ICS Magazine

Notes From the Trenches: Tackling the 'Little Things' Means Heading Off Big Headaches

October 15, 2001
Oh, the little things. But, how they can make a big difference with a new customer.

Several weeks ago, we received a phone call from a woman, referred to us by a long time client. She needed several rooms cleaned, and as she spoke, I detected apprehension in her voice. I gave her an approximate price based on the room dimensions she supplied, and explained that the final total was contingent on a visual inspection and room sizing.

The cost did not seem to be a priority given the many questions she fired at me. She was concerned with how long we had been in business, would we keep our appointment as they were having company the following weekend, our guarantee, etc. I assured her that my company had been serving the area for more than 20 years, working primarily on a repeat and referral basis. I had never pulled a 'no show,' I explained, and guaranteed complete satisfaction.

As we spoke, I understood the reason for her concern. She had her rugs 'professionally' cleaned a year earlier, and was less than pleased with the overall service experience. I scheduled the job and said good-bye.

As usual, we mailed a client info pack to her about a week before the appointment. It's a great way to project professionalism, and I had a gut feeling this customer needed that reassurance. I was right.

The job was booked for 8 a.m., and we arrived on time. I introduced my tech and myself at the door, and prepared for the pre-job inspection when she thanked us for being on time. Apparently after canceling the first appointment, the "other company" booked a second at the last minute, and still arrived three hours late.

She said the last carpet cleaner also showed up wearing a dirty T-shirt and dirty sneakers. Within five minutes, he asked to use her restroom, where he spent the next 20 minutes. I again assured her that we were professionals and I guaranteed it. At that point, we started the job.

As we went from room to room, my tech groomed the carpet with a pile brush as I pushed the wand. The customer watched before asking what we were doing. I explained that it was akin to combing your hair after shampooing it. Either way, it's clean, but it sure looks nicer combed. Her reply? You guessed it: The "other company didn't do that; they just cleaned and left." I received that same reaction as we laid out the traffic lane paper in the walkways.

As it turned out, the woman wasn't dissatisfied with the job she received the prior year. In fact, she said they did a good job removing spots, etc. However, the 'little things,' or lack thereof, bothered her and cost them a repeat client.

Last minute cancellation, arriving late, disheveled appearance, lack of communication, and on and on. The 'little things' can turn a first time customer into a long time client. Going the extra yard will set your company apart from the "other company."

Before leaving, I left the homeowner with complete after care instructions, and stressed that we were a phone call away if there were any concerns. With that, we said our good-byes, certain that we would see this new client again.

And as we loaded the van, I noticed a newspaper in the driveway. That's right. Rather than leaving it there, it was hand delivered at the door. Always remember the 'little things.'