The Carpet Cleaning "Danger Zone"!

rob allen

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Sep 5, 2007
38,525
19,880
113
Va.
www.drynclean.com
Real Name
Robert Allen,Jr.
Business Location
United States
Well for some odd reason business slowed down to half about a week before July 4th. But last week it hit record highs. Business is so cyclical,constantly moves in an up and down cycle. Most times we can control it but at others we are at the mercy of the prevailing cycle. I know,I know,the joys of running our companies right? :)

Invariably when we hit these "cycles" something goes awry. What do I mean? Well when job loads are light to moderate it is pretty simple to deliver outstanding quality and service. But when a busy "cycle" hits clients may get lost in the shuffle. We might miss a phone call or forget to call a client back. We might "over schedule" for various reasons. God forbid,we might even scrimp on cleaning details. Whether it be for need of income,trying to please a client who has last minute needs,who knows? Only you. Maybe we don't want to turn work away. Most of us want to strike while the iron is hot and get new clients and service old clients. Sadly,at these times we may under deliver. Sadly,this can happen to even great clients. :(

I call this the "danger zone". My dad used another phrase. He used to smile and say "Rob your biting off more than you can chew". Most times he was right. I always had the habit of biting off more than I could chew. I always loved challenging myself to go outside my boundaries. I have learned by going outside our comfort zone,even entering into the "danger zone" can help us grow. By taking on projects that are outside our skills helps us expand our skill set and profits. I remember when I started water damage. I was a little worried. What put my mid at ease? Taking on water damage jobs and associating with those who did water damage.


By doing so I have become pretty proficient in flood damage work and I'm not afraid to take on any loss of any size now. But I was at once. But I will never forget what one local water damage guy told me. He said "Rob never be afraid of water. It's just water". He was right. Water is to be respected,not feared. Since then I have accumulated a nice inventory of water damage equipment and will tackle just about any size job now.

Ok by now you get the point. There will be times that arise where it will be difficult if not impossible to deliver the high level of service that our clients have become accustomed to and deserve. Stressful times or extremely busy cycles will happen if you are in business long enough. This may cause us to "drop the ball" so to speak. If we do drop the ball then we must take drastic measures to fix our mistakes,to retain clients who will continue to use and refer us. Don't you agree?

Well as I mentioned we really got busy this week and we dropped the ball with a great client. What happened? I gave my star tech and his helper a pretty big load one day. They progressively got behind and lost track of time and forgot to give him a "courtesy call". Nevertheless they should have caught this. It is a "pet peeve" of mine and probably yours too. The #1 rule if running behind is CALL the client. Give them a courtesy call.

You probably guessed where I am going with this. On their last job they said they forgot to call the client to say they were running behind. What happened? The client (a long time great client by the way) called in and cancelled. Said he waited 2 hours and 45 minutes (we have 2 hour windows) at one of his rental homes. So he finally called in upset and cancelled the appointment. Sandee tried to save him but he was really heated and said he was calling another company. Now I wanted to get really mad but I know the record heat combined with the big work load didn't help my techs. We had over booked them a bit. Nevertheless this had to be dealt with. How would I handle it with the techs? How about the client? Could the client still be saved?

This got me to thinking what causes this? That is when I came up with what I now call the "danger zone". We had entered into the "danger zone" and lost a great client. Now that I know what it is I can implement ways to manage it. I am holding a business meeting next week to discuss this phenomenon I call the "danger zone" and what we can do about it in the future. But what about the present? What could I do to save the client and my good reputation? Certainly I don't want unhappy clients and or worse,bad reviews floating around.

Well that evening I talked to Sandee and said please call that client tomorrow. Let him cool off over night. Tell him you explained what happened to the owner and that we will come do his house for free the next day. I knew that even if he did get someone else that he would be willing to cancel to get a "free" cleaning. I thought about a discount or half off. But I didn't feel it would work in this situation. Free may seem a bit extreme but I feel sometimes you have to take extreme measures to secure your client,the money stream they provide and most of all your good name.

