ICS Magazine

Subtract the Pressure From Add-on Services

November 6, 2003
Add-on sales opportunities shouldn't put pressure on you or your clients.

In the years immediately following the inception of my business, I tended to avoid selling add-on services, particularly fabric protection. Why? Glad you asked.

This particular (and quite lucrative) add-on had become synonymous with "bait-and-switch" companies and the tactics they employ on their road to bankruptcy. I'd read about it in the trade journals of the day, watch it on the evening news in the consumer watchdog segments and, most frequently and more importantly, hear about it from new customers. The scenario was always the same: after I finished reviewing the job and just before quoting the price, the consumer would sound off with that oh-so-familiar declaration: "We don't want it!"

Those four words became a staple over the years. Heck, I wouldn't even have the chance to mention fabric protection or explain the benefits before hearing them. Apparently, the previous cleaning company the consumer selected had ruined any chance of my selling this extremely beneficial add-on product with their "splash-and-dash" job. Combine that with a few bait-and-switch tactics and what do you get? A lousy job, non-product performance (from spraying water, perhaps?) and a cynical, skeptical consumer just waiting for us to do something they deem unacceptable, including suggesting a service they may actually be in dire need of.

The result? No add-on profits for my company and no protection for the consumer's freshly cleaned carpet and furniture. Everyone loses.

Fortunately, the days of trepidation on my part are long gone. Over time, combined with both experience and a serious attitude adjustment, I came to realize that by not mentioning the option of fabric protection I was actually doing my valued new client a disservice. We owe it to our customers to, at the very least, present them with the facts and give them the choice to accept or decline. It's all in the presentation. Here is our procedure:

Approximately seven to 10 days prior to the appointment, we mail our client a consumer information packet. Along with our "Client Prep" sheet, "FAQ" sheet, a "Common Carpet Problems" list and our "Bait & Switch Warning Letter" we include a "Why Fabric Protector" letter in which we list its various benefits and include a special discounted rate for the customer to receive upon presentation of the letter to the technician. This gives the homeowner a chance to mull over the option of fabric protection, and also educates them on the product without the sales pressure they may have encountered in the past or been warned about by a relative or neighbor.

When we arrive, we go over the job, inspect and qualify the carpeting and furniture (if applicable), but make no mention of any add-on services. Only after the job is complete, and the customer has had the opportunity to inspect the work and see the professional job he or she just received, do we recommend a protector, and then only for the areas we feel need it.

Frankly, by this time they usually have already presented the technician with the letter and the request for the service. No pressure, no hassle, just a win-win situation.

There are many other "add-on" opportunities available to today's carpet care professional, such as deodorizing and disinfecting, spot dyeing, sealing grout, repairs, selling sundries (spot lifters, pet stain removers), and more. You owe it to your clients to offer these services and products. Remember, it's all in the presentation.

Don't deny yourself or your clients these valuable add-ons. By using a professional, no-pressure presentation, you'll watch both your bottom line and database grow.