have heard other organisations mention having a code of values but here at Bright and Beautiful we believe in integrating these values into the way we run our business. They are just our way of life, our identity I guess, and the way we ensure we maintain our brand reputation by delivering our service with respect, integrity and customer focus. Of course, we don’t always get it right but we strive to live by our code of values whilst having fun in the process. If you are looking for a housekeeping service with a strong values, drop us a line here and we will get in touch with you.


BRILLIANT BEDDING TIPS:

  1. Pillow Talk – A common discussion topic when we train our professional housekeepers is around whether a pillow should be tucked in or placed on top of the duvet. We find that pillows ‘stood up’ on top of the duvet offer a more contemporary look.
  2. We believe that the best dressed beds are all down to the detail. Ensuring the pillow buttons, edging or openings are facing away from the middle of the bed can make all the difference.
  3. Layering is very easy way to change up your bedroom look without having to spend lots on a whole new set of linen. Try adding a throw, cushions or even a bedspread to change the overall appearance of your boudoir.
  4. For a really crisp and precise finish, you can’t beat the old school ‘hospital corners’ approach with a flat sheet. This is a great way to make your guests feel like you have really gone ‘all out’ for them. Just click on the short video here for a masterclass.

 

Packing Heat

I have ‘form’ for getting searched at Airport Security. It goes way back to being strip searched when I was travelling to America with my parents as a teen.

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Perhaps I look ‘dodgy’. Perhaps I have very metallic blood that sets off airport scanners (just kidding). Either way, my most fond memories of travelling abroad do not include endless security checks, especially ‘That’ time in Jamaica. We were supposed to be having ‘one last family holiday’ before my brother and I were deemed old enough to prefer holidaying with friends instead. As a souvenir I had purchased a ‘rain stick’, which is essentially a piece of bamboo filled with rice which makes a sound that imitates falling rain when turned over.

On arriving at the departure hall ready for our flight back to the UK, I was directed to security after being informed that I was not allowed to take the rain stick on board with my cabin luggage, instead it would have to go in the hold. I was told to go and see the ‘packing man’ who would help me to wrap my treasure for a small fee, whilst my family had to stay in the queue to check in. Clearly this guy had a good sense of humour as he wrapped up my piece of bamboo with a triangular piece of cardboard at one end, meaning my innocent rain stick now looked like a cartoon wrapped shotgun. So I tucked my parcel under my arm and started to wheel my case over to the check in desks.

Needless to say, I now looked supremely suspicious in a very comical way and was attracting the attention of some burly security guards. In the departure hall there was a row of tables and random spot checks were being carried out which is pretty common in the Caribbean. I didn’t make it past the tables. In fact, I had by now gained the attention of a few more security staff with huge, scary looking (genuine) guns casually slung over their shoulders. I probably looked really guilty too as I often feel like this when I pass a police car even though I have nothing to hide! As we are not really accustomed to seeing guns on display in the UK, the whole situation was getting more and more terrifying, and I couldn’t see my family now as they were at the very front of the check-in queue.

Mr Security demanded that I open my case, and I felt really nervous as I struggled with the lock on my prized turquoise hard shell suitcase. As I opened it, there was a collective gasps from everyone around me. I looked up confused, and glanced across at the other cases either side of me to try and figure out what was wrong with mine. I have never seen contents of a suitcase quite like it – You would be forgiven for thinking it was like everything had been bundled into my neighbours cases, but that description would be far too kind. The contents actually looked like they had been plucked from a washing machine, mid cycle. Some wet and some dry clothes, all screwed up into one big ball with a couple of aerosols and an odd shoe thrown in for good measure. I looked back at my case and realised that the gasps I had heard were in admiration for the neat segregated piles of ironed and folded clothes. The toiletries and make up were in their own little labelled bags, and my shoes in pairs with socks stuffed inside. Clearly this was not a normal occurrence and the security guard refused anything further than a cursory lifting of one corner of folded clothes, reluctant to disturb the uniform layers. It turns out, on reflection, I have always been a neat and tidy holiday maker.


