Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How can I Avoid Feeling like a Bait-and-Switcher?

Pressuring clients is immoral, wrong and ultimately counter-productive to building an established and loyal customer base

customerHey Steve,

One of my friends works as a tech for one of the big national cleaning franchises. He tells me the “big boys” will typically build the over-the-phone estimate into a final bill 200 to 300% more than was originally quoted.

Once he gets in the customer’s home my friend makes really good money with his “bait and switch sales tactics.” (His phrase, not mine.) But it just gives me the willies thinking about being so high pressure. So just how do companies quote a given price and then walk out the door with three times the quoted price in up-sales?

-Slightly Nauseated in Alabama


Dear Slightly,

Let me take slight exception to your comments above. Don’t assume that all “up-selling” (even if it does wind up with a 200-300% higher final bill) is high pressure. Many customers actually appreciate having the chance to get more work done at the same time.

That being said, let me state that Jon-Don, the SFS program and I personally totally reject high pressure selling in the customer’s inner sanctum (i.e. their home.) Pressuring clients is immoral, wrong and ultimately counter-productive to building an established and loyal customer base.

So how do companies (and their techs) do these high pressure builds? First of all, they motivate their employees by paying a base salary close to starvation wages. Then the over-the-phone price never includes things that you likely would automatically include in your quoted price.

For example, in fine print you will usually see that pre-vacuuming, traffic lane pre-spray and even spot removal are all extra! Wrong, unethical and at the end of the day counter-productive to building a strong business based on loyal cheerleader clients!

However, Slightly, let me share one simple, no-pressure question that I learned from one of our SFS attendees:

"Mrs. Jones, would you like me to reapply your carpet protection today?"

This simple, almost casual question turns the decision into a routine maintenance issue instead of a huge investment. And it technically is true since virtually all of the residential carpets sold have some sort of protection mill applied.

The points above on bait and switch versus honest and open up-selling make a lot of sense to me. A few other sayings we have developed over the years at Strategies for Success:

1. Always give the homeowner the opportunity to spend more money with you. (Most techs just assume the customer can’t afford it so they never even offer the additional services.)

2. All things being equal, it is better to have money than not have money.

3. There is no virtue in poverty. (Of course, there is no shame in poverty either but I’ll opt for wealth every time!)

NOTE: Like the 3 points above? Then you will love my free special report: Up-selling on the Home Front. Just write me at and put the word “Up-selling” in the subject line.

4. Give your technicians their next “raise” by increasing their up-sell bonus by 40% and reducing their job bookings by one per day. You will be amazed at the results. More money for them and you, less burnout and, believe it or not, happier customers. Of course, you will then need to add more trucks/employees, but that is part of the American dream - building a dynamic, growing and very profitable business!

NOTE: I strongly believe that most of us (myself included when I was in business) run our businesses and people too thin with too few resources held in reserve.

 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! Watch for a new “Ask Steve” every Thursday in the ICS eNewsletter. Click here to subscribe to it. 

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

Recent Articles by Steve Toburen

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

The 2014 Experience Conference and Exhibition

A look in photos at the 2014 Experience Conference and Exhibition, which was held from April 24-26 at the Embassy Suites Convention Center and Spa in Frisco, Texas.


Beginning April 21, Google will start judging websites based on their mobile friendliness. What exactly does this mean to you cleaning website? Find out in the latest edition of The Hitman Advertising Show, which will also cover tips and suggestions on getting mobile compliant.
More Podcasts

ICS Cleaning Specialist Magazine


2015 April

The April ICS issue features content on concrete polishing, green cleaning, air duct cleaning, injection sprayers and new products.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Janitorial Work

In addition to residential and commercial carpet cleaning, do you do any janitorial work on the side?
View Results Poll Archive


The Carpet Cleaner's Book of Unlimited Success! (ebook)

Don’t worry about the recession or about your competition.  Now you can be the owner of over 400 ways for carpet cleaning professionals to make more money and get more jobs!

More Products


Director_Buyer.jpgThe premier resource and reference guide for the cleaning and restoration industries.

Click here to view


facebook_40.png twitter_40px.png youtube_40px.png


Truckmount.jpgEquipment listings and specifications from the leading industry manufacturers.

Click here to view