How To Get Tons Of Work From Realtors !! or… The One-Two Knock Out Punch !!

How To Get Tons Of Work From Realtors !! or… The One-Two Knock Out Punch !!

In order to grow a carpet cleaning business, it is important to have strong referral sources. We have found Realtors to be among the best.

When Realtors obtain a listing, they usually do a “walk-through” with the Seller, pointing out things that need to be improved, repaired or cleaned in order to prepare the home to be sold. Since the carpet is out in front for all to see, it can be the most obvious “eyesore”! It is then up to the Realtor to point this out to the Seller.

– Wouldn’t it be nice for him/her to have a stack of your business cards available?

– Even better, how about a “special offer” to the homeowner making the Realtor look like the “hero”?

Here is a Step-By-Step plan to get Realtors to refer you to their listings:

PUNCH #1 !

#1) We get our local Sunday Paper “real estate section”, writing down the names of the real estate offices.

#2) We then write down the names of all Realtors who have their name in the various listings. We also do this with Harmon Homes magazine, again making a heading for the offices as well as the people whose names are on the listings.

– Why not just get a list of all Realtors and be done with it? Because the top agents (the real “movers and shakers”) constantly market their own listings. You only want to do business with agents who have 15 to 40 homes on sale at any one time. Just working off a big list wastes your time dealing with “part-time” Realtors and people who are not even active anymore.

#3) We then send to each of them a letter, explaining the “benefits” we have to offer them:

A) Fast response
B) Quick drying time
C) Reliability, etc., etc.

#4) In the letter, we also enclose “gift certificates” they can give to their clients.

This gift certificate offers a Free Trial Offer (up to 200 square feet) with no obligation.

We never use a high pressure sales pitch. There is a space in this “referral card” for the Realtor to insert their name, so it looks like a gift from the Realtor. Realtors are very busy people whose time is at a premium. It is very important to be consistent with your follow up.

PUNCH #2 !

…We don’t just stop at mailings…

#1) We make up a “goody-bag”, one of those little gift bags you see in the party stores.
(We buy ours (4 for a $1.00) at the local Dollar Store.)

#2) We then go to Sam’s Club and buy individual gourmet coffee, candy, pop corn, etc. and put some in each bag along with colorful wrapping paper.

#3) To the bag, we also add:

A) A Brochure
B) A Consumer Info Guide
C) Business Cards
D) A Refrigerator Magnet

My wife fills up a large box with these goody-bags and starts her “route”.

#4) She stops off at a Realtor’s office (being sure she has a goody-bag ready for the receptionist).

The receptionist is always their “first line of defense”. It is the receptionist’s job to filter out all the sales people and vendors. Giving the receptionist a goody-bag is a great ice-breaker! We ask her if we may put these bags on the desks of the agents, which they always say, “Yes!” to.

Now, for the “key”…..

#5) In all of these goody-bags is a Free Trial Offer for the Realtor as well.

We tell the receptionist, we would like to do a complimentary carpet cleaning in her home so she sees our work and has no hesitation referring us to others. We also include this “freebie” in the letter to the agents.

Everyone likes something for nothing, that includes Real Estate Agents!

#6) My wife visits each office every month, dropping off goodies. We go to Dunkin Donuts or the Bagel Shop, giving a dozen to 4 or 5 offices a week.

This is a very low-cost way of getting in front of a great referral source. People always remember those who feed them!

This has proven such a success for us that Realtors call us wanting gift certificates for use in their “farm areas”, whose homes they would like to sell. They are of the same belief that in order to be recognized, it is sometimes OK to give something away. Many Realtors use our gift certificates as a “closing gift” for their clients, making it a win-win situation for everyone.

Others use it in their listing presentations.

Most importantly, we have never been “burned” by giving away a free room in this manner. We get our price for the rest of the home, as well as adding protector sales.

#7) We always give the Realtors a follow-up phone call to make sure they received our goodies and information.


We have now expanded the above program to include:

A) Maid Services
B) Beauty Salons
C) Doctor’s Offices
D) Veterinarian’s Offices (who we supply with lots of Odor Removal information)

If anyone would like samples of what we do, just e-mail me.

