Thursday, 21 March 2013

Guide To Carpet Protector...

The NCCA's Guide To How Carpet Protector Really Works…

Carpet Protection applied correctly to freshly cleaned carpets, creates a great ‘win-win’ as it enables the cleaner to earn more money by providing an additional service and gives the consumer a cleaner, healthier and longer lasting carpet therefore protecting their investment.

It seems some carpet cleaners think no one is willing to pay for an additional service in today’s economic climate, but if you read this blog you’ll understand how carpet protector really would benefit the homeowner if sold correctly.  

I agree times are tough, people are not spending the same as they once did, but this doesn’t mean you should give up on your marketing or your selling … in fact its time to sell more, by stepping and up offering a bigger and improved service.

The carpet cleaning industry is not alone in taking a bashing with “crazy” low priced competition and increasing costs.  Yet I still believe our biggest challenge does not come from outside forces such as the recession, our competition … instead, our problems, as a rule are “internal” ...  Henry Ford once said ...
 "Whether you think YOU CAN 
or whether you think YOU CAN'T, 

Only last week I was talking with two carpet cleaners, both have been in the industry for 15+ years and both have seen their work volume drop and their job tickets plummet over few years.  After quizzing them I found they are marketing less than they once did as ‘marketing doesn’t work the same’ and both said ‘people are not willing to pay higher prices … so we offer basic service at lower prices’.  When I asked about carpet protection, they both just laughed and said no one wants that nowadays.

While I agree, in this uncertain time people are looking for better deals and yes they do want to spend less money… but if you give them the facts many are prepared spend a little more now to save them money in the long term.   

Allow me to explain, most people still want quality products and good old-fashioned customer service AND more importantly are willing to pay for it … don’t believe me? Then type in to Google “John Lewis Profits” and you’ll find the upmarket department store, John Lewis Partnership, announced in early March 2013 it made record profits of 15% and will pay all staff a 17% bonus (equalling almost 9-weeks of their current salary).

Just remember the famous quote (and 1985 song by Billy Ocean) "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" meaning "When the situation becomes difficult, the strong will work harder to meet the challenge."

If you think your customers would refuse to pay you extra money for carpet protection then you have one of two problems...

  • You are not ‘selling’ protector to each customer by fully explaining it and demonstrating the long lasting benefits.   Get tough and make a commitment to start ‘selling’ protector correctly on every job from now on.
  • Or your customers are not the ‘John Lewis type’ of customers … Get tough and move on.  Start marketing to the middle-class families that are shopping and spending money in John Lewis stores … they have nice home, they wish to keep keep clean, they have the money and will spend money with you if you market yourself correctly.
Of course asking someone if they would like to spend more money with you on something they can’t even see or more importantly don’t understand is tough… nor can you tell them about protector once and expect them to say yes there and then. You must explain it to them.

They say ‘Selling is Telling’ and that’s all you need to do.  What a difference it would make if you could show people how “Protecting your carpets will keep them looking beautiful, make them easier to keep clean and save money”.

Here is my seven steps to help you sell more carpet protector in the home.

7 Steps To Help Sell Protector To Your Clients.
  1.  Always Package Your Prices.  Not all carpet cleaners are the same!  So why should you put yourself in the same group as the ‘price-by-room’ cleaners?   Think about it, you would not book an Electrician by "3-rooms rewired for £49"… do you?   If you give the consumers nothing else to judge your services by … they will think all cleaners are equal and pick the lowest price.   For example, why should someone buy from YOU? … What makes YOU so great?  If you were to say, “I’m the best local cleaner”, or “I’m the most professional cleaner in the area” … so what??  Every carpet cleaner can (and often does) make this type of claim too!  Be different and show them your are different.
    Why Package Works. 
    Most people don’t like the cheapest offer (if we did we’d all be driving the Russian ‘Lada Cars’). If you give three choices of “small, medium, large” or “good, better, best” and a short description of each one most people will pick the middle package…as it gives a higher perceived value, so the middle package should be your ‘clean and protect’ as it’s the one you want them to buy.   

