Ryan Kettering is a former carpet cleaning business owner turned branding and design expert. He’s the most referred, highest rated designer I’ve seen in our industry, and you can see why at prolificprints.com
In this episode you’ll learn…
- Why branding is important to cleaning companies
- Why not all customers will be a good fit for you
- Why just being good at cleaning doesn’t mean you’ll stay busy
- How good branding allows you to charge more
- What customer touchpoint are (and how to get started)
- How a simple email before the job can help you sell more
- Why uniforms are important
- One thing you should add to your Facebook image posts
- Why we should be surveying our current customers
- The biggest mistake cleaners make when it comes to branding (and how to avoid it)
Connect with Ryan:
Somebody calls you and you get that price shopper. You’re wondering how can I convert these people that are calling price shopping? My question would be, why is that person calling you in the first place? Why has the perception of your business not been changed prior to their call? So when they’re calling you, they’ve already been prequalified to be consistent with the brand message you’re putting out.
What is up, my friends. Welcome to the Cleaners Blueprint Podcast. I’m your host of Dusty Bell. And this podcast is all about taking your carpet cleaning business to the next level. Hey, I want to start out by thanking you so much today for listening to this podcast. I want to thank everyone who subscribed, and left a review, and share this podcast with friends. That is so helpful to us as a new podcast and I really, really appreciate it. Today we’re being joined by Ryan Kettering with Prolific Prints.
He’s a former carpet cleaning business owner turned branding and design expert. And if you go to just about any of the carpet cleaning Facebook groups in any of you ever see a question about logo sign or van wraps or pretty much anything that’s design related, I can almost guarantee that Ryan’s name will be mentioned. And it’s for a good reason. By the way, if you’re looking for inspiration on a logo designer or van wrap, you’ve got to check out his portfolio at prolificprints.com so today Ryan and I are going to be talking about branding and why branding is so important for your cleaning business. You know, the first thing that comes to mind when most of us think about a brand is a logo. But Ryan’s going to show you how your brand is so much more than that. And having the right brand strategy is huge.
I mean, it’s going to help you stand out from the crowd. It’s going to help you build trust and recognition with potential clients. It’ll help you attract the right clients so you can charge higher prices. It’s gonna help you create loyal clients, get more referrals and it’s even going to help you attract and keep better employees. And Ryan’s going to show us that when we think about our brand, we really want to think about our entire customer experience, not just our logo and our website and the van wrap, but the way we answered the phone. You know, the way our texts dressed and they act, and the way we follow up with clients, are the emails that we send out. It’s literally everything from start to finish. As you can see, we’ve got a lot to cover in today’s audio masterclass. So let’s dive right in. Ryan, what’s up?
What’s up Dusty, how are you?
Hey Man, I’m doing really good. How about you?
Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? Let’s hear it.
So I started my very first job was carpet cleaning and eventually once I got a little bit older, I started my first business that’s carpet cleaner and ran that for 10 years. And being passionate about the graphics and the marketing, branding and things like that I do now, which is, it’s called Prolific Prints and we help carpet cleaners stand out in a noisy world. So you are in the business for 10 years before you went into branding and design? Yeah, I had my own for about 10 years and did it before that, for another guy. But, an owner operator, probably very similar to where a lot of our listeners here today are.
I started when I was 17 years old. I graduated high school in three years cause I just wanted to get out and get going. I just, I knew I wanted to start my own business and very definite on where I was going. But the problem was I didn’t know how to get there. So you know, I started up and basically learned everything the hard way. It wasn’t actually until the last couple of years in business that I even knew about a lot of their resources, like these types of podcasts or some of the online boards. I didn’t even know they existed until like a few years ago. But I basically figured it all out on my own and I look at it like, my customers paid my education to kind of learn how to properly run a business, which it took, it wasn’t like I was laughing in the bank all 10 years. It took a long time for me to figure out even halfway of what I was doing too. So…
What was that defining moment where you said, “You know what, I’m going to get out and get my own van and get started on my own”?
No, it was actually not quite like that, like many. During high school I worked for another cleaning company, so it wasn’t ever like I was going to be there forever. It was more of like a high school job. I was always starting all these different random businesses. And at the time when I started doing that, I was trying to pay for…at 15 years old, I purchased a $3,500 embroidery machine, which isn’t, you know, high end at all for that market. But for me it was a lot of money. I was 15 years old, but that was like my first big purchase to try to start a business. And I was basically, you know, I knew that job to pay for that and to try to start that business eventually. That wasn’t really working out for me for the same reasons that carpet cleaning didn’t work out for a long time after I started my own business.
But basically I just… when I graduated high school I knew I wanted to start a business and the only thing I really knew how to do to a level that I felt that I could bring something to market with would be carpet cleaning. So it was very natural for me. It’s not like I took everything and said, all right, I’m going off on my own cause I don’t like working here or anything like that. It was just kind of natural. I actually purchased equipment from the guy that I used to work for. So it was very, I guess, natural for me to kind of start that.
