Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What would you ask for, if you knew you would get it?

Since moving to our new house, I have realized how much I missed our house cleaner. We fired her when we started doing open houses every Sunday at the old house, since we would scrub the place top-to-bottom Sunday morning, then she would come on Monday. We wondered what we were paying her for, so we fired her (nicely, and she refused to come clean on Friday, else we would have had her do that).

Anyway, I decided to reward the small business that left a nice, pleasing house cleaning flyer on our door. I'm becoming very jaded against large, franchised companies and starting to prefer working with small, locally-owned joints.

I called, we met at the house and walked through the house-cleaning procedure. She seemed nice and seemed willing to have her crew do WAY more than Previous Housecleaner. Change our sheets? Sweet! Dust our blinds? Rock n' Roll!

At the end, she said, "And I will call you the following day to find out how we did and see if you would like to get on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule." Wow! I was impressed. That seemed very professional and easy. I didn't have to call her back, and when she called, I could easily mention any tasks that we had forgotten to ask her to do (something that was always very ackward with Previous Housecleaner).

Then came. They cleaned. They did a great job. The house smelled good. It looked good. Mr. Goofy noticed.*

I took a few notes (very few) on some things that we forgot to tell them (we hide our bathroom trash cans under the sinks - something we got doing during the open house process and learned to love...who wants to SEE their bathroom trash all the time? Ugh. And they didn't know that and didn't empty those cans.).

And....she didn't call the next day.

Nor the next day.

The weekend came. Then went.

Monday came and I was started to get a bit peeved. All she had to do was call. And we were ready to sign up! We were even considering the weekly option, although with every minute ticking past, this option was going away. Also, over the weekend, we decided that, since they did such a good job, we would pay them to do a move-out cleaning on our old house. So whenever she called, I was ready to give her TWO PAYING JOBS!

[This is where I transition to a life lesson. Wait for it...wait for it....]

Then, last night I tripped across an interesting book called "Women Don't Ask". The premise of the book is that, by their nature, women don't like to negotiate. And it hurts them in the long term.

I could relate. I have a hard time asking for things sometime. Last time I bought a car, I negotiated the price, and I don't think I slept the night before. It was kinda painful....until you actually GET something that you are asking for, then it's wonderful!

Here's some interesting stats from the book: more here

-Men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women.

-When asked to pick metaphors for the process of negotiating, men picked "winning a ballgame" and a "wrestling match," while women picked "going to the dentist."

-Women will pay as much as $1,353 to avoid negotiating the price of a car, which may help explain why 63 percent of Saturn car buyers are women.

-20 percent of adult women (22 million people) say they never negotiate at all, even though they often recognize negotiation as appropriate and even necessary.

And I had a real-life example! All the housecleaner gal had to do was call me. A call that I was expecting. And she would have two cleaning jobs. This week!

Postscript: I finally relented and left her a message late Monday afternoon. She called me back mid-morning Tuesday, didn't ask at all about how the cleaning went (I volunteered). After the whole conversation, I think she still seemed pretty ambivalent about getting my business. Sigh.

So, Dear Readers, whether you are female or other, here is your Homework Assignment for this week: ASK SOMEONE FOR SOMETHING THAT THEY DON'T HAVE TO GIVE YOU.

This could be as simple as asking for a better table at a restaurant. Or as large as asking for a raise. Look for opportunities!

The worst you can do is get denied. Keep asking. If the first person says "No", try another person.

And....let me know how it went!

*NOTE: Mr. Goofy has a mom from Germany. They grew up in a spotlessly clean house. He is anal to the max about clean. This is why I don't even TRY to clean. I ain't never winning THAT game.


lorib said...

Great post! I am definitely guilty of not negotiating (and also a Saturn owner -- although the whole experience of buying and owning a Saturn influenced that decision, the flat price was definitely a factor). Until my current job, I don't think I have ever negotiated a salary increase.

Re your NOTE: Thank goodness for me that D doesn't care too much about how clean the house is! Since Lil D arrived and with baby #2 on the way, my standards of clean have definitely dropped.

Mojavi said...

how about me asking you to meet me for lunch, you don't have to but I would like it.... I miss you.

I will let you know how it goes.

lorib said...

Follow-up: I forwarded this to D because he had a former, much-loved intern going through her first job search and getting low-ball offers. D encouraged her to ask for more money and also sent her this post. I have no idea if she read it, but she did ask for more money and got it. You may have helped put one young woman on the right track at the start of her career.