Never forget this phrase as long as you own a cleaning business: “What gets you hired gets you fired”

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by Tom Watson on October 16, 2016

You are probably wondering what I mean by the phrase “what gets you hired gets you fired”. I’ll get to what it means in a second, but let me explain where it came from first.

I was reading a book I purchased about starting a cleaning business many years ago. This must have been over 20 years ago. Though the book wasn’t all that good, it did have some useful tidbits of information scattered about it.

When the book came around to the topic of getting customers, the phrase “what gets you hired gets you fired” kept popping up. I didn’t quite get it at first until I actually got started collecting customers.

What I’m about to tell you is one of the very first lessons I learned in the cleaning business, and it just may be the biggest little “secret” of them all. When preparing a bid, and certainly once picking up a new account, make sure that no matter what, you take care of that persons “pet peeves”.

Now your probably wondering what is a pet peeve! A pet peeve is ANYTHING that annoys the person who is about to hire you. For instance, if you are called to perform a bid this is how it would play out.

When you are performing a walk through of a facility, some office mangers may start pointing out some of the things that their current (and soon to be former) cleaning company is not doing properly. I highly recommend you take notes during his process!

The person who is walking you through is TELLING YOU EXACTLY why their current company is about to be fired. If you feel like you are not getting any juicy tidbits of information, then just ask them “what exactly is your cleaning company not doing”. That question usually works in getting some information flowing.

In fact, sometimes the floodgates open wide and they spill the beans as to what is really bothering them about the company they have. This is where you really want to dig in and ask another good question. My favorite questions is “what are the three biggest things that you want corrected right away”.

Again…start taking notes like your life depended on it. You are about to receive the Holy Grail of all information in the cleaning business. You get to learn what “makes them happy”. And everything that makes the customer happy is good.

What they may tell you will range from the obvious issues like poor vacuuming and missed trash cans to the more obscure ones like “the flange on the toilet in the ladies room is always crummy looking and looks like it’s never been cleaned”. Wow..that pretty precise information!

Now you know what is bugging them. This is great news! Now you know why their “current” cleaning company is about to be their “former” cleaning company. But with all this knowledge comes some responsibility. You must act on it! How would you do that you ask?

First you need to somehow “acknowledge” that you understand what will make them happy. Taking notes shows you are paying attention, but you should somehow verbally address their concerns by commenting that you will make sure whoever cleans the facility should you be hired will be fully trained on these details.

When you make mention of this, make sure to not just say it in passing, instead say it with “conviction”. Something like “I’ll personally make sure that the flange on the toilet never gets dirty”. That shows you were listening!

Next you need to tailor your bid to address the concerns of the person who will hire you. In other words make mention of the pet peeves in your proposal somehow. Sometimes, when submitting a proposal I would create a little section on the bid called “Special Concerns”. I would then list all the pet peeves that I knew of.

When you list the pet peeves like that you are again “reminding them” that you were the vendor who paid attention during the bidding process. After all, you may or may not be bidding against several other companies in your attempt to land this account and you want to get those “bonus points” so to speak.

Now lets look just ahead a few weeks down the road. You get a call from the potential client, they tell you “your hired”. Now you have a burden in front of you in a way! You actually have to live up to the expectations you created for yourself during the hiring process.

Remember…you promised bother verbally and in your proposal that you were going to take care of that list of pet peeves the customer had with the former cleaning company. Now this brings me back to the phrase that started this conversation we are now having. What gets you hired gets you fired!

What effectively happened is you now “own” the pet peeves. These are yours to either take care of forever and make sure they don’t ever become a problem again OR these same pet peeves will be the noose that hangs you. The choice is yours!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mario Amidao October 26, 2016 at 8:15 am

this information is very helpful to of now I’m going to met my first client to be and Im glad I got this information before we discuss their cleaning needs… thank you very much.

also do you have a bidding format? this is also helpful for those starting to have thier own cleaning business.

thank you very much

2 Tom Watson October 30, 2016 at 10:53 am

Hi Mario! Sorry for the delay, traveling a bit. Anyway… the Start-Up Guides we offer spell out in detail how to bid. I have an entire chapter dedicated to pricing jobs.

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