There are five statements I hear building service contractors of all shapes and sizes make all the time. Typically, these statements tell me much more about the cleaning contractor than they do about the situation they are grappling with.

Further, very often, these statements have very little to do with what is actually happening. So, if you are a cleaning contractor and you make one of these statements, here is what is most likely going on:

I lost the account because the prospect’s decision is based only on price.

This is probably the most frequently heard statement. I cannot deny that some building owners/managers do still select the low bidder, but it’s getting fewer and fewer. What is going on is that this contractor has not effectively proven the value her company brings to the table. Costs are an issue, agreed, but more important than costs, is if the customer believes they will get more bang – referring to value – for the buck by hiring your company.

I do not like to ask for payment on a delinquent invoice because I do not want my customers to go out to bid.

If you are concerned that a customer is going to fire you just because you have called regarding a past due invoice, than that tells me you are not confident you are giving this customer the service you have agreed to provide. You do your part, provide them with the top-quality service they expect, and you want to provide, and they will do their part, and that is, pay you promptly.

We want to give you the contract if you can lower your price.

While this may be a last-minute negotiating strategy with some customers, what is happening is that once again, you likely have not proven the value your service provides. Remember, customers will pay for value; it’s your job to make sure they know this.

I received a cancellation notice, but they never complained!

Typically, when I hear a contractor make this statement, the first thing I ask is when was the last time you went to visit with this customer?  All too often, the answer is something like this: “Well, I never heard any problems, so I did not think I had to visit them.” A successful cleaning contractor must become a part of the family for each of their clients. You keep in touch, visit them regularly, and address any issues that have arisen long before cancellation is ever considered.

My customer contact left the company three months ago, and no one told me!

I refer to what we just discussed. This indicates you have not paid enough attention to this customer. If you had become part of their family, you would likely know what’s happening.   When a situation like this arises, it’s best to ask if your current contact, or someone from that company, can introduce you to the new person you will be working with. This helps provide a welcome mat for you and makes for a smoother transition.  

Ron Segura helps cleaning contractors grow. He has over 50 years of experience in all segments of the professional cleaning industry including ten years as Manager of Janitorial Operations for Walt Disney Pictures and Television. To contact him, call 650-315-8933.