To Our Customers: We Miss You!
The Balancing Act: Client Need and Safety
The fourth and final indicator we are weighing on our decision to reopen is client need. One of the core dilemmas faced by small business owners who have had to close, myself included, is how to act in the best interest of safety while keeping customers and staff engaged. The fear is that some customers will move on to another service provider who has chosen to remain open despite the very real safety risks.
Finding the Time
Each customer’s situation is different. Some customers are physically unable to perform household cleaning tasks themselves. Most are busy home schooling and caring for children while simultaneously attempting to work full time. This alone is a herculean (and let’s face it, basically impossible) task. So, even if you are physically capable, who has the time to clean in these circumstances?
Homes Getting Dirtier
On top of the lack of time bandwidth, we are working, playing and eating in our home nearly 100% of the time now. In our business we talk about how “well-used” a particular home may be. Let’s put it in a scale of 1-10:
A “1” is a home occupied by a single working professional, no pets, who travels a lot for work. When they are home, they are away at their office 40+ hours per week. They tend to eat a lot of takeout because they are too busy to cook (which makes the kitchen a lot easier to clean!).
A “10” would be a family of 5 with two dogs and an indoor cat. One parent is home full time with the two children that are under 5, and the school-aged child loves to have friends over to visit. The family is creative and highly social. They love to cook – the whole family gets involved! Many of us would be familiar with this home from growing up – the center of the neighborhood. Kids and parents dropping in regularly. The customers try to have a “no shoes” policy but the hum-drum of activity and little ones coming and going make this hard to enforce.
Now, though, everyone is home all the time, and most likely cooking a lot more than they normally would be. In fact, everyone is doing everything in their home a lot more than they normally would be. So a “1” becomes more like a “5,” and a “10” becomes more like a “12.”
The point is this: during the lockdown, homes are getting dirtier than ever! We know this. And it’s killing us to not be out there, helping.
It’s Not All Houses
Another category of client we serve are apartment and condominium communities. We serve dozens of property management groups and associations who count on us to keep their common areas sparkling. Because regular maintenance cleaning is so important in slowing the spread of the virus, they need us now more than ever. And as anyone who has ever had to divvy up cleaning responsibilities with a roommate or partner can tell you, “we’ll do it ourselves” doesn’t tend to work so well.
I am particularly worried about our relationships with these customers. We have been communicating with them regularly and they have been very understanding but there is only so long they can wait.
It’s taken 13 years to build our customer base. We have such incredibly loyal, appreciative and, it turns out, generous customers. Their needs must be, and are, central in our decision-making. Remember that one of our three goals through this crisis is to ensure the long-term financial continuity of the business. To do that we need customers.
We are seeing progress on the other three indicators – including an ever-increasing consensus on best practices to control risk and keep staff and customers safe.
So, to our customers: we hear you. We miss you. And we are doing everything we can to get back to helping you and your family keep a healthy, safe and clean home.