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March 2013
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Do You Keep Your Promises To Cleaning Clients Or Are You Full Of Hot Air?

How many times has someone in business made a promise to you that they didn't keep? For example,

  • "Stop in on Thursday to pick up your business card order" -- but the cards weren't ready.
  • "The technician will arrive between 8am and noon" -- but they didn't show up until 1pm.
  • "I'll call you at 10am tomorrow to update you on the status of your order" -- but they never called.

It's so frustrating, isn't it? And unfortunately it happens way too often. The sad thing is, many of these same companies boast about their great customer service all over their website and marketing materials. But in the customer's eye, customer service means doing what you say you will do and following up when you say you will. In fact, these days, that is the MINIMUM expectation when it comes to customer service. People expect you to go above and beyond just doing what you say you will -- it's called under-promising and over-delivering.

So what I want you do to is to take a moment and think about all the things you and your staff promise to do for your clients. For example, when a customer calls, asking someone to come over to clean up a coffee spill, does your receptionist say she'll send someone over within the hour, but they don't show up for 3 hours? Where was the communication break down?

In order to rectify a problem like this, you need to have better training and follow up systems. Perhaps a customer log placed by the phone that lists the reason for the call, what needs to happen, by when and by whom. Then train everyone that answers the phone that it is their responsiblity to make sure any promises they made are commnicated to the person responsible, and that follow up occurs to make sure the promise was kept.

It's so easy for your staff to make promises to customers. But if they don't do the important next step of following up to make sure their promise was kept in a timely manner, then they're potentially causing customer frustration that can result in your customers seeking out another cleaning service. And the sad thing is, you may never know that the reason they left could have been avoided had your employees simply kept their promise instead of filling them full of hot air.


Ask Yourself These 7 Questions To Figure Out Why You Lost Your Last Sale

The prospect went with someone else for their cleaning service. Darn it! I know they liked me, and it really felt like it was going my way. But they gave it to someone else!

Instead of licking your wounds, I challenge you to ask yourself a few questions to figure out why you lost your last sale. Let's start with the easy ones.

1. Were you on time or were you late? The RIGHT answer is that you were at least 5 minutes early.

2. Were you organized? If you carry collateral material about your company, a measuring device, notebook, pen, tablet, etc. is it all organized so that you don't fumble around looking for things?

3. Were you prepared? Did you do your research so you weren't asking the prospect to tell you about their company? Remember, it's your job to know! If you called on a residential prospect, were you familiar with the neighborhood and the type of clientele that live there?

Now ask yourself the tough questions. And be honest with yourself! If you don't pass muster with these questions, it's time to do something about it or you'll continue losing out to your competition.

4. Were you able to overcome all the objections confidently? If not, you have work to do. You should be prepared ahead of time for the objections you'll hear so that you have a confident response that will satisfy the prospect.

5. Did you feel as if you were on the defensive through most of the visit? If you find yourself always defending your price, the quality of your service, or other tough questions posed by the prospect, then it's time to work on your confidence level. If you aren't confident that your price is worth every penny, the prospect will see that as an opportunity to negotiate. And if you're not confident about quality control, employee longevity, or a host of other subjects, you'll probably find yourself on the defensive throughout the visit. This will NOT get you the client!

6. Did you appear desperate to make the sale? Too many people, especially those new to the business, are often anxious to make the sale. And the client will read that as desperation. They won't give their business to someone that is desperate for it.

7. Did the prospect ask "doubting questions"? Doubting questions are questions that prospects ask to make sure you have the ability to do the job. For example, they may ask things like:
- How much experience do you have?
- How long have you been in business?
- How many clients do you have?
- How do I know you'll show up when you say you will?
- What if you get hit by a bus tomorrow?
- How do I know you'll send me the same employee to clean every time?

Even though you thought the sale would go your way because you got along with the prospect and they seemed interested, it's not enough. They need to not only LIKE you, they need to trust you and believe in you. And when you're confident in your ability to handle the job at a price that makes sense, then you've got a much better chance to close the sale.

 


Watch For These Red Flags When Interviewing For Cleaning Positions

Hiring good employees for your cleaning business is a learning process for most people. The first time you think about hiring an employee you're getting pretty busy and need help ASAP. And here is where most people make their first mistake - hiring out of desperation.

Being desperate for employees is common in our industry so I encourage you to pay attention to the red flags many prospects raise when going through the interviewing process. Too many employers ignore the red flags simply because they need help right away, and that's never a good thing to do.

Here are several red flags that have served me well over the many years of hiring employees.

  1. The employee is late for the interview. This is never a good sign, so if they can't make it to the interview on time, chances are they won't make it to work on time. Worse yet, if they don't take personal responsiblity for being late, they'll probably always put the blame on circumstances or someone else.
  2. They haven't done their research on your company. These days there is no excuse for not researching a company before interviewing with them. Just about every business has a website or some other type of presence on the Internet.
  3. They have not dressed appropriately and/or they are not well-groomed. Your employees will be working in your clients' businesses or homes and they will be representing your company. You cannot afford to hire people that are not groomed and dressed appropriately.
  4. Negative Body Language. Following are red flags to watch for when it comes to body language: applicant does not smile when greeting you, no eye contact, weak hand shake, slouches, crosses arms over chest, overall lack of energy.
  5. Gaps in employment. If there are large gaps of unaccounted for time between jobs, they may not be a reliable, long-term prospect.
  6. Employed for only short periods of time. If a person hasn't held a job for more than a few months at a time, what makes you think they'll work for you any longer than a few months?
  7. Lists only friends and relatives as references. And if you ask about previous supervisors, they have excuses as to why they're not available.
  8. Incomplete application, spelling and grammar mistakes. When a person does not care enough about the details of the application to make sure it is complete, neat, and legible, chances are they won't have the attention to detail you're looking for on the job either.
  9. Can't back up statements they've made on a resume or application. It's a fact - most people either lie or at least embellish their accomplishments to make themselves look good in the eyes of a prospective employer. For example, if a person claims she supervised 5 employees and then can't think of an example of how she handled a situation when someone's performance was unacceptable, then she's probably not being truthful.
  10. Speaks negatively of past employers. If all you hear coming out of their mouth is dissatisfaction with past employers, you've probably got a "Debbie Downer" on your hands. It's best to move on to someone that has had positive work experiences and can share what they've learned from previous jobs.
  11. Plays the blame-game. If every question you ask regarding weaknesses or how they handled certain situations always results in an answer where they blame someone else, then they will probably never take responsiblity for their own short-comings.
  12. Overly concerned with pay and hours. If the prospect has no questions about anything but wages and hours, then they're most likely only interested in the pay check. Employees that are truly interested in working for your company will ask more questions like; what is the training like, who will I be working with, what is it like to work for your company, etc.
One of these red flags in and of itself may not be enough to disregard an applicant's potential for success at working with your company. But if several red flags start presenting themselves, do not disregard the signs. Usually your gut reaction will confirm the red flags. So if your instincts are screaming NOT to hire this person, listen to your instincts -- they're almost always right!