From the desk of Joe Kowalski:
I type this from the makeshift office I have set up in my home. Washington State issued a stay-at-home order last week. ServiceMonster is currently completely virtual. All of our employees are working from their homes. Fortunately, for both you and us, we have that luxury. Service providers such as yourself, however, don’t have that kind of flexibility. I’m sure everyone who is under a stay-at-home order is struggling to find the balance. Is your work considered essential? I can’t answer that for you. I don’t put food on your table. I don’t live in your community. What I can do is offer some guidance to those who have decided to (or been forced to) stay at home.
You’re an entrepreneur. This is not a vacation. If you need some time to get your head right after making some very hard decisions over the last few weeks, do that. Then get back to work.
If you’re able to keep your business after a few months in lock-down, then take this time to do all the things you “never had time to do" before. Get your books in order. Take that accounting class. Read. Study. Read some more. Master your CRM. Find out what a CRM is. Start getting to know your most important vendors. Get your business systems in place. Build a few spreadsheets. Create a few dashboards. The list is endless on how you can use this time to work #OnYourBusiness.
If you’re thinking of shutting down, lick your wounds and get back to work. Most entrepreneurs fail four times before they get it right. Not all of those failures are due to global pandemics though. I get it, but my point is that you have a clean slate. You can take everything you have learned, every experience you’ve had, and use that to create something new. A new idea. A new purpose.
Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. Just know that your lack of understanding is simply a measure of how much you need to learn. Embrace the change and build a stronger version of yourself AND your business.
I hear comments like “I can’t learn that” and “that’s too complicated for me” from other business owners all the time. And they’re wrong. Self-limiting attitudes are a mind killer. The truth is, people who have that mentality are simply saying, “I don’t want to”. Fine. That’s a much different position. Either you’re managing your time and resources wisely, or you're lazy. Maybe even a little bit of both. Don’t claim that you "can’t." If you find it hard to make the transition, simply add “yet” to the end of your self-defeating mantra. “I can’t do that" becomes “I can’t do that, yet”. After a while, it changes the game.
The value your service provides is probably worth more than you’re charging. Try not to exchange hours for dollars. You and your business are worth more than that. This idea isn’t new and you’ll find plenty of references to this concept as you read and study.
Now, it’s likely that you’re thinking something like: “But I can’t raise my prices! How am I supposed to sell ‘value’? I don’t know how to do that!”
Then I will remind you: “You don’t know how to do that, YET.” You must build/re-build your business to be stronger. Self-reflection and study is number one. Proper revenue balance is number two.
You can’t sell value if there is no value to be sold. If you’re providing a community service, just like everyone else, you’ll never stand out as exceptional. Don’t be basic. MAKE yourself exceptional. Add something to your business, create new marketing or messaging ideas, or offer specialty services. Find a way to bring more value to your clients in the most creative ways you can think of. How can you help them, with what would work best FOR THEM? Take this time in the office to explore your creativity. You can be as crazy as you like on the white board. Push yourself and your ideas to a new point of view. You can always make them “less crazy” in the real world.
When is the last time you questioned a belief which helped determine your behavior? How do you protect yourself from you own bias? Business owners often fall into an insidious trap: We believe our actions have brought us the success we enjoy. That’s only a half-truth. The reality is, some of the positions and beliefs we have about our success will actually be the very beliefs which limit our growth. How can you tell the difference if your experience tells you the wrong story?
One such tool is the formal logic principle as defined by Aristotle and his band of merry men. There is lots of information available on logical fallacies, constructing proper syllogisms, and building the tools needed to recognize when you are irrational. Not irrational like, you cray cray. The proper definition of irrational.
Irrationality is cognition, thinking, talking, or acting without inclusion of rationality. It is more specifically described as an action or opinion given through inadequate use of reason, or through emotional distress or cognitive deficiency.
Find remote tools for your business that can help you communicate, create, plan, and execute. ServiceMonster has made many changes in our own office and here are some helpful tools we found when working from home:
Facebook Workplace – We have used Slack and Mattermost. Both are chat platforms. Neither of them gave us the communication options that Workplace has. Its familiar interface and wide range of options makes it perfect for chat, calls, video calls, and group posts.
Ring Central – A business phone system with virtual options, voice trees, multiple phone lines, and side loads on your phone via an app. This means that you can separate your personal and business lines on your smart phone.
Trello – Task management in a simple to use interface.
Basecamp – Project management in a simple to use interface
ServiceMonster – Take control of your schedule, keep your eye on important key performance indicators (KPI's), and stay in touch with your clients via automated marketing tools.
We must adapt if we are to survive. Take this time to reflect on your success and failures. Take what you need, ditch the rest, then get back to work #OnYourBusiness.
ServiceMonster 6.5 is here! Every time we release a product update, it's important that our users (and anyone else who is curious) know what exactly has changed. In release 6.5, there's quite a lot to go over... but we're going to tackle the biggest and best improvements in this post. Let's get started!
Perhaps the most noticeable changes with 6.5 are the multitude of visual improvements. We are so excited to introduce dark mode and light mode, as well as a redesigned and modernized classic view! This is the first step of many in a continued effort to make ServiceMonster not only the most powerful software of its kind, but also the best looking. This update includes other various visual improvements all across the software, some of which we will cover below.
We've completely redesigned the home page. Now, see your most important company data, stay up-to-date on the latest ServiceMonster news, and view each training course all from one page.
It often has been difficult for us to convey the difference between a job and an order. An order within ServiceMonster is WHAT is being done, whereas a job was simply the time blocked on the schedule for each trip to complete that order. To help illustrate the difference, think about a situation where you are cleaning a rug in your own shop rather than in the home. You could have a scheduled event to pick up the rug, time dedicated to cleaning the rug marked on the schedule, and another scheduled event to drop off the rug. One order, three different events.
Moving forward we will now be calling these scheduled events "appointment" rather than "job." To alleviate any confusion, we are changing the term “job” throughout the software to be “appointment” (or “appt” if an abbreviation is necessary).
The home page has multiple new dashboards to give you quicker access to your data. We’ve also added new dashboards on the Leads, Accounts, Orders, Scheduling, and Marketing sections to give you easily digestible & targeted data based on each specific area.
The navigation menu has had a massive makeover! The collapsed view gives the menu hover functionality so that you can instantly access any section of the software in one click. The expanded view gives you easier to read menu titles as well as more detailed expandable sub-menus.
We know that there's a lot to learn within ServiceMonster. To aid with that learning process, we are now offering in-app training lessons that will slowly walk through the various sections of the software. These 1-to-2 minute long lessons are then grouped into larger courses so that you can track your progress and continue your ServiceMonster education.
Additionally, there will be a full course dedicated to all of the 6.5 changes. Plus, every new release moving forward will also have dedicated training materials so that you can take advantage of the new features right away!
Grids have had a makeover, with some new default views and a new “advanced options” toggle. Now you can customize each grid via the advanced options and those changes will “stick.” Or, simply just enjoy a cleaner default view! The choice is all yours.
The all-new Marketing Wizard is here to make building campaigns much, much simpler! Create an email, letter, call, or export list quickly with built-in campaigns and a step-by-step walkthrough of the campaign process. Those of you that have more advanced chops can still create any campaign from scratch.
Drip campaigns will be added to the marketing wizard in the future as well!
We’ve beefed up the bulk add items process and made it the primary way to add your products and services to an order. Those of you that prefer to add items one at a time on the primary order screen can still do so.
More order updates coming soon!
Quickly adding an account is easier than ever. Use the "+ Account" button to open a modified version of the Quick Add to enter in all basic account information and scan your account list for potential duplicates. Keep your data clean!
This release is packed full of many other improvements, fixes, and new features. Like we've been saying, it's seriously massive! Please contact us if you have any questions or need help understanding a new feature or change that you're seeing. Be on the lookout for full release notes soon!
Also, don't forget:
Join us Thursday, March 26th at 5:00 pm PST for a live webinar showcasing all of the new features and improvements in 6.5! A recording will be available sometime following the webinar. Make sure to register here.
The cleaning industry - residential and commercial - has boomed in the last few years. Job growth is expected to increase 6% in 2020 from 2014 levels, and revenues will likely reach nearly $50 billion this year.
But with great opportunity comes great risk.
The average cleaning company loses 55% of their customers due to poor service. Competition is fiercer than ever, and it doesn’t take much for a cleaning business to get up and running. All it takes is one bad job for your customer to take their money elsewhere.
So how do you stand apart from the competition? How can you get more jobs and more repeat customers?
Hatch and ServiceMonster analyzed what works - and doesn’t - across their cleaning customer base to give you the Top 4 Cleaning Industry Tips to Get More Jobs and Repeat Customers. Put these tips to work and you’ll get results...fast.
When you’re first working with a customer, put information in your CRM that can add that personal touch later on, like:
The good news is CRMs like ServiceMonster make it easy for you to create these custom fields. Now you can develop deeper relationships with your customers over text, email, and phone as well as on-the-job, resulting in more repeat customers.
Emailing and calling worked well 10 years ago, but today your customers are less likely to pick up their phone (thanks, robocallers) or sift through their spam-filled inbox. You have to incorporate texting, too.
Hatch has found that cleaning companies see a 64% average response rate over text. Compare that to 4.5% over email and you see why layering in texting is helping reps crush their close rates.
Here’s a great example of how texting, emailing, and calling can work well together.
Notice how I:
This one’s a no-brainer. Who doesn’t want a clean house before the family comes into town?
Consider running a special to your existing customers just before the holidays. Below is an effective text and email campaign that encourages a 1-to-1 conversation. Feel free to use it for yourself!
Hi [First Name]! [Rep First Name] from [Cleaning Company] here. With the holidays approaching, we have a few specials on [Service Last Purchased] and I thought of you. Have a minute to chat?
...if no response
Subject Line: Specials on [Service Last Purchased]
Hi [First Name],
Sent you a text yesterday about some holiday specials we are running on [Service Last Purchased] but I didn’t hear back from you. Is your number still [Phone Number]? Give me a call or text me at [Rep Phone Number]. Would love to walk you through the specials.
[Rep First Name] from [Cleaning Company]
...if no response
[Cleaning Company] is running a 30% off special on [Service Last Purchased]. Would you like to schedule it now?
Email (response to Day 2 email)
Hi [First Name],
Thank you for purchasing [Service Last Purchased] on [Date of Last Service]. With the holidays approaching, we are running a 30% off special on [Service Last Purchased]. Book it now.
[Rep First Name] from [Cleaning Company]
Here’s what that campaign looks like in Hatch:
According to Brightlocal, positive reviews influence 68% of consumers to use a local business. But nearly every local business is asking for reviews the wrong way.
Do not ask for a customer review right after you complete a job.
Instead, wait a couple days for the customer to appreciate the work you did. Then ask them if they are happy.
If the customer is happy, request that they write an online review for you.
If they’re unhappy, make it right.
Follow these tips when you ask for a customer review:
Use details like pet names, allergies, and number of rooms to give your customers a personal touch over text, email, and phone, as well as on-the-job. Use custom fields in your CRM to log this information.
Cleaning companies see a 64% average response rate over text. Compare that to 4.5% over email and you see why layering in texting is helping reps crush their close rates.
Consider running a special to your existing customers just before the holidays. Scroll up to see an effective text and email sequence that encourages a 1-to-1 conversation.
A couple days after the job is completed, ask your customer if they are happy. If they are, request that they write an online review for you. If they aren’t, make it right. That’ll increase your 5-star reviews.
Most of us have seen those super satisfying cleaning videos that are all over Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Whether it's a pressure washer showing us how clean a sidewalk really can be, or a carpet cleaner totally transforming a living room so it looks new again, we love seeing the results of a good cleaning. But where does that filth go? And HOW dirty were those carpets actually? We wanted to find out, so we went straight to the source: Carpet cleaning professionals.
To make things a little more fun, we decided to run a contest called "Grossology", with the winner receiving a PP5000 Pet Urine Detection Light Kit from Army Chemical. The requirements for entering the contest were simple: Show us the absolute grossest carpet cleaning wastewater from one of your jobs. After two weeks of receiving submissions, and a round of voting by the staff here at ServiceMonster, we have a winner.
Congratulations to Pure Dry Carpet Care for submitting the grossest video! There's not much to say about the video besides... it's really, really gross. Check it out here:
If you can make it through that one, we chose 2 runner-ups who we felt deserved recognition for their submissions.
The first runner-up is Cascade Cleaning Services, with this video showing wastewater being drained into a toilet. Yep, pretty nasty. Check out the video here:
Our second runner-up in the Grossology contest is Christopher's Chem-Dry. In the caption, they explain that these particular carpets were soaked in pet urine. Watch their submission here:
It's eye-opening to see how truly dirty many carpets are. The great thing about these types of videos is that they show exactly how important and necessary it is to get your carpets cleaned. To all carpet cleaners reading this: Record this type of content. Show your customers. Use it for marketing. The before-and-after photos and videos are great, but supplement those with a picture or video showing just how filthy the carpets were. The vast majority of people aren't aware of how desperately their carpets need to be cleaned. So, show them!
Thank you to all of the carpet cleaners who submitted videos for the Grossology contest. We appreciate each and every one of you for taking the time to show us the grossness that you see every day! If you haven't tried out ServiceMonster, you can learn more and sign up for a free trial here. We'd love to help you reach your business goals for 2020.
Until next time!
Did you know that it costs on average over 5 times more to attract new customers than it does to keep your current ones? How about the fact that selling to existing customers is drastically more successful than selling to new customers (60-70% success rate for existing customers vs. 5-20% success rate for new customers)?
Successful businesses understand that their most profitable customers are their current client base. Your business has already spent good money to convince your customers to use your cleaning services. If you’re not taking full advantage of the hard work you have done by selling and servicing your clients, then you’re missing out on some very real profits. Research shows that by increasing your client retention (the number of customers that use your services again) by 5%, you can increase your profits by 25% to 95%.
Again... this is crucial for the long-term success of your business. To illustrate this point, a carpet cleaning company conducted a survey at a home trade show and asked home owners to recall the name of the last carpet cleaning company they used. Less than 1% of those who stated they were satisfied with their cleaning could recall the company name. If your customers can’t remember your name, how are they going to get ahold of you when they need additional cleaning? There are many ways you can help to ensure that your customers will call you again next time, instead of calling your competition.
Reminders serve two very important purposes. First, they let the customer know that you are a professional, detailed-oriented company. Second, it reminds them that they need to be serviced again (by YOU). You can send reminder postcards, letters, emails or whatever else you want, but always try to add that personal touch by customizing it (use their name, last service date, pet's name, etc.).
2. Additional Service Marketing
If you offer more than one type of service, it’s a great idea to market to customers who have already used one of your other offerings. For instance, if a customer has you clean their carpets, send them some sort of marketing communication (letter, card, email, etc.) offering your tile and grout services 2 or 3 months after the job. This serves a dual purpose: It will help keep your name in front of them, and it also keeps them from going to another company simply because they were unaware of your tile cleaning service.
Send newsletters quarterly, or even monthly. This will keep your name and phone number in front of them all year. Be sure to add some sort of content that offers them something of interest. Make them want to read it, or at the very least just notice it. Newsletters also serve as a great way to connect with your local community.
Calendars, magnets, pens and emergency contact lists are great trinkets you can leave behind to help them remember you and keep your phone number easy to find.
5. Social Media Engagement
This is a huge one in the digital age: Encourage your customers to interact with you on social media. Now, the vast majority of adults use social media on a daily basis (check out some statistics here). As a business owner who is active on social media, this is an incredible opportunity for you to stay engaged with those past customers. Even just posting regularly will ensure that they see your name and your content on a far more regular basis than ever before.
None of these marketing strategies are secrets. In fact, you’ve probably identified the ones you promised yourself to do and have not completed. The education of WHAT to do is only half of the battle. You actually have to DO IT for it to be effective. Very few of us wants to come home after a hard day of work and sift through last year's invoices, compile a list of clients to market to, and create customized letters, post cards, or emails for each one of them.
The good news is that you don’t have to.
One of ServiceMonster's greatest strengths, our automated marketing features, gives you the ability to perform most of these tasks effortlessly. By creating marketing campaigns with ServiceMonster, you can generate letters, labels, calls, and emails which are targeted and customized. With a few clicks, you're off and running, your marketing is done, and you can spend more time with your newly found profits (and of course, your family).
If you haven't tried ServiceMonster, you can get started with a free 14-day trial here.
The Correct Calculation
A fair number of our clients calculate their repeat rate incorrectly. Part of our training process includes an in-depth look at your marketing efforts. One of the items we focus in is your repeat rate. Here is how ServiceMonster does it: Take the number of customers you have serviced in the last two years (C), then find how many of them used you more than once (R).
(R/C) x 100 = Repeat Rate %
The Incorrect Calculation
Most of our clients will calculate their repeat rate like this: Take the number of customers you serviced this month (c). Then find how many of them used you more than once (r).
(r/c) x 100 = repeat rate %
The main problem here is the length of time sampled. The rate can vary widely depending on how successful or unsuccessful your prospecting efforts are. Additionally, the two year timeline represents your true number of active clients. ServiceMonster research shows that getting a client to return after 2 years (specifically when they used carpet cleaning services) is more expensive than obtaining a new client.
Why you care
There are only 3 ways to increase your revenue:
1. Increase your prices
2. Offer more products and services
3. Service more customers
For most companies, servicing more customers is the quickest and least risky way to increase your revenue. The most successful cleaners have several things in common. In terms of financial stability, ServiceMonster shows us customer retention is the most important aspect of your business. If your repeat rate is under 50%, you are losing more customers than you are keeping and need to make up the loss through additional new sales.
Take this example: Let’s say both Company A and Company B start a cleaning company. They both pull in 20 new customers a month and have an average invoice of $250.00. Company A has a repeat rate of 25% and company B has a repeat rate of 60%.
In addition to the increase in base revenue, you will also reduce your expenses. Keeping your name in front of your client is far less expensive than trying to get a new customer. Not to mention that your cross sale potential increases radically if your current clients are aware of ALL the products and services you offer.
How to increase your repeat business
First, it’s time for a change. Rest assured, you will produce the same results if you make the same mistakes. There are many ways to do a better job of staying in front of your customers. Here are the common numbers we see everyday.
Repeat Rate Based on Direct Mail
If you fall into the first two ranges above, you seriously need to reevaluate what you doing for your current clients. If you are in the 30% - 50% range, doing just a little better will have significant results. Sending targeted direct mail pieces on an ongoing basis will improve your repeat rate rapidly. A simple card stating “Dear [First Name], it’s been 9 months since your last cleaning” is all it takes.
The hard part is actually doing it. Gathering the list of clients you serviced between 9 and 10 months ago, performing a mail merge to personalize the messages, and printing on the media are just a few of the problems you need to overcome. Then there’s the stuffing, sealing, stamping, and delivery to the post office.
ServiceMonster can help you with this in two ways. The marketing engine will make list gathering and mail merge simple. Then you can print and mail your reminders with a few clicks. Most of our clients use FillMySchedule and completely automate the process. We can gather the list, print, stuff, stamp, seal, and deliver your cards directly to the post office. Your thank you cards and reminder cards will never be late again. Consistent campaigns for consistent results. Our customers are averaging an 8 to 1 return with the campaigns we automate for them.
One simple way ServiceMonster can increase your repeat rate with just a few clicks.
Numerous tweaks and fixes to Subscription Manager (5789, 5791, 5796, 5842, 6498)
Added vertical scroll bars to Orders and Marketing Dashboards when narrow (6198)
Fixed an error when completing an activity on the schedule via the right-click context menu (6396)
Restored the Audit button for Professional and Enterprise accounts (6478)
Fixed an error creating a new activity from the Panel View (6410)
Fixed an error with Route Packets not starting at the correct time by default (6475)
Fixed an issue where some pop-up windows populated partially off-screen (6497)
Fixed an error where social media tags where not displaying correctly when sent as part of a Job Reminder email. (6513)
Fixed an error when clicking the Download Card Template button on the FMS Campaign page (6530)
Added the Laborer security role (6197, 6391, 6022)
Fixed an issue with the FillMySchedule Approval Wizardshowing incorrect images (6270)
Fixed an issue with the wrong region being saved for someusers when connecting to QuickBooks Online (6429)
Fixed an issue with the default status for a Note-typeactivity (5232)
Fixed an issue with Custom Fields in Settings (5874)
Removed old branding from Setup Wizard (6045)
Fixed a couple of browser page labels (6132)
Fixed an issue where some users’ customer terms and taxrates were changed to blank (6157)
Fixed an error clicking an in-progress FillMySchedule order(6194)
Fixed an error dragging and dropping anOpportunity card back into the same column in Kanban view (6227)
Removed link to old support site (6368)
Fixed an error when sending or previewing andemail from the Order Details page (6425)
Fixed an error clicking the Templates card inSettings (6435)
Added a warning message when user is locked outof account due to too many failed logins (6035)
Fixed an issue where having only letters and/orsymbols in an account’s phone field prevented emailing of attached orders orbilling statements (5365)
Billing statements now show up as an attachment on theassociated email activity (4540)
Various fixes for Core-level subscription accounts (6397,6399, 6400, 6401, 6413, 5904, 6347, 6433, 6432)
Various fixes in the Subscription Manager (5732, 5771, 5783,5798, 5799, 5820, 6301, 6337)
Various fixes in Inventory feature (5339, 5856, 5860, 5861,5926, 6051, 6092, 6189)
Various fixes in the Completion Wizard (6086, 6440, 6441,5944, 6148, 6159, 6324, 6417)
Various fixes for the Quick Add feature (6325, 6328, 6419)
Fixed several errors creating and managing Employees inSettings (5945, 5947, 6120)
Fixed issues downloading images attached to orders (6264,6269)
Various fixes to the Schedule (6031, 6076, 6167, 6171)
Various fixes to grids (6112, 6206, 6238)
Various fixes to Activities Panel view (5718, 5957, 6239)
Various back-end fixes (5949, 5953, 6125, 6232, 6240, 6327)
Fixed several issues with the Account Details page (5616,6039, 6403)
Fixed an error with running a marketing campaignwith a cost applied (6226)
Added social media links and custom links for emails andmarketing documents (5980, 5981, 5985, 6172, 6173, 6175, 6176, 6179, 6180,6210, 6279, 6280, 6281, 6282, 6284, 6424)
Added two new data tags (SITE_JOB_TITLE &SITE_ADDRESS_COMBINED) for printed orders (5908, 6254)
For years, keeping track of leads has been a mostly, or completely, manual process. Writing down someone's information in your notebook. Typing it into your phone or computer. Gathering leads from a social media site or other source and writing them down. All of these methods take time out of your day and can be quite inconvenient when you're on a job. Not to mention, it's much more likely for leads to be lost or misplaced.