    How to ‘Package’, you will need to describe your services and package them into three groups.  To start with, can you tell me, off the top-of-your-head, how many ‘processes’ or ‘steps’ it takes for you to clean a carpet?  Many cleaners don’t know and will spend a few minutes counting them on their fingers … so how are the consumers expected to know? 
List out the 7 – 15 steps it takes for you to clean a carpet, then add all additional related services like carpet protector and package these into three sections.  You can call the packages anything you like, a common name is ‘Bronze, Silver and Gold, however I suggest you try using more descriptive names such as ‘Healthy Home Package’. 
    Here is an example of three packages...
    •  ‘Clean Only Package’  Explain each step you do, like... move the furniture, dry-soil extraction, pre-condition and agitate, deep extraction clean, fresh conditioner rinse, rapid dry, etc...,etc... (do this using words they understand, like words used in a hairdressers).
    •  Clean and Protect Package’  “Same clean as above, but a special application of our ‘Triple Action’ carpet protection” and you explain the benefits.  I recommend you also offer a short (3-months) ‘Stain-Free Warranty’ included in this price. (see step 6)
    •  ‘Healthy Home Package’  This is the same as ‘Clean and Protect’, but with additional services, such as deodorisation. And a longer (6 or 12-months) warranty to really add value. 
  2. Charge By The Square Foot (or 30cm2) NOT By The Room.  Although we are in this ‘metric world’ everyone still understands feet better for room sizes… most Estate Agents still list room sizes in feet first (and give the metric size in closed brackets).    You can list or give your prices when asked without putting you in the ‘price-by-room’ section.   To explain this to the customer you can say … “We only charge for the ‘cleanable’ area i.e. the carpet we can see, not what’s under the wall units.  We offer package prices depending on the service you would like and volume of carpet you require cleaning.  For example, the cost of our travelling and setting up is put on the first room, therefore each additional room becomes cheaper … our prices start at £0.57p per square foot for clean, £0.77p p/sqf for clean and protect and £0.99p p/sqf for our top 'Healthy Home Package' and as I said the price will come down by the more volume of carpet you have cleaned at one time”.   
Even if you wish to NOT carryout a separate ‘quote’ or ‘audit’ you can tell the customer you can give them a ‘quote and clean’ by offering a full quote prior to cleaning.   This will help you get in the home to measure up and demonstrate your professionalism and reassure them you are the best local cleaner by talking with them face-to-face.  You can offer the final price as a “small, medium, large” package as this has proven to give a much higher ‘job ticket’ because people will trust you and have more cleaning done.
  3. Bring The Cost Of ‘Clean Only’ And ‘Clean & Protect’ Closer. What I mean is some people clean for a price then charge the same price again for protection … to the customer you’ve just doubled the price.  For example if you charge 35p per square foot now and charge the same again (or double it) for protection your clean and protect price would be 70p per square foot.   So with a clean and protect price at 70p per square foot you could keep it there (or increase it a little) and bring your clean only price up to say 50p so the gap between ‘clean only’ and ‘clean and protect’ is much closer.  This will make it easier for people to select your protector without thinking it really is too expensive.  If done correctly you will find this will help you sell protect between 5-8 times out of 10 quotes.
  4. Don’t Pressure Sell. If you have explained your packages and your services correctly the customer should see the charges for your cleaning as great value.   In other words you have not blurted out one high figure, but explained in detail how… ‘We do this’, and ‘we do that’ and ‘then we do all of this’, finally you give the small, medium or large package prices.   
However, once you’ve offered the three prices and you don’t receive an immediate yes, tell the client its OK … they don’t need to decide which package they want now.  If they select the ‘Clean Only’ now they can decide on the other packages once they have seen how good the carpets looks after cleaning.  This takes the pressure off them and allows them time to think about the additional cost and if this service would give them value for money. 
  5. The Best Time To Sell Is When They Have Just Bought.  (This goes with step 4…) If your client didn’t agree to protection before you started cleaning don’t worry.  Once you have cleaned the carpet your client will hopefully be delighted with the results.  Then you go into your new Protector Sales Pitch… “I am delighted with the way the carpet looks too Mrs......, however I do feel I’m only doing half the job.  Now I’ve cleaned your carpet by removing the soil and stains so it looks great…but the carpet will be even more susceptible to stains from little spills and damage from soil.  The reason for this is any protection treatment the carpet may have once had, has now been worn away with everyday wear and tear.  If there is one thing I’ve learnt, as a Professional Cleaner is you don’t leave a beautiful carpet, like this one, in a family environment without renewing the original carpet protector.  Almost daily I see stains on unprotected carpets, which I struggle to remove … and sometimes they are simply not removable, but as yet, I’ve always be successful in removing stains from carpets I’ve cleaned and protected within the last 12-months.   So as a professional I really do recommend you have the protection treatment re-applied to the carpet today, because you have (the children, pets etc..) using the carpet and the protection treatment will keep the carpet healthy for them and help preserve the great look is has today for a long time to come.    As we discussed on the pricing, protector will only cost you an additional 20p per square foot above the cleaning price… for this room that’s only £40 more for 12 months peace of mind.  Shall I go ahead and renew the protective coating today?” (The price must be calculated beforehand and it is the difference between the ‘clean only’ and the ‘clean and protect’ price).   
    NCCA Stain-Free Warranty Certification for members only

