Ask Steve

Ask Steve: When Should I Tell the Customer About Adding Protector?

as long as you deliver at least as much as you promised for the price you promised, there is nothing wrong in giving additional options in the home.

carpet cleaning vacuum soilSo here is my question, Steve. In my new carpet cleaning business, I’ve been pricing out two packages: One with furniture moving included and one without moving the furniture. People seem to be happy with my work and I’m making money.

But so far I’ve just been cleaning with no add-on sales. I know you especially promote selling carpet protector to residential customers. I agree. But I do have a question on the timing of the protector offer. Is it a good idea to just leave the carpet protector out of the package, give the estimate over the phone and state that “this is the unprotected price?” Then I suppose the client will ask “what does that mean exactly?” and I can tell them about the protector just to plant a seed in their mind.

Then after they agree to have me come and clean their carpet, should I send a letter explaining the protector several days before I arrive? I could then try to close them on the sale of the protector while in the house. Does this sequence sound right to you?

-Unsure in Utah

P.S. Also, Steve, I hope you tell your SFS students to never take their business for granted. The feeling of going to a customer’s house, providing a service that they are thrilled with and then making good money at the same time is truly awesome. I want to thank you and ICS for your support in my new venture.


Dear Unsure,

First, congratulations on your new business! This is a wonderful industry if you do it right!

And yes - I agree 1,000% with your P.S. - owning your own cleaning or restoration business is not without problems. (After all, your problems are what we focus on in this “Ask Steve” column.) But if you can pull it off, there is nothing better than being a successful entrepreneur.

Let me clear up one thing, Unsure. I don’t make a nickel on carpet protector sales from Jon-Don or anyone else. I “promote” protector because I believe it is in your best interests to sell and apply this product.

Think about it. You are already there on the job and (hopefully) your basic cleaning has already covered the marketing and overhead costs of this job. So after the minimal costs for the product and application (usually .04 to .05 per square foot) all the rest is gravy, baby!

You ask about when to bring up the protector option with its higher pricing. I do realize you don’t want to scare them off by quoting a high price over the phone. And as long as you deliver at least as much as you promised for the price you promised, there is nothing wrong in giving additional options (such as protector) once you are in the home.

NOTE: An Idaho cleaner recently wrote me about over-the-phone pricing for first-time clients. And I shared in this column the downside of not “pre-inspecting” the carpets before that first cleaning. (Selling much more protector in the relaxed atmosphere of a pre-cleaning inspection is just one advantage.)

For my free “Carpet Cleaning Pre-inspection” sales script just write me at stoburen@StrategiesForSuccess.comand put the phrase “ICS Pre-inspection” in the subject line.

But here’s my opinion, Unsure. If you decide to continue trying to book work over the phone, then it sounds reasonable to test a) mentioning it on the initial call, b) including the protector topic in a “confirmation letter” and c) finally offering it as an option during the actual cleaning.

(HINT: Never say you are going to “spray down” or “apply” protector. It should always “re-applied” as in, “Mrs. Jones, would you like me to ‘re-apply’ your protective finish after cleaning today?”)

P.S. You’ll notice I use the phrase “test” above. Too often we start doing something and never analyze it down the road. Instead, you should constantly be trying to improve your results, if only by tweaking things a little bit.

This “test everything” principle goes double for your marketing! The advantage for you as a small business is you can test and analyze something new each week. Sort of like being in a constant state of improvement!

 Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply write Steve HEREwith your questions, problems, struggles and challenges! Your help is on the way! Look for a new “Ask Steve” every Thursday in the ICS eNewsletter, which you can register to receive here

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