Mike Hogan

November 30, 2005 / by / in
How Clean Is Clean?

I do not look at my clothing, plates, bed linens, or CARPET with a microscope. Neither does anyone that I know. They call that “obsessive compulsive” and they have medications to help control it. Suffice it to say, if you use a cleaning method that meets the objectives of your clients and you can get a fair price for it, then you are doing good. I do not want to eat a meal off of my carpet backing. I don’t expect it to be as clean as a dinner plate.

All of us agree that many soils and contaminants pass through the carpet and settle on the pad. These soils and contaminants are still present even after the most thorough cleaning. Should we begin pulling up the carpet and cleaning the backing and pad? I would venture to say that if you are cleaning to “industry accepted standards”, you will remove a great majority of the soils in the average carpet.

Nobody that I know is breathing with their face shoved down into the carpet pile. Nobody is licking the carpet except for infants, but they lick puppies in the mouth, too.

Delight your clients, get paid, move on. Strive for excellence, but do not obsess over perfection.

It does not exist!

Bruce DeLoatch

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Heacock’s Corner: Turbo Steam Cleaning!!

This is a completely new way to clean carpets. Get a jump start on your competition! There is nothing quite like it on the market at all.

This method cleans dirty carpets faster than a wand, with less effort, fewer strokes, and uses less water. It is light weight and non electric. I guarantee more soil will be removed, using less water with this system than with any cleaning system, because of the powerful agitation.

This system uses 1/2 to 1/3 of the water and cleaning solution needed for normal wand or any power head HWE system. Your chemical costs per job will go down. Prove it yourself by the color and condition of the waste water following the use of the Turbo Steam Cleaning System.

Here’s how the system works:

#1) Dry vacuum the carpet very thoroughly.

#2) Spray desired area with cleaning solution. The cleaning solution can be applied directly from your portable or Truckmount’s solution pump or from an electric sprayer. What is of great importance is the “volume” of cleaning solution applied to the carpet. Enough cleaning solution must be applied to the carpet so as to effect each fiber thoroughly.

#3) Agitate this area with an air turbine vacuum.

#4) Extract with a floor wand using “dry strokes” only. Triggering the the wand usually is not necessary for thorough soil removal. However, it is possible that some extremely soiled areas may need a typical “rinse stroke” before dry-stroking it. (This is more prevalent when using portable extractors which lack the “super suction” typically available from a Truckmount.)

It is also a very good idea to attach a “Dust Downer” to your vacuum hose.

With this system, it is common for large amounts of human and animal hair to be dug out from deep within the carpet. This can cause your vacuum hose to clog without a Dust Downer in place.

Here is another example: This is a white nylon carpet where a dog lies next to a bed. It had very heavy soiling, plus a LOT of dog hairs. All were removed with the Turbo Vac and the Chemstractor connected to my truck mount.

Gary Heacock
-The Interstellar Crossroads of The Universe

Copyright 2003 Gary Heacock. All rights reserved.
Used here by permission of Gary Heacock.

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Carpet Cleaning Method Myths And Carpet Warranties

I have been in the carpet cleaning business for over 24 years. I started in this business using the standard rotary shampoo method of cleaning carpet with a janitorial firm I worked for. To say that the rotary method is a surface cleaner is pure “bunk”. Anybody who has properly used the rotary method of cleaning carpet can see the incredible results it produces. As a matter of fact, a local company that I worked for used both truckmounted HWE equipment and the rotary method of cleaning carpet.

Want to know why? In some instances the truckmounted HWE equipment with the high heat, (our was set at 240 degrees) still did not remove some of the ground in soils in high traffic areas such as: hallways, stairs, under chairs in offices, etc. Because of this, we would bring in a rotary shampooer for these areas and follow up with the truckmounted HWE system to remove the shampoo residue. The results where quite amazing.

So, you see, in some situations the HWE method alone can be considered also be considered “surface cleaning”. Truckmounted systems are good, but they have their limitations just like any other system does.

