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Management And Training

How Much For This And That?

August 25, 2011
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Are you tired of answering that question from prospective customers?

You know the one: The "Is that how much you think I have to pay for that service?" kind of query.

This question is what makes our lives miserable, our tempers short and our thinking move to areas of a more pleasant type of business.

But, are apples being compared to apples when the question is asked?

What value does the prospect place on the service and how can you find out; with what is the prospect comparing that value?

It is essential to remember that the prospect does not really know the industry as well as you, and so you need to ask probing questions to begin to have an understanding as to the value comparison.

Take carpet maintenance as an example: When prospects call for "carpet cleaning," is it really cleaning they desire, or can you begin to have a discussion about proper carpet maintenance and sell the result of clean carpet rather than the time and materials kind of service that the customer can price out based on how long the service takes?

As you can see, it is the questioning type of approach that causes a prospect to think about what they really want, rather than just accept the services your competitors are offering.

Maintaining The Bottom Line

Using a "maintenance approach," you may ask yourself, "How much maintenance can I provide in a shorter amount of time?"

Since you know that maintenance is a much better approach for keeping the flooring like-new longer than a "cleaning schedule," you should strive for a scripted sales pitch that addresses the advantages of a long-term maintenance strategy.

And, always remember that the prospect has most likely never heard any good advice for flooring maintenance from retailers or wholesale outlets.

The basic "clean it when it gets dirty" guidance is about the only thing the prospect has heard.

Once you have the attention of the prospect, you can then begin to look at the maintenance program as a holistic plan, including everything from initial vacuuming after installation to deep extraction with truckmount or high-performance portable equipment and everything in between.

By keeping the carpet or flooring maintained rather than cleaned, you can employ different strategies of preservation to hold down your costs, thus increasing profitability.

To remove dry particulate soil, maintenance systems usually call for vacuuming; but, commercial carpet does not release dry soil as easily as residential carpet.

The tuft rows in commercial carpet are usually closer together, giving the carpet much more density, thus causing dry soil to be difficult for the vacuum to reach.

Now, we have to go below the carpet''s surface.

Pile lifting is a periodic service to be combined with vacuuming for more complete dry soil removal.

Pile lifting should be performed in areas where dry soil accumulates, like in entrances and transition areas in buildings.

Whenever possible, we should try to employ tools and machinery that will do the jobs we require, but in less time and with less effort.

A cylindrical, counter-rotating machine will do a good job of getting to subsurface dry soil.

Although it is not a true pile lifter by definition, it will, just because of how it impacts the carpet, lift pile and remove dry soils that are located below the surface.

Combine the versatility of this machine to also encapsulate the carpet after it is used as a "junior varsity" pile lifter, and you have a very profitable way to give carpet service to a client.

And, because the amount of carpet your staff can process is at least five to seven times faster than a truckmount or high-performance portable, you can produce a true "maintenance process."

Your staff will expend much less energy using a maintenance approach as opposed to restorative cleaning.

This energy savings can be a key to keeping staff producing high-volume numbers and saving countless hours per week over the more traditional "clean it when it gets dirty" approach.

"How much?" is a question that can be asked by people from either perspective in this industry.

Just make sure you know how to make the comparisons work for you.

Dane Gregory is the commercial sales manager for Bridgewater Corporation, which owns Interlink Supply. He works with commercial cleaners to help them build their businesses by adding services without a lot of additional cost. He also helps them with technical aspects of cleaning carpet, tile and grout and stone surfaces. Gregory instructs classes for each floor surface as well as the Commercial Cleaning Initiative, which covers all these floor surfaces. He may be reached at

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