Your NEW Boss: The Office Manager

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by Tom Watson on February 19, 2017

Many people think a business owner IS THE BOSS, and while that is true to a degree, they actually report to someone else.

That would be THE CUSTOMER. They are the ones that PAY YOU, so they hold all the cards. The more you get hired, the MORE BOSSES YOU HAVE!

Office managers are the people who are going to be your boss eventually when you have accounts in the commercial cleaning market. For instance when you target medical facilities and you get hired by one of them the person hiring you will most likely be the office manager.

They run the entire office and are incredibly busy and they just want you to come in and solve their cleaning problems. The don’t have time to mess around, they are very bottom line oriented. The message behind this article is; try to have a relationship with that person, that is important and I will tell you why.

When I first started and was hired by an office manager, I took the complete opposite approach, I said I will stay out of their way, my thinking was they are very busy and they don’t want to hear from me, I will do the best job I can but just stay out of their hair. That turned out to be a very bad approach because when a mistake was made by me or my crew or when times got tough, they had no emotional investment in me.

I was just a person they sent a check to. For this reason they are more likely to let you go when times get tough if they don’t know anything about you, they have no investment in you. That was a powerful lesson for me to learn and I did take it to heart. After that lesson was learned I worked very hard at building that relationship with my customer’s. When I got hired I wanted to be as close to them and they will allow me to be.

When you do get hired, you will find out that office managers come in all flavors. Some are professional and some are not all that professional. Some are quite friendly like they are your best buddy and some aren’t all that friendly. You will have everything in between as well. Your goal in all this is to judge what type of relationship they will allow you to have, then try to make that work.

I tried to keep in touch with them every month or every other month if they were the “standoffish” type. I would touch base by calling them, leaving them a message asking how am I doing, is there anything that we can do better? You get the idea. Just let them know you want their feedback. Some will reach out to you and some will not.

If you do not hear from them, all you can do make the assumption that everything is OK, because if it wasn’t they would call to let you know that. When you do get a call back, you want to take and use the information they give you because it is the key to keeping that person happy.

When people do call back they may be very happy with they way you are doing things, but may ask you to thoroughly clean the microwave in the kitchen, it’s their pet peeve and you answer should be yes that’s no problem we will take care of it.

When you are asked to do small little things whatever it may be, always say yes no problem, it will take you an extra minute to keep that person happy. Make notes on what they ask, and follow through with it. Don’t just give them lip service, by doing so, you build a good rapport with them and by having this good relationship, it makes it harder for them to let you go when things get tough.

This doesn’t mean you won’t get let go, it can and will happen to all of us, but you want to keep them as close as you can. Learn from my mistakes, stay in touch, stay close to them, and learn what they want done and how they want it done, and mold you service around that. If you do all that you will be just fine.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Howie February 19, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Great point to keep in touch. There is no downside.
This also provides the shortest sales cycle for additonal, new business from current clients.

After many years in sales, nothing gave (or still gives) me a worse feeling than not hearing from a client and assuming that everything was OK. In my opinion everything is not okay. We must be missing something. Afterall, know one is perfect.
I’d get the feeling that the “Office Manager” was not mutually invested.

The strategy used when selling to large national & global business clients; “selling high and wide” is as effective with our cleaning clients of all sizes.

When a long time employee left to start his own business 60 days after I became owner, I immediately met with all my clients daily for 2 weeks.
I have made a strong effort to become acquainted with multiple people at each company. In apartment buidings it has been easiest; Property Manager, office staff and head of maintenance.

With our corporate clients it’s a little more difficult; however, the person we deal with day-to-day is usually different than the person who signed the contract. So an effort is made to become acquainted with both.

When I go on-site for a quality checks (minimum once a month, large clients-every 2-3 weeks.) being visible and wearing our company shirt with our name emblazoned on the back creates visibility. I like to go to our corporate clients between 12 and 1:30 and visit the cafeteria/break room and ask employees 2 questions 1) how are we doing? 2) what can be improved.


2 Tom Watson February 25, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Thanks Howie! Very thoughtful response. When I talked about assuming all is OK, I was just trying to stay positive on that topic. I do agree that NOT hearing anything is SCARY, but at the end of the day, I don’t like to “fill in the blanks” and predetermine that silence is bad. Anyway… I appreciate the experience you shared with all the newcomers to the business. It’s folks like you that MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

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