What is a Mulligan in House Cleaning or Maid Service?

Ask a house cleaner what a mulligan is and how to you get referrals from them? Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru explains all about the Mulligan and where to get ideas for Mulligans to grow your house cleaning business.

The Mulligan started out as an accident in our cleaning company. We were working by the hour and would finish our routine cleaning with three or four minutes to spare. So we trained ourselves to keep an eye out for those mini-tasks that we not part of our regular cleaning. As we were leaving, we’d backtrack to get those. Turns out “the Mulligan” ended up becoming one of our biggest ways to get referrals from customers on the receiving end of the good deed.

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Hi there. I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner.

This is a show where you get to ask a housecleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer.

Today’s question has created a buzz inside our Facebook community. Now there’s a private Facebook group that I have, it’s for professional house cleaners, these are people that own a cleaning company, or they work for a cleaning company. If you’re not a member come on over, we would love to have you as a member.

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A mulligan is a second chance to perform an action. Usually, after the first chance went wrong through bad luck or a blunder. Its best-known meaning is in golf whereby a player is informally allowed to replay a stroke (though this is against the formal rules of golf). The term is also used in other sports and games, and to other fields generally. The origin of the term is unclear. (Description from Wikipedia)

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Today’s Question: What is a Mulligan in House Cleaning?

But the question today is “ What is a Mulligan?” and “Where do I find my next Mulligan?”

Now I wrote a book about a year ago called How To Start Your Own House Cleaning Company, and inside this book, I talked about the power of a Mulligan.
Now I’m very specific about when you’re hired for a particular job you should go and do the job that you’re paid to do and no more.
Okay? A Mulligan is not the time when you go in, and you change the world, and you spend an extra 3 hours that you’re not being paid to clean up somebody’s mess because they were super messy this week.
Do the job you’re paid for and get out. That is your job. You’re paid to do a specific job that’s it. Okay?

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Today’s Answer: What is a Mulligan in House Cleaning?

The exception is, the Mulligan.

Now the Mulligan is “I’m going to go a little bit extra, I’m going to do a little bit, of something I wasn’t paid to do on my way out the door.” Now the rule for the Mulligan is it must be noticeable immediately.
And so as the customer comes home, this is not something they paid you to do, this is a little something extra if you finished up early and you have just a minute – do one extra thing.

Now is your cleaning a person’s house you’re going to see things that need to be done because we’re trained with that eye to look and go “Oh my gosh, I so wish I had time to clean that today.” And you don’t because it’s not what you’re paid to do. It’s either part of deep cleaning, or it’s just something that it’s not part of your job.

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Share your Mulligan with Other Maids and Get New Ideas

And so, as you leave if you have just a second run back and do that one little thing.
Now in our group, we love to share our Mulligan experiences. Because the customer comes home and they know you’re not going to do this. But then you did!

And it’s like “Oh my gosh what a nice little surprise.” It’s like leaving the customer a little tip.
Now, for example, there’s a front door, and the front door has two panels of glass on the side. Those panels of glass would fall within your regular cleaning but the one above it typically we wouldn’t do that because we can’t reach it. You need a step stool.

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Clean Stuff That is Not in Your Cleaning Routine

So what happens is on a mulligan you might clean the transom above that front door. You might step outside and clean the other side of the transom. Now they’re coming down the steps first thing in the morning, and they look out. And for the first time in a long time, you can see through that transom. And they’re like “Oh my goodness, my house cleaning lady clean to that extra little window. They went to extra trouble to make that happen.”
Or it could be that the little lights that are outside on the front porch right as you walk in the front door, you might clean those lights. That would be a mulligan.

Courtney Morse was housecleaning when her client said “don’t worry about the playroom. I didn’t have time to pick it up today.”
She saw that it was going to take all of three or four minutes to pick up the playroom and to vacuum.

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Delight Your Customer

Playroom Mulligan by Courtney Morse
Playroom Mulligan by Courtney Morse

And so after she cleaned the whole house after everything was amazing. After she was done with her inspection, and she checked off her worksheets, she went back, and she cleaned the playroom and vacuumed her way out.

