How can you tell if your difficult customers are worth keeping? If you decide it’s time to break up with a problematic customer, what’s the right way to do that? And, most importantly, is it true that customers are ALWAYS right?
In this episode of the Profit Cleaners podcast, the Brandons will discuss the differences between difficult but still “Raving Fan” customers and those customers that are just plain difficult. Learn how to uncover the benefit of overcoming challenges in your business so that you can make your business better (and make more money because of it).
This episode is packed with insights that will help you grow your business and better engage with all types of customers. Tune in and learn from the best!
- Understanding what makes a difficult but still “Raving Fan” customer
- Handling customers that need high-touch personal services
- Attending to the customer’s frustrations the right way
- When is the right time to fire a customer?
- Spotting the Red Flags: Types of customers to avoid at all costs
- How to break-up with problematic clients in order to protect your employees
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Episode 63: The Difference Between Good Difficult Customers and Problematic Difficult Customers
If we can get rid of customers that are causing 80% of your complaints and messing up your systems. Then you've just freed up so much more time for everyone, for your teams, for your staff. And they're going to be happier too, because that's the worst part of your day is having to deal with those people that are just negative, complaining and you can't make them happy. And that drains you.
Even from the cleaning team side complaints affect their bonus. And eventually if they're a serial complainer, the office will not count it against the team, but you go out, you try your best. And then the first three times you get a complaint back. They're not going to look forward to the next time they have to go clean that house. They're going to be anxious that we have to go out there and deal with this customer. Again, affects the cleaning team badly because they're trying and it's just not good enough. There's no benefit for that. As in, if you actually sit down and track these things and look at it will, all the complaints are coming from houses that are 5,000 square feet or above. Well, maybe that's not who we should be cleaning anymore. Tweak the system for that type of customer and not take that type of customer to make more efficient on everybody.
Grow your cleaning business, make more money, have more time. This is the Profit Cleaners podcast with your host Brandon Condrey and Brandon Schoen.
Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Profit Cleaners.
You are in the house and the place to be learning from the top 1% of cleaning business owners from around the world. So you can level up and win in this industry. So welcome to the show today, guys, thank you so much for your time. And being here, we're really excited to dive in. I have myself here, I'm the host,
Brandon Shane, and I've got my co-host joining me. I myself to introduce myself, Brandon Condrey that's me there, coho That's right. And together we are the Profit Cleaners and you guys are the Profit Cleaners. Cause you're coming on this journey with us. We are all going to be winning together and making a lot more money, having a lot more time,
really winning the game of success, health, wealth, love, and happiness, making more of a business. So you're not just having a job, also an amazing business that creates a lifestyle for you so you can be happy. And that's what we focus on. A lot of these episodes guys, and today we're going to be actually talking about how to tell the difference between a raving fan cheerleader customer versus a problem customer.
So an episode that might peak your interest, so stay tuned and we'll give you guys some valuable insight today. I guess Brandon, the best way to start this episode out would be let's tell them a story about one of our very first customers who is still to this day. One of our biggest raving fan cheerleaders, and it could have been a really bad scenario.
Do you think we should clarify raving fan? When you say that it makes me sound. They're just super excited that you're there all the time, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about, you've got a customer who complains a lot, who maybe is a little bit more needy than other customers. And you're trying to walk this fine line of,
okay, is this one worth saving? Do we go above and beyond customer service wise for this customer to turn them into the raving fan cheerleader? Or is it not worth the time? And we should cut them loose and fire a client. I remember never wanting to fire clients because we needed all that money. But at some point you got to reconcile.
