- THE MAGAZINE
Not too long ago I was asked by a professional carpet cleaner, “Do I need one of those small spotting machines?” I got his attention when I told him, “Absolutely not.” Not if you don’t mind setting up the truckmount and pulling hose just to take out one small spot; not if you want to pass up hundreds of dollars doing specialized spot removal for designers and furniture stores, which leads to thousands of dollars per year in income; not if you don’t mind driving your 4-ton rig around town to remove 1-ounce worth of soil; and generally not if you don’t want to save and make a lot of money.
Can you justify owning a $500 spotting machine when you already own $50,000 worth of other equipment that will do the same thing? If you already own one, I bet you will answer with a resounding “yes!” Let me explain.
The portable spotting machine has a vacuum and solution pump. It can be carried in one hand. It is relatively light and small. It will have a single vacuum motor that can range from 80 to 135 inches of water lift. The solution pressure will range from 35 to 100 PSI. Some of the machines are available with a heater. While vacuum, pressure and heat are always important – and certainly can add to cleaning efficiency – most spotting machines on the market do a fine job of general spot extraction no matter the power. If you plan on using your machine for general upholstery cleaning, the heater is a big plus.
Let’s look at what you can do with these machines. I’m going back – way back – to my early years of developing a cleaning business to share a concept that was very successful for my company. Even today, I am aware of professionals who still employ it today with great success.
Spotting ServiceWith your small spotting machine at the ready, your professional spotting kit, good spot-removal training and some experience under your belt, you are ready to go after this lucrative piece of business.
Start by contacting interior designers and high-end furniture stores. Keep in mind that the furniture these folks sell is expensive and often subject to more cleaning issues than furniture from the run-of-the-mill store; that’s why you can charge more.
Let the designers and sales people know that you are an expert in upholstery care. Let them know you can take out the spots and soil that show up during and after delivery. This is a big problem for them, and I can guarantee you that some of them are – and have been – looking for you. They are not satisfied with the people they have been referring, or they have been afraid to use anyone at all. You will need to build their confidence. You may need to do some free work for them in their showroom or home to help them feel confident you know what you are doing. Once you get their confidence, they will start sending you to the high-end residences in your area – just the kind of people you want for customers.
The spotting service in and of itself may not be highly profitable; however, it will become so as these high-end customers become yours; later you will clean their carpets, upholstery, stone, hardwood floors, ducts, or whatever. The spotting service is your foot in the door.
This service starts with being able to go out and take out small smudges or spots. It is very simple to carry in the small spotter, along with your spotting kit. Nobody wants you dragging hose into their house for this kind of work; they expect an artist as opposed to a construction worker. Hint: I liked to carry a supply of cotton swabs with me to take care of the really small spots. They are great for putting on a very small portion of chemical with one end, and using the other (dry) end to absorb it.
More MoneyMuch of the high-end furniture – fabric or leather – you will service is not properly protected, even fresh off the showroom floor. My own recent experience attests to that fact. My wife was shopping for new dining room chairs and a couch. She ended up getting her heart set on leather dinning room chairs. I figured they were priced out of our range; she figured it didn’t matter what I figured. So she bought them, only to find out they were aniline leather that stained very easily. She also picked a fabric for the couch that was both a bleeder and unprotected. As you might guess, I hurried and got a high-grade protector on both the leather chairs and the couch. This makes for a nice add-on sale (and very profitable) while in the home spotting. It’s also very prudent to consider setting something up beforehand with the store for you to apply protector before or after delivery. Obviously, your spotting machine can be used to service your current clientele for spot-removal jobs and, if the unit has a heater, it can be very effective for general upholstery cleaning.
The spotting machine is another “gadget” that will do more then remove a spot. Try to think of it as a cash machine – using its suction to extract money wherever it’s employed.