How did it work out? Fantastic. I sent the techs who forgot to call him. They were apologetic to him and asked for no commission from us. The client sensed their genuiness and gave them a handsome tip. To me it was a win/win. Some may feel this was way over the top. It was. I wanted it to be. We dropped the ball in the "danger zone". We all learned from it. And what did the client learn? Well who do you think they will call and refer next time the term "carpet cleaning" comes up in their lives? ;)


Rob
 

Will Reed

Well-Known Member
Jun 3, 2010
4,205
1,576
113
Missoula, Montana, United States
Real Name
Will Reed
Business Location
United States
I have learned that whenever you have an unsatisfied customer you go rectify the situation and then you over compensate by a large margin to not only solve the original problem, but to go above what they had even asked for. When my 360i was out of commission for a week I had a job that I could not get cleaned to my satisfaction. The customer wasn't satisfied and I agreed with her and told her what happened. I said that as soon as I get my rotary tool fixed I would come back out and remove all the traffic lanes and spots that may have come post cleaning and reclean her entire living room and apply carpet protectant free of charge.
 

TA152H

Well-Known Member
Jun 17, 2010
2,051
139
63
New York
Real Name
Rich
Business Location
United States
I think you guys dropped the ball by not offering it free in the first place. I also think you should have showed up the next day with the techs to apologize in person. It's inconvenient, but then you just wasted almost three hours of this guy's time. By showing up, apologizing, and then leaving, he would see you were only there to make amends, and were willing to sacrifice your time to make things right. Either consciously, or sub-consciously, he'd understand.

What's one free job and the time to meet him, measured against a long term customer, and the people he will influence? To do less than a free job is an egregious mistake that would hurt more in the long run. It's also good karma to recognize mistakes, and make sure you pay the price for them, and more.

Even so, clearly you did enough if the guy was happy, so I'm nitpicking.
 
  • Like
Reactions: UMC and ffej

henryHalliday

Active Member
Oct 9, 2010
348
128
43
England
Real Name
henry halliday
Business Location
United States
I had a call back last week about chipped paintwork on a set of stairs, she was fuming mad, I returned to the job within 20 minutes.

I remember years ago reading a book about dealing with complaints and how to tell if they are genuine, i cannot remember the exact phrase but basically you just say to the client.......

'what do I have to do today to make you happy'?'

From the answer they give tells you whether they have a genuine greavence or are trying to take advantage.

I said this to the lady and she emmediatly replied. " I want it repainting" I replied "do you have a company who you always
use?"

To cut a long story short we called her painter he quoted £80 to touch up the damage, I gave her back her check.... She wrote out anther minus the £80 she was happy ( I think for the £80 he was going to do a few other existings as well)

I think a lot of people don't expect good service, so when they complain they have built themselves up for a confrontation ,

"how can I make you happy" really disarms them
 

Tron

Well-Known Member
Aug 3, 2010
14,886
47
113
Business Location
United States
For the first time ever, about a month ago I had a slammed Friday and totally skipped a job on accident!

Guy calle on Saturday very upset.

He called someone else and over paid, I apologized up and down and begged him to let me come instantly then to do it for free! He refused and was super upset.

Left me a F report in Angie's list.

I called three days in a row begging him to let me clean all his other upholstery, tile and grout just whatever for free!

He finally caved and let me clean 1 couch.

When I got there, I found a common ground, video games! And we talked about them for an hour while I cleaned his couch.

He changed the report to an A and he wants me to come clean his carpet this fall because the other guy cleaned his 2 story home in 30 min by himself! Bad job.

I wouldn't give up till he loved me.
 

cleanaholic

Active Member
Jan 23, 2011
366
34
28
mn
Real Name
kevin cherveny
Business Location
United States
I think if your truly serious about customer satisfaction, doin a home for FREE is not too over the top. Its sometimes the olny thing left that can and needs to be done to salvage a relationship with a good customer. I done it several times over my 10 yrs in the biz
 

Ron Danahy

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2011
1,067
129
63
Missouri
Real Name
Ron Danahy
Business Location
United States
Rob I'm no where near as established in business as you are but I have learned "Customer Service is King"
People want to know you value them as a customer.
You do a good job for them, they give you referrals as a way of showing you some loyalty as a customer.
If you don't provide something back, like you did in this situation you will lose them as customers.

The key is to find what makes them feel valued as a good customer.

I have three customers that provide me with consistent revenue every month $500-$2k each two of them where referrals from the first one. They are my bread and butter. And have been for about a year now.

After about $5k one month I did one for free simple job only took 45 min. That got me six new referrals from him that month.

