ICS Magazine

Customized Spotter: Your Ace in the Hole

September 8, 2010


Like it or not, you are growing older every day. Someday you will be faced with retirement and, one way or another, you will want all your years of hard work and labor to help support you in retirement.

You may sell your business, leave it to your children, or hire someone to run it while you golf. But no matter your plans, you need a secure and substantial customer base before your company can bring you the kind of return you like.

Among all the tools you deploy to market and retain customers, there is one that stands out as what I believe to be the most effective, inexpensive and simple. Yet you may not be deploying it for some reason or another. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so I want to help you with an easy business-building concept.

For many years now I have written about gadgets, accessories, and equipment to make your cleaning life better. Today’s “gadget” will certainly stretch the definition because you won’t use it in your cleaning, but you will use it so you can keep cleaning more carpet in the years to come. OK, enough mystery – I am talking about offering your customers a customized carpet spotter. Here’s why:

Your customer often forgets your company name soon after the job is done. Give them something they will use that is valuable and has your name on it, and they will not forget you. The customized spotter fills this need perfectly.

You will clean their carpets more often. When your spotter is of high quality, the customer will love it. They will find reasons to have you come back and clean, if only so they can get more spotter! When they take out a carpet spot, it will leave a clean spot and they will notice how dirty the carpet is overall. Your name and number is right there on the bottle in their hand, and they will call you.

You are giving extra value. If you would like to build strong repeat customers, give them more value than they pay for. The spotter will be an unexpected bonus for them that they will really appreciate.

Bonus Benefits

Many spotters also work very well on most clothes and upholstery. If your customers start using it as a laundry pre-spot, be prepared to supply them with extra quantities.

The spotter easily leads into other maintenance cleaning products you could offer your customer. Perhaps you have cleaned their tile and grout or refurbished their hardwood floor and they ask, “Now what should I use to clean it?” Professionals are discovering extra income potential in making these additional products available to their customers.

Should I Sell It or Give It Away?

Let me illustrate with my own experience. My brother and I were in the carpet cleaning business just a couple of years when we decided to implement a carpet protector program to offer our customers. We felt like the protector warranted charging a high price so, in order to get this high price, we had to give extra value so we offered a one-year warranty with the application of the protector.

The warranty stated that if the customer had a spot or spill which they could not remove, we would come out and remove it at no charge. Of course we did not want them using just any old cleaner from under the kitchen sink, so we bottled a professional spotter with our name on it and gave it to them when they purchased the protector application.

This was a very effective and lucrative program. The offer of the free spotter helped sell protector and, of course, they now had the spotter with our name and number on it so they would know who to call.

To our surprise and delight, the spotter started to become the draw for having cleaning done. Our customers would talk about the spotter as much as they did our cleaning service and neighbors would call to have carpets cleaned but wanted to make sure the spotter would come with it.

So should you sell it or give it away? It doesn’t really matter, just make sure that every customer has a bottle when the job is finished. Some use it as a bonus gift if they buy protector or reach a certain volume of work. Some offer it in the beginning for $10.95 a bottle but end up giving it to the customer as a thank you. Others stick to their guns and sell it without exception. Either way, just make sure your customer gets a bottle.

I know cleaners who have received referrals resulting in thousands of dollars worth of work because of one bottle of spotter given to a regular customer. I hope you’re taking advantage of this simple and inexpensive client retention giant.