How can this lead capture process be simplified?
It's simple, actually. AUTOMATION.
The first step to automating lead capture is to have an easy way for prospective customers to fill out their information and have it sent directly to you. This can be done in many ways, but we will primarily focus on two methods. First up are webforms, which are forms embedded on your website that people can fill out and have their info sent to you. Second, we'll discuss how Zapier can help automate your entire lead capture process from pretty much ANY source.
But then what? Where does that data go?
It should go to a CRM. If you aren't already using a CRM software (Customer Relationship Management), you're missing out big time. Using a solid CRM to manage your customers, among many other tasks, is crucial for any size business. If you're a large, multi-truck operation, you need a CRM for your office staff so they can handle the hundreds of requests and jobs per day. If it's just you on the truck out by yourself, then you need a quick, easy, and reliable system to keep track of your customers, schedule jobs, and get paid in the field. You can't afford to be wasting time manually entering information when it could be handled all automatically.
Now, back to the automation piece! When your lead capturing is automated, that webform will automatically dump the customer/job information into your CRM. Your CRM then will process the lead and you will get some sort of notification or email about it (if you want). Then, your CRM will store the information to be used later on for retargeting, marketing, and even automated follow-up (depending on which CRM you use). Everything is done behind-the-scenes with no involvement from you. How cool is that?!
The key to all of this is using the right CRM with the right functionality. This is where ServiceMonster comes into the picture.
ServiceMonster now has the most complete automated lead capturing system possible. As a user, you have multiple options. The first and most direct option is to use ServiceMonster webforms, which are pre-built, automatically-generated forms for each and every unique ServiceMonster account. All you have to do is paste some code into your website and you're good to go! When a customer on your website fills out the form, all of the info will instantly be transferred into ServiceMonster. If they scheduled a job, it'll show up on your schedule. If they just want more information or want a quote, it'll show up as a lead. All of this is happening while you're out working, with no involvement from you.
The second option is very similar. As a ServiceMonster user, you can also paste the code for a "book now" button on your website. This button has the same functionality as the previously mentioned webform, except when a customer clicks on the button they are taken to a separate page with that same form. Again, all of this is going on behind-the-scenes and takes very minimal set-up on your part.
The first two options are by far the easiest and most reliable options to use since they are ServiceMonster-specific. However, we now have full integration with an awesome service called Zapier. With ServiceMonster/Zapier integration, you can now use ANY webform technology (as long as it can connect to Zapier, which most do), and have that info sent right to ServiceMonster. Zapier also is used by a lot of service companies to capture Facebook leads and leads from any other non-website source. With Zapier, the options for lead capture are pretty much endless, and now with direct ServiceMonster integration, you can fully automate your lead capture from any source. Now THAT'S cool!
So, what does all of this mean for you, the hard-working service business owner?
It means that your leads will be handled faster. Less of them will fall through the cracks. You'll have more time to focus on actual business work, while your lead capturing is always running in the background. Overall, the likelihood of a lead being converted into a job will increase, which means you'll get paid more and your business will grow.
There's also one other reason why automating your lead capture is so crucial: The all-important email list. As you gather leads, you're gathering people's information. For marketing purposes, this is AWESOME! You can now add email addresses to your marketing drip campaigns (another super helpful feature in ServiceMonster), and even add the customer information into Facebook for targeted advertising. Just because someone doesn't use your services right away, doesn't mean that lead is dead. Far from it, actually. The more people contact you and fill out a webform, the more people you can specifically market your services to. And THAT is worth it all right there!
So if you aren't using a CRM, you should be. And if you aren't automating your lead capture, then start automating it! ServiceMonster can do all of this for you, and so much more.
To set up Zapier for use with your ServiceMonster account, click here.
Every year, the fall FillMySchedule campaign is a huge success for our users. So this year we decided to step it up a notch with some new designs. Introducing a total of FOUR fall-exclusive card fronts! Woohoo! Also included are three separate options for the inside content (or you can create your own message easily).
These fall cards also give you a great opportunity to offer a seasonal discount. We've seen time-and-time again that including a coupon or discount is highly effective and keeps customers happy. Plus, getting a physical card in the mail gives your customer something more to remember you by than the emails and social media posts they're used to seeing from you (you're regularly marketing to past customers, right?). Your past clients are waiting. Make sure they know who to call this fall!
Here at ServiceMonster, we're all about the numbers. We believe that knowing and truly understanding the numbers of your business will improve your day-to-day operations and, ultimately, help you grow. In 2018, our users processed over $500 million in invoices! However, we wanted to break down the numbers even further. That's why we're very excited to present to you our state-by-state cleaning industry statistics for 2018. We've condensed down our ServiceMonster user data to provide you with two key metrics: Average invoice total (filtered between $50 and $2,500) for 2018, and average invoice growth rate from 2017 to 2018.
The heat map below has the data sorted by each state, with the lighter blues representing a decrease or lower overall change and the darker blues representing a larger overall change.
We're pleased to report that our data shows a nearly 5% increase in the average invoice total nationwide, with the average invoice being just shy of $283.
However, two states stand out with a massive increase in numbers!
First up is Maryland. By the end of 2018, cleaners in Maryland were averaging just over $353 per invoice, with a growth rate from 2017 to 2018 of 30%! This data was taken from a sample of 27,000 invoices.
Next up, we have Ohio! By the end of 2018, Ohio cleaners were averaging almost $246 per invoice, with a growth rate of just over 25%. This data was taken from a sample of 52,000 invoices.
While some states did see a decrease in the average invoice total, the vast majority saw an increase from 2017 to 2018.
For those of you who would rather see the raw data all in one place, below you'll find a table containing each state's data:
Regardless of how long you've been in business, you've had to make your fair share of big decisions. Some probably resulted in huge successes, and others may have set you back quite a bit. Earlier this week, ServiceMonster CEO Joe Kowalski took to Facebook seeking answers to two questions: "What's the BEST business decision you have ever made?" and "What's the WORST business decision you have ever made?". After sorting through all of the nearly 200 comments between the two posts, we present to you a summary of the BEST and WORST business decisions made by service business owners.
"What's the BEST business decision you have ever made?"
"Working with a business coach and changing my attitude. It was in 2009 in the recession. I fed into the 'economy sucks' mentality. My business coach showed me places I could go in business that I never saw. Equipped with this new knowledge my energy changed and I became positive and excited about business. I was the problem! A business will never reach its full potential unless you are positive. Potential clients notice your energy. I know because I have been on both sides." - Matt P.
"This is going to sound weird, but the best decision I've made thus far is to ignore my preconceived notions of what my work is worth. What I mean is, I nearly went out of business in the winter. Not because there wasn't any work, but because the limited work available was at a rate below what I felt was worth my time. The result was no work at all while I waited for good paying jobs that came few/far between. It wasn't until I got desperate and decided to do the low paying jobs that I realized I could make it work, especially as it forced me to innovate to become more efficient. Of course, low paying work isn't ideal, but I went from accruing massive debt trying to stay afloat to actually pulling profit while still in the slow season. Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and get to work. If you face a problem, solve it. I couldn't make the work pay more but I could figure out how to get more of the work done in the same amount of time so that my daily average is still sustainable. Big lesson learned for sure." - Steven M.
"Making sure the phone is always answered. I was going to hire an answering service when I asked my wife if she would like to be involved in the business, starting with this. Best decision I ever made." - John T.
"Not offering as many services I once did. I'm sure this answer will change as I grow." - Dennis R.
"Integration of a good CRM software. A good example is ServiceMonster :) - Shawn C.
"What's the WORST business decision you have ever made?"
"Hiring friends and relatives!" - Ron M.
"Starting as bait and switch." - Kerry H.
"Just going to work and not knowing my numbers." - Brian J.
"Ugh! I have to pick just one... I would say on the bad advice of our accountant we tied personal and business money together. It is still hard to break from to this day. The fact of the matter was if we just paid ourselves first we wouldn't have needed to do that." - Robin D.
"Not firing bad employees fast enough!" - Bill O.
This information helps. For most of these comments, there were several other comments saying essentially the same things. That means these decisions, both good and bad, are commonly made among service business owners. By sharing these experiences, you can help each other avoid future mistakes and choose the right path when a big decision has to be made. In an effort to provide as much value as possible, we will be releasing more blog posts over the next few weeks that will deep dive into many of these situations. Rather than just state what the "best" or "worst" decision was (like in this post), we'll go further and explore how these situations happened, why that specific decision was made, and give specific tips to aid in making the best decision in similar situations.
In closing, thank you to each and every individual who commented on the original Facebook posts. Your willingness to share both positive and negative experiences is much appreciated by all of us at ServiceMonster and also by your fellow business owners. Check back soon for the next post!
We’ve all experienced it. Either on the customer side or the business owner side, at some point, there’s going to be an issue regarding pricing. Maybe it even happens frequently for you. There isn’t one “right” way to deal with this sort of situation. However, sharing each other's experiences can at least give us all some guidance on how best to handle a pricing objection from a customer. Thank you to Russell, a pressure washing business owner from Tennessee, who has graciously let us use his story for this post.
What follows is a slightly edited version of Russell’s original Facebook post:
“Below is an email exchange I had yesterday with a client. We cleaned his neighbor's roof, he hired us, and then this happened:
Customer: "Russell, thank you for taking the time to explain the details of the cleaning process. Is there a particular reason the cost is so high? Based on some online research it seems the cost should be around $500 to get the roof done. Thanks again for your prompt response and understanding."
I understand the desire to save money on work around your home.
While I can't speak to pricing charged by other companies, I will attempt to explain our pricing to you.
Roof cleaning is dangerous work. Any time we get on a ladder we risk injury and even death. Additionally, it takes great expertise to ensure that the cleaning chemicals are mixed and applied properly. Improper mixture and/or application can be dangerous and potentially damaging. We have been through extensive training and also have almost 10 years of cleaning experience.
Another consideration is your roof. If you owned a single story, 1000 square foot home, with a basic roof and a mild pitch, your suggested price of $500 might be more reasonable. Although I can say that, personally, we have never cleaned a roof of any size for that price.
There is a saying, 'cheap labor isn't skilled and skilled labor isn't cheap.' I realize that our price isn't 'cheap', but it is fair. More often than not, the cheapest price will end up costing you the most in the long run. This is a situation where you have to consider cost VERSUS price. Your home is most likely your most valuable investment. I can assure you that we will apply our years of knowledge and experience to take the best possible care of your investment. Check out our reviews. We have never received less than 5 stars.
One last thing to consider... Because you agreed to a roof cleaning, my brother knocked $100 off of your gutter/soffit cleaning.
I hope this adequately answers your question. We look forward to the opportunity to serve you.”
Customer: "Russell, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. Well written response. What date are you guys scheduled to be here?"
Look at that response from the customer! Russell responded in a professional and informative manner and was able to completely satisfy his customer's objections. There's not much else that can be said about this. If you're in a situation with a difficult customer who does not like your pricing, consider saying something along the lines of what Russell said.
Have a unique customer experience that you would like to share with us? Send an email with your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The internet is full of amazing pressure washing videos and photos. It's also full of some pretty bad ones. Now, ServiceMonster is getting in on the fun with a new series of posts highlighting the best (and the worst) cleaning posts we can find! While the main focus will be pressure washing, we also will include some window cleaning and carpet cleaning posts. Without further ado, we present to you this week's collection of posts:
#1: Pressure Washing Magic
View this post on Instagram
Happy Friday! We’re LOVING this awesome pressure washing video today. So satisfying! #repost @foamhomeco ・・・ Another Happy Patio!! #CleaningCharlotte #CLT
A post shared by ServiceMonster (@servicemonster_) on Apr 12, 2019 at 8:47am PDT
#2: The Window Cleaning Wizard
View this post on Instagram
Some serious window cleaning action right here! So fun to watch. To all you window cleaners, what’s your squeegee of choice? Let us know in the comments! #repost @jackson.pass.3367 ・・・
A post shared by ServiceMonster (@servicemonster_) on Apr 22, 2019 at 8:36am PDT
#3: Now THIS is art!
[X-post /r/powerwashingporn] Power washing mural before/after. 56m x 6m canvas 40-50 years in the making... Can't wait to complete it. Artists in Argentina wanting to participate, and/or ideas are welcome from r/powerwashingart
#4: ... Just why?!?
#5: "Cars in the way? Not my problem!"
That's it for this week! If you find any good cleaning videos, send them our way and we will feature the best (or worst) ones.
Sometimes customers can be pretty terrible to deal with. Sure, you’re probably used to the occasional person who rudely accuses you of charging too much, or the unreliable customer who cancels last minute with no explanation. That’s just part of running a business, especially in the service industry. However, sometimes a customer can take it too far. In those unfortunate and difficult situations, emotions can run high and the end result may be you having to “fire” that customer.
Recently, we were chatting with a window cleaner who told us about one of these difficult customer situations. Here’s their story:
“I got a call and set up a time to do an estimate as soon as possible. I did the estimate and emailed it to the customer, all within a day. They agreed to the estimate and wanted to schedule a job. I sent our first available date and time which was about 10 days out. I included a couple of other dates with more flexible times the following week. Her email back to us stated that she wanted to have an appointment within the next couple of days. She wanted an appointment starting at 4:30 pm for a 4-hour job. She worked during the day and had taped the screens into their frames from the inside, so the only way to clean certain windows was to get access to the inside. She also threatened us in this very same email that she would sue us if one petal or leaf of her flowers was damaged.
But even at that huge red flag, we tried to work with her, telling her that we would take great care around her newly emerging bulbs and offered the solution to use a water fed pole to clean all the windows, eliminating the need to put a ladder in her flower beds. She still wasn’t happy. She wanted an evening or Saturday appointment (we have a family of small kids and don’t work weekends) and wrote a demeaning email back about how we must not know how to clean windows properly because we would still need to remove the screens and put a ladder into her flower beds (but remember, she told us that she had taped the screens from the inside and we would need to remove screens from the inside).
It became very clear that no matter how nice, accommodating or careful we were, she was not going to be happy. We drafted an incredibly warm letter that explained that we wanted her particular scheduling needs to be met and that we would not be able to accommodate her schedule. We acknowledged the importance of not damaging her flowers and told her that while we take great care in and around our customer’s homes, we would not be able to offer the guarantee she was looking for.
We referred her to two other local businesses that work Saturdays and might be able to schedule her sooner. She was obviously still not happy and left us our first and only bad review on Google.
We realize that it’s all part of owning a business, especially one that is in the service industry. However, it does sting a bit when we pride ourselves on our good reputation in the community. Hopefully, anyone who sees the complaint will also see that we tried to deal with it professionally and without pointing fingers (which is sometimes what you WANT to do). It also has no bearing on the quality of our work, so that’s good. We are so grateful that we identified a problem customer before it dragged on. It was a bit of a time waster but it could have been much worse and now we have affirmed to ourselves what some of our deal-breakers are. The threatening of a lawsuit in the first email was fairly obvious but the entitlement and disregard for our other customers that had previously scheduled was another big one for us.”
Wow. What an experience, huh? The window cleaner in this situation did everything right. They communicated clearly, quickly, and appropriately. Even though the customer was still unhappy and left them a bad review, they were able to get out of the situation by kindly letting the customer know that they would not be able to do the job for her. We can’t imagine a way to handle this situation any better than how this window cleaner did.
Remember, it’s okay to “fire” a customer. It’s okay to say “no” to a job. It is entirely in your hands to decide which jobs to take and which to pass on. It’s not worth it to endure abuse, demeaning comments, or threats of legal action just for one job. Your business and your work are worth more than that, and there is no shortage of respectful customers willing to pay whatever you charge for quality cleaning.
To learn more about when to say “No!” to problem clients, check out this episode of #AskServiceMonster below:
That's right, we have FOUR NEW FillMySchedule cards available now! The Mark Henry Collection was designed in-house with a unique illustrative style that will be effective for any industry. We're always striving to improve what we offer our clients, and increasing the FMS card options is a big part of that. Be on the lookout for many more new designs in 2019, as well as the implementation of custom fronts (this is an exciting one!).
The Mark Henry Collection offers a "Thank You" card, a "We Miss You" card, a "Friendly Reminder" card, and a "We're Here to Help" card. Adding these to your FMS order is super easy. Either click here to place a new order, or contact us by phone or email to change around your campaigns. As always, we're here to help you every step of the way and we hope you enjoy these new card options!
As we're approaching the end of the first quarter of 2019, all of us here at ServiceMonster are extremely excited to introduce our latest content offering: The ServiceMonster Podcast! Building on the past success of The ServiceMonster Show and #AskServiceMonster, we've taken a new approach focused on podcast-first audio recording, followed by a full video release and a variety of shorter clips. However, that does mean that the Ask and the Show will both no longer be produced (we promise that the new podcast is a great combination of the two with even more awesome content!).
This new weekly show is now your source for all things ServiceMonster: highlighting of product updates and feature improvements, SMUG (ServiceMonster User Group) questions answered, and a focused topic of discussion each episode, ranging from lead capture to marketing automation tools and everything in between. The podcast is hosted by our CEO, Joe Kowalski, who will be joined by a guest host each week. Expect to see different ServiceMonster employees, industry professionals, and maybe even some special guests in the future!
Our focus with this podcast is to provide YOU, a service business owner and/or a ServiceMonster user, with a complete weekly experience that will help you grow your business effectively. While also providing some entertainment, we aim to help each and every listener become a ServiceMonster "power user". Our commitment to you has always been helping you grow. The ServiceMonster Podcast is our next iteration of what that commitment looks like. We genuinely hope you enjoy each and every episode, and we always welcome feedback! Let us know if you'd like to see a specific topic covered, or have an idea of someone who would make a great guest host.
Now, let's briefly cover your listening/viewing options for the podcast.
Transistor: First and foremost, each new episode is posted on Transistor, our podcast hosting platform. You can stream the show there, or use these links to listen on your preferred platform (Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, etc.).
That's it for now, but let us know if there's another podcasting platform that you would like us to post to. Thanks for checking out our content and never hesitate to reach out with questions/comments/concerns.
If you aren't a ServiceMonster user, make sure to check out our free 14-day trial here.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post was written by Ed York in the second quarter 1977 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Never in the history of our industry has the need for a Code of Ethics been so apparent as NOW. The BLITZ of newspaper advertising that is appearing in the nation's newspapers is horrible. A local firm has advertised a certain area for $19.95. He has been doing this for over a year. I don't object to unit pricing, but I do object to the newspaper allowing the words THIS WEEK ONLY, to be included every week. In 1969 I tossed out thousands of dollars worth of sales aids that had the words OLD method over a picture of a shampooer with a large X marked on it. The flyers were reprinted without the X and the words conventional method. The shampoo method is still a very acceptable method of carpet cleaning.
Ads designed to confuse the consumer as to methods used are wrong. Our profession is an HONORABLE one. Ads designed to downgrade a competitor utilizing deceiving wording or false facts are without HONOR. Not only is the carpet cleaner wrong in using these tactics but even more so is the newspaper that sells the space with no concern as the validity of the ad. These same publishers are the ones you will find giving lip service on local consumer protection boards and naturally the good old Better Business Bureau.
The worst offenders in the industry are the Von Schrader people. A sample of one of their latest publications is a good example. This is outright FABRICATION of legitimate facts put together to create an impression that can not be substantiated. They WON the respect of the "prestigious Nationwide Consumer Testing Institute."
They BOUGHT it. The NCTI was simply doing a job they were paid to do and the Director is highly qualified and was able to deliver what Von Schrader had to have. A copy of this ad is being forwarded to every carpet manufacturer listed in the Carpet & Rug Institute 1977 Directory, to find out if, in fact, they tested all methods and selected the Von Schroder method as the outstanding, premium, highest rated, or whatever you called it, over other forms of cleaning, such as shampoo or steam extraction.