So you’re like an entrepreneur at heart. I mean, 15 years old, 3,500 bucks. I think that was my life savings at that age.
Well, I didn’t have it either, but my parents, as I was growing up were always gracious enough to allow me to figure out my own mistakes and didn’t really say like, “You know, this isn’t gonna work for you or that’s a dumb purchase. You know, they probably knew I wasn’t going to do much with it, but I think those are types of experiences, is what allowed me to continue to get to the next level and continue to kind of quickly get through mistakes.
So it sounds like they were pretty supportive though. Your parents at 15 years old, they kind of get behind you with your big vision there.
I was very fortunate in my upbringing. But we butted heads a lot and that’s why I moved out when I was basically 17, 18. They moved out of the state at 17. I stayed in their house until I turned 18, but I was basically on my own since 17 as my choice. Like I could have definitely gone with them and continue to live with them. But I wanted to start my business. They let me figure out my own mistakes, but if they ever felt that I was getting too far, they would kind of reel me back in a bit. The biggest thing was that they just let me figure it out. They didn’t say I was going to do well. They didn’t say I was going to do bad. They just listened to sort of my argument on why I was going to do what I was going to do and if they felt like that it was not going to be hurtful to myself or other people, financially or, all these not hurtful in the way of like violence. But if they felt like, “Hey, it’s not going to hurt anything for to let them try, they would support me in trying those things and I think that was huge for me because I was able to make the mistakes. None of that stuff worked out.
I mean, yeah, I made a few extra bucks here and there on different things. I would sell glow necklaces at fairs and at 4th of July events and I would sell shoes, I would sell anything, anything that I could buy and then sell, I was doing it. Or make and sell, I was doing it, trying to make extra money and they never shot any of that down, which is really cool.
So very creative type. I see is that what got you into the branding?
Yeah, I actually wanted to go to school for art. I think at one point I decided that I just didn’t see that the amount of hi…or college as really something I believed in at that point when it came time to actually go down that road. So, you know, I got out of high school and just started my business, but I wanted to…that was originally what I wanted to do.
I just couldn’t figure out how does somebody make money, like drawing pictures, you know? And so that was how I thought of it at the time, you know? So I’ve always kind of stuck around. And then as I did my own business, I think sometimes, we have these different things that we like to do and we’re interested in and we find ways to sort of let that out within whatever we’re doing right now. So, maybe somebody’s listening actually is working part time or full time and another business or in their business or whatever. But there’s something that you like. And for me, like my carpet cleaning business allowed me to actually express myself with a lot of these creative things. And that satisfied that for me. And being able to work on my own marketing materials and web design and all these different things that, you know.
So it kind of gave me that outlet for a while. And then eventually once I started getting on to the boards and stuff like that, I saw that it wasn’t just me or my customers that appreciated this stuff. But actually other businesses were kind of looking at me like, “I’d love to have something like that too myself.” And that’s where I kind of realized that I had something there and I’d never considered that.
That’s awesome man. Hey, I want to talk about branding for a little bit. You know, the first thing that pops in my mind when I think of branding is a logo, but I’m sure it’s a lot more than that. Would you mind telling us what exactly branding is?
Yeah, I mean I think branding is one of these buzzwords that can have a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people. And I think a lot of people also think that branding is only for like, big businesses. You know, that I’ll never have a brand like Coca Cola or some of these other large brands like they think, “Oh that’s someone who’s put a lot of money or effort into their brand.” And those companies do do that. But I think branding is more, almost more important for smaller businesses where we don’t have basically the money to brand something that essentially was nothing. And then we spend tons of money. Like you could brand a square if you want to, right? If you put enough money into it, you can get people to think of a square and then think of your idea or the color pink is very highly associated with breast cancer awareness. So you can brand anything and I think a lot of people that becomes a very almost abstract as to how do I apply that to my business then, I don’t have that much money or I don’t know how to do that.
But my favorite definition for branding comes from Jeff Bezos from Amazon. This is the way that I like to think of it as he says, “Your brand is what customers say about you when you’re not around. So what that essentially is getting at is that if you kind of pick that apart, there’s a lot there. We could actually talk about just that sentence and breaking that apart for a long time. But essentially what he’s saying is your brand is the sum of all of the different touch points that happen with a customer and how your customer then perceives those things. And also a takeaway from that quote is that although we can control and influence our brand and we can do things to try to create that perceived idea or ideas or a feeling from our customer, we’re not 100% in control because it’s actually based on their perception.
And sometimes that even when you create a brand in the right way, a customer might, this is why not all customers are good fits for you, is because customers have their own lens of looking at things through. And I can tell you that the wall is painted red all day, but if the lights are turned off, you’re not going to actually perceive that same idea that I’m telling you. You’re not going to get the same information. So sometimes you know, not all customers are good fits and that’s fine. But what branding does is it highlights the message, amplifies the message that’s in our heads as a business owner and trying to convey to customers so that we can connect with the people that really that message resonates with and we can start to get them on the same page with what we believe about us.
