When Clients Let Us Become Partners Rather Than Just Suppliers

The best relationships are always formed on a basis of trust. Without trust there’s nothing.

Without trust there’s always a nagging feeling of suspicion and uncertainty and if you can’t rely on someone to back you up when and where you need it most – then it can cause unnecessary pressures and create a very stressful environment.

I often find it hard to believe that we only exist as a business because somewhere down the line people were let down and that dissatisfaction led them to go out into the market and seek out our services.

As a result, our entire client portfolio were all once clients of other cleaning companies.

That never fails to fascinate me because I’ve never felt that we’ve done anything that clients wouldn’t expect as a bare minimum from any supplier they work for. Things like:

  1. Turning up for meetings on time
  2. Replying to emails promptly
  3. Phoning and updating them when changes to the regular arrangements change

However, doing all these things right and doing them every single day appears to be what sets us apart. Every one of the cleaning companies we’ve won business from promised them all at one point but in the end none of them actually delivered.

Being present for the bad conversations as well as the good is always very important. If we’ve got something wrong like the recycling, or a holiday cover cleaner has missed some toilets – then these things need to be dealt with promptly and properly as it’s these perceived small details that can become huge monstrous problems when left to occur time and time again.

A client that feels like they’re being ignored ultimately leads them to feeling unwanted and that then triggers the desire to move on.

Thankfully that’s a problem we rarely encounter – but it has happened. And when it has it’s always been the same problem – the client didn’t see us as a partner.

You see when you work with a cleaning company as a trusted trading partner there’s always a collaboration to get things right. It may mean a change of start times to ensure cleaners are getting time and space to clean office areas that are otherwise too busy. It could be a change of the days that recycling needs to go out, or we may need to go in over a weekend to do deep cleaning of areas that aren’t part of the regular schedule. Whatever it is there’s a discussion, a plan created and executed to work around our availability and the clients need for the tasks to be completed.

On the contrary when you’re not seen as a trusted trading partner and are just seen, and treated, as the “hired hands” – then if anything has ever been perceived to have gone wrong – then everything would fall at our door. There’d be no opportunity to discuss what happened, why it happened and any other reasons how this could be avoided in the future. These clients aren’t interested – they just want the job done. They don’t care how or what it takes.

On the whole we don’t work with clients like that. They don’t suit our way of working and funnily enough we don’t seem to suit them either. This information normally presents itself at our initial meetings and when we present our proposals to them. They’re the folks that aren’t interested in regular reviews or having catch ups to discuss cleaning audit reports. In one case I was even told in a meeting that they didn’t care if we trained a monkey to do the job as long as it was done. Needless to say we didn’t win that job.

These days what we find most folks want is a reliable service they can trust and rely on. They’ll know it will work as expected 99/100 and they’ll know that in the single case something hasn’t been executed as expected that they can reach out to us and be assured that it’ll be sorted straight away. And it if it requires a little bit of help from them to help us get it sorted then that’s what it’ll get.

That’s a partnership.

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