I know this is an old post, but since someone may be reading it in 2016, here's some advice. Cleaning is really hard work. Nothing is worse than underbidding and then spending two or three hours every week for the next few years feeling resentful while someone who can afford a nice house is able to buy a few more lattes or get a manicure as the result of lowballing you.
If it's someone's first house, then what Manmaid said makes a lot of sense - because you can build referrals off that. Just don't bid too low or you will get trapped there every week on that house, and you will also be known as the cheap one. Bid moderately low but not super-low. BTW it's always the nightmare houses - the ones with shelves full of dusty hummels and pet hair- that want things cheap. (Another way to get referrals is to offer the customer $25 off for each referral that books.)
One good way to handle someone with a budget is let them know what you can do within that period of time. They can only afford to pay for two hours, then they have to understand that some things won't get done, and if they are having it done frequently, you can work out a schedule to rotate things. If they can only afford two hours once a month, then you have to ask them what their priorities are and explain that you can only hit those, and that they can choose what they would like done. Some customers are fine with that, they will book you for a few hours and bring you back for detail work.
If they say "so and so does it for so much less," than let them go hire them. Suggest they try Craigslist or find a college student or local teenager to help. That usually gives them pause. It's different with someone who truly can't afford it, like a single mom who is struggling, and that person deserves a break and someone who will work hard and work with her to put in place systems to make her life easier. But some people want to lowball you just because they are jerks. They are going to turn around and buy a 1500.00 purse or spend several hundred dollars on dinner out with their spouse or concert tickets, or fancy electronics, while you are working yourself to exhaustion to please them. If they can afford to bring you in, then they have disposable income.
Last edited by KS555; 09-05-2016 at 08:50 AM.