Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Can I Increase Bookings Over the Phone?

Hi Steve,

Since 1998 I have been advertising high quality cleaning while also informing homeowners why they should stay away from the so-called low price cleaners. Yet lately, my booking rate has been extremely low! Out of 78 calls so far this month I have booked 3 lousy jobs! This is killing me!

Steve, I am pleasant on the phone and explain things briefly but in enough detail so as to get my point across. When a client only asks about price, I reply, “But is a ‘deal’ still a ‘deal’ if you weren't happy with the outcome?”

It amazes me, Steve. People call and literally say to me, “I’m tired of getting ripped off by carpet cleaners. Can you help me?” Then after I explain about my high quality service they say, “Well, I am getting a few bids first before I decide…” Sigh!

Steve, why can’t I get the point across as to why they need to pay a little more for a quality job done right the first time?

I live in San Diego, Steve, and I will tell you... there must be at least 10,000 carpet cleaning companies here all fighting each other tooth and nail! What can I do??

-Struggling in San Diego


Ouch, Struggling! It is frustrating when you KNOW in your heart of hearts that you are not charging too much and that you will get their carpets very clean. And yet when you give the price over the phone they just thank you and hang up after saying, "I need to check with my husband!"

Hey, I’ve been there and done that. So here are a few thoughts to help you (and anyone else in this boat.)

1. Start doing in-home inspections: It is extremely hard to differentiate yourself over the phone. Sadly our industry has reduced carpet cleaning to a commodity in many consumers’ minds. So their only buying motivation will now be based on low price.

CAUTION: If you have positioned your image, advertising and quality on prestige cleaning, then the vast majority of your prospects are asking about price BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO ASK! So do not assume that just because they focus initially on price they are price shoppers!

2. Use a phone script (and a pre-inspection script) that "answers the caller’s unspoken question": Huh? You see, Struggling, your caller has many unspoken questions, such as "Will you rip me off?" or "Will you do a good job?" or "Will you steal from me?" etc. But they don't verbalize these questions to you because either they don't consciously recognize them or, more likely, are too embarrassed to ask! So your prospects fall back on the comfortable question of, "How much do you charge?"

3. Work your past clients: You say you have been in business for 16 years. Wonderful! So if you've been doing great work since 1998, why not start mailing a newsletter to all these past customers? Many of them may have lost your name or phone number. You might even want to preface your regular newsletter with a personal letter explaining what you are doing. I would also print your (smiling) photo on the letter. That way they will recognize you. People have really short memories for company names.

4. Work really hard at building relationships: It really is true that "friends buy from friends" and even more importantly friends become cheerleaders who refer you to others. Seriously. Good work on its own just isn't good enough anymore!

5. Go where the competition ain't! If you are really in a dog-eat-dog residential battle, get out there and start knocking on commercial doors. I know the hours stink but a lot of doctor's offices, etc. can be done during the week on their day off or on Saturday or Sunday during the day. When you set up a route for one night per week, hire a part-time employee to run it using your encapsulation machine and their own vehicle (pay them a mileage allowance) and your route will turn into a cash machine.

6. Look into subbing: I have a good friend who does encapsulation cleaning as a subcontractor for janitorial services. He works out of his Astro van and clears over $200 per hour encapping their carpets while working alone! Sure, this stuff isn’t glamorous but he is laughing all the way to the bank!

NOTE: For targeted advice on setting up commercial encapsulation routes and on subcontracting to janitorial and maid services download my free “How to build Encapsulation Routes” manual HERE. Or just write me at and I’ll e-mail it to you- no charge!

Hang in there, Struggling. And good hunting.

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!



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.


Beginning April 21, Google will start judging websites based on their mobile friendliness. What exactly does this mean to you cleaning website? Find out in the latest edition of The Hitman Advertising Show, which will also cover tips and suggestions on getting mobile compliant.
More Podcasts

ICS Cleaning Specialist Magazine


2015 April

The April ICS issue features content on concrete polishing, green cleaning, air duct cleaning, injection sprayers and new products.

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