Have you ever showed up to a cleaning job and realized that you under priced? This is our story, why we stopped giving exact cleaning quotes over the phone. We learned such a hard lesson!
Well, this was several years ago when my husband and I first purchased our residential maid service. We had already been in business for a while as commercial janitorial contractors so we were so sure of ourselves in the area of pricing ALL jobs right.
Let me also add that the maid service we acquired had all of its client’s prices set so we didn’t quite learn how to give cleaning quotes over the phone. There was no need to have a customer profile worksheet since all of our tasks were already laid out.
A maid service and a commercial janitorial contractor have a different price scale. That we knew. We just didn’t know how different.
So, whenever we got calls for cleaning, we would ask enough questions to price their home comparable to the size of our current residential job types. There were also certain variances such as frequency of cleanings, pets, number of occupants, and parking situations – cause we live in Chicago. Which is why we came up with the customer profile worksheet. It helped, but not in this situation.
Anyhoo…, we got a call from a client, and we asked her our customary questions as just outlined. This was really exciting because she was a targeted client. (Targeted clients were those who were, 1) Located in the area we provided service. 2) Whom we advertised to via Val-Pak mailers or door to door flyers.)
Most customers will underestimate the conditions of their home.
When we asked her for the density of her home and the general all around condition, she explained that she had very little furniture and that she kept her home neat. We believed her. Why wouldn’t we?
HUGE MISTAKE, but stay with me….
On the day of cleaning, we showed up on time with a staff of 3 people to clean a modest 1 bedroom apartment. Let’s just say that we didn’t have enough hands on deck to complete the job efficiently and on time so I personally had to jump in and assist at the home.
We really wanted her business desperately. After all, she responded to a flyer that we left at her home. But no matter how quickly we moved through her home, we felt as if we would never, ever finish 🤦🏾♀️!
I didn’t want to bring up the fact that we didn’t quote the cleaning over the phone right. At the time, I thought that it would have been unprofessional. Remember, my husband a I were new to residential cleaning. And, I certainly did not decide to skip tasks just to save time. We just kept working as fast as possible doing all that we could. We didn’t want to disappoint and we really did aim to please.
You may not make any money from the job by quoting a price over the phone.
After about 3 hours, we were severely behind schedule, frustrated and exhausted. As the business owner, I can also add, broke cause we received a check for $75. The $75 was because our door hangers offered a coupon for the first cleaning!
After all that we went through that morning, we didn’t make a dime! In fact, we lost money. You can say that we paid her for the honor of cleaning her home. Furthermore, we got to our second client about an hour and a half late and had to reschedule the last client. We were so embarrassed even in front of our staff because we were the new owners of this service.
The lessons we learned from that one day were invaluable.
Once our anger and embarrassment had subsided, my husband and I made some decisions of how to handle pricing over the phone.
I said this will be our little secret – our story, why we stopped giving exact cleaning quotes over the phone.
Instead, this is what you should do when you get a cleaning request.
- First. When you get the call, ask for a walk through if possible. After all, most targeted clients will be in your cleaning service area. So, on a regularly scheduled cleaning day, carve out enough time to stop by the prospective client’s for about 30 minutes. This will also help because it’s nice to meet the person face to face and get an understanding of what they expect. And, if what they wanted, you can truly provide.
- Second. If a walk-through isn’t possible, give them a quote of an hourly cleaning price per person. In all fairness, give the caller a price range based upon the general questions mentioned earlier. This would ensure that the client was getting exactly what they were paying for and YOU CAN take control of your time and work schedule for the day.
- Third, and very important. Allow extra time for initial cleanings. Don’t overwork your staff or compromise the business relationship you’re establishing with your new clients.
Implementing this 1,2,3 approach helped us tremendously on days when we had to clean a new client. We knew precisely what to clean. How to manage the tasks/ team members. The new client was assured of what to expect from us. Our entire work day was simplified.
This new way of giving cleaning estimates provided a sense of trust for our new staff members and my husband and I as well.
Over time, our new team members understood that our intent for every work day would never be to overwork them. They knew what to anticipate. There was definitely a level of comfort achieved at this point once we solidified how to give cleaning estimates. Most importantly, this was our only story, why we stopped giving exact cleaning quotes over the phone.
Do you have a similar story to share? Please feel free. We would love to hear from you.
“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” Henry Ford
Until next time,
Creator of A Janitor’s Story®. I started my office cleaning side hustle at 20 years old. Years later, with the partnership of my husband and our amazing staff, my business grew to mid-six figures and fulfilled my wildest dreams! Now, 27 years STRONG, I’ve retired, and I help aspiring entrepreneurs to START and GROW their house and office cleaning service businesses to achieve their biggest dreams. I’d like to help you do the same.
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