Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Should I “Sell” Commercial Jobs - Low Cost or Quality of Work?

Don’t automatically assume that someone asking for a better deal is only focused on price

man cleaning tile with portable cleanerHi Steve,

My residential work just isn’t coming in like it used to. Plus my existing clients aren’t calling as often or are ordering less.

So I was thinking I really need to line up some commercial work. I’m going to suck it up and “put my big boy panties on” and hit the streets! But now I’m super nervous and need some help.

So Steve, when you talk to managers do you say, “I can do it cheaper,” or should I stand my ground and make them understand that I am not a fly-by-night operator? The few times I’ve gone out selling I just got so tired of hearing, “The last guy did it for $220. Can you beat his price?”

-Getting Ready to Hit the Streets in Des Moines


Here’s the deal, Getting Ready,

Beware of the conventional wisdom out there! For example, everyone knows that all commercial managers are only focused on cheap and just want you to beat the bid.

On the other hand, I discovered that many managers don’t even know for sure what they pay and are more interested in reliability, a proven track record and a burden lifted off their backs.

Sure, I know that there are cheapskates out there. When you find one, just respectfully thank them for their time and move on to greener pastures. But don’t automatically assume that someone asking for a better deal is only focused on price. This is just a game they play!

So play their game right back! How? By getting your contact involved in the process, which in turn forces them to make a time investment. How do you do this? By conducting a professional interview that focuses on your contact’s needs!

HINT: A huge mistake is to blah-blah-blah to a commercial decision maker on how great your business and work is. News flash! They don’t care!

So when your prospect says, “The last guy did it for $220. Can you beat his price?” don’t get your tender feelings hurt! Instead, you reply, “I don’t know. Let me ask you a few questions…” and you pull out a clipboard with your Commercial Carpet Analysis form. (A clipboard gives you instant respect!)

NOTE: For a free copy of our SFS Commercial Carpet Analysis form, just e-mail me at and put the words “Commercial Carpet Analysis” in the subject line.

Once your contact starts answering your Commercial Carpet Analysis form questions you’ll come to, “Where is your biggest carpet maintenance challenge located?” As they start to regale you with their nightmare area, you interject, “Could you show me?” and start to rise from your chair. They will almost automatically follow your lead and get up too! It is super important to get your contact out from behind their desk and focused on you and this walk-through.

So now you have your contact involved in a tour which forces them to invest even more time with you and of course they will want a return on their time invested, which means they will want to hire you! Whew!

Remember, commercial sales is all about working the numbers and asking as many people as possible every day, “May I give you some recommendations for your carpet maintenance?” Just imagine if you could find one conscientious, professional facility manager per day. They are out there!

By the way, Getting Ready, here is a trap to avoid. Don’t automatically assume you can’t make money at the “$220 the previous guy did it for″ rate. Commercial work is so much faster than residential it is almost a completely different business and should be priced that way. On our regular contract commercial work we routinely priced some of our accounts at less than half our residential pricing … and yet we still made more per hour!

 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! A new “Ask Steve” will debut in the ICS eNewsletter every Thursday. Register to receive it by clicking here

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to i Cleaning Specialist Magazine.

Recent Articles by Steve Toburen

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

The 2014 Experience Conference and Exhibition

A look in photos at the 2014 Experience Conference and Exhibition, which was held from April 24-26 at the Embassy Suites Convention Center and Spa in Frisco, Texas.

1/27/15 2:00 pm EST

Grow Your Business and Improve Operations with New Payment Technology

Attend this free webinar to learn how new developments in payment technology can help you close more jobs, increase upselling opportunities and improve operations.


While winter is considered the "slow season" for carpet cleaners, it can also be a season of great opportunity. In this episode of The Hitman Advertising Show, John Braun offers advice for keeping revenue consistent during the cold weather months so you're thriving - and not just surviving - the winter.
More Podcasts

ICS Cleaning Specialist Magazine


2014 Nov/Dec

The Nov/Dec ICS features content on how to get better meter readings, a roundtable on truckmount development, neighborhood marketing and more. Also included is the annual Buyer’s Guide and Directory.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Janitorial Work

In addition to residential and commercial carpet cleaning, do you do any janitorial work on the side?
View Results Poll Archive


The Carpet Cleaner's Book of Unlimited Success! (ebook)

Don’t worry about the recession or about your competition.  Now you can be the owner of over 400 ways for carpet cleaning professionals to make more money and get more jobs!

More Products


Director_Buyer.jpgThe premier resource and reference guide for the cleaning and restoration industries.

Click here to view


facebook_40.png twitter_40px.png youtube_40px.png


Truckmount.jpgEquipment listings and specifications from the leading industry manufacturers.

Click here to view