Fly High and Dry Fast
February 14, 2008
Several years ago I agreed to go to Anchorage, Alaska and teach a carpet-cleaning course. It was a great time of year – early July – and the sun shined for 21 hours a day. Part of my payment included a trip into the beautiful Alaskan wilderness to fish for King Salmon.
The fishing trip was great and, after fishing from 3 p.m. until 6 the next morning (it stayed light all night), I finally landed a 35-pound King. As exciting as that was, the real story here is my transportation into the wilderness.
David Pearce, the distributor who contracted with me to do the teaching, owned a small plane that happened to be his vehicle of choice when moving around the state. His plan involved, naturally, his flying us to his favorite fishing spot.
I was excited about this, if not a little nervous. You see, this particular plane was built in the 1940s, framed steel with canvas covering it. It had one small engine, a front seat, and a small luggage compartment that doubled as a backseat. That is where I sat. David flew this baby with a stick that stuck up out of the floor. It had a top speed of 80 miles per hour, but only if you were pointing down toward earth with the pedal to the metal. We cruised at 55 mph and actually landed into a slight head wind at 35 mph; confidence was something this plane did not inspire.
Where is this going? On this particular day I became David’s customer. He didn’t want me to die and he didn’t want to die himself so, in spite of the age of this plane, David spent many hours making sure it was in perfect flying order, even taking an extra precaution, which I appreciated. As we prepared to cross the Gulf of Alaska, quite a large body of water, David circled over land several times to gain altitude before the crossing. This, he explained, was a precaution so if the engine failed while over the gulf, he would have enough altitude to glide where he could make a landing on earth. The plane was outfitted with wheels, not pontoons.
When we clean someone’s carpet, we must protect our customer and make sure they stay ours for life. We have to “fly high” to give them every reason to feel safe with us and love our service. Every service you offer to make their experience better will do this. One service that your better competition is offering is quick drying; are you?
Carpets dry at different levels depending on several factors. How dirty was the carpet when you started and to what level did you get it wet while cleaning? Pile density and fiber type will contribute to the level of water retained in the fiber after cleaning. One thing we all know for sure is our customers appreciate a carpet that dries quickly after you have cleaned it. Your competition realizes this and is capitalizing on their ability to dry fast.
One of your most important “fly high” procedures should be to do everything you can to see that the carpet dries quickly. Some of the obvious things to look at and make sure they are performing well are your vacuum motors and blowers, the in-line filters, your vacuum hoses, the condition and type of wand you use, and especially the technique used in cleaning and extracting. These are all areas of importance, and they must be looked at separately.
One final solution that you may or may not be using is fans. I would strongly suggest that your consider using fans/blowers/dryers to expedite the drying process after cleaning.
After each room or hallway is cleaned and protected (protection usually adds moisture, so assisted drying is preferable), place your fan in that area for 10 or 15 minutes. An exercise this simple can mean a difference of 1 or 2 hours of reduced drying time. Let’s look at what is available.
Hardware store fans. While these caged fans do move some air, they are unprofessional and generally less durable. Let’s stay professional.
Snail/whistle/centrifugal air movers. These are the air movers that have been around now for decades. The better units are very durable, stackable and move a lot of air. They can be very effective at drying limited linear areas. They are limited by their bulkiness and inability to direct the air over a wide area. Care must also be taken in that they draw higher amps than other fans.
Axial drying fans. These amazing fans were developed for drying out flood-damaged structures. They are tough, stackable and move a lot of air and use low amps. Pointed in the right areas they create a great deal of air movement and drying potential. Even with this great air output they may have some degree of limited effect in that all the air is not actually blowing over the surface you are trying to dry.
Mini air movers. These centrifugal blowers can be very effective for drying selected areas where others have a hard time reaching. Stairs are often some of the dirtiest areas, getting quite wet during cleaning, and yet we have a hard time getting air directed along the treads for drying. One of these small air movers may be just do the trick, as they have a directional spout which can direct the air in infinite directions. Put them at the top or the bottom of the stairs and point the airflow over the treads. These units will also daisy chain together, and with low amps (less than 1 each) you can run 12 or more off one circuit.
Introduced to the industry just a few years ago and quickly gaining popularity are axial fans designed purely for floor drying duty. These fans sit off the carpet or floor several inches and use high-velocity air movement to cover a complete room. They are designed with a unique 360-degree outlet grill that directs air down and out to all sections of the room. Set this fan in a room for 15 minutes and you may have a completely dry room when you leave.
Don’t let your competition convince your customer that you are soaking her carpets and leaving them wet for days while he dries them in less than 2 hours. Explain your process to your customers, giving them an explanation that deep and thorough cleaning requires the use of water, and that a small amount will be left in the carpet. Explain that, to enjoy the benefits of the world’s best carpet protector, it must be applied with water and will take a little while to dry. Then explain that, even with all of this, you have exceptional equipment and technical expertise that you will apply to get the carpets dry amazingly fast. At that point you should under promise and then over perform.
Now go out there and “fly high,” giving your customer all the benefits of knowing you are the best and you use the best equipment and procedures. If you are using these new drying fans to make your customers life better and your competition doesn’t, guess who gets to keep the customer.