Let’s say we have somebody who’s just getting started or even has been in business for awhile and says, “You know, I need to, I need to work on my brand.” What are some…where do they start? What are some things they could do right away? Is it starting with the websites, starting with a logo, is it a business card? Where do we get started?
Yeah, so I think to take it back to when we talked about that your brand is how your customer perceives you. For me, the most important thing that a company can do to start working on their brand, and let me backup with you a bit, again, a lot of people are probably thinking, “I have so many they’re thinking that I need to work on than my brand, it’s still kind of abstract”, and so their thing, “Well, I don’t have the time or money for my branding or whatever. When I started business, I basically had to learn everything the hard way. But essentially you start learning how to actually do the technical side, the production, like what am I going to produce and how can I do it to a level that is acceptable to my customers
And maybe even try to figure out new ways of doing things. So you can point at that and say, “Well, we’re the only cleaner that can offer this type of thing or whatever. But you figure out how your processes are going to work as far as production. You’re going out and cleaning, you figure out how to do that stuff. You get the equipment you need to do all this research, all that stuff and then eventually you figure out, “Okay, well getting all this stuff just because I’m the best cleaner, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to have any work.” Right? Like you can literally lower your prices to zero. And there’s companies out there that can charge $1,000 for an inferior product or service to what you have, you could charge $0 million and they’re still going to get more customers than you charging a grand for an inferior product to what you have because no one knows about you, right?
So now you start to say, “Okay, well how do I get people to know about me?” So now you start to look at, for me, I started look at sales because I said, “Well I need to get some sales in the door. I need my sales up. So I started looking at sales and I figure I’ll quickly, well, sales isn’t my problem because who cares if my closing rate goes up 80% I’m not in front of enough people. So 80% of one means I almost got one client, right? So now I started looking at marketing and then so okay well marketing will actually now bring people into sales and then now I can convert those sales into production. And so things go down the line and most people stop there. The problem is that that’s a stressful place to be if that’s as far as you go.
Because what you find out quickly about marketing is that a, you’re not the only one doing it. So there’s other competitors that are probably doing the exact same marketing that you are with the exact same message with the exact same sales system as you have and the exact same service that you’re doing. So basically what happens is, is everything’s the same and the customer has five people to choose from. Who do they go with? What do they base their decision off of? Many times just price, right? But what if it wasn’t price? What would change that? And so that’s where branding comes into play. Branding is the next level when you’re, once you want to start creating the perception that not only are you the clear choice in the pack, but whatever you’re charging, is irrelevant because of the brand perception that you’ve created for the customer.
So they believe the other choices don’t matter at this point. And neither does your price because you found a way to create a perception for your customer that fits with what they’re looking for. Here’s another way to look at branding is good branding is when you have a shop on one side of the street and there’s another guy on the other side of the street that does the same thing. Your customers walking by their shop and they crossed the street to come over to your shop. That’s good branding. See, because they could have chosen anyone, but they actually would take on more pain to go and seek your business out because the perception of your company and what they’re going to get with your company is higher than the other company and many times the actual service or product can be exactly the same. So branding is is how we can start to get outside of some of these things that can really be stressful for people.
You know, I think a lot of times somebody calls you and you get that price shopper and you’re wondering, how can I convert these people that are calling price shopping? My question would be, why is that person calling you in the first place? Why has the perception of your business not been changed prior to their call? So when they’re calling you, they’ve already been prequalified to be consistent with the brand message that you’re putting out. So Branding can really make our lives just number one, a whole lot less stressful, but it also makes it more pleasant to work with those customers that are on the same page with us and they’re willing to pay whatever you’re charging because again, they’re on the same page with you. So how do you get started today with this would be, I would start with, so there’s marketing term and it’s called touch points and it’s kind of self explanatory as to what that is.
But essentially touch points is anytime that we actually have interaction in any form, that your brand has interaction with a customer. So that could potentially even be the very first time that a customer hears about you from a friend. So you’re not even there. Right? But that would be considered a touch point. So for the listeners, my action steps for you to help you to start down the path of building up your brand is look at all of your touch points. You’re going to map out all of the touch points that you have with a customer starting from the first time that they become aware of you to the first time that they’re considering doing business with you to the first time that they’re actually contacting your company to basically to possibly do a purchase with your company when the service is actually happening after the service and so on.