I have three suggestions at the present time. (1) Don't stoop to their tactics and fight them with paid ads. This only gives them free newspaper space and supports the newspaper who is also at fault and doesn't deserve extra profits from his deeds. (2) Offer to your customer a dry foam method. I have been doing this for ten years. To date, I have found THREE occasions where it was requested and in two of the cases, it was the proper method. It is offered at about 50% of the cost of steam cleaning and 75% of the price of rotary shampoo. (3) The most important duty you can do is to write a letter to every Trade Association you belong to and urge them to join in a current attempt to obtain a Code of Ethics with the blessing of the Professional Carpet Cleaners through their Associations. We will then be able to put a stop to these highly unethical practices. Until then, keep your ads full of consumer education and awareness. Yours is an HONORABLE profession. Don't cheapen it by joining the hucksters.
We recently updated ServiceMonster to version 6.3.2, and within that update is a new version of the Quick Add feature. In an effort to help out any of our users who have questions about the new Quick Add, our onboarding specialist, Adam, put together a "quick" video (see what we did there?) giving an overview.
You can check out the video below:
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post was written by Ed York in the second quarter 1977 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Guinness Book of Records may not have the results of a recent straw poll listed, but the fact still remains that customers are now paying more per square foot than ever recorded previously. This may come as a shock to many doubting Thomases, who will show numerous advertising specials at a ridiculously low price. Strange as it may seem, they are also correct. The question then arises, as to how can this be?
How is it that some customers are paying record low prices, while others are paying higher total costs than ever? The obvious answer comes swiftly when you look at the big picture. More homeowners than ever are having their carpets cleaned. The prestige cleaners selling quality at a premium price are ADVERTISING their services more than their predecessors ever did. The price merchandisers are placing LARGE display ads in their newspapers. Stop by your local paper someday and check out papers ten years ago, or longer. Try to find an advertisement telling the home-owners that their carpets are dirty.
Hallelujah... The Pied Piper has been shouting this theme for the past decade to assembled cleaners. All we have to do is make the public AWARE that having clean carpets are the IN thing. Yes, clean carpets should be made socially acceptable all over our land. When this is done, then and only then will carpet cleaners be able to take their proper place in our society. Can you imagine, carpet cleaners are actually taking VACATIONS with their families? They are talking: Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico and all sorts of attractive vacation spots, formerly only discussed as where their customers went.
Now once again what determines the prices paid for carpet cleaning. It is not determined by the customer. It is determined by the carpet cleaner. He can be the cheapest in town or the most expensive. He only has to let the consumer know what he is offering. There are folks that want the economy of a Datsun or Pinto, and those that want the Lincolns and the Cadillacs. People who are now paying three times as much for their homes as they did a few short years ago, can and WILL pay for quality work if they know where to obtain it. They still won't, and for this, I'm most thankful, pay premium prices for natty, non-informed, non-professional appearing WORKERS, that have a HIPPY-like-van parked in front. They will pay the professional, that not only does professional work, but most important, looks professional.
So, fellow carpet cleaners, stop complaining about today's customers. If you are not getting your share of this Bonanza Market, then take a look at the home base. Today's consumer are beautiful people willing to purchase your service and pay the price. If you want to offer "price" carpet cleaning then there are those that will want your services. If you prefer to upgrade your package and do prestige work, then charge 22 cents or 28 cents or 30 cents. There is a good market and plenty of takers. DON'T make the mistake of most, however, by offering and pushing prestige cleaning at cheapie prices. The folks who can afford it, won't buy it. They know more than the average carpet cleaner. They know you can't buy quality diamonds at the variety store. So more customers than ever are waiting for your services. Figure out what type of service you want to offer. Price it accordingly. Go to the marketplace and shout your wares. Don't keep them waiting.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post was written by Ed York in the July-August 1975 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Haven't made anyone or any group mad at me this month, so guess I'll stir up the pot some more. After an extremely active summer, meeting with several thousand carpet cleaners throughout the nation at work clinics, conventions and personal visits, I come once again to the conclusion that Carpet Cleaners are still their own worst enemy. Progress has been made, but, unfortunately, it is still at a snail's pace. Before the carpet cleaning industry can take its rightful place of leadership and obtain a true profit picture, changes must be made.
Since our industry is so widespread and loosely knit, better lines of communication must be established. Recently, a Board of Director member of one of the older statewide associations on the West Coast told me his group should give me a trophy. Their group had suffered a decrease of members. Their meetings were irregular, with little new blood showing up. In fact, they were torn with internal strife. SCT, on the other hand, was moving forward. In order to combat SCT's growth, the group's members had some emergency meetings and started to roll forward. Because they started to put something into their program, besides "lip service", their group once again started to function. They now are most active and truly serving their members. They are all working to "out-class" SCT. Guess SCT has served as a most useful catalyst! Funny or tragically, it is a fact that in order to act, we must have a common enemy. I'm positive this same group could have obtained their present status and probably even more so, if they had applied the same effort towards a different goal, such as the 86% of dirty carpets now installed in America. This time our industry lucked out but unfortunately most of the time it has been the other way around.
Traditionally, carpet cleaners have received from 10 cents to 15 cents per square foot for their work. Along came a new method which was dubbed "steam." The old-timers wouldn't accept it, so non-professionals entered the market, and with some advertising, were not only able to sell it to the consumer but able to obtain from 20 cents to 30 cents per square foot. In their enthusiasm, however, they kept pushing the old-pro to try it. They finally succeeded, and the first thing that happened was the old-pro dropped his prices. The more old-pros that entered the "steam" field, the more the prices dropped until the old time standard was once again reached.
In 1969, I introduced "method" selling. This was geared to offer a variety of methods, instead of discounting or "panning" all other methods available. The significant difference was that each method carried a different price. The consumer loved it and was happy to pay more for "steam" than rotary. She paid more for the combination than one method. In fact, she was happy to pay additional for our "premium" service. Wasn't long, however, until the old-pro figured out how to do the same thing, but since it cost very little if any more, to charge the same price. In fact, rather than keep the methods different; in order to have a different price structure, it was now standard to do it all for the old traditional price. In 1974, "Package" selling was introduced but lay dormant until Blue Ribbon Carpet Service of San Diego put it to work. It was immediately effective and pushed their average job from 12 cents to 22 cents. Rather than keep his success a secret, this on-location carpet cleaner freely distributed the facts and know-how to all who would listen. It is not only working in San Diego but all over America where the bold new breed is presenting it. The tragedy lies in the fact that the subject is now being "poo-pooed" by the old-pro. In fact, a recent circular was distributed to members of an association advising them of an upcoming meeting regarding the "CONTROVERSIAL PACKAGE" selling method.
ADVERTISING...In some areas, carpet cleaners have joined to promote CLEAN CARPETS. Once again the old-pro has risen to the occasion. He has doubled his Yellow Pages advertising. If a person would check their local telephone Yellow Pages, and count up how much money is being spent in the quest to snare this estimated 14% of the market rather than devote this money to 86% of the market untouched by Yellow Pages, they should hang their heads. Oh yes, the Yellow Page salesman comes by once a year and makes a hero out of you, but try to find him 60 days later when the first bill becomes due. They don't have to be available, they have a 100% mortgage on YOUR BUSINESS. The biggest advertising program I have ever seen was in Santa Barbara, California. There TWO old-pros spent hundreds of dollars every week telling the consumer how horrible the other one was. They managed to destroy a very lucrative market. Sure, folks in Santa Barbara are still having their carpets cleaned, but what would have happened if these two GIANTS had advertised Constructively rather than Destructively.
"STEAM"...Rather than devote our efforts to creating standards, our industry is still being torn apart by our industry on the position of whether steam is "Steam." Instead of performance bond issues and quality standards, a Carpet Cleaning non-steam equipment manufacturer in Wisconsin caused so much pressure on the Milwaukee Better Business Bureau to try and outlaw steam that the Attorney General has been brought into the Act. A test suit will take place in September. The Wisconsin Attorney General will tackle a small Independent Carpet Cleaner on the horrible crime of offering "steam" cleaning to his customers. At the same time, the old-pro firm is flooding the nation with flyers on how a person can enter the carpet industry with nothing more than a DRY FOAMER and make a bundle. I'm confident if the Attorney General of Wisconsin was hit in the face with a handful of DRY FOAM, he would find it quite WET. Too bad their legal arm isn't aimed at requiring the firms at least to have a business license and a small consumer protection bond. My hat is off to a small group of Professional Carpet Cleaners who make up a Wisconsin Association who have hired an attorney to make sure "steam" is at least represented fairly. SCT has offered to help with legal costs. I wonder where'n'ell are AIDS. RCI. CCI. OHIO ASSOCIATION, and the other big guns during this time of put up or shut up. The way this case turns out will have a powerful effect on all CARPET CLEANERS.
EFFORTS...Our efforts of today will set the pace for tomorrow's future. Do we have to continue to fight among ourselves? Regardless of our names, type of equipment we use, and supplies we like, we have a common enemy-- consumer apathy toward clean carpets. Dirty Carpets should be our enemy and not a method, or type of tool or personality.
I am firmly convinced that while I am one, the only thing wrong with the Carpet Cleaning Industry, is Carpet Cleaners.
Alright. We know you've heard it before, but door hangers do actually work. In a world of digital communication and social media marketing, sometimes taking a more "old school" approach can prove very effective. We're not saying you should stop your digital marketing by any means. Keep that going strong! However, supplementing the digital with some "analog" is a great way to increase the effectiveness of your marketing.
(Just in case you aren't sure what we mean by a "door hanger", we're talking about those little rectangular fliers with a circular cut-out on the top that are hung on doorknobs and handles. See the photo mockup in this post.)
Recently, we heard from a pressure washer who commented on one of our Instagram #ServiceMonsterTips videos (check us out on Instagram if you haven't already!). He said that his strategy with door hangers is to methodically distribute them to houses that are dirty and could clearly use a cleaning. In the past two months, he estimates that he has distributed about 500 door hangers, spending only a couple hundred dollars total on all of them. So far, he has booked around $12,000 worth of work.
Yep, he spent a couple hundred dollars on some door hangers, distributed them to dirty houses, and as a result has booked jobs totaling $12k. Now that's what we call a return on investment! In his words, "they work exceptionally well". He even said that two months later, he's still getting calls from people who held onto the door hanger all this time. Impressive!
This is just one story from the many service professionals who have found success using door hangers. Again, these are a great tool to supplement your digital marketing, not necessarily replace it. So next time you're in a neighborhood on a job, we encourage you to place some door hangers on the houses around the one you're cleaning. That's the very least you can do. If you have more time, why not go block-by-block through a larger section of the neighborhood? You may be surprised at how well it works.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post was written by Ed York in the October 1971 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Correspondence from a man in Denver, wanting information about steam cleaning and what it costs, how it works etc. Plain stationery, with typing as bad as mine. I sent what I could from time to time and decided to stop by last week while in Denver. The Yellow Pages told me that he had been the leader in STEAM since 1965, looked like a big company, with my mans name as the PRESIDENT. Evidently, he is a sneaky Pete that is afraid to come out from under the rocks.
I have many competitors that correspond with their own names. My friend, Gene Bates of Steam Genie always takes time to have long talks on the pros and cons. We respect each other, and I'm sure would help each other if the need arrives. I often wonder who these weasels think they are fooling. If their product was half what they claim, it would stand up to discussion. I'm trying to get the carpet cleaners to establish friendly relationships with each other to improve the overall image and uplift the entire industry. Then, to discover that manufacturers are some of the worse offenders. The carpet cleaning industry needs and must have LEADERS, not sneaky petes.
CALL YOUR COMPETITOR...
Rather than spend frustrating minutes trying to check out your competitor with phony calls for pricing etc., give him a call. Introduce yourself, and your company. Tell him what you are charging. Tell him honestly that you do not want to obtain jobs by cutting his price, and that you AREN'T doing so. You are trying to do a good professional job. It is a proven fact there are more dirty carpets in your town than you and he can both do, working full time. You will be surprised that in most cases, your competitor is just as worried about your attitude and price cutting as you are of his.
I lose all respect for the cleaner that calls his competitor out to FREE estimate his mother-in-law's carpets just to find out how cheap she can get it done. Don't wait for him to start upgrading his profession... You start it! I challenge you to call your most miserable competitor and take him to lunch. You will find some interest in common, and both discover the other guy isn't as bad as you had built him up to be. He will think twice the next time you run head-on in the field because he remembers your good points. Plus, he has to see you over lunch next Wednesday, when he repays your hospitality.
We have two SSA members in a smaller town. They fight like cats and dogs, with me in the middle. I can't seem to get through to them that they are both doing better business and better work than ever. With their effort to outdo each other, they are waking up the customers to the fact they are living on dirty rugs, and need them cleaned. Let's stop trying to beat our competitor's price and start cleaning up our own towns dirty carpets.
The Elements of a Successful Business
Lewis Migliore of Magic Steam Cleaning in Rochester, New York has been a part of the cleaning industry since 1973. He is currently a Regional Supervisor for IICUC, a Regional Coordinator for SCT and a member of Ed York's Consultant Sales Team.
Magic Steam Carpet Cleaning, Inc., owned by Lewis and Bruce Migliore, was started in March of 1973 with the philosophy of delivering quality service at a fair price as well as becoming the biggest and best in its field. This was quite a task, but not impossible for two brothers who have been successful and determined since boyhood days. The organization has grown, in this short period, to cover an area of 10,000 square feet and employs five full-time people plus a number of sub-contractors and agents. The plan we follow is not without pitfalls and problems and certainly should not be considered perfect, for we continually investigate and improve each aspect of the business. As we grow, we learn and as we learn, we change things to be more profitable, easier, more efficient and less costly, regardless of what it takes. One thing we are not afraid to do is change when it is necessary. All these statements are generalizations, but our business functions on a careful balance which no one is exempt from adhering to. This is the most important reason for our success.
From point one, our exposure to the public maintains an important image whether it be yellow pages, newspaper, T.V., or radio. Our business tie-ins with the largest and most recognized carpet and furniture retailers, the Hoover Co., Welcome Wagon, beauty salons, auto dealers, realtors, contractors, etc., keep our name in front of the public. But the only reason they do this is because they are dealt with sincerely by business people, not people in business for themselves.
When our phones ring they are answered by a pleasant voice which smiles and is nothing but cheerful, courteous, and can sell! Our girl's job is to get us in the home or business for a written estimate, or if that is not possible, which is relatively rare, they sell over the phone and sell our best package besides, with very little trouble. All work is written up on job sheets specifically by our girls or by inspectors making calls. Any agent who works with us must supply the same information for his jobs or they are "No-Go's".
Our men are prompt, courteous, knowledgeable, neat, skilled and well-equipped. We treat them well and pay them well and they deliver for us. They are "the company" in many cases. We have very little turnover of personnel, but we demand they produce! We do not skimp by on "cheap" chemicals or equipment. If it is evaluated as beingbetter but costing more, and yet can justify our use of it, we buy. If not, it doesn't get in. Our men also leave our customers with evaluation sheets to critique our business and a carpet care guide. We know how long each job takes, who did it, when it was done, where, how, where they got our name, why they purchased their service from us, etc., etc., etc. We take cash, check, Master Charge, VISA, and if they qualify they can charge for seven days.
Follow-up is imperative! Each customer gets a thank you from us at the end of each month. We keep a separate folder on each job. We make call-backs on all pending, previous, and lead jobs, and it pays. We produce approximately $2000.00 extra per month because we are consistent at follow-up and everybody works at it. It's called paying attention to detail. Our furniture cleaning operation is handled a little differently. We feel it is one of the best in the country and getting better every day. Everything comes to our shop for cleaning and is picked up and delivered in a large truck purchased especially for the furniture operation. All furniture is cleaned by women. Total time from pickup to delivery is 4 days. Our furniture business grows daily as does our entire operation.
We are heavily involved with the Chamber of Commerce, registered with the Better Business Bureau, registered with Dunn and Bradstreet, belong to a neighborhood business group, and are constantly investigating areas to make money. There is much strategy involved in the way our business is run. One point I can give you and it is the most important part of our business. We sell and market SERVICE not cleaning, and that's something that doesn't come cheap. We aren't the first to do it and we won't be the last. There is no reason why everyone shouldn't be doing the same. It's probably the best thing our industry can do. It's a little slower and demands more from everyone, but when it starts to pay off — it comes in bushels. I'm sure that all of us would rather have it that way!
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from the July-August 1981 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
A Phoenix, Arizona firm advertised their carpet cleaning special of $11.95 prior to doing the job. The firm would then make disparaging comments about the special and sell a more expensive service. The firm also offered a customer satisfaction guarantee. According to a suit filed by the Arizona Attorney General's office, the firm wouldn't correct any reported problems or take care of shoddy work.
Wayne K. Brown and Jacqueline Aguayo, operators of Springtime Fresh Carpet Cleaners of Phoenix, Arizona admitted the charges, as well as admitting they would sell their clients a protective coating for the fibers, but would actually spray on a solution containing water.
Along with the other charges, Brown and Ms. Aguayo also admitted to misrepresenting their company as Sunshine House Carpet Cleaning. Sunshine is owned by Donald Kristofferson, long time SCT member who operates a known and respected cleaning company based in Mesa, Arizona.
Brown formerly operated the defunct Anderson Carpet Cleaning and Dyeing Co., located at the same address. This firm ran into trouble earlier for the same illegal practices. $15,000 of the total fine represented costs and fines from a preliminary injunction order in 1979.
This firm is no stranger to Tips N Chat or to SCT with their tactics being the subject of previous complaints. Their misleading advertising has been discussed in Chapter meetings, and Kristofferson had reported the misrepresentation of his firm by Springtime Fresh telephone solicitors who also reportedly claimed SCT membership as well as IICUC Certification.
Prior to Anderson Carpet Cleaning settling in Phoenix, they operated a company in Hawaii. Their advertising and work habits caused a good deal of trouble to SCT members Leith and Jean Anderson, who founded Deep Steam Carpet Cleaning in Hawaii. With Leith being a fourth-generation Hawaiian, and the Anderson family being so well known, it was easy for a potential customer to be confused and call Anderson Carpet Cleaning when they wanted Leith Anderson.
Tips N Chat is happy to report that after almost ten years of misrepresentations, the State of Arizona was able to take punitive action against this operation. In addition, a word of encouragement to the Leith Anderson's o' Hawaii and all the other legitimate carpet cleaners whose integrity and professional image was tainted along the way by the shoddy ethics of Brown and Aguayo.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is an Ed Sez article all about Ed York's position in the carpet cleaning industry. It was featured in the March/April 1980 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location cleaning technicians”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Wearing a Black Hat Isn't Fun
by Ed York
I've been accused of looking for ways to make folks angry at me... that I must do it for fun. Well, let's set the record straight: Wearing a black hat isn't fun. I don't have to search for ways to make folks angry. All I have to do is refuse to walk the same traditional path that others are traveling. No matter if that path is unreasonable or leads to destruction, or simply serves someone's special interest. Well, I've never tried to hide my special interest. I believe in the dignity of the service technician also known as a carpet cleaner. I respect their desire to succeed. I'm also in this business for profit. Now when the time comes that I can't combine these, then it's time for me to leave.
If the industry would grow up and produce leaders who are interested in more than just what they can sell--then there would be no market for me. I can only exist because of the simple fact that someone better isn't doing it. The reason I established a school was because, at that time, the suppliers didn't care enough about their customers to educate them. I established a supply house because suppliers were not willing to carry the necessary but unprofitable little items that every cleaner needs. I helped organize a Certifying body to help provide the carpet cleaner who wanted to earn his stripes some dignity and recognition. SCT came about only because trade associations at that time were places to go once a year as a tax write-off or to gather every month or so for a keg of beer. I continue to issue bulletins every month so carpet cleaners can share knowledge and not handicap their progress by hiding behind a phony "trade secret" cop-out. I continue to bring competitors together, as I truly believe that if they can learn to sit down and have a cup of coffee together, they will work together in harmony against their real enemy: DIRTY CARPETS.
So I challenge those who become riled at me because I upset their apple cart to start giving the carpet cleaner some real, honest leadership. Manufacturers are now building superior equipment, so they don't need to exaggerate its ability. "Tell it like it is." A prominent manufacturer once threatened to sue me because I challenged his salesman for installing a unit with the gas line feeding from a portable gas can sitting in a loop of hoses. The manufacturer now requires factory-approved installation and I don't need to shout.
A chemical manufacturer tells a class of students that breathing mineral spirits isn't harmful. He is angry because I shout WEAR a respirator! A supplier peddles an exclusive Hot Fogger for $550.00 to our members and gives him a $50 discount if he buys TWO. He is furious when I point out that the item has a list price of $425.00 at any pesticide supply house.
The trade magazines continue to publish stories written by and for the glorification of their advertisers. It matters not if the material has any substance. I make no bones about this magazine--it is published as a fun-thing for carpet cleaners to enjoy. It wasn't established to be a crusade or a voice. It is a tragedy that most trade publications provide little more than an ego trip for their advertisers. It evidently doesn't matter if the contents are fabrications merely to highlight a product, as long as the contributor continues to advertise.
