If you are running out of supplies on the job and the customer provides them, here’s how to let them know. It’s the mystery line on our worksheet that is our question today. Should the house cleaner buy the cleaning supplies or the client? Great questions.
Listen: Running Out of Supplies
Watch: Running Out of Supplies
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.
Running Out of Cleaning Supplies
Help, I’m running out of cleaning supplies and I need to let the customer know, but how do I do that? There was a house cleaner that wrote into the show. She wrote in to the show and she wanted to know the mystery line on our worksheet. And the mystery line says, “Supplies, things we need for next time.” What does that mean? All right, this worksheet, let me back up just a second, is to this day, the best marketing technique I’ve ever used in the cleaning business.
It is three pages and it has a list of all the different duties that we do. And I will leave links in the show notes. You can download one for free. And on the back page is all the rules and regulations for the cleaning company.
And on this line, right here, it says, “Supplies, things we need for next time.” So she wanted to know what does that line means? Because, Angela, you said that all house cleaners should bring their own cleaning chemicals. So what does that mean?
Some Customers Insist on Certain Products
All right. Here’s what that means. Every once in a while you’re going to run into a customer who insists that you use a particular product because they either saw it advertised on TV, or they’re a multi-level marketing reseller of this product or something. Okay, they have a specific reason for you using a specific product in their home.
All right, so when that happens, a couple of things happen. But when that happens, the first thing that we have to do is we have to say, “Stop. I’m honoring the fact that you have a specific request. Okay, I’m hearing you, but I’m unfamiliar with that product. So before I use the product, two things have to happen. First of all, I need a signed waiver from you saying that if I damage anything in your home, that I’m not responsible, okay?”
So as long as the homeowner signs the release form saying, “I authorize you to use this cleaning chemical in my home, on this particular surface“, you’re good to go.
Make Sure You Pull Up the Product’s Safety Data Sheet
The second thing is we go back to our office and we pull up the safety data sheet for that product. And when we have understood the product, and all the different hazards that are associated with it, and the different personal protective equipment’s that we need for exposure, and the different ways that we incinerate or dispose of the product when it’s over.
We need to know all of those things before we randomly show up and start using products that we don’t know and are unfamiliar with, okay? So once we’ve done those two things, then now we can use the product.
Ask the Customer Questions About Their Product
But where does the product come from? Does the house cleaning company buy it or does the customer buy it? That’s a conversation both of you must have. Some customers, like if they sell the multi-level marketing product, they’re going to buy it themself and they will provide it to you.
Once they provide you with a new bottle of cleaning solution, I recommend, this is my personal belief based on experience, I personally recommend that the house cleaner keep it in their possession until it is completely gone, and they have disposed of the product, or the jar, or the container properly.
I do not like to put it back in the customer’s hands because anything can happen, right? Then if the house cleaner comes back to the house, they use the cleaning supply and somebody replaces what’s inside, then the house cleaner is still responsible for that if they damage the property, even though a waiver has been signed.
Bad Things Can Happen If You Leave a Product at Their Home
Okay, here’s how it works. In my hand, I’m holding a container of toilet bowl cleaner. A customer says, “Please use this toilet bowl cleaner in my house“, and you say, “Okay, great.” If you leave this at the customer’s house, here is what can happen. It doesn’t always happen, but here’s what can happen. The husband comes in, or the wife, and she says, “Oh, wow, check out this container. It’s the perfect tool for me to seal my grout. It’s got this bendy neck to it, it’s got the little tiny nozzle. I’ll just empty out whatever is in here and I will put in my grout sealer in this container, and I will seal all of the grout lines in my bathroom.”
It is actually a great idea. The problem is that is not what this bottle is designed for, and it does not look like a grout sealer. Then they’ve got the grout sealer in their hand, they pop it back in the cabinet because they know it’s grout sealer. They meant to change it back with the original cleaning solution, but they didn’t. The house cleaner comes in and pours the grout sealer in the toilet thinking it’s toilet bowl cleaner, okay? That’s happened as well.
Put a Label On Every Product for Every House
So once this goes back to the cleaning company, what happens is we put a label on this. This says, “Peterson”, and then the house number that they live in. No other identifying information, just their last name, and their house number. And this goes in the supply cabinet in alphabetical order with all of the different products that are specific to that customer’s home.
Okay, so when we’re doing inventory, the night before we go to the Peterson’s home, what we look at is we say, “Oh, we use this particular toilet bowl cleaner at the Peterson’s home. Let me grab that and put that in my cleaning caddy so I have that and I will be prepared.”
Leave a Note When You Start to Run Out
Now as it’s getting down to the end and we need more, the note on here is where we leave a note. And we say, “Mrs. Peterson, the toilet bowl cleaner is getting low. I can pick up a new jar this week, or you can provide one to me. Let me know either way.” Now we do not mark up the products that we use.
So if the customer wants to buy a new one and have it ready for me, that’s fine. But as soon as I receive it, it goes in my possession and I don’t let go of it ever, okay? That way nothing can happen to it and I am fully responsible for the cleaning chemicals that I’m using at a customer’s house.
So that is what that line is for, either I’m going to bill you, or you’re going to provide me a new one. But next time I come, we need a new bottle of this cleaning supply, whatever the cleaning supply is.
Each Bottle Belongs to Each Customer
And there are homes that will have like an antique piece of furniture that uses a special carnauba wax, or something. It’s not something that we normally carry in our cleaning caddies, it’s exclusive to a particular home. And that is the reason why we put the customer’s name on it. This entire bottle belongs to them.
And we have had customers that, for whatever reason, they’re moving, or they lost their jobs, or whatever, and they quit the service. We will give them back their bottle of cleaning supply unless they don’t want it, at which point, then we will, you know, whatever.
But we give it back to them and we say, “Okay, here you go.” This belongs to them. They have paid for it.
This is How We Handle Running Out of Supplies
So that is how we do it at Savvy Cleaner. And that is the reason for this line on this particular worksheet. But I love to have this on here just to give a heads up to the customer so that there are no surprises because if you keep billing them for cleaning supplies and it’s not documented how often that is, or when that is, the customer could think that you’re stealing from them or that you’re taking advantage of them.
And then, “Well, we just bought a new one. Why are we out already?” or whatever. And so if you say, “Well, this last three or four times“, then every three or four times, you will leave a note for them on the worksheet. And so that way they are in the constant know. Again, they don’t feel like there’s some kind of abuse going on there.
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