By Steve Marsh

Are you a quality cleaning company that stands out from the crowd of competitors? Do you need to justify higher prices?

If you want to rise above the low-price competition, your marketing and advertising must be radically different to make it perfectly clear you offer far more than other companies. Your company must boldly proclaim you are different so a consumer looking for the lowest price immediately senses you are not the company they want.

Your target market needs to clearly understand you offer more than just removing dirt from a carpet. They want to see you provide an entire professional-service experience that justifies your prices.

Guaranteed, on-time arrival is a powerful tool to help convey this message.

Why on time?

Fear of inconvenience and frustration plays an important role when quality-minded consumers choose a new company. Relieving some of these fears helps build their confidence in choosing your service.

Punctuality is a detail budget service companies often ignore. When you can boast of on-time arrival, it provides strong evidence that details are important to your company. Consumers then tend to assume that other important details also will be cared for.

What’s great about offering this benefit is that your competitors are not doing it. If you are worth higher prices, this policy of showing up on time should already be part of your normal service. Offering an arrival guarantee should not actually change much of what you are already doing.

By offering this guarantee, you are signaling you understand and appreciate that the customer’s time is valuable. This is music to the ears of those willing to pay more for the service companies they hire.

The arrival guarantee

This guarantee assures the consumer that, if the company does not arrive within the scheduled window of time, the customer will receive a $25 gift card to express the deepest apology of the technician. (I offered a Starbucks card.) Gift cards should always be available on the work vehicle to assure that the guarantee can be fulfilled at the time of arrival.

The arrival guarantee works best if you schedule a window of time for your service arrival appointments. I have found that offering a two-hour period for arrival has worked well for most jobs. For example, I might tell the customer, “I will be arriving at your home on Friday between noon and 2:00.” In the San Francisco Bay Area where I live, I would also offer the first appointment of the day with a 30-minute window. Even with our heavy traffic, it was an extremely rare event to show up late for a job.

Of course, this also assumes your company will notify customers of a potential late arrival as soon as it is detected.


I have heard owners say that this will limit upsales. First, I would suggest it is not a good strategy to upsell work that you know will make you late for the following job. Secondly, it is good to get as much work as possible from each customer, but that does not mean that all of the upsold work needs to be performed on that specific service call.

The customer was not expecting to have other services performed or they would have notified you of the work when scheduling the original job. It is easy to establish another date for wrapping up any additional work that cannot be finished so as to stay on schedule.

Some companies are concerned about paying too much for late arrivals. If this is the case, it is worth looking at your system of scheduling to see if there are ways to lower the number of late arrivals. If delays occur because jobs consistently take longer than expected, try getting better information about the customer and job when scheduling. This often goes a long way towards solving the problem.

As the percentage of quality customers increases, the consistency of work pace generally stabilizes. Improving the quality level of customers usually reduces the incidence of time-consuming restoration work at totally trashed sites.


The on-time arrival guarantee should be clearly mentioned in marketing materials and advertising. I do not recommend leading with this as your top benefit, but it should be placed midway through your argument for why you are the best value for your target market.

Include the guarantee on your company’s general printed materials website, and work vehicle, with more details can be described on your website.

Get better customers

There are plenty of people willing to pay more for the services for which they hire. Unfortunately, they have a hard time distinguishing between quality and budget companies. An on-time arrival guarantee is a sure way to set your company apart and signal that you provide a professional, full-service experience.

For most good-value companies, this guarantee will not impose a hardship since they are already practicing this policy. By adding a guarantee, you are simply letting your target market know what you have been offering for years.

Steve Marsh is a 40-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an instructor and a Senior Carpet Inspector. He helps home-service companies quickly establish profitable clienteles and then progress to serving higher-quality customers. To help companies achieve these goals, he created the step-by-step programs Single Truck Success and Be Competition Free. For more information, visit