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One of the fun things about running a micro-business, which best describes an owner-operator carpet cleaning business, is that I am free to break the rules of “good business practice” if and when I see fit.
And one of the ways I see fit is in the way I communicate with my customers.
My principle means of communication with my customers is through a newsletter I send out four times per year called “THE DOWNEYCLEAN TIMES.”
Through my newsletter I communicate who I am and what I care about. I also give space to others in the community who offer services that I think my customers will find valuable (currently pets and gardening/yard care).
Oh, and most of the time I’ll include something about what I do for a living.
I’ve read a lot about different philosophies of business newsletter content. Some say the use of mostly or exclusively business topics is best. Others say it is best to seed the newsletter with lots of entertaining anecdotes and unrelated content, such as recipes, and go light on the business stuff. Nowhere have I read to make it personal, to leave a piece of yourself on the pages of your newsletter, as I have done.
The results have been incredible. Probably half of my repeat customers mention that they love the newsletter, or ask me about something I wrote in a recent issue, when I am at their home to do cleaning. I’ve even had customers both call and write to apologize for not using my services in a while (often adding that they replaced the carpet with wood or laminate) and to ask me to please keep sending my newsletter. Just yesterday a customer told me she has a file that she keeps all her back issues in.
At risk of sounding proud, my newsletter works so well in part because God gave me a gift for communicating using the written word. Not everyone is so gifted but many of you are and could replicate what I have done.
But more important than the specifics of my newsletter is the general point that many customers will respond well to communications that convey something about the values of the person behind the message. It’s an integral part of the “trust” dynamic I wrote about previously that is so important to the success of the owner-operator.
John Downey is a fourth-generation carpet cleaner and owner-operator of Downey’s Carpet Care of Granville in Granville, Ohio. When he’s not scrubbin’ rug, his wife, Cecilia, lets him serve on the board of directors of the IICRC and assist Dr. Michael Berry in his efforts to bring science-based environmental management practices to the cleaning industry. John can be reached at email@example.com.