By Barb Hoover
My neighbor has had a housekeeper for many years. She lives alone – no kids, no pets. She keeps her house very tidy, but needs a hand with dusting and doing the floors. She’s a great client. She has never once complained about a price increase, and the cleaning company has them regularly. She always cleans before the cleaning lady gets there. She is flexible if something comes up and the woman needs to reschedule and she gives her a VERY nice Christmas bonus every year.
Recently she was talking with a friend when the topic of housekeepers came up. The friend had just hired one to do a whole house cleaning before a visit from some out of town guests. She has a few kids and to be honest, her house is always a wreck. You can hardly walk through it because of the toys scattered everywhere. The bathroom? Well, let’s just say you couldn’t pay me enough to clean her bathroom.
The woman was extremely happy with the service, her house was spotless, but thought it was a little pricey – though they did spend over 6 hours scrubbing and cleaning. Curious, my neighbor asked how much she was charged for that amount of work. Her cleaning lady is there for less than an hour every 2 weeks and charges her $50. She couldn’t imagine the cost of a 6 hour job! Well she was shocked alright. The woman was only charged $200 for the work. My neighbor asked for the company name. Her older sister could really use some help around the house. It was getting harder and harder for her to do the deep cleaning. If they only charged $200 for over 6 hours of heavy duty cleaning, she may be able to afford them on her limited income.
Imagine her surprise to find out they used the same company and had the same cleaning lady do the work! Surprise soon changed to anger as she felt she was being totally taken advantage of by the company. She had been a regular client for years. She only had them do the dusting and mop the floors. She always had everything picked up before they got there. She never complained about the price, or when they didn’t get the spots off the mirror, always gave them a generous Christmas bonus and was being charged MORE, a lot more, than her friend whose house was a total wreck and only ever planned to use them once or twice a year for special occasions.
When she asked her cleaning lady about it, she had no real answer for her. She cancelled the service that very day and freely told her friends about the unfair business practices.
Now, let’s consider the same scenario that often happens in grooming salons. A new or infrequent client comes in with a matted dog. Of course they don’t want the dog done short. The groomer spends hours carefully brushing through the coat, using every trick they know to leave the coat long. They work several hours on the dog and charge $20 or $30 extra. The extra charges sound good until you look at the total bill vs. the hours worked. If your once every 6 week Shih Tzu groom is $40 and takes you about an hour, your client is paying about $40 an hour for your services. The larger, matted dog took you 3 hours and you charged $65. That’s under $22 an hour. Would YOUR very good, tipping, regular clients be happy knowing you are charging them almost double compared to what you charged their neighbor?