Carpet Cleaning Business Management

Building the Job Ticket - Part II

“Money is better than poverty … if only for financial reasons.”
  – Woody Allen

  Just like an airplane, your company flies empty or full. Airlines recognize that filling those last few seats can mean the difference between profit and bankruptcy. You too can fill up your bank account by “building your job ticket” when you and your employees sell more work on each job.  After all, once you are already on the job those extra dollars from add-on sales will be almost pure profit.

Of course, everyone wants to make more money on each job. The problem is too many carpet cleaners wait till they are in the home and then try to start “selling up.” This last minute selling usually comes across to the customer as high pressure or even worse the old bait and switch our industry is infamous for!

In my last column we focused on your Customer Orientation Process (COP) by letting your client know ahead of time about other optional services they can request. This pre-orienting of the client will work wonders for your bottom line.

True, many customers will not immediately book extra work after being pre-oriented with your pre-job COP system. That’s OK. Your goal is to make them aware of their extra service options ahead of time. Of course, if they do pre-book over the phone, even better!

Here is the first secret to success in “flying full.” You just want your additional services – ScotchGard application, tile and grout cleaning, upholstery cleaning, garage floor renovation, deodorization services, pre-paid residential maintenance program, etc. –  percolating away in your customer’s mind. This pre-orientation means the homeowner has been prepped for your technician.

This does not mean that your tech should immediately start peppering the customer with a pushy sales pitch! Instead, your on-site employee (or you) must first build a professional relationship with the homeowner. Why? Because 80% of how the customer decides if they are going to buy additional services is based on how they feel about the person doing the work.

Once this professional trust has been established and a “consultant relationship” has been formed it is both easy and natural for the tech to suggest additional work “while we’re here”.  This warm, trusting relationship is formed by small, specific steps that almost anyone can perform if they follow the Value Added Service outline.

You’ll notice I said “almost anyone.”  This scripted outline of positive “Moments of Truth” is not rocket science!  However, these steps will be so much easier to follow if you “hire the smile” and look for employees that instinctively are at ease with your customers.  Notice how many simple and easy positive Moments of Truth are found in The First Five Minutes.

The First Five Minutes

Look at your employee (or yourself) through the eyes of the homeowner. A disheveled and unkempt appearance is a turn-off with almost everyone and especially with your target market of upper-middle class homeowners! Be on time! If not, call ahead. It is highly stressful for the customer to be left dangling.  Or even better, quit overbooking your schedule and allow your techs to routinely arrive on time.

Take a minute and calm down. Sure, it has been a typical day. Traffic has been miserable, you are running behind, a solution line blew up on the last job and your wife wouldn’t speak to you at breakfast!  But your customer doesn’t care about any of your problems. The homeowner does not want to see a haggard and stressed out rug-sucker slumped over at their front door. So stop and remind yourself to at least project the image of a calm, friendly and competent professional who is sincerely interested in their client.  (Yes, I know from personal experience this is not an easy act when your world is caving in!)

Introduce yourself correctly.  Here is a very simple Five Step Introduction Sequence:
  1. Step back three feet from the door. 
  2. Smile at the customer and look them in the eye. 
  3. Introduce yourself with your first and last name, company name and why you are there.
  4. Hand the customer your business card. 
  5. Introduce your co-workers using their first and last name and explain what they will be helping with in the client’s home.

I’m always amazed in my own home how few service technicians introduce themselves using any of these five steps. So sad, because they probably are very competent and yet the entire transaction gets off on a sour note. Park in the street first.  After introducing yourself ask permission to pull your van on to the driveway.  (Check with the homeowner to see if they want to pull their car out to run errands during the cleaning.)

Tactfully ask permission to start work. Do this by looking down at your work order and saying, “I see we’re supposed to clean …” Your customer will automatically open the door and invite you in.

Put down your own door mat (and use it). By placing a door mat you silently answer one of your client’s big Unspoken Questions:  “Are they going to track dirt into my home?”  (Or you can put on surgical shoe covers.  Just remember to pull them off before going back out to the truck!)

Ask the homeowner for an initial “tour.” “Mrs. Jones, please show me what we’ll be working on and I’d especially like to see any special areas of concern.” It has been well said, “Discover and fix the customer’s concerns first and then focus on the real problem.”  So find out what your client’s worries are first and address them. Note: During your “tour” you can permission for your helper to start setting things up outside.

Take “Immediate Action” on your customer’s concerns. When your client shows you a spot don’t just look at it and go “Uh-huh.”  Instead, write it on your work order or even better, drop to one knee, examine it and ask permission to test it with your spotter and white towel. Show your client the soil transfer on to the towel and then hand them the bottle of spotter you used and say, “Here is your free spotter and any time you run out we’ll replace your bottle absolutely free.”  (The “Lifetime FREE Spotter program” was the single best marketing concept I ever came up with.) 

Note: When your customer shows you a spot or spill a great subliminal add-on sales tool is to ask, “Do you remember if you had the carpets treated with ScotchGard the last time they were cleaned?” Now you have subtly showed your client the importance of carpet protection plus if the stain doesn’t come out the homeowner takes the blame, as in “I should have gotten the ScotchGard last time!” (For more ideas on gently selling Scotchgard go to )

If your technician follows the nine steps above, your customer will be surprised, impressed and sub-consciously ready to buy. During the initial tour, the tech should be noticing possible “add-on sale” items. Then after reviewing the basic items the customer wants cleaned the tech can ask, “Have you thought about …?”

Note:  The No. 1 reason your job tickets aren’t higher is failure to “Ask For the Order” (AFO).  Remember, your customer can’t buy if they don’t know about the product or service you have available!

Remember that all of us are motivated with by rewards. So if you have employees set up a generous bonus system that rewards the extra effort displayed in building the job ticket. And don’t forget the essential need for public recognition and praise when a technician excels. (If you are a solo owner-operator then reward yourself when you have a great up-sell day!)

Once again, the vast majority of your customers have both the funds and the desire to purchase additional services. Your job is to:
  • Pre-orient your customer ahead of time during the initial phone conversation (and with your follow-up e-mail linking to your web site) and then …
  • Build a professional consultant-type relationship with them using the 9-step sequence above and finally …
  • AFO!
Remember these additional services you sell will be almost pure profit, since you are already on the job and your basic costs have already been covered.  So always “fly full” by building the job ticket and you’ll find success on the home front!

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