by Joe Clark, Utah Carpet Cleaning Service
There’s nothing worse than a musty and smelly or grubby carpet. Professionals help by not only cleaning carpets but reducing allergens in the area. So, air quality and clean carpets go hand-in-hand. But all too often pros, who should know better, make carpet cleaning mistakes that can absolutely trash carpets and with them, your business’ reputation.
Over-wetting is out!
It takes experience to get the balance just right. You want to get a deep cleaning, but you don’t want to get the backing too wet because it will take a long time to dry and can cause discoloration. And just as sweaters can shrink in the wash, so can carpets that have been overwetted. Once this kind of damage has occurred, replacing the carpet is the only option.
Whatever agents you use when cleaning carpets, you want to get all or most of the residue out. The residue actually sticks dirt to the fibers, so the carpet becomes an absolute magnet for dirt. Cleaning it out is difficult and can even be near impossible.
Many small operators with a machine and a bright business idea make a fatal mistake that permanently ruins carpets: letting furniture stay in contact with carpet when it is wet. When cleaning carpets using any wet or moist cleaning system, the furniture must either be removed from the room or else lifted off the carpeting with foam blocks until the carpet dries out.
Cutting corners on chemicals
When it comes to carpet cleaning agents, cheap materials can cause disaster. Although cost savings are important to any business, you really don’t want to damage your reputation or even end up paying for new carpeting because you thought cheap cleaning agents would save you a few dollars. Choose the high road. That’s why you’re a professional!
Poor communication with clients
In the early days after my business opened, I’d often get frustrated with people who would choose a cheaper quote from a substandard service over mine. The thing with clients is that they don’t know your business and what your service includes in detail. I found that explaining that my quote includes, for example, pre-treatment helped them to compare apples with apples.
When you present a quote to a client, go through everything that it includes in detail. Once they know what they’re paying for, they’ll evaluate other quotes using those criteria.
Skipping soil retardants
This error could be related to the problem I outlined when discussing communication. If you’re hoping to get your service chosen on the basis of a low price, skipping the post-cleaning soil retardant treatment will bring costs down – but that’s not good for your client.
Soil retardant treatment prevents new spills from soaking in after the carpet has been cleaned. Carpet cleaners who don’t at least inform their clients that this is an option they can include are not providing the best service.
Not informing clients about tough odor problems
You can get rid of most odors with proper cleaning, but there are times when mold has colonized the carpet, and antimicrobial treatments are needed too. In my experience, the mold will come back in time because the problem is an environmental one, but it will take longer to do so.
Deodorizers are not everyone’s cup of tea. The main problem with them is that they’re really just a stronger smell to mask the smell you don’t like. They’re definitely not a permanent solution, and some clients don’t like the way they smell.
When facing odor problems that you suspect may be so ingrained you won’t be able to get rid of them completely, it’s best to be honest with the client. Tell them their options: new carpet, antibacterial agents, or deodorizers, and let them decide for themselves.
Poor training and supervision
At the end of the day, your reputation depends on the staff who actually do the job. When you know your business well, it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking the job’s easy and there’s no learning curve, but there always is. Training and supervision are the answers. Your staff should consist of pros, not grunt laborers if you want to offer a truly excellent service to your clients.
What makes you a professional?
Just accepting money for a carpet cleaning service doesn’t make anyone a true professional. I’ll admit that much of professionalism is learned through experience, but continuous improvement should be part of any business.
If your service is good, it’s time to take it to great. Nothing is ever perfect, and that’s why there’s always room for improvement.
The absolute basics are:
• Knowing the materials you’re going to be cleaning and how they will perform. This is a huge field, and it keeps changing.
• Knowing the cleaning agents and other chemicals you work with and building good relationships with your suppliers.
• Having professional, well-maintained machines and equipment with trained operators.
• Being honest with clients about what you can and cannot do, even if they don’t ask.
• Offering them the high road version of your service and explaining why the extras are necessary. If they choose the low road, at least they know what the disadvantages are.
• Living up to your commitments.
These basics plus a few extras such as cheerful, friendly staff and on-site efficiency will go a long way towards building your reputation as a reliable carpet cleaning company. Avoid the pitfalls and errors, and you’ll have satisfied clients, referrals and repeat business.
About the Author
Joe Clark is the co-owner of a local carpet cleaning company in Salt Lake City, Utah with over 10 years’ experience in residential and commercial carpet cleaning. To learn more, visit www.carpetcleaningutah.net.