One of the most rewarding parts of having a service-based business is the people you meet and the amazing relationships you build in your community. My team and I have incredible clients who love and trust us, refer us to family and friends, and are so grateful.
It’s a JOY to know we are truly helping busy families so they can spend time with the ones they love and focus on their vocations.
But over the years, especially my first few years of business, I have dealt with clients who, no matter what you do, never seem to be happy. Did you know that it is okay to let go of a client or turn down work from a new prospective client?
But you may tell me, “I’ll lose business” or “my town is too small” or "I need the money.”
Think carefully because oftentimes the process and outcome of keeping a difficult customer makes those concerns obsolete.
Here are some signs to consider.
Listen very carefully to what they were unhappy about with previous services. Most times, prospective clients have valid reasons (stealing, too many damages, no insurance policy, etc). With each concern, explain how your company policy or training prevents those errors from happening. But if it's a complaint you know your company cannot meet realistically because you do not offer this type of service or because it’s unrealistic, be honest.
I know people have different budgets, and early on in my first 2 years, I tried to put that into account. Still, I found those who wanted cheap cleanings ($100-200 at the time, given the nature of the overall cleaning project) were miserable and had unrealistic expectations. I felt disrespected at times because I knew the work we did should have cost a minimum of $300+.
Do not be afraid of the value you bring and take yourself and your company seriously, or others never will.
I don’t know how it works, but in my first few years, I made a poor choice in allowing others to pay late, sometimes 3 or more cleanings (when not asked to be billed monthly). Often clients would be frustrated because they weren't expecting to pay so much at once. Please consider a late payment plan; by the time it takes to collect the money, you have consumed your time and energy, and you should be billed for the inconvenience.
We do not schedule another cleaning until we are paid in full for the service we delivered.
If you are a maid service, make sure you charge extra for laundry, dishes, and work to take extra time.
I found when clients wanted extra work that was not listed on our checklist, we were taken advantage of, or they just were not grateful and expected things to be done a certain way. When you have teams, you have to consider training, and when you have clients that have unique ways of doing dishes, laundry, for instance, it can be hard to train everyone on your team how to do it.
Some special requests to be careful about:
I was a nanny for 4 years in college and a house manager for 2 ER doctors for 3 years. Working with wonderful families helped me know what cleaning services do and what nannies and house managers do. I did not clean for one of the families, and the other family I cleaned for extra but was not required for my nanny job.
When you are listening on the phone or in person, take note of the tasks they want your service to do are along the lines of an individual provider. They may want to pay by the hour, and I would strongly recommend you charge by the job and remind them the overhead cost of running a business cannot be compared to an individual due to taxes, insurance, office and cleaning supplies, etc.
Always go over your client agreement form and have them sign it so you and your new client understand what is expected of both parties.
At the end of the day, you must ask yourself, is it worth the stress, the time, and effort it takes to keep them? Over 7 years in, I am confident that our services are not for everyone because we might not do all the things they want.
That is ok.
The clients who value your time, integrity, and attention to detail foster the relationship and make sure you offer the services you and your team can be proud of at the end of the night as you lay your head down on your pillow.