Anti-Allergen Cleaning - Part 2

November 20, 2007
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Let’s continue on our journey to discover how to generate $400,000 in sales using one truck with a helper, working Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, by adding anti-allergen cleaning and treatment services to your offerings.

What I’m going to show you does work, but it takes time and commitment. In addition, you definitely want to do all of the other conventional marketing for your anti-allergen services, such as listing the services on your van, adding it to your business cards and “pre-conditioning” letter, making it a part of your direct mail program and any other advertising you do.

If you decide to follow this plan, there’s a good chance it’s going to push you out of your comfort zone. You’ll be doing a number of things you may never have done before, and you’ll learn a lot. You’ll also generate a heck of a lot of new, highly profitable business that is not based on price.

There are 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies. There are 20 million more with asthma, now the fastest growing childhood disease. That means 70 million Americans – more than 20 percent of the U.S. population – are potential buyers of anti-allergen services. Now, there are approximately 40,000 carpet cleaners in the U.S. That means there are 1,750 potential anti-allergen customers per capita. And because these customers will require your services twice a year, when you add it all up, it means there are 3,500 jobs just sitting there waiting for you.

It gets better. If the average house you clean is 500 square feet (and that’s small, I know) and you charge $0.20 per square foot, that equals $100 in sales. If the average house has a sofa, loveseat and chair that you also clean, that adds another $180. If the average house has three mattresses, there’s another $200. Now the total is $480. The average carpet cleaner could do two of those per day, which would amount to $960. Multiply that by 5 days and you get $4,800 a week. The average cleaner works 46 weeks, which brings total annual revenue to $220,800. Add a helper and productivity can easily double for a total of $441,600.

Remember, that was 46 weeks, doing four jobs per day. That comes to a total of 920 jobs. But because allergy sufferers need services provided twice a year, it breaks down to only 460 customers.

Now, if you service a community of 100,000 and 20 percent of them need this service, you have 20,000 potential customers. Out of this 20,000 you only have to get 460, a 2 percent market share. So you see, the numbers are on your side.

Is that enough to get you out of your comfort zone?

What you’re going to do is something to attract new customers for your anti-allergen services. You’re going to run an ad in your local newspaper. The headline will be, “Do You or a Family Member Suffer From Allergies or Asthma?” The ad will solicit readers with these conditions to participate in a research project to aid in the relief of allergies and asthma.

You will need to interview the respondents and pick people to participate in your study that live in areas that match your ideal demographic in terms of income, education, location, etc. You want to be sure to select families that have kids and are active in the PTA and other social and networking organizations. You can find out all this information in your pre-qualification interview.

Once you’ve selected four or five participants, do an in-depth interview of their situation at their home. You want to ask a lot of questions about what life is like for the sufferer and their family members. Remember, you are trying to get a very clear idea of the situation before treatment, so you can contrast it with post-treatment results. Take “before” pictures of the home and family as well.

Explain the anti-allergen cleaning and treatment program you are proposing to use as part of the study. Answer any and all questions until they understand completely what you are proposing, and are willing to participate in the program. Let them know you will need to come back once a month to conduct interviews to determine how well the program is working, and to document the effects on the allergy and/or asthma sufferer(s) and the family.

You also need to have them sign a release that allows you to use the information you gather from the study in your advertising or educational materials. This is key! Without this agreement, don’t work with this family.

Once you have your participants, go to their home and perform the anti-allergen cleaning and treatment services at no charge. You clean and treat the carpet, upholstery and especially the mattresses, paying special attention to the bedrooms of the sufferers. Be sure that you give them an ample supply of anti-allergen laundry treatment with clear instructions that they need to use it every week when they wash the bedding of the sufferer in hot water.

Over the first three or four months your study participants will typically report great differences and improvements. You need to carefully take notes, as well as pictures and even video, to document these results.

There are numerous marketing benefits to this study. First, if the results are positive, your participants will be telling everyone they know about you and your services. This is why you want to make sure that your family is very involved in the community through the PTA and other groups and organizations.

These referrals will be calling you to help them solve their problems, not to find out how much you charge. We all know that these are the very best leads there are. You should also develop a public relations program around your study, making sure that the local papers, radio stations and television stations are notified when you start the program. If you get really powerful results, be sure to send press releases out again. This is a very newsworthy topic. Imagine what a segment on the 10 o’clock news or the local talk radio station would do for your business.

You can build a mini-marketing program around your study, with updates each month documenting the results. This should definitely be done on your Web site, through e-mail marketing and even direct mail. It’s a simple matter to get mailing lists of allergy and asthma sufferers in your area.

The difference between this and the other advertising you typically do is that it is informational, educational and based on real-world results from a real family in the area. You aren’t selling. Instead, you are informing potential customers how you help solve serious health problems.

Once you have a few months under your belt, you will have the raw material to put together a very interesting and compelling presentation for allergy relief support groups at local hospitals, fraternal and service organizations (who are always looking for speakers), etc.

Dust mite and pet allergens are responsible for perhaps 40 percent of allergies worldwide, and the targeted effectiveness of many cleaning and treatment solutions reflects this. If the family has some other allergies, your results may not be as powerful as you would like. For this reason, you should include three to five families in your study. Yes, you’re doing a bunch of free cleaning and treatments, but the resulting benefits will be so much greater than the time and money invested, you will be absolutely amazed.

Now, you will have to be patient, as the entire process takes six months. You have to do the follow-ups and you have to use the information to build your anti-allergen business. You have to be responsive to your participants during the study. Remember, they are going to be your unpaid salespeople, building your business to $400,000 per van.

Is such a program challenging? Yes. Will it push you outside of your comfort zone? Almost certainly. Are the results worth it? Well, read the numbers for yourself. If you’re tired of doing what you’ve always done and getting what you’ve always gotten, get out there and try it.

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