Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Can I Convert a Good Account into a Regular Maintenance Contract?

With the production speed of encapsulation you have tremendous room to discount if they sign up on a regular program

heiferman carpet cleanerHello Steve,

Last month I talked to the building manager/purchasing agent at a large insurance company and we got the go-ahead to do a demo area with encapsulation. They were totally impressed with our encap results and I just got the OK on 32,000 sq. ft. of commercial glue down carpet to encapsulate. (Plus around 5,000 sq. ft. of VCT to strip and finish.)

The purchasing agent told me that the carpet looked great after my cleaning and she was excited about getting the rest of it looking as good. She even added on another 2,000 sq. ft. of VCT as well. I'm really pumped because in their entrance foyer they have about 3,000 sq. ft. of 12x12 tile and grout that is going to need some serious help soon. This account could be a real treasure chest for me!

But Steve, the only thing that stinks about this whole job is the fact that someone from the company has to be there with us at all times. So the lady who is head of housekeeping was there with us when we were doing the encapsulation demo.

Steve, I know you preach getting accounts on a regular contract. And yes, I really would like to get this insurance company signed up on a maintenance contract but I just don't know enough about how they are set up. Any ideas on how to get the inside track on a big account like this one?

-Floundering Just a Bit in Fargo


Hey Floundering,

Sounds to me like you already have the inside track! Congratulations! Now that you are in with the purchasing agent just  1) show her how you can save her lots of headaches and 2) save her company money which will make her look really good! Then 3) simply ask your new friend what your next step is on getting a maintenance contract with her company.

Now that we’ve laid this problem to rest let’s go on rewind and see what you could have done even better with this account right from the git-go! And of course you can follow these principles on the next big, fat juicy account that falls into your lap!

One of the best things I ever stumbled into was giving business managers that requested a “How much to clean these carpets?” quote from me at least three price/frequency options:

1) An "as-needed" high cleaning price,  

2) A regular maintenance plan with "zones" done with varying frequency based on traffic and desired appearance and

3) Yet another “zoned maintenance plan” with even greater (and more expensive) cleaning frequency. They almost always went for the middle option which is exactly what I wanted.

Now it is true that most facility managers will say, “Just give me a one-time price on cleaning the carpets.” But please don’t fall into this trap. Instead, use my tactic of “deliberately misunderstanding them” and when you share your recommendations use my three price option detailed out above.

Remember, Floundering, with the production speed of encapsulation you have tremendous room to discount if they sign up on a regular program. I would do the first-time, initial cleaning just to gain their confidence and respect and then "go for the jugular" with a carefully crafted out maintenance plan. (The bonus for you here is after cleaning the place the first time you will know exactly how long it will take you!)

So after the first cleaning, go see your contact. Explain that you were happy to clean everything but feel a regular zoned cleaning where some areas are done more frequently will give her more bang for the buck with a much higher overall appearance level. Go on a tour and interview her regarding the areas that present the biggest challenges.

NOTE: To help structure this walk-through/interview, I developed a Commercial Carpet Analysis (CCA) form. For your free CCA form, just write me at and put “ICS CCA” in the subject line.

Now take all the data you’ve written down on your CCA form and analyze which areas need a monthly cleaning, which areas should be cleaned quarterly and of course some maybe once per year. (Stagger these areas so every month so your work load is more or less the same.)

Now just add up all the cleanings involved over the year and then divide by twelve to give this insurance company one consistent monthly price. (The bonus for you here is that many larger companies don’t need to get approval from corporate on smaller monthly amounts.)

I’m excited for you, Floundering. Around 30% of my gross came from regular contract commercial work. This “guaranteed cash flow” really helped me sleep well at night! Please write back with your end result.

P.S. Oh, and one more hint. Now that you have gained this company’s confidence, make these super low monthly prices contingent upon you having “open access.” (Translation? You want a key or at least the “open access” to do the job when it fits your schedule and not have an employee peering over your shoulder the whole time!)

 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 each Thursday in the ICS eNews. Register to receive it by clicking here

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