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Old 2nd May 2006, 11:43 AM   #1
Natasha2005
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Default When the Phone Wont Ring....

Well, new here and so many areas I could post in.
My local business, which is carpet cleaning is slow slow slow. First the fuel costs are killing us, and second the residential client base is down. Everytime we blame ourselves, we see that other people in the same business locally are slow too (even going to look for new jobs and planning to fold their business).
We have got to start making money again. We both have health problems, and myself in particular with fibromyalgia means I get very burned out during the day. I am not up to working much for someone else, and I feel we need to work with what we have.
Any suggestions where to start?
We will be taking our other business to a trade show this weekend.

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Old 2nd May 2006, 11:50 AM   #2
Logan
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its a long path, but I would start with immediate family/friends. Which ones needs your service and are willing to consider utilizing as a helping gesture as well. From there, can they provide you with any referrals or recommendations.

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Old 2nd May 2006, 12:25 PM   #3
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It can be a long path and all businesses will go through some lean times especially when first starting out. When my phone isn't ringing I try to spend a little more time marketing myself and my business. I also take the time to work on my site more and just think up new ideas for my business.

Starting with family and friends is a good idea, though for me that's never gotten me very far. Mostly they don't need my services, but also many want a little too much of a dicsount and the ones that don't ask are usually the ones I want to give the best discount.

Keep doing what you can to get the word out about your business. it can be hard to wait for those calls, but the more people that know about your services the greater the odds that someone will call.

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Old 2nd May 2006, 12:27 PM   #4
Natasha2005
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Default I should add.......

We have steady monthly accounts but of course the residential folks make up the daily cash flow. My other accounts mostly pay in thirty days, though I have to be aggressive with them. We wont bill daily customers, we collect when the work is done.
Then again, today I am looking at the profits from delivering oriental rugs back to people after cleaning them. We made over $850 today on aboutsix rugs. If I could get this marketed better locally, we would be doing very very well.


Last edited by Natasha2005; 2nd May 2006 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 9th May 2006, 06:31 AM   #5
Thx4yrtym
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Default What about referrals?

That oriental rug job sounds interesting. I'm guessing those folks know others with similiar types of rugs. Getting referrals can be a challenge. I'll share a technique that worked extremely well for me.

A problem CAN be when we ask someone for a referral the person usually stares off somewhere and can't think of anyone. 25 years ago I was in the insurance business and the last year I sold nothing but life insurance. 42% of my sales came from referrals. Here's how I did it...
On a regular sized sheet of paper I had 6 boxes placed at the edges of the paper surrounding one small box in the middle of the paper. Under each of the 6 boxes I wrote a category. Yours will be different but you'll get the idea. My categories if I remember correctly were something like, "new baby" , "new Home", "new job", "golfing buddies" etc.
The point is instead of staring at the ceiling when asked for referrals , the categories helped jog peoples memories. Folks would get out their personal directories and fill in the boxes. Why? because of the way I asked.
AT THE RIGHT TIME, usually when I completed writing the application and had a check in my hand , I would say something like...
" I hope that you feel really good about what we've just accomplished. I would appreciate an opportunity to share this same information with folks that you know that value your opinion so that they might benefit as well".
Then I'd hand them the sheet .
I recall in one instance the sheet had 17 names with phone numbers when they handed it back to me.
You treat these referrals with the utmost respect and your full attention. They are like gold.

Remember your referral sheet needs categories that work for you. Certainly oriental rugs will be one category. I leave you to think of the other categories. Don't be afraid to change the categories from time to time.
You can call these referrals or send them something in the mail. Coupon, or a personalized postcard with a testimonial from your customer. If you call, ( with your customer's permission) you might mention that you recently cleaned Mr. & Mrs. ^%%*^& beautiful rugs and they were please with how nice they came out and suggested you introduce yourself to them so that should the need arise they know someone to call.

Hope this helps and take care,

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Old 9th May 2006, 11:49 AM   #6
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Depending on where you're located, you should check out Business Network International (bni.com). They are a networking group with a great structure. I am the President of our local chapter and I can't begin to tell you how much business it brings me. It's also been a big help with expanding my business into other areas.

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Old 9th May 2006, 03:25 PM   #7
Natasha2005
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Default Misc. To each of you.....

VanGogh, we've been in business 20 years. Not necessarily starting out (sigh).
Friese: I joined a local new Small Business alliance. They were going to publish a directory and have networkind and ad sharing.
They have done absolutely nothing. Too bad, because we all need it.

Thx: You mean in each box (category), you put a category of what you do? And then let them think of a name of someone who needs that service?
You lost me!

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Old 9th May 2006, 03:58 PM   #8
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BNI is different than your usualy networking group. You are required to bring business to the group members on a regular basis or you are removed. What you described is like a chamber of commerce, which I don't have high opinions of (at least not the one for my area).

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Old 9th May 2006, 04:25 PM   #9
Thx4yrtym
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Default To Natasha2005

Regarding the referral sheet.

I placed a title below each box ( six of them) for categories that would help the customer think of someone. ex. for the insurance thing it was ...

New home - I wanted people that needed Mortgage insurance
New baby - I wanted parents that either wanted insurance for the baby or more insurance on the parents
Bowling buddies - friends of his or hers.

The thing is when you ask someone without something to jog their memory you get a blank stare. The sheet eliminated that.
The key I think is timing and the way it's presented...
" I would like to talk with folks that value your opinion "
Sometimes they would call ahead for me and let the folks on the sheet know that I'd be calling.
In addition, I'd always try to leave a little money on the table. That's for another discussion.

Take care

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Old 11th May 2006, 12:31 AM   #10
KPainley
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Default A different tact...

I work with clients in several industries, and a common thread among them these days is that their customers seem to be in "need" mode rather than "want" mode...in your case, that means that people are less likely to get their carpets/rugs cleaned unless they recognize a significant benefit from your service. It might help if you bring that "need" into their mind.

I would try a somewhat radical approach...take out a small ad in a local weekly newspaper (they are usually less expense) with a headline like "Do you know what is living in your beautiful rug?" (the beautiful implies that you already love their rug, and will take care of it) "Call us today, and we will rid your rug of uninvited guests." Use an image of an oriental rug in the ad.

Even though the only "residents" in their rugs are likely to be dust mites, the thought may give potential customers enough of a case of the "creapy-crawlies" that they will call you.

As I said somewhat radical...but sometimes thats what it takes.

Good luck!



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