One of the most intimidating aspects of a professional cleaning service is giving house cleaning estimates. Talk about stress, giving your first bid, in some strangers home, having to come up with an accurate price and landing the job (instead of your competition)...it is not an easy thing to do and it takes time to get comfortable with the process to be successful.
I am not going to present a script for giving the best cleaning business estimates. I want to talk about the greater context and why it is so scary to give professional cleaning bids. I also want to give some helpful advice about how to make the process more natural and more fun. It is as much about what not to do than what is best.
I have given hundreds of bids over the years and I remember how scared I was the first 10 times or so, even years into my cleaning company I still got nervous about the bidding process. But looking back at it now, it was actually fun.
I am amazed at how I have to encourage clients to make sure they look and act professionally. It is best to have a cleaning company uniform that you always wear at work, it does not have to be ugly, they can be quite hip and even humorous and that can really help with getting the job. Both parties are nervous about the meeting and so humor mixed with professional appearance can put them at rest.
If you show up looking like you could care less. I assure you they could care less too!
Which leads me to the biggest no no...
No religion and no politics
I recently had a service professional come to my home and start talking about politics and religion... do you think I hired them again? NO! I cannot believe how many times this has happened over the years. This is not the place and time for such things, it is the time to perform a professional service (that you were hired to perform) and only that!
Present yourself as a professional, it matters!
I had a very high conversion rate with my cleaning businesses. Here are the main reasons why:
You should always (ALWAYS) schedule a free estimate - a walk through, in which you take a tour of the home and meet the contact person for the job. This is vitally important. You will learn many important things that you can learn in no other way. In our cleaning business system, we detail 5 important things you will not learn by giving an estimate by the square foot over the phone. Resist this temptation, it will cause many problems for you down the road. You will miss many aspects of the job and have to deal with then after you start the job and that is not good! Your bid will be low and you will be working too hard for too little money!
Which is the best method for figuring a bid? All of them!
Do not use an online form!
Having a potential client fill out a form on a website means little to them and in fact who really enjoys filling out a form? You learn little about them and they learn nothing about you.
Taking 30 minutes out of your day to land a contract worth thousands of dollars is so totally worth your time. Why would you resist/resent doing it? Don't be so incurious and lazy with your cleaning business. I had jobs last for 5 years, that is $18,000! Why would you not take 30 minutes to do the walk through with that kind of money on the table?
The most important thing you can do is relax! I know, for many of us, this is not so easy, but there are things you can do to make it easier. If you are relaxed while doing the walk through and the follow-up bid, you have a much better chance of getting the cleaning job.
Remember to focus on your breathing and viola, you are more relaxed. When you get anxious, you tense up and you restrict your breath. This makes yo appear uptight and nervous.
Smiling instantly puts you and them at ease. Don't over do it, but just enjoy yourself and have fun, you will be relaxed and much more attractive for the gig.
Don't say too much - LISTEN!
This is about them. It is about you making a living, but make your work about them and you will make lots of money. And take notes. You will need these notes as part of the estimate factoring process. Write everything down. It impresses them and it helps you to make an accurate estimate. You can learn what to write down and how to calculate your bid with our cleaning business system.
Don't oversell yourself
Do not talk about yourself or how great you are too much, just acknowledge that you are qualified, competent and accomplished, at the very end, just before you leave. That is it. Do not go on and on about yourself, it is about them and their needs.
Wait... let them anticipate your bid
Don't give your estimate at the first visit, tell them you need to go to the office and calculate a great price for them. Which is true. Tell them you will give them a detailed bidsheet to review. You need to figure your bid in a space of focus and objectivity, not when you are on the spot in their home under pressure. If they try to pressure you to give a bid right then simply explain that you want to make sure to get them the best price and you want to make sure you focus on every detail so they get the best price.
Keep it focused and short
Keep the initial walk through under 20 minutes. Keep it moving and on topic and steer the potential client in a subtle way. They will naturally start explaining what they need as they give you a tour of the space. They will talk about past cleaners, things they missed, things the have been frustrated by, what is important to them and usually some stuff about the people that live in the space. That information is gold, both for your bid and for keeping them happy long term. Remember, you are talking about thousands of dollars. Write down all the information that they volunteer to you about their past experiences.
Ask what they paid last time
Guess what, most of the time it will be more than you were going to bid them. I have had people tell me as much as twice what I was going to bid! Seriously! Find out what they have paid in the past, it helps you to steer your bid. Just sneak the questions in there towards the end of the exchange. Do not assume that everyone is going to come up with the same bid price, I have been amazed at what people are used to paying for professional cleaning. Often times you can bid a $10 dollars under that, you make them happy and you are getting paid more.
Giving cleaning business estimates can be fun!
Yes, once you get the hang of it and are relaxed and confident, it can be a lot of fun to meet people, and see their homes and learn about your community. I always enjoyed it and if you enjoy it, you will get the job -- at the price you want!
Cleaning Estimate Checklist
A useful tool to have is a house cleaning estimate checklist that you can reference just before and after you do the initial walk through of the space. You can use it as one of the tools you use to calculate your estimate.
The backbone of your cleaning company is marketing but the bidding/estimate process has to be done successfully in order for your business to prosper. All the potential clients in the world will do little good if you do not convert them into long term happy clients.
To learn how to calculate a house cleaning estimate please sign up four the CleanZine newsletter.
Here is an excellent article by Patti Page on cleaning service estimates