- THE MAGAZINE
“The smell of profit is clean and sweet…”
The recession has not been kind to most cleaners. Remember that carpet cleaning is both a discretionary income expense and an emotionally driven event. So when homeowners feel poor, they postpone/cancel cleaning or reduce the amount of work done. Factor in sky-high fuel prices, increasing competition and ever-present employee issues, and no one can blame the average carpet cleaner for feeling a bit hammered lately!
The answer? Build the job ticket by giving every one of your clients the option to spend more money with you. This most emphatically is not the high-pressure, bait-and-switch sales pitch our industry is infamous for. Far from it: pressuring your customer in their inner sanctum, their home, is not only morally wrong, it is also ultimately counter-productive. Instead, you are just offering your customer the opportunity to get more done at the same time which will save them time and money! But two problems rear their ugly heads:
Problem No. 1Falling into the trap of depending on a young-overworked-and-constantly-running-behind technician to “up-sell” more services. Not going to happen! Your young employees are scared and intimidated by homeowners that are twice their age and earn ten times what they do. So they will seldom even bring up the add-on sale. And if you are an owner-operator you are usually exhausted and running behind, which doesn’t exactly motivate you to ask for more work.
Problem No. 2Yet another kiss of death is waiting until you are in the home to spring the “Do you want anything else done?” question. You are too late! Customers don’t like being surprised financially, logistically or time-wise. So if you try to build the ticket while you are actually doing the work, the homeowner feels blind-sided and pressured, and their knee-jerk reaction is to say “No!” This is especially so if they’ve had bad experiences before with a “bait and switch” carpet cleaner.
Instead, pre-orient every customer on the additional services available to them. Many of your long-time clients don’t even know you are much more than “just a carpet cleaner.” So in reality, you are not “selling” as much as you are “informing” the homeowner. This means to build your job ticket you must start long before the initial booking phone call.
Now you will tactfully give your customer multiple opportunities to say “Yes” to more work. But never let them say “no.” Do this with the Customer Orientation Process (COP) starting with:
- Your website. You do have a professionally designed website, don’t you? If not, stop reading this article and contract with a web designer experienced in our industry to develop a site for you that will routinely convert tentative prospects into customers. Do it now! And don’t do it yourself! There is no better use of your marketing dollar than an effective and compelling website.
Once you have your web presence, use your website as a launching pad to highlight your different services. Include a full menu on your front page linked to a separate page for each add-on service you offer. If you include customer’s video reviews (not “testimonials”), have them mention any additional services you offer, such as tile and grout cleaning, etc. You can also highlight before and after still photos or videos of each service. Even better, do both! That is the beauty of having your own website. The more the material you host on your site the better, as long as it is organized logically and presented professionally. Your multifaceted website that profiles your different services will now provide a launch pad for a synergistic marketing approach that includes...
- Follow-up email. This is the double-edged sword of carpet cleaning marketing. Yes, email gives you an unparalleled opportunity to reach out and contact your customer. But your email can get dumped into the world of SPAM and you will be forever scorned by your prospect. The secret here is to always have a Valid Business Reason (VBR) for emailing your client. Here is your first big VBR:
When finishing up your initial booking conversation just mention, “By the way, I’d like to email you a checklist on how to get ready for your carpet cleaning …” Yep, this “Getting Ready Checklist” is your VBR! (For the complete phone script go to http://tiny.cc/SFSea) Immediately email this checklist, but also include a “menu” listing out your other services, each linked to bring your client back to your website. Note: You can also include a discount offer if your customer does the extra work at the same time as the carpet cleaning.
Now, with this emailed additional services menu, your customer can mull over their job options in a calm and non-adversarial atmosphere before you arrive. The videos and photos on your site will help the homeowner visualize your different services. With this new low-pressure COP, many homeowners will call or email in a request for additional work. The bonus for you? Now you can schedule extra time to do this work instead of fitting it in at the last minute! Of course, even after you implement this COP, don’t overlook …
- Traditional marketing. List your add-on work services on the sides of your vehicles, in your Yellow Page ad (if you still have one), in your regular newsletter mailings, on your reminder postcards and your “five-around” door hangers. Your goal is to actually have customers calling in saying, “I didn’t realize you also cleaned (fill in the blank)” Bingo! Of course, not all your customers are going to call primed to have additional work done. So now you must tactfully give them even more opportunities to spring for your extra services/products. Do this on the initial phone call to book the work by using “Steve’s Fade Away Technique” that postpones any negative decision later in the job.
For example, after booking the job, your phone dispatcher should mention, “Mrs. Jones, we can also re-apply your ScotchGard finish after the cleaning for an additional…” A surprising number of customers will say, “OK!” But if Mrs. Jones replies, “Oh, I don’t know. We’re thinking about replacing the carpets next year” your employee can smoothly interject, “Well, why don’t we just wait and see how the carpets clean up and you can decide on the protective finish then.”
Hint: Offer your phone people a small (say 5%) bonus for add-on sales and watch your job tickets explode! But even when your client doesn’t book the add-on sale by “fading away,” you still have another chance with…
- Your onsite technician. I’m not against techs selling additional services. The problem is in the past you have depended solely on them to build the job ticket. But with your COP, even if you haven’t actually booked extra work, the homeowner is at least aware of the extra services your company offers. So now as your technician builds a professional relationship using the value added service steps your company is famous for (more on this next month) he or she has one last chance to build the job ticket (and make a nice bonus too!).