If I've ruffled some feathers in the past, then the future should really be interesting. Since I'm not controlled by any special interest group, I'm going to dedicate the future issues of TIPS N CHAT to not only carrying some chit-chat about our good readers, the Carpet Cleaners-- but also to bringing out some true FACTS about our industry that others may not be able to publish. Guess that's enough for now, besides I have to go see my Haberdasher, as I'm buying myself a new BLACK HAT.
~ Ed York (1980)
The situation: You have some extra cash saved up to do some new marketing for your business. It's not a lot, but you want to use it in the most effective way possible to get new clients.
The solution: Well, there's not just one solution to this situation. There are several options to explore.
First of all, as a service business, you have to get the mindset right. Before you do anything else, make sure that your company mindset includes marketing as a primary function. The work that you physically do in your business (i.e. carpet cleaning, pressure washing, etc.), must be tied to the mindset that you are also a brand-building company. Some say running marketing campaigns here and there will work just fine, but that is actually the least effective approach you can take. Consistency and dedication are key.
Something to remember: When you're not servicing clients, you should be servicing your business. This means that any extra money and extra time you have should be poured back into marketing efforts to get new clients.
Cost-effective methods for getting new clients:
Most effective (albeit, not the cheapest) methods:
Every door direct mail (EDDM): Be careful not to carpet bomb the largest client base that you can. You want to focus on smaller segments of your area, such as specific neighborhoods where you haven't done much business in, or a more affluent area where you know you can upsell more effectively. The goal with EDDM is to send a mail advertisement of some sort to the people in your target market 3 to 4 times in a 3 month period. This can be supplemented by cold calling and emailing (if you're able to get people's phone numbers and email addresses in a legitimate way). The more ways you can get your company name in front of them, the more likely they are to call you when they need a service that you offer.
Five-arounds: This is a classic method and is quite simple and easy to do. Write down the addresses of the two houses next to the one you cleaned, and the three houses across the street. Then, you can market to these specific people with messaging talking about how you did work for their neighbor. This method allows you to build a solid prospect list, but does take more time and may not have the highest response rate (for ServiceMonster users, SendJim integration is a great way to quickly get this done).
The big suggestion: Facebook ads. Our strategy here is a 4-step plan that is simple to follow, and easy to learn.
Facebook marketing takes time to get right but is an incredibly cost-effective method with potentially huge results. Interested in learning more about how to maximize your ROI through Facebook? Check out our free guide here!
Now, where to start? Taking control of your brand's marketing is not always easy. It's totally normal to feel slightly overwhelmed with all of the possibilities, so below we have listed the three main takeaways from this post. If you can focus on these three things, you'll be just fine:
1 - Get your mindset right. You're building a brand. You can't just get some cash, throw it at some random marketing campaign, and grow a thriving business. Be intentional and be consistent with your marketing strategy.
2 - Pay attention to the small ways you can turn your free time into leads. Don't be lazy. You're running a business.
3 - Facebook. This will give you the best ROI. Other options, such as EDDM, fliers, mailers, cold calls, and seasonal opportunities such as sponsoring a little league team, all serve as great supplementary methods to your Facebook advertising.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is a guest editorial written by Michael Thompson regarding economic issues and how carpet cleaners are affected. It was featured in the January/February 1983 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
A recent article by Michael Thompson, Marketing Director for Hydra-Master, in his company's newsletter was so profound. I felt it deserved repeating. It is published as a Guest Editorial, with thanks to Mike.
The economic downturn we are experiencing is having a devastating effect on many professional carpet cleaners throughout the country. Reports are constantly coming in of areas in which carpet cleaners are suffering decreases in business of 50% and more. Regional trade show attendance reflects these losses in sharply curtailed turnouts--cleaners simply do not have the money to spend on travel and lodging this year. Direct mail campaigns to carpet cleaners by suppliers are experiencing record returns of mail out pieces marked "correspondent unknown-undeliverable"-- a further indication of the decline in carpet cleaners. A telephone solicitation of carpet cleaners listed in the yellow pages - many with 1/2 page ads - produces a response from operators that the number called is "disconnected" or "out of service". Trade publications also reflect the malaise or demise syndrome affecting carpet cleaners-- classified ads in these trade journals point out the surrender of many of the industry's "finest." What the hell has happened to our industry?
I believe that many cleaners have forgotten their "roots." When they first began in carpet cleaning, they didn't run a half-page yellow page ad and wait for the phone to ring - they couldn't afford it. In most cases, they began their cleaning career as many a life insurance salesman began his sales career -- first, they sold their family and friends. From there, they contacted acquaintances and neighbors and before long, they had a steady stream of jobs because THEY ASKED FOR THE JOB! Later, as business grew, there came a day when they had a full schedule booked a week or so ahead and had to turn business away. From that point, our carpet cleaner had generally all the business he could handle. He began to be able to advertise in the Yellow pages and gradually increased his ad to a half page at great monthly expense. That done, he became complacent and turned his attention to the myriad duties of managing a growing and increasingly complicated service business.
Then the recession hit and suddenly the telephone stopped it's incessant ringing. Instead of having three trucks head out in the morning with full schedules, it dropped to two and then one. Perplexed, our hero sat in his office and grumbled about how bad business was. Meanwhile, across town, FBN (fly by night) Carpet and Upholstery cleaning were steaming ahead at full tilt doing business as usual ("your entire home carpeting cleaned for only $14.95 -- steam method"). Aware of this, our hero grumbles about the competition being "rip off artists" and "bait and switchers", all of which may or may not be true. The important question is: Are they getting the business because of their low price? Our hero says "yes" and that he can't compete because of his overhead costs - incurred while trying to run a "quality" cleaning business. I say "no", the price is not the reason.
The reason is plainly and simply that FBN Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning gets the business because they ASK FOR THE JOB! Day in and day out they run ads in the PENNYSAVER, the TV booklet in Sunday's paper, and in the local papers. They also, in most cases, run a "boiler room" telephone solicitation campaign calling homes all over their city ASKING FOR THE JOB! "Disgraceful" our hero grumbles, "unethical," his colleagues say--"high-pressure tactics" they chorus. In many areas, they exclude each "schlock operators" from their cleaning associations -- depriving themselves of the opportunity to learn from these successful people. In the mean-time, the public sees only one side of the carpet cleaning business -- the low price, cut-rate, discount-oriented, cut and run carpet cleaners. Is it any wonder carpet cleaning is unfavorably compared with scam businesses?
I think not - but what can be done? The answer should be as clear as the nose on your face: START ASKING FOR THE JOB! You need not set up an expensive "boiler room" operation in order to begin telephone soliciting. If your wife works with you in your business and has a good "phone voice", she can begin your program by contacting customers you have done work for in the past. Once they have all been contacted, obtain a "criss-cross" directory, (listings by street rather than name) and begin calling homes near your existing customers; when you contact these people, you can mention that one of their neighbors is a satisfied customer of yours. When this source of leads is exhausted, I suggest you begin calling people listed in the "criss-cross" directory as living in upper-income areas. The reason for this is that they are more able to afford (and need) your services. From there, you can move to middle-income groups, etc. I strongly suggest you follow up your calls with a direct mail postcard to the person contacted confirming your conversation and thanking them for their time in talking to you. THIS SHOULD BE DONE WHETHER OR NOT YOU GET AN ORDER.
In addition to phone solicitation, there are several things you can do to stir up business. ADVERTISE -- run as large a space ad as you can afford in your local paper. Accentuate quality work, length of time in business in the area, any specialty service you offer, a small free gift with every estimate or whatever else you feel will attract a response. Stay away from price -- you'll lose every time in a price war with the $19.95'ers. PROMOTE -- contact women's clubs, senior citizens clubs (offer them a senior citizen discount), garden clubs, etc., and offer to speak to them about carpet and upholstery cleaning. Explain why they need your service, your methods, etc. This is an excellent source of new business. COLD CALL SALES -- call on commercial accounts -- find out what their cleaning problems are and then figure out how to solve them -- you'll get the job.
The foregoing suggestions are only a few of the things you can do to get your business going again—you can come up with many more if you'll reflect on your past successes for a moment or two. The main thing is to get going NOW, not tomorrow or next week. The sooner you do, the sooner the "recession" will be over for you.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post addresses sub-contracting between competitors, written by Ed York as a Pied Piper column. It was featured in the March 1978 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
I had the opportunity recently of visiting the St. Louis, Missouri area. The weather was sub-zero and the falling snow was literally whipped back and forth by the cold wind, but I must admit I felt exceptionally warm inside. It came from seeing the results of a small regional trade association made up of active carpet cleaners. The St. Louis Carpet Cleaners Association is definitely not the largest, or the oldest, or the best looking, but they certainly top the ladder when it comes to members working together. I hear reports from other associations about their group's unity, but for the most part their real cooperation is between members many miles away, and not next door.
St. Louis is definitely different. It has been five years since they first banded together to challenge the Better Business Bureau's false and vicious, anti-steam cleaning campaign. While they handled the BBB in record time, they also found a common reason to be friends. They found they could give better service and make more money by backing each other up. A system of sub-contracting was developed, after realizing most of the membership consisted of owner-operator shops that couldn't handle the rush of larger jobs. Rather than go into hock to purchase a standby van and equipment, they simply "subbed" the extra work to a "competitor" that had attended FCSA's operator school. This also allowed the small operator, who had no work that day, to utilize his non-working equipment.
One story I heard concerns a carpet cleaner who, while away for a short vacation, left a job for a member to do. The member received an emergency job and "subbed" it down the line. Before the job was completed (on time, I might add), EIGHT different carpet cleaners had been assigned the job. When the main contractor returned, he found a happy customer who had never known there had been a problem. In fact there wasn't a problem, because the job had been done correctly and on time.
In my various talks with the members, the point continued to come up on how they worked together and how they had all profited by the "subbing". I was pleased to receive so many kind remarks about my help to them in those early years and for introducing the idea of sub-contracting between members, rather than fighting among competitors. Well, St. Louis, I thank you, but you deserve 100% of the credit. Suggesting is easy, but it's taking those first wobbly steps that take courage. You have proved it will work. I stand up to salute the ST. LOUIS CARPET CLEANERS ASSOCIATION.
~ Ed York (1978)
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is an article written by Cathey Manning about the benefits of advertising your business image. It was featured in the January 1978 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Does It Pay to Advertise Your Business Image?
By Cathey Manning
What does it mean to advertise your business image? Product advertising has long been accepted as a major sales tool. Many studies have been conducted over the years by advertisers and their agencies to determine the effect of product advertising. Until recently, though, little research has been done in the area of corporate image advertising. Major oil companies, steel manufacturers, and life insurance companies are only a few of the types of corporations that have ventured forth in this area.
A study was recently prepared by Yankelovich, Skelly and White, Inc., for Time magazine on the effectiveness of corporate advertising. The objective was to determine if the advertisements created a favorable attitude toward the corporation, its products, and stock value. Five companies who are currently doing corporate advertising were compared with five who are not. The group of people who were questioned consisted of upscale business executives in both large and small corporations with an annual income of $25,000 or more.
At the conclusion of almost 200 personal interviews the data suggested that of the companies that did advertise their business image, there was a greater recall of their ads and a higher familiarity with their logos. For these advertisers there was a 22% higher familiarity with the company and a 34% higher overall impression of the company. Several favorable attitudes found associated with the corporate advertisers were the quality of their products; the competence of their managements; and the soundness of their financial situation.
What does this mean to you as an advertiser in the cleaning field? With competition at an all-time high it is important to clearly evaluate your advertising situation. A rock-bottom price can be a selling point, but if you have an established company with trained operators, trying to outbid the fly-by-night company across town can be frustrating. Better equipment is another selling point, but as more and more companies offer a variety of cleaning facilities, this can also be a minor point. Service is one area where you can be different if your company's name is synonymous with quality work; competent personnel; and a business that stands behind its work.
The local carpet cleaner with one truck-mount and a few operators doesn't have a lot in common with IBM except where advertising is concerned. The problem is to find the most effective way to reach the public with the company name. One way to consider, as shown productive by the above study, is to advertise the business image; to advertise the high standard of professionalism of the company. A concept that has proven effective for Texaco and U.S. Steel can also be a concept that works for you!
Instagram: Beautiful nature photos, your friend's dog, and... oh wait, what's that? A super clean before-and-after picture of a freshly cleaned carpet? Or how about that super satisfying pressure washing video showing a sidewalk being cleaned? Your service business, whether it fits into either of those two industries or not, is a potential goldmine of quick content. If you have a smartphone, in just a few seconds you can record a quick video of your work-in-progress job and post it directly to your Instagram Story (more on this later). What about when you finish a job? If you have a customer who is willing, record a quick testimonial with your phone and post it with a quote. The possibilities are wide open for a service business, but the key is to create content that is engaging.
First things first: Make sure your company's Instagram page is a business page. Do this by going into your settings on the Instagram app, then selecting "Switch to Business Profile". Boom! There you go. This will allow you to categorize your business, include your contact info and website, and run promotions.
Using Instagram's "Story" Feature
Instagram Stories have become the go-to documentation method for its users. When this feature was first introduced, it seemed to be just a rip-off of SnapChat's Story feature. However, very quickly users realized that now they were able to quickly communicate something to their followers on Instagram, essentially giving them dual functionality within the app. Now, Stories are a huge part of how businesses, celebrities, and the everyday person quickly connect with their followers.
For a service business, it's a little more complicated since in most cases you probably don't already have a large following (or any, if you're new to Instagram). As was already mentioned, the key really is to create content that is engaging. This means that it's either visually appealing, relevant to your followers, shares an experience, or any combination of these. With specific regard to Stories, try to create content that is immediately engaging to the viewer, and keep it short. For example, a quick photo or video explaining a promotion you're running, or a one or two sentence customer testimonial, could work very well on your Story. Anything that's "interesting" looking is worth posting. Anything that is funny or comedic in any way is worth posting. Regularly posting on your story and keeping your followers engaged is the first step, and with repetition comes better content.
One fun thing to mess around with is the camera settings on your phone. You can do slow-mo, time lapse, panorama, and on some phones even take professional-looking portraits with a depth effect. USE THESE. A before-and-after photo of a job on your Instagram Story is fine, but what about a time-lapse showing (for example) the carpet in one room being cleaned from start to finish? That kind of content is more visually appealing and makes great content for your Story. Set your phone on a shelf or a chair, press record on the time lapse, and once you're done with the job you have a cool video that can even be used for a lot more than just an Instagram Story.
One last thing about Stories to keep in mind: They only last for 24 hours, unless you add them to a highlight folder. Stories are perfect for time-sensitive announcements and things that aren't really important in the long run, but for more serious posts that you want to be seen by more people, consider using a regular post.
Regular Posting on Instagram
Now for your regular page posts, this is where the content needs to be more thought out. You can use the same type of content as on your story, but the format is different and these posts tend to be seen and interacted with way more. Also, the video length can be up to 60 seconds for a regular post, which allows you to post longer clips. For starting out, we recommend a few different types of posts: Before and after photos and videos, "meet the team" style posts featuring your employees (and yourself, of course!), and testimonial photos or videos. Depending on the type of service business you have, local-oriented posts can also be utilized to show your connection to the community. This would include, for example, any youth sports teams you sponsor, volunteer work that you or your crew does, and participation in any sort of local charitable events.
The overall goal with your Instagram posts is to document what your business does and who you are as a company. If someone scrolls through your posts and just sees photo after photo of cleaned carpets, they won't be engaged and won't care as much. But if they see those cleaned carpets, along with short introduction posts about each of your technicians, photos of your crew participating in a local event together, and occasional testimonials from others in your community, suddenly they'll be a lot more engaged and be able to make a fair judgment about who you are as a business. This will increase the likelihood that they will want you to do a job for them, and gives you the ability to stay connected with past customers! One way to think of Instagram is as a sales tool that combines new leads and repeat customers. You're going to be reaching both types of people, so make sure your content actually appeals to both!
Advertising on Instagram
Instagram advertising is generally done through Facebook, which is by far the best approach. Linking your Facebook and Instagram accounts allows you to run ads on both platforms very easily, or choose different versions of ads for each platform. However, if you want to run ads just through Instagram, that can also be done through the app itself. When you select any of your posts, beneath the picture or video you will see a bar that says "View Insights" on the left, and then a button that says "Promote" on the right. Clicking that "Promote" button will start the process of boosting your post.
First, you want to select where to send people. Generally, this would be your website or a page where they can learn more about your services and easily contact you. Next, you select your target audience, which can be either an automatically-generated list from Instagram, or you can select specific people and locations to target. This is very useful if you want to run a certain promotion in a specific area or want to gather leads by targeting new individuals. The last step is to set your budget and duration of the campaign. Our suggestion is to start small (around $5 per day) and see what kind of results you get. That's it! Instagram makes it very quick and easy to advertise on their platform, so don't hesitate to use it to grow your business.
That's it for today! We hope this overview of how to use Instagram for your service business has been helpful and informative. If you have any specific questions about how to use Instagram, or needs tips/advice, feel free to email email@example.com and we will get back to you. Like always, we're more than happy to help with whatever you need!
Until next time!
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post comes from a column called "The Pied Piper", written by Ed York about the importance of hard work, and an interesting acronym called "KASH". It was featured in the Second Quarter 1976 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
To the best of my knowledge there are only three ways to obtain money, and that is: inherit it, steal it, and work for it. Most of us will never have a chance to inherit it, and if we could steal it, we wouldn't, so that leaves only one option -- WORK for it.
Unfortunately, for the carpet cleaning industry, most of the participants entered the field under a misimpression. They were told they could make a lot of money without working as hard as when they were just employees. Guess that makes us carpet cleaners just about the most gullible bunch of yokels in the country, cause we sure fell for it.
In the past we were able to get away with sliding by. No one really expected a carpet cleaner to make much money or be able to join the country club anyway. Now along come some real energetic souls who are not hamstrung by tradition, and they are re-writing the business. They are making PROFIT while racking up solid customers. They plan on a real future. No, it's not easy. They are WORKING.
Most carpet cleaning firm owners have the mistaken idea that they must sweat to work. Pathetically, many firms are held back because the owner, in trying to be a good guy and do what's right with his business and family, works the jobs. They are trying to save the price of labor. For the most part, however, the reason why the majority of owners who work their own jobs do it, is that they are not willing to extend the effort needed to assure success. It's easier to pull the tool and wait for the phone to ring.
Managing an on-location carpet cleaning firm requires a lot more work than pulling a tool or man-handling a scrubber. Every unit should have at least SEVEN employees to insure its potential. Ask any owner who doesn't have this many "why?", and he will admit it takes too much energy to keep 7 people busy. It's EASIER to let the prospect call and cop out for a cheaper price over the phone, and then go out and do the job for wages.
An old time Insurance Agent told me back in the post "big war" days, that every person was working for an item called KASH. Was a wise old man, even if he couldn't spell. Anyway, he said to have lots of KASH, it required 4 ingredients in the proper proportions. Said it was all in the word KASH... K equaled 5% KNOWLEDGE, A was for 5% ABILITY, S included 5% SALESMANSHIP, and the balance or 85% stood for HARD WORK.
The important point is, make sure the work you're doing is necessary work... necessary work to insure a profit. The owner's job is not doing the job, but coordinating the skills of the employees to keep the firms equipment WORKING. Any time your carpet cleaning unit is off-duty more than it is employed, it means the BOSS isn't working. How about you, Mr. Employer, did you really work last week?
~ Ed York (1976)
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is an open letter to all carpet cleaners regarding advertising practices. This ran in the First Quarter 1977 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
OPEN LETTER TO ALL CARPET CLEANERS:
Advertising... Keep It Clean
The accompanying article about a carpet and upholstery cleaning business accused of false advertising and unfair business competition brought to our attention the need for the professional carpet cleaner to build a good name and standing for his profession.
Professional carpet cleaners need to beware of following "bait and switch" advertising factions who toss around fraudulent statements just to catch the eye of the consumers. If a carpet cleaner advertises to clean a carpet for $8.00, then he should charge only $8.00. If he really wants $20.00 for the job, then he should advertise the fee as $20.00.
The type of false advertising referred to in the news article has been discussed and discouraged by the Carpet Cleaning Trade Association Council. Similarly, representatives of various major trade associations are encouraging their members to advertise legitimate prices for legitimate jobs.
Unfortunately, the people who fail to practice good advertising tactics are, for the most part, business people who aren't members of professional groups. Evidently, they don't realize the trouble they cause for others.
Ed York, Executive Director of SCT, in a special message to SCT members encourages them to take a copy of this article "Carpet Cleaning Firm Accused of False Advertising" to their local newspapers and business associations to make it clear that their own advertising will not follow the accused carpet cleaner's example, but will be completely honest and above-board. As mentioned before, the professional carpet cleaner must do everything he can to promote a good name and honest relationship with the consumers.
Transcribed below is the aforementioned newspaper article:
Carpet Cleaning Firm Accused of False Advertising
Santa Ana - The District Attorney's Office Thursday filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against a Santa Ana carpet and upholstery cleaning business, alleging false advertising and unfair business competition.