You've got a niche you're trying to hit an ideal customer. You have an avatar you're shooting for don't stray from it. That's when you get into trouble. Yeah. I think that's a big temptation. Actually. It's a good point. A lot of times in the beginning or any business, you almost take whatever you can get. Right. And it's just like,
ah, these, anybody that wants to pay me money, anyone that has a pulse, I'll clean your house. Yeah. You want me to clean your gutters? I'll totally do it. I'll get on a ladder and do it. No, no, no, no, no. That's not what we do. Yeah. And you don't want to do that because you're actually diminishing your value when you just work for anyone and just do it for any price and yeah,
I'll do your gutters too. And I'll mow your lawn while I'm at it. You don't want to do that. Right? You want to focus on the niches, but also how do you differentiate these customers and how do you know which ones are good to go and what to keep and how do you know which ones you should kick them to the curb and do away with them and say no way,
I'm not going to touch that. I will tell you the story of our customer. So at this point she may be our oldest customer. She's been with us since the very first summer we were in business in 2017. So she's been with us for almost four and a half years. She's a high net worth individual, big fancy house, lots of fancy furniture in it.
Even from the beginning. I remember we had to bend the schedule for her right away. So she had big house, small guest house wants the big house cleaned every other week, once the guest house cleaned every month. So we had to get creative with doing that, but we made it work. Her other demands included. It's gotta be the same three people every single time.
And that is part of our brand promise. That's what our goal is anyway. But realistically, that's not achievable in perpetuity in perfection. So if it's going to be the same three people, one of them took a day off. So we have to send somebody else. I remember her getting upset about there was a different face there that she didn't know by name people,
get jobs and moves. She got upset about that. The very, very first instance I remember that was through a wrench and everything was, I had some amazing high net worth furniture in her house as well. And she wanted us in the very early days, do the special Polish, lemme special oil, Just any Polish. She was like, this is a $20,000 table from Africa.
And it has to have this special, weird oil. I was like, no politely. No thank you. I do not want to mess with your super expensive table. I will wipe it down and dust it with our stuff, but I'm not going to Polish your furniture. And that was when I think we started up that there's a local furniture repair company.
It's one guy he's great. And that was when we started a relationship with him to being like, look, if you really need this stuff, service, this is the guy he's the one to call. He does antique restaurant. And that's a great example too, of just delegate that stuff. Guys, don't try to get in your own way and try to do everything because you will run into problems.
If we tried to do that and had our teams do that, there's a good chance. We would have totally ruined her couch or chair or table, whatever it was, put the oil on the wrong way or left it on too long or whatever. If it's not in your wheelhouse and it's not in your systems, don't be taken on those extra jobs.
Cause that's going to be extra insurance claims and bad experience for customers that they're going to be happy to tell everyone about that. You don't want that as word of mouth. So I think we actually reached out to Corby our mentor in the early days. And we're like, Corby, what do we do with this? And he was like, don't touch it.
And I think we tried. And then we ended up outsourcing it right to the furniture guy Right away there. Wasn't going to work. So the point is she wants to speak to the owner. Sometimes the time in the beginning, it was just you and I. So it was very easy to get one of us on the phone to answer her questions and finesse the situation.
As we've gotten bigger, she's expecting this one-to-one personal service, which we don't do. I mean, that's not the company we set up, we didn't set up a house cleaning service with high touch, personal service. We set up a high throughput cleaning company that has these systems in place to make sure that everything goes very, very smoothly. And if it doesn't,
here's the mechanism by which you can tell us. So these are the things fill out this form and we'll get back to you or send us a text message and we'll get back to you. But she wasn't happy with that. She wanted instantaneous service, which is just unachievable. I mean, most recently she was wanting to get her parents' house cleaned and wanted an in-person estimate from one of us.
And you moved out of state and I don't do those anymore. And we don't do those as a company period, because everything changed with COVID and it worked out better for us to do them digitally. Anyway, it's just a huge time saver. So you had to have a conversation with her to explain things so you can tell people how that went and how you smooth that over.
Cause she was very upset that she could not get one of us on the phone. She was very upset. And I think a lot of times in customer service, this is what I have noticed is you just listened to people and hear them out. And the way I approached responding back to her was just taking full responsibility. We were like, Hey,
we're so sorry that you feel this way. We're so sorry that maybe your email are definitely what we want, the support inbox and it didn't get to us. So I apologize. I was like, yeah, we're growing. And actually, yeah, just what you said. I'm actually out of the state right now. Brandon's there, but he doesn't do estimates anymore.
