- THE MAGAZINE
Professional textile cleaning is based on technical skills and science. When a cleaning technician enters a home to provide carpet cleaning, there are many variables involved. Training is essential to develop the technical skills necessary to identify differences in carpet construction and fibers while maintaining industry standards in addition to manufacturer specifications.
Your industry education will make or break a company. The professional textile cleaner in today’s competitive marketplace must understand and be able to employ different cleaning methods or systems depending on carpet type in conjunction with specialized needs requested by your client.
We are entrusted to keep our clients’ carpets in a healthy state. Our goal as professionals, in my opinion, is to create a caring environment where the homeowner feels an increased sense of well being through environmentally sound cleaning systems employing earth-friendly solutions. It is possible your client is allergic to perfumes or certain products. Do not be afraid to discuss these issues with your client; involving them in the product selection process gives them good feelings knowing the carpet is being cleaned in a healthy manner both for the family and the environment.
These procedures are not intended to be an exact system for every carpet-cleaning job. Every job is unique, and may require deviation from the generalized procedures outlined here. Your education will help ensure that you do not create unnecessary liability for your company. Never perform any cleaning service in a customer’s home if you are unsure of any aspect of the job. Learn your trade through IICRC classes, attend industry-related conventions and join trade associations (which also sponsor excellent educational opportunities). I highly suggest sales and marketing courses, to give your organization an edge on your competition. Selling carpet-cleaning services, or any service business, is a real art.
Procedures: First Things FirstFor a typical workday, make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape. Check gas, tires and all fluids. Trucks should be clean inside and outside. Remember your image; wear the proper uniform with certifications proudly displayed. A neat appearance will be crucial to your success. All paperwork, contracts, addresses, directions, etc. should be prepared the night before. In addition, call your customers the day before to remind them of their appointment. Consider sending a pre-appointment letter to the client.
On ArrivalWhen you arrive at the customer’s home, be aware of children and/or pets playing outside. Never pull your vehicle onto the lawn. Be cautious of flowers and shrubs. Make sure exhaust from truckmount or van is vented well away from doors and windows.
After you ring the doorbell, step back and give the customer a chance to answer. Introduce yourself by giving your full name. Shake their hand. Tell the client how happy you are to be there. Be friendly to children and pets. Very politely, advise the customer to keep children away from the cleaning equipment and areas where work is being performed.
Be cautious when cleaning; always use caution signs in transition areas where damp carpet leads onto a hard surface. Pets need to be in a different area where they won’t get hurt or loose. Always tell clients before pre-spray application about the possibility of a slip and fall when walking from a damp carpet onto a hard surface. Make sure you use corner guards, bring your own mat to wipe your feet before entering client’s home and block and tab furniture you move. Wearing shoe covers into the client’s home never hurts either, but be careful; shoe covers can be slippery on hard surfaces after they become damp with moisture.
Pre-InspectionBefore cleaning begins, walk through your client’s home and have the client point out areas of concern. Use an inspection light during the walk through for thorough evaluation. A pre-inspection tool kit should be used. Learn to use a microscope to differentiate carpet stains from ordinary spots. Employ a pH pen when necessary to help evaluate pH of stain in addition a white towel and proper cleaning solution should be used to evaluate stains on carpet. Blot the stain with the towel and proper solution; are you getting any transfer to the towel? Hand spotting with white towels, in addition to the use of a tamping brush, exhibits that extra effort.
I always like to do pH testing with pH pen before and after cleaning; it shows an adherence to standards. Testing the carpet, whether using burn test method, chemical method or pH readings exhibits technical expertise and higher credibility for the technician, creating a better customer relationship.
After the walk through, sit down and explain the pre-inspection. Your contract should have a section that specifically relates to pre-existing conditions and damage to the carpet that cannot be corrected by cleaning. The customer should be given the total amount due before you begin and the pre-inspection should be signed. A slip-and-fall disclosure should also be incorporated into your invoice. A signature of satisfaction statement should also be included on the invoice and signed at job completion; leave a copy with your client. Any issues regarding safety or after care instructions should be read to the client before they sign. Please remember to give your client realistic cleaning expectations.
Package SellingWhen selling carpet cleaning services I suggest using a service information guide. The customer – with the technician’s guidance – chooses a cleaning package that best fits her needs. The technician will have cleaning packages for stain-resistant carpet under warranty, in addition to having a package focusing on natural fibers requiring special processes.
To round out your residential packages, offer a package for maintenance cleaning, e.g. traffic areas only, no furniture moving, no carpet protector. As professionals, we must use sales systems that offer our clients choices that match their needs.
Let the Work BeginOnce a cleaning package has been selected, explained and agreed upon, it’s time for the actual work to begin. For example:
- Pre-inspection of all textiles being cleaned for adherence to manufacturers specifications. Will also advise on carpet condition.
- Pre-vacuum with HEPA vacuum.
- Pre-treat using earth-friendly cleaning solution.
- Agitate with groomer.
- Extract with proper rinse agent according to carpet fiber and construction.
- Groom after extraction.
- Block and tab any furniture moved.
- Apply carpet protector.
- Speed dry carpet with air movers.
- When job is complete, a walk through with customer to ensure their satisfaction.
General Safety Measures/Valuable Cleaning Hints
- Never mix your products in the customer’s home.
- When using solvents, advise the customer and obtain permission.
- Ventilation must be increased when using solvents; you may need to air out the room with an air mover.
- Vacuum lines must always be connected to wand while truck is running.
- Move furniture away from walls and clean there first, if your service includes furniture moving.
- Furniture needs to be immediately blocked and tabbed.
- Never use excessive moisture under furniture.
- Do not slide furniture into pre-spray. You can create varnish stains on carpet.
- Explain you do not move heavy furniture or antiques.
- When cleaning the first room stop and show customer how well the carpet is responding to cleaning and make sure they are happy before continuing.
- Never dump wastewater in a customer’s driveway or storm drain in the street. Wastewater should go to a sewer line providing wastewater treatment. Check your local laws for adherence on disposal of carpet-cleaning wastewater.
Completing the JobWalk through the home with the client and re-clean any areas of concern to the client. Indicate to the customer any problems you could not correct, such as stains or heavy traffic areas that exhibit texture changes or possible wear.
Get a signature of satisfaction on the invoice. Technician should hand clients “customer education pamphlets” describing why cleaning could not correct their situation in addition to copy of invoice. Use equipment checklists to ensure you leave nothing but clean carpets behind you. Thank your customer and leave them with an article on the importance of using certified technicians, a self-addressed customer survey card and a gift certificate for their next cleaning.
Your company should have a referral reward program, which rewards the client with cleaning services for their valuable referrals. I would also think about leaving a free bottle of spotter with your name on it in addition to article that warns consumers about bait-and-switch advertising practices. And be sure to call your client the following day to be sure they are happy.
If these procedures are followed, your company will have a greater success ratio per job in addition to being well on its way to delivering a superior cleaning experience to your clients.