Named as defendant in the civil action filed in Superior Court was Ben Timmons, doing business as Carpet Masters.
According to the complaint, Carpet Masters falsely advertised that the firm would clean a carpet for $8 when the minimum charge actually was $20, and that the firm would clean the carpeting in a house for $29.95, when actually this price applied only to a one-bedroom residence.
The lawsuit seeks $2,500 in civil penalties for each violation of state laws and an injunction prohibiting future violations or any price advertising not accompanied by clear descriptions of any conditions or limitations.
~ Ed York (1977)
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is a short article written by Ed York in his column titled 'The Pied Piper'. This ran in the Fourth Quarter 1975 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
During the past seven years my main function has been to teach those interested to be better carpet cleaners. I have traveled by boat, car, horseback, and airplane to deliver improved carpet cleaning techniques to anyone who would listen. Whether you call it preaching, teaching, or plain old shouting, the message has always been clear; we must become better "Carpet Cleaners". While I knew I was right, I also felt something was wrong. Some of my best students (or copiers) were having a hard time trying to earn a good living. Some of those who listened enjoyed a nice growth in volume and profit, but others remained where they were. I was convinced it wasn't the area. All territories have more dirty carpets than the total carpet cleaning profession could possibly clean.
Recently, while chatting with an Illinois Dry Cleaner who was diversifying into Carpet Cleaning, my "student" made a comment that unlocked the doors for me. He answered the question of what was wrong with our industry. He revealed to me the reason 86% of all homes in the U.S. have dirty carpets. The answer is simple. My friend said, "I'm not trying to teach my workers to be carpet cleaners, but PEOPLE PLEASERS."
What does it matter, business-wise, if you do the best carpet cleaning job ever done on Mrs. X's carpets, if she isn't really PLEASED. It would be better for her and the carpet cleaner, if she had received a slightly less-than-perfect carpet cleaning job and had been REALLY pleased. While PRIDE may arouse some quarrel with this observation, I will assure the doubters that a PLEASED customer will have her carpets re-cleaned much sooner than the one who only has clean carpets. She will also tell others about this fantastic PEOPLE PLEASING firm.
Guess I'm too old to change my ego, pride, or devotion to the carpet cleaning industry and stop trying to share whatever knowledge I obtain with others on how to do a better job, but from now on my message is going to be slanted. We not only need better "carpet cleaners", we also need better PEOPLE PLEASERS.
~ Ed York (1975)
This week's featured Tips N Chat Throwback post highlights a carpet cleaner named Dave Nofs and his unusual methods of advertising his business. This article was written by Megan H. Wagner in the March/April 1979 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
"Dave Nofs: Unusual Advertising His Specialty"
by Megan H. Wagner
"Getting your name in front of the people is the name of the game," says Dave Nofs of Nofs Carpet Care in St. Petersburg, FL. Nofs has been experimenting with various methods of getting, and keeping, his name in front of consumers.
"Promotional items and 'giveaways' are amazing things to get into," Nofs believes, and he has reason to think so. "I got to talking with a friend in specialty advertising, and started picking through his catalogs, picking out different things and attention getters." Nofs found many, many unique items sure to attract attention through their novelty.
But Nofs realized the importance of keeping track of the effectiveness of the promotional items he experiments with. He keeps records of the cost, distribution, and return on all novelties he uses for advertising purposes.
"Many of these items are very reasonable," he says, "costing around ten to thirteen cents a piece. They go all the way up to five to eight dollars each, too. There's a wide variety and I've found it's helpful to discuss what might be beneficial for your area, your business, and your objectives," he relates.
The most effective items Nofs has used are, he informs us, small magnets designed to be placed on refrigerators and cabinets in the home. Printed with his name and phone number, these magnets are, he explains, "always there in front of the customer." The magnets have proven to be extremely popular, and Nofs reports seeing them all over town.
"The magnets really have helped my business tremendously," Nofs emphasizes. "Also, small wallet-sized calendars have been effective." Nofs distributes these calendars to customers and to realtors in the area, who provide a good source of referrals. "My wife is in real estate," he notes, "and that helps give me an 'in' with her company and others.
"Most important, the magnets and calendars are used by customers and are kept handy. This means that Nofs' name is always at hand. "We do a lot of work in condominiums here in Florida, and often a neighbor will visit a friend and say, 'Your carpets look so terrific, where did you get them cleaned?' and our customer doesn't have to search for our name. It's right there on her refrigerator door." Also, in the condominiums, Nofs has found that his giveaways, particularly the magnets, "mushroomed." He finds them in places he has never distributed them, and in the condominiums, "our business just spreads," he says.
Coupon keepers, checkbook-size holders that fold over with two pockets and designed to keep coupons handy, were not popular says Nofs, and he had only minimal success with them in his area. Phone directories have had a mixed response, on the other hand.
"In one condominium that I distributed phone directories, I haven't received one call. In another, where the directories have been out since last September, I've received three calls in the past week, and closed all the jobs," Nofs relates. "Those three jobs paid for the cost of using that form of advertising."
Aside from the promotional items that Nofs uses to advertise his business, he also distributes flyers around town, making a mailing list from the engagement and wedding announcements in the Sunday section of the local newspaper. "The announcements give you names and addresses of potential new customers who will be establishing homes," says Nofs.
For the professional cleaner who wants to develop unique methods of advertising, Nofs suggests consulting with specialty advertising companies. A look through the catalogs will introduce you to many novel items, and a discussion with the specialty advertiser should help to formulate ideas of which items might be effective for your needs and customers.
Chances are, you've heard or seen us talking about how important a professional website is to your service business. Again, we can't stress that enough. A quality website serves as an online brochure for your business, allowing prospective customers to find you and learn about your service without even having to contact you. Fortunately, building a great website is easier than ever and is increasingly more affordable. Even if you already have a website, it may be time for an update. Let's go through a few different website builder options, so you can see what's out there and decide which is best for you.
First, you'll need to pick the hosting platform. Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly are all great options, but each has its own limitations. In an effort to keep things simple, we'll focus on Wordpress and Wix, since these two can handle anything you will need for your service business (and they don't require any coding experience!).
Wix is fantastic. It has never been easier to create a stunning, highly-functional website than it is with Wix. With their drag-and-drop page builder, great preset themes, and in-depth customization options, you really can't go wrong with Wix. If you don't have the time or the patience to craft your own website, their themes are a great way to go too. With a theme, you can just plug in your information and photos and have a quality website in no time. If you want to change a few things on a theme, that's easy too. And, if you want to start from scratch, go right ahead. Wix has you covered.
Wordpress is a totally different beast. They do not have the great drag-and-drop page builder that Wix has. However, with Wordpress, your customization is nearly limitless, with the ability to install third-party plugins for your website creation. These plugins are essentially just little mini tools that can function to help you build certain parts of your site, provide security functionality, and do tons of other complicated things that most of us don't even need to worry about. Wordpress also has many popular page builder plugins that function similarly to Wix's built-in tools, which is why Wordpress is able to compete with Wix.
The best of these page builder tools for Wordpress is called Elementor. With the free version, you can create and customize any webpage that you would need, in an easy to learn and reliable format. The Pro version offers a ton more functionality and gives you the ability to create every aspect of your website from scratch, not just individual pages. Elementor truly is a great product, and partnered with the near-limitless possibilities of Wordpress, is a worthy competitor to Wix.
Essentially, Wordpress and Wix do the same thing and one isn't necessarily better than the other. However, in the context of a service professional needing a good reliable website, the simplest option may be the best. Wix is definitely the simplest option and will give you everything that you need for your business. If you want to get really deep into your website design though, Wordpress is worth looking into, especially if you plan on using your website for more than just a simple brochure highlighting your services, reviews, prices, and contact info. If you do want to keep it that simple though, give Wix a try. Each platform is affordable for hosting your own site, and each one is very reputable, so you won't have to worry about security and stability.
We could keep going, since there are so many other options out there, and so much more to explain about Wordpress and Wix. For the time being, we'll stop here and give you a chance to explore these two great options on your own. If you want to learn about other services, check out this article from PC Mag.
Until next time!
This week our featured Tips N Chat Throwback post explores the beginnings of steam carpet cleaning... all the way back to a man who clearly lived up to his surname: Bill Wisdom. This article is our first featured post that was not written by Ed York, as it was instead authored by Cathey Manning in the July/August 1978 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
"In The Beginning..."
Arlen Knight of Kleenrite and Vac-O-Steam looks back over steam carpet cleaning's past
by Cathey Manning
1962 was a great year, remember? Sock hops, "surfing" music, "hot" Chevies... and the year Bill Wisdom created a machine for dyeing upholstery! What? Was this the birth of the steam cleaning concept?
Wilbur Sutton was the owner of Crown City Carpet Cleaners, Pasadena, California, when he was approached by Bill Wisdom with a machine for dyeing upholstery. The machine used live steam produced by natural gas or butane. The process combined the dye and cleaning solutions and was applied with a hand-held tool. A vacuum attachment removed the excess moisture.
Sutton wasn't interested in upholstery dyeing, but thought the machine could be used for upholstery cleaning. He called the process "Deep Steam". Two months later he brought the machine to Arlen who was president of Star Rug Cleaning in Santa Barbara, California. Here is where carpet cleaning came into the picture! If this concept worked for upholstery, why wouldn't it work equally well for carpets?
So it was back to the drawing board for Bill Wisdom! He designed a portable cleaner where very hot water was produced instead of steam. Fred Hayes built Wisdom's creation and Arlen became a proud owner. "It was horrible", remembers Arlen, "a hundred headaches! But we took the machine and by constantly changing, experimenting and updating it, we were ready to market the machine by 1965."
What excitement! An idea to revolutionize carpet cleaning! A renaissance for the whole cleaning industry!... and no one was interested! Because the machine turned out not to be marketable, Arlen started the Deep Steam franchise, which included the incredible steam carpet cleaning machine. It was the success of these franchises which created a demand and got others interested in steam cleaning. The rest is history.
Arlen went on to develop the first upholstery cleaning tool which wasn't merely a hand held carpet cleaning instrument. This is in its fourth year on the market under the name of Kleenrite. He has also helped develop a drapery cleaning tool as well as the innovative Vac-O-Steam which does a combination of steam carpet cleaning, dry or steam upholstery cleaning and dry cleaning of drapes.
Arlen and his wife, Florence, still reside in Santa Barbara. They have two sons: Mark, 24, and Steve, 26. Steve, who is active with fire restoration and the franchises of Deep Steam, has made it a third generation business. Arlen took over management of the local carpet cleaning in 1958 from his father who started Knight Rugs Works in 1929 and purchased Star Rug Cleaners in 1932. Arlen's younger brother, Tim, is also active in the business, as he manages Star Rug Cleaning, Inc. "We Now have 42 franchises in the United States and England, and are planning to open another in Saudi Arabia". Steam carpet cleaning, with the help of Arlen Knight, has certainly come a long way!
This week we are featuring an "Ed Sez" editorial published in the March/April 1982 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. The focus of this piece is differentiating between promoting carpet cleaning and promoting clean carpets. Keep in mind that this piece was published 36 years ago, so not all of the sentiments presented are necessarily accurate for today's industry. However, the general theme is still very relevant to today.
After some twelve years of working with the on-site cleaner, I believe I have found the answer to why we are second class citizens to the business community and the rest of the carpet industry. Before I expound on my conclusions, let me clear up one point. What we have been doing since the beginning of on-site cleaning is wrong. The bankers look upon us as next to the bottom of their list for credit. The suppliers treat us like children. The retail outlets won't even admit that they know us. Our peers think we are monsters. Our customers forget us, and society won't even accept us. With all of our past efforts, dirty carpets are socially acceptable. In fact, dirty fibers and fabrics are a way of life. Over eighty percent of all carpet owners have never had their carpets cleaned. Our neighbors live on dirty carpets and most of us live on dirty carpets. Our problem is simply, that in the past, we have promoted carpet cleaning rather than CLEAN CARPETS.
There will be those who will immediately defend their present position and try to justify their past efforts. It can't be done, even if some have been successful and make a better than average living. Just imagine what they could have accomplished, if clean carpets, not dirty carpets, were the only accepted condition. The sooner everyone connected with the cleaning industry accepts the fact that we have been wrong in the past, the sooner we can start on the road to real success.
For the past four years, I have had the pleasure of working with the on-site cleaners in Japan. They have enlightened me greatly. Their philosophy is that dirt is unsightly and embarrassing to the home, or commercial building owner. Their concern is to keep their homes and offices from getting dirty. They understand this can't be done on a once-every-two-or-three-year basis, but is a continuing process. It is their custom to prevent dirt from entering their home. Outside shoes are left outside the home. Since this is impractical in business, the entry areas receive special care. This may be weekly, monthly, or daily. The Japanese do what is necessary to keep their carpets looking attractive at all times.
We must accept the same philosophy. We must stop asking our customers to give us a call when their carpets get so bad they are an embarrassment. We must initiate a service which will keep the customer's carpets from becoming soiled. Carpets should be a possession of pride to their owners. They can be, if we will only change our emphasis. It is easier to promote clean carpets than carpet cleaning. If we can't clear our thinking as to carpet cleaning, let's try it on something else. For example, which would you rather pay your doctor $50 for? Clearing up a cold you have, or providing a service which prevented you from getting a cold? You can do the same thing with dirty carpets. When a person has just spent $20,000 for a unit to clean carpet, it may seem foolish to purchase $500 worth of equipment to prevent a carpet from getting dirty.
How do you begin? First, draw a line down the center of several pages. Title each one, equipment, personnel, emphasis, and capital investment. Place production on one side and procurement on the other. List your firm's ability and capabilities on each page. A successful company will have true balance in each of these areas.
While we must always be dedicated to technical advances, we must realize our efforts to include a full sales department. Our sales staff must be trained to do their job, and not to help deliver furniture or answer the phone. We have a story to tell and a service that the homeowner and business person alike will buy, if we allow them to. It won't work, unless we accept the fact that what we have been doing isn't working and re-adjust our work habits and business philosophy. We must become sales orientated. We must stop selling carpet cleaning and start selling clean carpets.
~ Ed York (1982)
This week, we’re taking a look at an "Ed Sez" editorial written by Ed York in the February/March 1974 issue of Tips N Chat. The focus of this piece is Ed's advertising strategy for service professionals, along with a fitting personal example of how that strategy works.
One of the first steps the on-location cleaner takes after deciding he wants to present a professional image to the consumer and increase his volume is to lay out an advertising campaign to tell his story. I am then asked to recommend an ad that will do the job. Everyone wants the catchy ad that attracts the homeowner and convinces her that she needs her carpets cleaned right now, and that our man is the one to call. I wish I could provide this perfect ad. I haven't found it, and I have tried hundreds over the past years. I have come to the conclusion there isn't such a thing. What appeals to one person is missed by the other. The best answer is not in the perfect ad, but in the repetition of three basic points: 1. You clean dirty carpets, 2. You are a qualified professional, and 3. How to contact you.
You can switch from simple ads to complicated ones. Serious ads to humorous ones, but they should contain and highlight these basic three points. It doesn't matter how many different ways you tell the story, just make sure you tell it.
A good example of my theory on advertising was demonstrated to me last week quite graphically in the form of a traffic ticket. I was driving my father to the barbershop in the morning and after entering the main street of our small town (Clovis, Calif.), I drove about 3 blocks when I noticed a sign in the crosswalk. It proclaimed the pedestrian's right-of-way. A quick glance to my speedometer showed that I was going around 35 MPH. I slowed to 25 and then noticed a big red light following me. A member of our town's finest proceeded to pull me over and presented me with a citation for doing 35 in a 25 mile zone.
I attempted to explain to the man that I had only driven 3 blocks on Clovis Avenue. While my speed was higher than evidently the speed limit was, I wasn't going too fast for road conditions and that I had slowed down on my own when I saw the FIRST sign indicating extra caution. He then advised that I had been clocked on Radar and that the speed limit was posted and I had passed 3 traffic signs in THREE blocks. Now, I can't fight the ticket, especially when it was clocked by RADAR, but I am observant of traffic laws and I can see a SIGN if there was one.
I had noticed a small pedestrian sign that didn't even mention speed and had associated it with my speed, so it made sense that there WASN'T a speed sign. He smiled, handed me the ticket and suggested I re-drive the three blocks and see if I could spot the signs. I did and was flabbergasted when I now was clearly able to see three signs, big as life, staring out at me during the short drive. The first stated in bold print the speed limit of 25 MPH. The second stated that traffic laws were strictly enforced, and the third cautioned that speed was checked by radar. My point is that the City of Clovis had in effect placed 4 ads in the 3 blocks I had traveled. Each of these ads were carefully worded, and should have alerted me to the fact I was either going too fast or if I continued, then I might be caught.
I failed to see or notice the first three. I did see the 4th one and took action to comply with it. My problem was that I was too late. The damage was done and I had a ticket for my reward.
A speeding ticket might not relate to carpet cleaning, but the facts of the case do. Your potential customer is busy doing something else and just hasn't noticed your ad yet. She is having carpet danger signs, but overlooking them. Hopefully she will see your next sign and take heed before she gets a ticket from you saying "sorry lady but you missed my ads too many times. Your carpet is past saving".
One ad may not do the job, it may take a steady flow of them. I do know that now since I have "bought" a ticket the first time, I see all 4 signs each time I travel this street. I also travel at 25 MPH. We don't care if your customer doesn't see all your ads, just so she has a second, or third, or fourth chance. Hopefully, she will before it's too late and become a regular customer. It would be a shame, however, if she never had the extra chance, and never had the pleasure of having as good a firm as yours serve her future carpet and upholstery cleaning needs.
~ Ed York (1974)
This week, we're taking a look at a short article written by Ed York in the July/August 1973 issue of Tips N Chat. Yes, this article is 45 years old. However, the underlying message of being the best you can possibly be at what you do is just as relevant today as it was back then. Enjoy!
"Profit is Not a Dirty Word"
With the prices of everything but "carpet cleaning" rising each day, we should take a sound thought of why. Every time the price goes up, the one doing so advises they are justified because costs to them have also been increased. The American public accepts this, even though they gripe about it. Carpet cleaners on the other hand are scared to suggest this to their prospective customer. They also have had price increases. They have advanced in knowledge. Their services are needed more today than ever before. The customer, while paying more for other items, is also making more money than ever before. Why are the carpet cleaners afraid? It's not because of what the customer might say, but what their competition might bid. Let's make sure the one we are afraid of is the competition.
If the "other" bidder is untrained; operates with TOYS or inferior equipment; uses few, if any, laboratory tested and proven chemicals; carries no bond or insurance; doesn't have the facilities or resources to back up his workmanship, then they are not your competitor. They are offering a different service than you are. If your customer asked you to sell them a horse, surely you would distinguish between a plow horse and a registered Quarter horse. Both may be called "horse", but they are not the same things.
Let's start making a difference in what type of SERVICE we are offering. Is it a hit and miss appearance cleaning, or a DEEP cleaning job with detailed spotting? Food for thought... If you were charging 10 cents per square foot in 1967 for shampooing, then you would have to charge 13 cents today, just to break EVEN with the cost of living index. 15 cents per square foot would necessitate 19.5 cents to break even. Someone has to reverse the price-cutting trend. If you are a professional, then it must be you. There will always be someone around that can cut your price. They should be cheaper than you because they are offering a cheaper service. Let them fight over the old, badly soiled carpet belonging to the person who has neglected to even properly take care of it. Lift your sights to the person with the quality carpet who wants PROFESSIONAL care and is willing to pay a fair price for it. I guarantee there is less competition at the top. Lots of folks are trying to be the cheapest, but very few are striving to be the highest. We are, in our area, and strange as it may seem, we do the most business.
Bill Braeunert, our new Vapor-Vac dealer in Northern Milwaukee is using the motto "You walk on our reputation".
YouTube has become an absolutely essential resource for many people, service providers included. Don't quite know how to fix something on your truck? There's probably a YouTube video showing you how to do it. Want to rewatch a great play from yesterday's football game? YouTube has you covered. In this increasingly digital age, a website originally used for entertainment purposes has now become a vast resource of knowledge and can be an incredibly helpful asset to your business.
In this post, we're going to explore the top 8 YouTube channels that service providers should be following. Not all of them are related specifically to the service industry, but they all will provide you with massive value
Of course, you should be following us on YouTube! We release content regularly that can help you get the most out of your ServiceMonster subscription, as well as provide insight into current industry trends. One of our two regular content offerings is The ServiceMonster Show, a weekly news show highlighting social media trends, ServiceMonster news and updates, and anything else going on. The other regular video show you will see is #AskServiceMonster. This show features our CEO, Joe, answering questions submitted by users, explaining business concepts, and interviewing relevant people within the industry. You can check out our channel here!
#2: Keith Kalfas
Keith's YouTube channel is primarily centered around landscaping, but many of the subjects he covers can apply to any service industry. As a service professional himself, Keith has a unique perspective as a content creator and brings a ton of value in his videos for any business owner. Keith also talks with other business owners and service professionals to get their insight on successfully growing a service business. Check out his channel here.
