Should carpet cleaners advertise in the “services section”?

Hey Steve,

Do you recommend advertising in the “services section” of the classified in a town’s main local paper? If so, what sort of response can I expect? What can I put in 3 lines that would draw attention to my company?

My newspaper wants $80.00 for 3 lines for 30 days. No carpet cleaners advertise in this section but I am going to call a few other companies who do advertise there and see what their response rate has been.


Its been dead since getting into business a little over two months ago.  I’ve had just 8 jobs for about $1000. All great clients though, I just need volume! Postcards aren’t working for me.  I sent out 2000 cards (over 400 bucks postage)and got 3 jobs, then I put out 1500 door hangers for 2 jobs and 3 months of coupon ads in the local ad rag got 3 responses.

I’ve got just one pitiful job now booked for the end of this month. So I am desperately looking for other suggestions! I am printing more door hangers as I have plenty of time on my hands!  What else do you suggest?

Getting Nervous Here in San Diego

Hey Nervous,

First of all, don’t panic. Two months is nothing for starting a business.  You need to take the long view.  But meanwhile, since you have “plenty of time on your hands” why not:

1. Dress up. (Wear a tie.)

2. Go out and knock on doors with a flyer. (Pick an upper middle class neighborhood.)  Carry your briefcase with you with a full inspection kit.  When the homeowner comes to the door:

a. Look them in the eye.

b. Smile.

c. Introduce yourself and say “I would like to give you this flyer explaining our carpet cleaning services.” A fair number will reply, “Do you have time to look at my carpets now?”  You of course will say you are too busy at the current time … just kidding!

d. Slip your shoes off as you walk in and follow the inspection procedure detailed in this free Special Report that we offer:  Carpet Cleaning Inspections that Sell!

NOTE:  This procedure works well on commercial as well as residential jobs.  BUT you have to knock on lots of doors to get the return you want.  Do you have the “fire in the belly”?  Trust me- this beats waiting around for the phone to not ring!

Above all, never let them see you sweat. You are going to do great.


P.S. Frankly, Nervous, it’s amazing what all of us will do to avoid “belly to belly” contact with a prospect. But if you can conquer your fear of rejection (desperation always worked for me) the above procedure will produce more work faster and with absolutely no cash outlay than any other marketing system out there. Let us all know how it goes.

7 thoughts on “Should carpet cleaners advertise in the “services section”?”

  1. Get involved with your local chamber of commerce and other civic organizations. Get on some of the focus groups or committees so you can acutually begin to build relationships with people and they will start to use you (vs. showing up at card exchanges and trying to connect with 50 or more people at once and just pass out your cards.

    A key thing when it comes to sales is that people buy from those they know and like. You need to get to know people. A flyer or mailer doesn’t differentiate you from anyone – especially your competition. They will remember you if they know you and have had the chance to engage in meaningful converstation with you.

    Also, look in to a professional business networking group (such as BNI). There are dues, but compared to what you’ve spent in postage and printing, you’ll have a far better return on your investment and a wealth of knowledge and suppport from other business owners.

    Also, check in to SCORE and see if there is a local office near you. It’s free business advice from retired (successful) business people who donate their time and experience to help others.

    Best of luck!


  2. Steve and Meg both hit on the key point. It is a game of numbers. If you talk to enough people, and as Steve says sincerity is key, you will book jobs.

    Offer to clean a few jobs free. Churches are a great target. Most of them have day care areas that always are in need of cleaning. Every mother that comes in the room will notice the difference. Leave some brochures behind so they know who to call for their homes.

    If you have an upscale mobile home park offer to clean their community center. The older people (especially the men) that live there will have to check out what’s happening. Strike up a conversation with them and the word will quickly spread thoughout the park.

    Make it your goal to pass out at least 25 business cards everyday. Whenever you are standing in line pass them out to the person in front and back of you. Take a few seconds to introduce yourself.

    Now just get out there and tell your story.


  3. Wow, Meg and Bill, maybe we need to give each of you your own blog. (Oh, wait a minute- Big Billy already has on one here!) Good suggestions from both of you. I guess we could sum up all of our comments with a famous quote from Chuck Violand: “Luck favors a body in motion”!


    PS Or I heard another very successful SFS graduate, Lisa Wagner from San Diego a while back state, “Movement trumps meditation any day.” Well spoken!

  4. These are great ideas! I for one feel that my attitude MUST be that I have a great service I want people to know about…not that I have to book appointments. This will put the attention on my potential customers rather than Me Myself and I. Once I show people what I have to offer, some of them will pay to have me do it.

    Also… Are you willing to promote other business after going to a chamber of commerce gathering? Thats what you are asking the other members to do for you. Members of an established chamber may resent you if your goal is to ‘get business from them’. You may have to show your loyalty (its all perception) by trying to help the others expand their business in some way. Then the ‘good’ ones will feel obligated to help you too.

    Also…Who wouldn’t call the guy/girl who just cleaned their church’s chapel carpeting for FREE?? How about going a step further? When they read about you in their church’s bulletin (which you will kindly ask the church to do) they will see that you are offering a 5% or 10% savings for members…and you are giving that 5% or 10% back to THEIR church!! Their church can receive an extra donation if they use your services! After reading this… the potential customer will feel they have to use your CC biz when they are ready to have their carpets cleaned… “what a good way to help our church…its a win/win/win situation” (again..perception)

    This would work for:
    Preschools / Daycare centers (as mentioned)
    School fund raisers (winner gets X rooms cleaned free)
    park district cheer leaders fund raisers
    park district football, baseball,soccer, raisers

    On and on and on,

  5. Good thinking, Brad. Much of great marketing comes from thinking outside the box.

    Thanks for a great post.


    PS I also like your “throw your bread on the waters” philosophy of doing business. In fact, that is exactly why Jon-Don developed and promotes our Strategies for Success program. On paper the SFS seminar and the follow-up support for our SFS members hemorrhage cash. But theoretically we make it up in the long term with more successful customers who buy more, etc, etc, etc.

  6. I own a house cleaning business but what I am about to suggest will also work for carpet cleaning businesses.

    1. Search out community blogs and specialized community newpapers and newsletters.

    2. For example, the wealthiest town in Washington, DC is one called “Georgetown”. Jacqueline Kennedy and John Kennedy once owned a townhouse there and lived there. Other Washington big wigs live there.

    3. I searched out community papers peculiar/specific to Georgetown and advertise there. I did the same for several other very upscale DC and Maryland areas.

    You must be patient. Postcards work but they can’t look cheap. Offer a good deal (money off) in your postcards. Classifieds work but don’t expect miracles in a week. Slow and easy wins the race.

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