  6. Offer A ‘Stain-Free Warranty’.  To many the alarm bells may be ringing now.  Don’t worry… read on and see what I have to say first, and remember ‘when the going gets tough...’.   One of the best ways to really get tough and win over a customer is to show them how confident you are about the protection you supply by offering a Warranty with your stain protector.  This is NOT an additional sale on top of your protector …for example don’t you just hate it when you purchase any new electrical item and immediately the salesperson will try to sell you an ‘extended warranty’?   Well I suggest you offer the Stain-Free Warranty for FREE … (or built in your new higher price!)   You could offer a FREE 3-months warranty with your middle package and a FREE 12-months warranty with your top package.    This will give the customer Unlimited free ‘spot and stain removals’ and if you can’t remove the stain you will write a free report for their insurance company.  One of the best ways to sell the protector with the ‘free warranty’ is telling the customer… “Almost daily I see stains on unprotected carpets, which I struggle to remove … and sometimes they are simply not removable, but as yet, I’ve always been successful of removing a stain from a carpet I’ve cleaned and protected".  Remember the warranty is to help you sell at a higher price … this is not a rip-off price, but a price that allows you to make a profit and the customer to have a great service and product that will benefit them financially and health wise long-term. You should NOT worry about all the extra “free” spotting ‘call outs’ when you include an unlimited spot and spill warranty with all of your protector applications and here’s why:
    • Less than two percent will ever call you. Give them a FREE bottle of your spotter and a stain removal guide and most will be able to treat any spills themselves, yet all of them will view this free bonus as a very valuable, and desirable service.
    • Do not put a number on the free call outs … if you say they have TWO call outs worth £75 each there is more chance of them using one or both the calling outs.  It’s the strange thing about people, but weirdly when you limit your numbers to just one or two call outs, you will get higher call outs than ‘unlimited callouts’.
    • Use the warranty to raise your protector prices. If you are so confident about the protector that you’d offer a FREE warranty it must be good – right?   If you raise protector pricing your net profits will soar which will more than cover your few extra free service calls over the course of a year.
    • If you do get called out for a warranty (and lets face it how hard is it to remove a stain from a carpet YOU have recently cleaned and protected?) you will become the hero.  They will tell more friends and you may also sell more services while you are performing these “free” spot and stain call outs.
    • Before you think I’m completely mad … there are several NCCA members that have been offering this type of warranty service with protection sales in the UK since 1999.  They hardly have a call out, but what I can tell you is their protector sales range between 50%-80% of all the carpets they clean.  Not such a mad idea after all is it?

  7. Finally to help educate the customer use my new “Guide To How Carpet Protector Really Works…” leaflet, (which you can see below).  This will explain to the client how carpet protector works.  This is not a flashy printed leaflet … it is in Microsoft Word (.docx 2007) so you can change the wording if required to fit your business and add your contact details.    You can even print this on the back of your quotes or survey form so the clients will always have it.  This leaflet could also be sent out to your current clients now, just add a piece of patterned kitchen roll (shows its domestic not factory treated), which you have sprayed protection on one half (the pattern can help explain which way/side up).  You can ask them to pour a few drops of cold coffee on the unprotected half, then on the protected half.   They should see the coffee 'bead' on the surface protected half and the untreated section it soak in. 
    On the covering letter make a strong OFFER like half priced protection or even FREE protection if they have three or more rooms cleaned…and you’ll have a lot more work coming in. 

