Ask Steve

Ask Steve: Should I Offer Credit Cards as a Payment Option?

Accepting credit cards can open the door for additional profits. Read on to see how.


I’ve had my own carpet cleaning business now for 15 years (more or less successfully) without ever taking credit cards. Honestly, as an owner-operator, I just don't get asked very often about credit cards. So when customers bring it up I have always said that as a small carpet cleaner I don't offer this option and they mostly seem OK with it.

But lately I've been thinking that maybe if I offered credit cards this would be another payment option for my customers. Heck, this option might let more people get their carpets cleaned or even get more done while I am there. So should I offer the credit card option?

-Pondering in Portland


Dear Pondering,

Should you offer credit card payment? Absolutely… if you want to make more profit per job, stay busier, have less payment hassles and look like you are a “real business” operation in the 21st century! (If none of these points appeal to you, then don’t offer the credit card option!)

Still with me? As you can see, there are many reasons to offer credit card payment. But let me share one credit card benefit few residential cleaners take advantage of - “up-sells” over the phone as you finish the job!

(NOTE: The sad thing is not one carpet cleaner in 10 does this up-selling over the phone after the job and it costs each of them thousands in lost profits every month.)

Here is a typical “up-sell-over-the-phone” scenario:

As so often happens, your customer is either not home or lets you in and leaves. (People are busy nowadays!) The check is waiting for you pre-filled out on the dining room table. (In your old pre-up-sell-over-the-phone days, you would bang the job out, grab the check and skedaddle!)

But now you do the job and, before putting up your equipment, you “up-sell-over-the-phone.” You check that the “permission to call customer at work” box is checked on your work order. (Your office has already checked with the client that it is OK to call her on the job and checked the box.)

You call the customer on her cell phone. Why? Businesses don’t normally have a problem with an employee taking a brief personal call while working. But they don’t like having their business lines and other employees tied up answering/transferring your call!

You:“Mrs. Jones, this is Steve Toburen with J-D Cleaning calling from your home to do a brief walkthrough of the job with you. Am I calling at a good time?”

Her:“Yes, this is fine.”

You:“I'm just finishing up on the carpets and they came out great! Even that bad traffic lane through the dining room you mentioned when you booked the job is almost completely gone. The carpets look almost brand new. Sometimes even I get surprised!” (Laughing)

Her:“Well, thank you. That's wonderful news.”

You:“Mrs. Jones, before I put everything away, I wanted to check and see if you wanted the protective finish re-applied on your carpets?”

Her:“Well, I don't know. How much is it?”

You:“To protect everything we cleaned today, it will be $186.40.”

Her:“If the carpets really do look that good, I guess we better do it. But I've already left you a check on the table just for the cleaning ...”

You:“No worries, Mrs. Jones. If you have a credit card number I can put the protector application on your credit card.”

Her:“OK, let me give it to you right now...”

BANG! Remember, since you are already on-site your protector application will be almost pure profit! Now it is true- you could also leave her an invoice for the upsold work and she can send you a check. But running her credit card is more convenient for her and you get the money right away. Plus if the home owner is on a budget, it lets them put the expense off which makes it much more likely they will say “yes!”

(NOTE: For more tips and scripts I used to “up-sell” carpet protector in the home just write me at and put the word “protector” in the subject line. No charge!)

Try this “up-sell-over-the-phone” technique, “Pondering”, on your next five jobs. If it works on at least one of them, just keep doing it!

P.S. Even if you decide not to offer credit cards, please implement this “calling the customer at work after you are done” phone script.

By making this call, it allowed the homeowner one last chance to drop more money with me - and that always sounded like a worthwhile goal to me! It's called “impulse buying” and that is why grocery stores have those displays on either side of you as you stand in line to check-out!

Another advantage of calling the customer at work is it allows you to “CYB” and “pre-condition” the customer if something did not turn out as well as you hoped for. This way when the homeowner comes in after work, she is prepared for the problem instead of being surprised and thinking you just blew it off. When we implemented this “call at work” procedure, our call back ratio went way down... and our protector sales went through the roof!

Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply, write Steve HERE with your questions, problems, struggles and challenges! Your help is on the way!

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