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Do You Find Yourself Defending Your Cleaning Rates?

Our last post talked about competing against low-ballers. This week we have a similar topic. A member recently submitted the following:

"I have a customer that we clean weekly. I charge her $105.00 -- she has a 4500 sq ft house with 3 dogs that come and go as they please. We drive 45 minutes to get to her house. It takes us about 2 hours with two people to clean, sometimes more. She had a discussion with me last week before we left that she had received a couple of business cards from some cleaning services and that she called them to find out her rates. Turns out that they are not a legitimate cleaning service, just an individual that cleans, they have no insurance or bonding. I'm sure they don't pay taxes. One of the ladies told her $15 an hour and the other $18 an hour.

I explained to her the difference in hiring someone that doesn't carry insurance. Also explained to her that I had to pay employees for drive time and the increase costs in gas. I just recently increase on her $10 a week. When I originally priced her about a year ago I priced it at $125 and she talked me down to $95. When gas went up I was regreting giving her that deal. She says that she bases everything by the hour and she doesn't see paying someone that much an hour to clean her house. I believe she was telling me this so that I would go down on the price again. I stood my ground and tried to be professional about it. I was really proud of myself.

Today she calls me to tell me that she will be trying out one of the ladies on Thrusday and she doesn't see the point in me coming to clean on Wednesday! I told her that I understood and that I hope everything works out for her. Has this happened to anyone else? How did you handle the situation?

A wise business owner offered the following advice:

In the future, I would avoid the "defending the price" position and not get into a long explanation about how much it costs you to clean her house (the travel time, the employee taxes, the insurance, the bonding). All of that information is peripheral.

What is important is what she gets with your service: "I provide my clients with professionally trained and thoroughly screened workers, my clients want a service that is insured and bonded; they aren't looking for the cheapest deal--they want quality and security, so they are willing to pay a little extra for that benefit. We are probably just not a good fit for you as you really need a lower priced service".

Do you see the difference? Make it her fault, not yours, that she doesn't value quality and security over price. This is never done overtly, just quietly implied, of course. In your scenario you are on the defense explaining your costs and she is equating your problem ("high costs") with her rate. Instead, she needs to be reminded that SHE gets the benefit of using a service like yours and you're not that much more and you are so worth it. The firm but polite reminder will help those that really do value quality and security to rethink a change.

For those who are just looking for cheap deals--good riddance. Keep it professional and non emotional. She struck a nerve with you and it showed in your defense. Let them know that the perfect client fit for you is one that truly values quality and security. Also, when they pull that stunt, let them know you have actually had another rate increase and will honor her rate only as long as she continues with uninterrupted service for "x" amount of time (maybe through the end of the year or whatever). But, if she cancels you will fit her back into your already booked schedule at the “new rate”, not the old rate.

Also, depending on however much time lapses, let her know you will have to charge a new service “initiation fee” because you usually have to take up the slack for those “cheaper” services. I would go get your stuff on Wednesday and let her know you've already filled that spot (don't be cheeky, be professional). When she calls back, make sure that the “new rate” reflects that 45 min. travel time and make her wait for an opening! You're the boss.

Competing Against the Low-Ballers in the Cleaning Industry

Lately we've had a lot of subscribers tell us they're struggling with having to complete against people who enter the industry and low-ball prices to get new accounts or to steal accounts away.

One subscriber asked: "How can we as business owners compete with such companies who are out there low-balling us and having all these workers that are most likely illegal and are being paid probably pennies on the dollar. What can one do to avoid this?"

Another business owner made this suggestion: "I had to have a long talk with myself on how to keep my prices where they are (somewhere in the middle), and still get the jobs. So what I did was to include with all my bids a copy of my license, bond and insurance, with all my bids, and a note saying that this is for their protection as well as mine. I ask them to get this information from anyone bidding against me to protect themselves from any problems. You know what? This is an easy way to weed out the LOW BALLERS as they cannot provide this information. I have been winning a few more bids by doing this.

And my friend, Dick Ollek, author of Selling Contract Cleaning Services 101, offered this advice: "I think it is also very important to determine the types of accounts you really want to focus on. There are much easier accounts to clean than restaurants and at higher profits. Determine what you are good at, focus on how to secure those accounts, market yourself as a legitimate, bonded and insured professional company and you will get business. There will always be those contractors who low ball and always be those customers who buy their service. Focus, Focus, Focus. Become an expert in a niche market. Amazing how much fun and how profitable it can be."

We are all facing tough times right now, and dealing with the low-ballers is one battle you may be facing. What are YOU doing to compete and WIN?  Please post your comments by clicking on the Comments link below.

Are You Missing Free Advertising Opportunities For Your Cleaning Business?

I was walking my dog and saw a house cleaning business servicing a neighbor's home. The only way I knew this was happening is because I saw her bring cleaning supplies into the home and she had a polo shirt on that identified her as a residential cleaner.

What really stood out to me though, was the fact that the vehicle sitting out in front of the house didn't have any advertising on it whatsoever. What's wrong with this picture? A huge missed opportunity to advertise the business right in a neighborhood where they were already providing house cleaning services!

Your vehicle should be one of your top advertising "vehicles" (no pun intended). Here are some examples of car wraps that some of our members have. They all get business from having advertising that stands out and really grabs people's attention.




Do you have an attention-getting vehicle advertisement? Click on the Comments link below and post a link to it.

What is the Difference Between Selling and Marketing?

Many people interchange these two words, selling and marketing. But here's the difference:

Selling is something you do when you're talking a prospect.

Marketing is what you do to get the opportunity to talk to a prospect.

Effective Marketing is when you are only talking to people who are:
1) already interested in your cleaning services (referrals)
2) motivated to buy
3) pre-qualified (you researched who you wanted to market to instead of marketing to everyone)

When you market your cleaning business effectively, it makes selling easy and in many cases it makes selling unnecessary.

One of our members at The Janitorial Store recently went to give a proposal on cleaning a home. She rang the bell, introduced herself and the homeowner said, "It's really just a matter of working out a schedule. When can you start?" How easy was that!

The reason it was so easy is because her husband had previously cleaned his carpet and provided such great customer service that he immediately thought of their company when he wanted a house cleaning service. This person was already interested in their service and was motivated to buy (number's 1 and 2 above).

How effective is YOUR marketing? Click on the Comments link below to post your replies.