Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Can I Make Commercial Cleaning Jobs More Convenient for Me and the Owner?

With a regular, long-term commercial account it is essential to get the key.

man cleaning tileHi Steve,

So here I am again! I took your advice from the last “Ask Steve” on how to make better sales calls and this week I scored a nice restaurant on a regular monthly contract. Thanks so very much - I think your weekly “dedicated sales morning” concept just may change my life!

So everything was going great, the owner signed the contract and then I asked him for a key. He replied, “Nah, I’d rather not give out another key. Just give me a call and I’ll meet you here at closing time or have one of my managers do it.”

Now Steve, instinctively I just know having a key for easy access is going to be less of a hassle for me and the owner. But I didn’t know what to say, so I went along with his request.

So Steve, how can I get the key easily to make future accounts more convenient?

-Still Super Motivated in Minnesota


Yes, I agree with you 100%, Motivated. With a regular, long-term commercial account it is essential to get the key. Why? Because if you don’t, the process with you constantly calling and then the owner or manager having to stay late each month will become an irritation. And of course once you become an “irritation” you can kiss this job goodbye!

One tactic is to use the job profile (J/P) form I mentioned last week to get the key. So once you have the contract signed, just pull out a J/P form where you will fill in all the info you need to do the job. Everything from an emergency contact number to what areas you will be cleaning and the method you will use and what lights to turn off, alarm system, where to hook up for water, hours and days to actually do the work, etc.

NOTE: For a free copy of the Job Profile Form my company used, just write me at and put the phrase “ICS Job Profile” in the subject line.

Here's how to use the J/P form to help you get a key. First you must come to an agreement on pricing/ frequency of cleaning, areas to be done, etc. Then…

As you go through the building with your contact filling out the J/P form ask questions that subtly and subliminally “set the stage” for the fact you are planning to be working in the building alone. "What lights should be left on? Who should we call if there is an emergency? Any special security arrangements I should be aware of?" Then as you finish up just casually say, "Oh, and by the way I'll need a key."

At this point you will hear:

a) “OK. Here’s our extra key.” Great! But more likely they will say…

b) "Uh, OK. I'll need to get a copy made for you." You reply: "You know, I was just on the way to our locksmith to get copies for some other new accounts" and show them some loose, tagged keys in your pocket. "If you will loan me your copy I'll have it back to you within the hour." Or you will hear…

c) "I'm not sure we want copies of our key out." You reply: "I understand your feelings, Bill. Many of my long-term commercial accounts felt that way when we started. For example, we clean (mention several established businesses you clean for) and they have all found that it is much more efficient for both sides and saves the salary of an employee if we have easy open access to the building. Of course, if you want to come down yourself and help I could use a good helper ..." (Much laughter here.) If you are dealing with the owner here it's amazing how many will go along with this approach. But they may hang tough and reply…

d) "I’m sorry but it is against company policy to give out keys." At this point you can either give in temporarily or explain that you can't give them your “open access” discounted price unless you have a key. Then see what happens - many times the account will cave in and give you a key.

So Motivated, download this job profile form and after signing your next contract (Oops - I mean “service agreement!”) get your contact involved in getting your J/P form filled out. The more time they invest in this process the more likely they will want a return on their time invested with you. And the only way they will get this ROI is to give you a key!

 Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply write Steve HERE with your questions, problems, struggles and challenges! Your help is on the way! A new “Ask Steve” will appear in the ICS eNewsletter every Thursday. Register to receive it by clicking here

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