- THE MAGAZINE
I’ve written you before about striking out on my own into carpet cleaning and your suggestions have been very helpful. However, I am still stuck selling appliances for a large big box store here in Louisiana and doing my own part-time thing repairing appliances in my own spare time.
Even so I am slowly and tentatively getting started in carpet cleaning with a used truckmount I recently bought. My truckmount seems to do a good job, the carpets are dry (mostly) in less than 8 hours and my carpet cleaning clients have been very pleased up till now.
However, I just left a customer on a repair job that swears by a national franchise that offers a non-extraction, quick-drying carpet cleaning service. I’m not too familiar with franchises that offer this type of work. My client says she loves the quick dry time.
So what do you think, Steve? Should I look into these franchises and/or equipment and offer this type of service?
-Lost in Louisiana
If I read your letter correctly, you are really asking two questions. One is buying a franchise versus owning a non-franchise business model. My answer? It all depends - and the "depends" are way too long for this “Ask Steve.” However, remember you can't judge a franchise just by the franchisee in one market area or by the comments of one customer.
So let’s talk about convincing clients that your truckmounted hot water extraction method is better than a low-moisture, fast drying carpet system? Listen closely here, Lost. Never argue cleaning methods or techniques with a customer! And especially never do this over the phone.
Instead, just give ‘em what they want ... or what they think they want initially! That’s right - initially offer both carpet cleaning methods to your customers! It is pointless to try and convert someone that is sold on a certain system.
For example, in my market area, due to our overwhelming top of mind local presence, many times our company would receive calls asking if we did dry carpet cleaning.
NOTE: This question was mostly due to the overwhelming national marketing investment my competitor’s parent franchise company had made. I just thought to myself, “Thanks, Mr. Competitor, for putting carpet cleaning into my prospect's mind!”
So did we argue methods over the phone when we got hit with the “Do you do dry carpet cleaning?” Absolutely not!
Instead, following our “phone format,” our phone dispatcher would reply, "Yes, ma'am, we do! In fact, we offer a variety of cleaning options, including our exclusive low moisture, "Quik Dry" cleaning system! Our inspector will test your carpets before we clean and recommend which of our cleaning methods would be best for your home and then you can choose."
The rest of the story? Our inspector would go to the house and totally blow the customer away with his or her knowledge and professionalism.
Then, with the homeowner’s permission, we'd clean the carpets in the most appropriate manner. Our customer would always be delighted and become a huge cheerleader to boot. Everybody was happy… except maybe my local competition! Ca-ching!
P.S. There is some anger out there toward the national franchises on the part of individual cleaners. But we've had many individual franchisees attend Strategies for Success and I have found them to be very conscientious and honest folks. Yes, the “big boys” may appear successful with their, at times, negative marketing methods. However, once again remember that “a rising tide raises all ships” and their expensive national marketing reminded my clients that it was time to call me!
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