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!

Ouch! Ooops!

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.

It’s survival.

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!

4 Responses to “Should Your Cleaning Business Treat All Customers The Same?”

  1. Bruce Irion says:

    Good story Dan. We have an account we have been doing for over ten years, once a week, one employee, 5 hours a cleaning, making a net profit of $50 a month or so. Going to talk to the POC and see about a price increase of about 30%, due to the fact we are at the original price. So, my question is, if they balk at the increase, do we continue the account? I say no, it is time to move on to more fertile ground, but I have mixed emotions, i.e. our employee, etc.

  2. DLiebrecht says:

    Bruce, sounds to me like you’re off to a good start by asking yourself a lot of important questions. Here are a couple more you may want to consider: ‘What is the minimum I need to make at this account to make it worthwhile?’ ‘Is there anything I can do (that I haven’t done yet) to correct this profit picture – i.e. speed up cleaning via new process – before deciding to go in to ask for an increase? ‘ I’ll leave you with one last thought… an old boss of mine once said ‘Everything doesn’t have to be a confrontation.’ I think what he was trying to say was… ‘It’s often better to go into handle a problem – not as a conflict with an ultimatum, but simply as two people trying to see what can be done to improve the situation’ That way – if you eventually have to drop the account, you’ll know you first did everything you could to see if you could make it work. I always thought that was good advice. Wishing you much succeess in your cleaning business! Dan

  3. Jim Jones says:

    Hey Dan,

    Nice article. I would like to add that we had one client that was always complaining no matter what we did. In fact, she had one of her employees tell me that she (the owner) wasn’t happy about any of the cleaning! Given the choice between her and another client, even though the complainer was the most profitable, I would service the one that appreciated our efforts even though that account was less profitable. To tell the truth, I ended up dropping the complainer because I got tired of the constant complaining.

  4. CleanGuru says:

    Thanks Jim, yep, while most customers are reasonable, some (fortunately, just a small handful) don’t make it easy, do they ; ) Dan, CleanGuru LLC

Leave a Reply


"What real users say..."

© 2007 - 2018 Clean Guru LLC, all rights reserved
CleanBid is a registered trademark of CGDL, LLC
Privacy Policy | User Agreement | Sitemap
Hide me
Sign up below to join my eNewsletter
Name * Email *
Show me