So basically mapping out every single touch point that you currently have. And then number one, I would ask, is there any additional touch points that would be valuable to add in for our customers? And then number two, I would brainstorm ways to add value to those touch points. Because at the end of the day, being an entrepreneur, here’s my favorite definition of an entrepreneur is, is simply “someone who takes something of lesser value and changes that into something that is more valuable”. So meaning if I take water out of a lake and I put it in a bottle, I can now charge $14 for that bottle of water. If it’s in a glass bottle, that’s really pretty, so we can take things and we can build value into them and that will make the perceived value of our total business higher. And many times people try to increase the value of their actual service, which I’m not against that, but if you want to really drastically increased the value of your entire company and do it at a crazy profitable way is to look at the touch points before your service and after your service.
And if you can add value there, a lot more value than you currently offering, you’re actually probably able to do that in very low costs, replicatable ways, and it doesn’t affect your bottom line because many of these things are set it and forget it. You set this thing up one time, “Hey, we’re always going to send out this email to a customer after they call and it’s always going to have this document in there.
Let’s talk about some of those touch points. And so you said as soon as somebody hears about you from their friend, that’s the first touch point.
Right. And there’s going to be multiple like, so the first one would be awareness. The first time they even know you exist, and there’s gonna be multiple touch points under that. One might be hearing from a friend, one might be, maybe you have…you’re running Facebook ads.
So seeing that Facebook ad for the first time, they don’t even have to click it, but they’re seeing it. We’re just identifying when they become aware that you exist. Maybe they see you at local chamber meeting, maybe it’s direct mail piece, maybe it’s a flyer that you’re doing, like you’re canvassing or five around or whatever. So identifying, basically going down and identifying all of those and then say, “Okay, well how can we build more value into this? How can we make this thing better?” So that basically as you add up all these things that you’ve raised the value on, it now increases the entire value and perception of your company. So, for instance, many times our customers will first hear about our business by someone sharing a picture of something that we’ve done for them. So if I look at that touch point and I just analyze that a little bit more and not try to think from all sides of this thing, well if I just add our logo in a non crazy way to this picture and if I can make it so that that picture itself is a little bit better looking, a little bit easier to share, I’m increasing the amount of touch points that are going to happen like that.
And I’m also making it probably a higher conversion rate off of it just because if there’s a picture without our logo somewhere on there, they might not know who it is. And if it doesn’t look as good as it could, people might not think it looks as good. Right. So like one thing that we do right now is, for instance we do a lot of truck wrap designs and a lot of people share these online because it’s something that really stands out and a contractor type in a company’s business and people see it all the time. You get 50,000 impressions on the thing a day, but they share these things online. So what we do is we take a little bit extra time to create a nice mock up of that for them and put our logo in there and not in a crazy in your face way, but it’s on there.
And as those things continue to get shared around, it’s going to allow that to work better, if that makes sense. So we’re just looking at one touch point and saying, what could we do every time to try to make this thing work a little bit better or bring a little bit more value to it? That’s where like, instead of having this 2D mock up, if we can have this cool 3D mock up, well it’s going to increase the value for our customers. They’re gonna use that on their marketing materials. They’re going to love it, they’re going to want to share it, you know, that’s gonna help them to be inspired on what they can do with their business. So it adds a lot of value. This is one simple little thing, but we can then go to all of our touch points and try to identify those same sorts of things.
Here’s an easy one, is that everybody should be doing emails before and after a job. And one thing that you can do is you can try to look at those emails and say, how can I build more value into this email? So that might be, maybe it’s a five steps to ensuring your cleaning success or something. It’s just like five simple things that you’re kind of wanting the customer to do anyways, but it’s also helping them to get a better result. You know, maybe that’s that they need to pre vacuum. Maybe it’s to put the dogs away. And then also on that same document, maybe you have top five frequently asked questions and some of those might be like how long is it, the carpet wet and how…this or whatever. And so you basically handle some of those things.
And then you could also even make some reference to plug some of your other services if you want on there. So maybe one of your top FAQ is, is do you clean other surfaces? And it’s like, “Yes, please ask us for a quote for your tile and grout and upholstery while we’re there”, or something like that. So you’re using it to increase value for everyone. And it’s a simple email. It’s so simple, it’s almost free to do. And yet there’s so many people that aren’t doing it. That’s just one. Again, one touch point. But if you, if you can imagine stringing these together and just building a little bit more into each one, it can really make a huge dent in the perceived value of your business.
So when it comes to perceived value, how important do you think uniforms are?