#3: Service Industry Coach
Matthew Smith, otherwise known as Service Industry Coach on YouTube, has been making videos offering business advice for a couple of years now. He owns a cleaning company and a painting company, so his service experience is varied enough to provide quality advice. Some of his videos are job-specific and show tips and tricks for different cleaning methods. Other videos focus more on the owner/entrepreneur side of things, where he gives advice and shares his perspective on money management, investing, and marketing. His channel can be found here.
#4: Gary Vee
Gary Vaynerchuk (known as Gary Vee) is an entrepreneur who has gained a massive worldwide following on social media. His YouTube videos cover many different topics, but much of his advice regarding social media, marketing, and content creation can be applied to any business. None of his videos relate specifically to service providers, however, the value is still there. Gary Vee doesn't beat around the bush. He tells it like it is. Check out his channel here!
#5: Luke the Window Cleaner
This YouTube channel is specifically for window cleaners (what a surprise!), so if you aren't a window cleaner, you may not find a ton of value here. If you ARE a window cleaner though, this channel has tons of value for you. Luke does product reviews, offers technique and business advice, and focuses on content for people newer to the industry. You can view his channel here.
#6: Behind the Brand
Again, a YouTube channel that's more general in nature, but still has quite a bit of useful advice for the service providers among us. Behind the Brand goes deep into the stories and the people behind successful brands. A big part of your success as a service provider is building a strong and reputable brand. Many of these videos address strategies and tactics to achieve a brand that stands out from the competition. This channel uploads a ton of content too! You can check out the channel here.
#7: The Dave Ramsey Show
Many of you may already know who Dave Ramsey is, but his YouTube channel for The Dave Ramsey Show has daily new uploads of clips from the best moments of the show. His wise financial advice can benefit not only your business but also your personal life. Being financially secure is a huge key to running a successful business and being able to achieve growth. Check out Dave's channel here.
#8: Sunny Lenarduzzi
Sunny Lenarduzzi is basically a master of digital content creation. While she doesn't have much to do with service providers, Sunny's strategies and approaches to creating digital content most definitely apply to any service provider. So many things are digital these days, and how you are branded online is critical to continued success. Sunny's tips on making videos, being comfortable in front of the camera, social media marketing, and numerous other topics could prove invaluable for your business. Check her out here.
Thanks for reading! As always, contact us if you have any questions, or would like to see how we can help you grow your service business. Until next time!
As you've heard us say many times before, social media is your best friend when it comes to marketing your service business. Facebook gives you affordable and highly effective advertising options, with Instagram advertising included automatically. The goal of this kind of social media advertising is to show potential customers your business/product in a space where they have the ability to take further action (called a call-to-action), such as click a link or watch a video. All of this we have covered extensively before, most notably in our Social Media Mastery guide. Check that out if you haven't already, it's an amazing collection of content all for free!
The next piece for growing the social media presence of your business is ENGAGEMENT. Engagement simply means being active on your accounts, aware of what's going on with your followers, and committed to customer service. The key here is to respond to questions quickly and professionally, as well as monitor any concerns that are raised by followers on either your posts or page itself. Depending on the size of your business, and how popular your social media accounts are, this can be a daunting task. However, it is an essential tool for getting leads and keeping current customers happy.
Let's run through a few example scenarios of what social media engagement can look like for a service business:
Ex. 1: A past customer comments on your most recent post asking what your availability is to come clean their carpets (or whatever it is you do). The post they commented on is unrelated, such as a post welcoming a new technician to your company. In this instance, it may be pretty easy to miss their comment, as it didn't come in the form of a direct message. Since this situation would most likely result in a job, making sure to monitor comments and responding when appropriate/needed is crucial. Treating all comments as direct personal messages, most being worthy of some type of response, is a good mindset to have when approaching your social media engagement.
Ex. 2: A new potential customer finds your page on Facebook and reads your reviews. They see that you have mostly positive reviews (read more about the importance of positive reviews here), and send you a direct message on Facebook inquiring about your services. If you don't have notifications on, you may not see the message right away, but it is important to be checking your notifications frequently so you can respond in a timely manner. Here at ServiceMonster, we have found that Facebook is a great tool for getting leads!
Ex. 3: A current customer comments on your post that shows a before-and-after image of their carpet that you just cleaned, thanking you for doing a great job. This type of comment doesn't need a big response usually. Something along the lines of "You're very welcome, we look forward to working with you again!" is all that is necessary. This is a very quick and simple example of engagement that not only makes you look good to anyone who sees it, but also helps increase the likelihood that that customer will call you the next time they need something.
Remember, how you engage with customers on social media is how people will see your company. Strong, timely, and positive engagement shows that you are a professional and can be trusted to do a great job. If your business's online persona is that solid, you won't have any trouble staying busy and growing your business!
Here at ServiceMonster, our passion is enabling you to grow your service business. We hope you take the next step with your social media engagement and see positive results. Let us know if we can help you with anything! We're only a phone call or email away.
Until next time!
Getting reviews is a non-negotiable must-have when you’re a small business: They can make an enormous impact on the success (or failure) of your operation. Nine times out of 10 (if not 10 times out of 10!), people search online for reviews. Whether it’s purchasing some new headphones on Amazon, or searching on Google for the best local carpet cleaner, reviews play a crucial role in determining whether a product or service is worth investing in. That’s really what it comes down to: Everyday people investing their hard-earned dollars in YOU, in exchange for you providing them with the best service possible.
Reviews can be found on several different sites, but the most popular/common review sites are Facebook, Google, and Yelp. More specific to service professionals are sites such as Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor. Having a collection of great reviews on any one (or preferably, all!) of these sites is of utmost importance to your future success. However, between wearing the many different hats of a small business owner, you may feel that worrying about getting reviews is not worth your time. This may be especially true if you have a solid base of repeat customers and rely mostly on word-of-mouth advertising.
While good word-of-mouth advertising is fantastic to have, if you really want to grow you’re going to need to start converting that word-of-mouth into tangible online reviews. Positive reviews equal more revenue.
So, how do you get good reviews?There are several ways, but the easiest and least time-consuming way to get reviews is to simply ASK. When you’re done with a job, just ask your customer to leave a review. This could either be left open to them to decide which site to leave a review on, or, for example, you could ask specifically for a review on Facebook. A huge part of this process is being personable with your customers.
Taking the “ask” approach a step further, you can guide customers to giving you a review, either through your website or an email. One approach is to put a “Review us here!” link on your website, making sure that it is prominently displayed. This is simple to do and is a great tool for directing customers to the review site of your choice.
However, an even more effective method is to send out follow-up emails with the option for a customer to review you within the email. The general idea of this method is that within your email, you have a link to your preferred review site, but also an option for customers to leave you any feedback in case they had a less-than-ideal experience. Negative reviews need to be taken seriously, and giving customers the opportunity to communicate their frustrations is essential to learning and growing as a company.
Communicating with your customers post-job is a surefire way to increase your repeat rate. Even with negative reviews, you are given the opportunity to continue a dialogue and figure out what exactly needs to be done to ensure that whatever caused this bad experience will never happen again. This level of personal communication can turn a 1-star review into a 4 or 5-star review. Just remember, make sure that the review process is as simple as possible for the customer.
Here at ServiceMonster, our passion is enabling you to grow your service business. We hope you try out a few of these methods and find success with them.
Until next time!
Picture this, if you will: It’s Friday. You’ve had a long week, and you’re craving a good steak. You do a quick search online of best places for steak in your area, and come up with two options:
Restaurant 1’s website claims that their steak is the tastiest around (according to content written by the restaurant itself).
Restaurant 2 is purported to have the best steak in the area, as well. However, the difference is that you learn this via reviews of the restaurant on Facebook, written by customers who have dined there over the last few months.
Which candidate is going to win your dinner business?
You realize that any restaurant could claim to be the best at a certain dish or cuisine, but when a positive assessment comes from someone who has no ‘steak’ (see what we did there?) in the business, it carries a lot more weight. An unbiased opinion is always more persuasive.
Restaurant 2 it is!
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We have no doubt that your company does stellar work and that your customers are in great hands with you. But, regardless of how well you sell your services, you still can’t change the source: you.
Testimonials’ strength lies in the fact that they come from a source outside your business, who has seen proof of your work and was happy with the outcome. This impartial opinion fosters positivity and confidence in your prospects.
What is a testimonial video?
Before we get any deeper, let’s go over what a testimonial video is. A video testimonial is simply an on-camera endorsement of your services from a customer. The best ones are straight-forward, short, and upbeat. Though videos require more work than simply pasting a quote or two on to your website, they provide an organic way for prospects to learn about how great you are, straight from the horses (er… your customer’s) mouth.
Are videos more persuasive than text?
Without a doubt, yes. Because viewers can see your testimonial-offering customer in the video, there is an automatic feeling of authenticity from the beginning that’s inherently lacking when it comes to text testimonials.
Seeing a homeowner or business owner talk about how satisfied they are with your services can be a key factor in your home-owning and business-owning prospects (who personally identify with the customers in the video) choosing to use your company.
What do I need to consider before I make a testimonial video?
Even though videos do naturally come across as more authentic than text testimonials, that doesn’t give you free reign to hand your customer a script and tell them to read it to the camera. We recommend brainstorming a short list of questions before filming, and passing them along to your interviewee a day before filming. This will give them time to review the questions and consider how they’d like to answer them, so they won’t be blindsided when the camera is rolling.
Some questions to consider asking:
What do I need to think about during filming?
Don’t get hung up on purchasing an expensive camera, especially if you’re just starting out with video testimonials. You can even use your phone! Just be sure to shoot it using widescreen (turn the phone horizontally), and steady it against something.
Be mindful, too, of the location you choose to film – it can make a difference in how watchable the video is. Try filming in front of or inside of the customer’s home or business.
Another important consideration is audio quality. You’ll want to avoid locations that produce an echo, and busy places with lots of people talking or traffic noise. While you certainly can edit the audio post-production (after you’ve filmed), ideally you wouldn’t have to do too much to it. We recommend considering a wireless lavalier that you can run into your camera.
Also, make sure there’s enough room on your recording device for the whole interview (plus some extra in case the discussion runs longer than anticipated).
What do I need to do after filming?
After you’ve thanked your customer for their time and thoughts, it’s time to start editing. This can be as long or as short of a process as you’d like, depending on how filming went and what you’d like your finished product to look like.
Try to edit the content down to focus on the most glowing praise, and keep it short – we recommend no more than a couple minutes. Remember, people tend to have very short attention spans!
Once I have a finished video… what do I do with it?
First, send it to the featured customer and get their approval. Then… share it!
Create an email drip campaign in ServiceMonster 6 for people you haven’t serviced in a while, and include the video to convey the voice of your customers.
Create a ‘case study’ section on your website and include the video.
Share on your social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter, and create a ‘testimonials’ playlist on YouTube and place the video in there.
Also, if you have a salesman, be sure to share the video with them. They can use it as a tool when chatting with new prospects.
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Customer testimonial videos are unique because they’re persuasive and very effectively able to establish credibility for your company. Though they can be a bit labor intensive, we strongly believe that they’re worth doing because of the tremendous boost they can offer your business. Give them a try… and let us know how it goes!
This is part 6 in a series on social media for service businesses.
The full series is:
6. Case Studies
Here are a few good examples of how we and others, have used social media to accomplish a goal or capture attention to deliver value to the business.
In late 2012, ServiceMonster moved from a bare metal solution to a true virtual service. We adopted Microsoft Azure. That decision would haunt me for eight months. Four months in, I was in a state of panic. The technology was solid. It had to be the platform. But how to get Microsoft's attention? They had no real support, and the level of support that I needed went way beyond a flow chart, so I created a marketing plan.
It was simple. Use Twitter and talk about my issues tagging Microsoft and Azure team members in every post, but first I had to get someone to listen. I needed to find some of their evangelists. Evangelists are people who are forward-facing about a product or service, but can stand up to technical scrutiny. From there I would find and follow the engineers that were working on Azure. My goal was to obtain email relations with someone that would listen. I figured it would take about 30 days.
I was totally wrong. In 14 days I was talking with an evangelist regularly. I was invited to Microsoft and had a personal eight-hour tour through the Microsoft campus. I talked to their top brass representing the Azure platform. It was pretty cool. I even blogged about it.
It really didn't help. Four months later I switch to Amazon. The day we switched, ServiceMonster was at peace again, and I got the first night’s sleep I had in a very long time.
The whole experience really opened my eyes to how effective social media could be in so many more ways than as a very effective lead generator.
In July of 2016, Gary Hite, a carpet cleaner in Temecula, California, published a video of a tile job. A few weeks later, he had over 12 million views. A month later, a separate company rented the rights to the video and created another 12 million views. We scooped the story as it was happening.
The main points are:
1. Have good stock video.
2. Learn how to produce original compelling content.
3. Do step one and two a lot.
4. Hope that a video gets picked up on an OCD subreddit.
I’m actually not joking. Be a student. Read the blog post. Watch the video. Gary didn’t know it would go viral, but he knows enough to put together some elements in his video that created interest and captured attention. That video has generated work for cleaners all over the United States, and Gary has taken that opportunity to expand several areas of his business.
On August 8th the marketing team and I decided to turn the Joe brand up to 11. We had not yet fully embraced the business persona of ServiceMonster. One mechanism we implemented was a daily entrepreneurial Facebook post, containing relevant content based on issues and hurdles I run into on a daily basis. I call it the Facebook long form. They are usually no more than a few paragraphs long but will often be longer than the fold. After a few weeks of posting, I started receiving encouragement to continue (love that). I even had requests to begin compiling these posts into a mini Art of War style publication. But this isn't 3000 BC. What did I do? I went back and tagged all of my relevant posts. I needed a hashtag that no one was using. Something that would create a brand. We often trade on 'Joe' and my focus is entrepreneurs, so #entrejoe was born. How can you provide the same type of value to your prospects and clients?
This is part 5 in a series on social media for service businesses.
The full series is:
STOP INVITING ANYONE AND EVERYONE TO LIKE YOUR PAGE! Seriously. It messes with the insights Facebook can give you. It also makes Facebook think you are a national company instead of a local service. Yes, you can target campaigns using geolocation, but it messes up some of the cooler features. Build your wall. Keep your likes relevant to your clients and prospects. Stop inviting cleaning friends and vendors. This can really wreak havoc if you hire a third-party to manage your Facebook advertising. They will make assumptions which will be incorrect, like that your page supports 35 to 55-year-old males, nationwide, who own a service business. Oh wait, that’s my demographic.
Make your Facebook Page beautiful. If your logo is still out of 90s clipart from MS Office, it might be time for an update. Learn the difference between 72 DPI, 150 DPI, and 300 DPI (dots per inch) and why that's important to a Facebook Page and mobile technology.
Take some time to build your cover image. That's your billboard. Make it compelling. Ideally your profile picture will be your logo. Only change it for the most extreme circumstances. Don't make your alias’ Page profile picture your company's logo. Maybe try a different, more amplified version of yourself.
Make sure your Page is filled out and complete. Make sure there's a link to your website. Make sure your phone number is right. Share relevant content, post original content, run ads.
Facebook Pages give you some really cool tools in the Insights section to study the effectiveness of your content (not to mention you run all of your ads from your business Page).
If you’re looking to build a Warrior strategy, it is essential to have a personal alias page for your business. Use your real name and image. Don’t try to give your persona the business name or clever variation. Facebook will eventually close your account until you identify yourself and correct it (don’t ask me how I know).
Join local Facebook groups. Local business groups can be a good source as well. Look for community influencers with a strong Facebook presence and discover where they hang out, online. Send friend requests to people who have liked your Page, and especially ones that are already your clients. Be friends with them! Invest in their lives. Make witty comments on their posts you find entertaining. Share. It’s amazing how fast customers change from clients to individuals when you see their kid hit that home run.
Create a group (or twelve). Assuming you’re the constant student and after you have some attention on both your business and personal pages, you will start to identify additional ways to capture attention. Groups are a great way to communicate to a handful of people. Currently you can add a friend to a group, even without them accepting an invite. By default, they will get a notification whenever there is a post in that group. It’s a powerful feature and one I think we will lose long-term. Be careful with it. Some don’t appreciate being added to a group willy-nilly (sorry guys). The most obvious group for a service provider to create is a private group dedicated to your clients. You have to keep the content relevant to maintain attention and engagement though, so make sure your kung fu is strong.
Creating ads for Facebook can have some challenges if you’re just getting started. Start with a goal in mind. Do you want more likes or to drive traffic to your site? When using a picture, smiling faces are always the best performers. Facebook will reject your ad for a handful of things. You can’t run an ad with an image that has too much text. The numbers are changing all the time. Use Facebook’s image text check tool to be sure.
When running ads, be sure to narrow your focus as much as possible. You can target groups of users based on their location, interests, and age. You can even target users who have liked a Page of your competitors. The narrower your focus, the better your results.
Facebook ads are so inexpensive that you can run a few ads at the same time to see which one is more effective. Just like organic engagement, the more users interact with your content, the better it will perform and the lower it will cost.
Facebook has an entire online course for learning how to use Facebook ads.
Use Facebook pixel to track traffic on your site. A pixel is a tiny bit of code you add to your web pages which will tell Facebook which Facebook users visited your site, and which page(s) they visited. You can use this for retargeting, or to figure out cost per conversion. Retargeting allows you to create a Facebook ad targeting people who have already visited your site. That can be very powerful when used correctly: You send a special offer targeting people who went to your webform and didn’t complete it the first time. You could even chain them together by giving them a better offer each time they visit.
Facebook Page likes matter, but only for establishing a baseline of creditability. For services providers, a few hundred likes and a handful of good reviews is all you really need to accomplish that. What is more important than likes is engagement. When users like, share, and comment on your posts, ads, and boosts, they flag Facebook that the content is relevant. Facebook will then display your content to more feeds. Engagement is the real metric to attention, not likes. Facebook will display the engagement of each post on your business Page insights.
OK. You have your business Page and business persona all ready to go. How do you get from there to a never-ending fountain of flowing leads? The process of capturing attention and turning that into a sale is called conversion. First, you capture attention. Then you offer value. Then you throw out an ‘ask.’ Perhaps the ‘ask’ invites them to fill out a webform. They complete the form and you now have a solid lead. Just be sure the transfer from your ad to the web page is cohesive or the user may get lost. As this series is about social marketing, my responsibility is to help you get people to the webform. From there you will need a sales pipeline and lead capture system, like oh, I don’t know, perhaps ServiceMonster...
Remember the PULL? The more engagement you get, the more Facebook will feed your content to our audience. Deliver content that has value and they will follow you. If all of your content is about you, your effectiveness will be minimal and [insert eye roll].
If you’re using Facebook Pixel with your webform and success page, then you will know what your conversion rates from Facebook actually are.
Continue on to part 6 in our series on social media for service businesses to read about a few good examples of how we and others have used social media to accomplish a goal or capture attention to deliver value to the business.
This is part 4 in a series on social media for service businesses.
The full series is:
Having a bad social strategy is worse than having no strategy. I have seen business pages with missing or incorrect information. I have seen pages created for a business by the system where it becomes very difficult to claim ownership of them. I also see links to the owners' personal, public profile, which they DO NOT use for business. They will, more often than I can believe, commit one or more of the five deadly sins.
1. Political content
2. Religious content
3. Sexually charged content
4. Drug-related content
5. Personal attacks
Now these are general guidelines and can be bent if you understand you’re alienating a portion of your prospects. I always advise businesses and associations to steer clear of this type of content.
You have nothing. Nada. Zero. This is kind of spooky for someone looking for your profile (and they will).
You have a Facebook Page and there is some information. Perhaps there is a link to your webpage and the three before and after pics you posted the day you started the business Page. Perhaps you tried a postcard-like campaign with little to no results or got discouraged when it became hard to entertain your Page likes without buying a boost from Facebook.
Your page is complete and accurate. It’s easy to call you or jump to your webpage. You make relevant posts at least a few times a month but how many before and after’s can you really do? You might have a handful of reviews and a few hundred likes on your page. You might have even tried a few boosts and got a handful of calls. Most business owners who think they do Facebook well live here.
Business Level 1 plus super consistent posts and boosts. Most of the content is shared from other sources with the occasional ad, picture, or video. When done well, the business can become a new authority in the local community. They either pay a third party or use a program like Hootsuite to manage posts. They have lots of reviews and plenty of likes on their page. They have some engagement on their boosted posts and are consistently getting jobs. These results will be similar to EDDM postcard campaigns in terms of response. The better your targeting, your content, and native attention, the lower your cost per client.
Business Level 2 plus amazing compelling original content crated by a personality in the business. Looking through the timeline of a Level 3 business Page tells a story and draws the user in. The story introduces them to the people, goes behind the scenes with friends and/or family, and shares their importance to the community. The strategy will also couple the website’s blog and newsletter content.
In order to build a warrior level social strategy, you need to triple down on your own personality. You know you're headed true north when you're your own biggest fan.
People will buy from people over businesses every time. To get the most out of your social strategy, your brand must have a face. You cannot participate in groups with a business Page. You cannot create a group with a business Page. You cannot like and comment on personal posts from your business Page. Your business Page can’t make a text-only post and expect to gain any attention. You can accomplish all of that, and more, with a business persona.
