Do we need to personally call back every single carpet cleaning job?

Hi Steve,

call every cleaning customerI read somewhere in one of your articles that you recommend calling back after the carpet cleaning job to make sure everything was fine.  So we started following up to ensure satisfaction. BUT 90% of the time we get an answering machine!  Grrrr!  Anyway, there is a new service available that will allow me to record my script, in my voice, and it will call all my cleaning customers that I program in to the system.  This would be a simple automatic follow up call and would save me loads of time. What are your thoughts on automated systems to make follow-up calls?  I’m just getting tired of the voice-mails/ answering machines, ya-da, ya-da, ya-da!

Impatient in Omaha

Dear Impatient,

You aren’t going to like what I say.  But puhleeeease don’t inflict a tape recorded message on your cleaning customers!   If you can’t afford to invest two or three minutes to call your clients the next day after they have trusted you with their home then you are either a) not charging enough or b) have waaay more money than you need so why the heck are you still bothering to clean carpets???

On the other hand I too hate inefficiency.  So here are a few ideas for you on how to make what we call in Strategies for Success “Quality Check Calls”:

1.  Who was it that said “the amount of time that a task requires expands to fit the amount of time available”?  So are you getting maximum use out of your people in the office, Impatient?  One idea would be for you to make the Quality Check calls one day yourself. Time them overall and average out how long a call should take. Then set that as the bench mark for your staff.

Once you know how long the process should take you just say, “OK, Suzy, we’ve got 14 QC calls today at three to five minutes each. So you should be available again for computer work by 10:00. Right?” Employees all do better with a reasonable deadline that will  “hold their feet” to the fire. (“Accountability” works wonders!)

2.  Make sure your initial phone script asks the customer if you can make a brief “Quality Check Call” to them at work on their cell phone the day after the job.  Then check the “permission to call at work” box on their work order. Calling your customers at work (with their permission) is a great way to speed things up.

3. So what if you get the customer’s answering machine or voice mail? Just leave a warm, friendly, PERSONALIZED message and move on. Anything is going to be better than an automated phone call!

Remember that the Value Added Service you learn in SFS focuses on the Emotional Dynamics of the job.  In other words, 80% of how the customer decides if you have done a “good job” or a “bad job” is based on how they FEEL about the person doing the work and of course the service company as a whole.  Simply put, especially when working in people’s homes, it is all about building a relationship- which obviously is much easier with a live person on the other end of the phone!


P.S.  By the way, Impatient, in our Strategies for Success seminar you receive all the systems, procedures and scripts to set up your Quality Check program.  One of these days I need to do up a Special Report on this subject and add it to our ever growing list of Special Reports .  But until then- you’ll just have to come to SFS!

7 thoughts on “Do we need to personally call back every single carpet cleaning job?”

  1. Steve,

    I agree with the idea of the quality check up phone calls being by a live person. I think that the automated system is great for the day before as a confirmation message, as well as a email.

    I’ve been growing tiresome of customers needing to cancel/reschedule… Any suggestions?

    Also had a question… As far as ROI is concerned for every marketing dollar spent what is the average ROI?

    I have some ad salesmen claiming that a 1-1 ROI is pretty good because that means we may have a future customer in them… I feel that you need a return on the initial investment as well as for the future. Any thoughts?

  2. That is a great question, Joseph, and I’ve reached out to Billy Yeadon, our SFS marketing guru, for an expert answer. But meanwhile let me give you a Steve Toburen “cut to the chase” answer: “Your ad sales people are nuts!” A 1-1 ROI for the initial cleaning of a LONG TERM commercial contract MIGHT be justified. In residential, not a chance. Run away!

  3. Steve
    I agree a person is always 100 times better than a recording. And what we have tried to do when all possible is have the same C.S.R. that books the job Do the day before confirmation call and the follow up call after the service. the customers love it it gives them a feeling of personal attention before we even get to their location. Iknow it sounds cheesy but it really is working for us.Plus in the last eight months we have had them call their 6th month customers to offer specials and it’s working great also.Were giving our Employee’s incentives for jobs booked,services sold,so it makes them more willing to make them customers for life. And as for leaving messages we ask the customers to please call us back and they will recieve a free gift usually a room of protector or sanatizer or if the customer has used us several times before 10% of the next cleaning.Iknow it sounds like we may be giving alot away but it’s like they say in BNI it’s the givers gain .$$$$$$$$$$

  4. Steve, that’s exactly how I feel about it to be honest… I would like a minimum of a 2-1 return on investment.

    Where is a good place to focus advertising dollars?

