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.
- Gore Vidal; The Last Adult has Left the Country. (baileyalexander.typepad.com)
- Sales Triage (alittletourinyellow.wordpress.com)