The “To Do List” My Customer Left for Me

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by Tom Watson on September 28, 2014

From time to time your customer may ask you do you a task that falls outside of what you have been hired for. Generally it doesn’t happen all that much, but it will occasionally.

This comes to mind for me because it just happened to me earlier this week. I’ve been on a bit of a good roll with the business so I guess I had it coming.

The account in question is a small little doctors office a bit off the beaten path for us. We clean it because it’s a satellite office for a much larger office a few miles away. Start to finish it may take 20 minutes to clean, maybe 30 on a bad day.

The place is pretty clean on the whole. Not only because we do a good job, but because one or two days a week they have no appointments there. That means some days we drive there for nothing. We still get paid whether they have patients or not so it doesn’t matter to us.

So the other day we arrive to clean and we find a “to do list” from the customer. It had three items on the list. One was a tiny cobweb they asked us to remove. You could hardly see it, but it was there, and YES we did miss it. The next item was asking us to wipe down all the window sills and desks.

This was annoying because they recently had construction work done, and that was the cause of the excess dust. Generally extra work means extra pay, especially when construction work was done, as that falls outside of the cleaning contract. With that said, it was a small office so we just did it.

The last item though really got me fuming. They wanted us to remove the screens and vacuum out the window tracks. That one crossed the line in my book and I had to take a brief walk outside to calm myself. To make a long story short, I just sucked it up and did the work.

I did so because I had to keep the big picture in mind. At the end of the day this account is a cupcake, and there is no use in getting all in a huff over an extra 30 minutes worth of work. If it becomes a trend then I’ll have to address it, but for now I let it slide.

These type situations will happen every now and again and you will have to address them individually. Generally if I have a good relationship with the customer and I know it won’t take too long I just have my staff take care of it. That is just good customer service in my book.

If the work was way out of line and was going to take a good deal of effort then I would not do the work in all likelihood. I would have simply called the customer the next day to tell them that would be an extra charge for the work.

These situations don’t come up all that often, and most work themselves out so don’t fret too much! Having a good working relationship with the customer will keep these occurrences to a minimum.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 chris September 28, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Hi Tom,

I liked the post, as always the information is good. Question, posting a car sign does it help much?

2 Tom Watson September 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Hi Chris! If you are talking about putting a sign on the car (like a magnetic one), then yes I do. You might as well take advantage of all the driving around you do to promote your company. I used to get stopped all the time and get asked for a business card in the company trucks.

3 Joe M September 28, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Funny thing is I have an acct that does the same thing to me once in a while. The difference is on the bottom of the to do list he will say just add it in your bill. I never do as I consider this just good business.

4 Tom Watson September 28, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Hi Joe! Yes.. that is how you keep customers happy.

5 chris September 28, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Thanks! Tom ,

I will try it, nothing else is working. I put flyers out and hand out business cards and flyers face to face. So hope putting the sign on my car works out.

6 angela January 7, 2015 at 5:13 pm

HA this made me laugh because this is just down right when I pull out my karma card lol…there will inevitably come a time when I will need a good dose of ‘grace’ on a job I am sure and I swear it always comes because I have learned in these situations like this to always (well you know what I mean) to go the extra mile and it has never failed me. I kept my last contract for 13years because of that and that has been my foundation for now regrowing my business!…. Your right..there is a fine line to me that line is 45 min to 1 hour anything more than that I will just bill it most likely depending on the contract. However, at the time I get the ‘note’ and no one is around I am doing the same grunting and moaning make no mistake lol..

7 Tom Watson January 7, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Hi Angela! When I start grumbling in those situations I’m always praying that there is not some microphone recording it all, as I would be pretty embarrassed if my multi-syllable words were heard.

8 Sondra March 5, 2015 at 4:14 pm

When you drove your personal car for your business, did you have to purchase commercial insurance coverage for the vehicle? I’m wondering if that type of coverage would especially become a necessity if we use a magnetic sign.

I know you’re not an insurance agent, and won’t depend on you for full liability advice, but thank you in advance for just your guidance!

9 Tom Watson March 5, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Hi Sondra! I never did the magnetic sign, so I can’t answer that one. I would ask an agent that one, as I really don’t know. When I bought all of my work vans, I did insure them with commercial insurance.

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