The fastest, simplest, easiest money a carpet cleaner can make? Selling add-on services while he or she is already working in the customer's home. Of course, the most profitable "up-sell" you will ever make is applying a topical treatment like Scotchgard or Teflon to the customer's carpet. And yet, the percentage of carpets protected after cleaning remains abysmally low. Why?
Simply put, we don't train our employees how to sell. After all, how can we if we as business owners don't know ourselves the basic principles of selling in the residential environment? Speaking frankly, selling in the home usually means selling to the feminine gender, because even in these liberated times it seems like the wife always gets stuck with arranging the carpet cleaning. And as my friend Bill Yeadon is fond of saying, "She's not buying what you are selling!"
When it comes to selling to the homeowner you must "make it easier to do it right than to do it wrong"! Many times the reason your techs don't sell more carpet protector (and make themselves more money in the process) is simply because they don't know what to say - so they say nothing! The result? Both your employee and you lose out on lots of money and in addition your customer doesn't get the carpet protection very likely she would have appreciated! You can change this sad state of affairs with the scripted suggestions below (Note: For a complete review of up-selling principles and ideas in the home just read my three previous "To Your Success" columns in your October, November and December 2004 ICS magazines.).
Use the magic phrases "re-apply" or "renew." With previous clients you will dramatically increase protector sales by just asking, "Would you like me to re-apply the carpet protector finish we applied last time?" Or if it is a new customer you can say, "Would you like to have the protective carpet finish renewed?"
For those of you in water-damage restoration try the magic word "reapply" on the insurance adjuster, as in "Should I also reapply the carpet protector finish after the final cleaning?" Over the years we made hundreds of thousands of dollars just by asking this simple question. So go ahead and ask! The very worst the adjuster will say is "no," and your protector sale will go down the drain. But that is exactly where it would have been if you hadn't asked in the first place.
Seeing is believing. A more advanced sales presentation involves the use of demo blotter cards and color brochures. The major protector manufacturers provide these at no cost when you buy their product and they are great! Here's how to do a killer presentation during the initial carpet inspection. (For best results try to have the conversation near the kitchen.):
You: "Have you heard about our (brand name) carpet protection plan?"
Customer: "No I haven't." (What they really mean when they say this is "tell me more.")
You: "Let me just show you how the product works. May I borrow your kitchen sink? You'll notice this blotter card has had half of it treated with the protector but there is no difference in it's texture or feel. (Let the homeowner feel it.) I see you have a coffee cup in the sink. So just let me pour the left over coffee on the card and you'll see how the coffee will immediately bead up instead of permanently staining the fiber..."
This demonstration does require more time and initiative, but it is extremely effective at selling protector. By using the few drops of juice or coffee left in the customer's glasses in their sink, it adds tremendous credibility to the presentation (you should keep a small plastic bottle of coffee with you, just in case the homeowner doesn't drink coffee or if she is an immaculate housekeeper!) Of course, this chatting and demonstrating with the customer requires time, and we found that neither the technician personality nor a constantly rushed schedule complemented this sales approach.
We did find, however, that by sending out a carpet inspector to most of our first-time customers, the resulting increase in protector sales, made in a more relaxed atmosphere, more than paid for the cost of the separate pre-inspection! But even if the homeowner turns down the carpet protector during the initial visit, all is not lost.
People don't just do "impulse buying" at Wal-Mart. Be sure to give the customer one last chance to buy protector at the end of the job when they are totally blown away by their bright, shiny carpet and your no-doubt sparkling personality. At this point, the protector purchase becomes an emotional "impulse buy." So have the different protector options and prices figured out ahead of time and your conversation will run something like this:
Technician: "Mrs. Jones, the carpets came out much better than I thought they would. I don't have anything noted on your work order on whether you want carpet protector applied. Would you like me to renew the carpet's spot and stain protection?"
Homeowner: "Well, they do look just like new! How much did you say it would be?"
Technician: "I can protect all the areas we cleaned today for $176.40."
Homeowner: "You know, let's just go ahead and do it!"
Very likely, you are working more and more alone without the customer's presence. Hard to up-sell? Not at all. During the customer's initial call, the office should ask if the technician may call them at work after they finish the job in the home (most people have no problem receiving a brief personal phone call at work.). Then as you are completing the job, quickly call and recite exactly from the script above. You'll be amazed at how many of these telephone calls will result in an "impulse buy" and big money for both you and your technician.
Of course, even with the easy scripts mentioned above, your technician must talk to and relate with the customer to make the sale. However, next month we'll examine a concept that will have people fighting to purchase your carpet protector services (without your tech doing any "selling") and in the process create a loyal, "guaranteed" Cheerleader customer for you!