Another one had me clean her home. When I got done I sed this ones on me. I got another PM referral for that one.

I know I'm not the best carpet cleaner out there, Many others with way more experience. But show you good customers you appreciate there business and you will be rewarded far more than you could ever hope to get from any advertising dollar you ever spent.

And you don't have to give away the store to do it either. Small things make most people happy.
 

[email protected]

Active Member
May 12, 2012
600
112
43
Kansas
Real Name
Tom Binyon
Business Location
United States
For the first time ever, about a month ago I had a slammed Friday and totally skipped a job on accident!

Guy calle on Saturday very upset.

He called someone else and over paid, I apologized up and down and begged him to let me come instantly then to do it for free! He refused and was super upset.

Left me a F report in Angie's list.

I called three days in a row begging him to let me clean all his other upholstery, tile and grout just whatever for free!

He finally caved and let me clean 1 couch.

When I got there, I found a common ground, video games! And we talked about them for an hour while I cleaned his couch.

He changed the report to an A and he wants me to come clean his carpet this fall because the other guy cleaned his 2 story home in 30 min by himself! Bad job.

I wouldn't give up till he loved me.


Good job, Torrey!
 

rob allen

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Sep 5, 2007
38,525
19,880
113
Va.
www.drynclean.com
Real Name
Robert Allen,Jr.
Business Location
United States
Interesting to look back 1 year ago and see where business was. This year we are really slammed to the walls. No complaints tho!
 

ronman

Well-Known Member
Jan 18, 2011
3,850
514
113
Real Name
Ron
Business Location
United States
Interesting to look back 1 year ago and see where business was. This year we are really slammed to the walls. No complaints tho!

Same here.
This time last year I was getting scared.
July and August were horrible, hardly any work.
This year has been steady, not slammed, but steady.
I'm grateful for that.
Maybe next year will be slammed, lol.
As long as I'm making a living, I'm happy.
I have time to practice my new hobbies, guitar and fishing, but not enough $$ for my third new hobby, hang gliding. :(
All things in time, however, life is good.:)

MY FIRST FL FISH.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: Omar and rob allen

crash1big

Well-Known Member
Mar 18, 2011
4,260
2,010
113
Illinois
Real Name
Marlan Brown
Business Location
United States
Good for you Rob. We need to make as many friends as we can out there, because; our enemies don't do business with us. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: rob allen

Steve Toburen

Strategies for Success
Jul 15, 2008
3,577
1,185
113
Santiago, Dominican Republic
www.StrategiesForSuccess.com
Real Name
Steve Toburen
Business Location
Dominican Republic
How did it work out? Fantastic. I sent the techs who forgot to call him. They were apologetic to him and asked for no commission from us. The client sensed their genuiness and gave them a handsome tip. To me it was a win/win. Some may feel this was way over the top. It was. I wanted it to be. We dropped the ball in the "danger zone". We all learned from it. And what did the client learn? Well who do you think they will call and refer next time the term "carpet cleaning" comes up in their lives? ;)
That is a good story, Rob. Thanks for sharing.

Steve

PS At SFS we call Rob's "over the top" service part "Symbolic Atonement". You see, if the customer complains enough most companies will redo the job and/or refund the customer's money. (Grudgingly) But Symbolic Atonement means "doing something extra" to make up for the inconvenience you have caused the customer.
 

Billy Schoch

Active Member
Apr 18, 2011
612
29
28
Durham, NC
Real Name
Billy Schoch
Business Location
United States
For the first time ever, about a month ago I had a slammed Friday and totally skipped a job on accident!

Guy calle on Saturday very upset.

He called someone else and over paid, I apologized up and down and begged him to let me come instantly then to do it for free! He refused and was super upset.

Left me a F report in Angie's list.

I called three days in a row begging him to let me clean all his other upholstery, tile and grout just whatever for free!

He finally caved and let me clean 1 couch.

When I got there, I found a common ground, video games! And we talked about them for an hour while I cleaned his couch.

He changed the report to an A and he wants me to come clean his carpet this fall because the other guy cleaned his 2 story home in 30 min by himself! Bad job.

I wouldn't give up till he loved me.


Seriously, well played. So tell me, which games are on your list at the moment?
 

