How and When to Say No to Hoarding Jobs

How can I drop a hoarding client? This is a tough one, but we’re going to talk
about this today. Hi there I’m Angela Brown and this is Ask
a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house
cleaning question and I get to help you find an answer. Now, today is a super exciting topic for me
because we’re going to talk about some of the nuances of the cleaning business. One of the nuances that I want to hit you
with first is you’ve got to streamline all of your operations so that you can save your
time and energy for the bigger projects like the hoarding. All right. In order to do that, go to
where there is a piece of software, it’s the number one service software for service professionals
and if you have a business, you probably have lots of details, especially if you have a
hoarding client who has lots of things going on and you want to keep all of those details
straight. You do that right inside the app that you
carry with you on your phone. Before you go into every house you check your
app and you make sure that all the details match up. You know all the names of all the people that
live at the house, the names of the pets, all this stuff that you’re expected to do. Any upsells that you’ve promised, it’s all
right there. Then at the end of the job, when you go to
send the invoice to the client before they approve it, all you’ll have to do is make
sure that everything that you promised is right there on the invoice and it’s all in
the same app. It’s super easy and it streamlines all of
your paperwork. So check it out at and there’s a special discount for me and
my friends. Hey, you’re one of my friends if you’re watching
this show. So All right, onto today’s show. We had a housecleaning professional that called
into the show and she asks this question. Speaker 2: I have started a cleaning business
now. Been five months. I have a client that I want to drop. Her house is disgusting. She is a hoarder. Do not appreciate going there. I go to her house once a week and never find
any improvement. How do I drop the client and what can I say
to do it? All right, how do you drop a hoarding client? This is a really sensitive subject for the
fact that the hoarding client who called you probably went way out of their comfort zone
to get a house cleaner to come to their house. People that are hoarders are ashamed. They know they live in a messy house. They’re afraid that people are going to judge
them and make fun of them and what have you. But it sounds like from the word choices that
you used, that there’s already a discrepancy between how they’re feeling and how you’re
feeling. You used the word disgusting and unappreciative,
and so if that is the filter you’re coming in with to this job, that’s probably being
felt by the customer, which only eggs them on to be more disgusting and more unappreciative. So, there’s probably a frustration or attention
that’s happening between the two and I do recommend that you move on from this particular job. All right, let me back up just a step. You said you’re five months into your business
and if that is the case, I recommend that you not take on any hoarding clients until
you’re about three years into your business. There’s a whole lot to navigate with starting
a new business, and scaling your business, and growing your business, and also growing
the compassionate skills that come along with dealing with a hoarding customer because when
we have hoarding customers, it’s not just a matter of going in and cleaning, but what
you’re doing is you’re going in and you’re approaching all of these things that have
hidden meanings to them. Now, they may not be aware of the meanings
to them. For example, in my family growing up, we saved
butter containers. They were these little plastic containers
that the butter would come in and then when we were done, even though it said butter on
the side, it was a nice little container that had a snap-on lid and you could put things
like crayons, or chalk, or buttons or things in there. So we saved all the butter containers so that
we could reuse them at a later date. But as I got older and I moved away from home,
I did not have the arts and crafts that you have in a home with 19 children, but there
I was, a part of my upbringing said I must save butter containers. So as I grew into adulthood and I was out
on my own with no arts and crafts, I had lots of butter containers that I was saving and
storing because they were good containers with snap-on lids. I came to the realization I didn’t need them. I needed to get rid of them. This was a behavior from my youth that I know
no longer need. And so people save things for reasons they
may be completely unaware of. So you have a hoarder here and you said it’s
disgusting because maybe some of the things are not put away and so they pile up on top
of each other and if you have butter containers all over your house, I’m just using this as
an example, along with clothes, and shoes, and other things, suddenly the house looks
really cluttered and really messy. If you don’t even know why you’re saving some
of the stuff, it gets out of control. So, the customer may have very good reasons
in their minds why they have the things they do, but if you’re coming in and you’re only
five months into your business, all you’re seeing is clutter and overwhelm. So you’re not seeing, here’s a person that
has a lifetime of beliefs that is stored inside their stuff and that takes a very compassionate,
very understanding person that maybe has even had some psychology training. If you’re just new to the business, you’re
focusing on your business and time efficiency and all those things and hoarding is not the
right job for you. You might have overbid on this one. No-fault to anyone because this is how we
learn, but my suggestion would be what do you say? Go to the customer and just say, “Hey, listen,
I really appreciate that you provided for my family because the money that you paid
me provided for my family and I’ve learned a lot by working from you.” Don’t lie. Don’t say that you’ve enjoyed them as a customer
and all these things if you didn’t. Just say, “Hey, my business is going in a
different direction and I’m no longer going to be able to service your account.” Let it be the account. Don’t say I can’t clean your home because
now it’s an attack to them. So you want to keep it very generic and very
third party. “My company is not going to be able to service
your account.” That’s it it’s your company. It’s their account and so it’s kind of a distance
between you two and it doesn’t attack either one of you. Now, if you’re not good at confrontation and
you don’t want to have a direct approach, you don’t even have to go into the reasons
why about that you’re new in your business and you overbid and all these things. You don’t need to explain any of that. Just say, “Hey, we’re moving in a different
direction. We’re not going to be able to take this particular
account and so I wish you well. Godspeed,” and then be out the door. I would end the relationship as soon as possible
because the sooner you end it, this frees them up to go find someone else. You don’t want to leave and like, “Well maybe
I’m busy and maybe I can come back.” You’re not coming back. So make it very crystal clear. This is the end of the relationship and that
frees them up then to go find someone else. Now this is a very hard conversation to have
and if you’re uncomfortable in any way, go stand in front of a mirror and practice. Even if you have to write it down in advance. Practice the words that you’re going to say
and practice it so that you can present it in a way that is compassionate and caring
and that you say exactly what you want to say. I have lots of house cleaners that I work
with and they are very caged in the words that they use and when they leave, people
are like, “I’m so confused. Is she coming back? Is she not coming back? Is she going on vacation? Is she going to take two weeks to renovate
her business and then she’s coming back to service my account? Like what’s happening?” They leave and the house cleaner thinks everything
is clear and then a customer calls them a week later and says, “When are you coming
back?” That creates even more angst,
and more animosity and more frustration. So I’m going to ask you, put on your big girl
pants. Go out and do this, but be very crystal clear
about what it is you’re offering. What it is you’re offering is that your business
is growing and you’re growing away from this client. You are not coming back. Okay. Do it, and just do it with the most kind and
sincere way that you possibly can and then from here on out, do not pick up anymore hoarding
clients until you are in a position where you can actually service them. It takes a very special kind of person to
do that. It is not for most house cleaners. All right. I hope that helps a little bit. If it does, please pass this onto a friend. If we’ve earned your subscription, please
subscribe and until we meet again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it.

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