How to Negotiate Price With Residential Cleaning Customers
Do you really have to negotiate prices?
We’ve learned a thing or two about negotiating prices with prospects and customers over the years. And we want to share with you some of the low down on low price negotiations:
- Never negotiate the first-time home cleaning price, unless of course the home is in immaculate condition, which is rarely the norm. In most cases, the prospect has no idea just how dirty their home is and the amount of time it will take to get it up to par and in line with your cleaning standards. So you need to make sure you’re charging enough initially, in order NOT to lose money from the get go.
- Offer to adjust the list of cleaning specifications to match the lower price requested by the prospect. For example, if they’re stubborn and will only pay $100 per service but you quoted $120 (and that’s the skinny line on profit), then perhaps you could adjust the cleaning requirements. Reduce the frequency of cleaning the downstairs bathroom that is rarely used anyway. Or perhaps the two spare bedrooms can be cleaned top to bottom every third visit. You could also reduce the frequency of detailed dusting – just make sure it doesn’t cause a problem for the customer who uses the white glove test when assessing your service. Learn to be creative, let them know you are willing to work with them; not only to meet their needs, but to meet your profit needs as well.
- Offer to re-visit the cleaning price after the home has been cleaned three or four times first. By tracking your production rate and costs for the home under the current cleaning specifications, you’ll be able to tell if you have room for negotiations or not. But be careful with this one. The “promise to lower prices” can jump up and bite you. They feel as though, because of your offer to “re-visit”, it’s just your way of saying, I will lower prices later; for sure.
Keep in mind that negotiating price is NOT something you want to suggest to a prospect or provide as an option when quoting your services. Don’t start the conversation by saying; “I can clean your home for $150 week but I’m willing to do what it will take to get the deal done.” The more experience you gain at estimating how much time it takes to clean (production rate), the better you’ll become at pricing homes and services accurately. This means you will know from the get go what a fair price is as well as a fair profit, eliminating, in most cases, the need to negotiate any further.
Here are the 7 risk-free ways to increase your cleaning prices:
Tell Your Clients!
I’ve seen a number of “cleaning experts” who claim that a price increase goes smoother if you simply don’t tell your clients about it.
How is that fair to your clients?
Do not listen to them. You must be honest and tell your clients.
Ask yourself: how would you want to be treated? Do you want your plumber to “sneak in an extra charge?”
No! So, be fair to your clients. Be honest, and make sure you send them a letter or an email before you increase their prices.
Don’t Start with Your “Sinking Ship” Clients
You should try to avoid raising prices on clients who’ve had a bad recent experience:
- If you’ve been getting complaints
- If you broke something recently
- Fix the problems, then focus on giving them a high quality service. After a couple of months, you can think about increasing the price
Act with Authority
When you announce your price increase, don’t try to “soften the blow” by letting your clients think they’ll be able to negotiate your prices down.
And, most importantly… DO NOT APOLOGIZE.
- Some clients will think you’re being insincere
- Some will think that YOU think you’re not worth the higher rates
You are running a great business. Rate increases are a fact of your high value. Own it.
Educate Your Clients
Remember how clueless you were when you first started your business?
Your customers are even more in the dark than you were. They don’t know ANYTHING about cleaning (except maybe how to push a mop, but a lot of them get that wrong, too).
You’re the professional – that’s why they trust you. So earn their trust.
Tell your customers why you have to raise your prices – explain how you do your job. Don’t be scared to “lift up the hood” and show them the costs that are required to keep your business at the peak of quality:
- show them how you bring value
- talk about hiring the best employees
- explain the costs of top-notch products
Prove that you are the authority, and your clients will gladly accept your new prices.
Thank Your Clients for Understanding
Thank your customers for being loyal. Thank your customers for taking a risk with you. Thank your customers for sticking with you.
Who doesn’t love to be thanked?
Test from the Bottom Up
If you have 100 clients, would you increase all of their prices all at once?
I hope not.
Start with the least profitable clients first. Send your price increase to them first, and see how they react. They will tell you all of their objections, so you can prepare for the next round.
This gives you a much better chance at keeping those VIP clients.
On Your Next Visit… Over Deliver!
For the first few visits after you’ve raised your prices, you need to show them that you’re worth the extra money.
Don’t tell them you’re going to over-deliver, just make sure that you put in those nice finishing touches to remind them that, “Hey, this company is definitely worth the price.”
