Inspector Dany witnessed from the front row Cleaning Masters’ evolution into Multi Masters Group

Multi Masters Group’s employee with the most years of experience is inspector Daniëlle. But feel free to call her ‘Dany’. Since January 10, 1991, she has been a solid part of the Multi Masters Group team, even though it was then known as Cleaning Masters. We caught up with Dany and asked her about her experiences over the past 32 years. “It’s incredible how much the company has grown since the day I started here”, says the inspector.

Dany - inspector - cleaning - Cleaning Masters - Multi Masters Group

From cleaning lady to inspector

You’ve been working at Cleaning Masters since 1991. Was that your first job?

Inspector Dany: “No, originally, I come from a completely different field. I’m a trained beautician. My first job was in a beauty salon. The owner of the salon was a model and often travelled abroad. That’s why I was often in charge. The customers were often transvestites who came to get their legs waxed; it was located in the Schipperskwartier in Antwerp (laughs). Because my boss was frequently abroad, she asked if I wanted to take over the salon. I was only 21 at the time, and my father advised me not to do it.”

“If you feel 100% comfortable somewhere, I don’t think you leave.”

“So, I eventually started as an independent beautician. But as a starting entrepreneur, I was still looking for a job to combine with it. I saw a job vacancy from Cleaning Masters in the newspaper. They were looking for a cleaner who could work for three hours in the evenings. It was perfect because I could easily combine it with my other job.”

You then started as a cleaning lady.

“Indeed, in a school. I even started with my mother because she was also looking for work at the time. I still remember the day I went to sign my contract. It was in the former office in the Tolstraat. An old mansion with a staircase and an antique carpet on it. On the first floor, you had the HR department up front. In the back was the office of Mr. de Schutter, where I signed my very first contract. That’s when I started as a cleaning lady.”

Taking the leap to become an inspector

After some time, you got the chance to become an inspector.

“To be honest, I wasn’t even planning to stay. It was supposed to be something temporary. But my then-inspector, Martine, told me that she would retire soon, and she asked if I wanted to take over her position. I told her I felt too young to be an inspector and that I was in a completely different field. But time passed, I stayed with the company a bit longer, and after a while, she asked me again. She would retire half a year later and asked if I wouldn’t give it a try.”

“Sometimes I can’t believe that I’ve been here for so long, but it’s true. And always with pleasure.”

So, you did it?

“I thought, why not? I have nothing to lose, I can give it a try. If it doesn’t work, so be it. That’s how I became an inspector. At that time, it was still a small team. There was an immediate connection with the company and the people. We were all on the same floor at that time. There was no mention of Multi Masters Group yet. It was mainly cleaning, but also some window cleaning and a bit of industrial cleaning. The other Masters didn’t exist back then. The company has grown incredibly since then. I started with about 25 clients, and at one point, I even had over 100. It’s a huge difference, really unbelievable.”

Inspector cleaning Dany Cleaning Masters Multi Masters Group

An unexpected success

In the end, being an inspector suited you.

“Being an inspector, I liked it from the beginning; I enjoyed doing it. Something new comes up every day. The job has many advantages; you’re sort of your own boss. You’re not always sitting behind a desk; you often go out to meet the clients. You’re very free. Okay, sometimes you work late in the evening or on weekends. But when you can solve a problem, you feel proud. It’s a very diverse job. You go to many different places, interact with people from various fields. It’s never boring. That’s why I’ve stuck with it for so long.”

“What I personally find very important is honesty and justice, and you find that at Multi Masters Group.”

“It’s fun to see so many different things during your work that you would never know about otherwise. I once went to a chocolate factory. ‘We only make filled goods here’, they said. I had no idea what that meant. It turned out to be filled Easter eggs. ‘We don’t make empty goods here; that’s in Grobbendonk.’ You learn something new every day (laughs).”

Important for an inspector: maintaining a good relationship with the customer

How do you, as an inspector, try to maintain contact with the customer?

“I want to be proud of the work I deliver. There’s no point in playing hide and seek. I’m also not the type of person who sits at a desk all day. I much prefer being with the customers and the cleaners. You have to meet with the customer and ask if everything is okay. That’s the only way to maintain a good relationship. By checking in regularly.”

“But the contact with the cleaners is also very important to me. They are the strength of the company; the business revolves around them. Without them, there is no Cleaning Masters. If they do a good job, and the customer is satisfied, the partnership continues, and we can move forward. If you treat your people well, you get a lot in return.”

“I often hear stories from other companies where they treat their employees very differently. I couldn’t work for such companies. They cut work hours from their employees’ performance, don’t provide the right personal protective equipment, or don’t provide good equipment. If you work like that, you can’t retain employees. High staff turnover is not good for anyone, especially not for the customer.”

