I recently attended a carpet cleaning seminar hosted by a carpet cleaning supply vendor. The class outlined some of the latest stain removal techniques and the latest environmentally friendly chemicals. The second half of the course was a business marketing seminar. This is where I had great disagreement with the instructor. His thesis was that business owners need to advertise a low price on line and try to "up sell" the customer when they arrive on scene. For example, advertise one price and quote over the phone and when you get to your customers house, tell them you have a better chemical for their type of carpet but it's going to add more cost to the quote. In other words, "bait and swap." This instructor was also recommending that businesses need to charge extra for basically everything. An example of this would be any extra persistent stains that don't get removed by our "normal cleaning" procedures. He was lobbying that ANYTIME a carpet cleaner has to take an extra step or chemical to clean a stubborn area, this should be reflected on the customer's price.
Now don't get me wrong. I am a firm believer that good service isn't cheap and cheap service isn't good. There are many other carpet cleaners in the area that are cheaper than me. I just saw an ad on Craigslist that someone was advertising a carpet cleaning special for an entire house (up to 3000sq. feet) for $69! If this person does the job RIGHT, than a 3000sq. foot house of carpet should take him 4-5 hours (assuming he does the job by himself). It should also cost him at least $15 in chemicals and another $15 in gas for his transportation and equipment ($69-$30=$39 net profit). This doesn't include wear & tear on his equipment or his insurance and advertising costs. So before these other costs, that means that this guy is making less than $7.80/hr profit ($39 divided by 5hrs). If he's doing the job RIGHT, there is no way this guy is staying in business. He is either going to maintain the $69 price and not take the time or proper chemicals to do the job RIGHT, or he is going to try to "bait and swap." I can almost guarantee that this company is not expecting to do an entire 3000 square foot house for $69. They are planning on landing the job with a $69 phone quote and then nickel and dime the customer for every extra service and stain.
These types of business practices make me outraged. I feel most intelligent people can see right through these "cheese ball" salesman gimmicks. Some larger companies feel they have to run their business like this because of higher operating costs. When you have a fleet of carpet cleaning vans and numerous employees, you now need to cover the higher operating costs of payroll and insurance. In California, workers-compensation insurance and employee health insurance can eat ALL of your profit. This is the area in which I feel I have an advantage.
At Super Steam Carpet Cleaning, we are family owned and operated. I can charge my normal $25 per area and almost always get the job done at that original price. If you have a couple of extra stubborn stains I have to work on, I will include that in the original price. In rare cases, if you have numerous stubborn stains I have to work on then I will give you the option of treating the stains at a slightly higher price or leave the carpet "as is" with our original quote in place. Your carpet will still look ten times better than before and you'll still be paying the original price. Of course, if you elect to pay the higher price for stain removal and I can't get the stain out then you don't pay a cent over our original quote agreement.
So how can I offer this type of service and still be competitive? Simple, being small and owner operated means that I have much lower overhead than my larger competitors. I don't have to pay absorbent California workers compensation or health care insurance to a long list of employees. I can pass this savings on to you, my customer. I don't have to nickel and dime you or try to up sell you on everything just to make a profit. What you see is what you get. Being owner operated also means that I am in the forefront of quality control everyday on every job. My number one priority when I arrive at a customers location is making sure that the customer is as happy as possible and gets a great value thus securing return business and plenty of referrals.