- THE MAGAZINE
Any woodworker will tell you that 90% of their project’s success is based on preparation. Everything from matching the grain to squaring the pieces to the final sanding - miss one step and your project will be ruined.
So it is with a carpet cleaning job. You must “prepare” the carpet cleaning customer to be delighted with your finished product. Then your on-the-job-actions must consistently follow through with the expectations you have created!
Now you carpet cleaners may be thinking here about pre-spray, dwell time, rotary extraction and/or speed drying techniques… but stop already! Sure - technical prowess is important. But let’s focus on one time-tested principle of residential carpet cleaning:
80% of how the homeowner decides whether it was a good job or a bad job is based on how they feel about the person doing the actual work!
Make sense? Success in cleaning residential carpets is mostly based on working with the “emotional dynamics” of your client. So logically, what emotions does a homeowner face in choosing a carpet cleaner?
Remember that, sadly, our industry is full of dubious characters that your average customer wouldn’t even want to walk by on the street, much less invite into the inner sanctum of their home! And your prospective client’s negative emotions are even worse if they have endured a service nightmare from a bait-and-switch carpet cleaner before.
So your prospective first-time customer is feeling irritated, scared, intimidated, vulnerable, invaded, suspicious and/or even angry and hostile - and this is even before they start calling carpet cleaners! As one of my customers told me many years ago, “Steve, I would rather go to the dentist than have my carpets cleaned!” For most homeowners, having their carpets cleaned is at best a tolerated intrusion.
So you must prep the customer to expect great things from your company before you even arrive at their home! For example…
Prepping on the Initial Phone Call
Develop “optimistic expectancy” in your customer. In other words, their over-the-phone experience should be so positive that they expect the next step/person in your company’s process to be just as professional! Let’s hit some high points…
Greeting: Answer the phone on the second ring. Clearly enunciate and cheerfully say, “Thank you for calling (company name). This is (your full name). How may I help you?” Invariably your first-time caller will say, “How much do you charge…?”
You reply: “I can help you with that. May I ask you a few questions?” Your prospect says “Sure!” and you courteously and efficiently go down a list of questions in your phone format. This customer interview will give you lots of valuable job information. But it also meets two much more important prepping your client goals:
• Displaying an attitude of care and concern: Other carpet cleaners your prospect has called have been (choose one or more) indifferent, brusque, distracted and/or downright rude! (Or their phone hasn’t even been answered!) Your company will differentiate itself by actually being interested enough to interview the caller about their home and possessions!
• Gently force the caller into making a time investment: The longer you keep your prospect involved in answering genuine questions, the more likely it is they will want a return on the time they have invested with you. How will they get this ROI? By having you clean their home!
Prepping the Homeowner in Writing
After scheduling the job, mention to your new customer, “I’m going to send you our ‘Getting Ready for Your Big Day’ cleaning checklist. What e-mail address should I use?” This checklist preps your customer on what to expect from your company.
But even more importantly, your e-mail will also include a list of your website links to the additional services your company can perform while you are on-site. As I always say, “Your customer can’t spend more money with you if they don’t know what you can do!”
Calm their Fears
Remember that your first-time customer’s biggest emotion is fear! And since your primary customer is female, she is understandably nervous about being alone in her home with a male technician. So why not prep your client by pre-introducing your technician? Before finishing your initial phone conversation, simply mention…
“Mrs. Jones, in your ‘How to Get Ready for Us” e-mail I’m also going to include a link to your tech, Bill Green’s, employee profile on our website. By clicking on Bill’s profile you can get to know a little about him before he works for you next Thursday. And all of our employees are uniformed and wear photo ID badges.”
NOTE: Every one of your workers should have their very own employee profile page hosted on your website. Their profile can include family photos (pets are great too), where they were born, how long they have lived in the area, hobbies, sports, professional certifications and a quote on how they feel about their carpet cleaning career. You can even include a brief video interview.
Now that your tech (or yourself) is cleaning in your customer’s home, you need to dramatically exceed the high expectations you have already set for your company. Again, this is about much more than technical job quality. Exceeding expectations comes from two key points:
• Displaying an attitude of care and concern: Much of this is based on the personality of your front-line worker. (You should always “hire the smile” when it comes to employees.) But merely setting up routine care and concern steps will greatly help dramatically exceed your client’s expectations.
• Explain the what and why of your cleaning procedures: Technicians have a wonderful opportunity to actually help their customer define what a good carpet cleaning job is! And yet most techs hide out from the homeowner, failing to communicate with or even ignoring their client. Why? Because your tech is afraid of the homeowner!
Yet many customers are sincerely interested in the mystery of cleaning carpets. So while you are working why not explain and demonstrate just what a quality carpet cleaning should involve?
For a free copy of Steve’s ‘Getting Ready for Your Big Day’ cleaning checklist, write him at firstname.lastname@example.org and put the words “Cleaning Checklist” in the subject line.