Carpet Cleaning Business Management

Ask Steve: What Should I Leave Behind After an In-Home Estimate?

Always try to leave behind lots of positive "moments of truth"

ICS0612_Toburen_img1_Feature.jpgHi Steve,

From reading your ICS “To Your Success” columns, I know you recommend doing an estimate in person for first-time customers. So what do you recommend actually leaving with a potential customer? Do you just write a price on the back of a business card or do you fill out an invoice and give them a copy? What is the best way to leave the customer with what it will cost to do a job? Is it common to just quote a price verbally and hope they write it down themselves? I’m a new business and I want to do things right.


-New Here in Kansas City


Hey New, you are commended for wanting to do things right. Too many people in our industry don't! I could write a book on what to do on the initial visit.

First, let me remind you that the very best thing to leave behind is a customer- approved work order with a work date filled in! And yes, we’ve already covered in this column how to “get to yes” when pre-inspecting a job. But meanwhile here are some few reminders:

1. Burn the word "estimate": Vague, imprecise and even worse, when you say “I’ll come give you an estimate,” it focuses the entire transaction on price. While cost is certainly a valid (and even important) part of the buying equation, it is not the only thing to consider. So I always used the term "pre-inspection."

Reminder: Be sure to take your shoes off or put on shoe covers before you step into the home. This step just blows people away!

2. Find (or invent) an excuse to "pre-test" a bad area or spot: Ask permission first, then use a good spotter, agitate and blot (use your knee) with a clean white towel and show them the difference. (Your white towel will be filthy!) Pow! A sold job! While your competitors are blah-blah-blahing over how good they are or just leaving a slick color brochure you are showing the customer.

After you have done this incredible “show and tell” on the customer’s carpet, simply hand the customer the spotter bottle you used (labeled with your logo and contact)and say, “This is a gift from our company and any time you need more just let us know - you get ‘free spotter for life’!” This is an incredible positive moment of truth.

NOTE: I gave everyone the “free spotter for life” bottle before they signed up with us. This principle of non-reciprocal giving is very powerful. Trust me on this one. Don't tie the free spotter offer to using your services. Instead, follow the Biblical principle of “Throw your bread on the waters and it will come back to you!”

3. Do even more show and tell stuff: Carry a quality photo album (or you can use a tablet such as an iPad) showing  before and after shots, your employees, your equipment, a nice picture of your family and of course classy businesses you clean for. (No massage parlors where you take your cleaning services out in trade, please!) Your goal here is to help customers "pre-experience" the transaction to alleviate the No. 1 emotion with any service - fear.

Remember that the main reason customers have problems choosing any service is they can’t visualize it ahead of time. So what are you doing with No. 2 and No. 3 above? Helping them see the process (No. 3) and what the final result (No. 2) will be.

NOTE: For a free carpet cleaning pre-inspection script, just e-mail me at and put the word “ICS Pre-inspection” in the subject line.

This is a great industry you have chosen, New. In fact, it is so good it even allows mediocrity to survive. But if you do it right you will not only survive but prosper and find success, happiness and wealth.

P.S. Wait a minute, New, I never answered your question, did I? “So what do you recommend leaving with the potential customer?”  I left a complete written up work order, (Do not depend on the customer remembering/writing it down!) the free lifetime spotter bottle and my business card. Most importantly, I left behind lots of positive moments of truth like the ones I detail out above! All of these are essential. Best wishes!

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

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