A cleaning contractor told me his company maintained a five-story medical building in San Francisco, CA. To prepare him and his company for what was to come when starting the job, the management company that hired the contractor told him it had some problem tenants.
After the meeting, the daily calls and complaints began.
The manager of one of the medical office suites would call weekly, if not daily, about all types of service issues, and communicated these problems in such a way that even the hardiest among us would begin to perspire.
One evening the cleaning contractor went to inspect this manager’s office before his cleaning staff arrived. What he discovered was quite startling.
Even though this medical office was large and busy, the manager still took time before leaving work to use a hole puncher and place little pieces of paper on top of window ledges, restroom dispensers, on the corners of desks, behind toilets, on the carpet next to walls, and even on individual blinds covering the windows.
When the manager returned to work in the morning, the first thing she would do is look to see if the paper clippings were still where she had placed them, and if they were, it meant—at least to her—that the cleaning crew had not done its job. After finding any of the clippings on a surface, her next step would be a bright-and-early phone call to the cleaning contractor to discuss a handful of problems.
While most cleaning contractors have experienced or have a difficult customer or two, this one—I must admit—takes the cake. However, contractors should know that in most cases, even a customer like this can be turned into a flag waver—someone who really applauds your service—with a little time and care.
Before discussing how you can turn a problem client into a reference, here are a few reminders for cleaning contractors:
Many years ago, I was in charge of the cleaning and maintenance for the Walt Disney Co. in California. My job was to oversee several buildings on the lot, and sure enough, in one six-story building, there was one manager that knew of every trash can or dispenser missed by the cleaning crew the night before along with any other cleaning-related problems by the time she got to work the next day.
After hearing her complaints every day, these are the steps I decided to take:
During our meeting, a smile came over her face. Instead of viewing her as a complainer, I told her she was a teacher, and one that would help us improve the cleaning throughout the lot. She agreed to call whenever necessary; we did have regular meetings, and in time, she became our biggest flag waver, always raving about the high quality of our services.