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The Blueprint for Success: Achieving Financial Freedom and Early Retirement in the Cleaning Industry – with Shawn Barrett

Mastering the Marketing Mindset: Lessons Learned from Shawn Barrett’s Journey to Financial Freedom

In the world of cleaning business success, marketing plays a crucial role in determining a business’s trajectory. In a recent episode of the Carpet Cleaner Success Podcast, host John Clendenning sat down with Shawn Barrett, a seasoned cleaning and restoration (former) business owner with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Throughout the interview, Shawn shared valuable insights and lessons learned from his journey, emphasizing the importance of a marketing mindset in achieving business growth and success. In this article, we will delve into the key takeaways from Barrett’s interview and explore how they can be applied to your carpet cleaning business.

1. Understanding the Power of Marketing:

One of the fundamental lessons highlighted by Shawn is the recognition that marketing is the lifeblood of any business. Gone are the days when relying solely on traditional advertising methods, such as the Yellow Pages, was sufficient. With the advent of online platforms like Google, Facebook and digital ad targeting, cost-effective marketing strategies have become the new norm.

2. Wearing Multiple Hats:

Shawn identified three key hats that every business owner should wear: technician, manager, and entrepreneur. While each role is significant, the marketing hat holds tremendous importance. As the visionary of the business, it is crucial to cultivate a marketing mindset and continuously seek ways to promote and differentiate your services.

3. Strategic Expansion:

Shawn’s journey also exemplifies the importance of strategic expansion. Starting with carpet cleaning, he gradually added additional services such as duct cleaning and restoration. By identifying customer needs and expanding their service offerings, carpet cleaning businesses can tap into new revenue streams and solidify their position in the market.

4. Creating Memorable Moments:

To stand out from competitors and foster customer loyalty, Barrett emphasizes the importance of creating memorable moments. Whether it’s through attention to detail in equipment cleanliness or providing additional memorable perks like booties for clients and an after-care kit, every aspect of your business is an opportunity to showcase your commitment to excellence.

5. Investing in Your Business:

Marketing is not a cost, but an investment. Shawn suggests allocating a minimum of 15 to 20% of revenue toward marketing efforts. By having a marketing calendar, setting aside a marketing budget, and regularly evaluating results, businesses can optimize their strategies for long-term success.

6. Continuous Learning and Improvement:

Marketing is a constantly evolving field, and staying informed about industry trends is vital for success. This interview highlights the importance of self-study, absorbing information from industry experts, and continuously testing and iterating marketing strategies. Through split testing and analyzing results, businesses can refine their approaches and maximize their reach.


Shawn Barrett’s business journey is a testament to the power of adopting a marketing mindset and continuously improving your business. From understanding the importance of effective marketing to strategic expansion and creating memorable moments, the lessons learned from his experience can guide cleaning business owners toward growth and success. By investing in marketing, embracing continuous learning, and applying innovative strategies, you can set your business apart from the competition and become a leader in your industry.

Remember, in the world of carpet cleaning success, marketing is the key to unlocking new opportunities and maximizing your business’s potential. So put on your marketing hat, stay informed, and embrace the mindset of continuous improvement. Your business and your customers will thank you.

Now, it’s time to take these valuable lessons and apply them to your carpet cleaning business. The journey toward success begins with a marketing mindset and a commitment to excellence.

Listen To The Podcast:

You will learn:


Discover why Shawn stresses the importance of making marketing a core function of your business.


Understanding the significance of continuous learning and improvement


Marketing techniques that will set your business apart in the carpet cleaning industry


Learn how to differentiate yourself in the marketplace, become an authority, and generate never-ending referrals

Audio Transcript:
John Clendenning [00:00:00]:

Hey. Today, guys, on the carpet cleaner success podcast, we have, a good friend of mine, Sean Barrett. Sean is retired out of his carpet cleaning business in his early fifties. The focus of this this interview today is, how to start a carpet cleaning business. In a town of 30,000 people and retire in your early fifties with financial freedom. So if that sounds intriguing to stick around. We’re gonna have a conversation and just kinda dig into the weeds and and and see how all of that happened and get some nuggets out as we go.

Shawn Barrett [00:00:30]:

Welcome to the carpet cleaner success podcast. A show created to inspire carpet cleaning business owner to build their own thriving residential and commercial cleaning business. Your host, John Clintonning, has built and sold successful cleaning businesses for multiple six figure over his marketing into a lead generation machine. Tune in is John shares proven tips, strategies, and expert interviews to help fast track your success in the carpet cleaning industry.

John Clendenning [00:01:05]:

Welcome, Shawn. Thanks for joining the Carpenter Success podcast podcast. And I’m glad we finally were able to catch up and do this.

Shawn Barrett [00:01:12]:

That’s great, John. It’s been too long since we’ve actually sat down and done something like this. So Thank you.

John Clendenning [00:01:19]:

Yeah. Exactly. So, just a a a brief bio, on your background, you know, who you are, where you where you’re where you’re from, and, just just that kind of job. Just, you know, just, you know, a little bit about Sean and, and and that kind of thing.

Shawn Barrett [00:01:35]:

Yeah. No. That’s that’s perfect. Well, like you said, my wife, Leslie and I, we actually 8 eighties in the early nineties. We right out of high school. We decided that we wanted to own, restaurants. So we’ve heard of a a deli and you’re not the plumbing city. And, we were fortunate enough that not going at the time, but looking back now. Like, a lot of the success principles we put into that rush are the same that pull through to Clendenning, effecting, whatever. So from, like, 89 to 92, I believe we owned that and we sold it. For a profit. And, the cool thing was, a local franchise used to clean our carpets, and he hooked us on beanie carpets. All my wife and I moved back back home and started, with 3 franchises in our local service area. As you said, it was around 30,000 people at the time. It’s closer to a 100,000 now in in that service area, but, yeah, started that and not too long after that in 92. I think you and I probably met some time in 90 495.

John Clendenning [00:02:47]:

I’m more in there. Yeah. Yeah.