I think that the word uniform, meaning like consistency. When you walk into any Chipotle, the restaurant, they all look exactly the same. Uniform and consistency in our businesses is what makes people feel like they know what to expect. The worst thing is when you go into a restaurant and they feed you the best pizza you’ve ever had in your life and you tell all your friends and you go back with them and you’re going to have this huge party and you choose this restaurant because it was so, so good the last couple of times a year were there and then you go there and it’s awful and the food sucks and the people suck and everything sucks and you feel like you just let everyone down and it’s awful. Right? If you were awful every time, it’d probably be better for customers than if you were great only sometimes. Because if you’re always awful, well we know that there’s this chain pizza restaurant down the street, the charges three bucks a pizza and I know what it is, but it’s consistently awful. So I accept that when I go there. There’s a lot of people who will continuously choose inferior places based on the consistency that they know what they’re going to get. You know when you pull up to someone’s house, if you have a clean looking truck, your guys come to the door looking clean, everything seems planned and laid out and you have this consistent experience that you show them not only that time, but the next time is exactly the same. It builds a lot of confidence when they’re going to then recommend you because they know exactly what experience they’re recommending to someone. And they might even tell some people some of those parts that really stuck with them and they can give an idea of what that experience is going to be. So I think, it’s pretty common sense to, you know, you want to have a nice looking uniform. But I think as far as creating that consistency throughout your business, I don’t think…it’s very difficult to do. And even for myself and anybody who acts like it’s easy to consistently deliver thousands and thousands of orders the exact same way, it’s not easy. It’s not easy for anyone.
It’s not. But I do think consistency is key though. I mean you definitely touched on something. You think about Mcdonald’s, like they make the absolute worst burger around, right? But you know exactly what you’re going to get when you get in there. You know, one of the things that I think about too is corner guards for example, a lot of carpet cleaners will use corner guards. They have a nice high end home. They put corner guards out. Maybe they put some runners out. That homeowner is just a lot of the time, just like, blown away. They’ve never seen that before. So maybe they refer you out to a friend and you show up to that friend’s house and it may not be so nice. You know, if you don’t put those corner guards out and you don’t put those drop cloths out, that experience, it could have been the best cleaning that you’ve ever done, the best cleaning they’ve ever had. But if she’s expecting corner guards, drop cloths, like her friend told her that you guys did and you don’t do it, it’s a totally different impression when you agree.
Yeah. And here’s to even build on that same thing. I love the saying of “show me, don’t tell me” and I think a lot of people can go far with this, but think about even to make it a little bit more easier for people to see would be like if you made a about your company and you did all this stuff cause you thought it would look good in the video, but that’s not actually what happens when you get to the house. It’s the same situation but it’s even worse because we know that that’s going to be replicated over and over again. But yeah, I mean I think you have to instill those things as something that you always do. For instance, like you know certain companies like say Comcast go out and service people, they have the cone at the front and the back of the vehicle. You know why that’s there?
So the reason why they do that is number one, like it does kind of let people know like that there, but basically the cone goes to the front of the back of the vehicle to make sure that they don’t run over any kids, so they have to visually check. Even if one technician didn’t know why they were doing that, as long as they do that every time, they’re going to not make that mistake. Now that you’re aware of this, at some point in your life, you’ll probably see when these trucks where it looks like impossible for anything to go wrong, meaning there was no reason why the cones are there, but they’re still there. Why? Because consistency, because if I don’t build these things as habits, then the time when it matters, it won’t happen and that’s what you’re talking about is it? We don’t know if something that we do is going to negatively impact somebody or positively, but if we’re not consistent with it, then the one time that we needed it to be there, it’s not going to be there. So you’ve continue to do the same things even if it’s not necessary
Doing the same things even when it’s not necessary. I love that. Hey, speaking of those Comcast vans, uh, what about our carpet cleaning vans? You know, if that thing’s not kept in good shape, if it’s dirty and organized, I mean that’s the touch point to right. I know not everybody goes out there and takes a look at it, but, um, I think it was our first Yelp review. I mean, this guy was totally blown away with how clean organized the van was. I think even more so than the cleaning. But if they know that if we kept our van and our equipment that clean, then what type of service are we going to provide?
Yes. And they even start to assume other things. You know, if you have a messy van and number one, if you come into my house and you want to charge me top dollar, okay…I got a customer. He has one of the most beautiful trucks you’ve ever seen. Like he said one time he went in the house and the wife was inside and the husband wasn’t even there at the time, but then all of a sudden he hears, “Wow!”, from outside and as he’s kind of doing his initial walkthrough. So he walks outside and the guy’s like, this is your truck. The thing is that when we can create the right feelings for people, the right perceived value that we’re trying to create, that creates a lot of other things. Like for instance, social proof that if you have a nice looking truck, that means other people are willing to pay your prices. A lot of other people, right? So now when I asked for the top price, not only does it make sense because you can see that I take pride in what we have to do and we have to upkeep those things. But I’ve created social proof for the fact that there’s many, many other people that are also willing to pay that. Now on the other side, if you look at somebody with a beat up van and they come to the door and their clothes aren’t how they quite ought to be and things like that, like presentable wise, then what does that tell customers? You try to charge them top dollar and what are they thinking? “Well, nobody else is paying top dollar, otherwise you could have afford to keep your stuff up or maybe you just don’t care and if that’s the case, are you going to care about the service you provide to me?”