So we'd love to help you. We have our sales guy, Matt, he can help you out. Just took responsibility for everything. I apologize. The couple of different times in there told her to here's the solution. Here's how, and I even told her I'll be back for Thanksgiving. I'll drive out and do the estimate for you. Then if we can't get it,
I'll do whatever we can, whatever I can do in my power. So I think that's all. And then her response back was, oh my gosh, my faith is restored in Sandia Green, Clean, thank you so much. And she actually was like, oh, I'll actually have Matt come out and do it, or do the zoom or whatever it was.
She ended up wanting to do it that way, which she was very much opposed to in the beginning. But I think it just goes back to if you guys just listen to your customers and this was the same instance, I don't know this has happened multiple times, these scenarios with this customer. But I remember telling you in the very beginning, Brandon,
when this first happened, you can either just let them go. And if they have a bad experience, these are the type of people that will go on and they'll have a megaphone attached to their mouth and they'll tell everyone their experience, whether it was good or bad, take this experience and turn it around for her. She'll actually become a megaphone and tell everyone how great we did and how we saved the day for her and how we did it.
Right? And every single time. And even to this day, Multiple customers over the years that are also still with us. This one customer that we're probably into $25,000 of revenue with one person has referred us. Other customers that are multiple thousands of dollars in revenue over the years as well. When you were giving me pep talk. When that came up the first time,
look, this is what we should do with this. We'll turn them into a big cheerleader. And I was super skeptical. I think part of that stems from I'm non-confrontational, if someone's going to put up an argument, I don't want to argue with you. So the easy way to do it is to just be like, all right, well, peace out.
We're not a good fit. That's the cut and run strategy, which is easy to execute, but it's going to hurt you in the long run, because like you said, that person would get upset and then go tell everybody that they canceled me or whatever. They wouldn't do this one easy request, yada yada yada. And you can defend it as much as you want,
but it's better to do the hard thing we've said this phrase before, but swallow the frog, do the thing that makes you the most uncomfortable. And then the rest of the day, it will be much better because you got the hard thing out of the way. So if the hard thing is taking that customer service call that you're dreading get out of the way,
call them up. Look, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that happened. Let me explain to you why or here's what we can do instead of what you're asking. And she's acquiesced every single time and been really good about it. You can't turn those things around. It's totally possible. It's just uncomfortable for some people to do, but it's a rewarding experience for the business.
Yeah. And literally you guys, it's picking up the phone and send it back a text, email pick. If you can't pick up the phone, obviously that's the best and easiest usually. But in this case, she had sent a big, long email. Didn't get through to us. Then she sent us a big long text message. And then I found the email and Senator reply back and I was ready to call her.
But that's all it took those little things. I think in her case, she really just wants to be heard. She just wants to know that for some people, especially her, she was on the ground floor when we launched the business. So she wants to feel like I can still call the business owners. There's still this level of service, which there is,
we can still definitely respond to her and call her. But I just said the best way to do it is not that way anymore. It's it's this way. Really? If you can just tell people, Hey, it sounds like you're frustrated. I hear you. Can you tell me why you're frustrated and just listen to people and, and provide that service.
And sometimes that's all people need. I think a lot of times with this specific customer it's she wants to be heard. She can talk to the owner once in a while, which is fine. I'm happy to do that. Especially with the fact that she is very connected and Albuquerque and the local market and goes fitness classes all the time and just, she's the kind of woman that talks a lot.
And so she's going to be the one that if we didn't do it right, she's going to be the one that's going to definitely say, Hey, don't use this company. They didn't make it right for me. She's going to tell everyone. And if you do make it right, granted, you don't want to do this for every customer, but she's the kind of customer that,
yeah, she's a little more high maintenance, but it's worth it because she's really not asking us to go above and beyond. If we do with the couch scenario where like, Hey, we just don't do that. And she appreciated that, that we were upfront with her. There's probably been other scenarios like that. The same people couldn't come today. We're so sorry.
