I’ve done a lot of things right in my career, and I’ve done of lot of wrong in my career. That’s to be expected I suppose.
Today’s post shares one decision that was neither a right or wrong move, just a miscalculation. One that cost me quite a few bucks to say the least.
A call for an estimate comes out of the blue
A few years back I had a doctor’s office call me and ask for a quote. It was outside of my service area by about 25 to 30 minutes, but I saw no harm in going out to look at it. Once I arrived and did a walk-through I had a real good feeling about this one. It was pretty clean, they needed 3 day per week service and the problems they were having with their current cleaning vendor were fixable.
Whenever I run across those these type situations, I’m going to throw my hat into the ring. I figured if I landed the account, I can figure out how to staff it later. Because it was outside of my service area by a good bit I was going to bid a little higher than normal. That way it would be worth my time to make it work. Obviously they liked the price and I was hired ASAP.
I bid the job at almost $1,200 per month. I figured the job was about three hours worth of work per visit, so it worked out to about 30 per hour. I figured even if I had to give the staff member an extra half-hour to do the job it would still be over 25 per hour. Just for kicks I started the staff member at two and a half hours per visit just to see if that was possible, but it they did need the three full hours.
All was well for 5 months, then… a “request”
I had a real good employee servicing this account, so I knew the cleaning was in good hands. He was someone who had worked for me a while back then had to quit due to his wife’s health. When we were trying to figure out who would clean this job, we remembered that he didn’t live too far away from the doctor’s office so we called him and he said he would come back.
Anyway… this arrangement worked just fine. No complaints, no worries at all for months on end. But then this office manager started to work late at the office, and noticed that the cleaning was being done by just one person. To me, that is not an issue. In fact it happens all the time, so that wasn’t going to be anything I was going to fret over. This office manager however didn’t like that.
For some reason she felt that two people needed to be cleaning the office, not just one. She was fixated on this to the point of addressing this issue several times with me. While I take all input seriously, this was one I was prepared to ride out and see if it would just blow over. From my perspective, it was going to be unlikely for me to find another good employee.
The job was out in the middle of nowhere, plus my current employee surely wouldn’t want to have his time cut in half. Honestly it would be hard to get two people to only come for one and a half hours. So it was one staff member for three hours or it wasn’t going to work from my end. I stuck with that line of thought, and as the title of this post suggests… it didn’t work out all that well for me.
A lot of money drifted from my hands into someone else’s
When you perform the math, the job brought in a little over $14,000 per year. After expenses the job netted me over $700 per month in profit, as all I needed to do was provide labor. So over $14,000 per year in revenue, of which about $8,400 in pure profit was lost. In hindsight, I should have just tried to find two employees that would do the job. I had the opportunity but I didn’t act on it.
I probably was a bit greedy to a certain extent too. The fact is I made a killing off an easy job and I could have easily added a helper to my one good worker then just made a little less per cleaning. I still would have made out pretty well! But instead I thought I could just “ride this out” and give the customer the brush off. A fatal miscalculation, one of many that I made over the years.
I guess the moral of the story is two-fold. A… don’t ignore the customer. B… don’t be greedy. I didn’t think I was being either at the time, but as I reflect back one could make the case I was guilty of both. Every single month since I was fired I miss that lost income. I could have had a lot of fun with that money!