Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Can I Get Clients to Call Me Again?

Many carpet cleaners struggle with this oh-so-very-important concept

pen on accounting papersSteve,

I haven’t really thought much about this until today. After I finished cleaning a fairly high-end house, the homeowner asked me, “When should I get my carpets cleaned again?”

So I stammered around while I explained the benefits of maintenance. I was flabbergasted when the customer replied, “Well, now that it is cleaned we’d like to keep up the maintenance.” Now this is where in the past I would just reply: “OK, here’s my card, magnet, etc. Call me when you are ready.”

Believe it or not I haven’t owned an organizer until last week. Usually I just make an invoice and keep it in order with days and times on my clipboard. Haven’t needed one in the past but I bought one anyway.

So anyway, Steve, in the past I would usually put the ball back in their court as in, “Just call me when you’re ready.” Now upon reflection I can see that with this passive approach I might not see that customer again. After all, there are over 100 carpet cleaners in my area.

What was I thinking? Anyways I penciled these clients in for another clean for this year. So I guess I made a sale after the cleaning!

I’m not going to be hardcore trying to close the job with a sale but if it presents itself like today, I’m sure going to offer it. I’ve still got a lot to learn!

-Reflecting in Raleigh


Congratulations on stumbling on this basic “forward scheduling” principle. And hey, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. Many carpet cleaners struggle with this oh-so-very-important concept. Other industries are way ahead of us.

After all, think about it. At the dentist, as you pocket your credit card, what does the receptionist always ask you after paying your bill? That’s right! “What day of the week will be best for your next visit?” You meekly ponder the question and say, “Tuesdays are good for me.” She then fills out a card and hands it to you saying, “I’ve scheduled your next appointment for Tuesday, January 14. We’ll send you a reminder and call you a week ahead to give you another reminder. See you then ...”

It’s called “forward scheduling” and dentists have been doing it for years. Why? Because dental work is at best a “tolerated irritation” and the tendency is to put it off. (Sounds like having your carpets cleaned!) But if we are committed in advance, it is much more likely we will stay on schedule.

So Reflecting, the application of forward scheduling to residential carpet cleaning is obvious. And yes, quite a few of our SFS members are doing forward scheduling with great success.

Of course, Reflecting, the “stay beautiful pre-paid residential service program” is the ultimate forward scheduling trick. Sign up a “stay beautiful” client and they start paying toward their next cleaning almost immediately.

NOTE: For a complete, step-by-step guide to developing your own stay beautiful program, just e-mail me at and put the phrase “Stay Beautiful” in the subject line. No charge!

And best wishes!

P.S. By the way, Reflecting, congratulations on seeing the foolishness of just leaving your customers dangling, hoping they will call you back. Mack Clark always used to talk about running your business based on a high degree of hope. The passive approach you’ve used in the past is not much of a way to run a railroad... or a carpet cleaning operation!

 NOTE: 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! A new “Ask Steve” will premiere every Thursday in the ICS eNewsletter. Sign up to receive it here.

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