Shawn Barrett [00:02:48]:

We’re in there. And, And the cool thing for me at that time is that you and I were very like minded and, you know, being able to have that connection with a market. I’m to be able to come up with ideas that nobody else was doing and, you know, just get on all in control with that and not actually able to try this. Hey, hey, John. Did you have any success with this? Yeah, I did and what about this and just a tweak here, a tweak there certainly helped us, expand our carpet cleaning business. And then from there with the carpet cleaning business, what we actually did was, we felt restoration. This is probably gonna be a bigger updated business — local service areas. So we actually be back on our carpet cleaning business to get or to begin for that flood call for the insurance companies, brokers, homeowners directly, and we were able to build a pretty decent restoration company up to forty people, 22 vans, and we sold that in 2020. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s I mean, there’s there’s a lot of stuff in between all that, but that’s that’s a quick version.

John Clendenning [00:03:59]:

Yeah. No. That’s good. And we’ll and we’ll dive into that as well because you’re right. It is that, the part that that we like to talk about on these podcasts and we I talk daily to carpet cleaners, whether they’re clients of ours or just people learning, you know, learning what what we do or how to how to grow their business. We’re we’re talking about that marketing mindset a lot, and it’s something I’m really trying to drive home, how, you know, you you wear multiple hats as a business owner. We talked about the 3 different hats that you, you know, you you wear and you can take off the the management hat. You know, you take off the technician hat first. You should be, you know, you might be the guy in the truck, but let’s get somebody in the truck out working for you so that you can take that hat off as you grow the business. The next one might be the the manager hat. You you can have an office manager or a general manager as you grow. And and, you know, be the entrepreneur. But as we we like to say, the that marketing hat really is, is the on superner and the owner of the business, the visionary of the business. They they have to see where the company is going. They don’t have to know how to do all the little pieces, but they have to see where the company is going and get that messaging in the marketplace while you’re unique and and continue to learn that craft so that you can continue to stand out in a crowd. And that kind of thing. So let’s let’s talk a little bit about the services that you offered because, again, you started with the carpet cleaning. You, you added, The duct cleaning came along at one point. The the restoration came along. And then even when the restoration came along, I remember, popping up to your place and watching you giving seminars and building a dry room in, you know, to hold the the the to bring in the insurance adjusters in the area to see it and have them fill out an application to see if they qualify for you to be their vendor turning the tables on them and and all of that kind of stuff. So Let’s talk a little bit about sort of, that that progression from from, quote, just doing carpet cleaning to adding multiple services to to grow to the next level and and thinking through that process. What, you know, you you saw the writing on the wall. The restoration was gonna be bigger, but it’s still it’s not a hard it’s not or it’s not an easy business just to jump into. So, let’s talk a little bit about sort of what what took you that, you know, gave you the the the the the gumption to take that next leap and and actually invest that next level. Yeah.

Shawn Barrett [00:06:17]:

I think, and I’ve heard you on some of your, interviews in in your YouTube channel talk about the email by Michael Yeah. Probably the not a reader. Probably the first book I ever did from start to finish are probably the best investment I ever made back in and it’s still everything in that book still stands today. And I think keeping that that book actually thought, I think they had them, you know, being with for HVAC. Yeah. Really doesn’t matter, but it’s all it’s it’s all whatever the word would be at all, to any service. Yeah. I just you know, for anybody watching this, if you’ve never read the Emith, it just get both the read and you should have a Although you I still like the hard copy, so I will write all over it and highlight areas so I can refer back to it. And, that’s just the way I learned, but great book. Yeah, as far as, it really we were just very fortunate. I think it’s something that we always preach. Was making sure that whoever you insure your business with, you know, whether it’s gonna be for carpet cleaning restoration, whatever, you’re a real key source for us, that was our first need to go be insured herself in a very large brokerage area.

John Clendenning [00:07:39]:


Shawn Barrett [00:07:40]:

As we put the confidence in the training to do restoration, use them as a resource to get that first phone call. Any insurance industry has gained, but that’s certainly still the focus It’s still about people at that level. It’s not always about social media or, you know, flyers or however you’re attracting your clients. Sometimes it is still a No. Carpenter Clendenning, the natural progression, I think with any carpet cleaning company probably is cleaning because then you can, you know, duct cleaning can be done. It’d be very horrible. And so I don’t like yourself. We got into got into the duct cleaning as well, and It was it was great to get us into fire jobs. Another job. So, again, just setting your, hey, this is what we wanna call to let’s say, the cleanup during after end the duct cleaning. So that was the starting point, and it just it kinda blossomed from there because We wanna do. I I still remember that this day thinking, man, if I could just stay awake 24 hours a day, I’d be rich because I can just work 24 hours a day. And now I just told my god, how could I hear him think?

John Clendenning [00:08:49]:


Shawn Barrett [00:08:50]:

But, at that time, I I did feel that way. And it’s really not about working in your business. Working. Right? And that’s advice you.

John Clendenning [00:09:01]:

Yeah. And the working on your business part of it, again, that there’s that marketing that we talked about because nothing happens until you you you you you a sale until you make a sale, there’s nothing else to do. And then the very next thing to do is deliver on that promise in the marketing message and have staff that buy into that as well. So, you know, making sure you’re hiring well and and and getting great technicians who are representing the company in the home, in, you know, in the restoration world that, you know, you got great subcontractors you’re working with as well as the on staff team and stuff like that and making sure everybody buys in as well. And it’s part of it is even I like to always consider your marketing to the employees as well on why you wanna deliver a great service so that you’re marketing to them. And I remember walking through your office and seeing the signs all over the place. Every everywhere you turned to look, there was and it wasn’t a picture of a field of flowers. It was a sign with, you know, with with a message on it to the staff to keeping engraining in their heads. What you what the company actually means. So you you promise something to the world, and then you build the company that can deliver it as well. And all of that is still just a a great marketing message. Just like we were talking about, or I’d mentioned earlier, like, you know, when it expanded golf tournaments, in the early days, I had employee appreciation or, sorry, client appreciation, barbecues, which I didn’t even know if anybody would show up, but back in my early days in Stratford. I went down by the Avon River and took a barbecue and invited people, and I I I I had hand picked 5 or 6 people to that I knew would show up, but it was like, how many packs of hamburger did you need? But it was, you know, it was to get the name of the business out even more and have those conversations and stuff like that. And, that was something that, I know you did with the, with the adjusters and agents and stuff like that to hockey games and to golf tournaments. And and and actually invest back in your business.

