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The question I will not answer

Examples of questions that should have had different answers

Before I give my answer to what is the hourly rate for office cleaning. I’ll just give a few examples of questions that maybe should have had different answers.

For instance, when someone was once asked how close he had been towards a certain intern they answered with the now famous ‘they had never had sexual relations with that woman’. Probably not the truest of statements and one that tarnished a legacy forever.

The question in this instance was fine, it was just the answer wasn’t

the question I won't answer

In Berlin in 1961, a question was asked of the then communist leader of Germany Walter Ulbricht of what they were building. His answer came back ‘Nobody has the intention of building a wall‘. The wall stood for 30 almost years. Again a good question, just not quite so truthful an answer

On a less political level, but one which could start a war, my wife may ask me for my opinion of a certain outfit…Beware this is the most difficult question to answer ever. If I say it looks hideous and not her style, then I am being hurtful and not supportive.

If I say that its ok and she goes out and hates it, then I’m at fault for not letting her know. Good question, although it is impossible to answer

Here is a question I will not answer though

The question I will not answer ‘what is the hourly rate for office cleaning’?

I often get calls from people looking for office cleaning, they may already have a cleaner and testing the market. Or they may be looking at engaging an office cleaner for the first time, and the first question they will ask is  ‘what is your hourly rate’.

like the outfit question, I feel this is a loaded question and it is one question that I will not answer directly.

Here are a couple of reasons why

The quickest way to the bottom

By answering the question what your hourly rate by is, by giving someone your rate, then what you are providing is a cold figure with nothing else attached. This does nothing but try to gain the job on price alone.

It leaves you open to negotiation, you may be told that supplier X can do it for $5 less an hour. Now you start to haggle and reduce the price just to get the job.

This makes you look insecure in front of a potential client. They may sense that you are not secure enough in what you do, so you quickly lose trust and credibility

The office cleaning industry is constantly driven by people seeking the lowest prices. One thing they do is ignore the value cleaning companies give to their business. From keeping an office a nice, clean place for their staff to work in, to ensure that biological and environmental hazards are kept to a minimum.

Undercutting the competition means that as soon as the next lowest price comes along, that contract will be lost.

This route is a fight to the bottom, by the fastest means possible. No business should go down this route especially if they want to be around for the next couple of years

Sell the product not the price

By answering the question of what your hourly rate is, you have lost the chance to let people know what you do. It’s your sales pitch, it’s your time to let someone know how great you are.

  1. Supplying quality trained staff

You supply staff that have had the proper training in how to be a cleaner. They have also been shown how to complete the tasks that the customers want

  1. Proper payment and employment of staff

In a world where many staff are unfortunately exploited. To be able to show that you pay and care for your staff as per all your legal and moral responsibilities

  1. Supplying equipment to do the job

All the latest equipment is supplied and used on the job, the best safety and chemicals. The latest vacuums and mops, to the software that is used to communicate and manage the jobs correctly and safely

  1. Knowledge and skills to carry out the job properly

Showing that you have completed tasks for other clients, and with their references that you do what you say


These a few of the many things that are incorporated into running an office cleaning contract properly. For the business owner to answer the question ‘What is your hourly rate’ has lost them the chance to let anyone know the great things that they bring to the contract. Its lost you the chance to sell yourself.

So as I say to my wife, don’t ask the questions. Why? Because you will not get the answer you are looking for

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