The 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray could be a replica of your own story of running a commercial carpet cleaning business.
Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?
Ralph: That about sums it up for me.
Mary has been doing a great job for you, bringing in new business, networking, making telephone calls, sending out letters and learning more and more about the technical side of carpet cleaning. This is helping her effectiveness when talking to customers and prospects.
At your regular scheduled meeting with Mary, you both review the sales she has landed during the past several months, and make note of how her sales are looking like the movie “Groundhog Day,” with Bill Murray firmly stuck in one place.
Mary even quotes an exchange from it.
Rita: Do you ever have déjà vu?
Phil: Didn’t you just ask me that?
The fact is, Mary is not getting programmed regular work. She gets into new “A” accounts for one-time “restoration” work, but then the jobs are done and she has to start each month getting all new business.
It is a brutal battle each and every month. If she is going to truly succeed, she is going to have to convert the one time jobs into “programs.”
So Mary wants to know the answer to the challenge. How is she going to convert those one-time cleaning jobs into programs?
You ask her to get the files for 15 to 20 proposals. Laying them out on a table, you both examine them. Each one has a history of how she obtained the appointment to offer a proposal, including dates and notes of each contact with the customer. The proposals include square feet, condition of the carpet, type of carpet, floor plans and even the system she thought should be used to clean it.
You also note how great her introduction letter was, explaining the proposal and the actual job pricing, with scope as well as the planned results of the cleaning. Looking deeper, you did not find what you were looking for, which was a matrix laying out different plans for continual maintenance, along with pricing.
How could both you and Mary have missed this detail in her proposals?
It’s in the timing
What she was doing was waiting until after the restoration cleaning was done to approach the customer with the idea of doing regular cleaning. She thought, and rightly so, that she did not want to confuse the customer with too many decisions when trying to make a sale.
After all, the number one rule in doing a presentation is not to try to sell two things at once. First get a buying decision on the first item, and then and only then move to the second item.
So you both get to work on solving this challenge. What Mary was doing at first was exactly what she should continue to do… but she will also prepare a colored floor plan highlighting traffic patterns with red, blue, green and white based on how many times each area needs to be cleaned on the new program you will offer.
Included with this second proposal would be the matrix, showing the details, which will include how often areas would be cleaned and the pricing of each service.
This is nothing new, but the timing of the program cleaning will now be included in the initial presentation — after the new client agrees to the restoration cleaning. This timing is crucial, because if you wait until after the initial restoration cleaning is performed, future cleaning commitments become tougher to land.
Stick with the plan
The plan now is to present the restoration proposal, get the customer’s commitment to use your company… and then pull out your recommendation of how the customer can keep the carpet looking great, and at the same time protect any carpet mill warranties they may have in force.
This one change in timing makes a difference in how much program work you have on the books. If you or Mary don’t build regular work, you will sound like Bill Murray when he says, “What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”
Every day or beginning of a month or year will always be a battle for revenue again and again, over and over, if you do not convert some of your restoration jobs to programs.
You go over the plan with Mary one more time to make sure she had these important points noted. When Mary was doing surveys (measuring) of new customers, she had floor plans and noted the entire square footage so she could do a restoration proposal.
So she actually had all the information she needed to create a program… which she did… but her timing was off.
Now, it’s on the right track.
When you start adding regular work to your calendar, it will feel like your future has hope. You will be able to add additional revenue to your growing commercial carpet cleaning business.
And just like Bill Murray exclaimed when he woke up and it was finally a new day, and he was not trapped in a never-ending cycle, you can say, “Today is tomorrow! It happened!”
Fred Geyen is president of the Geyen Group (www.GeyenGroup.com). His background includes commercial product sales and program development for residential, commercial and disaster restoration with ServiceMaster. He has a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED-AP) designation and is on the board of directors with the LMCCA. Geyen can be contacted at (612) 799-5111.