Ask A House Cleaner, Lock Out, Savvy Cleaner

Lock Out – Can’t Get in to Clean

Lock out! You can’t get in to clean and the customer is not responding when you call or text. And you don’t have an alarm code or a hidden key. What do you do? Can you prevent the lock out?

As a maid service, a lock out means you’re wasting time you could be earning money. 

Today on Ask a House Cleaner we cover tips you’ll find in your maid service training and house cleaner training.

Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru gives tutorials on giving the homeowner a reminder of your cleaning. Charge a lock out fee, have them hide a key. And market your cleaning business in a way that prevents lockouts from happening.

Today’s show sponsor is

HouseCleaning360 is a business referral network for house cleaners and maids and housekeepers.

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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.

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Question: Lock Out – Can’t Get in to Clean

Today’s question comes from a house cleaner. He wants to know: “When you’re outside a customer’s house and you have a confirmed appointment. And the customer is not there, and you’re locked out, how long do you wait before you leave?”

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Answer: Lock Out – Can’t Get in to Clean

All right that is an excellent question. And it comes down to time.

Because you wasting time outside a customer’s house eats into your company profits. And so that’s not cool. It’s not cool to ever get locked out of a customer’s house.

Lock Out – It Will Happen Lock Out Key Under mat

Now, it will happen. It happens to every house cleaner. But there need to be scenarios and situations in place to prevent that from happening.

Now if somebody doesn’t trust you enough to give you an alarm code, they need to hide a key outside their house somewhere. So that if you get locked out and you text them they can tell you where they’ve hidden that key.

They may have to find a new hiding place if they have to tell you where the key is. 

How to Prevent a Lock Out?

The first thing that you want to do is go to confirm your appointments 24 hours in advance. “Hey, Mrs. Jones, it’s Angela. I just want to confirm that we have an appointment. I’ll be at your house to clean your house tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.”
Then she texts back “Yes that’s great. I’ll see you then.”

Now, on my way over to Mrs. Jones house, I’m going to send her a text “Hey, Mrs. Jones, Angela here. I’m on my way over I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” It’s just a quick reminder because we live in a super busy world.

Avoid a Lock Out by Confirming Appointments Lock Out Text

People forget from one day to the next that their house cleaner is coming.

So, text on your way over there. Now, if you get to Mrs. Jones house and there is a lock out. And you don’t have a key, you need to have a credit card on file from Mrs. Jones.

Because now she’s eating into your company profits.

And if she doesn’t show up, or responds to your calls or texts, she’s wasted her time slot. You could have sold that time to someone else.

 Lock Out Profit LossCharge a Lock Out Fee

Because she confirmed. And because she knows your rules. You’re going to charge her a 50% lockout fee. This is 50% of the money you would have earned, had you been able to get into her house to clean.

Now, the 50% lockout fee will discourage her from doing this again. And I would give one free pass per year per client, just because like I said this happens. Okay? But if this happens on a recurring basis we need to nip that in the bud. 

So, have them sign something right up front when you do your initial walk-through. Make sure they understand you don’t tolerate lockouts. If there’s a lock out and you do not have a key or an alarm code, the homeowner needs to hide a key somewhere so they can let you in.

There is No Charge for a Lock Out if They Hide a Key

“If you let me in with a hidden key, it doesn’t cost you any money. But if there’s no key and you don’t get back in touch with me, I will charge your credit card 50% of the cleaning fee.”

Does The Homeowner Trust You?

The next thing to find out is why don’t you have an alarm code or house key?

You are a house cleaning company. And you are going to be cleaning when a customer is not at home. You need to have an alarm code or a key.

And so, if someone is not comfortable giving you an alarm code or key there’s an issue right there, maybe they don’t trust you.

But there are a lot of home security systems now that allow for a house cleaner code.

Maids Can Have Their Own Alarm CodeLock Out Home Security

And so what happens is when you go into a customer’s house you as the maid, have your own code. You the only person besides the homeowner who has your code.

And so, when you show up at the designated time, they have authorized you to be there from 8 until noon.

If you show up at any other time.
They can call the police and have you arrested for unauthorized entry.

You Are Responsible for The House During The Time You Clean Lock Out Break In

The beautiful thing about that is this, during that 4-hour window you completely responsible for their home.

When you leave, lock up and set the alarm. This will alert the homeowner that you’ve gone home for the day. And you are no longer responsible for anyone that gains unauthorized access to that house.

That is not your responsibility. You are only responsible for that house from 8 until 12.

Explain Your Lock Out Rules Up Front Lock Out Signing Papers

And so, you want to make sure that this is all explained to your customer up front.

Because if you show up to the house and you’re locked out of the house like I say, that eats into your company profits.

And a lot of house cleaners do not work alone. So, if you have 3 people that are sitting in the car and they wait twenty minutes on a lock out for the homeowner to arrive.

That is an hour of wasted time you have to pay your employees.


You Have To Pay Your Employees For Waiting

Lock out girl sitting in car

You have to pay all those people’s salaries and they didn’t even work. That’s money out of your pocket.

Not only that, but you have to pay their commute time and gas for their cars. So there’s a travel expense you have to pay.

That’s one of the reasons why we charge a 50% lockout fee. That helps pay the salaries of the people whose time you’re wasting. And it pays for the travel expense of them driving all the way over to your house, and then not being able to get in.

Lock Out – Nobody Wins

So, the lockouts are not a good thing ever.
But you can help prevent this by doing a text reminder 24 hours in advance.

“Hey, just want to remind you I’m coming over tomorrow at 8 o’clock.” And then be there at 8 o’clock.

 If you say you’re going to be there at 8 and you don’t show up until 11 there’s no lockout fee. The homeowner could have been there waiting for you at 8:00. If you aren’t  on time. You are the unreliable one. So, you can’t have a loosey-goosey schedule. You’ve got to be right on time.

Text Again On Your Way Over

Lock Out Text Reminder In Car
*This car is parked.

“Hey Mrs. Jones and just wanted to remind you I’m on my way over I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”

If she forgot, now she can hurry and leave you a key. She can call a neighbor who has a key and asks the neighbor to come open the door for you. Or she can give you the alarm code which will just let you in.

There’s no excuse for waiting and wasting your time because of a lock out.
So prevent that in advance.

Alrighty, so that’s it for today. And until we meet again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it.

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Resources For This Episode

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