Selling Commercial Carpet Cleaning Services

May 9, 2003
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Commercial carpet cleaning can be looked at as a business totally separate and distinct from its residential counterpart. While the basic service of removing soil from carpet may indeed be similar, and may involve virtually the same tools and skills, the mindset and selling approach can be completely different.

The difference starts with the basic philosophy and reason for cleaning. Residential accounts are almost always restorative or corrective cleaning situations where the customer finally cannot wait any longer and hires a cleaning company to come in and bring the carpet back to acceptable levels of appearance and sanitation.

By comparison, commercial carpet cleaning is generally maintenance cleaning. Services are performed at various intervals with the goal of keeping the carpet’s appearance and sanitation from ever reaching an unacceptable level.

Residential cleaning is usually sold and serviced on an individual job basis, while commercial cleaning is often contracted for a period of time and may involve multiple cleanings and methods. Commercial carpet cleaning is very often part of a maintenance program as opposed to a stand-alone event.

With these differences in mind, it becomes clear that the skills and techniques used in marketing and selling commercial carpet cleaning services are different from those used in selling residential services. The first step to selling commercial carpet care is to take a step back. Look at the prospective account with a “total package” or “program” approach in mind. Analyze the carpeted area to get a clear picture of what cleaning and maintenance needs may apply. Things to consider would include:

  • The type of carpeting (color, construction, installation and fiber content)
  • The type and amount of traffic and therefore level of soiling
  • The quality of user maintenance (vacuuming and spot cleaning) being done
  • Soil prevention systems already in place, such walk-off mats, doorway grids, etc.
  • The overall image and level of appearance or level of cleanliness being put forward
  • The measurements of the total area of carpet in service and the measurements of the open or exposed areas and traffic lanes.

    Use the information from this general survey to prepare a total carpet maintenance package. The package will be different for every situation. For example, your plan might include something like general overall deep cleaning the entire area at least once per year, cleaning the areas of higher use levels but low profile an additional time per year, and cleaning the high use/high profile areas quarterly.

    Determine the method of cleaning most appropriate for each area and the square foot price for each method. Multiply the total amount of square footage to be cleaned by the price per square foot to get a total price for maintaining the carpet for a year. For example (square footage and prices are not recommendations):

  • Total carpet to be maintained – 10,000 square feet
  • High use/low profile areas (back hallways, common areas) – 25% or 2,500 square feet
  • High use/high profile areas (lobbies, conference rooms, executive areas) – 20% or 2,000 square feet
  • Total area needs to be cleaned once annually with restorative method such as HWE at 15 cents per square foot – 10,000 x 15 cents = $1,500
  • High use/low profile areas need one additional restorative cleaning annually at 15 cents per square foot – 2,500 x 15 cents = $375
  • High use/high profile areas need one additional restorative cleaning annually at 15 cents per square foot, as well as two appearance/surface cleanings (i.e. bonnet) annually at 8 cents per square foot – 2,000 x 15 cents + 4,000 x 8 cents = $620

    Total cost of all carpet cleaning for the entire year - $1,500 + $375 + $620 = $2,495

    Remember that businesses budget services such as carpet cleaning on an annual or monthly basis, and you want to present your proposal in the most acceptable and easy-to-comprehend manner as possible. You want to package it in terms that show the true value of the service.

    One way to do this, staying with the example, is to take the total cost of carpet care for the entire year, $2,495, and divide it by 12 months. The cost to maintain 10,000 square feet of carpeted area for one year is $207.92 per month, or roughly 2 cents per square foot per month ($207.92 ? 10,000 square feet).

    The next step is to do your homework and find out who the person of authority, the decision maker, is for the facility and make an appointment. Present your maintenance plan, pointing out that you will maintain his 10,000 square feet for about 2 cents a square foot per month, or $207.92 per month. Explain that your plan includes cleaning some areas as often as quarterly, others twice each year, and still other less trafficked areas once a year. Point out that this frequency is determined by the carpet usage and level of profile.

    Since you will be in the building frequently in order to accomplish this, you can treat any spills or spots before they become problems. You want to make your proposal, if possible, during the time of year when the facilities manager is preparing his or her budget for the next year.

    If you divide the overall cleaning into four 2,500-square-foot jobs, add the additional high use/low profile area as another job and plan the three additional 2,000-square-foot high use/ high profile cleanings as three jobs, you will actually be on-site cleaning eight times in the year, or roughly every 45 days. Perhaps you want to mention that any upholstery that may need cleaning during the term of your contract could be provided at one of your regularly scheduled service visits at a special preferred customer rate.

    In summary, when selling commercial carpet care, don’t think cleaning jobs, think maintenance contracts. In other words, you are not selling carpet cleaning, you are selling clean carpet. You are not selling a price per square foot, you are selling a monthly maintenance fee. You don’t have customers, you have clients. The carpet isn’t cleaned because it needs it, it is cleaned so that it never reaches an unacceptable level.

    The equipment and procedures may be the same, but commercial carpet maintenance is different from residential carpet cleaning in many ways.

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