When you own a business your life revolves around making the customer happy. That sounds simple, and it is most of the time.
With that said, there will always be that one you just can’t please. No matter what you do it just isn’t good enough to make them happy.
Being in business for many years, I’ve had my fair share of them. As I’ve said before in past articles, the “consistently unhappy” customers are a small percentage of your larger customer base, but sadly they are the ones you remember when all is said and done.
Recently I added another one to my list. They were a long time customer that dates way back to the beginning of my business. They were a customer who didn’t want to pay a lot for cleaning services, all they really cared about was WHO was going to be cleaning. They were super security conscious to say the least.
I think in the past they had stuff stolen, and they thought it was the cleaning company, so this made them ultra worried about that happening again. The guy who hired me was a big boss at the company, BUT HE WAS NOT THE OWNER. This is a big distinction to make note of going forward.
The reason why is because the guy who hired me was worried about SECURITY, but the owner was worried about security AND HOW CLEAN THE PLACE WAS. So in a sense there was a bit of a “disconnect” between the big boss and the owner, and yours truly was stuck in the middle.
The place was really tough to clean because the employees didn’t keep it in good shape. I called the place “Romper Room” because it looked like a bunch of kindergarten kids was in there everyday. Gum on the floor, soda spilled all over the place, cookie crumbs from one end of the building to the other.
The condition of the place meant we could only do the basics as far as the cleaning was concerned. This didn’t make the owner happy however, as this person always wanted more service than they were paying for. This created friction naturally, as I’m not going to work for free, no matter how much someone complains.
One time the owner walked me through the facility and wanted to address a whole bunch of stuff. They were complaining about desks “not getting wiped down from end to end”. All forty or so of them. The reason it wasn’t getting done was because it wasn’t part of their cleaning package!
They also complained about food that spilled “under the desk on the fabric of the partitions”. In essence, people ate at their desk, and mustard, ketchup and who knows what else would spill and drip down the partitions. This was UNDER the desks where people’s feet were.
So to spot it you almost had to crawl on the floor. To be honest I did see some of it, but that was NOT part of the cleaning schedule. Cleaning that would have required me to clean the partitions with my carpet cleaning equipment, which would have been extra (a LOT extra given how bad the place was).
To make a long story short, the owner was on a roll when it came to complaining. I let this person have their say, then I told them the budget they had wasn’t even remotely close to what was required. I stayed cool, and acted professional when I said it, as I tried to stay “above it all” as best as I could. At the end of the day, it’s just business!
The moral here, if there is one, is to expect stuff like this to happen from time to time. It’s not the norm, but it will happen. Just do your best to find some common ground, tell the truth as you see it, and act professional when doing so. If you do that, you’ll be fine over the long haul.