ICS Magazine

Do You Have the Right Props?

April 11, 2005


"We cannot all hope to combine the pleasing qualities of good looks, brains and eloquence."
- Homer's "The Odyssey"
(900 B.C.E.)

"Good looks, brains and eloquence." Are you, like me, lacking one or more of these qualities that Homer enumerated almost 3,000 years ago? If so, when it comes to "putting on a show" when selling carpet cleaning, we need to make up for our failings with quality sales "props." So, how many of these sales tools do you use? My comments here will focus mainly on selling the job to the residential homeowner, but most of these tools also apply to the commercial selling environment.

Leather business-card case. Where do you carry your business cards right now? Crumpled up in a sweat-soaked wallet? You do carry business cards, don't you? Cards should be on your person at all times, except in the shower.

Covered leather clipboard with a built-in calculator. You want the homeowner to feel like they are dealing with the very best, correct? Then all of your tools should reek of quality. This means high-quality, leather tools. You can't convey a Nordstrom's image with a K-Mart clipboard!

Holstered duckbill napping shears. Duckbills are great for everything from trimming stray fibers (which will endear you to the customer) to opening up fibers for carefully checking soil penetration. Another tip is to carry a stair-tool chisel in your back pocket and, when you see a loose edge, re-tuck it for the customer. This is a big, positive "Moment of Truth," showing your concern and professionalism.

Ultrasonic tape measure. It really is all about putting on a show. An ultrasonic tape measure will impress your customer, delight her children and make your job go much faster when calculating in the home. What more could you want? (Note: Early ultrasonic measuring tools were notoriously inaccurate. But the ones available today are accurate, automatically calculate your square footage, and keep your data in memory too.)

30-foot tape measure. You'll always need a tape measure. But be sure it is a new one with a sturdy 1- or 1 1/4-inch blade.

High-intensity inspection light. Hook one of these babies up and the homeowner will gasp at just how dirty their home really is. All that indirect light and shadow is very kind to a highly soiled environment. (Fair warning: These lamps put out a lot of heat. Get it too close to a sun-rotted olefin sofa panel and the whole thing will disappear right before your eyes. Trust me, been there, done that.)

Black-light inspection lamp. You say you want to put on a show? With the help of Rover's indiscretions, you will have a veritable carnival funhouse right in the customer's home! A very impressive and technically "illuminating" show at the same time (Note: A moisture meter may not be as dazzling, but the sharp probes are excellent for discovering hidden urine deposits deep in the carpet pad, proving once again what a professional you are.)

Electronic pH pen. OK, I know you're not going to test the pH on every inspection. But if you sense the client is wavering (or if you really want to know) go ahead and test the pH of a stubborn spot. You can bet for sure that your competitor is not going to do this. Of course, an even better idea for testing is a ...

Bottle of free lifetime-refill spotter. Available from various suppliers with your personalized logo and phone number, this is the single best marketing idea I ever came up with! Always pick out the very worst area of the customer's home (or a spot she is very concerned about) and ask if you may "test it for soil removal." Then, when the customer has been blown away by the incredible contrast (picture, thousand words, you know the drill) just hand them the same bottle you just used and explain it is your gift to them. It is very important to give them the free spotter-for-life before they have made their buying decision, and to do so with no strings attached.

"Virgin" white cotton towels. Before our spotting towels were released to the cleaning crews for general work, I took them with me when they were brand new. After I spotted the test area, I would agitate and then blot the soil up with the towel under my knee, then open it up and show the homeowner the glorious contrast. "It appears the soil will release very well from your carpets, Mrs. Jones," I'd say. Pow! Job sold.

Photo album. Why do people have such a hard time making a buying decision on your (or any) services? Because they can't visualize or pre-experience what they will be purchasing. Set your customers' minds at ease with photos of your people, your equipment and trucks, your office and some dramatic before-and-after shots of dirty carpets.

Sales literature for carpet protector. 3M and DuPont have spent many thousands of dollars producing beautiful color brochures extolling the benefits of their products to the end user (they have also invested millions in building their brand names). These marketing pieces make you look good, and no cost. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

A large leather "catalog case." Now that you've secured all the above-mentioned items, you have to find some way of carrying it. Once again, buy the best. It will pay for itself in longer life (the life of an inspection case is not an easy one!) as well as in conveying a better image.

Wow! You may need a crane to hoist this bag! Fear not, the next "To Your Success" won't add one more ounce to your load. But seriously, this arsenal of sales props will increase your self confidence, let you to differentiate yourself from the competition and, most importantly, convince the homeowner before your scrub wand ever touches the carpet that they want you in their home!