It made the customer super-happy. It was a way of just saying “thank you for your business.” So, if you have a chance, and like I say it’s not something you get paid for, this is not in your normal realm of cleaning. This is not part of your routine cleaning; this is something a little bit extra.
And there’s a whole list. There’s a list in the book of things that you can do as your Mulligan.

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A Mulligan is a Way of Saying “Thanks”

So it’s a great way just to stay in front of your customers and to say “Hey you matter to me. You’re important.  I want to do just a little bit more than I was paid to do.”
Because you know what? Those Mulligans are what people talk about when they’re standing at the school bus stop.
So people are like “Oh my house cleaning lady, she didn’t show up today.” And someone else is like; “Yeah, I’ve gone through a dozen house cleaners.” Someone else says; “You’re not going to believe my house cleaner, she did all the stuff she was supposed to do, and a little bit more.” And they’re like; “No way, I’ve got to have your house cleaner.”

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A Mulligan is a Great Way to Get Referrals

And I can’t tell you how many jobs our team has picked up from the Mulligans. It’s a great way to get referrals.
And so you’re not asking for extra money, and you’re not bragging about it, and you can’t tell…this is a part of the rule – you can’t tell anyone about it.

Except in our private Facebook group. We want to share those Mulligan’s with each other. Because we want to get ideas from each other on the little extra things we can do that will make a difference.
But we don’t want to brag about it and tell her other customers; “Well I did this at so and so’s house.” because then they will come to expect it.
And a Mulligan is not to be expected. It’s a surprise. It’s like a little “Hey, it’s awesome being your housecleaner that’s all it is.”

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Give it a Try

So, if you haven’t done a Mulligan, I know you want to. And you should. They’re super fun. It’s a really fun game to play and it makes everybody feel good.
Again it takes less than 5 minutes this is like a little short something that you do on your way out the door. Make sure you’ve done all of your other work first.

But if you are on the receiving end of a mulligan, and it makes you feel like “Hey my house cleaner really cares.” Then go get on https://NextDoor.com and leave a referral for your housecleaner. Like “Oh my goodness, my housecleaner just came she does all this amazing stuff. She shows up on time, and she went the extra mile and did a little something extra. You should totally call him or her.”
And leave their phone number. Because that is what referrals are all about. Do your Mulligan because they’re so much fun.

Put Salon Dishes away as a Mulligan by Courtney Morse
Put Salon Dishes away as a Mulligan by Courtney Morse

Example Mulligans: 

  1. Bring in the trash can on garbage day that is out on the curb. 
  2. Water droopy neglected house plants.
  3. Clean the inside glass of a china hutch.
  4. Organizing a toy box or game shelf.
  5. Clean front door porch lights.
  6. Clean the glass transom over the front door.
  7. Scrub out the animal food and water dishes.
  8. Refilling the Q-tips jar or the toilet paper holders.
  9. Cleaned my client’s shoe rack. – Pam Williams
  10. Turn the vacuum into a blower and blow debris off the front porch. – Janice Dacheux
  11. Wash the bathroom rugs – Tonya Ellen Bates
  12. Rotate the customer’s laundry that is piling up. – Jennifer Green
  13. We got to clean for a cancer patient today at no charge. – Debbie Sardone 
  14. I put away all the hair salon dishes because they had class in the morning. – Courtney Morse
  15. Mopping under the bed. – Pam Gorman Shanley
  16. Cleaned up the trash that an animal had strewn across the yard after tipping over the can. – Susan Flenniken
  17. Cleaned and polished the electric toothbrush holder. – Erica Johnson
  18. The dishwasher had nasty buildup inside the door – scoured that out. – Tiffany Garner

The list has endless possibilities. If time is no object you would do these extras at every house. Unfortunately, time is a big factor at every house and you have to budget your time and projects. But as you clean, you’re sure to see “something else” that needs attention.

So you come back to this as your last stop if you can arrange it. Mulligan accomplished. Client impressed.

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Okay, that’s it for today. If you have any questions, go over to https://AskaHouseCleaner.com. Ask your questions. And if you like this tip, please share it with a friend or a house cleaner that’s in your life.
Okay, that’s it. And until we meet again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it. 

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About @SavvyCleaner // Angela Brown

Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru // Founder of SAVVY CLEANER // Author of the book: How to Start Your Own House Cleaning Company