        Over 5-steps it shows…
  • How most carpets are protected from new 
  • How carpets get dirty with both soil and pollutants
  • How the lack of cleaning with cause long-term damage to the fibre
  • How you need regular professional cleaning
  • How the long-term solution is to reapply carpet protection after cleaning.  
As I said at the beginning the biggest problem with selling protector is YOU!  Most customers will love the product and the benefits it gives them.  Get behind a product and a supplier, test it yourself and go out and ASK FOR THE SALE.

To help you 'get tough' my recommendation is for you to set yourself selling targets or goals and give them deadlines.  Your long-term target should be protecting 75% of all the carpets you clean within the next 18-months.  To start out you'll need to set smaller goals while you are perfecting your sales pitch (which is really just telling) so set your first goal to make protector sales on 25% of every carpet cleaning job you do within 6-months.   

When you reach 25% in sales you should give yourself a small treat … a reward for doing well.  Then move the sales target up to 50%. Just imagine what you could do with the extra money you’d make if you could protect half of everything you clean as you don't need more marketing or equipment or even staff.

I hope this has given you some ideas and some encouragement to go out and offer carpet protection on every carpet cleaning job... good luck. 



Keith Robertson
NCCA Marketing Director

PS.  Don’t worry about the ‘FREE Warranty’ … if you do your cleaning and treatment work correctly … give a free spotter and explain how to blot and spot any spills, most people will never call you out for spot clean, BUT it will help sell lots more protection.

PPS. If you are a current NCCA Member the ‘Protection Leaflet’ below and the 'Warranty Certificates' with hi-res images are in the members’ section to be downloads in  a MS Word format for you to add your details to and start selling … ALL FOR FREE.

NCCA Guide To How Carpet Protector
Really Works…

New carpet with Protector applied
New Carpets – Protected
Most new carpets have a ‘protective treatment’ applied to them at manufacture or by the store. Although this invisible coating is NOT ‘bulletproof’ you will benefit from a special ‘Triple-action’ that…
  •  Repels liquid spills
  •  Resists damage to the fibres
  •  Releases dirt and grit from the carpet

Soil, Pollens and Allergens make a dirty carpet
Dirty Carpets. 
Your carpets are under a constant attack by soil, pollens and allergens in the home.  These are trapped and held in the carpet as if it were a filter for your home.  Unfortunately grit in the soil will rub against the fibres when you walk on the carpet and scratch the protector.  Luckily this damage is only to the protective coating. So, with cleaning, the carpet can be restored to a ‘like new’ condition.


Non-Protected carpet after cleaning - Damaged
Damaged Carpets – After Cleaning.
Without regular professional cleaning and renewing the protective treatment, the dirt & grit starts to cut like knives directly into the fibres, deteriorating their appearance and causing irreversible damage, so even with the best cleaning system possible the harm can not be removed. In addition without regular cleaning the spills, ‘airborne’ pollens and allergens penetrate deep into the carpet.

Protected carpet after cleaning - Not Damaged
Regular Cleaning.
It is recommended, for both the health and appearance of the carpet, that the average family, have their carpets professionally cleaned every 12-months … although you may not see the soil you’ll be amazed at the build-up of harmful dirt and grit in the base of the carpet.  This will stop the grit from removing the entire protective coating and preventing, long-term damage to the fibres.

Carpet after cleaning and protector renewed
Re-protecting your freshly cleaned carpet will reinforce your carpets original ‘Triple-action’ protection shield by…
1.     Repelling liquid spills, allowing you time to mop them up to keep the carpet looking great longer.
2.    Resists damage to the fibres giving you longer lasting carpets, which saves you time and money replacing them.
3.    Releases dirt and grit from the carpet making it easier to vacuum clean and keep healthy.
Protect, your carpets and you’ll protect your investment, saving you time and money from not having to replace the carpet and make your home healthy and the carpets beautiful for years.

NCCA current members you can download both the 'Guide To Carpet Protector' leaflet and the 'Warranty Certificates' for free from the members section, by clicking here:  



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