ICS Magazine

Maintaining Positive Client Relationships

August 1, 2012

customer with carpet cleaning manIf you have been in the cleaning or restoration game for any length of time, you undoubtedly take a lot of pride in the quality of your work. You also like to think that your customers are fairly objective when it comes to evaluating the quality of your work. However, this is not always the case. The fact is that customers are far more likely to evaluate your services positively when you and your team have a good relationship with them. Over 32 years in business I have seen this principle verified time and time again. One of my more memorable experiences was with an employee named Don.

Back when my company was providing janitorial services we tried to leave nothing to chance. We had supervisors who would go into a facility after our staff had cleaned. Their job was to inspect the employees work and correct anything that they had missed. Most of our people worked the evening shift after 5 p.m. They finished up by 8 p.m., so we had plenty of time to check and correct their work.

Don was the one exception. He was a retired milkman who had spent 40 years getting up at 3:30 a.m. He preferred this very early in the morning time slot. He was gregarious and friendly and folks liked him. Don was well into his 70’s and “reliability” was his middle name. He rarely missed work. If he did need a day off, he would let us know six months ahead of time. Since Don started at 4 a.m. and finished up at 8 a.m., we never had the opportunity to check his work. On those rare occasions when Don was absent, it was usually me or my partner that covered for him. Whenever we did sub for Don, two things happened: First, the clients that were early risers at his buildings would always express their concerns. “Where’s Don?” “Is he O.K.?” they would ask. This was often followed with, “He does a great job!” You can probably guess the second thing that happened. We discovered that Don’s work was actually not so good.  In fact, the terms “fair” and “poor” would have been high marks for him. In spite of the fact that his work was below our standards, it was good enough for our clients because they liked Don.

Don’t get me wrong, quality is absolutely vital, but developing and maintaining positive relationships with your clients is even more important. Keep the lines of communication open with your customers, hire friendly people and maintain an atmosphere of friendliness and positivity in your company. If you do these simple things, it will eliminate at least 50% of your management headaches and generate a return on investment that can’t be measured in dollars and cents.