Shawn Barrett [00:10:53]:

So on a

John Clendenning [00:10:53]:

carpet cleaning level, talk a little bit about, sort of one thing I do notice is some some cleaners are shy these days. I guess they always were, but I just I just see it a little bit more not walking into car stores and making those having those conversations and having those referral sources, interior designers and, real estate agents and just that marketing outreach that needs to happen, part of it, just personally meeting people we talked about, but also the marketing outreach to to get people to, you know, you know, come out to lunch with you or, you know, come to your, drying room and an event that you’re having in the facility and stuff like that. There’s a lot of outreach and marketing that that needs to happen there as well. So, just if you remember a little bit of the stuff that you did you know, back in the day to get to get those things to happen to to make those connections.

Shawn Barrett [00:11:43]:

Yeah. For sure. I think It is it is gonna be some personal driven aspect. I mean, if that’s not your comfort zone, your comfort zone is just texting. I mean, eventually, then So, and and we’re still human. I mean, there’s still a connection. You know, whether they like you or don’t like you, just be yourself and share what you’re offering. I think I think we’re missing that in today. I think a lot of people, still value that. So for us, things will, you know, if there’s an organization, so when we built the flood room, Part of that was for the insurance companies for sure, but we also had a local colleague that was writing to, environmental study Yeah. And so not only would we flood it and dry it, we’d also do testing of microbial growth in the insulation and the floors and the walls. And we would invite the local college to bring their classes over, which then, of course, you would also be.

John Clendenning [00:12:45]:


Shawn Barrett [00:12:47]:

On, you know, for that unused, whatever. So that in itself, but there was a book and I know you and I both read it, but not the obvious expert. And, I mean, you know, we did that without saying here the expert. It just

John Clendenning [00:13:00]:

— Yeah.

Shawn Barrett [00:13:00]:

We were obviously expert of the local media for training.

John Clendenning [00:13:04]:


Shawn Barrett [00:13:06]:

Again, a lot of it is just you know, if if you want a job, then go be a car if you want a business, then you gotta think like a business owner. And, and even back in our, you know, our day when we had, I think that was still the way a lot of people think, well, I can make my 60 or $70,000 a year Clendenning carpets, but a lot of times I think what we don’t realize is running on cash not really an investment. Then when you hit 50, 55, 60

John Clendenning [00:13:35]:

— Yeah. —

Shawn Barrett [00:13:36]:

or you have to retire, are you gonna start to clean till you’re 7?

John Clendenning [00:13:39]:


Shawn Barrett [00:13:40]:

I don’t know.

John Clendenning [00:13:41]:

Yeah. And are you gonna sell the business for the price of the vehicles and the equipment, or are you gonna sell it for the goodwill, the database, the name, and And, like, but, again, the authority that you’ve built that that that brand in your local marketplace up to, and that’s a decision you have to make you know, not not the year you plan to sell, but 20 years before. So yeah. I remember the phrase that you once, you I think you brought up to me at one point, but It was that the difference of running, you know, growing your business over 20 years versus running your business year 1 20 times. That you’re you’re never you’re never you’ve never really moved me on year 1. You do the same things. You’re just running year 1 again and again, and you didn’t sort of expand and grow and learn. And tap into all of these resources. Like, this podcast is designed to be a resource, but the books, listen, I don’t I I tend to I remember the first time I saw one of your books. Shocked because I always believed that books should be, you know, revered in this this this pristine thing. I barely wanted to break the spine. I saw one of yours dog ear written on in highlight. I think I borrowed one at one point. I went, holy crap. This is, you know, this is butchered, but it made sense because you’re coming back to the stuff. It’s a study notes. Right? So I kinda picked up that trait from you because it was and it was a hard one because I always thought they should sit neatly on the bookshelf. You read them and they put them down. But what I tend to do now is, it I listen to a a book, of the audio version of the book. And then if I’m getting a lot out of it, it turned out to be a a a good recommended book, regardless of what it is, whatever field it’s in, And then then I’ll pick up the physical copy of the book to then listen to again with the book in front, read, and listen, and highlight, and note, and and all that kind

Shawn Barrett [00:15:24]:

of stuff.

John Clendenning [00:15:24]:

So, yeah, just a way to absorb the information. So —

Shawn Barrett [00:15:28]:

Well, and I think we were both, people went to one point in time, and I I still do it, but I’m trying to contemplating trying to learn Spanish. The holiday perspective and what my clients would be, but, Cyprus cybernetics, right, within Kennedy and, you know, and just willing to sleep, this thing, the same thing over and over. It’s amazing. Sometimes I go, I don’t even know where I learned that, but it’s in

John Clendenning [00:15:51]:

there. Yeah.

Shawn Barrett [00:15:52]:

And, again, a simple way for someone to be learning when they’re sleeping.

John Clendenning [00:15:56]:

Yeah. And if you’re the guy in the truck, I guess if we’re, you know, like, we can go down many paths with this conversation because there’s just so many things we won’t even get to, but when you’re driving around, you’re the guy in the truck Clendenning, or you’ve now handed over the cleaning and you’re out doing the meeting and becoming the obvious expert and the authority in your marketplace. You’re meeting with, the carpet store owners and the the flooring store owners and things like that. You’re joining you go into the chamber events and, you know, making those connections of referral partners and stuff like that. You’re, you know, you’re out meeting commercial clients or whatever you’re doing. There’s a lot of time between stop to stop to stop, and you should be using your vehicle back in the day. We used to put cassette tapes in, and then see it showed up And you’d listen to CDs of, you know, of people teaching you great marketing ideas and advice, and you get one nugget out of that 60 minute interview or or or listening to, you know, buying a course by Dan Kennedy or Michael Gerber or you know, Jay Abraham or any of these guys. Right? It’s just you buy the course. You learn a bit. You go, wow. Can I use that in my marketing swipe and deploy? And today’s day and age, it’s like you shouldn’t be driving around listening to the Joe Rogan podcast. I think Joe’s cool, but that’s that’s that’s a waste of 2 a half hours of your time when you could be listening to the game by Alex Harmozzi. He’s he’s the guy, you know, Gary Vaynerchuk or you know, anything Dan Kennedy and Russell Brunson put out and and stuff like that, the the the whole magnetic marketing world and stuff like that. All of it is just you’re absorbing it. And then when you go to, you know, when you go to do something, you’ve got these ideas in your head. Oh, there’s a better headliner. Why don’t I send this book in the mail with a little note on it and said, you know, not to one guy, but to five people, but make it personal. And, you know, hey. I just wanted to reach out. I read this book. I thought it was cool. And just, you know, to somebody that you want to make a connection within your local community and, a really good chance that they’re not getting books sent in the mail by anybody else, and they’ll, you know, they’ll call you up. And, and thank you for the book, and there’s the conversation starter. So —

