How to Handle Rejection When You Start an Office Cleaning Business
"If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you."
Thank goodness starting an office cleaning business isn't anything like skydiving! If you fall flat on your face, there's no chance that it's going to hurt that bad. Learning to handle the inevitable occurrence of rejection to the best of your ability will help you refine your office cleaning business and your business techniques.
Rejection is simply par for the course when you first start an office cleaning business -- it will happen occasionally. So instead of hoping that it never will, it's good for your business health to come up with some strategies to handle it, learn from it and even grow your office cleaning business with that knowledge. As you start an office cleaning business, aim to minimize your experiences of rejection, while at the same time, be prepared for it.
Reasons for Rejection.
Not "clicking" with your client when you first start an office cleaning business can be cause for rejection somewhere down the line. An initial awkwardness between you may just never go away, and could result in the end of that job. Or you may take on a new client but you feel some anxiety on their part about your fees. They may hire you for one or two sessions, and then tell you they aren't interested in having you back.
When we first started an office cleaning business we had a continual scheduling problem with one office manager, who changed her cleaning date many times during the holiday season. We were as flexible as we could be with her, changing our other clients' scheduled dates around in order to accomodate her several times. But when it came to settling on a regular cleaning date, this person could not be flexible with us. Funny thing was, Ev and I just knew something wasn't right with this particular job from the start. We hadn't ever really "clicked" with her, so the schedule problem became bigger than it should have been.
Be aware that scheduling is one of the most important elements of starting an office cleaning business. Get it right with your clients, and you've got a good opportunity to keep your clients happy. Get it wrong with them, and you may find yourself moving on.
Superficial concerns like personal style, or appearance, can be a cause for rejection. People's perceptions are very important. We're not saying those perceptions are right or wrong, only that they're important. When Evan started to get serious about making good money with his office cleaning business, he cut his shoulder-length hair short. His business picked up.
People do make snap judgments on appearances. It's just a game. If we want the business, we have to play by the rules of the game. We're aware that there are a lot of flaky office cleaners out there who disappoint their clients regularly. You'll succeed by playing against the stereotypes. Dress well (as well as you can considering the nature of this job--you do get dirty on occasion), always be on time, and communicate well with your clients.
What to Say If and When it Happens.
Let's say your new client, Mrs. C, calls you on the day after your birthday. Feeling fine as you pick up the receiver, you assume for a moment that she's calling about your schedule. But her voice is quavering, and she proceeds to tell you that she thinks you are charging too much. Her company no longer wants to do business with you. She's nervous, which makes you suddenly nervous. The conversation is awkward for you both.
You don't know what to say except, "thank you for your call, I appreciate your honesty. It's been a pleasure to work for you. Have a nice day." (Please note: I have actually told people to have a nice day, but seeing it in print makes me cringe. Trust me, you'll think of something better to say.)
While you'll never like losing a client, be honest with yourself. Would you want to clean Mrs. C's office for less? Would it be worth your time and effort?
So, when Mrs. C calls, you decide. If you want the job enough to lower your fee, ask if she would be interested in re-negotiating. But if you realize that you simply can't do that job at a lowered fee, then say a little mental thank you to her. She's opened up your schedule for another, better client to come along. And you can see how important it is to try and set the fees right at the time of the estimate.
Keep up your marketing campaign.
Do not agonize over it, just do it. And be on the alert while talking to the people in your daily life. Let them know what you do. Ask them for referrals. Many people don't realize how extraordinarily helpful your average person can be. So just ask. Sometimes that's all it takes. Don't allow yourself to skate along smugly on the thin ice of your regular schedule. Something out-of-the-blue could always happen.
Marketing consistently is especially important during the first three or four months when you start an office cleaning business. It doesn't take much time to continually sow the fields of your daily bread this way. Then when a client drops into the abyss you can call the people who are patiently waiting for your schedule to loosen up so you can fit them in, and reap the harvest.
This is a good time to mention that in accordance with the latest workplace trends, even employees with seemingly secure jobs are being advised never to get too comfy. "Always be prepared to move on to your next job," is the advice of career counselors, who also recommend that employees be discreet about looking for another job while at work. Companies have no loyalty to their employees, and in the current economy you never know when companies may be forced to downsize.
How does this translate into language for self-employed people like you and me? "Always be prepared to move on to your next job." It's exactly the same advice. Except, unlike employees with other companies, you and I do not have to be covert about it. It's both smart and natural for self-employed people to always keep a keen lookout for new clients. It's all considered intelligent networking.
As you start an office cleaning business you'll learn that it isn't simply that people are fickle and unpredictable, although they can be both those things. Your clients are working under the same strenuous system as you, and they are as susceptible to job loss, solar flares, family crises, illness and temporary insanity as you are. So be kind to your clients. Even when they can you for no good reason that you can see. Forgive them, forget them, then go on and market some more.
This article was adapted from the newly revised and improved edition of Suzanne Arthur's ebook, Start Your Own Office Cleaning Business. Two of Suzanne's other business ebooks, featuring the Suze & Ev Method, are Start Your Own Window Cleaning Business, and Start Your Own House Cleaning Business. These ebooks, as well as a handy, dandy cleaning tips ebooklet, can be found at http://www.start-cleaning-business.com
Suze & Ev's further adventures in cleaning and beyond are posted on their blog, http://start-a-cleaning-business.blogspot.com
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