Don’t let the stupid stuff get you in trouble. 4 case studies you can learn from.

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by Tom Watson on July 14, 2013

I’ve been in business for a while and have seen many companies get fired for one reason or another. If you think about it, the only way I get hired is by some other poor soul getting fired.

The flip side of that is that I’ve also been canned a few times. I’m not proud of that but it happens every now and again. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot over the years. It’s this insight that I hope to pass onto you so you can avoid some of the common mistakes that bring you grief and misery.

So what I’m going to do today is talk about a few cleaning accounts that I either picked up due to someone else’s mistakes or lost due to my own stupidity. I’ll give a brief description and analysis of each. Here we go…

Case Study #1

LOST ACCOUNT – Commercial cleaning, $330.00 month. This was a small little office that was cleaned once per week. The customer really didn’t like the staff we had going to clean and wanted a change. I resisted because that would mean I would have to hire and train another group because no other crew was able to clean that account due to time constraints. They complained several times then showed me the door.

LESSON LEARNED – The customer was gently nudging me to give them someone else, and I IGNORED that because it meant more work for me. So what happened? I lost the job and CREATED EVEN MORE WORK for myself by having to go out and replace the lost income from that account. The moral is LISTEN to the customer! I took a yearly $3,960 dollar gross income CUT because I was LAZY.

Case Study #2

ACCOUNT GAINED – Commercial cleaning, $500.00 month. This once per week cleaning job is an absolute joy for me but it was a nightmare to the former cleaner. The customer has a foyer with a tile floor. The tile had about three small areas that had dirt buildup off to the side when you first walked in. Customer wanted it fixed, cleaning guy NEVER BOTHERED. He gets fired I get hired.

LESSON LEARNED – The customer was concerned about appearance and wanted the area clean to impress visitors upon arrival. The guy was LAZY and put it on the back burner. I guess he thought it would take a long time to clean and kept putting it off. When I was hired it took me only 15 minutes to clean the dirt off. He lost $6,000 in yearly gross income and a job that takes only 39 minutes for two people to clean once per week (that works out to about $86.82 per hour).

Case Study #3

ACCOUNT LOST – Commercial cleaning, $1,048.00 month. A twice per week cleaning account right around the corner from my office that gave me a sweet monthly profit. They had a big shot CEO who enjoyed a huge corner office on the 2nd floor. This office had a rather large tree in a planter that sat next to his desk. The tree was never watered so it was CONSTANTLY losing leaves on the floor. My staff NEVER picked up the leaves that fell and I lost a highly profitable account as a result.

LESSON LEARNED – This is pretty simple… never ignore the CEO’s office! The CEO called me himself to let me know that my LAZINESS cost me the account. Though he was one of the biggest snobs I ever met in my life, he was absolutely right about me being LAZY. I should have been checking the account to begin with PLUS training my staff better. This was a bitter pill that I still taste to this day!

Case Study #4

ACCOUNT GAINED – Commercial cleaning, $1,100.00 month. A twice per week cleaning account of a high-end doctors office. Botox and skin peels for rich folks trying to stay young-looking meant this doctors office needed to stay pristine from front to back. The old cleaning company didn’t get that memo evidently and got themselves behind the eight-ball concerning the cleaning. This resulted in them getting EARLY RETIREMENT and me getting a RAISE.

LESSON LEARNED –  At the end of the day you need to understand what the overall objective of your customer is. This particular one just completed a major renovation so they can attract wealthy people who have money to burn on their appearance. These people will NEVER come to a shabby looking place to drop hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars. When they called me I recognized that and was hired as a result.

I’ll wrap this up by pleading with you to learn from both my good fortune and my misfortune. This business is not really all that hard. You just have to not allow yourself to get lazy AND understand where your customer is coming from. If you can do those two things odds are you’ll enjoy a lot of success in the cleaning business.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Esther July 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Thank you! Excellent articles and great advice.
Just started my own cleaning service but need a lot of insight from pro’s like you. Keep it coming. Please!
P.S. do you have any tips for making your own agreement or contract?

2 Tom Watson July 15, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Hi Esther! Thanks for the kind words. I’ll keep going as long as there’s folks still listening 🙂

To your question… check out this post on contracts http://www.cleaning-4-profit.com/2012/09/29/how-to-build-your-own-cleaning-business-contract/

Keep in mind that my courses come with contracts you can use for yourself (just so you know). The link above is a simple example to get you started.

3 Lindell July 17, 2013 at 1:02 am

Thanks for the info! I just recently started a cleaning company and this information was very much needed. I will definitely be coming back, thanks again.

4 Tom Watson July 17, 2013 at 7:57 am

Hi Lindell! I’m happy you have found us and touch base if you need anything.

5 Melissa November 11, 2013 at 12:47 am

I’ve been reading your articles and downloading all the forms and flyers to edit and make my. Great advice and tips. I’m having a hard time deciding if I want to do commercial or residential cleaning. I am my only employee right now. I have two houses I clean and have been cleaning before I registered my business. I live in a small town and to be honest, i’m excited but scared that i’m going to fall short because of my location. Any advice would be much appreciated.

6 Tom Watson November 11, 2013 at 11:57 am

Hi Melissa! You’ll be fine, just be yourself and do the best job you can. If you do that, you’ll be way ahead of most others (as they pretend to be who they are not and many don’t do a good job of cleaning).

Anyway… If you already do houses, focus on that. If commercial came your way, then take a peek. The cleaning is all the same. Houses have a more detailed cleaning as people actually live there. Businesses are a little different standard (easy in my opinion, but a little harder to get).

Also… you don’t really need a lot of homes or offices to make decent money. I’m not sure what your goals are, but just take it one day at a time and go from there.

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