One very important question you need to ask potential customers during the walk-through

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by Tom Watson on May 12, 2013

The ultimate goal for a cleaning business is to offer a solution to whatever problem a potential customer may have.

That goal must always be front and center in your brain when meeting those who have reached out to you.

This is because the potential customer has a problem of some kind, and that is WHY they are reaching out to you in the first place. After all, if they were happy with their current cleaning service they would have never called you in for the interview right?

So your mission is to DETERMINE what that problem is, THEN OFFER A SOLUTION. Now… How do you go about that? That is the question. Well the answer is pretty simple, you need to ask the right question to get this information.

Before I get to the question, I’ll make mention of the one mistake many people make. It is by ASSUMING that the potential customer will just tell them what the last company is doing wrong. While some will spill the beans without hesitation, many don’t for some reason.

I don’t know why that is, maybe they just don’t like “admitting to themselves” they made a mistake by hiring the last cleaning company. Who knows! Anyway… this means you need to be PROACTIVE and find out what EXACTLY this customer cares about the most.

Once you know that, you can craft a solution to fix that for them. Needless to say, the person with then BEST solution has an inside track to getting the account. So you need to make sure you get this info and the only sure-fire way is to ask…

Can you share the three main concerns you need addressed by my company?

When you ask that question, odds are the person will lay out what they think is important. As we all know, what THEY THINK is all that matters! REMEMBER: It doesn’t matter what we think is important, it’s what they think. Whatever it is that they tell you, make sure you…

  1. Write that down while they are saying it (shows you are paying attention PLUS it insures you remember it later when you are preparing a bid).
  2. Show some empathy by saying:  “Many cleaning companies just can’t seem to get that right. That’s why we give hands on training to every new employee”.  This lets them know “you’ve encountered this before”.
  3. Drive home how you will ADDRESS THAT in your proposal. I used to add a special paragraph just above the pricing section that made mention of the main concerns and how I would solve that issue.

Lets say one of the things they mention to you is that their current cleaning company leaves the sink dirty all the time (it’s very brown from coffee stains). In your proposal you would want to address that somehow.

What I used to do is make mention that the sink will be scrubbed with CLEANSER every single time we clean. No exceptions! When the potential customer would read my proposal, they would know I was paying attention. They would see how I addressed their concern.

Once you do that for the other main issues they have, you have that INSIDE TRACK I SPOKE OF EARLIER. Generally, other cleaning companies simply don’t take the time to LISTEN and ADDRESS the potential customers issues.

This is a VERY EASY way to create separation between you and your competition. So to recap, when you tweak your approach and focus on solving their problem, you’ll land cleaning accounts at a much faster clip.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 LAD May 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm

That’s a good point because different customers “see” different things that they would like addressed. What is very important to one customer may be lower on the priority list for another.
Thanks!

2 Tom Watson May 12, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Hi LAD! BINGO. We can’t assume anything, so we ASK, then let them tell us what they think is important THEN WE ADJUST as needed.

3 Adeola Olofindayo May 14, 2013 at 4:09 am

Dear Tom,

You are doing a great job to to help us new comers.

Please forward to me the check list.

Thanks

4 Tom Watson May 14, 2013 at 7:52 am

Thanks Adeola! The checklist I think you want (office cleaning) is here… http://www.cleaning-4-profit.com/2012/08/24/office-cleaning-checklist/

5 Chester May 14, 2013 at 7:27 pm

yep,i asked and the person who got rid of and hired cleaning services kept seeing cobwebs,that was the biggest problem and it was a everyday account. I also pointed out a few in the main ares of the public view but it was just cobwebs they got tired of seeing.

6 Tom Watson May 14, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Hi Chester! Very true. Every customer has a DIFFERENT set of “pet peeves” (cobwebs are certainly on the list). Once you know what they are, you are 90% of the way towards keeping them happy.

7 Willie M Preyer May 27, 2013 at 10:55 am

Thank you for the informative information. I wouldn’t have thought about it. Very helpful for us new comers. Thank you again.

8 Tom Watson May 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Thanks Willie!

9 dominick florio December 11, 2013 at 8:40 pm

hi tom. I have been reading your blog for a couple of months and I love it. I feel that your down to earth and your blog is very informative . I do have a question, I have recently opened a office cleaning business and I am giving my first estimate in two weeks and im very nervious because I really want to land this account. I am unsure what to charge him. everybody has a different approach to coming up with a price. Is there a special formula that you use?? thanks in advance dom.

10 Tom Watson December 11, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Hi Dominick! I’m happy you enjoy the blog, I LOVE hearing that! Anyway… my “first advice” is this… don’t get too excited over any given account. When you do, it leads to lost momentum if you fail to land it. Instead, stay “even keel” all the time. Doing so keeps emotion OUT OF THE EQUATION (which is KEY, because this is BUSINESS).

DISCLAINER: Don’t get me wrong… stay excited, but don’t fall in love with landing any given account! There will always be others.

As to bidding… I can’t sum up the process in a paragraph (I have an entire chapter devoted to it in my courses). And no… there is no special formula! With that said, it’s nothing more than this… 1 – How much time (best guess) will it take to clean each visit? 2 – How many visits per month? 3 – Multiply hours spent per month by your hourly rate.

Of course there is more nuance to it than that, but at the end of the day that is what it boils down to. As a tip: you probably will want to DOUBLE what it will cost you to hire someone (as far as determining a hourly rate). IE: if it costs you 10 per hour to get someone to work for you… you charge the customer 20 per hour. That is not cast in stone, just a VERY LOOSE rule that helps in a pinch.

11 dominick florio December 12, 2013 at 9:19 pm

thanks so much for your advice.

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