5 tips for beginners that are getting their first set of cleaning accounts…

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by Tom Watson on March 29, 2015

When you get to the point where you are starting to regularly land cleaning accounts things can get pretty hectic.

Odds are you are pretty new to this, and that first onslaught of business can seem a little overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there!

So today I wanted to just share a few tips for those of you going through this for the first time. Every little bit of wisdom comes in handy right? It’s certainly better than learning the HARD WAY (like I did so many times). Anyway… let’s get started!

Tip # 1 – Hire the best people. I know this sounds pretty simplistic, and I know that I constantly repeat this over and over, but the biggest thing that effects your success (outside your ability to get the accounts in the first place) will be how well you hire people to work for you.

Some blog posts on the hiring process:

  1. Hire Quality People
  2. Interview Basics
  3. Verify References
  4. Screening Applicants

Tip # 2 – Address inferior work immediately. When you start training your staff to perform the work, or even after you let them go on their own, you need to correct any cleaning deficiencies they have as soon as you notice them. Don’t let bad habits BECOME PERMANENT.

Some blog posts on the training process:

  1. Employee Training
  2. Managing Staff
  3. Job Descriptions Made Easy

Tip # 3 – Get an extra set of keys. This is common on the commercial side of the business, and not so common on the residential side. All you need to do is explain to the customer that the extra set of keys does two things. First it allows you to inspect the facility and secondly it allows you to clean in case of emergency if you allow your employee to keep the keys to the buildings they clean. The vast majority of customers will allow multiple sets of keys.

Tip # 4 – Label keys with account numbers. When you start collecting accounts, you will also start collecting tons of keys. The last thing you want to do is put a customers name and address on a key chain tag. If you lost the key, whoever found the key would have easy access to the facility. Not an ideal setup! Instead label them. Maybe, 001, 002, 003 and on and on. This way if you lose the key, the code means nothing to the person who finds the key!

Tip # 5 – Treat alarm codes with care. Odds are high that many of the places you clean will have alarms. This will result in you having to remember many different alarm combinations. It’s a good idea to keep a master list in your wallet or purse that is available for easy reference. Remember to associate the facility alarm code with an account number, and never a name or address. And whatever you do, don’t ever give out your code, not even to employees of the account itself!

Well there you have it! Some tips to get you started and help keep you pointed in the right direction once you start collecting many different types of customers. I hope you enjoyed them, and if anyone has any other tips to share with beginners, please leave them in the comments below!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jay March 29, 2015 at 3:09 pm

TOM you are absolutely right about hiring the right people. I’m not sure where I’m going wrong. I train my employees and I even start them at a higher pay rate and yet they still only last 5 months tops. I currently have 4 commercial accounts and I had to turn one away because of the “passing by” employees. (They come and they go) any tips or ideas on what to do.
Thank you in advance.

2 Tom Watson March 29, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Hi Jay! It’s a real BATTLE to find people and keep them. Do you hire people who already have jobs, or those that are without?

3 jay March 29, 2015 at 4:09 pm

At first I only hired those without jobs then when I listened to your podcast I only sought those with jobs preferably.

4 Tom Watson March 29, 2015 at 4:11 pm

That was my most positive approach to help alleviate the issue. I can’t say it solved it, because there is no solving it with complete certainty, but it helped a lot.

5 Michael April 2, 2015 at 12:21 pm


I went back and listened to many of your pod casts and they were very helpful. The one I did not see covered much was bidding on jobs. I know there were a few but I say that as someone who is not in the industry yet and doesn’t know the process. I don’t know if this is a one-on-one process that is part of a signed document (contract) or if you are there other bidders like at an auction? Do you have to be present or does this only take place when you visit the site. I would assume some can provide a bid on the spot but others go back and submit something within 24 to 48 hours. In your experience does the lowest bid always win and do you ever know the ranges for the bids? I would appreciate some feedback.


6 Tom Watson April 2, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Hi Michael! Bidding is tough to sum up in a podcast, there is just too much to cover. I have a whole chapter dedicated to that in the courses we offer. To your questions… Generally you get a call and go visit a place. You take notes, ask questions about what they want done THEN you go home and write up a bid that you present in a few days.

The vast majority of times you are alone when bidding (just you and the customer). The customer may call 2 or 3 companies, but they only walk one through at a time. You can bid on the spot, but it’s wise to put a pen to paper and go about it real slow (and make sure you are right).

The lowest bid does not always win (it may “sometimes” but that’s not the norm). Generally… The BEST BID wins the majority of times (one that fits the needs of the customer the best). The person who the customer felt most comfortable with also wins a good percentage (everyone has different priorities).

7 Demetrius April 3, 2015 at 10:31 pm

Hello Tom I have two questions for you I have a license for my business but I’m amending the name but My website is already in that Name I have not been getting many calls from the website I have landed to clean for a credit union for 425.00 monthly I have customers from last year under my old name which was Miracle Workers but I don’t know why imbarely getting calls and is the Credit Union paying enough.

8 Tom Watson April 8, 2015 at 11:09 am

Hi Demetrius! 1 – No call from website… that is due to a LACK OF PROMOTION. The website will not generate much by itself. Sure… you may get a few random calls if the site is SEO friendly and the site is nice, but traffic comes from advertising your services. Your domain needs to be PLASTERED across your business card, your flyers, brochures, direct mail and everything else you do to make then phone ring. When you give out hundreds / thousands of promotional pieces the website will start to get busy.

2 – No way for me to tell if your customer is profitable from what you have told me. I need more info. How often do you clean and how long does it take you? Give me that info and I can help you solve that riddle.

9 Demetrius April 8, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Every Sunday four hours

10 Tom Watson April 10, 2015 at 8:23 am

4 hours every Sunday = 17.32 hours cleaning per month when averaged over the course of a year. $425.00 divided by 17.32 = $24.53

You didn’t do too bad for a cleaning rate. For once per week service it could have been bid a little higher (maybe up to about $30 per hour on the high end) , but all in all not a bad price.

I would be happy, you did pretty good.

11 Pauline T Ila April 15, 2015 at 10:19 pm

Thanks Tom, this tips are very vital and has really helped me.

Thank you.


12 Tom Watson April 16, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Hi Pauline! I’m happy to help. Touch base if you need me.

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