Shawn Barrett [00:18:02]:

And really don’t. Like, just imagine, you’re embedding this, but me looking from the outside in, There was somebody who was putting out the kind of content that you’re putting out back then.

John Clendenning [00:18:14]:

Yeah. I

Shawn Barrett [00:18:14]:

mean, you know, how much if they follow, and I think that’s the key is following it. Don’t don’t get your it works on the concepts that you’re sharing or you know that. If you just get, you know, other carpet cleaners or other service, I shouldn’t just say carpet cleaning, but service industry, stuff under. Yep. And that. There’s a formula for success. All the way I did for you. I mean, your book alone, I just go, well, you’re actually giving step by step processes as well, which back in the day, there wasn’t a lot of back. There was a lot of theory and a lot of do this, you know, and and buy this and so on. And you have some of that, but but, I mean, your book alone, I just go in. You couldn’t if you can’t start a nursing business or a service business and follow that process, I don’t know how much better it did. Yeah. Oh, well, thank you. For your 3.99 for your Yeah. If it is, Yeah. 299. I think it

John Clendenning [00:19:11]:

is US. 399 Canadian for the, the, the Kindle version. Yep. Yeah.

Shawn Barrett [00:19:16]:

So I just I just go in. But the, you know, again, if I was back that realm, that part of my life.

John Clendenning [00:19:22]:


Shawn Barrett [00:19:23]:

That’s 3 99 Anderson.

John Clendenning [00:19:25]:

Yeah. There you go. And it’s, like, the the the interesting thing about internet marketing is, we’ve been around, like, my my carpet cleaning journey started in 95. In high school, I started doing window cleaning as most of the people listen to this now and then jumped over the side of forty story buildings till I realized, hey. Wait a minute. People 1 in 10 dot jumped, like, fall to their death at one point. If if you keep up this career, so decided to go on the ground, and that was carpet cleaning and started that whole thing. But and then realized, you know, bought into a franchise. Like, you and I, we met at the the same franchise. We bought into chem and realize that franchises are good at selling franchises, but they’re not and they’re good at selling their brand and the glossy. So and it looks pretty, but it’s not what resonates with people. You you have to then decide, holy crap. Now I need to learn marketing. I can’t just hand that all off. Whether you’re an independent business owner, because we both own the independent business outside of franchises and in in the franchise world, and you can kinda see that comparison, And whether it’s the internet or not, the psychology is still the same. Who is your ideal customer? Who do you want to actually listen to the the marketing message? Are you getting in front of them with the right words? Are you weeding out the ones you don’t want because you’re you’re you’re not trying to be everything to everybody. You you know, if you If you don’t want the people that want $99 whole home cleaning, then let them know that you offer the finest quality cleaning at a reasonable price. Prices start at $200, $250, they’re not gonna call you if that’s right in your ad. If you’re looking for a cheap discount cleaning, please call somebody else. That was in all of our Yellowpage ads. That was, like, that was the near the headline of the there’s a headline and and that that same psychology still works today when somebody lands on your website. Well, what is your website? Well, it’s still it’s gotta convert. It’s gotta influence and convert. They came there for a reason, so they’re they’re at least in the game. They found your website from an ad or from seeing the van on the driveway, somebody’s driveway, whatever. But when they come there, how do you keep them there? It’s there’s a psychology involved so you don’t show the picture of the of the baby lying on the carpet because everybody shows the picture of the baby lying on the carpet. Show the team. Show the owner why you got into this business. Things like that. Have your risk reversal guarantee right up at the top. If you choose us, here’s what we’re gonna do differently. You’ve gotta be different in the marketplace and stand out and then become the authority. And then people will refer you. Your customers will and referral partners will as well. So it’s not much different than putting out 50 or 100,000 flyers in a new market to open up a to to open up a new area, a new territory. And, you know, back in the day, it wasn’t the internet. It was know, get in the yellow pages. It’ll eventually, you know, the the crappiest leads, but you you get a volume of them and you cherry you’ve you’ve you work your way through the ones that are willing to choose you with a good script, and then you you you just blanket market into the ideal neighborhoods the, the message that that you want, and it’s not about a discount in a deal. It’s about what you do differently with a good marketing message and it it starts to build that momentum and the internet’s the same way. It’s it’s just a different medium. It’s, you know, marketing is just message market and medium. And the message is the psychology. It doesn’t change. People still fear the same things. And the the market is, like, you know, how your market is still the same crowd. Your market is who you want. The medium is the only part that that changes over time.

Shawn Barrett [00:22:45]:

So — And it’s probably become more costly. It has come more costly effect as well. But if you

John Clendenning [00:22:50]:


Shawn Barrett [00:22:50]:

about the money we need to spend on yellow pages,

John Clendenning [00:22:53]:

How much was an average? Sorry to cut you off. How much was an average customer? Because you knew your numbers well as well. If you can remember back, the average carpet cleaning customer who finally, like, came through a yellow page ad. So you put call tracking numbers in. 99% of carpet cleaners didn’t. We did. You you put a call tracking number and how many people came from the yellow pages versus versus this, how much did I pay the yellow pages? Cause again, that was the that’s where you found your cold leads was people would flip through the yellow pages when they really didn’t have a name in mind. And at the end of the day, you made a paid, like, we’re paying at $1,560,000 a month to the yellow pages because it was the number one source of cold leads And then doing all the database marketing and everything else on top of it. But what would if you remember back, what was the average cost to buy a new customer after they called? And then you finally booked them in, At the end of the year, you you’ve got x number of carpet or customers from the yellow pages be before that as much as, you know, 30, $40,000 a year investment to be in a number of the different books. Do you kinda remember, do you remember back what the average cost of a a a an actual customer was accurate.