Like that’s the type of situation where a customer wonders if they’re going to get ripped off. All these negative thoughts are there and now most people aren’t on either end of that. There’s somewhere in the middle, you know, people aren’t screaming about your appearance in a happy way and they’re also not ready to throw you out of their house because you’re so poor. But if you think about somewhere in the middle, what I’m getting at is that sometimes we get a customer that we can tell something’s not quite right and a lot of times that’s due to the fact that we haven’t created the right experience, the right presentation for people. Otherwise that fear that they have would be set aside. They would be confident that you could, you know, they wouldn’t have even thought of it, but instead something’s not quite right.
Maybe you show up and you know you smell like smoke or something or one of your technicians and all of these negative thoughts start flooding in the customer’s head. Yeah, they’re supposed to make the house smell clean and you’re already doing the opposite of that. So like, we have to really just think about those touch points and very down to the detail and then try to just make those things better. And a lot of times if you’re not sure where to start with that, you can ask your customers, here’s a great question to ask people is why did you choose to hire us? And the easiest thing to do is to build on your strengths. So if customers say that you were referred by somebody and you want to really figure out, “Okay, well I’m going to focus on that touchpoint first.”
“How do I get people referring me more? How can I make it easier for them to refer me? How can I make people feel better about themselves when they refer me”, all these things, right? Or maybe they said that they hired you because you were the only person in the area that did carpet repair and carpet cleaning and they had this problem. Now I’m not saying everything you should commit to in this way, but you might say, “You know what? I’m getting a lot of these carpet repairs. Maybe this is an area where we can kind of exploit and we can look at how can we make that more clear for customers? How can we make that experience easier for customers?” So now you’re starting to now, “Okay, well you know there are lot of people don’t really know that this stuff is possible. So maybe I’m going to start attaching a list of things that we can repair while we’re at a job for customers.”
And you know, you’re just analyzing those things that you’re already doing well and just try to do those better. And that’s probably the easiest place to start because you already have momentum there.
You know, what’s funny, is we think clients hire us for one reason and then oftentimes when we ask them, it’s a totally different reason. A simple exercise that I like to do. A lot of guys might think that, “Hey, that’s, I’m not going to go around and interview all of my clients”, which I love. I love doing surveys and what not, just asking our clients. But for the guys that have already 20, 30, 50 reviews, just read through those reviews. They’re telling you right there what they appreciated about your service. And if you don’t have reviews yet, read your competitors’ reviews. You know, we’re not going to do things the same, but you’re going to see some commonalities there.
What people are looking for, what they like, what they don’t like, the bad reviews. So you can avoid those things. And then you can just really craft your service around what your client likes instead of what you think they like.
Right. And when you do take the time though, especially if I do call, it’s not very many, but I will call and I will set up calls with our, what I consider my best clients. Now they are high value monetary clients. However, that’s not the only way that I measure my best clients. Like so if I want to talk to the people that not only are willing to pay our prices and use us frequently and things like that, but also the people that I just genuinely love dealing with. Like everybody has those customers that you just, there’s so easy and not only that, like you make their day better and they make your day better and it’s just those customers and they’re also like paying you a lot of money and using your frequently, you want to get those people on the phone and talk to them and you know, ask them the questions that you’ve been neglecting to ask other people. “Have you used other cleaners in the past? What was the main thing that you would change about the way that carpet cleaners in general service you? What did you like about what we did? Is there anything we can improve on for you?” You know, all these different things just those customers that you’re already click with, they’re going to love that you’re taking the time to do that for them and they’re going to be excited and happy to do that and help you.
Absolutely. And if they didn’t feel special before, they’re going to feel special now that you said, “Look, I value you, I value your opinion.” And then people, they’d love to help. And the fact that they are getting an opportunity to help you in a way is just really important for a lot of people. Guys, take the time to talk to your clients. Ask them what they like about you, bring them in, make them a part of your team because now they’re thinking about you. Now they’re telling you how much they like you and it just reinforces their opinion of you even more and then they’ve got to start telling other people the same story.
Like for instance, a guy that a lot of people look up to with the way that he’s been able to brand his small carpet cleaning business. They, I think they have two trucks on the road, Mark Sager. The last time I saw him he had these light up blue shoes and they’re talking about getting them. The technicians were both there and they’re like, we need those for on the job and I can guarantee you that at some point they’re going to be showing up to every job with these light up blue shoes and people are going to love it and that helps to aid sort of like that same like you want people to feel like, “What did they think about when they think about this carpet cleaning? I’m like, “Well they’re fun, they’re crazy. I’ve never seen somebody to do this.” And you do stuff that makes people smile and that brightens our day and they’re going to want to share that with other people and you’re not going to get every customer and not every customer is still going to be a good fit just because they thought this one thing that you did was cool or whatever.
But as a whole, you’re creating this whole brand and when you can get that to connect with people and really understand what you’re all about, it’s so much easier. You know, it’s very hard for people to give you a hard time or screw you over or make your day stressful. When they like you, when you make them happy, when you make them laugh, smile. It’s very difficult for…like if I send you an email and you’re smiling at that end of the email, I might’ve just dropped the ball on something else by accident. But it’s going to be very difficult for you to not kind of take a breather and say, “Okay, well I know that this is really who they are.” And, and that’s what branding does too, is it builds up your branding reserve, that when you do make mistakes, people will let you off the hook more because they know it’s not true to your nature.
