Want to know why uniforms work? Here’s the psychology of cleaning uniforms and the message they send to your clients. (Hint: Is the reason you can charge more for your services and less for your marketing.)
Listen: Why Uniforms Work
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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.
How Do You Look Professional While Cleaning?
Have you ever been cleaning a house and you’re sweating profusely and you’re at the customer’s house and you raise your arm and your whole shirt is stained from sweating or the whole front of your chest is stained from sweating?
How do you look professional while you’re sweating and while you’re cleaning? Someone Called in with this question.
“We currently have about eight to 10 girls on our crew, and we wear collared shirts with t-shirts with our logo on them and black leggings. What I want to know is what should we wear to look more professional or high-end? We have many different clients.”
Why Uniforms Work as Cleaners to Look Professional
All right, that is a great question. And before I answer that, I want to explain for a second what you wear and then why uniforms work, and then I will answer that question. So the first question is how do you look professional? And the answer is you wear a collared shirt that’s made of microfiber and it wicks away sweat and it is wrinkle resistant and it’s iron-free and stain-resistant, okay?
They’re very inexpensive. They’re like 15 bucks. And I start with seven of them. I use about five at a time.
And then later on in the year, if they start to get dingy or they start to fall apart, then I go ahead and throw another one into the mix. So I’ve got seven that I use on a rotating basis.
I Wear My Same Uniform Every Day
My secret is this though. And I wear the same clothes every day, every day. These shirts last me probably two or three years before I actually have to buy a new set. And I will just throw in one or two as I need to kind of revamp my style.
Okay, so the point is this if you look nice and if it wicks away sweat, you’re not sweating, it doesn’t show the sweat. So you will always look professional while you’re wearing a shirt like this. Now, I’m not saying I’m right, you’re wrong.
What I’m saying is I think it’s important to have a uniform as a house cleaner. And so I’m going to share with you now the reason why and then we’ll answer this question.
Why a Uniform is Important for Cleaners
The reason why is this. When you show up and you look the same every single time you go to a customer’s house, you’re wearing the same shirt, the same pants, the same shoe covers, the same gloves, you’re wearing now the same face mask or whatever, you send a consistent message.
And so the customer expects you’re going to show up every single time, they expect I’ll show up in a blue shirt, right? When I show up to do my YouTube channel, you expect me to show up in a blue shirt.
If I have my hair down and I was wearing a red shirt, you’d be like, “Whoa, it’s a new Angela.” Right? Something’s different. So it sends a different message when you change things up.
You Can Still Express Yourself But Not on the Job
And I’m not saying don’t be individualistic. I’m saying don’t be individualistic on the job, okay? Let me make that very clear. I want you to express yourself and I want you to be yourself and I want you to comfortably be you, but not on the job.
On the job, I want you to be comfortable and professional and I want you to look the same every single time you show up. Every single time you show up, if you look consistent, your clients think, “Oh, I’m getting the same quality job.” And then they recommend that to their friends and their neighbors.
But if you show up every time looking different, unconsciously, the customer says, “Wait a second. Something’s different today. I don’t know what it is.” And they start looking at your work and you get lots of callbacks because the customer can’t figure out what it is, but something’s different today, okay? So it’s important to look the same every single time you show up.
Why We Ask Our Cleaners to Put Their Hair in Buns
Now, I specifically request that all the cleaners and savvy cleaners wear their hair up in a bun. And I’ve had lots of people comment about this. Well, I’m an individual. I can wear my hair however I want. It’s not that we don’t want you to wear your hair however you want. It’s that while you’re on a cleaning job, we don’t want your hair to fall out and leave hair at the customer’s house.
So if you pull your hair back in a really tight knot and then you spray it or you gel it, your hair is going to stay glued in place while you’re on the job, okay?
When you get home, you can let your hair flow and do all kinds of fun things and drop hair in your own house, but don’t do it in the customer’s house because you will get a call back if you drop hair in the customer’s house, okay? So that’s the reason for that.
