You probably don’t know Paul Kelly. He retired from my
company a year ago, having worked for me for the last 14 years. Previous to
that, he worked as a professional carpet cleaner since 1985.
Allow me to tell you a little about Paul.
When Paul “retired” a year ago at 65, he went right back to
work and joined with his daughter and son-in-law in starting a professional
cleaning company. His stated goal was to take everything he had experienced,
everything he had taught others and everything he had learned about cleaning
and running a business and apply it directly to making his own company a
success. His mantra – Be True To
Yourself – derived from taking all the positive things he had learned and
taught for so many years and applying them, leaving out the shortcuts, and
bringing only quality and professionalism to the customer. He would use all the best tools to make this
Paul happens to have been the final keynote speaker at our
annual distributor conference this year, and he began his speech by asking his
audience, “Who is your ultimate customer?” After a couple of tries, we figured
it out: it is Mr. Jones or Mrs. Smith, the homeowner or business owner getting
the cleaning or restoration done.
Suppliers are only selling products that ultimately serve
the end customer. All products and services are immediately or eventually
consumed by servicing that end cleaning and restoration customer. Paul helped
us remember that we need to be on the cutting edge of products and services
and, just like Paul, to never cut corners, so our ultimate customer always gets
Your business model may be different than Paul’s, but I
believe it will serve everyone to consider some of the philosophies and tools
he uses. He is amazingly successful and busy after just one year of business. I
won’t attempt to explain all of his marketing ideas because, after all, I’m The
Gadget Man, not The Marketing Man, but he did tell me that one of his early
tactics was to be an expert on just about everything the high-end customer was
One of their earliest marketing efforts was to advertise
leather care to high-end customers, customers who also had high-value Oriental
rugs. This led to cleaning skins (you know, like bear-skin rugs), which in turn
led to mounts (yes, the big moose head on the wall). The carpet and tile cleaning was just a
natural extension of these other diversifications.
Paul realized from the beginning that he had to get
everything possible out of a job. That meant that every carpet and upholstery
job needed to have protector applied. Paul knew he could net $400 to $500 per
hour while applying protector. His goal was to sell protector on 90% of his
carpet cleaning jobs, including commercial jobs. After his first year, he is
selling protector on 95% of his jobs.
What is his secret? He includes protector in every one of
his bids. To him, it is a forgone conclusion the customers want the best for
their furnishings and he confidently assumes they will want the best protector.
This confidence is extended when a demonstration is offered to the customer.
Taking a small demo kit into each job and demonstrating on real carpet or real
upholstery fabric will seal the deal every time (or in Paul’s case, 95% of the
Paul didn’t start by saying, “I’ll buy a little pump sprayer
or gallon of protector and see how it goes.” No, he bought an electric
rechargeable sprayer on wheels that he dedicated to protector application. It
was loaded and ready to go on every job. He knew he was going to be selling
By the way, Paul measures everything. He knows exactly where
his success is coming from and exactly what he needs to work on every day,
every week and every month. Every detail is documented: how much protector he
sold that day, how much income came in from rugs that week, and what volume of
upholstery cleaning happened last month. Please let me suggest you do the same.
For years Paul taught the value of a giveaway spotter
program. Each customer gets a spotter with his name and phone on it. He takes a
minute to tell them how to use it, and makes sure they understand the value of
this product, as it will not only work on the carpet but is great for
upholstery, car interiors and even their clothes. Now some of his customers are calling for
another cleaning, yes, but they’re most excited to get another spotter because
they have run out.
It was a goal to immediately set his company, Blue Diamond
Premium, apart from the pack. He actually has many ways of doing this, but I found
his use of the pre-conditioning step to be the most compelling.
Every floor covering, including carpet, rugs, tile and
grout, stone, and concrete, gets pre-conditioned with cleaning agent. The next
step is to agitate with the counter-rotating brush machine. Paul uses a
stainless steel model and keeps it shiny and clean. Only after the brush
machine is run over the surface does he move to the extraction process.
Think about the customer viewing this extra step. It is very
impressive and is something his competition doesn’t do. However, he doesn’t do it just for show. He
says it really makes a difference in loosening the soil and preparing it for
extraction. While he takes most of his rugs out of the home for cleaning, he
has a video that shows rug washing in a bath of water and cleaning solution,
using the counter-rotating brush, that demonstrates to his customers the
thorough cleaning of their rugs. The consistent use of the counter-rotating
brush sets Paul apart from the competition.
Paul went on to explain how tools of the trade like the
carpet drying fan; rotary extractor; Koolglide seaming iron; spot lifting and
flood extraction tools; injection sprayers for pre-spray and even mini-air
movers for stair drying, give him the opportunity to provide the best service
for his customer – the ultimate customer for all of us.
I asked Paul’s permission to include his website
(www.BlueDiamondPremium.com) here. As I stated earlier, you may not agree with
everything Paul does, but you can surely learn something valuable. He has a
short video on the site he says is responsible for 30% of his work. He should
know; after all, he measures everything and knows where every job comes from.
Gordon Hanks is the CEO of Bridgepoint Systems. For more information call (800) 658-5314.