    I have tried ValPak and have had a decent experience, I mean we are getting work but its providing a very minimal return on investment. I put in $1200 and we’ve seen $1500 in sales, it just doesn’t seem like enough to keep going.

    I am doing some neighborhood newsletter advertising for December. This cost $300 for 1 half page ad that reaches 4200 homes in a good neighborhood and a quarter page ad that reaches 1000 homes in a middle income neighborhood.

    I was considering doing bulk mailers similar to red plum… We have San Antonio Circular here… But I don’t know if that is actually a solid idea.

    We are doing a home magazine that costs $500 a month for 60,000 upper income homes.

    I am also about to make a dive into Every Door Direct Mail as well. I’m wanting to invest about $500-$600 a month into this to really test it out.

    I will also be setting up a campaign for all past customers as well. I’m wanting to reach out to every customer at least 1 time per month.

    Am I missing something?

  5. It is all a bit confusing/overwhelming, isn’t it? You see, jpais, it is so easy to “fritter away” your marketing budget by flitting from one idea to the next. I’ve asked Mr. Yeadon to chime in here since he is our SFS marketing expert.

    However, in general remember that it takes repeated impressions to make a dent in your customer’s consciousness. So your neighborhood newsletter MAY be a good investment- but to truly test it correctly you need to run it at least three times.

    I would really recommend you read Bill’s Special Report about “Hub Marketing”. This won’t give you an immediate infusion of customers but over time is by far the most effective marketing with the greatest ROI.


    PS The best idea in your post is to consistently stay in contact with your past customers.

  6. Well if you know me you realize I think ValPak is a big money pit. The purpose of marketing is to attract long term customers and VP is normally about price not loyalty. Even worse is Groupon which is just “ValPak on steroid”!

    Now that I have told you what is “bad” let’s look at what is “good” out there!

    For a smaller company the idea is to focus your message on a small geographic area- the smaller the better. The post office’s new EDDM has the benefit of being inexpensive and the capability of being focused in a tight neighborhood. I look at it as a great tool for testing your message- either headline or offer.

    So find a few routes of about 500 homes and test your ad with a specific headline (best headlines are questions and get self interest in them)and in the next 2 weeks run the same neighborhood with a different headline. If you think you have a good headline then test the offer the same way. When I say offer I don’t mean price only. The offer maybe a donation to the local school, church, charity etc.

    I also like 4 color postcards that have an emotional picture. Kids and pets are always winners. Find the areas where you have already done work and then blanket the homes around those houses and keep on them on a monthly basis.

    The neighborhood newsletter is a decent media as long as it is cost effective. You will probably need to run this for 4-6 months before you can really judge.

    Whenever you are scheduled in a home have a clipboard with a list of all the services you provide. As you walk through the home check off if they have kids, pets, tile, rugs, hardwoods, leather upholstery etc. Then on a monthly basis as you send out your postcards you can focus on a particular service and know that you have a targeted clientel.

    As a rule of thumb once you have targeted an area you will want to continue something every month. As you pick up more work in a neighborhood your truck is being spotted more and more. The chances of referrals is increased. Try to “own” a neighborhood. Even if you don’t have a job in that neighborhood that day go ahead and drive through the area a few times. Stop in the local Starbucks. Use your 5 around door hangers whenever you are working.

    Stop in at local businesses and just introduce yourself. Stop in at the local church and offer to clean the sanctuary or children’s cry room.

    Overwhelm the area with your presence and ultimately all these tools will come together and you will be busy!

    Wake up in the morning and remind yourself how lucky these customers are to experience your service. Self talk is a critical piece of success.

    Knock ’em dead!

  7. Wow, folks! Big Billy must have had a double expresso shot down at Starbucks this morning. I hope you all realize how much wisdom is contained in Bill’s words below. In fact, I’m gonna copy them and post them next week in our Instructor’s Blog section just so more people can benefit from Mr. Bill!

    NOTE: One more critical factor both Bill and I stress is the need for “time” as in it takes TIME to “own your market”. But use your time wisely. Some cleaners have been on the wand for many years and still are struggling. So are you further ahead than you were a year ago?

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