Here's why this Tell him why the customers in general, you don't want to talk at them. You can tell them click. I heard your request, but we can't do it. Here's why it's not just that I don't like you and we can't do it. And I'm making up an excuse on the front. This is a corporate policy. There's a reason behind it.
I want to hear all the latest news from Profit Cleaners. First, want to make sure you don't miss out on our next courses and some amazing discounts. We'll be sure to follow at Profit Cleaners on Instagram and sign up for emails on Profit Cleaners dot com. In the beginning, we were so small. So she's got our personal contact info. She has my mobile number,
your mobile number, and both of our email addresses. We're trying to switch things up to, this is how you handle scheduling by going through the support inbox. She just never got on board with that. Or the issue for her is that she'll email you. And I directly it'd be like, Hey, next Saturday, can I do it at this time?
And all I do is forward that to support inbox. I don't reply to those. And so the office will go back to them. And I think maybe she was getting annoyed by that, but I'm trying to train her that this is going to the CEO of, I don't know, a construction company and being my door doesn't work. Can you come fix it?
There's an appropriate channel. That's actually going to get you help faster. So that's a cautionary tale to everyone. Who's brand new. Be wary of giving out your email and your phone number to handle things with customers. You really want that to go through some corporate setup that you can scale over time, a generic inbox and a phone number for the business.
So that's the scenario where you have a customer that needing a little bit more attention than your average ideal customer, but they end up paying dividends by giving you other people and giving a good reviews and things like that. The flip side of that, that's the title of the podcast episode is when do you have to fire a client? So there's a couple of key differences between the scenario we just described and the ones where you're going to get rid of them.
So I think some of the red flags for one that is just not a good fit at all, are they're going to cancel every time reschedule every time they're not okay with your scheduling windows. So they just keep skipping on you. That's lost revenue. They complain every time every single clean we come out, you paid us to come out there and we did it.
And you're going to call me up and take time out of your day to tell me that we didn't dust a corner of the kitchen counter and that you expect more out of us. Is it really that big of a deal? I get that. We're trying to cover the whole house, but the perfect clean is impossible. And we try to educate the customers on that too.
Like if you go hunting, you'll, you'll find something missed every time. But what benefit did you get out of it by calling us up to complain? If there's a pattern. I mean, our go-to when, when someone complains like that is like, Hey, well you got someone out there to fix it right away. So we're sending three people to redo a room or a kitchen or something.
That's the luxury customer service side of things that we tell people. But that's also wasted revenue and opportunity costs by having a team go do it. And if that's happening every single time, then you're losing money on every single job. Right. He just brought up another story. I was thinking of in my head, which was Corby our mentor up in Denver.
He would always tell us the story of one of their clients that did this exact same thing. They complained every single clean to the point where he was just like, Hey, we got to part ways it's not working out. Right. And then that same client a month, or I don't know how much longer maybe they tried some other cleaning companies, but they came back and they were like,
please let us come back. I remember Corby His office staff told them, look, we'll bring you back on, we'll put you back on the schedule, but you complain. We know your track record that you want to complain every single time. And he said, it's worked out great. And that, that customer gets cleaned every two weeks says nothing great.
I'm really happy. And that's also a good point if you're hitting the customer service marks and doing the cleaning systems correctly. Sure, man, don't quit. Don't take it personally. They'll go find a couple of other cleaning companies to mess around with. I found someone cheaper. I'm going to go there. Great. Do that. And then you'll find out their customer service is terrible.
They are canceling on you. They're going to miss the windows completely. Cause they'll just tell you no, and then you'll end up back with us anyway. So we've got growing pains. We're working out systems all the time, trying to tweak things and make it better. But if a customer is going to quit because we're not meeting some crazy high ideal,
that's on them, there'll be back eventually. Yeah. And I think what's really interesting is we actually had Claudia and the office team started doing this. They just do it on their own, but they have an idea, the front lines of the customer service. So every day they're hearing these requests come in or complaints. And so they already have an idea of who the problem customers are.
