How I made sure me and my employees had off during the holidays (for the most part)

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by Tom Watson on May 29, 2016

When you are a kid growing up, holidays were always FUN TIME. You had the day off and many times you spent it with family and friends.

Once you get a little older and get a job that can start to change. Many times your first few jobs aren’t all that great, and you may have to work certain holidays.

I know that was the case for me, as one of my first jobs was as a dishwasher in a hotel. Everyone else had seniority on me, so I got stuck working a lot that first year. Once I was a little older, and secured a better job, that started to change.

I didn’t want to repeat this in my business

When I was starting my cleaning business those thoughts of working holidays still stuck with me, and I wanted to avoid having to repeat that scenario. So when I crafted my cleaning contract I put the following paragraphs into it.

Cleaning services will not be performed on the following holidays: New Years Day, Good Friday, Easter, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Years Eve.

If service is required, daily cleaning rate plus 25% will be itemized on next monthly bill. Notice for service on a holiday is requested as far in advance as possible.

Whenever I was signing a new customer up for service I made sure we briefly touched on this topic. I never said I wanted these days off for myself, instead I said I wanted my company to be a great place to work and I wanted my staff to enjoy some perks for working for me.

I went on to say this would allow me to get the most qualified candidates. The vast majority of customers never had a problem with this arrangement. I will say that a few did, and I had to make a concession if I wanted the account.

One in particular was a doctor’s office that was a 7 day a week account. It was one of the largest practices around and I really wanted their business so I took the job. I would have preferred no holidays but that’s life as they say.

Things to keep in mind concerning holidays

ONE: As a policy I did not credit an account because a holiday fell within a certain month. It wasn’t because I was greedy or anything. It’s because I knew I was going to have a lot of customers at some point and I didn’t want to have to edit a ton of invoices every month that a holiday fell on.

The long and short of it is I did all my own invoicing via Quickbooks, and though the program makes it easy, if I had to keep track of all holidays it would have been a pain in the butt. I would have to figure out a “daily rate” for each account and then subtract it off their bill. I wanted to avoid that if I could.

So I structured my prices as a “flat fee” per month to all recurring accounts. If a holiday or two fell in a month that didn’t change the price. Did customers complain? Hardly ever. A few did, and when they did I just gave them the credit. No use having an unhappy client. This approach made using Quickbooks easier.

TWO: If a holiday fell on a cleaning date, I did not attempt to make up the cleaning. The only exception was if the cleaning account was a one day per week account. All other type jobs (daily, and multiple time per week cleaning accounts) just got cleaned like normal the next time out.

PLEASE NOTE: I am not suggesting you do it the way I did. I’m just trying to share how I did things. My goal is to get you to think about all the different issues you’ll face concerning working and not working holidays. I was always looking for a “system” to follow, and you’ll have to do the same in your business.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jim May 29, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Thank you Tom, this is great. It’s easy to start
Our own company and believe that we will “have no choice” but to work weekends. But the key word is: choice.
Thanks again
Benchmark Office Cleaning
Guilford, CT

2 Tom Watson May 29, 2016 at 2:20 pm

THANKS for commenting Jim!

3 BJ May 29, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Hi Tom,

Thanks for bringing this up. Even though you don’t make up for a day off you may work harder next time to clean the customer’s property because it will be more dirtier? Do you agree?

Additionally, do you send a reminder notice to all your clients? If you have a many clients, this is time consuming. How do manage sending reminder notices or any notices in general?

4 Tom Watson May 29, 2016 at 8:34 pm

Hi BJ! Will it be dirtier? Perhaps, but I’ll take the day off over working (especially if i am getting paid to stay home). Also… on an account you clean several times per week, the “extra work” you’ll encounter will be minimal on most jobs.

I did not send reminders, but you could. I can’t imagine it would take but a minute or so per customer if you wanted to give them a call. And how to track? Put a note on your calendar. Keep it simple.

5 BJ May 29, 2016 at 10:00 pm

Thanks Tom. What is the reason that customers are not bothered by this? If we don’t make it up, what value do they get out of it? I don’t understand. I guess you can’t always have a win-win but this seems like one of those things that customers should care about, no?

6 Tom Watson May 29, 2016 at 10:29 pm

I don’t know for sure, but I suppose that most people understand that we are all entitled to have a holiday off. Why should cleaners be any different?

The vast majority of times it all works out. Also… many times these companies will have off too (or skeleton crews), so not having a cleaning is not as disruptive as one would expect.

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