Failed Sales Triage

I found Colette — we’ll call her Colette — on a bulletin board.  She was advertising house cleaning services.  I sell advertising, but I rarely call on random prospects like these anymore.  Small owner-operator businesses miss my sweet spot, unless there is some incentive pushing me along.  This time the incentive was a good once over at home.  I decided if she wasn’t buying, maybe I would be.

I dialed Colette and a bright, bubbly gal answered, apparently surprised that anyone would bother to answer her flyer.  I asked her a few simple questions about her business, unenthusiastically going through the motions, when she confided that she had no money.   Usually that’s a bad thing, but this time I saw an opportunity.

“You know, Colette, I need help at home — floors, kitchen, bathroom — and I’ll bet I could give you enough work to pay for a deposit.  Let’s talk about that.”

She was game.

So a week later Colette shows up with a couple buckets, a mop, and canvas bag of goodies.  All I can say is wherever Colette focused her efforts, she did a great job.  The floor looked fantastic, the tub gleamed, and for a while my stove looked like new.  All past tense, alas.  Almost a month later things need work again.

I suppose anyone who owns a house or rents an apartment can give you the advice I have, but I will give it to you anyway.  When you are in the midst of a drought and the winds kick up to 40 miles an hour, close the windows at home.  Yesterday I left  open every window that isn’t painted shut.  I have a dusty mess on my hands.  So I sent a note to Colette.

She replied that she decided to focus on her studies this fall and will not pursue a career cleaning houses at this time.

Well, shoot!  I guess the deal I struck for the one cleaning was a fair deal — maybe a little steep, but I didn’t tip her either — however I was counting on the sale and I really could use a little help getting this dust out of here.

Plus, even though I couldn’t get her to wear the little French maid outfit I had ready as a uniform, she was awfully cute.  Perhaps my choice to walk around bare-kneed in a velvet smoking jacket struck her as a bit odd, too, but for the most part I left her alone.

And it was fun having a cleaning gal.  I left a jar of change out along side a small pile of dollars — perhaps not very tempting — and they both went untouched.  I asked her to focus on floors and baseboards…and…well, ok…she was new to the business, but she pretty much did what I asked.  Table tops and other furniture went as unmolested as my jar of change.  She stuck to floors and baseboards.

I think I’ll give her a week or two, tell her I got a “uniform” with a longer skirt, and explain that I found the pants that coordinate with the smoking jacket.  She’ll be back.


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