Ask a House Cleaner, Gifts, Savvy Cleaner

Gift Giving – Should House Cleaners Bring Gifts?

Gift giving on Mother’s Day? House Cleaners and Maids wonder what cool little things they can do to celebrate Mother’s Day. Turns out The House Cleaning Guru, Angela Brown has very strong opinions about gift giving, manipulations, expectations, and bribery. Gift giving on Mother’s Day, Easter, Christmas and Birthdays set a precedent that is hard to manage as your business grows.
Want to give a gift that keeps on giving, that helps you grow your cleaning business and prevents the customers from expecting gifts? Tune into today’s episode of Ask a House Cleaner

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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 house cleaning question, I get to help you find an answer.

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Question: Gift Giving – Should House Cleaners Bring Gifts?

Okay, so, today’s question comes from several house cleaners that are getting ready for Mother’s Day.

And they want to know “What little gifts or trinkets or kind things can I do to celebrate Moms on Mother’s Day?”

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Answer: Gift Giving – Should House Cleaners Bring Gifts?

Okay, I’m going to answer that question. And you’re not going to like my answer.

I’m very opinionated about this because I’ve been in the business for twenty-five years. Here’s what I have proven again, and again, and again.

Number one, gift giving is not sustainable.

 Gift of Flowers for Mothers DayWhen You Give a Gift – Beware

So, if you give something to all the mothers this year on Mother’s Day, next year when Mother’s Day comes around, they are going to expect whatever it is you gave them this year, or the equivalent of.

So, let’s say that this year as a nice little gesture you give them a nice bouquet of flowers.

Okay, the nice bouquet of flowers probably costs you what? $10? $15? $20 bucks?

That’s a lot of money for one customer.

And when you add that up, for all of the customers that you have, that can become a very costly expense.

Do You Give a Gift For Every Holiday? Gift of Easter Basket

Now, we just came off of Easter.

And there was one of our house cleaners that decided she wanted to give all of her customer’s kids an Easter basket that had little candy and toys and fun things in it to remember her by.

So, she did, but what she didn’t consider when she started this little process was that, (and this is her first year in business.)  What she did not consider was that there were about 60 kids between the twenty or thirty families that she worked for.

So, try buying 60 Easter baskets at $20 dollars apiece or $15.99 or whatever. They’re not cheap.

She spent almost a thousand dollars on Easter baskets. And what did she get out of it?

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What Are Your Reasons For Giving the Gift?

I mean they were like “hey thanks, yeah whatever.” And you know, they kicked the baskets around and ate the candy. Although, it did not necessarily make her any more memorable in the eyes of the consumer.

And then what happens is this, they are going to expect it next year. “Well, last year you brought us an Easter basket, are you bringing us one again?”

So, it gets really expensive and it’s not sustainable over the long haul. This year she is only one person.

But next year as she expands her business, and the year after that as her business grows exponentially, the customers that have heard about that, and the customers that are in on the Easter basket thing, are going to expect more Easter baskets every year.

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Do You Have a Budget For Gift Giving?

And so, the question is, how do you afford Easter baskets for all of the different kids as your business grows?

And you can’t give it to some and not to others because people talk. You’re working in the same neighborhood right?So, what you do to one customer, you kind of have to do to all of them.

Now, back to the Mother’s Day thing, here’s a really sticky situation.

House Cleaners gift of flowers competes with gift form client's kidsBe Careful Your Gift Doesn’t Outshine The Family’s Gift, They’ll Hate You For it

Let’s say that you buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers for a woman whose house you clean. But her children or her husband did not. Or maybe they bought her flowers of lesser value, or not as beautiful.

Okay, so the cleaning lady just kind of outsmarted and outshined what the rest of the family is doing for Mom for Mother’s Day.

And the mother may really appreciate the gesture and she may feel important and grateful to you that you brought her these flowers, but she may resent that her family didn’t step up to the plate. You’ve just rubbed salt in that wound.

What are you going to do next year? Bring her more flowers? It’s not sustainable year after year.

The next thing beyond setting a precedence that people are going to come to expect every year is that it’s expensive.

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Think Through Your Gifts Before You Create a Monster

There was one woman who set a precedence that every year on your birthday you would get a free house cleaning. Happy Birthday Gift of Free House Cleaning

Yay. Right?

Okay, well, house cleaning costs anywhere from what a hundred to two-hundred plus dollars.

And so, we figured out over the course of the year, the free birthday gift, (had she been paid for the jobs,)  the free birthday gifts that she gave away, added up to over $7,600 dollars in one year.

Okay, what’s weird about that is this.

