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Avoiding a cleaning claim – complacency can be costly

avoiding a cleaning claim is possible through non-complacency

Avoiding a cleaning claim – or any claim as a matter of fact – may not be as easy as you think. Anyone who has been in business for a decent stretch of time knows that the supposedly simple jobs can sometimes cause the most grief.

And sometimes, it’s unintentional complacency that causes the problem.

One of our Rapid Solutions clients found this to be the case after they conducted a basic domestic cleaning job at a residential property in Queensland.

Although cleaning is their primary business activity – or perhaps because it was – they neglected to carry out the correct procedures both before the job and throughout it.

With close to half our clients conducting cleaning as a business activity at some point throughout each year, we thought their story involved some share-worthy lessons. It will assist in just to avoiding a cleaning claim, but to avoiding all manner of business activity related professional indemnity and general liability insurance claims.

The situation

Let’s set the scene… A customer calls the cleaning business and requests a general interior domestic clean of an entire internal space – carpet, walls and so on. Aside from surfaces needing a good scrub and wipe, there are pre-existing carpet stains that the customer really wants gone.

Mistake no. 1

During the conversation, our client effectively guaranteed they could remove the carpet stains and return them to as-new condition, despite not having inspected the carpet and site prior. Although they didn’t agree to this in writing, a verbal agreement was made. Our client attended the property and thoroughly cleaned it, however the stains could not be removed to the point where they were no longer noticeable.

Unfortunately, our client set an expectation they were unable to deliver on. When avoiding a cleaning claim – and when avoiding customer complaints in general – it is important to always recognise a job’s potential limitations and do so in writing.

Mistake no. 2

When spraying the walls of the property’s study during the cleaning job our client neglected to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for chemical application. As the over-sprayed solution seeped in, it caused significant damage to the plasterboard wall linings.

By not checking the product label our client risked performing an incorrect application. That is why it is important to always check chemical labels before a job, every time. Even if you are familiar with a product and how it should be applied, labels do change from time to time. And even if they have not, refreshing your memory can prevent mistakes.

The resolution

Our client called us to say the customer was very disappointed and seeking compensation for the wall damage as well as the under-delivery on the carpet cleaning promise. They had already visited the property a second time to try to remove the stains further but were unable to. This inferred they accepted liability.

Some business owners may not realise this, but not every successful insurance claim ends in a financial payout. In this instance, Rapid Solutions quickly set about working with our client and their customer to mitigate financial loss. How? By agreeing to a reasonable outcome that satisfied both parties.

Instead of replacing the carpets and wall linings, we organised the cleaners to re-treat the carpets (free of charge) with different products that provided better results. For the wall linings, a mutually suitable settlement was for our client to paint the affected areas only – and avoid paying the policy excess.

The lessons

Our active facilitation helped bridge the divide between client and customer, and everyone exited the situation feeling satisfied.

Plus, our client learned some big lessons that will serve them well in future:

  1. Set realistic expectations upfront via careful communication. Be sure of what you may and may not be able to achieve for your customers. Then be open with them about it. Visiting the location before providing a quote will assist with this
  2. Always record all limitations in writing and send prior to the job. Document any potential limitations within the job paperwork before conducting the work. Then, ensure the customer sees this and understands what it means
  3. While undertaking a job, check, check and check again. Avoid complacency by making it a habit to read the labels on all chemicals, every time. The same applies with stopping to think about the appropriateness of your equipment. The manufacturer’s guidelines around volume of product and application method should be your job bible.

Knowing your role back to front does not mean mistakes will never be made. Always keep in mind that low-risk business activities still involve risk.

So, resist becoming overly confident and ensure your business is properly insured. That way we can help you if you run into trouble.

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