Service Before Self
One of the most important things I learned from my time with the Air Force is "service before self." This military motto applies to a successful business, too; if I want so badly for our clients to love us and never want to look for another commercial cleaning company, then we have to offer a service that blows their expectations away. This happens with great customer service. I cannot look at what our competition is doing and hope to have better results; rather, we have to rise above everyone else in the area that is trying to offer what looks like a substitute service. Imagine if CarMax did what every other used car salesman did when they were first starting out. They never would have become a billion-dollar-plus company. Or what about Dollar Shave Club, or Harry’s Razors? If they would have tried to do exactly what Gilette was doing, they never would have survived. The success of these three companies was due to the fact that they were willing to listen to
what their customers truly wanted. People did not like the used car buying process of the
time; over 80% of people hated haggling on price, but 100% of the used car
industry did that until CarMax disrupted it by cutting that part out of the process, and
adding a 5-day money back guarantee. The two razor companies knocked Gilette off the
pedestal it had been on for years by finding a new manufacturing process to lower the price
of the razor, thus doing exactly what their customers wanted. That is what we need
to do in our industries. We have to listen to what our customers want, not what our
competition is doing.
So that begs the question: what do our customers want? Our
research has shown so far that they do not like when cleaning companies lock them into
annual contracts because they get locked into a service that they do not necessarily like.
Second, they want peace of mind. My company cleans some pretty unique places such as
NASCAR facilities and bank corporate headquarters; therefore, I have to be very particular
about who I am hiring. I have no idea why people do not think about this more, but
commercial cleaning companies have full access to buildings when nobody else is around. I
consider this a very important thing to keep in mind. We have the trust of the businesses
we serve, something we absolutely cannot take for granted. I, as the business owner, need
to have this in the forefront of my mind when hiring employees.
Third, clients want a company that does what it says it was going to do. We all know that cleaning is not rocket science, so why is it that things get missed all the time? This is one of the biggest complaints I hear. I combat this by having a checklist that is specific to every single location. The client signs the checklist before we ever start cleaning so that we know
exactly what is expected of us, and the client knows exactly what we are supposed to be
Just wait, it gets even better! If we ever fail to do something on the checklist, then
my clients have access to our satisfaction guarantee, which states, “If we fail to meet or
exceed your expectations every single time, then lunch is on us.” I will personally stop by
and give the client a $50 gift card to buy lunch. If you are paying us to do a job and we do not do that job, then we are stealing from you. It is as simple as that. The reason I have the satisfaction guarantee in place is because my company is made up of humans that can make mistakes, and I am the worst offender.
Fourth, when we do make mistakes, how do we recover? We do not want to make mistakes,
and we work very hard to make sure we have systems in place so that we do not make
mistakes; however, they still happen. I have given out just under 10 satisfaction guarantees
in the past 3 years, but I really wish it was 0. The point is, when we do make a
mistake, how do we recover from it? Do we own the mistake, address it, and come up with
a plan to make sure it is not repeated, or do we sweep it under the rug (pun definitely
Finally, it all comes down to the fact that we exist to make other peoples lives
easier. Our clients hire skilled labor to perform certain tasks throughout the day, not to
clean the office, clinic, or warehouse. We were hired to do that, and we need to do it so well
that the client never has to follow up with us because that pulls them away from focusing
on their job. It's simple, really: if you say you will clean the facility and be the best cleaning
company in the area, then you darn well better clean the facility and be the best cleaning
company in the area. That is the essence of good customer service.
Thanks for reading my thoughts, and keep an eye out for the next part!