Tuesday was a rough day for the team. I feel compelled to post about it because we all felt the pain.

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When you work in the service industry, you gain a very high respect for the time of others, and you honor your commitments with other providers. When people flake on a scheduled appointment, even a minimum job means hundreds of dollars lost to the provider. And there is no way to recover from the lost revenue. 

  • It’s usually not possible to schedule another job during the time reserved for that customer.
  • The technician doesn’t make money for that time and often has to sit around for a few hours waiting for his next job.
  • The company has already paid to get that job on the books (cost of acquisition) and, in many cases, to send the technician out,

People are offended when you ask them for a minimal cancellation fee. The business loses but the customer doesn’t feel responsible. Of course we understand there are sometimes extenuating circumstances, and there is an expected cost of doing business that includes a few cancellations here and there – it is par for the course – but when the customers are unapologetic, it hurts all over. So you can imagine that two in one day is a doozie…

Customer #1 – The Discrimination

My senior technician arrived early for his first job. It was an all day job cleaning upholstery, which is hard work and a big job. The client was running an errand before her appointment and saw my technician parked at the end of the street smoking outside of his van. (I don’t approve of his smoking but he never smells like cigarettes and he never smokes near our office or inside of our trucks so it’s really none of my business.)

Well, this customer was so upset to see this that she called our office to cancel her appointment! She argued that if we are a green company and all natural, how can we send a technician in the house that smells like cigarettes. Mind you the technician had not yet been in her house. My manager didn’t even know how to respond. She told the customer that the technician who is waiting outside her home is our best technician but she offered to send another technician to complete the work. It was a long conversation trying to reason with this upset customer who was unfairly discriminating against our team member. Eventually she did let the technician into the home, but still reduced the work order by half, so he ended up going home early that day and the company didn’t meet the quota for that route.

Customer #2 – The last second Cancellation

This brings me to our second very frustrating experience of the day. A different technician was headed towards his second client and contacted the office to say that he was running about 20 minutes into the arrival window but he couldn’t reach the client. They did not respond to our voicemails text messages or emails, but he headed over anyway. The customer answered the door, and brusquely requested that we cancel the appointment because they were sick. Presented with our cancellation fee, he argued that it is impossible to give 48 hours notice if you are feeling unwell. The technician put the customer on the phone with our office and the client proceeded to berate her and refused to pay anything. This three hour spot was lost for that day, so the technician headed to his next job early, and then headed home for the day – again not meeting the quota for that route.

I don’t feel that any further explanation is needed here. Be respectful of others’ time. Be understanding and be humble. We are all just out there trying to make a difference and make a dollar.

Happy Cleaning.