- THE MAGAZINE
Every year in late January, IICRC representatives travel to Las Vegas to attend Surfaces, the largest floor covering trade show in the country.
Several volunteers staff the IICRC convention booth in support of the hundreds of IICRC registrants who attend Surfaces and earn Continuing Education Credits. We also make new contacts with companies and organizations that might benefit by hiring IICRC registrants, including carpet, rug and hard surface flooring manufacturers.
Over the past few years, the “look” of this show has changed dramatically. Instead of the predominance of carpet displays, now wood flooring, laminate, rugs, ceramic tile and stone dominate the show. What a huge change in such a few short years!
On the restoration side, there has been more and more demand for specialized training because of the “mold is gold” movement. Whereas, the past saying was “no moisture, no mold,” today, the reality of the marketplace is “no money, no mold.” The problem of fungal contamination for consumers remains, and IICRC Certified Firms and technicians are still the answer. But insurance companies have all but written mold coverage out of homeowner policies.
No money, no mold.
One of the IICRC’s missions is stay abreast of changes in the cleaning, restoration and inspection industry by creating new certifications in response to consumer and industry demands. I’m proud to say that we have accomplished that mission by stepping up to the plate with new certifications. There are 21 unique certification opportunities, to be exact, and two more categories on the horizon: Commercial Drying Specialist (CDS) and Applied Sewage Remediation Technician (ASRT) courses should be available by late 2008.
When I read posts on some of the online message boards complaining about how slow business is right now, I am amazed at how shortsighted they are. The transition from carpet to hard surface flooring has been evolving for several years. In 2002, rug production represented 17 percent of carpet manufacturing; in 2007, it was more than 25 percent. Of course, under those rugs are hard surface floors of one type or another, just waiting to be cleaned.
And have no fear, carpet production is still strong. One industry magazine predicts U.S. carpet and rug demand will exceed 20 billion square feet in 2009.
Diversification is one of the easiest ways to expand your market. To keep your company’s income stable – or even growing – during these sluggish economic times, you need to offer a wider variety of services to the same customer base you already have. Remember, diversification is not just about learning new skills; you should have a plan in mind to integrate new services to make your business more marketable to a larger customer base.Jeff Colvin, Management Consultant & Founder of Link, a Management Consulting Group, suggests several ways of diversifying your company:
Expand within your competency. If you’re a professional carpet cleaner, try adding upholstery, rug, drapery, or ceramic tile cleaning to your existing services. Follow your customers’ signals. When several customers inquire if you offer a particular service, perhaps it’s time to seriously consider adding it to your services.
Provide Multiple Options
Develop new products and services. When I was in business, we offered “environmentally friendly” drapery cleaning to our existing customer base. Instead of removing draperies from homes or offices, we vacuumed and “damp dusted” the window treatments on location. At $1 per pleat, and $10 to $20 per linear foot for cornices or swags, it was a great “add-on” to our carpet cleaning jobs, with very little equipment or chemical cost.
Develop smorgasbord offerings by creating package deals. If a customer purchases rug cleaning, fabric protection and new rug pad, offer a 20 percent discount.
Learn to Juggle
Investigate before diversifying into a brand-new area. Although blind cleaning sounded like a great add-on to our business, we soon realized we would be tapping into an unfamiliar market. So instead of buying the equipment, we subcontracted the service to another company.
Add one ball (service) at a time. Don’t try to open a restoration business overnight. It takes time to build a client base, especially when you have a lot of competition in your area.
Lastly, know when to say no! If you’re not trained to perform a particular service and don’t already have the equipment to do the job, don’t do it!
Diversifying through IICRC certifications gives you and your company another great benefit: referrals. Our new and improved consumer search functions at www.certifiedcleaners.org under “Locate a Pro” greatly improve a potential customer’s ability to identify certified professionals in their geographic area. With these new features, potential customers now have several search options, including:
- Selecting the size of the search area, from a radius of 5 to 200 miles.
- Searching for more than one certification at a time – for example, a professional with both carpet and upholstery cleaning certification.
- Directly linking to a Certified Firm’s Web site.
- Providing contact information via an “opt-in” section for firms to follow up with the customer or prospect.
- Verifying certifications by entering the name of a firm, inspector, Master Textile Cleaner, Master Water Restorer, or Master Fire and Smoke Restorer.