Service agreements and cleaning contracts, do you need them, and how long should they be? Today we will cover the importance of contracts in order to clearly specify rules and expectations with your customers.
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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.
Service Agreements and Cleaning Contracts
Service agreements and cleaning contracts. What if I told you, you had it all wrong? Now, the other day in one of our private Facebook Groups, there was a house cleaner that jumped in and she said she had a 15-page service agreement that she has customers sign before she begins work.
There were a whole bunch of people that jumped in and they were like, whoa, that’s a lot of rules and regulations. And then there were a whole bunch of people that were like, hey, could I send you my email address, will you send it to me? Because I want to have my customers sign a 15-page working agreement before we begin.
Do You Need a Service Agreement?
All right, then today I get this question. “Hi, Angela. My name is Sterling. Me and my friend just recently started our own house cleaning business. I was just wondering, is it a custom thing to have a customer sign a contract before the clean? Thanks.”
This is a question that now is on the front of everybody’s mind. Do you need a service agreement? The answer is yes. Every interaction we have with someone else in a relationship, working or personal, involves an agreement. The agreement is either verbal or it’s nonverbal. But I promise you this, the ones that are verbal are easier to understand and easier to follow.
If we don’t have a verbal agreement, then what happens is we have a covert contract. I expect you to do something, you have no idea what it is, and you expect something from me, and I have no idea what it is. And then if I don’t live up to it, then you’re disappointed and vice versa. So the interesting part of having the agreement in place is that both people know how to respond.
Getting Your Driver’s License is an Agreement
Now, let’s say you go to get a driver’s license. They’re going to spend 12 weeks in driver’s ed, where they teach you all the rules and regulations. There are five or six of them that you need to follow all the time.
But in order to have a driver’s license, you have to follow those five rules. These are things like following the speed limit, stop at stop signs, stop at the stoplights, and stay in your own lane. Things like that. That way everybody can drive in the same space, working with each other, because everyone knows the rules.
When You Get Married, Vows are Your Agreement
So there are certain things that require rules. For example, we get married and we have vows that come out of our mouths. We make promises and then we sign a marriage certificate.
The vows say things like, I will stay with you through richer or poorer, through sickness and in health. And we make these promises, that is the expectation. If both parties make the expectation, everyone knows the rules.
Then one day you wake up and you’re 20 years into the marriage, and you’re like, whoa, it works. Well, it works because you followed the rules.
What are the Rules of House Cleaning Businesses?
So what are the rules of your house cleaning business? And do you need a 15-page contract? The answer is no. Nobody’s going to read a 15-page contract and they probably won’t remember the rules, even if you went over them verbally.
There are five or six that are important. So I use a worksheet, and if you don’t have a worksheet, you can borrow mine. It is editable so that you can edit it in Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
You can tweak it and make it your own. Go to savvycleaner.com/worksheets and download a free copy.
My Service Agreement is Different From Most
All right. This is a little different than a service agreement. This is my service agreement, but this does not say these are my rules and regulations. You have to follow them or else.
What I’m saying is, these are my rules and regulations, here is what I’m going to do. Here’s what you can expect from me. This is my agreement to you. And so what happens when I come to your house, I do the things that are on this page.
And at the end, I have my rules and regulations, which are three-fourths of a page. Five or six things that are super important for us to have a working agreement.
Your Agreement is How You Respond to Situations
And this is not, you have to follow my rules. This is, this is how I will respond in each of these situations. These are the rules and how I will respond.
If I come to your house, for example, the doors are locked and I can’t get in, this is how I will respond. If I get to the house and I’m expecting some money, and there’s no money, this is how I will respond.
Special Projects are a Different Agreement
If there are special projects and you need something that’s not part of this agreement, there’s a special way to do that. And here’s how I will respond if you randomly give me a checklist and extra to-dos that are not part of our original agreement. Then when I’m walking through the house with the customer, I give them a copy of this. I let them follow me through the house, and I explain to them as I go how this works.
On the last page, because I don’t want to forget, I actually look at it. It’s my cheat sheet and it’s my sales pitch, and I go through this and I say, “These are my rules, this is how I will respond.” When I get done, I say, “Is this agreeable to you?” And they say, “Yes, it’s agreeable.” And I say, “Great. Let me have your initial right there so that we both know that we’re agreeing to the same thing.” And they say, “Okay, great.” And they initial it.
Leave a Copy of the Contract at Every House
That’s the contract, that’s it. It’s very simple. It’s very easy to apply. But here’s what happens. I leave a copy of my contract at every single house, at every single cleaning. Because if they forgot, it’s all right here. My rules and regulations of how I will respond are right here.
Here’s what happens. This gets passed around a lot. I’ve gone to other people’s houses to bid contracts, and when I get there they have a worksheet from their neighbor. And I take a look at it, and do you know what I know? I know this. My neighbor has explained to them what I do when I come to their house. They’ve explained my rules, and if they didn’t, they’re all right here in this little packet.
When they call me to have me come to bid on their house, what I know is the sale is already closed. All I’ve got to do is go in, meet their expectations, explain my rules to them, and I have to lock down a date on the calendar.
You Aren’t Forcing Your Rules on Anyone
They called me because whatever was in here, it’s manageable. It’s like looking at the rules of the road and saying, I can follow the rules of the road. Yes. Give me a driver’s license. I will obey.
And it’s not that you want them to obey, and that you’re forcing them to sign something, and that you’re trying to get them to, you follow my rules.
Now it’s like, do you understand my rules for me? This is how my business operates. This is how I will respond. And if I show up at the house, and for some reason none of the things are cohesive, you did not keep your end of the bargain. This is how I will respond. And so it keeps everyone playing on the same page for always.
When People Know the Rules You Will Have Less Problems
Now I’ll tell you this. Very rarely, very rarely have I ever had a problem where somebody didn’t pay or somebody did not keep their end of the bargain.
And so when people know what the rules are, then they can rise to the occasion. They can keep their end of the relationship so that the agreement stays intact.
Worksheets for You – https://savvycleaner.com/worksheets
How to Start Your Own House Cleaning Company – https://amzn.to/3vv0Lo4
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Conflict Resolution Playbook – https://amzn.to/3aQbOQz
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It – https://amzn.to/3t58OGe
Communication Skills: Your Guide to Improving Social Intelligence – https://amzn.to/3xt3n7H
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