You end up with a Business Level 3 Facebook Page AND a personal profile you use ‘only’ for business. That’s not to say you don’t post personal stuff. You need to be personal if you want your audience to get to know you. Just stay away from the five deadly sins, share lots of your business content, and engage with your clients and prospects regularly, as a person.
Continue on to part 5 in our series on social media for service businesses.
This is part 3 in a series on social media for service businesses.
The full series is:
So it seems like the Pokémon Go media frenzy has finally died down, although there are still millions of players. Do you understand what just happened? Are you familiar with how it influenced business traffic? From an outsider, it may seem like a very silly young Millennial game, but as a student of technology and social media, I saw it a little differently.The importance of augmented reality (AR) has not yet been fully realized. Think about this. In 10 years, your vehicle windshield will double as a computer monitor. Obviously you wouldn't want to use it as a movie screen, but how about digital readouts of things that are happening in front of your car? A neighborhood kid could kick a ball into the street and your windshield will draw a highlighted graphic around the ball and alert you to its presence. In 20 years, we may have contact lenses that can do the same thing. I will never forget someone's name again. I’ll be able to pull up their social media profiles before I even extend my hand!Always be a student. Pay attention. If you find yourself scoffing at something which draws millions upon millions of users, check yourself. Your lack of understanding doesn't change the outcome. Look for opportunity in even the most unlikely of places. Plenty of businesses had a big boom when they found their bike shop was Pokémon central.
YouTube is now the second most widely used search engine in the world, next to Google, which means Google (who purchased YouTube in 2005 for $1.65 billion) is both the first and second most widely used search engine in the world. YouTube content can be a big player in your SEO strategy. Part of any complete social strategy should include a healthy amount of video. Be sure to post that content to a business YouTube channel and tag it correctly. Consistency and value are the two winning factors to developing an audience. Be an authority in all things [insert what your passion is for your business].
Twitter's primary purpose has evolved over time, from the leading PULL authority to an open chat site with links to everyone’s totally amazing blog. By following people and topics you are interested in, you'll be fed news and information in those areas. Its tagging and communication systems are extremely open, but its 140-character limit keeps conversations focused on jabs. You can yell at a celebrity, and sometimes, just sometimes, they will yell back. Twitter itself has not had a single day of profitability. Monetization on Twitter is clumsy, slow, and extremely hard for service providers. Have a presence to understand it and respond, should someone tag you in a post, but if you’re looking for big wins and a complete level of understanding of social, spend your time somewhere else.
Still the only professional network (have you heard about Facebook Workplace?). LinkedIn was created by the father of social media and PayPal partner, Reid Hoffman. The platform is as boring as the professional environment suggests. Typically, the posters are using automated software to post articles they have written, or ones they feel are professional. There is a pay-to-play professional subscription that has an interesting sales funnel feature. This can be an effective tool for business-to-business service providers. Microsoft purchased them for $26 billion dollars, which suggests to me they are trying to lock the corporate professions into a single Microsoft 365 platform.
Facebook has nearly as many eyes as television and it’s still growing. Millennials (18-35) spend more time on Facebook than watching TV. The marketing and targeting engine is phenomenal. When done right, there are opportunities all over the place, but it takes a little bit of cash and a whole lot of work. Facebook is the best bet for service professionals and the focus of the strategies I’ve outlined in this series.
Now owned by Facebook ($1 billion!), Instagram is a platform where people express themselves through images and short video. If it's not beautiful, you shouldn't post it. There are lots of 20-year-old life coaches, but service providers can use hashtags to bring in a substantial amount of leads if the market supports it (Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, you get the idea). Pro Tip: #dogsofseattle. Instagram turned users, and Snapchat, on their heads when they introduced Instagram Stories recently. A simple change like that has an amazing ripple effect and can turn into a tidal wave of potential.
Think text or Facebook Messenger on steroids. I'm actually super excited about this one. While the platform is too new and the population to skewed towards 20-year-olds, the capabilities to interact with other people are pretty slick. I can have a conversation with my wife while in a store and super seamlessly send her short videos and pictures. I'm excited to try this with business coaching. Using Snapchat for lead generation is unlikely at this point but keep an eye on this one, and understand it.
Dubbed ‘the front page of the internet,’ Reddit's ability to draw crowds to individual content is staggering. Reddit users joke that if you found an article on Facebook, you're at least two days behind the curve. No monetization platform. Viral videos and posts are completely by chance. The main reason the Gary Hite video went viral was because it landed on an OCD subreddit and picked up two million views in less than four days.
Continue on to part 4 in our series on social media for service businesses.
This is part 2 in a series on social media for service businesses.
The full series is:
I like to think of all of your media outlets as channels. We have a blog channel, a newsletter channel, a Facebook channel, a Facebook persona channel, a Twitter channel, an Instagram channel, an Instagram stories channel, a LinkedIn channel, bulletin board channels, and direct mail channels (I’m sure I missed a few). Having many different options of distribution allows you to deliver a single piece of content in multiple ways. But it’s the content that’s the hard part.
If you’re going to put this all together, you need to understand that you’re an attention broker. Your job is to capture the attention of your potential market with a GIVE. Give away content that helps them in some way. Do this regularly and they will follow you. The more they engage with you and your message, the more they will see your messages organically. Then, every once in a while, post an ASK. Run an ad. Ask them to fill out a form. Ask them to buy. All of the advertising rules still apply. Present value. Give a call to action. Create a sense of urgency, but it’s the attention you really want. If they’re spending their time with you, they’re essentially a client already, they just haven’t purchased yet. Once you have their attention, you can direct it anywhere you like.
Content is king. Consistent, relevant content is the key to turning social marketing into a serious growth engine. “What have you done for me lately” is the theme of the social internet. Content has a shelf life of about 24 hours. You can reuse quality content, but be careful. Don’t use past posts to fill the gap. Use them to drive value.
There are several different types of content you can use to draw attention.
Sharing content from other sites is a great way to get off the ground without having to invest too much in initial creativity. You would have to filter information you post, as you want your audience to rely on you to provide relevant, quality content to their feeds. Be discerning.
Videos rule. Videos have the highest attention and lowest cost. Shoot quality video. Learn Adobe Premier. Always use good lighting and learn what drives engagement. Be innovative. Try lots of stuff and find a groove. Post videos on both Facebook and YouTube. They are video enemies. Don’t post a video on YouTube and link it to Facebook. If you’re concerned about consolidating your views, you’re going to have to let that go. It’s much more valuable to have your custom content available natively on those platforms.
Memes are popular, easy to share, and allow you to deliver a great one-liner. For cleaning companies, use the same rules as postcards. Pets and kids with a short message is gold. ServiceMonster creates memes and shares them on Facebook so you can use them on your page. Search #stealthismeme on Facebook to grab some.
• Text Post
Text posts can exist only in the world of a personal page or business persona. No one cares when Microsoft or Apple give philosophical insight, but when Gates or Jobs say it, you take notice.
• Blog Link
Regular blog content will help your SEO and get your audience to connect with your business a little deeper than a 50-word Facebook post. There is a lot of information and advice about running a decent blog, but creating the content is why we care about it from a social marketing point of view. It’s original custom content to share, plain and simple.
Ads, ads, let me count the ways. In Facebook alone the ad types are amazing. You can create ads to get likes on your page. You can create ads to make the phone ring. You can create ads to drive traffic to a website. You can create ads to boost a post on a business Page. The list goes on. Facebook has videos and information on all of this stuff. Use it, as it’s changing all the time. Stay sharp when you see a new content type or delivery style. Look into it. Take Facebook carousel ads. Facebook underpriced them to see if the users would accept them. Take advantage of those types of opportunities.
You will often hear reporters saying things like “trending on Twitter.” We base those numbers on conversations which include a common tag in the post. Let’s look at the following post: [Today I’m headed to #theexperience2016]. The hashtag #theexperience2016 is used to express an event that users can click on, and see all the other posts which use the hashtag #theexperience2016. We use a number of hashtags on different platforms such as #servicemonster, #stealthismeme, and #entrejoe. Search those hashtags on any social network and you should pull up content we have posted under those hashtags. Anyone can use them. Instagram and Twitter use them best, but Facebook is catching up.
So Snapchat is ‘new’ according to the media, again. It’s actually not that new, but it’s starting to gain traction now that their daily active users surpass Twitter. Ouch. Here’s the thing about Snapchat. It serves volatile content. That is to say, the content you post there will be deleted shortly after the first view. If you post on you general ‘wall,’ it’s gone in 24 hours. It creates a safe environment to make silliness comfortable, but that’s the point. It also creates a sense of urgency.
Instagram recently introduced Instagram Stories which is also volatile content. Picture and short videos posted to your story will be destroyed in 24 hours. That’s good news for service providers. There are lots of creative ways I can see that working for you.
Understanding how people consume information with today’s internet is critical. In 2000 (only five years after the birth of the internet itself) if you wanted to find something, you used a search engine and searched for it. Chances are pretty good, if you’re reading this, you still consume the internet in much the same way. Understand that social isn’t a tool people use. It’s the way a large number of people consume content.
Advertising hasn’t changed that much since… well, ever. Sure, over the years the delivery methods changed. From wanted posters on a tree, to newspaper, mail, radio, television. Each one of those advertising tools is what the marketing world considers PUSH advertising. A business pushes an ad hoping to intersect with that perfect point where need meets attention. Social has completely changed the game. Now users PULL content to them. By liking, reading, watching, commenting, and subscribing to topics and people of interest, the social internet feeds users with content and ads they care about. It’s a huge marketing shift and one that benefits both the users and the business owners who can leverage it.
Get good gear. A GoPro is $200 and takes great video. The DJI Osmo is an amazing video camera with a built in gimbal, a 35mm 4K lens, and runs around $600. Get a lavalier or two as well. Lavaliers are the little mics that clip to your shirt collar. I would suggest the RØDE smartLav+. In addition, get a good DSLR camera with depth of field. In fact, you should start building a media kit.
Take a look at Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s the entire Adobe suite for $50/month. Then learn Adobe Premier. There are a TON of YouTube videos on these tools and they’re not as intimidating as they may seem.
Continue on to part 3 in our series on social media for service businesses.
Greetings business owners! My name is Joe Kowalski, and I’m the CEO of the CRM ServiceMonster. I’ll start with: I have nothing to sell you in this space. I don’t believe in buying social media maintenance services. We do not offer them. We do all of our own marketing in-house, as I believe you should. Paying a company $400/month to post generic content to your Facebook Page and manage the occasional ad is far less effective than learning how to do it yourself. Notice I did not say “not effective.” A robotic, business-only approach is perfectly acceptable if you’re looking to get EDDM (every door direct mail) and postcard prospecting results.
I spend a lot of time talking to business owners about how to use social media as an effective marketing platform. I hope this series of posts will get you headed in the right direction, and clear up some of the confusion and fear many have. I can’t give you a map; instead, think of it as guide to writing maps. No one has this mastered. No one. It requires constant education, thought, and failure. The platforms are changing all the time. How users adapt is changing all the time. It requires wit, cunning, and a healthy ego to get the results we all want. And like anything else worth doing, it requires persistence. Social media marketing is a constant experiment in social engineering and the only way to win is to play the long game.
As I write this, Facebook is currently the service provider’s best source for monetizing social media. It’s also a great place to learn the basics because you can do so much with it. Your end game is acquiring leads and maintaining relationships with current clients. Your ability to market well on Facebook over the next three years is directly related to how well you understand it. Always be learning, and follow those who do it well (take the hint and follow me to steal all of my chops, live – links at the end). In three years, the window closes forever. It’s only a matter of time before Fortune 500 marketing departments realize their budget is more effective on Facebook and price the rest of us out. The same thing happened to pay-per-click a few years ago. Social marketing is extremely undervalued right now, but like pay-per-click, it won’t stay that way forever. Social media can be the answer to your growth, or the nail in your coffin. You can choose to use it effectively, but even for ‘professionals,’ it's a little bit of both.
Social fear is real. Many people I talk with want to engage in social but are afraid of some potential scenario, afraid of rejection, afraid of looking silly, or afraid of failing. You will fail. Sometimes no one will show up. Then three will. Then 15. Then 26. Yes, maybe someone will be mean. Perhaps someone will leave a negative comment or review. Perhaps someone will just be a downright ass-hat. Remember you can only control your own actions. In business, in marriage, in life. If you handle yourself in a courteous, calm, and helpful manner, even negative comments or downright attacks can be handled with grace. Many times I have found these engagements to be an excellent opportunity. When other rational people see how you handle an irrational situation, they feel they're getting a true sense of who you really are. Authenticity is critical to amazing social media results. Don't be afraid of interaction. Embrace it. Just try not to let it eat at you too much. That's the hard part.
You can practice your social skills, too. Talk to people. I don't mean online. I mean in the grocery store. Engage the clerk or people in line with casual conversation. Project positivity and wit. Try a little bit of charm. You know, like we used to do. Smile more. Here's a dirty little secret: You scale your business using social by engaging one-on-one. It's totally counterintuitive, but that's the social part of social. Realize how much that one ‘like’ really matters.
It’s not easy. It takes a ton of hard work. In the new frontier, business isn't contained between Monday through Friday, 9-5. That's a hard pill for a lot of people to swallow, but you can still have balance. You must use your passions to drive you. If you’re cheering on Friday and bummed on Monday, go get a company to do this for you, because you’re not going to have the drive to do it well.
Social media is the most powerful marketing engine of all time. I suffocate when I think about removing social strategies from our marketing plans. The return on investment (ROI) for service businesses has ventured into the ridiculous, if you’re using it correctly. Most businesses do not. Too many business owners fail to understand how to make this platform work for their business. I still hear a lot of people complaining about how Facebook Pages for business have changed. We've been posting on our business Page since 2010. Of course it's changing. I understand you don't like that you can't reach the audience that likes your Page effectively without throwing down five bucks, but realize the value in the service. Stop bitching and adapt, because the market doesn't care.
In 1995, if you didn’t have a Yellow Page ad, you were all but non-existent. In 2005, if you didn’t have a website and search engine optimization (SEO), you were all but non-existent. In 2010, if you didn’t have a webform, you were leaving money on the table (you have a webform right?). And in 2020, if you don’t have a Facebook Page, you will soon be all but non-existent. You’re asking a lot out of your clients if you’re not at the party.
More and more people are using social to decide where to spend their money. It makes sense. 100 years ago, referrals were the driving force behind every business, 50 years ago, referrals were the driving force behind every business, and today, referrals are the driving force behind every business. People just happen to refer business to their friends via Facebook. Local Facebook groups are pushing leads to businesses they enjoy working with.
Business is a game of people. Of relationships. You make your money by selling solutions to problems. No amount of marketing is going to make someone with clean carpets get carpet cleaning. That's why prospecting is so hard. You are hoping that some random chance will cause a client who has a problem to find you through a radio ad, a postcard, or a door hanger.
We all know the best leads come from referrals. We also know that our best clients are repeat clients. Repeat business has higher margins. Plain and simple. What makes referrals and repeat clients so much better than a cold lead? The relationship. You can actually establish that relationship in advance. That's smart prospecting.
How much would you pay, to get in a room, in front of one thousand perfect potential clients? How much value is in the ability to talk with them, engage with them, present your goods and wares and your personality, your brand? Would you take a plane flight? Get a hotel room? Take a couple days away from the family and the business? Of course you would.
Do you ever think about TV and radio and lament on the reach that they present, and your lack of resources to reach that audience? Then understand that social media presents the most effective, lowest cost, and best targeted opportunity in human history. You are in front of your perfect clients on a daily basis. The effectiveness of television at a fraction of the cost. Sold? Yeah, me too. Moving on.
Continue on to part 2 in our series on social media for service businesses.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are numbers you can use to make smarter business decisions. With KPIs, you can flag areas of growth potential, fix issues before they become problems, and generally gain a greater level of insight into your business.
KPIs are important with or without ServiceMonster. While the ServiceMonster dashboards give you instant, real-time results, complete all of your calculations and comparisons for you, and offer an elegant carousel view, you don’t need ServiceMonster to measure and understand your KPIs. You can get these numbers from a stack of invoices, a calculator, and a few days to kill. But make no mistake, they are that important.
Let’s break down each of the nine KPIs we have identified as the most critical to any service company. Although ServiceMonster gives you much more data than what we’ll explain here, these KPIs should be numbers you know off the top of your head. These nine are the most important.
Most of these figures are focused on residential floor cleaning and related services, with some commercial data thrown in. Many of these figures are simply universal truths. The target rates are the results of 15 years of data analysis within our industry. In 2015, ServiceMonster processed over $345,000,000 in cleaning and restoration invoices in the United States alone. That gives us the largest analytical data engine in the industry. By a lot.
Numbers and Comparisons
Understanding and monitoring a KPI is the first step towards real change. Simply watching a KPI will improve it! Being able to understand the differences in the last 30 days, the last month, the last quarter, and the last years’ worth of data for a given KPI can uncover trends that you never knew were there.
In addition to the KPI itself, you can also look at changes to your KPI over time. Comparing last month with the same month last year can show you if you’re up or down, and by what percentage. We say that business moves fast, and while that’s certainly true, it’s not real-time. It can take 18 months to see the cause and effect from changes you’ve made to your business. Running comparative KPIs can give you true clarity on the direct effect of everything you do!
1) Repeat Rate
What is repeat rate?
Your repeat rate is the percent of clients who have used your services more than once in a given period. Repeat rate is the most important KPI you have, and it will take a few other KPIs to calculate it correctly. Believe it or not, a fair number of service businesses calculate their repeat rate incorrectly. With this in mind, part of our training process includes an in-depth look at your marketing efforts, and one of the items we focus on is repeat rate.
The incorrect calculation
Most of our clients will calculate their repeat rate like this: Take the number of customers you serviced this month (c). Then find how many of them used you more than once (r).
(r/c) x 100 = repeat rate %
The correct calculation
Take the number of residential clients you have serviced in the last two years (C), then find how many of them used you more than once (R).
(R/C) x 100 = Repeat Rate %
The main problem with the incorrect calculation is the length of time sampled. The rate can vary widely depending on how successful or unsuccessful your prospecting efforts are. The two-year timeline in the formula represents your true number of active clients. ServiceMonster research shows that getting a client to return after two years has roughly the same cost as obtaining a new client.
Why should you track repeat rate?
Your repeat rate is often an indication of the experience you give your client, combined with your proficiency at maintaining a consistent client retention program. Your repeat rate is the most important KPI you have. If you track nothing else, track your repeat rate. You work hard to attract new business! In fact, our data shows that it costs around $82 per prospect to get in their home. Compare that to an average of $15 per client, and you can see – the difference is all profit. Your margins on repeat business are much higher.
In addition, your total marketable base will grow much faster with a compounding client base. Take this example: Company A and Company B are cleaning companies. They both pull in 20 new customers a month and have an average invoice of $250. Company A has a repeat rate of 25% and Company B has a repeat rate of 60%. The only difference is that Company B has a strong client retention program. In just three years, Company A has a customer base of 640 clients, earning a total of $80,000 per year in revenue. Company B, however, (the one you want to be), has accumulated 1,200 clients, and brings in $150,000 per year.
In addition to the increase in base revenue, you will also reduce your expenses. Keeping your name in front of your existing client is far less expensive than trying to get a new customer. Not to mention, your cross-sale potential radically increases if your current clients are aware of ALL the products and services you offer.
Repeat rate targets
Your repeat rate should be above 50%, otherwise attrition will limit both your business growth and the horsepower you need to build your empire.
Improving repeat rate
Working to improve your repeat rate should be your number one goal at all times. What good is driving new business if you’re losing them on the backside? Focusing on the lower margin sale is a good way to grind your exciting business into just another job. There are many ways to help ensure you have a good chance at new work from an old client: Show up on time. Be well groomed. Be professional. Listen to your client. Set proper expectations. Work hard. Do a good job. Give the client an unforgettable experience. You might be surprised at how much room for improvement there is in these areas! Fix those first.
After you’re sure you have the basics covered, create a client retention program. You can use the do-it-yourself marketing features in ServiceMonster to create direct mail, call, and email campaigns. Build a few years’ worth of content at once, then build a drip campaign which will generate your materials and lists, or send the emails at timed intervals. Optionally, you could also use our FillMySchedule (FMS) system, where we do high-quality direct mail for you, automatically (content and all!). FMS is a proven tool with a national average of 800% return on investment (ROI), and is a great way to get your client retention program up and running quickly.
2) Total Market Potential
What is total market potential?
Your total market potential is not strictly a KPI, but it’s a number you should know and understand. It represents the total number of potential clients in your area (but it’s not population). It’s also called your core demographic. If you’re focused on the value client in California, for example, you would target 25- to 55-year-old home-owning females with kids and/or pets, with home values above $350,000. You can use the free tools from InfoUSA to target your area and service distance. That will give you a nice target number. Tattoo that number to your forehead: the maximum size of your business depends on it.
3) Total Marketable Base
What is total marketable base?
Your total marketable base is the number of active clients in your database that have used your services in the last two years. You can increase that to four years if your services are strictly maintenance-based, like tile cleaning or air duct cleaning. A company that deals solely with restoration has no “marketable base,” because you can’t convince people to have another flood just so you can come clean it up for them. You will use your total marketable base when calculating your repeat rate.
