According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, about 71% of all families pay for home services that would be considered “household operations” of some sort. That could include babysitting, house cleaning, laundry, and dry cleaning, pest control, pool maintenance, home security, and, of course, window cleaning. What this tells us is that the average homeowner will regularly come into contact with several companies tending to one or more of their needs in an average week. Most are going to be skilled at whatever service that they are offering. They are also, however, just a coupon or holiday sale away from being replaced. Others have been serving a family for years, even decades. They may have such a bond with their clients that they may even start to feel like part of the family. How can you bridge the gap between customer loyalty and expandability? It’s all about whether you offer your customers an experience or a service.
Listen, you can be the best window cleaner in your area, be the fastest fanner, or have the coolest equipment, but if your customer believes that they can get something comparable to what you offer for a cheaper price elsewhere, then you are simply offering a service. Service providers are a dime a dozen. You must stand out from your competition by offering something they can’t: The experience of YOUR company. All of your competitors clean glass. Most are going to be pretty good at it. It’s going to be the other qualities of your service that will make you stand out. What are some aspects of our job that will allow you to stand apart and give your customer the experience they deserve?
1 – Trust
I don’t care how good you are or how long you’ve been cleaning windows. If you do not earn the trust of your customers, they will never let you into their home again. Trust is easy to lose. I always tell my techs that while we do work at a client’s home, their home is never our office. It’s their sanctuary. This is where they come to relax, feel safe, and let their hair down. So, if you come in there talking to your assistant loudly while you work and disturb their peaceful home with noise, we’ve lost their trust. They trust us with their property.
If we walk on their clean floors or carpet with dirty shoes, we’ve lost their trust. Their bedrooms are a private area that few people may be invited to. I tell my techs to get in there, clean the windows, and get out. If you linger in their bedrooms, clients may wonder what you are doing. Don’t use your phone while there. If a customer sees you, they might start asking themselves questions: What were they doing in there? Were they taking pictures of my personal items? Were they casing the joint? Regardless of whether or not what they are thinking is true, you just lost a customer. Do your utmost to earn and retain their trust. Your customers are not interested in starting from the beginning with someone new if they already have what they are looking for in you.
2 – Respect
Having regard for the feelings of your customers is a vital quality to keeping them loyal to your company. It is also one of the most dwindling qualities among businesses today. Being late to an appointment without giving your client a “heads up” shows a lack of respect for their time. Not informing a customer of damage that you may have accidentally caused shows a lack of respect for their property.
That doesn’t mean that you have to kowtow to the customer’s every whim. I never tell my techs that the customer is always right, but I do expect them to respect the customer’s feelings, no matter how wrong they may be. My goal is to always try to make the customer feel like I’m on their side. If they are upset about something, I want them to feel like I’m not there to defend our company, but rather to make things right with them. Even if they are completely in the wrong and are being unreasonable, I try to acknowledge that they have a right to their point of view and lay before them possible options to alleviate their concerns. If they still insist on being unreasonable, I try to cut ties with them with as much courtesy as I can. Whatever happens while we are dealing with the customer, it should be done with respect.
3 – Personal Interest
Nothing impresses me less than to hear a service provider brag about how much money they made in a day. What I hear is customers = money and nothing more. While it is true that our industry is transactional, our relationships don’t have to be. Nothing makes you stand apart from your competitors than when your client knows that you care about them. Of course, for that to work, you actually have to care. That doesn’t mean that you have to be warm and fuzzy to everyone.
I realize that not all of us have that type of personality. And I certainly don’t mean getting involved in their personal business. However, you can show your interest in other ways. Do you remember the entire family’s names? Do you know their pet’s names? When they share some bad news with you, do you express genuine concern to them through your words and body language? If something of interest was happening the last time you cleaned for them, do you ask them about it on the next visit? You don’t have to be a genius or have a photographic memory to do these things. Write them down in your customer’s notes if you need help. Just be thoughtful about the people who are helping you to support your family. When a client knows that they are more to you than some dollar signs, they won’t be calling anyone else.
So, get out there and offer the whole package. Don’t settle for being just another service. All the technical things that are so important to you as a window cleaner mean nothing to a customer. Do a quality job for them, but don’t forget to give the full experience that will keep them coming back to you year after year.
-By Gabriel Gutierrez