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Broken Items: What To Do When you Break Clients’ Property

The best way to ensure that the accidents do not happen is to constantly and consistently remind the teams not to rush. Most commonly, the breakage that occurs will be a small knick-knack or a picture frame, but it’s important to train the teams to be open and honest about breakage. The faster you are able to respond to a client in regards to the breakage the less likely they will be to get upset.  You really, really need for your employees to feel comfortable telling you about these things.  It is so important for an employee to notify you immediately that something was broken or damaged so that you can notify the customer before the customer notifies you.  Make sure that you have your employee snap a picture of the broken item as soon as is breaks.

There will be times that we can repair a broken item, like replacing a ceiling fan blade. You will have to determine whether you (you or someone within your company) can do the repair, whether you need to contract a professional to do the work, determine if it is a repair or replace…  Even if you are contracting the work to someone else, you should remain the go-to contact for the client.  If you broke it you should bear the responsibility of handling every aspect of the fix.  Don’t leave any of the work to the client other than, of course, the scheduling of the repair.  Often times we can negotiate better prices with vendors than the client.  In addition, if the item is highly valued it may be possible or necessary to involve your insurance company.  In these cases, you really need to be handling the replace or repair as any efforts by the client to replace the item may not be covered by the insurance company. You could have a client buy the item and want to be reimbursed and the insurance company saying that wasn’t what was agreed upon.  Contacting the client quickly after a breakage and consistent communication is critical in these situations.

Call and/or leave a voicemail message first and then follow up with an email and it’s a good idea to also follow up with a written letter.

[alert type=”warning” icon-size=”hide-icon”]Dear [Client],

We were informed by our employee that an item was broken while cleaning your home on [Enter Date Here]. We are very careful not to damage or break any items while cleaning, although at times accidents do happen.

It is our policy to inform our customers about any damage or breakage right away by leaving a report for them and also taking a photo of the broken item. As you read the report it will explain how the damage or breakage occurred. It is our intent to replace or reimburse you for that item damaged or if needed file an insurance claim.


[Your Company Name Here][/alert]

This can also be transformed into a script for a phone call, voicemail, or written letter.

This is a thank-you note from an actual client: We broke a small sugar bowl. She replaced it and we sent her a check for the replacement item. The cost was less than $20.

[alert type=”warning” icon-size=”hide-icon”]

Hey Juan,

Once again, thank you for letting me know about the broken item. I’ve had bad experiences like this in the past where a cleaning crew (different company) has broken something and just left the damaged item laying around for me to discover when I get home. Furthermore, they never offered to do anything about it in good faith. Needless to say, I terminated my business with them and will never hire them again. So, I very much appreciate you letting me know right away and offering to make amends. That is awesome!

The receipt for the replacement is below. Please let me know if you require anything else.

Thanks Again,

[Client Name removed][/alert]

Must Do Anytime Breakage Occurs

  • Always call the client as soon as you are aware of a broken item.
  • Always apologize and take charge of replacing the item.
  • If it is a high-dollar item or repair, it may be necessary to involve your insurance company.

Involving the Insurance Company

A couple of years ago one of our team members backed into a client’s basketball hoop. It was one of those that was cemented into the ground with a pole reaching up. The pole cracked in half.  We had an employee on staff who did odd jobs and auto repairs for us. So, we sent him out to go take a look. He said he could easily replace the item. The process would probably take a few days since we would need to order the new basketball hoop and pole, remove the old pole, and new concrete would need to be poured.

We started to facilitate the process and sent the client a couple of options for the replacement hoop. At this point, I would like to add that the previous basketball hoop was more than 10 years old and the pole was rusted. However, we never brought this up to the client, we took responsibility.

Now here is where it starts to get fun. She flat out refused all of the options for the replacement hoop. She became very angry and even hostile in her conversation, and was demanding that the installer was certified in basketball hoop installation, and that the hoop be specifically a Pro Dunk adjustable height in ground unit, valued at more than $2,000 (and that was pre-installation!). The hoop that was damaged was a Spalding non-adjustable, single pole, that was priced, brand new at less than $200.

In this particular situation, we decided to involve our insurance company instead of arguing back and forth with the client.  The insurance company resolved the issue and the client got a check for a few hundred dollars, not $2,000.

We’ve had breakage since then, and will have other incidents in the future, but most clients understand that we are all human and that we will do our best to respect their property. A quick response, good communication, and a sincere apology will do amazing things for your relationship with most clients.

With Fieldd, you can snap a picture in the field and upload it to the clients file. This way the office can get right onto resolving the situation.  Check it out for yourself: TRY FIELDD