Honest and just

Do the company values align with yours?

“Absolutely. What I find very important is honesty and justice, and you find that at Multi Masters Group. You get what you work for. That’s something I always tell applicants. They can be 100% sure that they will be treated fairly here. They will be paid fairly for the work they do. If they do their best, there are even opportunities for promotion. Our employees are listened to, and everything is open to discussion. It goes both ways here.”

A world of difference

You’ve been here for more than 32 years now; what changes have you seen?

“In the past, when we needed to order products, it was done through an order book. We would write down what we needed on an order form, and we would take that form to our supplier. There were two people at the counter, and we had to wait in line. When it was our turn, we would hand over the order, and either we received our order right away, or they arranged for a delivery. Then, personal computers came, not laptops yet. That allowed us to enter everything digitally. And now, with laptops and emails, everything goes very fast.”

“I thought Multi Masters Group was a very correct employer from day 1 when I started working here and I still think so.”

“Of course, there were no emails back then. We used internal notes at the office. We would leave an internal note with a question or comment in the mailbox of the respective person, and later, we would get a response. Or we used beepers. We would be ‘beeped’ if something came up. Then we had to find a phone, because there were no mobiles in those days, and call back to the office to ask who had called and what was going on. Sometimes we even had to ask the customer if we could use a phone. Pretty funny actually (laughs).

Dany - inspector - Cleaning Masters - Multi Masters Group

3 decades full of stories

What’s your personal highlight from the past 32 years?

(Thinks for a while) Oh yes! It’s not about me, but maybe the highlight is when Thierry, my former regional manager, became the Operations director. I thought he was the right man in the right place at the right time. Everyone was happy with Thierry. It’s not always easy to find the right person for a job, of course. But having Thierry was a huge relief.”

“But I also think of our new regional manager, Kristof. He does his best to support us when problems arise and is always there to listen. He often treats us to unique outings and gifts, which makes you feel extra appreciated.”

“I feel that Multi Masters Group has my best interests at heart.”

“A personal highlight for me is that one of my clients, the city of Kapellen, chose Multi Masters Group again after a new tender. After working together for 4 years, they chose us again. They are one of my favourite clients. It’s very diverse work, with up to 18 different locations throughout the city. I was very happy about that.”

Proud of the cleaners

Was there also a low point?

“The COVID-19 period. All those unhappy employees… I found that quite difficult. We couldn’t employ everyone full-time anymore, which had a significant financial impact on the employees. Some customers needed a certain number of cleanings per day to remain open. So, I tried to rotate the cleaners as much as possible. One day, person A, the next day, person B, and so on. That way, I could still help everyone a bit.”

On which project are you most proud?

“It may sound cheesy, but I am most proud of the cleaning staff. They work so hard. When I visit clients, and they are satisfied, I’m proud of the cleaners. Also, my mobile team. They are a real strength, and I couldn’t do without them.”

A 100% good feeling

Today people often change jobs quickly. Why have you stayed with the same employer for so long?

“I feel that Multi Masters Group has my best interests at heart. From the very first day I started working here, I thought it was a very fair employer, and I still do. There’s a very family-like, pleasant atmosphere, and we have fun here. What I also find important is appreciation. When you do something well, it’s acknowledged. That happens here regularly. By the management of Multi Masters Group, but I also receive positive feedback from my clients. It feels good. You need it. If you’re always criticized, you’re more inclined to change jobs. If you feel 100% comfortable somewhere, I don’t think you leave.”

“It’s nice to see so many different things during your work that you would never have known about otherwise.”

So, you won’t be leaving anytime soon?

“I only have 4 more years to work before I can retire. It’ll come sooner than I think. Sometimes, I can’t believe I’ve been here for so long, but it’s true. And always with pleasure. I hope I can stay here until I retire! The years have flown by. ‘Where did the time go?’ I sometimes think. Many great things have happened, and we all have our stories that could fill a book. Most of them are positive, otherwise, I wouldn’t have lasted so long (laughs).

A look into the future

How do you see the future of Multi Masters Group?

“If we continue to deliver the same quality, I see a bright future. I know we’re not the cheapest company. There are companies that are cheaper, but when you think about working with them… The quality is often not as good, and they don’t always have the best interests of their clients and employees at heart. After all, you’re doing it for them. They need to be taken care of.”

“If someone were to tell me that I didn’t do my job well, I would lose sleep over it. That’s what I try to convey to the cleaners as well. ‘Wow, it’s clean here. Is that the cleaner who did it? Well done!’ They should remember that mindset and work with that attitude. If you do that, you’ll go a long way.”

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