Should Your Cleaning Business Treat All Customers The Same?
The safe answer would be, Yes!, right?
Well, never one to play it safe, I’ll go ahead and say it…No!
Ok, hold your horses…let me explain.
If you’re talking about delivering what you promised, then, sure – Yes.
Or, if you’re talking about showing every customer you appreciate them…then – Yes, again.
And, finally, if you’re talking about treating customers fairly… absolutely, Yes, to that one too!
But, if you’re talking about giving every customer:
-the exact same amount of attention
-the exact same number of customer service calls
-the exact same number of times when you’ll ok extra cleaning, at no charge, for them, for whatever reason..
…then, the answer is an emphatic ‘No’!
You see this ‘treat every customer the same’ idea, sounds nice – yep, it’s politically correct, but – here’s the rub….
it only works if all customers are the same…which, of course – they’re not!
Don’t believe me? Let me tell you a story…
Years ago, before we started to closely watched the profitability of each account, we had three customers call in at the same time.
Each one said they needed a bunch of last minute, extra work done, right away – that night, because, as you probably guessed…yep, VIP’s were coming!
Anyway, we were up to our necks in work already, so this rush of last minute requests was definitely going to push us ‘over the edge’.
We ended up taking care of two of the customers that night like they asked for…but had to tell the third client,
‘Sorry, we simply can’t get to you tonight, you’ll have to wait till tomorrow.’
As you might expect, that third customer wasn’t thrilled.
Here’s the thing, a few days later, when we finally got around to looking at the profitability of each of our accounts.
To our surprise….of the two accounts we were able to get to that first night, one was only marginally profitable, and the other one was frankly – a financial ‘money pit’ for us!
That’s right, we were virtually losing money there every month.and with no real chance of increasing their price or reducing our cost to turn it around anytime soon.
But, of course, on the other hand, that third account, you remember the one where we called to let them know they’d ‘have to wait’….
Yep, you guessed it, that’s the one that actually turned out to be a “money machine”, churning out profits for us every month!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting ‘snubbing your nose’ at any customer that’s only marginally profitable.
I am saying, however, when laying out the different levels of service for different accounts – with different levels of profitability, then, as my mother would put it…
‘For crying out loud, use your head – that’s why the good Lord gave you one!’
It’s not unethical or poor customer service.
I seem to remember reading an article where a reporter was interviewing the then-popular and well respected CEO of a large fortune 100 company..
They asked him “The customer is always right, right?”
He said something like, and don’t quote me here, but his answer was basically…
‘No. You simply cannot give every customer, everything, they want, all the time, at whatever price they want…unless you plan on going broke!’
Now, that’s not politically correct either, is it?
No, we want to believe, and more importantly we want to say we can give all of our customers, everything they want, every time, no matter what!
And I agree, that would be nice. But it isn’t reality, is it?
At least not all the time.
No, the truth is, cleaning companies run with a limited amount of resources, the most important one of which is our people.
And, the truth is, the best we can do, and what we should challenge ourselves to do – is allocate those resources as efficiently as we can to to deliver maximum result AND make a profit!
No question – you owe your customers what you promised them.
But you also owe it to yourself, your families and your employees – to keep your financial eyes ‘wide open’ so you can make decisions that make money!
It’s the right thing to do.
Your clients should understand that – many of them run businesses too!
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