- THE MAGAZINE
Let me ask you a question. Are you in the “yes business?” It’s worth taking a few moments to reflect upon this question.
Marketing yourself has as much to do with what you can do for your customers while you’re at their location - or through special requests - as it does with advertising your services. I call this being in the “yes business.” Being in the yes business means you can satisfy your customers with a variety of skilled cleaning-related services, over and above carpet cleaning.
Every time you can say “yes” to a customer’s requests for additional services, you increase your profit potential and reinforce a relationship that virtually guarantees repeat business, because you become more valuable to them. It also generates new business, through the most cost-effective advertising method of all: word of mouth. You’ll be amazed how fast word will spread about your capabilities. Being able to say “yes” is also crucial to your company’s profitability and, perhaps, survival because it will put you way ahead of those competitors that can only provide one or two services.
Customers like convenience and competence. They don’t want to have to search for and make arrangements with two or three sources to take care of their cleaning-related needs. Be their all-in-one resource, and soon you’ll be in such demand that you will either be turning business away, or expanding to deal with the demand for your services.
What Are These Other Services?
- Upholstery Cleaning: Many cleaning professionals shy away from it because of the horror stories they’ve heard. Most of those stories result from lack of proper training, or failure to properly apply what was learned. I can’t think of too many easier profit builders than upholstery cleaning. You can assess the furniture condition during your pre-inspection walkthrough for cleaning the customer’s carpet. At that time you recommend to your customer that you do one or more pieces of upholstered furniture in addition to the carpet cleaning. You’ll substantially increase the profit from that customer, because you’re already in their home or place of business, thus you’ll save travel time, fuel and set-up/tear-down time. If necessary, you could even offer a special price for doing it while you’re there. You have nothing to lose by asking for the business and a lot to gain. If your day is already booked, simply make an appointment to come back on another day.
- Leather Cleaning: This is related to upholstery cleaning in that it entails cleaning furniture. However, leather is a mystery covering too many customers. They are not sure how to go about cleaning and conditioning it and, frankly, are afraid they are going to ruin the leather. The unspoken secret is that cleaning leather upholstery is generally easier than cleaning fabric upholstery, with less to go wrong, and it often generates a larger premium. As always, the key to doing a good job that both you and your customer will be happy with is training to acquire the needed skills and knowledge.
- Hard Surface Cleaning: Patios, driveways, walkways, garages, ceramic floor and bathroom tiles, stone fireplaces, etc. all need cleaning. Most of these require the higher pressure of a truckmount. Don’t get trapped into thinking of your truckmount as only a carpet cleaning machine. Instead, think of it as a multi-purpose power source with capabilities that include pressurized hot water, dispensing cleaning solution, vacuum capability, water pumping capability and containment of waste water for proper disposal. When you add a hard surface cleaning wand, brush or spinning tool, you can effectively clean inside and outside residential and commercial hard surfaces. By cleaning and recovering the water, you can clean hard surfaces inside homes, businesses and garages without fear of flooding the areas being cleaned. Several truckmount manufacturers offer high-pressure versions so that you can add hard surface cleaning capability and generate that otherwise lost revenue opportunity. These machines allow you to clean with lower pressure for carpet, upholstery, tile and other sealed hard surfaces, and clean with pressure up to 3000 psi for porous hard surfaces such as stone, brick, unsealed concrete, etc.
- Wood Floor Cleaning/Reconditioning: Up until recently the only way to make a scuffed, scratched and dirty wood floor look good again was to sand it to down to bare wood and refinish it with several coats of any number of available coatings, such as natural varnish or polyurethane. This was very messy and time consuming, and could best be done by workers skilled in wood floor refinishing. Today there are methods that simply prepare the very top layer of the old coating to allow a new layer of coating to be applied. What’s more, the new generation coatings dry to the touch in about the same amount of time it takes a carpet to dry. Customers are willing to pay a good price for this service, because the cost of sanding and refinishing a wood floor is many times more than what your service costs, not to mention the time, inconvenience and potential health factors involved with sanding away the old finish.
- Carpet Repair/Spot Dyeing: These two services are a more specialized, but very profitable, especially with apartments and private residences. I know of one cleaner who rarely walks away with less than $125 to $150 per apartment, and often considerably more, because he does minor repairs such as re-taping seams, replacing a loose tack strip, reapplying a portion of loose carpet to a tack strip, repairing or replacing a small section of carpet in the middle of a room, dyeing stains, etc. To replace still serviceable carpet would cost an apartment building owner a lot more.
Certainly, you need to know what you’re doing when you diversify. However, an investment in training is an investment in generating revenue and profits, and the training for everything is available through distributors around the country.
The alternative to not learning new skills is that you cannot offer additional services and will have to say “no” to customer requests, thereby foregoing additional income and reinforcing a general perception of inability or, at best, limited ability on your part as a professional cleaner. Perhaps the worst blow of all is when your customers hire someone that is in the “yes business” to clean their tile or upholstery. Who do you think they’ll call for their carpet cleaning next time?
Having the capability to provide multiple related services, through diversification, not only provides increased income, but also income security and, perhaps most important, positions your company as the more professional and desirable one to deal with.