Personally, I use a portable extractor with a 300 – 400 psi pump with heat (150 degrees at the wand tip) and a rotary shampooer in situations where HWE alone will not remove ground-in dirt and soils. I use my portable extractor and have never had a complaint due to overwetting. I could write a book about all the complaints I have heard from people (both operator and consumer) who have used the truckmounted HWE system alone for cleaning carpets.

Here is a thought about Carpet Warranties:

Why should we have to worry about the system we use if the carpet’s warranty is (most likely) already voided?

Case in point: I have a customer who recently purchased new carpet. It is only 4 months old. Recently, she discovered an area of spots on it that she thought might have been pet-urine. It had all the typical characteristics of pet-urine. When she called the company she purchased her carpet from, they informed her that her new carpet’s warranty was now voided!

This being the case, would it really matter which system was used to clean it? What types of spills void a carpet’s warranty and why? These are questions that deserve answering. What are your thoughts about this? Lynn Hassel

What’s your opinion?

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Building On Customer Needs

My goal is to encourage cleaners to be experts in providing customers with optional services to better meet their maintenance needs and, in the process, to create a win-win situation for both the customer and the cleaning professional.

#1) To achieve information on the customer’s level of need it is necessary to ask “walk-through” questions such as:

A) How old is your carpet?

B) When was it last professionally cleaned?

C) Did they reapply a protective coating after protection application?

D) Will you give me a tour of the areas to be cleaned and point out any areas that need special attention?

These questions separate you from just any cleaner because if you ask correctly, you show concern for customers, while gathering technical information and putting the thought of “protective coating” in the customer’s mind. Many times this alone will start a discussion of optional services.

#2) After a thorough inspection work up a written plan, including compelling information availability to support optional services.

A) The best information I give people is directly from the carpet manufacturers. Example: “Dupont recommends reapplying protection in carpet care brochure #H-63253 Rev. 10/99. So I recommend what the manufacturer recommends.”

B) Use the customer’s concerns from the walk through:

a) Worn areas
b) Spills not cleaning up as easy as they should
c) Other special concerns

#3) I suggest listing two or three options of protection, and connecting them to customer’s needs and manufacturer’s recommendations to reprotect:

A) Wall to wall
B) Open areas
C) Traffic patterns or high use areas When you give your customers options, they will normally choose the one that best suits the need you have informed them of. However, do not oversell. You are a professional; like a doctor, you are giving them a prescription to keep the carpet easier to maintain and to lengthen its life. Be friendly!

#4) Your customers may ask you what you think, but do not be afraid to tell them how to save money. Moreover, let them know that carpet performance in areas where protection was not applied will differ from the areas where it has been applied.

Give them time to think, and answer any pros and cons they might ask you about. Credibility is important. How you sell options is as important as how well you clean. Your name and reputation, as well as your company’s, is a precious commodity!

#5) Closing the sale is very important.

If the customer cannot seem to make the choice, help them. Close the sale by saying something like, “I think that the best choice in your case is to _______. Don’t you agree?” (Yes) “Great, I’ll do that. You’ve made a wise choice.”

#6) After you are finished applying and brushing in the protection, remind the customer how it benefits them and how wise the choice was.

#7) Set the next appointment.

The customer is happy, now is the time to set the next appointment. Get the calendar; tell the customer when they will most likely next need service. Have them pick a day and time. This helps set your schedule far in advance, guarantees your customers will not go elsewhere and gives your customer priority over call-ins. This is just a brief overlay, but if you apply ethics and psychology in your presentation, you will find increased sales and improved customer repeats and retention.

Lonnie McDonald

Home Page

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Misc.: Three Cleaning Methods and Lots of Fun

It was a great weekend, with great friends, and some carpet cleaning.

I had asked Steve Smith if he could bring his Cimex and his new 1/2 HP Oscillating Pad machine with him so we could do a little testing in a “real world” environment (AKA a filthy traffic-lane church gymnasium carpet). Funny thing was… The carpet had been Hot Water Extracted a month before by a cheaper truckmounted HWE company in town. The carpet looked awful just one week after they cleaned it.

I approached our church and asked them if we could do some testing on their carpet to try to determine how to get it clean, and stay clean. Of course, there was no charge for doing this.

