How to avoid “I only want YOU as my cleaner” when you are just starting out.

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by Tom Watson on December 11, 2016

When you are new and just getting started, odds are you will be performing the cleaning.

This makes sense, as you are just getting started and don’t have employees yet. As you get jobs, and earn more, the need for staff will come in no time flat.

But while that is an awesome strategy for getting your business off the ground, one of the unintended consequences of that approach is that some of your customers will “only want YOU as their cleaning person”. They get used to the “owner” doing the work, and they like that.

This is because they know YOU are the owner, you take the most pride in your work and will provide the best service. I had this happen to me many times when I was in my first year, and it can be a tough spot to be in because you don’t know the best way to handle it.

I anticipated this issue would occur, so I had a “rough plan” to combat it. It’s not fool-proof (nothing is), but it does help. My first technique to help prevent this issue from happening was to never mention that “I” would be doing the cleaning. When interviewing for a job I never promised ME as the cleaner!

I always spoke in terms of “our team”, and I was intentionally vague about “who” that was. Most of the times I knew it was going to be and my wife, but I didn’t want to say that. This also had the bonus effect of making us look more experienced and polished in my opinion, as we we’re not a “mom and pop” operation. After all, we had a “team”.

Anyway… If we got hired on that job and the people who hired us saw me doing the cleaning, I would just mention that we had not finalized our schedule yet, and they would soon have a regular crew that was dedicated to their account.

This not only bought me time to figure things out, but it “planted the seed” that they WERE NOT GOING TO HAVE ME AS THEIR REGULAR CLEANER. If everyone that hires you to be their cleaner only wants YOU, you will soon run out of time in a day to service them all, thus limiting your income.

Plus if they get used to you being the only person cleaning, the moment you introduce another crew they will start to find fault with whomever you bring in. YOU DON’T WANT THAT. So don’t promise it will be you unless you never plan on bringing in others to clean.

If you do plan on being the regular cleaner for a while as you get started, try to come at times when the person that hired you is not there. If you show up when no one is there, this helps you prevent the issue even further as they really don’t know who is cleaning.

If you can’t avoid them being there then try to have “helpers” with you. You can always pass them off as being cross trained to handle the account in the event that the regular crew has a vacation, call out, or some unforeseen circumstance take place. This approach makes you look “prepared” and helps your cause as well.

Before I wrap this up, I’ll mention that every once in a while you may have people say that they will only hire you if YOU are the cleaner. I never gave in on that threat. I would just say I can’t guarantee I’ll be there, as my crew does the cleaning. I can guarantee they will do a good job however! That was my stock reply to that situation.

As I mentioned earlier, this multi-pronged approach is not fool-proof. I did everything I mentioned here and STILL HAD ISSUES with customers wanting just me as their cleaner. That’s life! You’ll have to put up with it to a degree, but at least you’ll know what’s coming your way once you find success in the cleaning business!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Benny Yocum jr December 12, 2016 at 6:51 pm

How would you handle the issue of handing out keys to employees? We are in the process of hiring our first employee and I would like to know if giving keys t from our clients to new employees is a good idea.

2 Tom Watson December 19, 2016 at 1:07 pm

I gave out keys once I knew the employee was dependable and was going to stick around. There is really no way around giving out keys, as you can’t be everywhere, just wait a week or two to make sure they prove themselves dependable and trustworthy.

3 Lauralee McElroy December 21, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Thanks for the great information!

4 Tom Samual December 21, 2016 at 8:36 pm

Thanks for the advice. I guess when you start out you should be starting to create a “system” of sorts to have other potential employees in the future take over the owner’s role of doing the cleaning in the future. I’ve heard it said that Mcdonald’s is a billion dollar run by teenagers. The reason they are successful is not because of their burgers but because of their “systems” in place to be able to have just about anyone operate their establishments. Gotta start thinking big like that and make sure I can do this with carpet cleaning.

5 Mohumed January 7, 2017 at 10:49 pm

I am also wary about giving keys to my employees, but if they were to steal something would i be held liable?

6 Tom Watson January 8, 2017 at 10:23 am

Hi Mohumed! You need to ask your insurance agent to get the correct answer. For me, after carefully hiring and training my staff, some had keys to hold (I can’t be everywhere at once to let them in).

7 Tom Watson January 8, 2017 at 10:27 am

Hi Tom! Awesome analogy to “McDonald’s. That was very accurate!

8 Tom Watson January 8, 2017 at 10:28 am

THANKS Lauralee!

9 Dawn Hackett February 12, 2017 at 3:49 pm

When hiring employees, do you suggest hiring as contractors so they pay their own taxes or is it best to have them as full fledged employees?

10 Tom Watson February 14, 2017 at 10:22 am

I always hired them as employees.

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