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Julia KrachtSep 29, 2022 5:14:10 AM4 min read

3 things I learned as a housekeeper & how they apply to your bids

3 things I learned as a housekeeper & how they apply to your bids

I didn't aspire to be a housekeeper. But it taught me some great lessons in life and turned out to be useful when working with proposals and bids.

I was a recent college graduate from America, out to see the world and test my grit on a working holiday in Australia. It was a blast. I was finally out of my parent's house and stepping out on my own for the first time! What I didn't expect was the absolute s**tstorm of 2020 with the outbreak of COVID-19.

I was determined not to go back home to Indiana with my tail between my legs. I was not willing to give up my first taste of the big wide world and my newly adopted home in Melbourne.

For me, my adult life was just beginning, and I couldn't give up on it now.

After losing my cushy secretary job with the corona frenzy, it was time to get down and dirty (literally). For backpackers, jobs were slim pickings. Lucky for me, I was able to secure a job as a cleaner. It wasn't ideal, but to me it was worth it to stay in this beautiful country.

I wouldn’t give up the experience for the world, because it was character building and taught me lessons that I’ll apply for the rest of my life. And maybe you’ll be able to apply them to some of your bids.

Lesson #1: Treat people with respect

business professionals shaking hands

I cleaned for multiple families regularly (seeing these people at least every other week), but I was only asked my name twice. This is something that can be pretty dehumanizing, especially to the person that’s stuck cleaning your toilets every Tuesday.

I’ve found the same things happen in most industries, the people doing the menial tasks aren’t always treated with the respect they deserve.

Imagine what could happen if we treated our proposal writers like the all-stars they are. They create magic out of very little, and win tenders supporting the business for years to come.

This is just one role that is underrecognised and underappreciated in the work-winning community.

The people who asked my name and got to know me were always the ones I went above and beyond for.

Small gestures make a bid difference.

Lesson #2: How to be efficient

It takes time to get good enough to be efficient at cleaning, like most jobs.

My boss scared me into efficiency by demanding to know why I haven't cleaned a 5 bed/ 4 bath house in two hours. Being the people pleaser I am, would apologise profusely and promise to scrub faster next time (LOL).

What eventually got me through these Mcmansions at a speedy pace was regular planning session with my friend and teammate Hannah. Every morning on our drive down the Esplanade, ($1 7/11 coffees in hand) we would go through our list of houses and come up with our game plan to work through each house.

We had a system for how to maximise what we could get done.

Creating a plan for executing your bid is essential not only for efficiency but quality as well. The time spent working out a plan was well worth it to avoid the pain of bumbling around lost and stressed with a pissed off boss.

Lesson #3: Customer Focus

child with messy hands

Who would have thought that customer focus applies to more than bids and proposals?

I found this to be true as a cleaner.

It might seem obvious, but every family home that Hannah and I cleaned was different. There were nice tidy apartments belonging to elderly couples, and disaster zones created by families with young children. And everything in between.

The more you go to these houses it becomes apparent that each family has different “needs” to be fulfilled in their home.

The Smiths have a dog that sheds hair, and the Evans have a baby that fingerpaints the walls. Customers didn’t always say “please take care of this problem”, but we’d clean it up anyway.

I’d see them as a person who needed help rather than a job that paid the bills. For this reason, we were one of the only teams that received positive feedback from customers.

Applying this method of serving the customer rather than providing a service can positively impact your relationship with your clients and prospects. If you enter every customer interaction ready to listen and help, you’ll not only leave a good impression, but you’ll also gain the ability to provide them more value by solving their particular problems.

The Shipley Integrated Solution Worksheet is a tool to help focus and develop your proposal solution around the client and their hot buttons. It's easy to get caught up in what you can offer the client, instead, gather information on your customer so you can develop a solution tailored to them- their issues, wants, and needs.Download Shipley Integrated Solution Worksheet

I could go on forever about all the things I’ve learned working as a housekeeper. It astounds me still that the lessons I learned could relate to the corporate world of business winning. Hopefully, there will be some that you can apply on a day-to-day basis to help improve your work life and win more business.

Shout out to all the former, current, and future cleaners out there for the tough work you do! And to anyone who has a house cleaner - don’t forget to ask their name and offer a cup of tea once in a while!


Julia Kracht

Julia Kracht is the Marketing Manager and Blog Editor at Shipley Asia Pacific. She enjoys creating content for the business winning community that is relatable, entertaining, and insightful (especially niche memes). In her spare time, Julia likes to frequent the Queen Vic Market with her friends and go for bike rides along the beach.