I am searching for a quality method that can clean large amounts of commercial carpet, where we could bid less per square foot than on residential, and still turn a nice $100 per hour figure while cleaning.

I concur with Steve’s comments on the results. I do think if we would have gone over the Cimex area more with that machine, we may have gotten better results (in all fairness to the Cimex). However, that would have increased the time for cleaning the area.

I would like to see similar demos at the next Summerfest, where we would go out and actually measure off some carpeted areas of equal soiling conditions, equal sizes, and clean with different systems, check results, and the time spent cleaning. Cleaning strips of carpet in parking lots or randomly cleaning areas of a hotel is not giving each of the cleaning systems available a “fair shake”.

I performed the HWE with our machine for this test, so let me explain my procedure.

First, I dry vacuumed the area to be cleaned, as we did in all the areas.

Next, I pre-sprayed with Clean Streak enzyme.

Then, let it dwell for 12 minutes.

Finally, I acid rinsed the entire area with the heat at 220ยบ “At The Wand” (through 2 -9503 jets and 120′ of 2″ vacuum hose). The wand was a specially modified Easy Glide, with “perm-a-seal” lips (silicone – LOL). Other wands of this type have been known to leak vacuum air while cleaning, and leave the carpet way too wet.

Recheck of the areas revealed no spots or areas returning, no wick-ups, on day 2, and day 5, in any of the three areas cleaned. I believe the extra heat of the HWE used in this test made a big difference in time and results (with some of the credit going to the improved wand seal). The OP machine did a great job, and the Cimex will return for more testing. A fantastic weekend with great friends, and more cleaning on Saturday at a Day Care center, thanks to Steve and Jax, and my son Ian.

The more we learn, the more we earn.

Bob ‘e Savage
Copyright 2003 Bob Savage.
All rights reserved. Used here by permission of Bob Savage.

November 30, 2005 / by / in
The Squid Marketer: Who’s Slow?

Most business owners lament this time of year. They automatically assume they will be spending the weeks following the Christmas holidays watching DVDs and listening to the CDs they received from Santa Clause. Much of their business related activity is spent in the marketing arena, planning their spring advertising and dreaming of April flowers! This is all well and good. The marketing is a must and hey! we all need a rest!

I, however, would like to suggest to you another option. This is the option of targeting your existing client base with a special post-holiday clean up offer!

This can be done using either postcards or letters of solicitation.

Mail out a super-duper “After the Tree Comes Down” special! Remind your clients of the need to have holiday food and drink spills and Christmas tree “over spill” and sap stains removed, sooner, rather than later.

Make your offer even more appealing by offering either free or discounted “after spray” (Teflon/Scotchguard protector, etc.). Stress the importance of “protecting your carpeting from the oncoming winter elements, such as rock salt”, etc.

Include a call-to-action, making the offer effective during the month of January or perhaps January 1st through February 15th only! You may want to include a New Years theme such as $20.03 a room! Always use the occasion to promote upholstery cleaning, as well.

With an active client data base, a bit of cooperation from Mother Nature, and a little imagination, you may be busier then you think!

Happy New Year!

Armand Taddeo
Squid Marketing Forms

November 30, 2005 / by / in
The Squid Marketer: The End?

I would like to say that it has been an extreme pleasure and a privilege writing for the VLM Central E-Zine these last 2 years There is never enough educational resource for cleaning professionals and sadly, we are losing one more. However, all is not lost!

The best way for the newcomer and veteran to continue to excel in their trade is to “get involved”. There are a great many options out there for you that go far beyond your yearly subscriptions to trade magazines. Join both regional (and if available), national organizations.

Attend conventions, trade shows, get-togethers and take classes when offered. You will never learn all that you can in one lifetime, but you just might learn more then your competitors, who think they have learned it all! Yogi Berra could not have said that better!

The ISCT Convention in North Carolina this month, the informal but fun and educational Summerfest in Baltimore and the first annual Connections Convention, both taking place this fall. Get involved. You won’t regret it!

Thanks for the ride, Mark and thanks to all for taking the time to read and LEARN!

