ICS Magazine

Beating Back the B&Ser

September 9, 2001
Selling yourself to customers can be easy, or difficult. One thing is certain, selling yourself as a carpet cleaner when your clients are being 'educated' about the Bait 'n Switcher can make it difficult. Time for a little educating of your own.

Here comes the Bait & Switcher. What's a reputable cleaner to do? Educate your clients.

Here we go again. First, another Bait & Switch 'operator' has been busted by the state Department of Consumer Affairs. And then when you turn on your television to escape the daily onslaught of bad news, you hear the wife of a prominent celebrity 'claiming' that "you should never have your carpets cleaned, as it presents a health hazard to young children!"

Sigh. What's a carpet cleaning professional to do?

We spend years learning our craft. Though we continually educate ourselves by attending seminars and conventions, and joining regional and national trade organizations, we still find ourselves having to respond to baseless (and damaging) claims and defending our industry every time some misinformed person opens his or her mouth, or some unscrupulous B&Ser puts a wand to a carpet.

Well, there is something we can do, collectively as an industry. Every time you step into a client's home, consider yourself an ambassador to your trade. It's your job to help dispel the nonsense and alleviate unfounded fears. How? By presenting yourself in a professional manner, each and every time you're in a client's home.

Remember, you are not just representing your firm, you are representing every carpet cleaning professional.

Client Education
An educated consumer makes for a great client. Educate your clients with Consumer Information aids.

Among these aids are FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), Common Carpet Problems and Bait & Switch awareness letters. These should all be sent to new customers before you visit their homes. Besides saving you time and making your new client 'aware,' you are exuding professionalism. You are also leaving your firm's name in several places. For your regular customers, leave them in the home after a job is completed.

Appearance Why do some homeowners perceive the carpet care professional in, well, less then a professional light? Do they view electricians the same, ahem, light? I don't believe so. It's important to do what you can to reverse this type of thinking by taking simple steps: Wear a clean shirt with your own name on it as well as your company name and logo. If you have any certification patches, sew them on the sleeve. Wear them proudly. Always smile and be friendly.

There is an inherent apprehension in letting a stranger into the home for the first time. Dispel this right away. If there is a newspaper laying in the driveway, bring it with you to the door; a simple courtesy this goes a long way.

When the job's done, ask the homeowner to inspect your work. Let them know that if they have any questions after you leave, to please call you. Stress the fact that your job does not end when you pull away from the home, and that you guarantee client satisfaction. Phone your client the following day to check on their satisfaction.

These steps not only go a long way toward building cheerleaders for your company, they also dispel some of the nonsense and misinformation, spread about by the uneducated Bait & Switcher.