Carpet Cleaning Business Management / Carpet Cleaning Business Marketing

"Socially" Selling Commercial Carpet Cleaning

August 31, 2012

“Think of yourself as a resource to your clients; an advisor, counselor, mentor and friend.” — Brian Tracy

Do you ever get tired of reinventing the wheel with a constant parade of different houses and businesses to clean? Do you want out of the “management by crisis,” or MBC, business model? Are you burned out with the never-ending pressure of keeping the phone ringing? 

Then remember that the easy (and big) money in this business is found in creating “toll booths” for regular commercial carpet cleaning contracts (CCCC).  And where the CCCC concept really shines is with large institutional and commercial accounts. Here’s why…

Create a plethora of these big regular CCCC accounts and you can hire “toll booth collectors” to do the actual work while you hoist a cold one at home! Yep - everyone (including all of your competitors) wants the easy, regular cash flow of these big CCCC toll booths and yet we struggle to sign them up. 

Above all else remember that selling is a process, not an event!  Sure, any sales effort is better than nothing. (And nothing is what lots of carpet cleaners do when it comes to commercial account selling.) But far too many cleaners wait until they are desperate and then engage in a desperate flurry of sales calls, get a few jobs and then slide back into complacency doing the work. Then the money runs out and this sad story repeats itself!

Instead, your goal should be a regular, consistent process that reaches out to new prospects.  This process isn’t just one thing - instead you are looking for a blend of highly efficient and cost-effective synergistic marketing techniques that will keep your company’s name out there! 

For example, in next month’s To Your Success we’ll discuss “How to Get Past the Gate Keeper” when you are still doing the essential cold calls. However, one of the best ways to deal directly with the decision maker (D/M) is to detour around the gate keeper. How can you do this?  You need to go where the gate keeper isn’t by discovering D/M’s in a professional networking scenario. Try this…

Network efficiently:

At the end of the day, business is based on personal relationships. So use networking in a group setting to efficiently start and build these relationships. Join BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) and/or the IFMA (International Facility Managers Association) and attend their local chapter meetings. You should also support your Chamber of Commerce and any other local property/facility manager’s groups. HINT:  If the group has a membership list, do a Google search on each member. You’ll learn who your best prospects are and come to each meeting loaded for bear! When you attend these functions (and you must become a regular fixture at them) don’t corner people and replay your boring old blah-blah-blah “How great my company and I are!” monologue! Instead…

Hone your “elevator speech:”

Building owners and property managers are constantly looking for contacts to make their lives easier. But no D/M wants to listen to a carpet cleaner drone on and on about how powerful their truckmount is! So develop a 30 second (or less) quick orientation on who you are and what you do for them. Write this speech out, refine it, time yourself giving it and then brutally cut it again! Now recite it to your spouse and repeat the cutting and refining process. Practice your elevator speech until it rolls easily and naturally off your tongue. HINT: Adding a bit of wry humor always helps. No one likes a carpet cleaner who takes themselves too seriously!

Turn the tables on them:

Remember that it should not be all about you. Basic Sales Training 101 states that the prospect should talk 80% of the time and you no more that 20%. So how can you achieve this essential 80/20 ratio? Simple: After your elevator speech, just smoothly start “interviewing” your D/M prospect! As Brian Tracy always says, “Telling is not selling - never make a statement if you can phrase it in the form of a question.” So ask your prospect where their properties are located, who their tenants are, how the economy is treating them, etc. Display sincere interest in their answers. Now subtly…

Discover their “points of pain:”

After you have learned about their business and life, it is easy to switch over to the “commiseration phase.” Property managers are a beleaguered bunch and correctly feel like the entire world is beating up on them! So during your conversation’s interview phase, they’ll usually mention problem tenants and buildings or even bring up specific problems based on what you mentioned during your elevator speech. NOTE:  If you are actually making a sales call (versus being in an informal social situation) then just pull out your clip board with a Commercial Carpet Analysis form and start jotting down their answers. Writing down what people are telling you is a highly flattering action!) For a free copy of the Commercial Carpet Analysis form I used, just go to

Once your prospect shares their challenges you will be tempted to blurt out the solution- thereby proving what an expert you are! Don’t fall into this trap! Instead, repeat back what your prospect has told you by replying, “So let me see if I understand your situation…” and, if appropriate, make a few notes to yourself. Then offer help by saying…

“Let me research this and get back to you:”

This extra effort “dignifies” your prospect (and their problem) plus more importantly gives you an excuse to contact them again, which in turn will hopefully (you guessed it!) develop a relationship! So now just ask for their card or contact information and write their question(s) on the card right then and there. (Once again, writing down what your prospect tells you is a great “moment of truth.”)  Now your goal is to…

Move the game to their premises:

Instead of being viewed as “just another carpet cleaner” you want to morph yourself into a “helpful consultant.” Simply offer to stop by and take a look at the property manager’s challenge(s). If it hasn’t already come up in the conversation, get the building’s address. Find out specifically where the problem areas are located in the complex. HINT:  If there is any reluctance to give you the address (there probably won’t be since you are only offering to research a solution to their problem) simply say, “You don’t need to be there.  I’ll just take a look at it, do some discreet testing and then give you some options. No pressure, no obligation and no charge!” How can they refuse a deal like this?

Look down the road:

Just like in a chess game, always be thinking several steps ahead. So before finishing your chat, ask your contact what to do with the results of your investigation.  You of course prefer a face-to-face meeting, so just inquire, “What is the urgency on this project? Do you have a deadline? Is there a better day of the week for me to drop off what I’ve come up with?” You’ll also want their contact information, so ask for their card as you hand them your business card. (Ask if the number listed is the best one to contact them on.)

Depending on your D/M’s work load they may agree to meet you for a business lunch, etc. If so, great! But don’t push too hard in the beginning. Your first priority is to first gain your D/M’s respect by proving to be a go-to company that makes their life easier. And even when your relationship deepens into the purely social lunch route, remember the 80/20 rule still applies. So shut up and let your new D/M friend regale you!

Congratulations! You have changed your prospect’s perception of you. Instead of viewing you as a struggling carpet cleaner desperate for work, you have now become an expert consultant happy to lend a hand to a fellow entrepreneur. And that is exactly where you want to be!  

For the Commercial Toll Booth Route concept, you need to actually get to your decision maker. So next month I’ll cover step-by-step how to get past the “gate keeper.” Plus I’ll share more hints and procedures on Building Commercial “Toll Booths” at the “ICS Presents Connections to the Cleaning & Restoration Industry” panel in Las Vegas at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to i Cleaning Specialist Magazine.

Recent Articles by Steve Toburen

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