Cleaning time management is something that comes with experience. It’s important when it comes to managing expectations and your customers. Here is how you handle time management as a cleaner, and what to do in case something takes longer than expected.
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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.
The Job Is Taking Longer Than You Thought
Oops, the job is going to take longer than I told you it was going to take, and I think it’s going to cost more money than you agreed to. How do you tell a customer that? Today, we have a question that came in from a house cleaner who asked this.
“How do you tell a client that you need another hour or two to complete the finishing task? Because initially you said you will be done by 12:00 PM, but then it’s already 11:00 AM and you’re still not near finishing. So how do you tell the client that you need two or more hours to complete the task?”
This Could Be a Mismanagement of Expectations
All right, so the first question that I want to ask you is, are you new to house cleaning, and are you just learning how to bid for jobs? Because this sounds like mismanagement, I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t know what to promise. And I was kind of winging it. I said it would take this amount of time. And I didn’t set up the expectations with the customer correctly. That’s what it sounds like to me.
After you’ve been in the business for a while, you’re going to be able to know what to look for, and you’re going to know about how long those systems take and how long it takes to clean something that’s this dirty. And you’re going to know about the price you’re going to charge, okay? So that comes with experience.
What to Do if Something is Taking Longer Than Expected
If you get in the middle of the job and you decide, or you discover that for some unknown reason, it’s going to be a longer process. I would stop what you’re doing immediately. And I would call your office, and I would tell your boss, if you are the employee, I would say, “Listen, I’ve run into a snag here. This is not what I was expecting. It’s harder to clean this. I’ve mopped the floor seven times. It’s still sticky. There’s something on the floor that I wasn’t expecting. It’s going to take a little bit longer. What do you want me to do?” Let them call your client and negotiate that with the client and negotiate a higher price.
Now, if you are the sole operator and you are the boss, you’re going to get to do this yourself. Yay. Okay, my recommendation is that you do it as soon as possible. Don’t wait until 12 o’clock and then go, “Oh, I’m not done yet. This took longer than I expected, and it’s going to cost you another $100 or whatever.”
Don’t do that, okay? Because yes, you might have mismanaged your time, but now it looks like you’re mismanaging your business and you’re tricking the customer into a higher price than what they originally agreed to, okay? And I don’t want you to leave money on the table and I don’t want you to work for free.
Tell Your Customer Upfront
But the reality is, if you have a four-hour window, it’s because you have a four-hour window and then you have another job to go to. And so at the end of the four-hour window, you gotta get up and leave, even if it’s going to take longer.
What you might do is you might say to the customer upfront, “I have a four-hour window and I’m guessing I can get all of this done in the four hours. I’m going to do my best. If for some reason I’m not able to finish. We will cut it off in four hours and I will leave and go home, and it still only costs you this much money.”
So, no matter what the cleaning is for the day, it’s going to cost a certain amount of money and you will be there for four hours, okay?
Let the Customer Decide What They Want You to Do
So if you discover it’s going to take longer, let the customer know, what do you want me to do? They might say, “I would rather you spend the rest of the time that you’re here making sure you get that floor right. That floor is super important to me. Skip the bedroom, but I’d rather you get the floor right.”
Or they might say, “Skip the floor. I’ve had lots of problems with the floor. I put all kinds of weird wax and stuff on the floor. I know it’s my fault. Go ahead and clean the rest of the house.” And they might give you permission then to move on.
It’s Super Important to Agree with the Customer
But the two of you then decide what the new agreement is, okay? And that’s really important that the two of you decide because what this is based on and the satisfaction is that the expectations of the day were met.
And so if you don’t meet the expectations and you go home and in your head, you’re like, “I screwed up. I didn’t quite finish the job,” but that’s not communicated to the customer, they’re not going to have you back.
They’re going to be super disappointed that you tricked them and that they didn’t get what they wanted out of the job, right? So tell them as soon as possible, make those arrangements.
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