By Steve Toburen
All carpet cleaners want more regular, contract commercial jobs.
After all, what’s not to love? Regular cash flow; routine, “drama-free” work that doesn’t require a lot of customer interaction; and super-high profit margins. And restoration contractors love having a relationship with commercial and institutional accounts when a sudden disaster strikes the complex.
Since practically everyone wants more contract carpet cleaning accounts, therein lies the challenge. It all comes down to the much-hated “cold-call” sales visit.
Virtually everyone, including myself, suffers from the dreaded fear of rejection. However, most of us conquer this fear, if only out of the simple desperation of making payroll — or our mortgage payment.
But the day will come when you must force yourself out of your comfortable routine and dedicate the morning to making sales calls. You’ll head out the door and go on your way to confront your first potential client.
But what do you say after you’ve forced yourself to walk into a business or facility? Let’s keep it simple:
- Smile and look them in the eye.
- Clearly introduce yourself.
- Hand them your card.
- Explain why you are there.
Your pitch can be simple. Like this: “Hello, I’m Steve with XYZ Cleaning. Here’s my card, and I’d like to see the person who coordinates your regular floor maintenance.”
Hopefully, your initial contact will reply with something like, “Oh, that’s Sam Green, our facility manager. I know he is looking for some options. Let me send you back to talk to him.”
Bingo! You are in. Or maybe not… your challenges could just be starting.
Since you are nervous, the tendency is to babble. Don’t do it. Facility managers are busy and don’t want to talk about the weather, your grandkids, or their golf score. Instead, they want you to cut to the chase in an organized manner. They want you to solve their problems.
For me, when I did my own cold calls, I needed a crutch to do this.
The Commercial Carpet Analysis
I developed the Commercial Carpet Analysis (CCA) form to structure that important first interview and to gain my visit some respect.
Here’s how you do it:
- After introducing yourself, pull out your clipboard and say, “Mr. Green, please let me ask you just a few questions on your flooring maintenance issues. This way I’ll give you a much better proposal.” Almost everyone will agree to this.
- Get right to the point and start asking questions and filling in the responses on your CCA form. Be sensitive here to something: The immediate pressure Mr. Green is under. Some of the questions on the CCA form either won’t apply or aren’t important. You don’t need to fill in every single space.
- When you get to the “exterior generated soiling” section of the CCA, be sure to ask the first question: “Where are your main entrance areas?” What you are looking for here are the most soiled areas, which most likely are his main concerns.
As Mr. Green responds, look up and start to rise out of your chair while asking, “Could you show me these areas that are such a challenge for you folks?” Why do this? Because it is essential to get your prospect involved in a tour of the facility — and away from the ongoing distraction of email and phone calls. Now you should keep on filling out your CCA form as Mr. Green walks you through the building.
The longer you can tactfully keep Mr. Green, your now captivated prospective client, involved in answering the CCA questions, the better. Why?
- The process displays your professionalism.
- You are building a relationship with your client.
- Green will share his “points of pain” or “hot buttons” about the building.
- This CCA form forces Mr. Green to invest his time with you. The only way he can get a return on his time invested is to do business with you.
Will my Commercial Carpet Analysis form completely cure the gut-wrenching fear of a cold call? No. However, the CCA form will give you an outline (crutch) that helps you subtly take charge of those critical first few minutes with an often-impatient manager.
Even better, the interview process my CCA form facilitates will be a very flattering moment of truth for any property manager. All of us feel important when we are asked our opinion and have our responses written down. The CCA form gains you much-needed respect for this interaction. It will also help you build a professional relationship with your contact.
Another huge advantage of filling out your CCA form with your prospective customer is it gives you the essential information required to create a clear, concise proposal that will economically solve the manager’s points of pain with at least three different frequency, area, and price options.
This process works — if you do it. Now, let me challenge you.
Dress up, grab a clipboard and a stack of Commercial Carpet Analysis forms, and don’t forget your business cards. Walk out of your own door and out into the incredibly profitable world of regular and reliable contract commercial work.
Don’t delay. Start now.
Steve Toburen started and ran a world-class cleaning and restoration firm for over 20 years. He is now the Director of Training for Jon-Don’s Strategies for Success program. Steve also founded HomeFrontSuccess.com, a resource portal with training programs for contractors working in customer’s homes. Reach Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.