So I mean, I think just focusing on what is that idea about who I am and how can I get that idea across to a customer. And that’s what we’re all about is trying to help people to…one of the sayings that we have is “Be more of you.” You don’t want to be like anybody else, but you want to take the things that you’re already doing. Well, the things that are already connecting with people, you want to amplify those things. So you’re going to be more of you and we’re going to help you to broadcast that to more people so that you can find more people that connect with you as well.
Then that’s super important because I feel like too many people are trying to be somebody else. They’re trying to copy that competitor, right? They see what the competitor’s doing and then they try to do the same thing and they just can’t do it. And you know, Mark’s shoes as an example. I mean, not only does that just strengthened as brand, let people know, look these guys are fun, that they have a great time. They do put a smile on my face. Like you said, the goal of branding is to create a feeling and that makes people feel good and it not only attracts the people that he probably wants to work with, but it also repels the people he doesn’t. If someone’s saying, “Oh that guy’s, you know, he’s got light up shoes and led lights in his…” You know what, that’s probably not the client that he wants to work with. Cause you know that’s the guy that’s going to pick out a spot that’s 30 years old and won’t come out and we’ll just never be happy with you.
What are some now the most common mistakes that you see guys before they obviously come work with you? Well, what are some of the big mistakes that you see people make when it comes to branding?
Probably a lack of clarity for themselves and that’s it. All right, so, but the follow up problem with that is it creates a lack of clarity for anyone else at your company, outside of your company, like your customers. Many people, if you ask them what makes you different than the other companies? They can list off 50 things but they can’t list off one. And if they really get real with themselves, those 50 things is probably exactly what you’d hear if you talk to somebody else. But they just don’t want to admit that to themselves many times. So, the biggest thing is just not kind of buckling down and asking yourself the hard questions about what’s our…so I did a speech before, I think at Ice and one of the things we talked about building a brand and there’s three points that I have to that which is defining your unique promise, defining your identity and defining your niche.
And so if you can create those three things, that’s what people are missing. They don’t have a unique promise that they’re making to customers. They don’t have a unique identity and they don’t have a unique niche. And so when you’re saying the same things to customers, you look like everyone else and you’ll talk to everyone that everyone else talks to, you become this bland, nothing. If you can create the unique promise, unique identity and target unique niche, you’re golden, right? So that would be really it, is if you want to really get those things clear to yourself, and there’s a note on my monitor that says pick a path, it doesn’t have to be right. Sometimes we don’t know exactly. We’re not a hundred percent clear on something, but something seems pretty good. We have a hunch it could be right, could be wrong, just go down that path.
It doesn’t have to be right. Define these things and roll with it. Let your customers, let the market and let your own sort of observations tell you if you’re going down the wrong path, if you need to adjust, there’s no way to know that though when you’re kind of sitting back and analyzing the situation, you have to move in a direction and try things. And so define those things. What makes us different? Who’s our target market? Who Do we really love to work for and what kind of problems do they have? And really just go all in on something. And then if it’s not right, it’s okay. You’re probably 80% right and then you just tweak a few things, you know? But if you keep going down a path that you have a good feeling about, you know, eventually you’re going to get to one.
You are making educated decisions to get there. Eventually you’re going to find that really, that sweet spot. And I think that most people look at people with the sweet spot say, “Well, how do you get that?” It’s that they’ve gone through a lot of things to get there. They’ve gone, they’ve thought about these things, they’ve gone down different paths that didn’t make much sense. They’ll tell you, “Hey, we don’t work for this type of client or do this type of thing anymore. And here’s why.” And that’s not necessarily to say that you should never do that. It’s that, that’s not right for them. And so you, as you better define who you are as a company and who you serve, you’ll find that it gets a lot easier to make the hard decisions like who not to do business with.
And I think that’s actually almost more important than who you serve, is who you don’t serve. I got started in the high end. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Had a good mix of high end clients. I had a good mix of just your average every day and then just some really cheap clients and I was trying to please everybody, right? I didn’t even know how to create my marketing mature. I didn’t have a clear message. It was as clear as mud. It was absolutely crazy. And it took my wife actually, she said, “Hey, it doesn’t really matter which lane you pick, just pick one and stick with it.” And that was the best advice that I’ve ever had. And you know, when we just decided, “Hey, this is exactly who we are, this is exactly who we serve. And we say no to everything else. Like you said, decision making is so much easier. Clarity, once you’ve got it, you are golden.
