When a Customer says they will have to find someone else to clean their home what do you do? How do you keep it from hurting your feelings? And how could you manage the customer expectations better? Learn to set boundaries from the start so everyone wins.
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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.
“I’m Going to Have to Find Someone Else”
Well, I’m just going to have to find someone else. What does that even mean? Now there’s a house cleaner who has a customer that we call a one-off. What that means is the customer called them one time for a cleaning one time, and then they’re off to the races.
They’re not regular customers. They’ve not agreed to regular maintenance cleaning. There’s no set time on the schedule when you’re expected to come back. You just cleaned one time, the end.
Put Your One-Off Customers on a Wait List
Now in the house cleaning business with the one-off customers, we put them on a waitlist. And with the waitlist, if you should ever have a random cancellation, you call the customer from the waitlist and you say, “Hey listen, I just had a random cancellation. Do you want that time slot? Because I can’t resell it to any of my regular customers or to someone new, but I’ve already been inside your house. You already met me. I already did a good job. All those things. Do you want a one-time cleaning?”
And oftentimes the waitlist customers will say, “Yes, I would. Please come back.” Okay. That’s how that works.
This Homeowner Called Back First
In this particular scenario, the homeowner called and she was a one-off and the house cleaner said, “Would you like me to put you on a waitlist?” But before she could ever call the woman, the woman called her back. The homeowner called the house cleaner back. It had only been a couple of weeks and said, “Can you come back to my house and clean again?”
And the house cleaner said, “Well, I just cleaned a couple of weeks ago, but yes, okay.” So she tries to get the woman on a regular basis. Like, “Hey, do you want me to come back every couple of weeks?” The woman says, “No, I don’t have the budget for it. I don’t want that. I just want to call you randomly when it is good for me.” The house cleaner says, “Okay, I’ll try to make that work.”
So she does. The homeowner keeps calling every couple of weeks. Can you come back to my house tomorrow to clean? And because it’s been during the COVID pandemic and times are a little bit slow, the house cleaner said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I really could use the money. Thank you so much, I appreciate it.” And she’s tried to be accommodating and come back to the house.
The Homeowner Kept Changing Up the Job on the Cleaner
Now, a weird thing. When she gets back to the customer’s house, the homeowner keeps changing the job a little bit, “Oh, today could you do this instead? Could you do this instead? Could you do this instead?” And every time she changes the job a little bit, expecting to pay the same money. So there’s not a new walkthrough. There are not new agreements in place. It’s just the same money for the weird, random changing of tasks because this is not even a regular customer.
It’s a one-off customer that just keeps calling back. Well, this relationship goes on for about a year and it’s both parties’ fault because the boundaries were not created and there were no real hard firm rules about what exactly was happening.
So the house cleaner one day gets a call from the homeowner and the homeowner says, “Can you come tomorrow to my house to clean?” And the house cleaner said, “I can’t. The business has picked up again and I’m super busy. I’ve got clients in that spot, but I could come next week on the 22nd.”
You Can’t Always Cater to Customers’ Needs
And the woman says, “No, no, no. I need you to come tomorrow.” “Well, I can’t come tomorrow because tomorrow I have clients as well, but I could come on the 22nd. That’s as soon as I can get you in.” The homeowner gets all huffy and she says, “Well, I’m just going to have to find someone else.” And the house cleaner’s just devastated.
She feels like she’s being fired for trying to be accommodating. And for about a year, she’s been catering to this homeowner’s whims, right? Whatever the changes were whatever needed to be done, she’s been just doing it to try to help out.
And I love the fact that she was trying to be accommodating, but what happened is she enabled this homeowner to just have free reign and dictate the terms of the relationship.
You Have to Let This Customer Go
So now the house cleaner is like, “What do I do?” Okay. Well, what you do is you have to let her go. When she says, “I’m going to have to find someone else,” yes, that’s true. She is going to have to find someone else. Your schedule has booked up and this client was never willing to have a regular time slot. She’s not in the books. There’s no money that has locked her in place. And so she’s not actually a client of yours.
She’s a one-off customer who’s on a waitlist for random cleanings, should you be able to accommodate that and right now you can’t accommodate it. So you can’t get upset and you can’t be feeling like, “Oh, well, I’m being fired from the job.”
It’s not a job you ever had. She randomly called you and hired you on a per needed basis and now your schedule doesn’t accommodate hers. And so she’s going to go find someone else.
House Cleaners Love to Please People
And so I just want us to stop for a second and realize that sometimes as house cleaners, we’re also people pleasers and we want to jump through all these hoops because we believe people should live in a clean environment.
And when someone says, “Hey, I think that you should come over and help me clean my house.” We want to say, “Yes, I think that’s a good idea. I will come as soon as I can.” And you try to make that work.
And so that is who we are as house cleaners, but the homeowners also have to realize that unless they are willing to commit to a regular schedule, that they’re going to have to take whatever time is available, whether that’s a cancellation or a one-off or whatever, and that’s what they’re going to have to do or they’re going to have to go find someone else.
Don’t Blame Yourself if it Doesn’t Work Out
And so if that is the end result, we can’t get upset. We can’t blame ourselves. We can’t feel like, “Oh no, I got fired from the job.” It’s not a job you ever had. So I just want us to stop for a second and reframe the whole thing and realize when a situation like that occurs, it’s the best upfront to make it very clear this is a one-time cleaning at a one-time price.
And if I come back again, we can either agree to the same price for the same job done, or if the task changes, we will need to agree to a new price.
Because right now the house cleaner feels jilted on several fronts. A part of it was because she allowed it to happen, but there are ways that we can create boundaries so that everyone wins and everyone’s expectations are met, and everyone’s needs are met.
4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication in Love, Life – https://amzn.to/3tsSArO
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life – https://amzn.to/3uX3Mgj
The Art of Everyday Assertiveness: Speak Up. Say No. Set Boundaries. Take Back Control – https://amzn.to/3v6OHcv
Extra Mile: 500 Customer Service Tips for Success: Tools to Attract, Satisfy, & Retain Even the Most Difficult Customer – https://amzn.to/32fYjFl
Customer Service Training 101: Quick and Easy Techniques that Get Great Results – https://amzn.to/3toKnVg
Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet – https://amzn.to/3sk07ru
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