5 things an office manager will never tell you

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by Tom Watson on June 21, 2011

I’ve been in the cleaning business for over ten years now. During that time I’ve learned quite a bit about how the business works and what to look for.

Some of the topics I’ll speak to in this post were painful for me (see items one and two), while others weren’t so bad.

In either case I thought passing this along may help you out when just getting started in the cleaning business. It certainly won’t hurt you to know this that’s for sure! Anyway…lets get his show on the road.

Here’s my list of 5 things an office manager will never tell you.

1 – Your about to be fired. Yea I know you think you are doing a great job cleaning the joint and everyone there loves you. While that may be true some of the time, it certainly ain’t true all of the time.

This is because many times customers “suffer in silence”. When they do, they never tell you just how unhappy they are. Maybe it’s because they don’t feel comfortable telling you things could be improved or maybe it’s some other reason that only they know.

Either way in many cases you are never gonna know that the ax has already been lifted over your pretty little neck. Everything’s just fine then BOOM, it’s all over. It’s for this reason it’s not such a bad thing to be a little paranoid about your cleaning accounts. Looking over your shoulder every now and again is a great strategy that will keep you employed.

You do this by not assuming anything and never taking anything for granted. Work everyday like you just landed the account, and you’ll have that account for a long time. Doing the opposite will lead to your untimely demise.

2 – You bid too low. When this happens the only thing going through their mind is how lucky they are to have negotiated such an unbelievable price. So if you said you can do it for a certain price, you better deliver or be prepared to be replaced.

If you think they will cut you any slack on this you will be terribly mistaken. They really don’t care that you are 40% lower (or whatever percentage you came in lower at) than the other company. All they care about is keeping the place clean and whether that is you or someone else is irrelevant.

3 – That they don’t know everything. Many times the office manager that handles the hiring of the cleaning crew may not really know all the facts. This can manifest itself in several ways.

For instance on larger offices when the manager works during the day yet the cleaning takes place after second shift, the manager may not know the exact time the cleaning can begin. I’ve had the “day manager” say 6:30 PM to me during the hiring process only to find out the actual time I can clean is 7:30 or later.

Now what happened? Well like I said, the office manager doesn’t always know everything. The only thing they know for sure is what happens during their day shift. After that they may have a good idea on what happens on second shift, but they may not know “exactly” what’s going on.

For the record, when it comes to “when” you can start you’ll want to know “exactly” when. An hour may not sound like a lot but sometimes it changes “who” you can get to clean. Though a lot of people want a second job, they have limits to how late they’ll work each evening.

This means that you’ll generally have a line of people willing to work up until a certain time at night, but after that they want to get home to their family. So starting an hour later may deprive you of the majority of the people interested in working for you.

The moral of the story is this. The later you can get into a job and get started the slimmer the pickings as far as who you can find to do the cleaning. For this reason you may want to ask the day manager to double check with the night crew as to when you can start BEFORE submitting your bid.

4 – That they have other potential work for you. Many times the manager may know you own a cleaning company, but have no idea you also clean carpets, strip and wax VCT floors, power-wash the sidewalk or whatever else you do. They only know if you tell them!

It’s easy to start out as just a little mom and pop company who only performs the basic duties at first. But many times after a few years you are getting into all types of new profitable avenues of work. The key is to keep your customers updated as you add services.

Most companies only notify the “new customers” of all the new services they provide as they add them, totally forgetting the base of customers that they started with. This can mean a lot of potential money going to your competitors. The moral here is to “communicate” your services regularly to make sure everyone is on the same page concerning what you do.

5 – How easily they can be “won over”. I’ve talked about this quite a bit in the past  because knowing this is key. Virtually every office manager just wants to hire the first normal looking, normal acting contractor who can present a proposal that makes sense for their situation. If you can be that person, BAM…you are hired.

Time after time the vast majority of your competitors will drop the ball in one way or another when trying to win over the same account you are trying to get. Maybe they showed up late, or they looked sloppy, or they were late getting the proposal over, or they failed to return a call promptly or they otherwise fumbled the ball. By getting all those little details right, you look 100 % better from the start.

I really think you can make use of the 5 things we talked about in this post. The more you know about your target market the better off you will be. After all “information is king” as they say in the business world. Now all you need to do is put it to use in your own cleaning business.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to our RSS feed and get loads more by clicking here. If you need detailed instructions on how to start your own cleaning business, then check out my value packed course by clicking here. If you are badly in need of a first class website to take your cleaning business to the next level then click here.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kevin D. Brown March 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Hi! my name is Kevin D. Brown and I’ve been reading your article about getting into the janitorial business and I think you provide about the best and honest information that I’ve seen on the web thus far. I just wanna say thanks bro and keep up the good work.


Peace out!

2 Tom Watson March 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Thanks buddy! I appreciate it.

3 Conteh McGee September 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I just recently purchased your book, Commercial Cleaning for Dummies and I am on my way! (Reading the free info you put on line made me very eager to know more)
Anyway, two questions:
1) I am a Disabled American Veteran. Should I mention that anywhere in advertising?
2) I came into contact with a guy who tried the cleaning business though some francise and he gave up. He’s selling everything for a GREAT price. I don’t have my first customer yet, but it’s hard to pass up a good deal. Should I get it?

Thanks in advance,
I Can, I Will!

4 Tom Watson September 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Hi Conteh!

Taking action is the first step, so YES you are on your way! Anyway…first of, thanks for your purchase, we appreciate it. Now to your questions…

1 – I see no harm at all in mentioning that. It’s part of who you are and goes to the character inside you.

2 – I don’t know the particulars, so I can’t really give specific advice on what you should do. What I can say is MAKE SURE you run the numbers real careful. Make sure all the accounts convey to you (all the custoemrs are OK with it). Make sure all the accounts are ones you can handle. And this is MOST IMPORTANT…make sure all the accounts are WORTH HAVING! You need to know how long does each job take for HOW MUCH MONEY. Run the numbers to make sure you don’t make $5.00 per hour when all is said and done (this part is HUGE).

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