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Marketing & Advertising

It's Not the Cleaning

October 31, 2012
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I love the passionate desire of many owner/operators to provide the best cleaning. Their high quality results build strong customer loyalty and promote abundant referrals.

Listening to the glorious praise from customers often leads these owners to conclude that consumers are looking for the best cleaning.

If you ask these owners why new consumers would choose them over one of their competitors, they generally reply that superior workmanship is their marketing advantage. Unfortunately, this conclusion is wrong. Although superior work does increase loyalty and referrals, it is not the best way to persuade a shopper choosing between them and their competitors.

Quality is a weak marketing tool

Quality work is intangible to shoppers. They cannot verify the truth of a superiority claim.

Remember, unless they have past experience with your company or the recommendation of a reliable friend or professional, shoppers do not trust you any more than the other companies they are considering.

You are not alone in your claim to be the best. Your competitors are saying the same thing. I have yet to see a company boast that it only provides mediocre service.

Do you really want to compete with the other guy who also claims to be “the best and the cheapest?” Claims like this often cause smart shoppers to doubt your credibility.

Consumers do not understand that the quality of service can vary between companies. Hundreds of times, I dramatically outperformed a previous cleaner. Yet, I have never heard a customer exclaim, “I knew that carpet could come out cleaner!” They are always amazed that I was able to make the carpets look so good. Consumers assume the results they have been getting are the best possible for their carpets.

Finally, most of the owners making these claims of being the best have not fairly compared themselves to all of the cleaners in their area. Are they really better than all of the other companies in town? How could they possibly defend this claim?

I am sure they outperform some companies, but unsupported claims of being the best cause doubts in consumers’ minds.

Establish other motivators

You must find other reasons for persuading shoppers to choose your company.

If superior cleaning is eliminated, what other reasons motivate shoppers to choose one company over another? What is it about your company that customers like?

Make a list of your company’s strengths. Do you offer competitive prices? Do you have advanced certifications, unique specialties or a long history of satisfying customers? Are you involved in the industry or trade association?

Are you, the owner, on every job? Do you take extra time at each home to care for the details?

Do you have a special method for cleaning or a new type of equipment? Does your company provide a unique process for getting great results? Do you guarantee speed drying?

Is there an extended warranty for spot and spills? Do you guarantee on-time arrival? Is there someone to answer the phone live and schedule work? Are weekend or evening appointments available?

To get more ideas, go online to see what other companies are offering. You cannot profitably offer every benefit. Choose those that will appeal most to your target market. Remember that consumers are only comparing you to one or two other companies. You only need to look better than them.


Professionalism can win you customers like no other quality can.

Consumers want to trust the companies they choose. They want to feel confident that the company they have selected will provide the job they need and not complicate their lives in the process. They are desperately hoping for a good experience. If they perceive you as more professional, you have a big advantage.

Most often, the decision for choosing a company is based on perception. On your website or in your print advertising, what matters most is clarity, organization and ease of navigation. Do you come across as friendly, helpful and knowledgeable on the phone? Do you look professional in appearance and is your equipment organized and clean?

Winning new customers who have not experienced your quality of work requires a specific strategy. They need reasons they can see and sense to persuade them. Even though you may provide outstanding cleaning, this is not a benefit that can be conveyed well to a stranger.
Build and advertise persuasive reasons for shoppers to choose your company and you will dominate over your competition.

Steve Marsh is the creator of the Be Competition Free Marketing Program. He is a 30-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an IICRC-approved instructor and a Senior Carpet Inspector. Marsh is a marketing and business consultant who provides a turn-key program for attracting better customers. For more information, log on to

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