Pack Like a Pro:

For the avid traveller to the occasional holiday maker, my top tips for a smooth trip have to include:

  1. Write a packing list. This to me is invaluable now that I have to pack for my little girl as well as myself. It can help you evaluate whether you have included too many outfit changes. When you have a list that you can check off against, it doesn’t matter if you have to go back to finish off your packing once you have completed the laundry of any items that you want to take with you, as you can keep track of what has already been packed. It is a great way to make sure that you remember the items that you are unable to pack ahead of time too, such as items that you use everyday.
  2. Roll your clothes to reduce space and avoid creases.
  3. Pick out the clothes you think you should take and then halve the amount! Think about taking similar colours which can be worn a couple of ways to increase your outfit options.
  4. Place tumble dryer sheets in-between layers of folded clothes to keep that freshly laundered scent rather than the odour from travelling in an aircraft hold or car boot.
  5. Always pack a spare outfit and essentials into your carry-on hand luggage bag in case your suitcase doesn’t arrive at the same time that you do.
  6. Use packing cubes or re-use carrier bags to segregate items so they are easier to locate. I have been known to pack whole outfits for my daughter in freezer bags in order to be able to grab a complete change of clothes easily, down to the socks, vest and a bib.
  7. Arrange your housekeeping service to ‘Deep Clean’ your home whilst your away. There is nothing nicer than returning home from the chaos of an airport to a clean and tidy house, fresh smelling fridge and perfectly made bed, just like the ‘hotel feel’ that you have been used to on your trip!

They say that ‘Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer’ but here at Bright and Beautiful, we disagree. For busy professionals, we offer the ability to buy your time back and give you more free time to do the things that you love to do whether that is at home or away. For a deep clean or a regular cleaning service, check out our website and see how we can  make your home even more inviting to return back to this summer.

The White Stuff

Christmas in June and baking ingredients in the wash – Has the world really been turned upside down just because the weather is warm and sunny in England?

Untitled-1Yesterday was National Leon day. Yup, that didn’t really mean anything to me either until I googled it. It turns out that Leon is an anagram for Noel……. Can you see where I am going with this? Yes, we are talking about the ‘C’ word in June. Now anyone reading this blog who knows me personally will be floored, as I dislike Christmas with a passion. I have some good reasons for my festive negativity, mixed with a hefty dose of ‘scrouge’. I am repeatedly told that my festive outlook will dramatically change and I will grow to love Christmas as my toddler becomes more aware of this magical time. (Yeah right). I just don’t think people realise how much I do actually dislike it.

But exactly what has this actually got to do with housekeeping in June I guess you are probably asking? Well, the concept of having a successful small business (which is kind of where Leon day comes from-crafters having to start creating festive merchandise in time for December sales) is all about the planning and looking ahead to landmark dates throughout the year. By talking to our clients, we are finding that this is not just a small business thing and that a successful household needs planning all year round too. At home I have a white board with our meal plan written on it for the week. Am I super organised? Well actually this weekly practice was born out of weakness for all things ‘take away’ and tiredness from working stupidly long hours in a corporate role. I would arrive home, peer into the fridge uninspired, and in an attempt to deflect the thankless task I would ask my husband what he wanted for tea. After 60 minutes procrastinating and a few raised voices, we would often plump for a ‘quick-and-easy-but-nutritionally-poor’ meal, or worse still, a takeaway. To reduce costs (and waistlines), now I write a menu for the week and then do my weekly shop based on that menu. It stops us buying masses of exciting looking carbs or veg that go to waste and takes the decision making away at a time when we are possibly likely to make poor choices.
I have to be honest, I was mocked for my white board when I introduced it years ago. Mocked by both my mum and my friends. It is tucked away in the utility room, my dirty little secret, set out with tape gridlines and lots of magnets. Nowadays though, on a Tuesday night when my mum arrives for ‘Grandma’ duties, she checks the board to see what delights we have in-store for her this week. And it’s the same friends who now do exactly the same (albeit not everyone has a white board) to keep this part of their evening simple and on track, allowing them to actually enjoy their free time without arguments over what is for tea (we are northern so it really is ‘Tea’).


Top Tips:

We wouldn’t be British if we didn’t talk about the weather. The fantastic sunny days that we are currently experiencing usually bring out questionable fashion choices for a few, and the whitest of white T-Shirts for the masses. For some though, a white T-Shirts also mean unsightly sweat marks that linger long after the sun has set. In the war against yellowing ‘whites’ try adding a spoonful of Bicarbonate of Soda to your washing machine (just pop it in the drawer with your washing powder) and just like the sun disappears as soon as you get your suncream out, sweat marks and other unsightly stains will vanish as if by magic. Did you know that ‘Bicarb’ can also be used to fluff up your towels too. Use in place of fabric conditioner and you might just be surprised.

You could leave the laundry to Bright & Beautiful if you prefer. We don’t just provide domestic cleaning services – we can help out with all manner of housekeeping tasks including Ironing and Laundry as we do for a lot of our clients. Click here to make an enquiry about how our services could free up your time.