3 tips that will save you a lot of grief…

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by Tom Watson on August 11, 2013

I remember all the excitement that came with starting my cleaning business. I was all pumped up and motivated to do a good job.

All that enthusiasm showed through when I met potential customers and luckily for me I was hired pretty regularly despite my inexperience.

All I had to do now was turn my motivation to do a good job into “results” the customer could see. This meant I had quite a bit of “on the job training”. While I generally passed with flying colors sometimes my staff made a few “miss-steps” (due to my poor training in the beginning).

So today I thought it would be a good learning experience to share a few of the things I learned once I got started. I wouldn’t classify any of them as earth shattering tips but they should be helpful nonetheless. Let’s get started…

1 – Never throw anything out unless it’s in a trashcan. I would urge you to follow my advice on this one. Why? Because that piece of junk that is sitting next to the trashcan (and looks like it hasn’t worked in years) may not be trash after all and could be worth a ton of money.

Throwing out a “valuable” of some kind would probably mean you having to replace it. You don’t want that to happen right? No, I didn’t think so! The safest approach is to only throw out what is in the trashcan itself.

If the customer wants things that are not in the trash thrown out (because they don’t fit for instance) ask them to stick a sign on it that says “TRASH”. It’s always better to play it safe. No use in taking any risks if you don’t have to!

If you have people working for you make sure you convey to them the importance of this. Constantly reinforce this while you are training them and don’t be afraid to bring the topic up every now and again thereafter.

2 – Keep a customer emergency contact number with you. When you get a new job it’s a good idea to get the number of someone you can call if you have an issue. Maybe you accidently set off the alarm (or have some other issue).

I collect this information via a form I ask the customer to fill out when they hire my company. I generally bring it up by explaining to them that it would be good to have someone to call in case we find something that would need their attention.

I say something like “If we have emergency contact information we would be able to call that person if we ever found a water leak or any other issue that may need your immediate attention”. This makes them feel like you are looking out for them (you are, but you are also looking out for yourself!).

Keep in mind I usually don’t give the contact information to my staff. I ask them to call their supervisor (or me) if they have any issues that may require a call to the customer. This way someone more experienced can handle whatever situation crops up.

3 – Never walk into a job with dirty mops and rags. I know it may seem tempting to reuse mops and rags but it’s NOT something you’ll want to do. When you are done with a job take the used items and place them in a “to be washed” bag of some kind.

This is the right thing to do, besides if your customer sees you walking in with dirty mops and rags they will be INSTANLY TURNED OFF. They probably won’t say anything to you, but they will privately consider replacing you.

It’s for this reason I highly recommend throwing out any items that start to look worn. At the end of the day if the customer EVEN THINKS you are using dirty supplies to clean with it makes for an incredibly negative impression. This is easily avoided by doing things the right way.

Preventing this from being an issue also boils down to training your staff. You need to get them in the habit early on to never use mops and rags from one customer on another customers job. So make it easy for them by making sure they have more than enough mops and rags to get them through their jobs.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to our Cleaning 4 Profit RSS feed. If you are looking for a step by step blueprint that will show you how to start your own cleaning business, then check out my Cleaning Business Training Manuals. If you need a great website or would like to upgrade what you already have then you may want to take a look at my Cleaning Business Website Packages.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Muriel Corbin August 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Hi Tom. I came across your website looking for a site where you can buy honest leads, not bogus, like I were receiving, thank you so much for all the useful info, being in the business for many years you never stop learning, I am trying to take my business to the next level where I can hire staff, and get into commercial cleaning. I am planning to use all the helpful information that I receive from you.

Many thanks
Muriel

2 Tom Watson August 11, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Hi Muriel! Thanks for stopping in and don’t hesitate to contact me if you need anything!

3 NewbietotheBiz August 12, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Hi Tom,
I love your website and your advice – you’ve been my inspiration to start my own cleaning business! However, I have an issue that’s preventing me from continuing on as an independent house cleaner that I wonder if you’ve ever come up against or know about. It has to do with flagging energy and my (lack of) fitness level. About halfway thru each job, I feel my energy level going way down and I feel overexerted with racing pulse and flushed cheeks and feeling faint and needing to take a break. This keeps happening to me. I knew that professional house cleaning work involves heavy physical exertion, but am I doing something wrong? I couldn’t complete the last job I went on and I’m losing money not going out on any new jobs, but I felt so physically ill on each job (nauseous, heart pounding, flushed, feeling faint) that I’ve stopped doing this for a living. After 6 months of planning, advertising, getting my supplies and everything together and getting clients, I’m finding out how hard it is to actually do the work but I don’t think I can continue. Has this ever happened to you or your bloggers?

4 Tom Watson August 12, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Hi Suzi! I can’t say that is has happened to me, but I understand where you are coming from. I would suggest hiring help and letting them do the heavy lifting while you attend to the details (that has always been my approach).

5 Susan August 13, 2013 at 3:51 pm

And for heaven sake, Newbie, get a checkup from your physician!! You could have low blood sugar (or something fairly common) and be able to remedy the situation with proper medical attention.

Just my non-medically trained advice….

6 Apar September 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Hi Tom,

Your article indeed provides good information. Could you also be able to tell other necessary documents I need to arrange before starting the business ex: any legal/ insurance etc as I am planning to start my own cleaning business most probably with domestic cleaning.

Many Thanks

7 Tom Watson September 27, 2013 at 8:16 am

Hi Apar! I cover most of those details in my newsletter. I have a 9 part newsletter (tons of good stuff) geared just for people who are starting out. You can sign up here: http://www.cleaning-4-profit.com/join-my-email-list-its-free/

8 Erica December 1, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Hi Tom.

I have legalized everything as far as my business license, permits, tax ID # and all of that. How do you know how much tax to charge per job ? And what software program do you use to track all of that? Also, when bidding on commercial acct how do you know how much to charge?

Thanks!

9 Tom Watson December 1, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Hi Erica! Check with your states division of taxation for tax rate… it’s probably the same tax rate as what you pay (for anything once you make a purchase on). Here in NJ it’s 7%. I use QuickBooks to create invoices (and track the taxes owed for sales tax).

Bidding is covered in my courses in detail. For a good review of how it works in the house market (and really much the same for commercial) check out this post I did a while back… http://www.cleaning-4-profit.com/2013/04/28/how-to-quote-house-cleaning/

10 Krystle O'Brien April 7, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Tom,

I received your email and the advice that you gave me was PHENOMENAL. I cannot express how grateful I am!!!! Thank you ever so much!

Krystle O’Brien
Pristine Properties LLC

11 Tom Watson April 7, 2014 at 9:50 pm

I’m happy to be of help!

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