Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Can I Avoid Losing Customers that Want Immediate Cleaning?

One danger of trying to meet every client’s last minute demand is loading your people up with too much overtime

business women stock image reportsSteve,

It seems many carpet cleaners like to brag about being booked three weeks out. Me? I'd love to have customers that don’t always “want it now!” Some of my repeat clients are willing to wait on our jam-packed schedule but most customers, and virtually all of our new ones, want their cleaning within a week of when they call me.

Steve, 90% or more of my cancellations are from new customers that we have to book out a week or more in advance due to our work load. Many times these customers will start to second guess their decision, shop around more and then fall victim to a cheaper price. Or "stuff" will come up and they will cancel. Either way, we lose a booking plus we now have a hole in our carefully constructed schedule!

I’ve come to realize that carpet cleaning for the majority of consumers is an impulse buying decision. It seems that when people are ready to buy you better be ready to give it to them right away or your chances of losing those customers rises dramatically.

We are losing money right now due to not being able to get to the "can you fit me in today?" or "I need it this week!" callers. However we are picking up another van and truckmount this week to try to remedy that problem.

We all have different philosophies of how we want our businesses to run. But me, I'm want to be that guy that gets to spend only one minute in that phone booth with all that money blowing around and I want to grab as much as possible while I'm in there! My goal is to have more than only two hands to grab all that phone booth money!

Now this does not indicate that I only plan on being in this business for a short while. I love the cleaning industry. But my “want it all” philosophy is a reflection of how short life is and that phone booth is my ticket to the life I want to achieve!

So Steve, does any of my babbling above make sense? Or should I stay conservative and just accept the fact that I’m going to lose bookings if I can’t get to them right away?

-Grabbing it All in Greenville


I couldn't agree more, Grabbing, on how much it hurts to lose a booked client. Maybe I am just an obsessive/compulsive type of guy (my wife Sioux says no "maybe" about it!) but I hated to lose a client I had worked so hard to book.

It wasn't just the (substantial) marketing cost of getting them to call or even the profit from the initial job. What ticked me off was not having the opportunity to make a Cheerleader out of this customer and then have them refer me thousands of dollars over the years to come! Grrrr!

So sure, buy the extra truck and machine, Grabbing. A truckmount just doesn’t cost that much when compared to the "profit opportunities you are missing.”

Plus, even the best machinery breaks down and you don’t want to be without a spare. So I always wanted to have an extra van just sitting out back doing nothing. It is called “keeping some of your troops in reserve” and all smart generals do this.

Breakdowns, emergency water losses and last minute same day requests do happen ... a lot. Having the extra van let me take care of these people, even if I had to take off my office dress shirt and tie, put on a uniform and roar out of the parking lot. Actually once in a while I liked the change of pace!

But one danger of trying to meet every client’s last minute demand is loading your people up with too much overtime. Sure, your techs like the extra money but it plays havoc with their family life and burns them out. Instead, it is always better to keep your people booked a little loose so they can take care of those last minute jobs.

Have faith, this last minute work will happen! No more room in your schedule? Time to add more people and not just an extra truck! Or raise your prices so you can make more money with the same people!

NOTE: You must hold your workers accountable. Write me at and I’ll e-mail you my free special report, Adding Employee Accountability in Your Company. Or download it for free HERE.

Another great strategy is to build strategic partnerships. I had a reliable local cleaner, where if either of us had a good customer that needed work done ASAP and we simply could not get it in the schedule we would refer our client to our “partner” company. (And both of us swore on our scrub wand to not steal this customer.) This back-up arrangement worked great!

 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 Thursday. Register to receive it by clicking here

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