Money, and the ability to earn it easily and quickly is probably one of the most attractive qualities of starting a carpet cleaning business. It is true that there is a lot of money to make cleaning carpet. But, you may wonder, why do some cleaners make so much more than others? After talking with hundreds of different cleaners in completely different markets it is true that one thing stands out as the top “make more money” idea: improving your sales skills.
For years I rationalized not offering or mentioning our other services to our clients. I didn’t want to be perceived as “pushy” – I thought too many cleaners aggressively push additional services onto clients that don’t want any. Why was that a problem? If you aren’t one of the pushy guys trying to up-sell things people don’t need, then your clients more than likely want and need to hear more about your other offerings and how they would benefit from them. If you treat your customers right and build trust, you create room for selling valuable and beneficial services without coming across as pushy and disingenuous.
Once I learned how to treat people the way they want to be treated, our profits increased. For example, I used to not sell fiber protection because I didn’t believe in it. Most cleaners sell (or attempt to sell) only those things they believe in. Most cleaners don’t offer fiber protection because they don’t truly believe in it (like I didn’t). Most cleaners treat people the exact same way they themselves would prefer be treated. Practicing your ability to “read” people and selling accordingly will serve your bank account well. In the meantime – at the very least, I recommend learning how to ask for the sale. I am not a fan of the term “up-sell” – but have found that offering clients the opportunity to invest more money with our company by purchasing additional services that they really want or need makes sense, and at the same time it makes us more money. It’s a win-win. Remembering that sales is emotional and not intellectual helps a lot. Smiling, building rapport, and showing your customers you care by going above and beyond creates an emotional environment where sales is fun and easy.
Having marketing materials available to highlight the benefits of “other services” you and your company offer is very helpful. Have information on hand about tile & grout cleaning and sealing, upholstery cleaning, fiber protection, wood floor cleaning – whatever your services are. If you see an obvious opportunity for additional cleaning while giving an estimate or completing a job, seize the opportunity. Selling customers on the value of regularly scheduled cleanings alone can dramatically increase your revenue.
If all you do is incorporate the million dollar question “would you like us to protect your carpet now?” immediately after you complete a cleaning, you will likely be amazed at the result and financial rewards. I now believe if I don’t offer every customer the opportunity to protect what I just cleaned, then I am doing them a disservice. If you have the same resistance to this sale like I used to, it’s probably based in the fact you aren’t educated about the benefits of fiber protection. When you really believe in something people can tell, it makes a huge difference. Fear also holds many cleaners back from asking sales questions. Again, try it anyways – remember, even rejection is an opportunity to learn and grow.
The best salespeople are listeners and excellent at asking the right questions. When a client observes your ability to transform their carpet or upholstery, they can’t help but believe in you and what you offer. When you then smile and ask them if they would like to extend the look and life of the fiber by adding protection, it makes too much sense. Sure, many clients will opt out – and that’s fine because it immediately allows you insight into the type of clients you are attracting. One of my favorite questions to ask when doing our pre-inspection is, “when was the last time your carpets were professionally cleaned?” The answer to this question is very telling – pay attention to the answer as it will serve you well.
During almost every walk through or free in-home estimate you will come across a spot or stain. Many times it’s the only reason you were called out. Most cleaners know to ask their clients, “do you happen to know what caused the spot/stain?” – but, many don’t take the time to ask if the carpets were protected after the last cleaning. By simply asking that question the customer is indirectly informed about the benefits of fiber protection. Most cleaners don’t even offer fiber protection and they are leaving money on the table and by not providing the customer with the opportunity for lasting results.
Once you have earned a customer it’s very important to educate them about all the services you offer and why. There are many ways to accomplish this and it’s not something that needs to be done immediately. As a matter of fact, it’s more powerful to “trickle” information to clients using a multitude of marketing methods. But, the truth remains that people prefer to do business with those they know, like and trust. Once you’ve been hired one time you have the opportunity to make a friend or begin to build a relationship with your customer. You don’t have to sell fiber protection, especially if you aren’t sold on the benefits, but you should absolutely be comfortable selling other services that will benefit your customers.
It always comes down to the relationship – trust and confidence leads to your ability to sell more and make more. Instead of always trying to be the “cheaper” guy – try and transition to being the “value” guy – bring knowledge and value to every job. You can create extreme value for a client by simply taking the time to actually listen to them and respond to them the way they want you to. We’ve been told to “treat people the way you want to be treated” – how selfish! Not everybody prefers to be treated the same way you do and not everyone has the same values as you. Some people want to spend money on things you don’t. Many people will make decisions you would think aren’t smart. I’ve talked with many cleaners who actually talk customers out of add-on services or fiber protection! We must remember to try and treat people the way they want to be treated, to listen, and to hone our genuine sales skills – for our customers’ benefit, and for ours. In the process I promise you will have the opportunity to make a lot more money.