- THE MAGAZINE
“The key to success isn’t much good until one discovers the right lock to insert it in.”
– Chinese proverb
It isn’t exactly a secret: making a carpet look clean is easy. Getting your phone to ring is hard, and it’s getting harder! Last month we looked at developing marketing hubs, businesses that refer their customers to you and vice-versa. These companies’ customers are the same type of people you serve, so Hub Marketing is a classic example of the win-win, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” principle.
Look for marketing hubs in the businesses your best customers frequent: beauty salons, health clubs, veterinarians and pet spas, interior designers and real estate agents are just a few. But without a doubt, your “ultimate hub” is the local flooring retailer who installs the homeowner’s carpet.
An IICRC/The Clean Trust survey states that 90% of homeowners ask their retailer for suggestions on how to care for their new carpet. After all, there is no time when the customer is more focused on the cleaning and maintenance of their carpet than when it is shiny, bright and new! So just imagine if you had dozens of local flooring stores telling every single customer, “We know just the company to clean and maintain the carpets we sell.”
Of course, carpet cleaners have been romancing flooring retailers for years. Very likely, your local carpet retailers have endured a steady stream of cleaners all delivering boxes of donuts (and promising them the world) in exchange for their referrals! So yep, carpet retailers are jaded, cynical and very likely are referring no one right now.
Why not? Because carpet retailers have been repeatedly burned by the typical low-quality, fly-by-night carpet cleaner! When any marketing hub refers you, they are sticking their neck out, virtually guaranteeing their client that you will do a great job. Screw it up and they’ll get blamed.
In addition, retailers worry bringing up an ongoing maintenance cost to a new-carpet owner will be a negative Moment of Truth. But the biggest reason flooring stores don’t recommend carpet cleaners is there is nothing in it for them. Trust me: retailers aren’t all that motivated by your donut deliveries!
So how can you convert a carpet store into a marketing hub that will consistently refer your services to every single one of their customers? The solution is found by answering two questions.
Question No. 1What is the biggest problem your local flooring retailer faces? Brutal, grinding, unrelenting competition from national chains like Empire Carpet, Home Depot and Lowes. Remember, carpeting is a commodity that can be easily price shopped, and homeowners do! Since small carpet retailers can’t compete on price with the big boys, they desperately need to differentiate themselves, as in showing a prospect why he or she should buy from them.
This leads to…
Question No. 2How can you help your local retailers set themselves apart from the national chains? Give your carpet retailers a “12-Month Spot & Spill Warranty” that they include free with every carpet they install! Now at last your local flooring store can give their customer something Home Depot can’t: peace of mind with a spot & spill warranty!
So how does this marketing concept work?
You agree to service the retailer’s 12-Month Spot & Spill Warranty at no charge in exchange for their referral and their clients’ contact information. So now you can contact the homeowner eleven months after installation to remind them that their carpet is “almost out of warranty” on the spot and spill protection. How can they keep their warranty in force? Just have you clean and reapply the carpet protector and voila! The homeowner qualifies for another 12 months of your free spot and spill warranty! And you now have a long term client tied to you with your Spot & Spill Warranty program.
This Spot & Spill Warranty marketing idea is the ultimate “Triple Win”! First, the homeowner doesn’t have to worry about ugly spots on their beautiful new carpets for an entire year! Second, your retailer partner can use this warranty to show the prospect why he or she should buy from them instead of Home Depot! And third, you get a guaranteed client by allying yourself with the retailer right from the start and it costs you…
Whoa! What happened to the “no free lunch” concept? Won’t this 12-Month Spot & Spill Warranty inundate you with hundreds of free spotting calls? I checked with John Mapes of Ecosteam in Sycamore, Ill., who has partnered with fourteen flooring retailers in the Chicago area over the last four years. John says less than 1 percent of the homeowners covered with his Spot & Spill Warranty ever actually use it. Yet virtually all of the carpet owners covered by his Spot & Spill Warranty become his long-term, paying clients! (Read my in-depth interview with John at http://tiny.cc/SFSmfw )
12-Month Spot & Spill Warranty RemindersInclude the 12-Month Spot & Spill Warranty on all sales. Your flooring retailer partner must agree to include this free warranty on all their installations. After all, that’s what you get out of the deal: a guaranteed introduction to all their clients.
You are not guaranteeing the carpet will never have a permanent stain. Instead, you will come to their home and use professional methods to attempt to restore the carpet. But first make sure your warranty states that… The homeowner must make an effort to remove the spot on their own. It is much easier for the home owner to do their own spotting than scheduling a visit by your company. Note: Make it even simpler for do-it-yourself spot removal by giving your client a bottle of carpet spotter with your logo and contact information on it. And then be sure to tell them that the use of unapproved chemicals will void their Spot & Spill Warranty.
Include reasonable restrictions on covered spots. I suggest excluding pet urine and feces (you don’t want to be there every week), water or sewer damage, petroleum products and dirty traffic lanes. (Tracked in dirt isn’t a “spot or spill”, it means they need their carpets cleaned!) Remember that since the home owner isn’t paying anything for their Spot & Spill Warranty they aren’t going to expect the world! Instead, home owners understand that their Spot & Spill Warranty is your promise to professionally attempt removing common household spots and spills and nothing more.
For all the details (including a step-by-step system) on how you can develop your own 12-Month Spot & Spill Warranty program, download my free special report, “How to Partner with Your Local Carpet Retailer” at http://tiny.cc/SFSretailers
Don’t forget; you create marketing hubs by becoming valuable to your referral partners. Just like in a good marriage, both sides must feel like they are winning in the relationship. Trust me, when you allow your local flooring retailer to include a free 12-Month Spot & Spill Warranty with every carpet they sell, they win big by using this warranty to close the sale. And remember, this valuable promotion tool you are gifting them costs them nothing! So your carpet retailer definitely will treasure your relationship.
And you? Wow! When a flooring store includes your 12-Month Spot & Spill Warranty with every installation, you win big by:
- Being “co-branded” with the mill and the retailer right from the git-go and
- You automatically get the homeowner’s contact information which is like gold! Plus
- You can now use “time-dated urgency” to motivate and (gently) push the customer into having you clean their carpets. Just imagine being able to mail and/or call the home owner with a message like this: “Mrs. Jones, Best Way Carpets wanted me to remind you that your 12-Month Spot & Spill Warranty is expiring soon. We can renew your Warranty for another year at no charge by…”