Shawn Barrett [00:23:57]:

And, I mean, it varied every year because I think as you and I talk more, like, we it depends on how many points of contact you were having every death of the client as well. Right? But I I’m pretty sure the first thing was was free, and I, you know, if that average is 150 bucks at the time, it was it was free. And the whole idea of it was a very enough funnel so that you kept it as a client so that the next one was more or less your profit and slowing down the line. So that’s why that offer of Recarpet cleaning because we’re almost doing it for free anyway with all of our teaching. You might as well get enough free carpet cleaning.

John Clendenning [00:24:35]:

Yeah. Find your ideal customer and and if if they’re right for you, offer to do that one room for free. That’s been around for decades now, but it’s still you know, it’s a great offer. What we teach people right now is, like, if you want a great referral partner, reach out, make that contact off just say, hey. Your clientele are people that use our types of services. You’re an interior designer. You have a higher end clientele. Sometimes they need their chaise lounge cleaned, their carpet cleaned, whatever. You’re not you’re not replacing everything in the whole house, and they’ve knit you’ve now renovated the upstairs and the rec room needs a cleaning and stuff like that. You’re a great referral source. Let me come and clean a couple rooms in your house for free. Let’s have that conversation. Let me show you why we do things differently, how we do it, and see if we can be your referral, you know, the the person you refer. But let’s lead with the giving hand. Let me come in clean for free. We try and teach all of our clients, like, make sure you’re doing that outreach, you know, not once a month. Like, once a week pick somebody else that you’re giving, a free cleaning to that could be, you know, even just in that sense, a referral partner, but, yeah, good neighborhoods you could be offering the neighbor one room free just to try you out if it’s in around a golf course road or around your ideal customer and stuff like that. So What I remember is I remember it was about $80.82 was the last number I had before Yellow Pages, you know, crashed and burned during the you know, the as as 2007 iPhones were invented or it came on the market and within a short period of time, the recession happened and you come out of the recession, you’re pumping back your marketing in and realize that these little consumer devices became where the attention of the audience went. So they went away from needing to look at the yellow pages to find anybody or other areas because they’ve now even even grandma and grandpa, you know, ended up checking out Facebook and things like that. And on the internet, they they learned how to do basic searches. So it became the the new attention thing, but about $82 was the last number I remember, average cost to buy a buy a customer. From the yellow pages. And I think it’s funny. I was just talking to one of our clients the other day there, and they were a little concerned that it cost them $15 for a lead from Facebook to raise their hand and say, yeah, I’m I’m interested in your cleaning services. Now Facebook’s disruptive. They didn’t type in looking for a carpet cleaner on Facebook. Right? They do on Google for Google ads and your your rankings of your website. But on Facebook, you came a like, you know, we try and target an ideal, the ideal demographic, uh-uh, you know, a thirty five to fifty five year old college university educated, woman who’s managing the household has a career outside and usually has 2 kids and a dog. That’s the average client. Right? And for for a decent carpet cleaning business, And that person is on Facebook. So let’s let’s target some ads in front of those people that meet that demographic in in your in your marketplace, but $15, even if it takes you 5 of them before one conversation with, oh gosh, you know, god forbid forbid. You just bought that customer for 75 bucks. That’s still less than it cost us in 2004. With the yellow pages. Right?

Shawn Barrett [00:27:43]:

And what would an average? What’s in that? You know, just because I, as I mentioned, Jennifer, on on on a lot of this stuff now that sold the businesses, but it is 350 in average. Yeah. So anywhere anywhere between

John Clendenning [00:28:00]:

300 should be sort of like your average job at the high at the lowest end. If you’re below that, there’s a lot you can do to bring your average job up. You’re trying to sell on price, not on service quality and value, and customers buy on value the best customers and the ones that come back year after year buy on value, the ones that buy on price, you probably won’t see them the next time anyways. So, again, as we said, why waste your money on a give give a free cleaning to somebody who actually pays well in your marketplace, for the services, but 300 is a bottom end. We’ve got some clients that their average job is over 600. In just carpet cleaning. Right?

Shawn Barrett [00:28:34]:

So — — easily. Even after their costs and their expenses, they’re easily doubling that $75 Facebook. Generated that. Yeah.

John Clendenning [00:28:42]:

Yeah. Just for that one, Lee, and and the other thing that we did in the sort of the grunt grass roots wish we had systems that worked better is, you know, everybody called up on the phone. That was your number one way of getting leads. You picked the phone up right away. And, if, you know, you you get their phone number either from caller ID or ask them, hey. If we get disconnected, what’s the best number to call you back on? And at the end of the call, as technology advance. And, again, I don’t wanna sound like the old dog. Oh my gosh. We we I remember the day when, you know, you had to wait 3 hours for the computer to boot up and stuff like that, but it felt like it. Now but we asked for the email address so that we could send over, what we just discussed, if they didn’t book by the end of the the end of the the sales script conversation, then you asked for the email address. Why? Cause now the next day, your office person was to call them up if they didn’t book yesterday. Send them the information, call them the next day, see if they’re ready to make a decision, wait 2 or 3 days, have that list of people, call them again, send them an email, and just start dripping on them. All of your good marketing until they either, you know, buy or tell you to go away. Which either one is totally fine, either they’re not qualified to be your one of your clients, or you’re chasing them because you’re not gonna get them all from that first conversation. It’s you have to have lead nurture built in. So building a lead database that was just a piece of paper on the desk beside you in the day is now so much easier with technology. Every lead that comes in, they’ve either come through a phone number that’s recorded, you know, digitally on call tracking or they filled out a form on Facebook that’s now a into a lead database that you can text message them and drip on them and and and tell them why you started this business and you know, the charities you’re involved in and just let get them to start to know you. So if they didn’t book right away, maybe 3 months, 6 months, 9 months from now, Are you still messaging that lead, not just your database, but that lead so that, yeah, you you now can influence them. Right? So that that goal was, like, that didn’t change. That we just had to do it with pen and paper back in the day. So —

Shawn Barrett [00:30:48]:

You did. And I think and and I think it was saying, Kennedy has resonated with me. Was it if you’re not you’re not pissing off at least 1 or 2 people a day with your marketing. You’re not marketing partner. And, yeah, and then, and and then the reverse happens because you’d send out your your postcards or your reminders to people or whatever, and they would literally call the office apologizing that they still need your services right now, but they’ll call us another time. So you know your marketing’s working. Yeah.