We Also Want to Blend in With Our Clientele
And the reason we dress like this is that we want to blend into our clientele. Lots of golfers, lots of high-end families wear collared shirts.
It’s part of who they are. And so if I showed up in sweats and I showed up with a tank top, for example, I look different from them. And while they may not care and they may welcome me into their home, it’s unlikely they would feel comfortable recommending me to their friends if I don’t look like them.
I’m different, right? So we want to elevate ourselves to the clientele that we’re charging because we want to charge top dollar for our services.
If You Look Top Dollar You Look Professional
And so if you look top dollar and you act top dollar, it sends a message that I’m a professional, I’m certified, I’m trained, I’m educated. I know what I’m doing here. Whereas if you kind of show up whatever with whatever attitude you have, you also send that message, right?
We want to get the most bang for our buck, which is why we dress with consistency, the reasons we pull our hair back, it’s the reason that we are as professional as we are because that’s the message that we’re sending and we’re going to charge top dollar for that. So that’s the reason for the uniform.
Uniforms Bring Unconscious Expectations
The next part of why uniforms work is unconscious, there’s a certain behavior pattern that we expect from someone in a uniform. So if you show up looking like a house cleaner, we expect you can clean houses. Just like when my doctor shows up and he’s wearing a lab coat, I expect he knows what he’s doing.
If my doctor showed up in leggings and a tank top, I’d be like, “No, don’t do that. No, wrong guy or wrong girl.” I want the person to look the part. If my plumber showed up instead of a carrying tool case, if he instead brought a grocery bag with his tools in it, I’d be like, “No, no, I don’t want that plumber. I want the real guy.”
Right? There’s an unconscious thing that happens in our minds when someone shows up in a uniform.
Wearing Uniforms Equalizes Everyone
So back to the question, how do you look more professional? Well, one of the things that I love is you say you have 10 or 12 people on your team. That’s awesome because when you wear uniforms across the board, it equalizes everyone. It makes it easy. There’s nobody that has too fancy clothes and nobody that doesn’t have clothes that are fancy enough. It equalizes everyone. It’s inclusive.
The next thing is if you have to replace the main house cleaner, let’s say that you have a house cleaner that’s the main house cleaner for every house. If that person calls out sick or they have a family emergency and you have to send someone else in, guess what? You’re sending in someone that looks like them.
Guess what? The customer expects they have this same quality of service. And so they’re not going to do a callback on that person because they think, “Oh, look, it’s the same. It’s all the same.”
Why Uniforms Create Consistency
So the reasons that we wear uniforms every day are to create consistency and to make our customers feel safe. I know that sounds like a weird thing, but when you remove the doubt, what you’re doing is sending a message of confidence and control.
And so when you show up looking the same every single time and you do the same quality work every single time, customers get safe and they get comfortable and they feel great about recommending that to their family and friends, right?
So as far as this particular question goes, what would you do to be more professional? I wouldn’t do anything else. I would wear the same khaki pants with big pockets, I would wear the same comfortable shoes with the shoe covers, I would wear the same latex gloves, the same colored shirt.
You Can Look Professional and Be Sweat Free
And like I said, you can wear a microfiber cloth that is wrinkle-resistant and stain-resistant, and it absorbs sweat and you don’t look ugly when you’re cleaning and all those things, right? They sell inexpensive fabrics that do that. They’re active fabrics for house cleaners.
And so my recommendation is to wear something that looks professional and is comfortable and that you can tuck in so that when you bend over it doesn’t write up and you don’t see people’s panty lines or down their butt cracks or whatever.
You want to look as professional as you can, even if you’re moving and bending and whatever, but you have to be comfortable because there’s a lot of movement in cleaning.
Uniforms Work for House Cleaners
So I just want to bring this up as the reasons why we wear uniforms and what you can wear to be professional. Logo printed on it or not, that’s your personal preference, but I do want you to be comfortable and I do want you to wear a uniform, right?
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