And when you look at it, it's really interesting. Cause it's literally, we have thousands of customers, but there's probably 10 of them are a small number of them that are really loud and complain all the time. And these are the ones we are actually going through. And so if you can get rid of the customers that are causing 80% of your complaints and messing up your systems,
then you've just freed up so much more time for everyone, for your teams, for your staff. And they're going to be happier too, because that's the worst part of your day is having to deal with those people that are just negative and complaining and you can't make them happy. I mean, that drains you, right? Even from the Cleaning team side,
the complaints affect their bonus. And eventually if they're a serial complainer, the office will not count it against the team, but you go out, you try your best. And then the first three times you get a complaint back every single time, they're not going to look forward to the next time they have to go clean that house. They're going to be anxious that we have to go out there and deal with this customer again.
So it's just always and pill for everybody. It affects the office staff badly. It affects the cleaning team badly because they're trying and it's just not good enough. And there's no benefit for that. So that 20, 80 principle, I think does play into it quite a bit where a bulk of your problems are going to come from a small subset of customers.
And if you actually sit down and track these things and look at it, all right, well, all the complaints are coming from houses that are 5,000 square feet or above. Well, maybe that's not who we should be cleaning anymore. So I mean, you'll get complaints from all over the place, but the question is, is there a pattern that you can figure out and can you tweak the system for that type of customer and not take that type of customer to make it easier on everybody,
more efficient on everybody? And maybe we can just tell people you were rattling off a few brand and be like, what are some other red flags? We don't even touch that. Or once they started doing that, we put them on a list. Yeah. The scheduling thing and the complaint thing. We'll give him a little bit of leeway there. I mean,
life happens. Maybe you had a bad day, but if that's a constant thing, then we're going to cut you loose for the complaining. There are some other serious red flags that are moral safety issues for the teams. And we've run into a few of them. They completely lied about the condition of the home. Maybe they didn't get on the zoom call like they were supposed to,
we showed up and it was crazy hoarding situation. Or we've had issues with pest control where there was mouse droppings in the house. After someone had moved out. That's an issue down here with Hanta virus, it's transmitted through drive mouse, droppings. And so that's a problem. We've had safety issues related to weapons being left out. I remember one customer that was pretty hardcore about that.
And then there was a drug paraphernalia, one I'm talking about needles, not pot pipes. These were hardcore things. And then we've had drunk customers say lewd things to the employees related to their bodies and sexual harassment type stuff. And all of those things, you do not want your employees to be scared when they come into work, they want to know that you're taking care of them when you send them into these houses.
So as soon as that thing happens, you just pull the plug. I remember the one that happened with the gun that one time. So they left the house, we backed them up, told them we were done. We're not coming out there again. And the lady tried to spin it from her standpoint. That's great, but you're able to frame it,
but that's not what our employees heard. Our employees heard a threat of physical violence. So, Sorry. Yeah. Anything that would endanger their lives, their happiness on the job. We really tried to create an environment and a structure for them. When as soon as they show up to the office, they leave all their problems at home in this workplace where they can be happy,
feel comfortable, have a great day. And yeah, if there's anything like that, definitely you don't want to open up that can of worms or even have that a possibility because just bad for your brand's reputation, it's bad for whatever else could happen. Harassment, charges and other things. So yeah, just stay away from people like that. Obviously. Plus if the employee,
These are upset, that type of feeling is going to spread through the workforce that you have employed right now. And that's going to get out to people that aren't employed by you so that when you're hiring someone is going to remember like, oh, Hey, didn't, so-and-so worked for that company. And they sent them into some hoarding house and they got poked by a needle or something and they didn't do anything about it.
People talk and you want to be known as the good employer. And even though we've had our struggles, just like everyone else has with the labor shortage related to the pandemic. I still think that we're in a much better situation than other businesses that I know. And it's because we still have that reputation of treating people well, and you got to keep that up.
