Is it time to move on, but you aren’t sure how to fire a cleaning client without making trouble for yourself? It can be tricky, but you can do it.
One thing we think about a lot in the janitorial profession is how to bring in new clients and how to keep the clients we have. Both are vital parts of maintaining and growing our business. Rarely do we talk to our colleagues about how to fire a cleaning client. That’s unfortunate, since it’s something almost every business owner will need to at least consider at some point.
Yes, purposely getting rid of a client goes against the instinct of a business owner. In an ideal world, that would never happen. Every customer would pay their invoices on time, be easy to work with, and would stick with you forever. We also know that’s not how business works.
It’s a constant negotiation between customers and service providers. These relationships can be, and often are, friendly and mutually beneficial. Every now and then, however, things go sour. Here’s what you can do.
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Learn how to fire a cleaning client and make your business better
Before we get into how to fire a cleaning client, let’s take a deep breath. Then another. You never want to end a relationship in a moment of anger or frustration. There are usually ways to work with one another and come to an agreement that works. Sometimes, however, there are clients who take and take. They end up costing you money or time or both. They take the energy that you could put toward finding better, more lucrative jobs. Here are a few of those situations:
The price shopper. The price shopper can be tricky, because they aren’t usually doing anything “wrong,” necessarily. They’re looking for a bargain, and it doesn’t hurt to ask, right? While you should expect negotiations around price, be aware that some clients will try to talk you down so far that you could quite literally lose money by working with them. They’re perfectly happy to move on to another janitorial service the moment they find someone cheaper.
The little things client. These clients slowly chip away at you, asking for just a little extra here and a little more there. Maybe it’s the windows that aren’t in the contract or the more expensive toilet paper. Eventually, your team is spending an extra 20 or 30 minutes doing all these “little things” that are nearly imperceptible on their own, but add up over time. That’s not to say you should never offer to help out a loyal client. These aren’t your loyal clients, though. The “little things” client expects that you can and will give in to these extra demands.
The bully. If you’re thinking about when or how to fire a cleaning client, this one is pretty easy. It’s also, sadly, more common than you would hope. These are the “I’m paying your salary” types. They talk down to your or your team. They call you frequently to complain about anything and everything. They remind you how many people they’ve referred to you or how much their contract is worth (even if it’s not all that great). No one wants to work at their location. They may even be responsible for a few of your employees leaving your company. You know exactly who they are, too. Get rid of them. They’re taking up space that a much better, nicer client could have.
There may be other situations, but you get the idea. There comes a point when whatever it is that you’re getting paid for the job isn’t worth it. So what is a commercial cleaning business owner to do? Is it really okay to end a business relationship?
Understandably, there’s a lot of fear around the topic of how to fire a cleaning client. You need clients to keep your business running. Here’s the good news – your clients are out there. You just need to make room for them in your schedule and go find them. There are some right and wrong ways to fire a client, though.
The biggest piece of advice we could offer is that it’s best to be professional at all times. Don’t yell. Don’t write a nasty email. Don’t write bad reviews on Yelp. Don’t throw rocks at their windows. Stay calm. Stay factual. Write out a script if you need to. You can keep it nice and simple.
“Thank you for the opportunity to work together, but I feel like another service provider would better be able to meet your needs. We will continue to do our best in cleaning your facility until the end of the month when our contract runs out.”
If this isn’t a problem client, but rather a client you’ve outgrown, you can certainly offer referrals or offer some transitional arrangement. You could even do that if you think one of your problem clients deserves the extra care.
In any case, as your schedule fills up, it’s okay to let your problem clients go. Better clients lead to a better business. You’ll have more stable employees, more long-term contracts, and a lot less stress.
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