John Clendenning [00:31:18]:

Well, let’s let’s talk about that for a second. Some clients weren’t worth that many touches. Some clients were the apartment rentals. You got them, but you might as well still stay in front of them. They paid your minimum charge, but they’re probably moving out soon, and they don’t own the carpet. They don’t care about it as much. And then some of your clients were like, you know, you know, off white carpet, off white furniture, off white dog, off white everything, and they just want it cleaned three times five times a year, right, and everything in between. Well and segmenting your database to know those is is one step, but then How many times do you touch them? And, I I think the listeners might be a little bit shocked when, when you mentioned your A list customers, how many times would you touch touch them in a year? On average.

Shawn Barrett [00:32:05]:

Yeah. It it was you have to see nominal 100% on my head, but during that, over five times a month.

John Clendenning [00:32:15]:

5 times a month. I’m, yeah, I remember 40 to 50 was the number that, you know, we used to talk about because we we would we would tell other people that, like, other other carpet cleaners and franchise and business owners and stuff like that. That and they’re going, what? How will you not be? Like, I talked to them once or twice a year. I re I reach out if it’s a reminder, and it’s like, well, if you do it well enough, then, you know, you wanna be a welcome guest, not an annoying pest. And that’s so as long as you’re giving them something of value, they’re not gonna be annoyed that you keep sending them stuff.

Shawn Barrett [00:32:46]:

And I think a couple things you it really well. That is Everything that we did was from, like, our fame.

John Clendenning [00:32:55]:


Shawn Barrett [00:32:55]:

So every marketing piece that went out, and we had pictures of, you know, of my daughter going to school and had a crown written, happy father’s day at postcard. And people resonated with us because we were just is going back to me when you’re going out and marketing person to person. Yeah. People, just people. We’re just people trying to run a business and give you a good service and if I see you on the street, I remember you talking about this on another interview, like, I never had to cross the street once because I upset somebody with cleaning or with our restoration service. It’s a small community. If we’re at the hop arenas together, I wanna make sure that person is more than talking to

John Clendenning [00:33:34]:


Shawn Barrett [00:33:34]:

So it’s everything you do, which I think is something that you’ve talked about many times before too. It’s Mark marketing is everything. It’s not just it’s just not the media that you’re using. It’s it’s your names. It’s your uniform. It’s the show you put on in the house. Follow-up after it’s

John Clendenning [00:33:51]:

— Yeah. —

Shawn Barrett [00:33:52]:

everything that you do.

John Clendenning [00:33:53]:

Yeah. It’s it’s drive. It’s at the end of the street where you had the flower shop. That air brushed the name of your business on the were they yellow roses or karnate with yellow? They’re Yeah. And every customer you arrive to the door, you hey. Thank you for allowing us in our home, and you give them a little gift bag and a flower. Like, nobody has to do that stuff, but that’s the the amount of how memorable that is. Well, where does that come from? Well, that didn’t come from, hey. You know, Sean Barrett is the smartest marketer on the planet ever, and he just came up with this in a dream one night. It was somewhere along the way learning about marketing absorbing that information. And somebody said, hey. I always do this. Every customer that we we we go and see, we hand them something. And it was like, what can I hand them? And it’s it’s it’s it’s creating that next memorable moment. Right? So, yeah, if everything is, like, if your vans, if you leave the drive, then you leave the shop, and drive through a car wash before you head out, you know, out on the road. You make sure your equipment’s clean and neat and tidy. Does it have to be? No. Do your technicians? Do they have to wear cocky pants versus jeans? No. They don’t. Do they have to wear, you know, you know, neat looking indoor shoes and outdoor shoes and layout roll out a red carpet and put booties on when they’re walking around with the client, hand the client booties to walk around and look at the job afterwards and deliver it a full client experience. Do they ever have to do that? No. We’ve we we see pictures of, you know, we ask some of our clients send us pictures of your team. And they’re in jeans and and and, like, a feel, a long, hockey jersey. And that’s the technician out cleaning. It’s like, Yeah. You the customer might like you, but you’re not referable. You didn’t create a a referable moment by just taking it up that notch to that professionalism that that that stands out and makes you look different. And that’s all marketing. Every bit of it’s marketing.

Shawn Barrett [00:35:50]:

It is. And your brand can charge more than you

John Clendenning [00:35:52]:

Shawn Barrett [00:35:53]:


John Clendenning [00:35:53]:

Shawn Barrett [00:35:53]:

those are the things. And so instead of cleaning 4 or 5 houses a day, you clean too because you’re making the same kind of money. Better margins.

John Clendenning [00:36:01]:

Yeah. Yeah. As we always say to clients, like, the the internet’s a mixed bag. No different, like, back in the day, it was flyers, flyers, flyers, everything was flyers. And it was like, hey. How can I design that that that one flyer? What’s that one offer? I get those calls every day still. What is the best what, you know, should I be doing Facebook? Should I be doing Google? Google paper collection? Should I be doing local service ads now? Should I, you know, what should I be doing? Where is the and what is the best offer that I should put out? We get asked that almost all the time from from our new clients is. What’s the best offer, John? And my answer is the the best offer is the one that resonates with your clients right now. So what are you split testing? What is your AB test right now? Have you come have you put something out that became the control in its working and test something against it? Always to be testing and tracking, right, because the offer is not gonna be there isn’t one great offer. It’s it’s what’s resonating and how can you deliver a message around the offer? Is it Father’s Day? Well, could you give out a barbecue set with, hey. You know, book for bar book for Father’s Day, and you’ll get a $60 barbecue set for free with your carpet Clendenning. Buy a bunch of them on Alibaba. Nowadays, so much easier to get them from the wholesale guys we used to have to find them from. And now they’ve got, you know, they’ve got the barbecue set as an offer just on Father’s Day. If you don’t sell out all of them this year, guess what? You got some for next year’s promotion. Things like that. It’s just thinking through. Right?

