How to deal with customer requests - Cleaning Talk - Professional Cleaning and Restoration Forum
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post #1 of Old 03-17-2017, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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How to deal with customer requests

I have been in this business almost 3 years now. And pretty successful. I keep running into an issue that troubles me and would love to hear how you guys see it.
Sometimes, the first one or two times I clean a home, the owner wants me to do things like wash dishes, empty dishwashers, make beds, etc. In MY mind, this is not a part of a normal, standard cleaning. Maybe I am wrong, but those things take up TIME! And often, these same people specify they want EVERYTHING done in 2-3 hours, which, IMO, isnt long enough in many cases.

One home I cleaned - I got there to find perhaps a WEEKS worth of dishes (dirty) in the kitchen sink. I base my cleaning in that sink, so the only thing I could do was wash ALL the dishes! I was annoyed, because it took half an hour, maybe a little more. The kitchen was filthy, too.

In another home, the owner and I had discussed what I would get done. But when I arrived the second time, she told me to empty the dishwasher, fold laundry - and yet did not say she would pay me more for this time. As carefully as I could, I explained that there is a difference between a "housekeeper" and a house CLEANER, and that she had agreed to house CLEANING. This home has 3 adults and a dog, and it was quite grubby the first time I cleaned it. She seemed to understand - but I need ideas on how to handle this BEFORE the first cleaning, so no hard feelings come up.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I have good skills in communication, having been an RN for 34 years. But nursing is a lot different from cleaning, and I would like to know how other people handle this sort of problem.

Thank you so much!
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post #2 of Old 03-20-2017, 07:18 AM
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Have a list of extras and pricing that you give to customers prior to the first clean. Also state that you require notice prior to their cleaning appointment that extras are requested so that you can schedule the appropriate amount of time for the clean. There are tasks that my cleaning company just won't do and that is clearly stated at the sales call, eg.) we don't do laundry.

IMO, it's acceptable not to include certain tasks. Many cleaning services do not wash dishes, change bedding, laundry or pet issues. If you want to include more personalized service you should expect additional payment for your time as these tasks do add significant time to the clock.
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post #3 of Old 03-20-2017, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you. I agree: washing dishes is an extra, and it takes time away from the real cleaning. I think some people just dont get it. Its like moving small furniture, personal items, trash cans, etc., out of a room to clean it. It all takes TIME. I try hard to explain this to people before I begin a new cleaning job.

This lady who recently wanted me to empty her dishwasher and fold laundry: what I told her (gently) was that those are a "housekeepers" job, and that isnt what she hired me as. She seemed to "get it", but I am not sure she really does.

I tell people ahead of time that my policy on clutter is that I WILL be moving it to clean and NOT to expect it to be exactly where it was before I cleaned. In some homes, there is so much clutter, I'd need to take photographs in order to get it back in the right place! LOL! NOT going to do that. Most people understand this and are just grateful you are going to clean. A couple I have met couldnt understand this - and those people, I eventually had to let go of. I am successful enough now that I do not need to coddle difficult clients, I can pick and choose who I work for.

Cleaning is an interesting business, and not one I would have ever thought I would do! I trained as a nurse (RN) and worked in the medical field for years. I went into cleaning after a major illness/inijury which took me out of the work force for several years. As I recovered, I saw how grubby my own home had gotten, and set about trying to clean it up. Like any beginner, I made a lot of mistakes, but that's okay. I learned a lot, too, and put all of this to work for me. I really LOVE what I do now.
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post #4 of Old 03-20-2017, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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One last commen. "Pet Issues": I openly advertise my LIKING pets, especially cats, and that I DONT mind pet messes. Over time, this has led to most of my customers HAVING pets, especially cats. They hire me simply because I DONT mind cleaning up pet messes! And many of them then use me to kitty sit when they go on vacation or away for a weekend. Its a win-win thing for me, anyway. I charge the same rate for cat sitting as I do for cleaning, and kitty sitting is a LOT easier!
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post #5 of Old 03-21-2017, 11:34 AM
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With my air duct cleaning business I always lay out what services I provide and give it to the customer. I charge by the job but sounds like you should charge by the time. The things they want you to do sound reasonable but you need to be paid for how long it takes. I'd charge by the hour.

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post #6 of Old 03-21-2017, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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Sometimes, what happens is that I dont find out til I have already started cleaning that the customer has "extra" wishes, such as laundry, dishes, etc. And I DO explain that these things will take extra time, which they have to pay for.

