ICS Magazine

Stressing Residential IAQ

September 14, 2004


Are you educating your residential clientele about the ever-growing problems associated with poor indoor air quality?

I've done quite a bit of traveling this past year, and I was surprised by the number of cleaners who didn't have a clue as to what IAQ actually means, much less how many of the services their companies provide can go a long way toward improving it.

There has been quite a bit of time and energy devoted to this growing concern in recent years, primarily in the area of the work place and Sick Building Syndrome. SBS has accounted for employee illness and subsequent down time for years.

Comparatively, very little attention has been paid to IAQ in the residential sector. Dirty ventilation systems, soiled carpeting full of allergens, as well as dust mites, pesticides and more, have been the unseen contributors to various illnesses such as sore throats, coughing and fever. These ailments are almost always blamed on common colds, flu bugs, sinus infections, etc., but in many cases they are the result of poor IAQ. Homeowners are slowly becoming aware of this malady, and as an industry we should be utilizing our services and resources to help our clients combat poor IAQ. Unfortunately, most homeowners still only call us when their carpeting and upholstery start "looking bad." We need to educate them.

Carpets are like basins. Over time they slowly fill up and, eventually, must be drained. In your never-ending quest to keep your business name front and center with your clients, why not do what our company does? Send an IAQ postcard between your monthly reminder cards and utilize your company newsletter to present articles on the dangers of poor IAQ and SBS. Use your postcard and newsletters to point out that not only should soiling and bacteria caused by food and drink spills be of concern, but the constant dragging in of outside contaminants, such as lawn fertilizer, allergens, pesticides, and other caustic and harmful substances such as winter rock salt, are the best reasons for them to phone your company on a regular basis.

The goal should be to keep carpets clean and looking nice, but also keep them healthy. The average American spends approximately 16 to 18 hours a day indoors. Indoor air contains a greater level of pollutants than outdoor air due to ventilation factors (houses are being built tighter and tighter these days, restricting air flow). This, coupled with the amount of time spent inside the home, necessitates an awareness of IAQ in both the cleaning professionals and the client. Many cleaners are diversifying, offering such services as air duct and mattress cleaning. I suspect these and other cleaning services will grab a significant slice of the "service pie" in coming years.

Remember, by making your clients aware of these problems through your newsletters, postcard mailings and more, you will not only be helping your business grow but will be keeping your clients healthy.

And a healthy client will be a happy, long-term client.