Closeup of $100 dollar bills in a row

It takes guts to throw away $736, but that’s exactly what I did today, and it felt great. A long time customer–we’ll call him “Dave”–asked me to come out and clean the tile and grout in his kitchen, mud room, powder room and laundry room.

I’ve cleaned his carpet for years, but I never paid much attention to his tiled floors, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Tile cleaning jobs are usually free of surprises, though, so I was happy to schedule the job for him.

When I got to Dave’s house and examined the floor, I noticed that some of the tiled areas had been re-grouted. This isn’t unusual. People do this a lot to repair areas where the grout has crumbled apart or is so dirty they can’t get it to come clean. The problem is, it’s impossible to exactly match the new grout color to the old grout color. Essentially, when people do this, they end up with two different grout colors. I can clean the dirt up, but I can’t do anything to make two different colors of grout match.

In Dave’s case, he didn’t realize the previous owners had re-grouted some areas; He thought those areas were just a little bit dirty, and he was hoping to have the entire floor looking nice and uniform.

This creates a bit of a conundrum. It was very hard to tell the difference between areas that were simply dirty and areas that had actually been re-grouted. Because of this, I couldn’t tell Dave how his floor would look if we moved ahead with cleaning it. It would be a toss-up.

You should know, this is a large house with a ton of tiled flooring, and his bill would have been $736. As you can imagine, neither one of us wanted to take a $736 risk on a floor that might not look perfectly uniform after cleaning.

The only way to know how the job would turn out would be to clean a test spot, let it dry, and check the results. Now, some pro cleaners would be salivating over a $736 job, and I’m afraid many of them would push the customer to do a job like this despite not knowing if it would even work. I, however, refuse to let my customers waste money on something I’m not sure will meet their expectations.

So even though I drove all the way out to Dave’s house and had blocked off half a day to do this job, I told him we should just clean a small test area to see what it would look like after it dried. No charge, of course.

This really took the pressure off Dave. I could tell he was agonizing over whether or not to drop $736 on this job, and the relief on his face was visible when I suggested we test it first. Our little experiment would take all the guesswork out of the situation, and now we know how the job will turn out before Dave has to spend a wad of cash.

I lost out on $736 in revenue this morning, but it was totally worth it. The good will and trust built between Dave and I are hard things to come by these days–far more valuable than the money I would have made. It feels good to have taken the pressure off someone who was clearly worried.

If you have any carpet, tile, rug or upholstery cleaning needs, I’d love to take care of it for you. Please give me a call–I promise I’ll treat you right!