Why should you track total marketable base?
Assuming that you know your total market potential, understanding how much of that market is yours gives you incredible insight. What’s your potential market share? What’s your maximum earning potential? How will you scale? You also need to track marketable base because you won’t know your repeat rate without it.
Marketable base targets
We have seen some interesting trends with marketable base and residential clients. Let’s assume your market potential is around 100,000 people. When your total marketable base hits 1% (1,000 clients), your referral rates start to climb… especially if you’re asking for them. When you hit 10% (10,000 clients), your referrals are so strong that you may forgo prospecting altogether. Not that we’re advising that.
Improving your total marketable base
To improve your total marketable base, you will need to implement strategies for improving both your repeat rate and your sales pipeline.
4) Average Invoice
What is average invoice?
Your average invoice is a calculation of the sum invoice subtotals over a period of time. You want to break it up by order type (carpet cleaning vs. restoration work), but other than that, it’s pretty straight-forward.
Why should you track average invoice?
There are two important reasons to track average invoice. The first has to do with your repeat rate. Understanding your average invoice gives you the power to influence it over time. See if you can change the numbers by targeting higher-end clients, or by adding new products or services. Raising prices will quickly increase your average, but will that affect your total marketable base? Will your new leads slow down? Knowing these comparisons in real-time gives you the ability to make quick course corrections and stay ahead of trouble.
The second reason to track your average invoice is because it can greatly affect your repeat rate.
Average invoice targets
Residential carpet cleaning invoice averages are around $245 nationwide. That also happens to be the sweet spot for getting a great repeat rate. Invoice averages under $200 typically attract price shoppers who have little loyalty when it comes to service providers. Invoice averages of over $350 are in real danger of creating sticker shock, drastically reducing your repeat potential. Managing expectations is tough for even the best cleaners.
Improving your average invoice
Improve your average invoice by focusing on incremental price increases, offering additional products and services, and working to boost your upsell numbers. Use ServiceMonster service items to increase the likelihood of an upsell to an existing client by over 30%! Use the income by service report to find out which of your services are selling, which ones need more attention in your marketing message, and what new services are working in your area. Track your upsells with the order upsell and commission features.
5) Income by Service
What is income by service?
This KPI is a very common accounting report. It breaks down your income by the services you provide, and it’s hard to put together without accounts receivable features like ServiceMonster’s invoices, line items, and service list.
Why should you track income by service?
Knowing what your clients are buying, and when, can be very insightful when trying to offer additional products and services. We once had a client who was, shall we say, “manly.” In our first conversation, he mentioned that he wouldn’t clean upholstery. When asked why, he said, “Oh I sell it. But that’s women’s work, so my wife does it.” Months later, we noticed that upholstery services represented over 25% of his income. We told him that his wife needed a big raise! His reply, “After I found out how much upholstery work there is, I’ve been doing upholstery too.” His market was perfect for upholstery cleaning, but he never realized it until he saw the KPI.
Income by service targets
Target making the largest slice of the chart under 50%. Stable companies usually have three or four main services, and a small market in additional work. Ideally, you would have three services at 30%, and the remaining 10% in “other” services.
Improving your income by service
Adding additional services is as easy as visiting your local distributor and shelling out some cash, but deciding what new services to offer varies based on your area. Getting that tile and grout wand won’t do much good in a community with little tile. Listen to your clients! What services are they asking you for? Let your market help you decided what to add.
Secondly, sell them! Service providers are inherently bad at two things. (1) Maintaining a consistent client retention strategy, and (2) Letting clients know about ALL of the products and services they offer. Customers can’t buy it if they aren’t aware of it! Update your marketing materials, your website, and your business cards. Before each job, talk with the client about what you have to offer. Part of the reason you want to expand into other services is to keep your client, YOUR client. There are other service providers out there that Mrs. Jones can use to get ALL of her cleaning done, but we don’t want her to use other service providers. We want her to stick with you!
6) Clients by Lead Source
What is clients by lead source?
Clients by lead source helps you to identify which of your marketing campaigns are winning you business. ServiceMonster allows you to identify, using lead sources, which specific marketing campaign or client (referral) brought he new account to your company. We track lead sources for both the account and the order. This is a very important difference, because it identifies two important data points: (1) Which campaigns are working to gain you new clients, and (2) Which campaigns are working to bring existing clients back to you. We see too many data imports where the current account lead source is set to “Repeat.” Not only does that hide the actual result of what brought them back, but it REMOVES THE ORIGINAL lead source value, destroying your ability to see which campaigns are working over time!
Why should you track clients by lead source?
Knowing your response rates, close rates, and ROI for a given campaign will help to maximize your marketing dollar. Ideally, 30% of your gross income should be going back into marketing (we’re not there yet either). Imagine if you were averaging 400%+ ROI on your campaigns over a 90-day period. You would essentially turn your company into a cash machine, only reaching a peak due to your total market potential. That’s a very compelling reason to track your lead sources.
Clients by lead source targets
By breaking up your campaigns into prospecting and client retention, you’re able to set your targets with more accuracy. As a rule, your client retention responses and ROI will be much higher than general prospecting campaigns. If your client retention is very strong and your repeat rate is well above 50%, your prospecting ROI could even be negative and your business would still grow. Ideally, your total average prospecting ROI will be above 100%, and your total average client retention ROI will be above 400%.
How to improve your clients by lead source
Every guru has a magic pill. A silver bullet. But in reality, there is no such thing. Positive prospect marketing ROI comes from hard work, trial and error, and understanding your core demographics.
You can improve your results by running A/B campaigns. Break your list into two equal, but random, parts. Use a separate message and imagery on each one. Track the one that has the best responses, and use that as the A campaign next time. Then create a new B to battle against. By using an A/B campaign, you will slowly increase your response rate by leveraging content and language that speaks to your clients.
Try not to limit your prospecting to one single campaign. Sure, it may have the best “numbers,” but a single source will only produce a high volume of leads for a short time. Diversify. Keep marketing on several channels at once: direct mail, email, Facebook… you get the idea.
For client retention programs, you can influence your response rates by a few percentage points, but the biggest way to improve these numbers is by simply running consistent campaigns.
7) Average Job Time by Order Group
What is average job time by order group?
The average job time by order group takes the total man-hours for each job, for each type of work you do (cleaning, restoration, etc.) and averages the total for the time period. It can be broken down by employees as well, so you can compare each employee to the company average. We only focus on the job type, work (not estimates), drop-offs, pick-ups, or reworks.
Why should you track average job time by order group?
Tracking your job times can help identify your margins. We’ve had clients that feel they are profitable, but the data tells them another story. Understanding your average job time can also help you plan your workload better.
Average job time by order group targets
Looking at employee job averages can give you insight as to which of your employees are excelling and which ones are a drain on the company (and you!). Longer job times aren’t necessarily a bad thing if the employee is upselling well. Taking order totals into account will give you an average revenue for each employee.
Average job time by order group targets
Use ServiceMonster Mobile for automated employee check-in and check-out. One way to get more out of each employee is to limit their downtime. Wait list, job work logs, and commissions can all be used to effectively establish company policies. Create a commission program where your techs get more for upsells. Educate them on giving value to the client as opposed to taking a sales approach.
Get the employees involved. ServiceMonster leader boards can be a powerful tool you can use to offer rewards to high earners. Quick and efficient employees, with low rework scores, will have good averages even if they aren’t upselling. More deliberate techs with better people skills can push good numbers by offering all of your services, and landing add-ons. Techs with poor performance can be retrained, repurposed, or replaced before they poison the well.
8) Sales Pipeline
What is sales pipeline?
Your sales pipeline shows you how many new leads, opportunities, and invoices you have received and converted in a given period. If you work sales opportunities over multiple touches and through different stages, then your sales pipeline will show you what percentage of leads convert to opportunities and how many of those opportunities convert into sales.
Why should you track your sales pipeline?
Getting the information sooner rather than later that your leads are depressed gives you time to adjust. Knowing that your conversion rates are high might tell you that new message and language you’re using is working. Tracking your sales pipeline can provide clarity on how you and your staff are dealing with the influx from the marketing you’ve been doing. If your leads are up and your conversions are down, perhaps you’re targeting the wrong base, or your message is establishing improper expectations. Either way, data gives you the power to make changes and see how those changes affect your bottom line.
Sales pipeline targets
10%+ of your leads will be spam from bots and price shoppers who provide junk data. From your qualified leads, you should be closing well over 50%, no matter what services you provide. As a service provider, just answering the phone and showing up will land you more jobs and earn great clients! Most of your competitors have a hard time with those two simple things. Past that, your challenge is to beat your own numbers.
How to improve your sales pipeline
Implement some sales commissions. Train and retrain. Then monitor sales activities (especially your own!). Record phone conversations here and there, and listen to them. Talk about the recorded conversations. Then train again.
Do what you say you’re going to do. If you say you’re going to send an email or call a client back, don’t drop the ball. Track sales efforts and tasks with opportunities and activities. Create drip campaigns to automate basic communications and offers. Send potentially large clients a thank you card. Above all, set yourself up to stay on top of your leads and reach out to them as soon as possible.
What is churn?
Churn is not typically found as a KPI in service companies, but we think that all businesses in this industry should at least understand it. ServiceMonster is a SaaS (Software as a Service) company. Repeat business is a critical part of our business model. You pay monthly to use ServiceMonster, but you can cancel at any time. The clients that we lose from cancellations, or simply because they couldn’t pay, go into a calculation called churn. It measures the percent of clients lost over time.
Why should you track churn?
There are two client programs that make churn relevant in a service business: (1) Recurring commercial work, and (2) A SaaS-style residential program, like ServiceMonster account subscriptions, where you charge the client monthly for regular automated services. Tracking churn against these cohorts makes a lot of sense. As you onboard new clients, you will notice a shift in your receivables (if you can pull it off). Your income will stabilize throughout the year, and your repeat rates will climb. Churn is almost the opposite of repeat rate: a SaaS-style approach assumes that you will keep the client, while the standard service approach is trying desperately to bring them back.
As this represents a very small (but growing) income for the industry, we don’t have good a churn rate to give you. As a SaaS company, we try to stay below 12% annually. That means our repeat rate, month after month, is 99%. Chew on that for a minute.
How to improve churnWe know how we improve churn at ServiceMonster. We use education and contact strategies for customers’ first 90 days. In your business, let’s just get a SaaS-style service to market, shall we?
ServiceMonster is full of KPIs. The ones mentioned above are the heavy hitters, but there are still many more that serve to enlighten your business decisions and help keep you on track. Keep your finger on the pulse of your business 24/7, with the help of ServiceMonster!
What is the perfect recipe for making a video go viral?
It has to be easily accessible (embedded into a Facebook post, ideally), and it has to be worthwhile to share (the reasoning behind which varies widely). It definitely has to be eye-catching and enjoyable for people to watch. It also needs to be short -- people have brief attention spans these days, and they won't stick around for a drawn-out video. High quality images and audio make your video easier to watch. It also couldn't hurt to draft up a marketing plan to go along with your video to encourage its virality.
...However, none of these things are a guarantee. You could follow the guidelines to a T and still not see your video gain much traction. Such is life on the fickle internet.
But, sometimes... like in the case of The Dirt Army Carpet & Tile Cleaning Services, you post a video with very humble (if any!) goals, and watch in disbelief as the views and shares soar.
Chances are you've seen their latest video.
It contains fairly straight-forward subject matter: grout cleaning. However, they've seemed to hit a niche just right. There are a ridiculous number of 'satisfaction'/'perfection' videos on YouTube, many that include cleaning, organization, and an assortment of 'gross' topics like ear wax removal and pimple popping. There is even a subreddit titled Oddly Satisfying (The Dirt Army's video was reposted there, of course.). Many people find these videos gratifying to watch, in an 'OCD' kind of way.
Currently sitting at roughly 5,900,000 views and 70,000 shares, The Dirt Army's video landed on the first page of Reddit and completely blew Gary's initial expectations out of the water.
Check out the interview with Gary below to learn about his thought process behind the video, how it's affected his business, and more!
We have been in business since 2008. I did it part time for two years, then took one year off. In 2011 I started cleaning full time. We service the Temecula Valley area in Southern California.
I've been making cleaning videos for five years. It seems like each time they get a little bit better. My goal was to sell more tile jobs in Temecula and the surrounding cities. Now, people from all over the world want me to clean their tile! We average 170 calls, 200 direct messages, and 75 emails a day asking us if we have a franchise in their city, or if we can recommend a local cleaner with similar equipment.
I cleaned this tile using my brand new Prochem Everest HP with e-idel. The tile cleaning tool is the Turbo Hybrid Grout Cleaning Tool 12" from Cobb Supply (they are the only supply store that can get this tool in green! It typically comes in blue, but Dirt Army green is the best.). The cleaning product is called Grout War from Army Chemical.
I used a GoPro.
I used Windows Movie Maker. It's the easiest software to use.
I published the video at 8:00 pm Pacific on July 26th.
I uploaded the video to YouTube and Facebook.
Yes. I boosted the post to people who like The Dirt Army Facebook Page, and their friends. I targeted locations in and around our local Southern California area, including Canyon Lake, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Murrieta, Temecula, Wildomar, and Winchester. I selected ages 32-65+.
I hired a woman to answer phones the night before this video was published. The next day, she mentioned that I got "the strangest phone calls." Later when talking to her, she said that most of the calls came in from Florida. That afternoon, when looking at the 60,000 view count, I said to myself, "this is going to be viral."
My website visits are up 3,600%! Our Facebook Page has gotten 42,000 new likes in seven days, which is an increase of 39,803%. I just bought the domain dirtarmyleads.com, and we will have a full staff selling leads that come in to cleaners around the nation. Army Chemical is a product line that I started three months ago, and we now sell Grout War, Odor War, and Stain War. I know 100% that millions of dollars will be made from this 1:30 minute cleaning video. My life will never be the same. I'm excited and scared at the same time.
I would have included my Grout War tile cleaner in this video (pouring the product into our pump-up sprayer).
On Tuesday, we submitted the video to CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX.
Hype die down? NEVER! I will be making new videos each week that will include our products. For a fee, I will select cleaning tools from our industry.
Definitely. Other cleaners are sharing this video to their company pages, stating that they can achieve similar results.
Ryan Kettering with Prolific Prints saved us! He shut down their entire printing and graphics art shop so they could work on building me three websites in six hours. The team also designed three labels for my chemical line, Army Chemical, that same day. It only took them six hours to complete my order. Who knew you could rent out an entire graphics studio?
We are currently looking for serious investors, because a Dirt Army franchise is coming soon. I'm hiring a professional that has franchised other businesses to completely take care of this for me. I feel like I am the busiest person in the world right now. The power of social media is insane! And this is just the beginning.
Thank you for taking time out of your chaotic day to answer our questions, Gary!
Gary spoke with ServiceMonster CEO, Joe, on the phone a few days after the video went live. After discussing all the new business the video has brought in, Gary admitted one regret: "I wish I had started using ServiceMonster sooner!" (No worries, Gary. We'll get you up to speed in no time!)
Prospects turn into leads and leads turn into sales, which means that without prospects, it’s hard for your business to grow. For prospecting to be effective, it should be done on a regular basis (ideally daily!), and it can require a bit of research. Equally as important as prospecting every day is making sure that you’re targeting people who are already likely to use your services. This way you’ll be getting the most bang for your buck, so to speak, and maximizing your time.
However, how do you build a list with those constraints? You not only have to prospect all the time, but you also have to vet people, too?
It can seem overwhelming at first. With this in mind, we’ve brainstormed nine ways you can get started finding prospects that will be the most likely to buy.
Encouraging referrals is a good way to elicit customers that meet your standards, because clients that are referred from existing customers tend to be good overall fits for your business. When you receive a referral, be sure to thank your referral source and follow up with the referral as soon as you can.
1. After completing a job, send the customer a thank you card to let them know that you appreciate their business. To add referral potential, include a refer-a-friend deal. Something along the lines of, “If you loved the cleaning we provided you, share it! If you and a friend schedule a service within the next three months, both of you will receive 20% off our regular prices.”
2. If you use the FillMySchedule program, ask about Bottomless Business Cards. We’ll print up to three business-card-size inserts (per card) for you, for only $.28 per FMS card. Include your refer-a-friend deal on each insert, so your customers can hand out your information (and a great discount!) to three of their friends or neighbors.
3. If you get leads from a service like HomeAdvisor or Angie’s List, take the email addresses you receive (as long as they are genuine), along with names, and create a new account in ServiceMonster for each lead, marking their account type as prospect. In the future you can use the DIY Marketing tools in ServiceMonster to pull the list of all your prospects and market to them specifically.
4. Team up with a local real estate agent, contractor, or another individual or company in your town that sells something that would complement your services. If you partner with a high-volume realtor, for example, they could potentially send you a large number of their own clients who recently bought or sold homes that need cleaning.
Neighbors pay attention when the house down the street has some work done, so use this to your advantage!
5. Target the neighbors around a job you recently completed by mailing out a postcard to those households. On the postcard, include something like, “We just did work at your neighbor’s house,” include your customers’ address or their last name for reference, and encourage the recipient to ask their neighbor how you did.
6. Be sure to always carry your business cards on you. After completing a job, leave your cards on the doorstep of the surrounding houses.
Name recognition is an essential part of marketing your business – people have to hear about you before they can consider hiring you!
7. Get involved in your local community by sponsoring events, participating in local groups and activities, posting your business card on local bulletin boards, and doing anything else you can think of that gets your business in front of people in a positive way.
8. Stay active on social media. Building momentum on social media can be a slow process, but if you post relevant content regularly, you can expect your follower count to grow. Social media provides the perfect platform for interacting and developing rapport between you and potential prospects, and it’s another way for them to contact you for more information or to schedule a cleaning! Be careful not to spread yourself too thin, though – especially if you’re just starting out on social media. Choose one or two platforms where your customers seem to hang out the most (Facebook and Twitter, for instance), and post on a consistent basis. Offer sales and/or contests occasionally to give people more of an incentive to schedule a cleaning.
It’s much cheaper to retain current customers than to go out and find new ones.
9. Focus on keeping the ones you’ve got! ServiceMonster’s FillMySchedule program helps you do just that, by encouraging repeat business through the use of high-quality direct mail cards. The program starts off with a thank you card, mailed to the customer after you finish a job for them. Then, every three months after that, FillMySchedule follows up with a specially-crafted message to remind them how long it’s been since their last cleaning, that you’re available to help, and that you offer other services that might interest them.
If you’re interested in growing your business, it’s important to get in the routine of prospecting on a regular basis. Try one, two, or a combination of these suggestions, and be sure to mix it up every now and then to ensure you’re covering all your bases. The more active you are at prospecting, the more memorable your business will be for a greater number of people, and the higher-quality the leads you bring in will be. Now get out there and start building your prospect list!
Carpet can be beautiful. It has the potential to add warmth to a space to make it feel more inviting, and it can enhance a room or act as a focal point in a building.
Other times, however, carpet can be downright ugly. Be it due to poor taste or more diabolical purposes, ugly carpet is everywhere. We decided to gather together some of the very worst that we’ve come across online. We don’t blame you if you avert your eyes… but if you’re brave enough, let’s gets started! In no particular order…
1. Singapore Changi Airport (Singapore)
Carpet designer 1: “Should we make this one brown, or yellow? Should we include circles or lines or rectangles?” + Carpet designer 2: “ALL OF THE ABOVE!”
2. Portland International Airport
This carpet has grown a cult following (it has its own Facebook Page… and Twitter account), but we don’t really understand the appeal, to be quite honest.
3. Bellagio (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Have you ever looked at a stereogram before? They’re images that look like patterns at first glance, but hide 3D images when stared at for a period of time. I think there’s a 3D image in this carpet.
4. Phoenix, Arizona home
This could have just been hideous, plain turquoise carpet. But no. They had to go and spill their coffee all over it…
5. Harrah’s (Las Vegas, Nevada)
They might be trying to channel the sky portion of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings with this carpet. Except very poorly and in shades of red instead of blue.
Photographer: Chris Maluszynski
6. Phoenix, Arizona home
This pattern might not be too painful as a rug. A small rug.
7. Seattle, Washington movie theater
I wonder what color this carpet REALLY is – under all the layers of spilled soda, popcorn butter, and dirt…
Source: Rebecca Partington
8. Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center (Nashville, Tennessee)
The good news: If you spill the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup you’re eating, no problem – it will blend right in! The bad news: No one will ever want to visit your convention center (let alone eat in it), due to the carpet choice.
9. Sun City West, Arizona home
If you’re in the mood for a picnic, we know a great spot! Right on the grass in this livin—wait a second. Grass doesn’t grow in living rooms…
Last but not least, our personal favorite…
10. Peppermill Fireside Lounge (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Having planets in the sky just doesn’t cut it these days. We need them on the floor, too. And throw in some rainbows and comets while you’re at it!
So, I think we’ve learned a valuable lesson here, folks: Never trust the interior decorating opinions of people who pick out the carpets for airports, casinos, movie theaters, and convention centers!