It is just annoying to me, and I needed to air it out, to fellow cleaners. I find it frustrating, when people seem to think you can perform miracles in THREE hours, and their home is pretty grubby!!! I often work with older customers, here in Florida. Many of them simply do not SEE how grubby their homes have become. The spills on counters, hair all over the bathroom, smudges on mirrors, dust in huge quantities, etc., If I were dishonest, I could take the easy way out, since I know these clients dont SEE how bad their homes have become. I could do a half- a__ job. But that isnt how I want to work.
Some just dont get it...even if they do have money. With the less wealthy people, I am willing to cut some slack. But the people who do have money - NOT!

Florida is a low pay state. Bad benefits, bad pay. As a nurse, up North, in 1997, I was making $40 an hour. I move to Florida and am offered $15 an hour. Period. Plus the benefits were terrible. I charge $15 an hour for cleaning, although many of my clients willingly pay me $20/hour simply because they dont want to LOSE me! This is reality here, and I cant change that. I have to work within a flawed system.

A few new clients seem to consider me some sort of "maid", there to do their beck and calling. I dont see myself that way at all: you are paying me to CLEAN your home, make it fresh and sparkling clean, and smelling lovely. I am NOT a maid or a hand-servant. Every extra request adds TIME onto their bill. MY problem is learning how to communicate this in a fair, pleasant, non-confrontational way. Any help there would be appreciated.
Annie, in Florida
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post #7 of Old 03-24-2017, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Cleanexp View Post
Have a list of extras and pricing that you give to customers prior to the first clean.
This sounds like a great idea. In fact, it may be wise to have a summary sheet that describes what is included and what is not. And when you give it to your customer stress that this document is the reference and to keep it for easy review. You can have the "List of Extras" with it so that the two documents together define the scope of the work to be done.

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post #8 of Old 03-24-2017, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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Good advice. Washing dishes,, what else would you guys call extras? I really want to know. Thanks!
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post #9 of Old 05-03-2017, 09:47 PM
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Within my cleaning biz, myself, staff, and my business partner actually add in bed sheets, dishes, etc. upon clients' request; it is on our standard checklist. Over time, we felt like it honestly allowed us to stand out against ALL of the competition. However, we do charge by the hour, so, we aren't losing time and energy for nothing. And to be honest, overtime with recurring customers, all those things are capable to do within the allotted time as you get comfortable with their home.

Extras I think should be charged at an addition price would be: fridge interior, oven interior, etc.

As long as you are getting paid by the hour, I think what I have mentioned above is all fine & dandy! Your customers will be happy to have these small extras completed - adds an extra special touch.
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post #10 of Old 05-04-2017, 08:18 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the thoughtful reply! Yes, I do charge by the hour. I havent made up a check list - yet - because I am the only employee. I go over all this stuff with each client, and explain that add ons will cost them more. I know I DO need a check list - just have not gotten around to it.
I really like your thinking - that sometimes doing small add ons is a great way to show you are better than other cleaning people/companies. This is something I do automatically. For example, one of my regular clients has a plastic step stool in her kitchen. I always wipe it down for her. A lot of people hire me simply because I am NOT a cleaning company. Many have had bad experiences with some of the larger cleaning companies in this area. And I do mention this is my online listings.
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post #11 of Old 05-10-2017, 06:25 AM
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Great advise provided by all members.. I am agree with you guys. Thanks!
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post #12 of Old 05-12-2017, 05:16 AM
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Excellent advise provided by all participants.. I'm trust you guys.

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post #13 of Old 05-23-2017, 12:18 AM
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Starting of this conversation here is good and not only for the person who asking advise but for all member to clear all the doubt.
Thanks Missannienow for sharing your experience and i think you got some good advise.
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post #14 of Old 05-23-2017, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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I would like to hear more ideas from other people here.

Another example: "thorough" cleaning of baseboards. Is this something you guys normally do? And I DO mean thorough - dusting, vacuuming, wiping down, etc.

Another issue I have that comes up all the time is moving object in a room to cleaning. Some houses are so full of "stuff" it would take MUCH longer to move everything. Even the very best vacuum cannot get completely under/around furniture! How you do guys approach this? Do you actually move everything? Or just stuff that is small enough to safely move?
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