Have you heard about the cleaner who gave his power away? How do you avoid giving away your power in client relationships?
Take control of your business and learn from the story of this one house cleaner, Ed.
Listen: The Cleaner Who Gave His Power Away
Watch: The Cleaner Who Gave His Power Away
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
House Cleaner Who Gave His Power Away
Did I tell you about Ed? He’s a house cleaner and he gave his power away. I want to tell you about it so that the same thing doesn’t happen to you.
Ed is a house cleaner, and he gets a text one day and the text says, “How much do you charge to clean a house?” And Ed says, “Well I haven’t seen your house, but it’s somewhere between 75 and $200.” And the customer says, “That’s great. That’s in my budget. Come on over.”
And he gives the guy the address. So, Ed grabs his cleaning supplies, puts on his uniform and he goes over to the customer’s house to clean the house.
He Assumed There Would Be a Walkthrough
Now, he’s assuming when he gets there, there’s going to be a walkthrough and he’s going to be able to give a price and find out what the customer needs. When he gets there, the customer is in a super big hurry and says, “I trust that you know what you’re doing because you’re a house cleaner. So come on, take a quick look of my house and then I’ll let you get to work.”
And they hadn’t talked about price, but they walked through the house quickly, and when Ed gets done, he says, “This house is so much bigger than I expected. It’s got four bedrooms and four bathrooms. It has a living room and a sitting room. It has a dining room and a formal dining room. It’s got a kitchen and a bonus room. It’s got a pantry, two stairways, a hallway. This is a pretty big house.” He said, “This is going to be on the higher side of $200.”
Ed Gave Up His Pricing Power
And the customer says, “Well, you told me that it was only going to be between 75 and 200. My budget is $120. And that’s as high as I can go.” Well, Ed needs money, and he doesn’t have another job right now. And he’s got his cleaning supplies with him and he’s wearing his uniform.
“Neh-hee. All right, so I’ll clean your house for $120, but we have to have a different conversation.” The customer says, “Okay, we will at a later time, thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate it.”
So, Ed gets to work, and he starts cleaning the house. But he’s lost his pricing power. While he’s cleaning the house, the customer pops in and says, “Oh, by the way, while you’re here, would you mind just knocking out some of these cobwebs and making sure that the lights don’t have any cobwebs on them either?”
Ed’s Customer Kept Adding More to the Job
And Ed is like, “All right. All right. Usually, I save that for a deep clean, but okay. I’ll do that. Because I’m trying to please.” So, he starts cleaning the house and whatever, and he’s working his way through madly, working through the house, trying to finish and everything.
The customer comes in and adds more work, “Hey, listen, my son has had an emergency at school. I’ve got to run, go pick him up. But I’m going to be back before you’re done. So, I’ll pay you when I get back. So, don’t worry about anything.”
So Ed says, “All right, cool.” So, the customer leaves and when it’s time for Ed to leave, the customer’s not back yet. Now he has full access to the house. What is he supposed to do?
What Does Ed Do With Full Access to Their House?
Does he lock up? Does he set the alarm? What’s supposed to happen? So, he locks the door and then he goes out through the garage and pushes the button, and the garage door goes down, he hops over, and he leaves.
But he didn’t get any money. So, then when he gets home, he texts the customer and says, “Hey, it was time for me to leave. I finished cleaning your house. And it took a couple of hours longer than I was expecting it to take. And I kept waiting for you to come back and you didn’t come back, but I need to get paid for today.”
The customer’s like, “Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry. Yes, something happened, my son had an accident, I had to take him to the emergency room. It was this big thing. I’m super sorry.”
Ed’s Customer Wasn’t There for His Next Cleaning Either
And they sent the money via PayPal. And so, Ed is like, “Oh, good. I got paid.” So, he got his $120. Well, a couple of weeks goes by and it’s time for the customer’s next cleaning. So, Ed goes to the customer’s house. He texts first. And he says to the customer, “I’m coming tomorrow. I just want to let you know that we need to talk about some of the stuff that we didn’t get to cover the first time.”
And the homeowner says, “Oh my goodness, I forgot to tell you. I’ve got a business meeting. I’m not going to be there when you get there tomorrow, but I’ll leave a check on the counter for you. Come on in. Here’s the alarm code, super excited that you’re coming. We will have that talk that you’re talking about.”
The Customer Changed Up the Pricing on Him
Ed’s like, “Okay, great.” So, he gets to the customer’s house and instead of $120, which kind of they agreed on, there’s a check for 110. And there’s a note that says, “Hey, we didn’t use the dining room this week. So, I took $10 off the pay, but did the same job you did last time. It was great. Super excited that you’re our new house cleaner. I look forward to talking to you soon.”
So, now Ed is feeling a little bit cheated because they changed the price on him, but he goes ahead, and he cleans the house with the $110 because he needs the money and he has bills to pay. So, this goes on week after week after week and every time the customer changes the rules a little bit.
They don’t leave a payment. And they do leave a payment. But, they pay him on time. They pay him less money than was kind of agreed on.
Now Ed Feels Like He’s Been Taken Advantage of
They never have that conversation. And every time there is a to-do list of new activities, the customer wants to be done. They’re working him on a deep clean, through their house, rotation by rotation, at each visit. So, finally, Ed calls me and he’s irate. And he feels that he’s been taken advantage of.
He feels that he’s been underpaid. He feels that he’s been cheated because they never actually had the walkthrough. They never actually had a real conversation about money. He didn’t get to explain what he does on a maintenance clean, and the difference between a deep clean. He’s just feeling jilted.
So, he called me, and I said, “Ed, oh Ed, oh Ed.” Now, my frustration with this, is that Ed from the very first text has trained his customer, that the customer is in control. Ed is not in control. The customer is in control. Ed has given all his power away.
How to Not Give Your Power as a Cleaner Away
Now, I want to go back to what happens when someone texts you and says, how much do you charge to clean a house? How you respond to that text, and how you respond on the walkthrough, and the rules and regulations that you set.
The boundaries that you create, and the way that you communicate with the customer, the firmness under which you follow your own company rules, and you don’t bend or break them, and the consequences that are attached to the rules that they break will determine the outcome of your business.
Here’s the reason why, as your business grows, what you do as a solo cleaner is what you train all of your employees to do. And if you bend the rules a little bit, make exceptions and you justify customer’s bad behavior, what happens is they do too.
Losing Your Power Will Make You Miserable
And before you know it, you don’t have a business, you have a really bad job that you’re underpaid for. You’re overworked on, you hate it. You’re miserable. Then you end up calling me and I’m going to ask you what your first name is.
And if it’s Mary, I’m going to say, “Mary, oh Mary, oh Mary.” All right, I want you to stop and I want you to think that before, before you give your power away, right now, you have your power. And if you choose to give it away, you may never get it back, because it’s really hard to train an old customer new tricks.
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