Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Can I Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of?

Ok, Steve, you recently suggested giving the customer a bottle of free “lifetime” spotter where I have to replace the bottle whenever they ask for more. I see the obvious benefits of this idea but I have two questions:

1. Couldn’t giving away all this carpet spotter become an expensive proposition? And of course it could potentially get even worse if people are still asking for their free replacement spotter bottles years down the road! (I guess that word “lifetime” is bothering me!) And what if I get deluged with spotter requests and then people don’t use my services? This leads to my other question…

2. Shouldn’t I at the very least insist that the person book the job with me before I give them a free spotter bottle?

-A Bit Cynical in Cheyenne


I get these questions quite often, Cheyenne, so thanks for bringing them up! My simple reply to both of your questions is to just view these free lifetime spotter bottles as a marketing investment. And what a great investment these spotter bottles, which are personalized with your contact information, are!

I don’t know of any free specialty advertising item you could give away that has more “stickiness” in the home for such a low price. (Depending on which supplier you choose, these custom imprinted bottles pre-filled with spotter will only be a little over a $1 per bottle - certainly no more than $2!)

So will people cheat you? Maybe - but not very often. For example, I had thousands of my custom imprinted free limited spotter bottles out in my market. And yet not more than two or three people per year took advantage of me, as in asking for a replacement bottle but then didn’t use my services. All I can say is “Who cares?” All marketing is just a numbers game and remember your cost per bottle is super low!

So now when should you give your free lifetime spotter to a prospective customer? Here is my radical idea! When doing a pre-inspection of the carpets for a new customer, give them their free lifetime replacement spotter immediately after you introduce yourself to your prospective customer. Why?

By gifting your prospect the spotter before they decide on who will do their cleaning, you are using the principle of reciprocity. This simply means you do something nice for someone while asking for nothing in return. However, the law of reciprocity means that they are now under an emotional obligation to return the favor. (In this case, your prospective client with a bottle of your free lifetime spotter in their hand subconsciously feels like they must book the job with you!)

NOTE: I’ve even done up a short video HERE showing how to get maximum mileage out of your free lifetime spotter using the “Law of Reciprocity.”

Over the years I’ve heard of dozens of specialty advertising items cleaners leave with their customers to try and remind them of who they should call next time. This leave behind concept is sound since 58% of your clients don’t call you back because they can’t remember who they used last year! However, the execution is wrong!

Here are the problems with the pens, hot pads, coffee cups, note pads, key chains, calendars, etc, etc, etc that are left with the homeowner and why lifetime free spotter works so well:

1. They do not have a high perceived value. (Translation? Your client throws this stuff away.) But a free bottle of lifetime carpet spotter recommended by a professional cleaner? Wow! This will get saved! Even better…

2. The “Lifetime Free Replacement” on the bottle’s label means the spotter is “sticky.” People don’t use it up and toss it - they replace the spotter (for free) and when you give them their new free bottle that great reciprocal giving principle kicks in. So invariably they will schedule another cleaning. Plus…

3. Ideally you want your giveaways to be related to what you do. And what screams “carpet cleaning” more than carpet spotter? So now every single time your customer uses their free spotter they see your name, phone number and website on the bottle. Perfect!

So Cheyenne, may I humbly suggest you are over analyzing this. My experience (and the experience of my thousands of SFS graduates) is that giving out free lifetime spotters is one of the best marketing investments you will ever make.

 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! 

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