Question by a house cleaner:
“If no one is complaining about my house cleaning, how do I know I’m doing a good job? Should I ask if my customers are happy, or should I leave well enough alone?”
It’s an honest question every house cleaner asks, and second guessing ourselves is something we all do.
How do I know if I’m doing a good job raising my kids? Am I being a good wife or a good husband? How do I know if I’m being a good son or daughter? How do I know if I’m being a good neighbor or friend?
Second Guessing Ourselves Can Inspire Us
No, I’m kidding. It will just make you crazy and it doesn’t make you a better house cleaner. You have to ask questions of your clients.
Early in my house cleaning career, I wanted to know how I was doing. I left comment cards at my client’s houses, and my customers didn’t fill them out. I hired a 3rd party independent survey company to talk to my clients with the intention of privacy. The answers that came back were general and pithy.
For all my wondering, I wasn’t getting the answers I needed to perfect my business. I figured out that the longer I had been with a client, the less they wanted to talk. They didn’t want to “hurt” my feelings by being truthful. If they had specific requests, they might leave a note or “hope” I’d figure it out. For the most part, my client’s didn’t like confrontation. If I wasn’t smart enough to read their minds, it was easier for them to let me go, and find a new house cleaner.
Ask Your Client This Question
I started asking different questions. On my initial walk through with the client I started asking this question:
“How will you know when your house is clean?”
This was back in the day before everybody had home security cameras that could watch me from every angle and people could see me cleaning from their smartphones.
The answers totally rocked! One man told me he would know his house is clean when I comb the fringe on the oriental rug. A woman will know I’ve dusted the blinds when I turn and leave them slightly backward.
One family will recognize cleanliness by the toilet paper in a triangle fold. And one woman wanted her house to “smell clean”. We all know that clean doesn’t have a smell, so for her, all it took was a couple of capfuls of Pine Sol left in the toilet.
There Are About 20 Things
Turns out there were twenty or so “weird” things, that would trigger “a job well done” in my client’s minds. None of them took more than a second or two to complete. They were easy requests, so I incorporated them all, at every house.
But wait! That’s not all. I ask another question on my initial walk through because of MY curiosity.
“You called me to come clean your house. So I’m guessing there’s something with the last house cleaner that didn’t work out so well. So I don’t make the same mistake, can you share with me what it was?”
It’s a brilliant question because whatever the client says next will give you the information you need to close the sale.
This is about the only time you can ask this question. On the initial walk through, the prospective client has no emotional investment in you. You don’t know each other yet. They don’t like you yet, and they don’t want to make the same mistakes they’ve made before. They will be more honest now, sharing what they need, and want, in a perfect working relationship.
Can You Fix It?
When I questioned one woman she told me her last house cleaner “charged too much”. Turns out that her “perfect-in-every-other-way” house cleaner charged $4.00 per cleaning too much. We split the difference and I got the job.
Another woman confessed that she didn’t fire her house cleaner at all. The cleaning lady quit because the client was too “high maintenance”. By the time I had walked through her home, I was silently high-fiving her previous house cleaner for getting out, while the getting was good. I couldn’t work with the lady either. But you find these things out by doing a little sleuthing and detective work.
It’s All About Perception
Dissatisfaction smacked one client upside the head when her previous house cleaner only spent ten minutes cleaning the master bath. “How long is an appropriate amount of time needed to clean your master bath?” was a logical follow-up question from me. And would you believe the woman said fifteen to twenty minutes? I’m Speedy Gonzales, but twenty minutes for cleaning a ginormous master bath is pushing it for even me. More time allotted, problem solved.
We could go on all day with the things people have told me over the years – simply because I asked. My point is that you have to set it up from day one that you are willing to “earn” and keep their business. And you need them to communicate with you how it’s going.
If You Had a Corporate Job
Every year or so, you would have a year-end review and the boss would give you suggestions or a raise. It’s not that different with house cleaning.
“How will I know if you’re dissatisfied with my service? Or if there is something I need to improve?” It’s an ugly question because you’re telling the client from day one that you’re not letting them off the hook. You want feedback. We’re not playing the “I don’t like confrontation, or reading minds game.”
And then follow the question with this: “I offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on my work. If you’re not completely satisfied, will you tell me before you tell a friend? Will you give me the chance to make it right, before all your Facebook friends hear about it?”
It’s disarming and you’ll both have a good chuckle. Then you can follow it with “And if you love my work, well then, go ahead and tell ALL your friends. Even the ones who live in this neighborhood.”
A silent client is not your ally.
Open the doors of communication with your clients, encourage feedback, and you’ll never wonder how you’re doing, or where your business went.
What is the big question you ask your prospective client’s on the initial walk through? I’d love to hear your answers.
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