From Ronan Hardy, Founder of Mary and Jarvis
In antic Greece, Sparta, the most vehement city put in place an economic and politic system geared towards war alone. The Spartan women famously shouted: E Tan e epi tâs or « Come back with your shield or on it » before their soldier men were sent to battle. We could interpret it by «comeback victorious or do not come back at all», highlighting Spartan fierce commitment.
What is more intriguing is that soldiers were actually put to death if they dared to come back without them. The symbol of the shield was grander than any other defensive gears because more than protecting oneself, the shield was meant to hold the Spartan wall, the famous phalanx formation, and ultimately so protecting the person next to you.
After hundreds of interaction with potential interested persons leading to a booking service or not, I often receive feedback on our prices even though the listing is well accessible on our website.
60% of the time it is understood upfront as the person did the research and agree on what we are doing and what we stand for on social justice. And as we are a startup nothing is still perfect and we work hard to do more.
The 40% left is there to challenge the "too pricy" at first glance and I gladly take it as a way to communicate on our values by making the person step back and think on their feet.
Of course the entrepreneur in me could interpret the claim that I did not market my service to the correct niche or that I should not truly pay attention to a person who is outside of that said target group.
However, it is the underlying principle of decency and how human base their buying decisions especially for a human lead service that actually hitch my curiosity. After all, just like in any consumption choice, the rule of thumbs is to keep in mind: "Against what we are comparing the service/product under focus?" and what the true cost and value of it is.
It is a service one actually need to in order to keep the household together. I mean finding such reliable service is one of the hot topics discussed between parents at kindergarten / elementary schools, when a person start a career and overall seek a more balanced life.
So when the claim does come from our target group, an upper middle class person living in a urban area, I am surprised on how of all the sudden people forget how a basic calculation of an income is generated and what it covers. The client should be insured against potential damages, and potential physical accidents and the employee receive paid holiday, and all the other social contribution that a legal work covers because it encapsulates all the components of a great work.
Being fast, thorough, reliable and cheap does not exist, or actually should NOT. This should not be considered a good deal considering that an actual person is behind the service. That person should be honoured and nurtured better. A full day of home activity is a physically strenuous marathon in which one has to keep control of his/her space, pace and place. It is a tough job which cannot be a succession of 2-4hrs sprints with the transportation time in between.
"I have a cleaning lady, she is super efficient and super cheap, ;) ;), contact me in PM " - Too many FB replies
Home workers have to combine hard and soft skills which like any positions cannot be overlooked and underpriced. It is a tricky quest because clients know their home better and would first notice what has been overlooked rather than what has been pristinely done. It demands a flexible mind because we have to adapt every week to our client needs and special unexpected situations (mostly sickness and spontaneous holidays).
I know this because prior launching the company, I registered myself in a cleaning platform to start from the bottom to learn the job, its advantages and inconveniences, assess the client mindset and legitimately know what I will ask my future employees to execute.
It is a business due to its recurring nature and its private location where trust and reputation is paramount.
"It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute." - Will Rogers
The reputation of a home worker is actually on the line not only every day but on every services of the day. When you leave one home, you must reset it and start from scratch again to make sure to maintain your reputation. You do not have the luxury to slack off like in some office jobs for a couple of days knowing no one would take notice. The client will come back home that day.
If we take the black market and low cost offers, one cannot blindly infer that if the person prices the service that way, it will be fine or it will be the person's partner that will cover the low wage to even out for a better standard of living, just because it suits us. Getting paid holidays, saving for pensions, for unemployment and healthcare should be a given, not a nice add-on.
The civic duty is to stand and care, if not, you are taking part on the process to deny to a human being the right to live decently.
“This is not your responsibility, but it is your problem.” —Cheryl Strayed
Yes, it is not your fault that this market is filled with black market low cost workers.
Yes, you are not responsible of the person's personal and professional situation.
Yes, it is not your fault if your culture does not value such jobs.
Yes, it is not your fault that our consumption patterns are turned towards ever more convenience and low pricing products and services.
Yes, it is not your fault that due to external events shaking the economy, we have seen a spike in offering of such jobs due to a desperate need of extra cash to close the end of the month.
Yes, it is not your fault that a government does not improve the protective status of such job workers better.
Yes, we all have our own problem too.
Whatever the reason is, just because you should not have to deal with something, doesn’t change whether you in fact need to. Life is not fair. We all know it and watch, hear and read of harsh examples every single day.
So by agreeing to pay more, you help protect this line of job workers, you may not doing it to only support yourself, you are doing something far more noble, you hold the social shield by choosing to care. You hold the society line, because if one breaks we may all collapse.
It is time to value more such job on the front line. The recent situation with the Covid-19 made us even more aware of their rightful important place in our society. So if you don't go via a professional service, at least get to know the person beyond as an individual and her environment maybe s/he does an excellent job and does not ask for more due to her social condition, lacks of confidence, by not mastering the local language, not having the price benchmark... Should they be taken advantage for those reasons?
NO, you have set your life to be successful and happy, and so do they. The right way is as Stoic Author Ryan Holiday puts it: "Deal with the situation at hand, even if you don’t want to, even if someone else should have to, because you’re the one that’s being affected by it. End of story."
That is one of the many reasons why I created Mary and Jarvis, to stand and care by creating a bridge between two worlds, between the haves and the haves not (yet) and I am very grateful with all the clients we have and understood that, because we are all in this together, for the better.