And part of that is scrapping clients that are problematic, the old 1950s saying that the customer is always right. No. I mean, sometimes you want to try and have your best foot forward on customer service. You want a customer centric business where you can give people what they want and create a product that they want, but you don't want to bend over backwards.
When they're acting out of line, you have to have a point where you call it and that's the customer was definitely wrong in that situation. So you need to recognize that and you need to realize that from an organizational standpoint, it's better to get rid of them to keep everything. Yeah. And I think that brings up a good point of people always want what they can't have or straight up like,
Hey, this is what we do. When we have a problem customer like that, we have a script, an email that we write up and say, Hey, it's not working out. We're going to have to part ways is basically what it says in so many words. And it's real polite and real nice. We don't point fingers at anyone and say,
you did this and you're horrible. And we have to leave. And w what's interesting. We were just having our meeting this week and Matt was asking Claudia like how many of those people actually come back? And Claudia was like, a lot of people come back because they do exactly what you said, Brandon, they'll go. And I'm going to try this cheaper company or this other one over here that seemed to have it more together.
And a lot of them don't a lot of them skip on them. So they end up coming back kind of what their tail between their legs. And they're like, ah, I tried a few other companies and I need to come back to you guys. So if that does happen, like Corby, did you just got to make sure you're really upfront with them and say,
Hey, we had some issues last time we can't have all these complaints or whatever it is. And hopefully that solves the problem. People change their ways and realize there is no perfect clean. These are human beings. Nothing's going to be absolutely perfect. But hopefully it's just setting that expectation upfront. Also setting that expectation on the sales call upfront. Maybe you can even spot some of these red flags right away,
not hopping on the zoom call for the estimate or not showing up for their estimate. Something like that would definitely be a red flag. So I don't know if there's any other ones that you can think of Brandon. I think those are the most common ones you're going to run into. And beyond that, you just need to use your common sense. So if it feels out of place,
it feels wrong. If they tell you something like I have safe with half a million dollars worth of antiques or something, and I'd be like, well, I'm not comfortable with coming in there. You're telling me that you're worried about it. There are situations that we got to photograph high value things for insurance purposes or things like that. We can't file an insurance claim that says we broken original Picasso.
Unless we had documented that there was an original Picasso in the house when we started, those are just things to be aware of from a liability standpoint for yourself, for the company, for the employees. But yeah, I mean, hopefully that helps you guys out. As far as recognizing which customers you can convert to being very, very excited that they went above and beyond from a customer service experience and telling other people versus the ones that are going to take advantage of that system and try and get free stuff out of you.
So look for the red flag, Let's do your best. Yeah. It's like, well, we always talk about Brandon is finding the gift in the challenge or the struggle you got this challenging customer. Well, what's the gift. Can we find a way to turn it around so that they shout to the rooftops, our praises and our one of our best customers and bring in word of mouth leads,
which is the best marketing. And yet, is it worth turning that situation around? Maybe we can finagle and finesse that a little bit or do you just let them go and say, Hey, this is not going to work. We got to part ways. So that's the recap of that. So if you can turn around guys, those will be some of your best customers.
This customer we've been talking to you about has really brought in a lot of business. And it was all because we just want a little bit out of our way, listen to her, made sure she was heard. And to this day, years and years later, she's still a great customer. She still tells everyone about us. So that's what you really want.
That's the goal. And if you can turn those customers around, they will be some of your best raving fans, but otherwise, yeah, don't waste your time. Cut out the 20% that complain all the time and you'll guys, your whole business will be a lot more efficient. Everyone will be happier. I think that's pretty much it. You guys.
So take that run with it, keep it Clean and keep it clean. Thanks for joining us today to get more info, including show notes, updates, trainings, and super cool free stuff. Head over to Profit Cleaners dot com and remember, keep it clean.
Thanks for joining us today. To get more info, including show notes, updates, trainings, and super cool free stuff. Head over to Profitcleaners.com and remember keep it clean.
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