Up-Selling on the Home Front - Part 2

November 11, 2004
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Up-selling can help your business “Fly Full.”


"A garment well displayed is a sale half made."
Bernie Spitz, CEO of a clothing hanger company.

Your business is like an airplane. Airlines have learned that it costs basically the same to fly a given route whether they have 20 passengers on board or 200. Obviously the profit dynamics of the route improve drastically when the plane is full. So how can your business "fly full"? The best way is by up-selling more add-on goods and services to the client when you are already working in their home.

Any service you up-sell will produce a much higher net profit than if it is performed on a separate trip. However, the most consistently profitable add-on product you can sell will most likely be carpet spot and stain protection. (The two big players in this field are 3M's Scotchgard and DuPont's Teflon, along with a number of private label brands. However, these sales principles apply to all carpet protectors.)

Here is a grab bag of ideas on how to dramatically increase your carpet protector sales to the homeowner and in the process make a lot more net profit. They may not all work for you, but some of them should definitely apply (for more ideas on why your technicians don't sell more add-on services and products, check out last month's "To Your Success" column.)

Orient your customers before you ever say a word. Remember that your customers are not you. You live this stuff. They don't. I was amazed in my business how many of our long-time clients were surprised to learn that we offered carpet protection. We had worked in these folks' homes for years without ever communicating that we offered a service that, in fact, they were delighted to purchase. Just think how much this one cost me.

Remember, constant, frequent visual (and verbal) repetition is the key to increasing your customer's awareness that you offer carpet protectors (and any other add-on service too). For example:

  • Make up employee buttons that say, "Ask me how your carpets can stay cleaner longer!" You can push the same message with truck decals or bumper stickers. (Don't forget that branded decals work great on your equipment too.)
  • Include the logo of your chosen brand of carpet protector in all your newspaper advertising and your printed marketing material.
  • Include the same logo on your invoices and work orders. (Speaking of invoices, always include a labeled space that must be filled out by the technician with the protector price.)
  • Don't forget carpet-protector patches for your technician's uniforms.
  • When you send out your pre-cleaning letter confirming the cleaning time and date, along with how to prepare the house for the "big day," be sure to mention the benefits of having the carpet protected.
  • If you mail out a regular newsletter (and you should), run a periodic special for your regular customers on carpet protector just to keep the concept in the front of their minds. And if you get a testimonial on how well a protector is working, be sure to include this.

    Tell your customers about the product. Mention the product at the time of the original phone call. Do so again at pre-inspection time and also as you are finishing the work. If there is any hesitation during the phone call or pre-inspection (and especially if they are going to be there during the cleaning), just say, "Why don't you wait and see how the carpets clean up and then we can decide on the carpet protection?"

    It's always easier to come down than go up. Another strategy is to simply quote the cleaning with the carpet protector included automatically. You will be amazed how many people will readily agree without you offering them the choice. On the other hand, if they balk on the price that includes carpet protector you can quickly offer to just "renew" the protector in the high-use areas, or skip it altogether for maximum savings. The very worst thing that will happen is you will clean the carpets without selling the protector, which is exactly what would have happened if you hadn't started high in the first place!

    We sell better when we believe in the product. It's wrong to sell something that doesn't work. On the other hand, if you have seen the great results of a carpet protector in your own home your enthusiasm will come through to the homeowner. So offer the carpet protector free to your employees when they clean their own carpets. Even better, if you have a high-traffic office, try masking off half and applying protector to the other half of the area. The results should be dramatic to all of your employees and your customers.

    Give your employees the tools to properly apply the protector. You should be charging top dollar for your carpet protection treatment. So it is just a sound business practice (as well as being the right thing to do) to make sure the protector is applied properly. Use the right sprayer, dilution ratio and coverage amount. Be sure to charge enough to give your employees the time to do the job right. I know, both you and your employees are selling the product to put more money in everyone's pocket. But the homeowner deserves to get something out of this transaction too: properly protected carpets!

    "We have met the enemy and he is us!" The cartoon character Pogo had it right. When it comes to selling carpet protector we are our own worst enemy. Most technicians (and a lot of carpet cleaning business owners) assume that just because they personally would not pay two or three hundred dollars to have carpet protector applied their customer won't either. Nothing could be further from the truth. Customers want to have their carpets protected ... if they are oriented, convinced and sold on the credibility of both the product and you personally! So "fly your business full" by up-selling carpet protectors. Both you and your employees will make more money, and you will also have delighted customers that will keep on flying with you!

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