Ask Steve

Ask Steve: Should I Ask Permission to Park in the Customer’s Driveway?

The goal here is to stage manage the entire “getting to know your client” process to consistently produce as many positive moments of truth as possible.

CleanerHi Steve,

I see on your SFS website that you suggest parking in the street and requesting permission to pull in the driveway. This sounded a bit silly at the time, but with all the craziness going on I am beginning to think that it lets the female homeowner know she is in charge and that I realize I am a guest in her home. I am doing it more and mor,e but do you think I should park and ask first every single time? And what if she says, “No, I don’t want you on my driveway!”

-Thinking Things Over in New Orleans


Dear Thinking,

First, Thinking, I want to commend you for actually trying something new instead of mulishly shaking your head and saying, “That’s just plain stupid!” So good for you!

I’m sure you have already noted that this “park first and then ask” technique has nothing to do with how far you run your hoses. It's all about giving the homeowner (especially a female customer) the illusion of control.

Remember, no one is going to refuse you permission to park close to their house. However, by you asking permission, the homeowner feels in control and this is very important. Heck, we even asked the customer which side of the driveway they would prefer us to park on. And almost every single one replied, “Park wherever you wish.”

Let me illustrate this “illusion of control’ technique. Think about a tennis game. One player serves the ball and then the other player returns it. In the same way, when you ask permission you are “serving control” to the customer. When they reply, “Do what you wish” they are “returning the control” to you. And trust me, in this serve/return transaction resides a very positive moment of truth!

Plus, Thinking, here is a great side benefit of the above exchange. When you ask where to park, it avoids the awkwardness of them having their car trapped in the garage after you start to work. Or you can even be proactive here and ask the homeowner if they would like to pull out their car in case they need to run to the store, etc.

The goal here is to stage manage the entire “getting to know your client” process to consistently produce as many positive moments of truth as possible. (This is especially important during those first few stressful minutes when meeting the client.)

For example, if possible I recommend parking in the street so the customer can see your lettered van over your shoulder when they open the door. This gives just a tiny extra bit of reassurance and safety during those important first two minutes.

NOTE: Want a detailed, step-by-step “Moment of Truth” check list for a residential carpet cleaning? Just write me at and include the phrase “ICS MOT check list.” I’ll e-mail it to you free of charge.

P.S. Thinking, I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you here about the dangers of carbon monoxide. Don’t let your desire to save a few steps put you or your customers in danger. Don’t ask me how I learned this one!

 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 each week. Register to receive it by clicking here

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