Ask Steve

Ask Steve: Should I Make a Separate Trip to Give an Estimate?

A look at how to do pre-inspections whenever you choose to do it.


I know you preferred to give a free estimate at the customer’s home before booking the job, but I’m sort of unsure on this. If I do make a separate trip, what is a good closing rate? Can I expect to get most of the jobs that I bid or will it be more like half of them? And do you have any tips on how to make sure the homeowner chooses my company? Thanks!

-Ambivalent in Albany


Thanks for writing, Ambivalent. And you’re not the only one in-between on this question. It is one of the most hotly debated subjects at our Strategies for Success seminar.

But instead of veering off into the pros and cons of pre-inspections let’s face up to the fact that every job needs to be pre-inspected and priced before cleaning. The only debate is whether you schedule the separate visit or not. So let’s first look at how you can make the most of all pre-inspections whenever you choose to do it!

1. Always carry a photo album or a tablet with you: You will want to include before and after photos, shots of your truck and cleaning equipment doing work at prestigious commercial locations, pictures of your employees and copies of great review letters. After this "inspection tour," while you are measuring the work, just hand your prospect the album and say, "You might want to look at some photos of our procedures and results."

NOTE: Remember that the reason people have a hard time buying any service is they can't visualize the process or results beforehand. With these photos you help them visualize both the process and the final result and give yourself lots of credibility in the process. Priceless! (Be sure to invest in a nice leather photo album.)

2. Please drop the word "estimate" from your vocabulary: When you say, “I’ll come out and give you an estimate…” you are focusing the customer only on price. Instead, offer a "free, no obligation cleaning pre-inspection that includes an exact, written price quote!" It’s the same thing, but with much better phrasing.

3. To make a separate pre-inspection visit or to do it right before you clean? That is the question! Simply put, I did both! We pre-qualified the prospect over the phone. If they were a) a previous customer, b) needed the cleaning done immediately, c) it was a very small job or an empty apartment or d) outside of our "inspection area" (which was roughly 30 minutes driving time), we sold the job over the phone. Otherwise we always tried to pre-inspect the job and it usually paid for itself many times over.

So how can you close the sale after investing all the time and money to actually do a separate pre-inspection in the customer’s home or business? Frankly, you can just bumble your way along and close half of your pre-inspections simply by showing up! Many times, no matter how bad you are, your customer will give in to avoid the agony of having to call a different company! But I assume you want to do a little better than half!

So what were my closing ratios percentages on separate pre-inspections? Assuming the prospect was properly pre-qualified over the phone, I booked the job with over 90% of my prospects. Then I developed a technique to overcome the old delaying objection of, "Let me check with my husband and I will get back to you ..." and it jumped to over 98%! And yes, this closing technique is included in my “Cleaning Inspections That Sell” scripts!

NOTE:  If anyone wants my "Cleaning Inspections That Sell" scripts, just write me at and I’ll e-mail them to you free. If you follow these techniques exactly you will close in excess of 90% of your pre-inspections. I guarantee it!

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 debut in the ICS eNewsletter every week. Register to receive it here

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