ICS Magazine

Mind Reading and Carpet Protector

May 14, 2007
Does your customer want protector? The only way to know is to ask.

One of the most important concepts to understand is how you can easily apply protector on 80 percent of your jobs without trickery, arm-twisting or pushy selling.

It isn’t important just because you can make a lot of money applying protector – even though you can. It’s important because applying protector is part of our responsibility to our customers as service professionals trusted to care for one of their biggest investments.

In my travels, however, I have found that many carpet cleaners apply little or no protector. They rarely ask their customers if they want protector, and many times don’t even have any on the truck!

The biggest misconception carpet cleaners have is we think we know what our customers want. We assume all kinds of things about our customers (and believe me, I made many of the same assumptions you do). I didn’t realize that my playing “mind reader” was crippling my ability to give my customers what they really wanted, and to make the kind of money I deserved.

It was only when I got sick of “just getting by” that I decided to test my assumptions and found out that, in most cases, I was flat-out wrong.

Take this for what you will, but many cleaners don’t really believe that protectors work. And while there is all kinds of science to prove otherwise, it is a good idea to prove it to yourself. But it is even more important that your techs and your phone people see for themselves.

Set up a time during one of your slow periods to clean your employees’ homes. Think of it as an “employee appreciation” activity. After cleaning, on a diagonal from the front door, apply protector to half the carpet in each room. Make sure that you mix it properly and apply it according to directions.

The diagonal works best to highlight the comparison, and performs a fair test with equal amounts of traffic. In four to six weeks, your staff will have a new opinion about the effectiveness of carpet protectors.

Once everyone in the company sees that protectors really do work, they will be much less resistant to talking to your customers about them. They now have a personal experience they can relate to your customers, and will often be eager to share their new discovery.

Another big assumption carpet cleaners have is that our customers don’t want carpet protector. Now, I’m not saying that every customer wants protector. But as I was doing my investigation I came across some very powerful consumer research that showed that a total of 80 percent of consumers that would hire a professional carpet cleaner are either “very interested” or “extremely interested” in having carpet protector applied.

The statistics are so good, in fact, that 40 percent of your customers will have protector applied if you follow this one amazing sales technique: When you are writing up the job, you say, “Mrs. Jones, would you like me to apply carpet protector today?”

If you want to prove me wrong, just ask this simple question on every job for the next month. Many cleaners have taken this test, and the statistics always come back that about 40 percent of your customers will have protector applied if you simply ask!

You will have also learned something else. Calculate the extra money you earned from your protector sales that month. Then, just for kicks, double it and multiply it by 12. That’s the kind of extra income you could be earning this year.

For this example, we’ll start with a one-truck carpet cleaner that has sales of about $125,000 per year. He applies protector on 25 percent of his jobs (mostly when customers ask him about it). If he were to just ask, “Would you like me to apply carpet protector today?” on every job, his protector sales would go from 25 percent of his jobs to 40 percent. That would translate into a bottom line/net/what you put into your pocket increase in profits of $11,616 with no additional labor or material cost (I don’t add labor because you’re already in the house; I’ve also deducted the cost of the protector. If you would like a breakdown of all these numbers, e-mail me.)

Now, if you went to applying protector on 80 percent of your jobs, the impact on your bottom line net profit is an increase of $42,592!

Who already knows this secret to the carpet cleaning business? Franchises, that’s who! It’s no accident that the major franchises are 3M’s and DuPont’s very best customers for protectors.

Now, a couple of very important points that need to be made. Remember, one of our biggest misconceptions is that protectors don’t work. Well, that’s true if they are not mixed and applied according to directions. A lot of cleaners don’t read directions or follow them, or know how many ounces are in a cup (that would be 8). When I ask how many ounces are in a cup, in 80 percent of the classes I teach I get replies from 2 to 16 ounces. And this from people who have been cleaning for years.

So make sure you mix the protector properly. You also need to apply it properly and, like everything else; you need to do a little test to make sure you are applying enough to deliver the performance it promises.

Go into your garage and measure out 100 square feet (10 feet by 10 feet). Fill up the sprayer you use and apply the recommended amount of protector required to cover 100 square feet. This will teach your techs how fast the have to move and how much protector has to be applied. I also recommend an electric or better yet a battery-powered sprayer, because the pressure and amount of protector is always consistent.

If you are not applying protector to more than 25 percent of your jobs, take the simple “Ask Test” for the next 30 days, and prove to yourself that your customers really do want protector!