An issue most cleaning contractors must grapple with is what to do when the contact person or manager they have been working with leaves the company. This can even be more significant and complicated because, in many cases, that person is also the person that hired you.
When the new manager takes over, invariably the manager will make changes. It does not matter if it’s the copy machine service, the HVAC company, or the cleaning contractor. No doubt, it can be a tough dilemma for contractors, but one that must be addressed as soon as possible.
Why should timing be so important? A new manager may already have in mind a cleaning service that they have worked with before and, guess what, may want to bring that relationship along to their new position. So, here are some suggestions on getting off to a good start with the new manager and hopefully keeping the client. While not a guarantee—there are few guarantees in business—these ideas certainly can help.
The worst thing you can do is pretend nothing happened.
It’s essential to call the new manager, introduce yourself, make an appointment, and discuss the maintenance of the facility. Be sure to bring your contract with you, even if the new manager has it. At this point, you know far more about the facility than the manager does, which means that person needs you and the knowledge you’ve gained through hands-on experience.
Prepare yourself before the meeting. Take time to go to LinkedIn and find out as much as you can about the new manager. Where did the manager go to school? Where has the manager worked before? Look for contacts you might have in common or even places you both have lived in. Not only does this help us with the next step, building rapport, but it enables you to find some common ground before the initial meeting.
When face to face with the new manager, encourage her to talk about herself and her work history, and then listen actively. Mention something that caught your eye on her LinkedIn profile. This helps break the ice, but it does something else.
It helps build trust and a relationship. It shows you want to get to know her and work with her.
Your goal is to have as good a relationship as possible with this new manager.
Help Her Learn
Because you have brought your contract with you, start reviewing it with the new manager. But let’s take this a step further. You know the problem areas in the facility, those that need the most attention, as well as those that need less care. Point these out and discuss how you have adjusted things to use your time most effectively. Again, at this point, the manager needs you, and needs to learn from you.
Sometimes the new manager will suggest they would like to do something a bit differently. Don’t listen to judge or evaluate. Listen for possibilities. This may be one reason this person was hired to take over. Show your willingness to work with her, adapt, and change. Be prepared to learn and discover the strengths of this new manager and how you can work together.
Now that you have an idea of things to do when working with a new manager, here are some things not to do:
- Never assume the new manager is incompetent, even if this person has never managed a facility like this before. The new manager would never have been hired if others in the company did not believe this person to be qualified and competent.
- Don’t do most of the talking. Give the new manager plenty of time to discuss what they would like to see performed. This is a two-way street. The new manager is learning from you, but you are also learning from the new manager.
- Always make positive comments about the new manager’s predecessor and others you have worked within the company. Critical remarks about the old manager or anyone else at the company make you look bad. Everything must stay as positive as possible. That’s the foundation of establishing a new business relationship.
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..