Armand Taddeo
Squid Marketing Forms

Copyright 2003 Squid Marketing. All rights reserved.

Used here by permission of Squid Marketing. [Editor’s Note: The VLM Central E-zine isn’t exacty going away. It will simply no longer be published in an “e-zine” format. It will undergo a major restructuring in order to better present the three years of accumulated knowledge contained within. Stay tuned for this new format coming, Fall-Winter 2003.]

November 30, 2005 / by / in
The Squid Marketer: The Art Of “Selling Yourself”

Most people entering the cleaning & restoration field start out with the same lofty goals. Lets face it! Everyone goes into this business with the same mindset. “I’ll start out with one truck, but have two by year’s end. In five years, I’ll run a multi-truck operation from the comfort of my office in the local industrial park!” Nice goal. Nice dream.

While many systemize and cultivate their business successfully from the start and indeed do achieve their objectives, others remain content running a successful one-truck operation for the entire lifespan of the business.

If you are in the former category, turn the page! If the latter category applies to you, please read on. The goal of the multi-truck operation is achieving the sales volume and cash flow to support the business, employees, etc., on a year-round basis.

The goal of the one-truck operation is to offer high-end, quality worksmanship and sell yourself in the process. Personality plays a major part in the growth of a successful small business.

You must build a rapport with each and every client:

#1) Talk to the small child while in the home.

#2) Acknowlege (but, caution-don’t pet!) the family dog.

#3) Do the little things others may not do or think about doing.

#4) Pile brush and groom every job.

#5) Use (when utilizing HWE) air movers for a faster drying time.

#6) Lay out traffic lane paper after you are finished.

#7) Keep your company name (read: YOU) in front of your client year round.

These things usually bring your clients to the point where they treat your appointments to clean their carpet the same as they would a visiting family friend! If you take hire a helper/technician to go with you on every job, make certain his/her demeanor reflects that of your own. These things not only create client loyalty, but also facilitate a real friendship.

Needless to say, all these things need to be accompanied by quality work with a strong guarantee! Make certain your client knows that you are always just a simple phone call away. Continue reminding them with: * Postcards. * Newsletters. * Birthday/Holiday greeting cards. * Thank You letters, etc. You can develop a small, but successful, “high end” [repeat-referral type] business, by simply developing a strong rapport with each and every client. You can also build new and life-long friendships, as well!

Armand Taddeo Squid Marketing Forms

November 30, 2005 / by / in
The Squid Marketer: Spring Is Here!

After enduring the Winter From Hell here in the mid-Atlantic, it feels great just to be able to type those words

In our industry, “Spring and Fall” translate into “Busy and Profit” yet I sometimes wonder if cleaners are doing all they can possibly do to maximize their earnings and keep their schedule full this time of year. Many seem to believe that they need to advertise during the slow season, such as winter and that their phone will not need any help ringing over the busy months.

Well, after 20 plus years in the business, I can tell you that (at least in our case) this mode of thought is inaccurate at best!

Spending money during the “snow” months can be a monumental waste.

Think about it. With all the white stuff on the ground and the potential for more over the season, you could offer your services to your existing clientele at half price and they would, more than likely, consider it not worth the expense. Their thinking is this: “Why bother cleaning the carpet when the likelihood of family members tracking in snow and salt still looms as a real probability? Would you?” This is where our commercial accounts come in!

As for the busy time, such as Spring, Fall, and the Holidays, carpet cleaning is on the homeowner’s mind and a gentle nudging, such as a postcard offer, is the correct action.

SPRINGTIME is the time to remind your customer of the need to remove the salts tracked in over the past few months with a professional cleaning and to point out the harmful effects these agents will have on fabric if not removed.

Seize the moment or in this case, the Spring Fever Cleaning Mindset!!! Run specials such as a St. Patrick’s Day and Easter offer.

Think as a consumer, not as a businessman.

Get cracking on your marketing. They are ready to spend. Make contact with every residential client in your database and watch that schedule book fill!

Have a great Spring!

Armand Taddeo Squid Marketing Forms

November 30, 2005 / by / in