Understand That Raising Prices Is Necessary In Any Business
Just take a look at things you buy on a routine basis – gas, milk, cleaning supplies, electricity – prices do increase and sometimes take a big jump!
But, before raising prices to your cleaning customers, go back and take a look at your original contract or agreement. Does it state the original price will be good for a certain length of time? If it does, you will not be able to raise your price until that time frame has expired. If not, how long have you been cleaning for that customer?
Even if you originally underpriced your services you may not want to increase your price if you have only been cleaning for the customer a short time. Most cleaning companies wait at least a year before increasing prices. If you don’t have anything written in your cleaning contract/agreement about price increases, you should start doing so. Many companies guarantee their price for a year and state that they take cost of living increases each year (for example, 4%). Or they may state something like, “we reserve the right to increase prices after one year.”
Before figuring out a new price, go back through your original proposal to make sure that you covered everything and are making a profit. If your supply costs have gone up dramatically or if you have added expenses (workers comp or more insurance because of hiring employees), make sure the price increase will cover the extra expenses.
How to Get Clients for a Cleaning Business Fast?
Getting clients quickly requires research, marketing, and commitment. You may get some clients very easily but others may need attractive and engaging marketing tactics. Here are surefire ways to get cleaning clients fast:
1. Develop a marketing plan.
Without marketing, no one is going to know about your business. Increase your business visibility, some clients may contact you earlier than you may think of.
- Print your cleaning business cards.
- Print fliers and small banner ads that explains your business and post them in different places in your business area. Make sure you print contact information on them.
- A local newspaper ad can also attract you some cleaning clients quickly.
- Send emails to the people you think might need your services.
2. Ask for referrals.
Asking for referrals is one of the best ways of promoting your cleaning business. If your current clients are happy with your services, they’d recommend to others too. Even if they don’t, you can ask them to talk about your services to others.
- Family, friends, and neighbors can also help you in getting cleaning clients fast this way.
- Once you get few commercial cleaning contracts, words of mouth would soon spread in the community, if your services are really reliable.
3. Promote your cleaning services with coupons and discounts.
By offering discounts, you can get the attention of the potential customers. Limited time discounts and coupons work great.
- Long-term discount cannot be given as these can be disadvantageous to yourself. So, it is better to give a discount for the first time only.
- It isn’t a bad idea to give discounts to the clients who refer you to others. Incentives keep people happy, and thus their recommendation can get you cleaning clients.
4. Optimize your website content.
Once you start live chatting with clients, you’ll notice that your site requires Good content and its optimization. If someone asks specific questions about your cleaning services, this means he/she is probably about to make a buying decision.
Some good ideas related to website contents are:
- Make a page with frequently asked questions.
- Do optimize your content for search engines.
- Check out your website thoroughly and discover the pages that need more information.
- Remember that getting clients for a cleaning business can be tough at the start, but with right tools and strategy, you will find many opportunities to engage clients.
5. Build a professional network.
Like every other business, the more people you get to know your commercial cleaning business, the more likely you’re to get clients. So, what you do is to try building a network of people who know for your business. But how is it possible?
- Attend local meetings in your area, and let your business be known.
- Build good relation with your business competitors.
6. Become bonded and insured.
Cleaning business license and insurance give extra credibility in getting cleaning clients, as people might not allow a stranger to work in their homes.
How to Write a Cleaning Contract
Written contracts are an effective way to bind a professional relationship together. Properly drafted, the contract should leave no room for doubt as to the exact obligations and responsibilities of each party. With regard to cleaning contracts, typically, the major issues involve how the owner intends to pay the cleaner and the specific cleaning duties the cleaners must complete to receive payment.
- Describe the basic information about the contract. Include a title, such as “Cleaning Contract,” the names of each party, the date of the agreement and the duration of the agreement.
- Write language such as “For the consideration stated herein, the parties agree as follows:” and go on to discuss the nature of the agreement. Clearly define what each party is obligated to do. Include matters such as payment terms — hourly, weekly, etc. — and the types of cleaning services required. Indicate which party is responsible for providing cleaning materials and equipment.
- Describe the areas that need to be cleaned and define what the cleaning company must do. Be specific. For instance, you could break this section into sub-parts covering what must be done on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
- Explain the process to resolve disputes and how a party may terminate the contract. You could, for example, include a provision requiring each party to notify the other of the intent to terminate the agreement early by giving two-weeks notice.