Shawn Barrett [00:37:23]:

It really is. And, again, I just got a reiterating of giving you too much of a a plug here. Anybody in our age bracket didn’t have these, didn’t have the tools that you and others are sharing with. And it’s just all the information it’s provided. It’s just, you know, how much simpler it can get. Right? I still don’t understand if someone would go wearing jeans at a a jersey of between clean or do plumbing or do whatever. I don’t understand that. Yeah. You used to have your staff all used to work tie.

John Clendenning [00:37:55]:

Shirts and ties. I see. It’s like, I it was painful when I finally switched to the polo shirt. It was painful. It’s like, I didn’t want them to stop. It’s just like it finally became sort of a cultural thing where it just like, it was a and it was probably only I sold two two and a half years ago, my final brick and mortar business, I think it was probably only about 4 years 5 years before that. We got rid of the ties. So it was still, like, you know, 2015 or somewhere 14, somewhere that we I finally said, okay. We will go with very, very neat and tidy polo shirts. With the khaki pants and and stuff. But, yeah, it was because, yeah, the tie still stood out. Every customer would say, why are you wearing a tie to clean carpet? Because we provide a professional service, and we wanna look professional in your home. That was a script. It was a script. Right?

Shawn Barrett [00:38:42]:

So And, again, you were probably the first person who really helped our own this understanding. We had that. Right. But until it was put in put in front of the staff that we’re actually doing that’s selling in house and on the phone at the time. Yeah. But that script was so important to close.

John Clendenning [00:39:02]:


Shawn Barrett [00:39:02]:

I’ll ask you, but you’re not going to get the calls.

John Clendenning [00:39:05]:

Yep. No. And it’s it’s it’s like that there’s a psychology to every moment of sale. So it’s Some of it came naturally because, oddly, I’m I’m a naturally shy fellow. So I chose chose carpet cleaning put myself in front of customers to force myself to have to go into homes because I didn’t wanna just be a factory worker or or, you know, somebody that shied away from society. So I did that in my early twenties as a way to challenge myself as self improvement, you know, reading Tony Robbins and all that fun stuff, and that was my entry into carpet cleaning. And when I got a no, I took it painfully, direct. It’s like, oh, I got so the next customer, the next driveway I pulled in, I would say something slightly differently and slightly differently and eventually start getting yeses more yeses than nos and when Oh, well, that’s the way I should say that. It became it was just naturally intuitive to keep myself out of out of pain, you know, as they say. And then I started learning neural neurolinguistic programming and just sales scripting and started picking up when you went into a a commission sales place and hear that somebody’s been trained in their actually weaving you through a conversation and going, I know what you just did there. You just did the assumed close, and you do, you know, whatever. And it’s it’s it’s good to learn, but your front office staff need to know that. The people answering your phones need to know that. 20 years ago answering the phone on your phone on your hip, while out cleaning, was definitely a recipe for failure because you couldn’t deliver that that, you know, scripted response that converted more people to a yes booking and understood why they should choose you over somebody else and make that differentiation. You couldn’t do that while you’re standing in front of the customer or cleaning their couch. And you just pause for a second. And we learned that early on that that was actually the one of the secrets to successes of all of our competitors. We’re still just answering the phone while out in the job. Were gonna be twice as bid busy as them just by having somebody on the phone’s answering properly. In today’s day and age, the phone call is only about 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time people want to text so you better have chat to text of some sort on your website and the person answering better treat that as a phone call. You’ve got about, you know, less than a minute to get back to them by by text and, some automation that starts talking to them right away. And even when they fill out a form on your website, back in the day, I was guilty of it too. That we would check the the email inbox in the morning maybe midday and at the end of the day, nowadays, you should be alerted the second a new a new request comes in, and you’re right on the horn with them. We actually built into one of the tools we have for our websites carpet cleaner lead pro, the second somebody fill fills out a form on your website, your phone rings in the office. You pick it up you if you can take that call, like, you’re not busy, you which you shouldn’t be, somebody should be answering the phone. You press 1 and you immediately connect with the person who just filled out the form. If they can’t take the call. They get a text message saying you just tried to call them, right from the system saying, hey. We just tried to give you a quick call. I noticed you filled out a form. How else can I help you? And you try and start the text communication if they’re not in a place they could take a phone call. But just by filling out a form of the website, you should be on the phone with that person or on text with them within one minute. Because your chances of 80% higher chance of converting just by doing that. So —

Shawn Barrett [00:42:16]:

And that that I mean, that goes for Every server. Right? Like, plumbers, HVAC guys. Everybody. It’s just yeah. There are amazing tools that are that are available that I mean, I know what I spent roughly over the years with educating myself and stuff, and I’m pretty sure we were in the same range. Like, there’s 100 of 1000 of dollars of information on into all your systems.

