I’ve been fortunate enough that I never had to go through the process of losing a customer with my cleaning business- that was until this weekend. Yup, I lost my first customer. A customer I had a cleaning contract with for the last eleven months. I was fortunate enough to gain repeat business with this client, and got the opportunity to do cleaning at another location owned by the same customer. Prior to gaining this location, I worked my butt off to gain repeat business because I knew the owner had multiple locations. It was a no brain-er, doing repeat business with a source I felt comfortable with and more importantly a reliable source that paid on time.
For the past eleven months I worked hard at maintaining the facility which I was given the opportunity to clean, maintain and upkeep eleven months earlier. Sadly, despite my loyalties, showing up on time and going beyond the call of duty at times, this was not enough to keep me as a supplier.
So, just how loyal are customers?
Loyalty is never a one-way street. Customers are also cynical when they see expensive advertising campaigns with enticing offers to attract new customers, but feel they-the existing customers-are often ignored and taken for granted by the supplier.
Not me though. Not my cleaning business. I worked hard at maintaining this relationship. Sadly though higher powers prevailed.
Beginning to the End
This beginning to the end started about three weeks ago. I got approached by the manager and she expressed that certain parts of the cleaning process could be improved.
Talk about being caught off guard.
Eventually after a short discussion, we went through the cleaning process, reviewed the cleaning after all the offices were cleaned and agreed mutually how we’d move forward. Everyone seemed to be on the same page and the manager/receptions from the doctor’s office expressed their desire to have me on board and continue working together. And by the way if you haven’t figured it out now, the facility that I was cleaning consisted of a doctor’s office and a pharmacy.
A few weeks passed by and it was business as usual. Everyone was in a happy state and compliments were flying in on the cleaning. I was happy my self and glad that I was able to steer the ship in the right direction, or at least I thought I did.
I Always Hated Surprises….
Few weeks had passed by since the mini pow-wow with the manager. I thought things were back to normal and moving in the right direction. I suppose I was the lone one who thought that. During the same pow-wow weeks earlier, I had expressed to the manger the need for new supplies. Garbage bags, mops and other cleaning supplies were of the essence. She promised to get new supplies within a week. This was part of our arrangement in the initial contract, they supply the supplies and we do the cleaning.
On this very Saturday I had arrived in a joyful mood and ready to work as always. During my brief chat with her upon arrival, I inquired about the supplies, which by the way were two weeks overdue, and the response I got was as follows;
“Eddie, I haven’t gotten the supplies yet for a reason. The doctor has asked me to find a new cleaner, and I’ve yet to do so. I wanted to be honest with you on this matter, but the doctor wants a new cleaner.”
Damn. Talk about being caught off guard again. How did it get to this? I thought we worked through the problems. I was loyal, on time, and always there for whatever. I offered a fair and competitive price. They were happy or at least I thought that they were.
Moral Of It All
Never assume you’re doing fine just because nobody says anything. I held this contract for eleven months without a single hiccup. It all fell apart in three weeks. Remember how I said that loyalty is a two way street. The owner who contracted me could have been loyal and spoke up to the doctor, arranged a meeting of some sort amongst all the parties and worked through this. It could have been done differently, but in the end it wasn’t.
In order to create loyalty, it’s important to tell staff or contractors how well they are doing and not just give them a boot in the butt when things go wrong.
Likewise it’s also important to regularly let your regular customers know-often-how much you appreciate their business rather than wait until they’ve left or are about to do so. It’s too late then to try and win back their loyalty once things go sour.
Someone once said:
‘It takes years to win a customer and only seconds to lose one.’