That Is The Price of a Car Payment For One Year

Happy Birthday Gift or company carIf you were going to expand your business, that’s another car (or two) you could bring into your fleet.

So, as you expand your business, that’s a useful tax deduction. Giving people birthday gifts, you might be able to figure out a way to tax deduct it. I don’t know. I would talk to your accountant.

But why? Why would you do that?

And here’s the question behind that, it’s a nice gesture, but it doesn’t bring in any new business. These people are already your clients.

And what happened was people told their friends; “Well, my house cleaner gives a free house cleaning on the birthday.”

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What Happens When Gift Giving Backfires?

And so, there were people signing up “Oh, hey, it’s my birthday.” And so, they would get the free house cleaning and then they would fire her.

She was furious with herself for giving free birthday gifts to people she didn’t even know, that weren’t her regular customers. And she hired me to help her get out of the mess she’d gotten herself into.

It’s not sustainable once you start hiring lots of people either. Your business grows, now you’re paying people to what? Go give a free birthday cleaning? 

This is not a charity. This is not a tax deduction. It’s a weird gift.

Dont Give Easter Gift, You're Not the Easter BunnyService Providers Giving Gifts is Weird

Speaking of gifts, and we talked about the girl that gave out the Easter baskets. She’s not the Easter Bunny.

She is not Santa. You’re not expected at Christmas time to give gifts to all the family. 

It’s weird for this reason, as a house cleaner or a maid, you’re a service business.

You’re a paid service provider. Somebody pays you to come in the home, you do a service, they give you money.

Okay? You’re not a member of the family. Dont Give Christmas Gift, You're Not Santa

You’re not expected or obligated under any way to provide pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving, or flowers for Mother’s Day. Christmas gifts at Christmas, and Easter baskets at Easter time.

What is that?

Dont Give Halloween Gift, It looks like approval addictionCustomers Give Their Service Providers Gifts – Not The Other Way Around

There are no other service businesses that give (seemingly manipulative) gifts to their clients.

Your landscaper does not bring you Easter baskets on Easter time.

He does not bring you pies at Thanksgiving.

The guy that comes to fix your air conditioning unit he does not bring pies. He does not bring you gifts at Christmas.

The lady at the hair salon she might give you a five-dollar discount on your nails or your hair, but guess what? She doesn’t give you free service. You’re the one that gives her the tip and the gift. Not the other way around. 

She runs a business. She provides a service. If you are the consumer, you are the one who gives the gifts.

She doesn’t give you Easter baskets and buy you gifts and these other things. That’s just weird. Like she’s trying too hard to compensate for lousy service.

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If You Want to Be Outstanding, Provide Outstanding Service

And so, I appreciate the fact that you want to give a little bit more. So, my suggestion is this: Be an excellent house cleaner every single time you clean.

If you want to be outstanding, do outstanding work.

Get to the point where people refer you and people talk about you and people love what you do because you are excellent. Not because you bring Easter baskets and you give them candles on Mother’s Day.

Those are all the wrong reasons. And if you want to give a gift, make sure there is no hidden agenda or mysterious expectation from the client that they are unaware of.

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When You Give a Gift, Make Sure It’s For the Right Reasons

So, if you want to go out a limb and you want to give someone a gift card, or you want to take them out to lunch or you want to give them flowers or balloons or whatever, you can. Just don’t attach it to a holiday or a recurring event.

You don’t want them expecting “Oh, it’s my birthday again, so she’s going to bring me some gifts. Oh, it’s Christmas gain, she’s going to bring me goodies.”

Right? We train people how to accept us. And the truth of the matter is, you’re already accepted.

They’ve already hired you. They are already paying you for your service.

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You Don’t Get Extra Accepted Because You Give a Gift

You don’t get extra accepted anymore or liked anymore if you make jars of jelly and give your customers bottles of wine and little soaps, chocolates and handmade things.

It’s a nice gesture, but it doesn’t bring any more business in the door. These people are already your customers.

If you’re spending seventy-six hundred dollars a year to get people to like you, then there are other issues (approval addiction and people pleasing) going beside you doing excellent work.

So, my answer for you is don’t buy gifts for your house cleaning clients. It’s not expected. And you don’t want to compete with the what the family was going to do to celebrate their holiday.

Some people are scraping by in order to have a clean home, but they’re not going to buy lavish gifts. Don’t be the one that provides lavish gifts. Because its just awkward for everyone involved.

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So that’s my two cents on that, and if you like this tip, or you found it helpful, go ahead and pass it on. Share it with a friend. Or you can leave comments in the section below and you can argue with me and tell me why you should leave gifts. And I would love to hear your opinion as well.

Until I see you again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it.

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