And you know, it’s really actually refreshing to like when you go to, like I go to some conferences that have all these different entrepreneurs and many of them are trying to get work from themselves, right there? Like, they’re there to get work and it’s cool because when I go, I tell people who my customer is and I know that it’s likely that no one else in the entire place is going to need what I have to offer them. But here’s the thing is that if they do know someone that does need what I have to offer, it’s very crystal clear as to what that is. And so a lot of these people, they’ll never get referrals because it’s just so vague what they do. Or there’s a hundred other people doing what they do. Oh, when you’re the only guy that does this thing, well now it becomes very, very clear and it sticks with people, Hey, this guy does this, and if I ever come across somebody that has that, then I’m going to refer them because this the only person I know it does that, you know?
So it becomes kind of refreshing when you’re able to just know like that you don’t have to pitch people anymore. Like a lot of people is like, what’s your elevator pitch and stuff like you’re supposed to pitch everybody. Like when people ask you what you do, you should be able to tell them in a very, very clear and short way what that is and that way what will happen next is you’re almost saying like, “I’m telling you what we do for other people because you’re probably not even in my market.” But then they might say back to you, you know, I know this guy that does this, and so it kind of takes the pressure off the room because you’re not pitching anyone. You’re just telling people exactly who you are and what you do. Just like anybody at any other job.
Like those people, if I met somebody who said, “You know, I worked at a restaurant down here”, or whatever, I would ask them like, “Oh, how’s the food down there? How’s this? How’s that? And I might consider going there now, right? Because it’s not like there were this person trying to pitch me their business like they were the owner. I’m just meeting people and talking with people and sometimes we come across things that are good fit for us and sometimes we don’t, but I think that pressure goes away when it’s more of like that type of thing, I think.
You know the restaurant example, when people refer restaurants, they recommend restaurants to their friend. It’s like, “Oh, this is where you go for the best Tacos or you want pizza, this is exactly where you’re going to want to go. You want to get burgers here…” Then you never hear him recommend a restaurant where it’s like, “Oh, you can get pizza, burgers, Mexican food, whatever you want. This place is great.” They knew exactly where to go for the best tacos on Taco Tuesday.
Hey, two final questions that we ask everybody on the show here and then we’re going to go ahead and get everything wrapped up. So first one is, what is your favorite book?
I have a lot of favorite books, but one that I listened to, oh I’m going to give two: Pumpkin Plan because of the ease of reading kind of a lot of stories and stuff. So it’s very easy to kind of just almost relax while you read it. In a nutshell, it’s, it talks about the 80-20 rule. There’s a lot of books that talk about this. Like, The One Thing or even the Steven Covey’s success principles and there’s a lot of books though. But the Pumpkin Plan, I really like how it’s written.
That’s a great one. I mean I, if I could only recommend one book ever for any entrepreneur to read, it’s going to be the Pumpkin Plan. That is my absolute favorite. It is my…100%. I’ve read that book, I think, it was 2012 when I first read it. It literally changed my life. And what we’ll have, we’ll have a whole show. We’ll do a whole show on that book. Last question, what is the best business advice you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?
I think concept wise, the 80-20 rule is probably the best concept that I’ve ever come across and again it’s covered in many, many books, Pumpkin Plan being one of them. But I think the way that I’ve heard it stated best came from Gary Vaynerchuk. I don’t know, if you’re like me having an idea is one thing, but when somebody can slap you in the face with that idea, it’s like the best thing ever.
So the way that he worded it in one of his books, something like, “Almost everything you do on a day to day basis doesn’t matter.” When he said it in that way, that that saying like I’m always, you know, I’ve read many books about the 80-20 rule, I understand it, but that’s saying is the saying that sticks with me on a day to day basis because it’s so applicable to every moment of your life and trying to identify, “Okay, well am I doing stuff right now that doesn’t matter?” Because the reality is most of what we do doesn’t matter. And that’s the reason why that kind of slaps you in the face is that if you say this to enough people, they will get very, very defensive because to tell someone that almost their entire life doesn’t matter can really mess with somebody’s head, and it messes with mine too.
But I kind of take it as a constructive way. When you can understand that concept and how vital it is to your success to be able to find those moments, those hours, those days that are extremely productive and you can start to work on doing more of those things, it can really drastically change your situations. I think that’s the best way I’ve heard it said and there’s a lot of good advice out there, but ultimately if you’re always focusing on the highest level things you can do, you can’t lose. You know, if you back those ideas with action in the same direction, you can’t lose.
Absolutely. Great, great advice. Well, Ryan, listen, thanks so much for taking the time to jump on a call with us today. We really appreciate it.
Yeah, you got it. Thanks Dusty.
Thanks so much for hanging out with us today. If you enjoyed that episode, I would love it if you head over to iTunes and subscribe to the show because we’ve got a lot of good stuff coming for you. We don’t want you to miss any of it, and if you head over to the cleanersblueprint.com you’ve got show notes and summaries of every episode as well as links to all the free resources there for you. So stay tuned and we’ll talk to you again next week.