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How to deal with accusations of theft, part 1

When dealing with the client, your employees, and the police, it's important to have a process ready.

If you are in this business long enough, eventually you will get a call from a client who says that something is missing from their home after you or your cleaners have been there. Knowing this call will come, it is important that you have a process ready. Over the next few weeks, I am going to share our process to help you navigate this always difficult part of our business.  

First, always thank the client for calling you. You are honestly grateful. Even if it turns out that your people did not take the item, this gives you a chance to clear things up and to not leave them wondering. If you do have a thief on your payroll, you will also want to know. Despite what you may think, most clients do not want to make an accusation. It takes a lot of guts to call a company and accuse an employee of stealing. It is far easier for the client to never say a word and either cancel service or tell their friends that you have thieves working for you. So you need to genuinely thank them, even if you are sure they are mistaken.  

Second, explain your process to the client. We lay out up front how we are going to handle the incident. This proves we are professional. As we begin to ask questions the client is less likely to get defensive. Often our first tendency is to jump right in and start getting the details. However, if you have not thanked the client for calling and explained your process, it can sound like you are getting defensive. Avoid diving into the details until you are 100% sure the client understands that you are taking the situation seriously. Below is a version of what we would say. We normally check several times in the conversation to make sure they understand, but this is the general concept.

"Thank you so much for calling us and letting us know. We really appreciate you giving us the opportunity to get to the bottom of this. Let me explain how we are going to handle this. First, I am going to ask you some details about where them item was the last time you saw it. The reason I am asking is I am going to talk to the cleaners that were there to see if they saw it or moved it. We find in the vast majority of these cases that our employees remember where the item was and they may have even moved it while cleaning. I will call you back as soon as I have talked to them. If they do not have any idea, then we ask that you file a police report. This is very important because the police are trained investigators and not us. It also enables us to legally have our employees take a lie detector test. Do not worry about offending the employees. They all know when they start working with us that this is our process and they will want to take the test in order to clear their names. Does this all make sense to you?"

For part two of this article click http://cleaningbusinesstoday.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-accusations-of-theft-part-2.

None of this is fun but if it is handled correctly it can go smoothly. Even if your employees did take the item, your client will be left with the feeling that you are not at fault and that you run a very professional company. We will write on this topic two more times in the coming month. In the meantime, we have a FREE document that you can download that may help you be prepared. Just click the button below and fill out a short form. Then watch for an email from Cleaning Business Builders with a link to the download.

This is just one example of why it is helpful to learn from those that have been there before which is why we created the Foundations of Success program.​ Our new Foundations Fast Track series compresses our comprehensive six-month business coaching program into a self-paced downloadable form.


Derek Christian has been involved in the cleaning industry for more than 20 years and is an owner or investor in several cleaning companies.  Derek founded My Maid Service which was later merged into Blue Skies Services and now he works with Castle Keepers in various marketing and sales Capacities.
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