ICS Magazine

Communication Conundrum

June 5, 2007


I often hear through the grapevine that there is a lack of communication from the IICRC.

Having been involved for more than 10 years as a BOD member, technical and marketing committee chair, executive committee member and now president, I can assure you there are numerous ways the IICRC attempts to communicate with those in the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries, as well as individuals and groups outside our industry. It’s a real challenge!

We have many audiences and literally thousands of people who IICRC tries to reach: certified firms and non-certified firms with certified technicians; certified and non-certified technicians; shareholder associations and other organizations not represented on the IICRC board; consumer and industry media; the insurance industry; consumers of services provided by IICRC registrants; IICRC board representatives; approved instructors and schools; the IICRC administrative office; industry bulletin-board posters; standing and technical advisory committees; consumers and IICRC-registrants through two IICRC websites; attendees at conventions trade shows and industry-related meetings, and countless others.

IICRC has many vehicles of communication. Some include:
  1. IICRC-related e-mail correspondence.
    • Internal – As president, I receive and respond to more than 100 e-mails daily from board and committee members, headquarters, and IICRC registrants and former students. I make every practical effort to respond or forward questions to someone who can answer that correspondence in a timely manner. Multiply the number of e-mails I receive by several dozen others, including committee chairs, board and committee members, consultants, registrants and consumers, and the number of IICRC-related e-mails reaches several thousand daily.
    • Registrants – Headquarters also communicates with technicians, firms, executive committee and board members, and committee members daily. IICRC Administrator Tom Hill reports an average of 1,100 e-mails per day sent to and from his staff of 13.
  2. IICRC Web sites. www.iicrc.org, IICRC’s registrant site, has direct links to more than 50 individuals, such as administrative staff, committee chairs, board members, and trade association representatives and offices. There are archived press release, printable articles, downloadable forms and much more, which our webmaster, Brad Mead, works hard to keep updated almost daily. There’s also the IICRC’s consumer-oriented site, www.certifiedcleaners.org, which has loads of information to educate consumers about IICRC registrants and training, as well as an opt-in feature where consumers ask technical questions. These questions are answered by IICRC Technical Advisor Jeff Bishop several times weekly. Questions range from sewage or mold contamination in homes, spot cleaning tips, how to remove odors from carpet and upholstery, pet-related issues, and lots more.
  3. IICRC Discussion Boards are another way IICRC committees conduct business between board meetings. This private Internet based discussion board allows committees to post documents, conduct discussion, and even vote on motions in an Internet bulletin board-type format. Every IICRC committee has a dedicated section of this board where virtual meetings are being held on a continual basis.
  4. “Go-To” Meetings are used by many of the standing committees (such as four standards committees, 150-plus instructors and schools, 24 TACs) as an alternative to face-to-face meetings. Volunteers who live, work and travel all over the world can contribute to committee meetings by phone, web or both by logging onto or dialing into these meetings.
  5. The IICRC Newsletter is mailed to all IICRC-certified firms and non-certified firms, and is now available to download from the IICRC website in PDF format. The newsletter contains information to keep IICRC registrants informed about committee activities, meetings, and other IICRC and industry issues.
  6. Press Releases (both trade and consumer) are coordinated through the marketing and public relations committee and produced by our public relations firm. The trade releases go to industry magazines and newsletters monthly. Consumer releases are pitched to “shelter” magazines, such as Good Housekeeping, by our PR firm. They may cover weather-related (hurricanes, wild fires, tornadoes, ice storms, etc.) or other topics of interest, such as “How to Choose a Carpet Cleaner” or “What to do When Your Home is Flooded.” As a result of these releases, inquiries have been received from TV network news programs, cable TV home improvement and maintenance shows, from newspapers across the country and other magazines. Many of these press releases and articles are available for IICRC-certified firms to use in their promotion efforts.
  7. NAPS Releases are “infomercials” in print, audio or video format that are used by newspapers, radios or TV as “fillers.” Matte releases are an economical way for IICRC to reach millions of consumers each year. Once released, they are also made available for IICRC registrants to download in PDF format from the IICRC website.
  8. Monthly Articles in Trade Magazines written by regular contributors, including Tom Hill, Jeff Bishop, Jim Holland, Bob Wittkamp, Cliff Zlotnik, and many more. Over the years the IICRC President’s Column has been authored by Mike Lynch, Dan Bernazzani, Dane Gregory, Lee Zimmerman and Carey Vermeulen. And now I have the honor of writing this column each month.
  9. The “IICRC Intro” Video is required to be shown at the beginning of all IICRC-approved courses. It provides students with valuable information about the IICRC, its policies and requirements. It is also available to view as a PowerPoint presentation on the IICRC Web site.
  10. Shareholder Associations. There are 16 associations (regional, national and international) represented on the IICRC BOD. BOD representatives from each association are responsible for distributing important information to their association, which, in turn, can be disseminated to its members. Have you talked to your association rep lately?
  11. Mailings from headquarters include renewal notifications, certified-firm packets, technician exam notifications, and distribution of certification cards and badges. More than 9,000 pieces are mailed by IICRC headquarters each month.
  12. Booths are staffed by volunteers and consultants throughout the year at a variety of conventions and workshops. Registrants have the opportunity to “communicate face-to-face” and to receive continuing education credits (CECs) by signing a roster at the booth. Some of these opportunities include Connections, Surfaces, IAQA, NADCA, and DRC.
  13. Brochures About the IICRC are distributed at conventions and workshops. There are also two consumer-oriented brochures – one for cleaning, the other restoration – which can be personalized by certified firms that are available from headquarters.
  14. Industry Meetings. Many IICRC representatives attend other organization’s committee meetings. These entities include the American Furniture Manufacturers Association; the Carpet and Rug Institute; the Carpet Industry Issues Council; the Floor Covering Installation Contractor’s Association and the World Floor Covering Association, just to name a few. Their input and participation on many of these organizations’ committees allows IICRC insight on current or future trends and changes that may impact IICRC registrants.
  15. IICRC Certification Council and Board of Director’s Meetings are open for anyone to attend. Simply contact IICRC headquarters for information.
  16. E-mail Referrals are sent to certified firms every evening. Many companies don’t realize that if they provide their Web site address, a direct link can be set up from the IICRC referral system to their Web site. This way, consumers getting your name and number from the IICRC site can go directly to your company site for more information about your services. It is a definite advantage to make sure your company Web site address is provided to the IICRC.
  17. And last but not least, the Industry Bulletin Boards. For as long as I can remember, many of us who have been or continue to be involved with IICRC have tried to respond to questions and concerns posted on the industry discussion boards. Unfortunately, no matter what we say or how we respond, we usually get personally attacked, condemned and even slandered for our IICRC involvement. And to make matters worse, we are even openly criticized for our silence. I am constantly amazed at the level of disdain and disrespect some of these “posters” have for people they don’t even know.



Communication with every IICRC registrant, whether technician or certified firm, is and always will be a major challenge. After 35 years, our constituency includes more than 43,000 individual technicians, 4,600 certified firms, another 13,000 firms who employ certified techs, hundreds of volunteers and many others in related industries, or consumers who may be seeking information about our organization.

According to the Miriam Webster dictionary, “Communication is a technique for expressing ideas effectively and the technology of the transmission of information (as through print or telecommunication).” With the newly developed modes of communication available to individuals and organizations, IICRC volunteers, consultants and staff are able to reach out to more people in more ways than ever before. Unfortunately, information can only be communicated effectively if an individual or group is willing to listen. I assure you, we’re as close as the phone…handheld… e-mail…PDA, if and when you need us!