John Clendenning [00:42:40]:


Shawn Barrett [00:42:41]:

And I love the you said, use hand opponent, but we’re on it and scan it and just carry that on. Just — Yeah. That just make any sense to me, but

John Clendenning [00:42:55]:

Yeah. And that whole implementation is everything. Lock and load it. Like, when you learn something new, put it in place, plan plan your first iteration of everything to be, like, when you look back on it, laughable, which is fine, but you still did it. Nothing has to be perfect. Just iterate, put something in place, lock it into a system where it happens every time, and then move on to the next, and move on to the next. So your business is growing because you’re building systems. That’s that working on your business. If you’re working in your business, you never get to the point of of developing this. So if you can step away and work on your business, even if it’s just one day a week at the at the beginning, and then 2 days a week. And, eventually, you’re training you’re working on your business, training technicians to say things the way you say it, you know, to show the customer the spots and the stains and the the before and afters, the way you show them, stuff like that, you’re you’re creating a system in the company that’s repeatable, and now you’re working on your business and you can continue to say, okay. What hey. What can we do next month? What can we do next month? You know, as a marketing thing, plan a month in a in advance, Eventually, that becomes, hey. What’s the year look like? Like, you and I both had a yearly marketing calendar, not year 1, But by year 5 or 6 in the business, there is, hey. I know what I’m doing every month of, you know, every month of the year, what promotions are running out, what types of, you know, campaigns I’m running, it was in advance. The budget was ready and everything. So and now you’re just iterating, hey. Can I tweak this and make it a little bit better? Can I split this a little bit now because that’s that’s a great back to school flyer or offer or mailing or phone call sequence? And yeah. So can I can I tweak and do a split test and send this to 2000 of our database and this to 200 and see if the 200 beats the the the 2000 is the control? And if it does, gonna we’re gonna ramp that up next time and maybe do half and half and try and see if we can beat the control and just get better and better because I learned something new over the last few months that I wanna try when it gets back to September and back to school, you know, marketing and things like that. So but yeah. So it’s kind of a weird conversation to have when we’re talking about, you know, internet marketing and how to get your internet marketing right. And but, again, carpet cleaner success series is all about these are the sort of, like, the tried and true stuff that you just you you’ve gotta get back to if you’ve known them before and kind of forgotten and let things fall off, let let’s reinvigorate that. And if you didn’t know them before, go out and start self studying, like, learn this stuff inside note.

Shawn Barrett [00:45:27]:

Most definitely.

John Clendenning [00:45:28]:

Cool. So, you know, I think we got a good conversation. I I think it’s we’ve left with a a a lot of nuggets of value people are gonna go back and relisten to this again and have a bunch of questions, but, just, you know, in in in in a close here, what what nuggets, any additional nuggets of wisdom you would give to say, you know, go back 30 years and you know, 30 year ago, Sean was starting a business right now in today’s day and age in the home service industry. Home cleaning, home service industry. What advice would you give to yourself that it took you the years in business to sort of, learn and and and really refine. What would what would you say to as a as a as a parting shot of vice to the listeners?

Shawn Barrett [00:46:16]:

Yeah. I think I mean, Dane Kennedy always used to say this. You you don’t really you don’t delegate the marketing or the money, and I’m a firm believer in not delegating the marketing without understanding it, but I think you need to delegate not need to delegate the media, but not the massive. Yeah. And, you know, well, man, I I would have been retired at 40 if we had to had 6 years in place, back then to say reading them, for 30 years. Not to that point. So if I was gonna start again, I would research everything in your system that I would And it was in the HVAC. I find out who are the marketers in the HVAC industry as well. I’ve heard about them. Yeah. And then also what I love about parka cleaning HVAC, the plumber, whatever it is swipe swipe and deploy. I would just, hey, that’s something the HVAC guys are doing that I could perfect thing. I think it’s so peaceful and narrow minded. Take it all in and figure out what you can do on your end to do that. Automate yourself and systemize yourself?

John Clendenning [00:47:24]:

No. And that’s that’s that’s that’s great advice. It’s just there’s so much going on nowadays. You know, if if there’s a a landscaping guy in your mark in your neighborhood that’s tick talking every day and and Scott is little, you know, one minute videos, and he’s doing 2 or 3 a day. And blowing up with followers, follow him, learn from them. Can you adapt that? Like, that’s, you know, there’s is the roofer? Is there is there one roofing company standing out among among all the other ones, and what do they do different? How is their message different? Are they, you know, we’re a family owned business. Here’s grandpa that started it. Here’s dad. Here’s me. You know, they doing that or are they trying to hide behind, you know, logos and graphics and without telling you who they are? You you can start picking up these these little pearls of wisdom from even the market around you realizing that the best businesses actually marketed themselves to that point. It didn’t they didn’t just get lucky. There is a million roofers and a million landscapers and a million, you know, stereo installation businesses and carpet cleaners and pool services, but in every town, there’s really only 1 or 2 that are kind of every area that has become the authority and stand out and double check what they’re doing marketing wise, and you’ll realize it’s light years different than what the average person’s doing. They’re investing more in their marketing. They didn’t really get into that, but we I tell everybody that, 15 to 20% is the sweet bought and stay closer to 20 percent of your revenue going to marketing because that takes you from 200,000 to 275, 300,000 the next year to 400,000 to, oh my gosh, I I I there’s no more carpet cleaning customers in my area. It’s not big enough to go to 608100,000, but I should open up a duct cleaning and a hardwood floor Clendenning because I’ve got this database, and I know how to market now, and it’s the same demographic. Let me give them more services and let’s build this to a $1,000,000 business or whatever you wanna get to. But, it’s by investing in the marketing and not trying to say, well, you know, I don’t really market. I rely on word-of-mouth. Well, you know, word-of-mouth is still turning people to go, okay. Well, should I trust these guys? Let me go see what they look like around. Let me ask other people. Let me check the internet. Let me see what they’re all about, and that’s all marketing as well. So so invest in it as well is a is a big message we like to say, not just because we we do digital marketing. We’re we don’t wanna be you know, the bulk of your marketing, but it’s part of a mix, but you should be investing your in your marketing and your marketing knowledge. So, well, thanks for jumping on. I hope, I hope everybody got something out this. I hope it’s another one of those great interviews, where you you go back and listen to it over and over again and bookmark it and, and and write down the things that, you know, inspired you to do to do something and aim at those and send us a message and tell us which things you, you you you liked, which things you actually are planning to implement. And, that way we can we can even tailor more of these sations and some of the master classes we do to the things that you need to know more information about. So, anyways, thanks Sean for hopping on. I really appreciate it. And, yeah, we look to look to catch up with you soon, and we’ll I’ll let you know what the, the listeners say about this episode.

Shawn Barrett [00:50:29]:

Sounds good, John. Thanks so much.

John Clendenning [00:50:30]:

K. Take care.

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