Written by: Rosalynn Robb, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
My mom often would say, “Communication is the key to your marriage.” In so many ways,
that is true in your business as well.
Over the past seven years, I have learned five key principles that help make communication
with clients smoother.
1. Listen with empathy and a heart to understand.
When a client is upset, we can respond with defensiveness, but that rarely resolves the situation. It is better to deescalate the situation by intentionally listening with empathy. Amid their frustration, can you hear what fears they have?
Is it a lack of trust in your service? If so, how?
Is it a fear of wasting hard-earned money on your service?
Is it a fear you don’t care and only are out to make big bucks?
2. Establish concrete expectations and boundaries.
Who likes the word “boundaries”? No one does. As kids, we believe they are a kill-joy to what we want and cannot have.
It’s vital in a service-based industry to have boundaries about which services your company offers and which services are not included. A frequent mistake I see when businesses are starting out is that they try to be all things to all people in hopes they can pick up more business or make clients happier. It’s the reverse that ensures client satisfaction. They know what you are offering, your specialty, and believe you will not waste your time doing something outside your niche. Remember, every time you say yes to provide your service to someone, you’re saying no to someone else.
I remember one home my first year of cleaning where the client asked if we would fold laundry. “Sure, why not? I enjoy folding laundry.” So I said yes, only to realize I would not include laundry in the services moving forward. The client had left six loads of laundry, and two loads were still wet and needed to be dried. We had already finished cleaning her home and had to wait over an extra hour and a half.
Being upfront with a client at the home estimate by using an agreement form helps prospective clients have a better idea if they want to do business with you or if another service is a better fit for them. Included in the agreement form needs to be the clients’ responsibilities. Kindly expressing what you expect from your clients will also help make sure your frustration doesn’t sour the relationship. After multiple times being locked out of clients’ homes, I established a $100 lock-out fee.
3. Communicate in a way that your tone and meaning can be read.
In this fast-paced world, we often place speed over quality. We prefer texting and emailing over taking the time to meet by phone or in person. Writing can often be taken the wrong way because a client cannot hear your tone or see your body language. When a client is concerned, I make it a habit to resolve it either by phone or in-person rather than by email or texting! You can listen better and ask questions when vocally communicating.
Tip: After your phone call or in-person meeting, I would suggest you follow up by email with a brief overview of the conversation and the solutions you offered, so you both have a reference. Similarly, if you have to leave a voicemail, I would still send an email reaching out in case a voicemail gets missed.
4. Speak with confidence but with underlying humility.
Be firm but gentle when you need to address an issue. Be confident that you are not surprising your client (this is why a client agreement is so important!)
Sometimes you and your client may not be able to come to a manageable solution for you and satisfying to a client. It is okay to let go of a client, but be kind about it and be careful what you say because you never want to burn bridges completely. I have had clients come back after trying multiple companies who now agree our expectations were not too high in pricing because of the quality of work we produce and the incredible team we have behind it.
5. Relay information rather than remain silent.
If your client seems to be confused about something, it’s better to speak up rather than remain silent. A lack of clarity can increase frustration on both sides. It is essential to make any concerns known and allow your client to share their side perspective.
One area that can become confusing to a client is when your price of services is based on a flat fee rather than an hourly rate. There were times that I put three cleaners on a home, which caused them to finish more quickly than a team of two would have finished. A client might be concerned about why they’re paying the same amount for a two-hour cleaning as they would for a three-hour cleaning. Explaining that the extra person helped them cut down the time needed to clean the same amount could reduce confusion.
Communication takes a lot of work! Yet, the buildup of confusion and dissatisfaction can permeate the experience your clients have with your services. A game plan of having continual communication can ensure you are offering quality service and building the ongoing trust you ultimately desire to gain with your business.
Rosalynn Robb, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Rosalynn Robb is a passionate small business cleaning owner and consultant with the sole aim of helping others. Rosalynn caught a vision after engaging in several Louisville Human Trafficking Task Force meetings. She decided to create a business that would elevate domestic work and advocate for human trafficking victims while giving back to organizations helping the most vulnerable.
She believes to whom much has been given, much is expected. She has never forgotten her humble beginnings as an orphan in the Philippines, and how her forever family brought her home to Rhode Island at three and a half years of age. Rosalynn believes what touches the heart reaches the heart, and the best way to build a business is to be authentic and focus on relationships over money.
Rosalynn created CleanStart Consulting to help other small cleaning business owners worldwide become organically organized with practical tools and authentic understanding. In 2021, Rosalynn plans to launch the S.H.E Foundation (Seen. Heard. Embraced.). The foundation will provide mentoring and financial support to empower human trafficking survivors. S.H.E. grants will support women seeking a CleanStart with the counsel and tools they need to help launch their own successful businesses. Rosalynn married Andrew in 2018 and they have lived in Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas while serving in the United States Air Force.