PRICING METHODS for Carpet Cleaners
The following outline will give you some insight on choosing a pricing method. Regardless of what method you choose, it is imperative that you have a specific way that you charge. Once you determine your cost of doing business, you will be able to assume how many jobs you will do, etc., so having a method of charging will be necessary. Also, you will provide your clients with a more positive buying experience by letting them know you are a quality company that has a method of charging. Our industry has earned a big black eye for unscrupulous pricing tricks. Uneducated, uninformed, and sometimes downright unscrupulous carpet cleaners charge people by how much they think they can “get” them for! By letting your clients know how you charge, you will set yourself apart from the rest. It is not necessary to let your clients know how much per square foot your charges are, but they need to know you have a specific method for arriving at the price.
1) Room – This method is used in residential settings. Each room that is under a certain size (generally 250 square feet) is counted as one room. Although this method calls for easy figuring, you may not want to use it if you are trying to cultivate a high end clientele. High end homes are generally custom homes and may have extremely large rooms. This method is excellent for the value market. If you are doing tract homes, it works well.
2) Square Foot – This method is generally more appropriate for the high end market. This method is used by many quality cleaners. It presents a challenge in pricing over the telephone however. Many homeowners don’t know the size of their rooms. If you have the need to price over the telephone, rather than going out to the site, simply get your client to help you “guess” at the square footage. Break it down to each room by asking “Would you say that room is bigger or smaller than (give a certain dimension)?” Then “base” your figure on the estimated square footage with the understanding that if the footage is different, then the price will change.
3) Packages – this method “bundles” or packages services together. Some cleaners choose to package different levels of carpet cleaning together to give the client choices. For example, one package may include wiping baseboards, or carpet protector. Package pricing works extremely well in the value market. I do not recommend it in the high end market. If you have a high end clientele, you are the consultant…the expert. Your recommend what your client needs, then let them know how much it costs. In the value market however, the customer wants choices. They choose what will fit their current budget, and at what level they will buy.
4) Hourly? This method should only be reserved for the most elite cleaner. With this method, you would simply estimate the amount of time it would take to do the job. The rate is based on your hourly costing factors. This is an unusual way to charge and may seem foreign to most clients. That is why I reserve this for only the elite.
5) By estimate only. This method requires an on-site evaluation to get a quote. Even though your goal may be to do more of your quotes on-site, you may also lose clients by not having an over-the-phone procedure for pricing.
6) Over the phone or on-site? Statistics have proven that most often you can get a higher job average by visiting the home in person. However, you must evaluate the time and cost required to provide that service. Repair jobs, odor control and commercial jobs should be evaluated in person. Otherwise, for “straight” cleaning jobs, you should have a process for quoting a job over the telephone.
7) All inclusive. If you are working in the high end market, include everything that involves cleaning in the price. In other words, specialty spotting such as filtration soiling, etc. should be built into the price. The only “upcharges” should be for repair or odor. This approach works well in that market because the price is not a major factor in the decision. Convenience is high on their priority list. You don’t want to try to track down a Mercedes Client at the tennis club to find out whether they want to have their Kool-Aid spots removed! On the other hand, the value client wants options, so you identify what is included in your “base” price, and offer “specialty” cleaning at a higher price. Be sure to be up front and honest about how you charge. No one likes being upcharged for something they expected to be included.
SPECIAL NOTE: Whatever pricing method you use, be sure to identify what furniture will be moved under your “regular” pricing structure. For example.. “Our regular pricing structure includes moving….”
8) List Protector automatically – Regardless of the market you are serving, as a consultant, you want to let your client know what you “recommend” as their expert. When you are going over what you will provide in the carpet cleaning experience, go ahead and educate your client on carpet protector and provide a price. If you bring it up later, she may perceive that you are trying to sell her something she didn’t need. She doesn’t have to decide until later, but at least you have put a bug in her ear and educated her at the same time.
9) Vacant/Occupied – Some cleaners offer “traffic area” pricing. This technique offers the client a discount for not moving furniture. If you charge by the room, you may be in for a big surprise… the traffic areas grew to be 12 feet wide!! Another way to solve this problem would be to charge by the “cleanable” square foot. Your price includes moving sofas, chairs, tables, etc. The heavier pieces such as beds, dressers, and entertainment centers are left in place under your regular pricing structure. This is your “Occupied” rate. For “Vacant”, or unoccupied jobs, you may offer a lower price for the convenience factor, and the potential for a higher hourly production. In an occupied environment, you still have to work around pets, children, and other lifestyles even if some of the areas are unfurnished. Therefore the Occupied, and Vacant rates.
A final note: Avoid charging by the “soiling” level. This can backfire due to a difference of opinion in the soiling condition. Your opinion and your client’s opinion could be completely opposite.