ASAP

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2011
2,357
776
113
53
Ca
Real Name
Pete DLP
Business Location
United States
Well for some odd reason business slowed down to half about a week before July 4th. But last week it hit record highs. Business is so cyclical,constantly moves in an up and down cycle. Most times we can control it but at others we are at the mercy of the prevailing cycle. I know,I know,the joys of running our companies right? :)

Invariably when we hit these "cycles" something goes awry. What do I mean? Well when job loads are light to moderate it is pretty simple to deliver outstanding quality and service. But when a busy "cycle" hits clients may get lost in the shuffle. We might miss a phone call or forget to call a client back. We might "over schedule" for various reasons. God forbid,we might even scrimp on cleaning details. Whether it be for need of income,trying to please a client who has last minute needs,who knows? Only you. Maybe we don't want to turn work away. Most of us want to strike while the iron is hot and get new clients and service old clients. Sadly,at these times we may under deliver. Sadly,this can happen to even great clients. :(

I call this the "danger zone". My dad used another phrase. He used to smile and say "Rob your biting off more than you can chew". Most times he was right. I always had the habit of biting off more than I could chew. I always loved challenging myself to go outside my boundaries. I have learned by going outside our comfort zone,even entering into the "danger zone" can help us grow. By taking on projects that are outside our skills helps us expand our skill set and profits. I remember when I started water damage. I was a little worried. What put my mid at ease? Taking on water damage jobs and associating with those who did water damage.


By doing so I have become pretty proficient in flood damage work and I'm not afraid to take on any loss of any size now. But I was at once. But I will never forget what one local water damage guy told me. He said "Rob never be afraid of water. It's just water". He was right. Water is to be respected,not feared. Since then I have accumulated a nice inventory of water damage equipment and will tackle just about any size job now.

Ok by now you get the point. There will be times that arise where it will be difficult if not impossible to deliver the high level of service that our clients have become accustomed to and deserve. Stressful times or extremely busy cycles will happen if you are in business long enough. This may cause us to "drop the ball" so to speak. If we do drop the ball then we must take drastic measures to fix our mistakes,to retain clients who will continue to use and refer us. Don't you agree?

Well as I mentioned we really got busy this week and we dropped the ball with a great client. What happened? I gave my star tech and his helper a pretty big load one day. They progressively got behind and lost track of time and forgot to give him a "courtesy call". Nevertheless they should have caught this. It is a "pet peeve" of mine and probably yours too. The #1 rule if running behind is CALL the client. Give them a courtesy call.

You probably guessed where I am going with this. On their last job they said they forgot to call the client to say they were running behind. What happened? The client (a long time great client by the way) called in and cancelled. Said he waited 2 hours and 45 minutes (we have 2 hour windows) at one of his rental homes. So he finally called in upset and cancelled the appointment. Sandee tried to save him but he was really heated and said he was calling another company. Now I wanted to get really mad but I know the record heat combined with the big work load didn't help my techs. We had over booked them a bit. Nevertheless this had to be dealt with. How would I handle it with the techs? How about the client? Could the client still be saved?

This got me to thinking what causes this? That is when I came up with what I now call the "danger zone". We had entered into the "danger zone" and lost a great client. Now that I know what it is I can implement ways to manage it. I am holding a business meeting next week to discuss this phenomenon I call the "danger zone" and what we can do about it in the future. But what about the present? What could I do to save the client and my good reputation? Certainly I don't want unhappy clients and or worse,bad reviews floating around.

Well that evening I talked to Sandee and said please call that client tomorrow. Let him cool off over night. Tell him you explained what happened to the owner and that we will come do his house for free the next day. I knew that even if he did get someone else that he would be willing to cancel to get a "free" cleaning. I thought about a discount or half off. But I didn't feel it would work in this situation. Free may seem a bit extreme but I feel sometimes you have to take extreme measures to secure your client,the money stream they provide and most of all your good name.

How did it work out? Fantastic. I sent the techs who forgot to call him. They were apologetic to him and asked for no commission from us. The client sensed their genuiness and gave them a handsome tip. To me it was a win/win. Some may feel this was way over the top. It was. I wanted it to be. We dropped the ball in the "danger zone". We all learned from it. And what did the client learn? Well who do you think they will call and refer next time the term "carpet cleaning" comes up in their lives? ;)


Rob

Very well said!